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Resource Center for Program Professionals Update
Dear InterfaithFamily.com Network Professionals,
The end of May brings us to Shavuot. We not only celebrate receiving the Torah, but read the Book of Ruth, whose namesake character is seen as the paradigmatic convert to Judaism. I know many of you are in congregations where this is used as an opportunity to honor the Jews by Choice in your community. But all of this sweet focus on Ruth's choice to be Jewish often overlooks an important fact: Ruth made this decision not for a partner, but because of the relationship she had with her mother-in-law and perhaps inspired by her mother-in-law's values and life choices.
Your programming for Shavuot can highlight this relationship of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law as the beginning of Ruth's journey into the Jewish community:
Here are some other ideas for those in your community newer to Judaism and Jewish culture:
For those who want a refresher booklet on the holiday, we offer our newly redesigned Shavuot: The Basics. Please consider leaving copies in your lobby and send the signal to both congregants and visitors that it is easy to learn more about Judaism and Jewish culture.
Thanks to all the communities who so quickly added the InterfaithFamily.com Organization Affiliate Badge to their websites' homepage. This badge instantly shows all visitors to your site that you are a welcoming institution!
For those who want to add it now, click here to find instructions.
(If you are not yet a part of our Network, let me know and I will walk you through the simple instructions.)
Many of us work with interfaith couples who are seriously dating or already engaged to be married. Many interfaith couples choose to have a ketubah and even make it a focal point of their wedding and a highlighted art piece in their new home. There are many websites devoted to ketubot and to the artists who create them. In order to make the process of choosing an interfaith ketubah easier for interfaith couples, InterfaithFamily.com has created a new resource that describes five different ketubah trends and offers links to websites where they can be found.
Let all the interfaith couples in your community who are in the midst of wedding planning know about this new resource.
Here is some content that you can easily cut and paste into a message for your congregants or community members, pointing out some of the many resources at InterfaithFamily.com:
Lag baOmer (or "Lag b'Omer") is a minor holiday that falls on May 10 this year, 33 days after the start of Passover. The name literally translates to "33rd (day) of the Omer." But what's an "Omer"? It was a unit of measurement used for counting barley sheaves brought as an offering to the Temple in ancient Israel. The 49 days from Passover to Shavuot were each marked with a sacrifice of barley; today we count the days ("counting the Omer") instead. A time to remember our fighting spirit, Lag BaOmer is most often celebrated by a picnic with a bonfire. Some communities organize a school picnic for Lag baOmer.
The rabbis of the 2nd century of the Common Era saw the period of counting the Omer as a "semi-mourning" period. As a result, some Jews refrain from having weddings or parties, dancing, listening to music or getting haircuts — all of which are customarily avoided during shiva (first week of mourning) — during the Omer. But on Lag BaOmer, the restrictions are lifted for the day. Check out how one Californian handles the restrictions in this humorous video.
Do you want to find out more about Lag baOmer and get recipe suggestions? You might enjoy this article, complete with barbeque tips.
And then, at the end of the 49 days of counting, it's Shavuot. The holiday commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. There is a custom of reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot, a story whose namesake character is seen as the paradigmatic convert to Judaism. For those who want to read the questions and insights of those who are considering conversion or who have converted, and/or want to join that conversation, join the conversion discussion board at InterfaithFamily.com.
And do encourage your congregants to join the InterfaithFamily.com Network to take advantage of all our resources.
Chief Education Officer