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Updated: 2 hours 16 min ago

How is “Interfaith Purim” Different From All Other Purims? It Isn’t.

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:00am
BY SUSAN KATZ MILLER from On Being Both


Purim begins the evening of February 28

 

For interfaith families sharing Judaism and Christianity, spring is busy with holidays. From Christianity, we have Mardi Gras, Lent, Easter. From Judaism, we have Purim, Passover and Shavuot. When I tell folks we are celebrating any of these holidays with our independent interfaith community, I often get questions like, “How is interfaith Purim different from regular (Jewish) Purim?”

And the answer is: it isn’t, at least not in terms of the celebration, the rituals, the liturgy. The point of our interfaith community is not to change the traditions, or merge them, or create a third religion. Rather, the intent is to give our children the deepest experience of these rituals we possibly can, while remaining radically inclusive of who gets to participate, and how.

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Want more? Check out Jvillage Network's Purim Board on Pinterest. 

Want even more information on Purim? Check out Jvillage Network's Purim Guide. 

 

 

Purim

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 12:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 

 

Purim Begins the Evening of February 28, 2018



Purim is a Jewish Halloween, a Jewish Mardi Gras and a secular New Year rolled into one. And it is not just a holiday for children who know immediately that anything with a costume will be fun. All Jews are commanded to be silly and celebrate the ancient victory against their adversaries by giving gifts of food to friends and to the poor.

Purim comes in the late winter or early spring. Jews have celebrated by dressing up as both the heroes and villains of the Purim story, as they chase away their winter doldrums and acknowledge that Purim brings springtime.

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Want more? Check out Jvillage Network's Purim Board on Pinterest. 

Want even more information on Purim? Check out Jvillage Network's Purim Guide. 

Guide to Wedding Ceremonies for Interfaith Couples

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


Finding Your Officiant(s) and Choosing a Date

 

Timing and Location of a Jewish/Interfaith Wedding

If you’re thinking of having a rabbi or cantor officiate your wedding, keep in mind that most Jewish clergy observe a number of limitations and restrictions on both the location and timing of weddings they perform. The rules vary a bit from one movement of Judaism (denomination) to another, but here are some of the most common limitations.

Location, location, location!

In traditional Judaism there are hardly any restrictions on where a couple can get married. A synagogue, someone’s home, a park, a non-denominational chapel or a banquet hall are all in play, as well as just about anywhere else. Some rabbis aren’t comfortable officiating in churches or sanctuaries of other religions; others are more flexible. If your ceremony is co-officiated, make sure you clear your wedding site with both officiants prior to contracting for a venue. Different religious communities have different requirements.

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Why I Write Stories About Religion

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:00am
By Chloe Benjamin for Jewish Book Council


I often attribute my interest in religion to the fact that, after my parents’ divorce, I grew up with two of them. My mom is the daughter of an Episcopalian minister, and as a child, I went to Sunday School at our local Episcopalian church. My dad, meanwhile, is ancestrally Jewish but presently atheist. I often tease him about the fact that his first wife is a minister’s daughter, and his second—my stepmother, Ellen—is a Jewish spiritual director.


Ellen grew up in Lorraine, Ohio, in a conservative Jewish family. Now a member of San Francisco’s reform synagogue Temple Emanu-El, she brought Jewish history and culture into our home. I was fascinated by the stories, the language and the traditions, from praying over candles, wine and challah on Shabbat to the rituals of Passover. When I asked Ellen to teach me Hebrew, she found an introductory textbook clearly geared toward children half my age and helped me learn.


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Kids’ Books that Matter: Enter the Land and Plant /Tu Bishvat, the Birthday of the Trees

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 12:00am
By Kathy Bloomfield. This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


When I was a girl, I spent many weekends at my grandmother’s house. She had a HUGE walnut tree in the center of her backyard. The neighborhood kids and my siblings and I, like most children, used sheets, blankets, benches and the like to create tents, tunnels and fortresses under the branches of that tree. From there we would enter the fantastic worlds of our imagination, gathering food for our children (i.e. walnuts for the dolls), walking through the desert (i.e. my grandmother’s cactus garden) or searching for magic globes (i.e. fruit from her avocado tree). The walnut tree was the starting point of every journey and the center of most of our larger family gatherings.

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Find more great ideas on JvillageNetwork's Pinterest page

WATCH: This Journalist Turned Rabbinical Student is Creating Entertaining Arabic Videos to Explain Judaism to Muslims

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:00am
By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine 


Elhanan Miller hopes to broker Middle East peace, one YouTube subscriber at a time



Several months ago, high quality animated videos explaining Jewish religion and practice began popping up on YouTube. This would have been unremarkable except for one fact: they were in fluent Arabic. Tackling such subjects as kosher food and prayer, the informative and often entertaining clips detailed how these rituals compared and contrasted to Islamic practice. Here, for example, is the video on prayer:

Watch video.


The YouTube channel, called “People of the Book” after the Qur’anic category for Jews, has quietly garnered thousands of views. It is the brainchild of Elhanan Miller, a Jerusalem-born intelligence soldier turned journalist (and Tablet contributor) turned rabbinical student who hopes to use the explainers to foster regional understanding and peace.


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Morocco’s little idyll of Jewish-Muslim coexistence

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:00am
From economist.com. This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline "Shalom alaykum"

A moment of religious harmony


Essaouira sets an example for the rest of the Middle East

 


ONCE a year the little seaside town of Essaouira, in Morocco, reclaims its lost Jewish community. Sephardic trills echo from its whitewashed synagogues. The medieval souks fill with Jewish skullcaps. Rabbis and cantors wish Muslims “Shabbat Shalom” and regale them with Hebrew incantations. “It’s our culture,” says a merchant from Marrakech, who travelled 200km (124 miles) to hear them this year.

The revival is the initiative of André Azoulay, a 76-year-old Jew from Essaouira (one of just three) and a former counsellor to Morocco’s kings. Each autumn he stages a colourful festival of Andalusian music aimed at bringing hundreds of Jews and Muslims together for a weekend of concerts and dialogue. Locals pack the small stadium to watch Hebrew cantors and Koran-reciters sing arm-in-arm. Israelis and Palestinians flock there, too. “Essaouira is what the Middle East once was and might yet be again,” says Mr Azoulay.

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The Converso Comeback

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 12:00am
By Suzanne Selengut for Tablet Magazine


Hispanic crypto-Jews use social media and DNA testing to reconnect with their heritage


When retired civil servant Carl Montoya arrives for prayers at Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, he has a routine. He expertly wraps tefillin, dons his Sephardic prayer shawl, and greets his many friends in the pews. The Hebrew prayers can be tricky for him, but he is slowly mastering them all, together with the rest of Jewish ritual life. As a convert to Conservative Judaism and an active member of an Orthodox synagogue, Montoya has definitely broken from his past as a Catholic with deep roots in New Mexico’s historic Hispanic community. But what makes his story truly remarkable is not just that he is a Jew by choice, but that he is a Jew by birth.

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A Year After Trump’s Election, Jewish-Muslim Group Takes A More Pointed Approach To Fighting Hate

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 12:00am
BY AMY SARA CLARK for The Jewish Week


Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom ramps up activism in response to growing anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim attacks.


When Sheryl Olitzky and Atiya Aftab started Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, it was before Donald Trump’s travel ban targeted predominantly Muslim countries. It was before hundreds of white supremacists carrying Tiki torches chanted “Jews will not replace us” during a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

It was before more than 100 tombstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and before reports of mosques being vandalized and thugs grabbing hijabs off of women’s heads had become commonplace.

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Mourning the Loss of a Non-Jewish Parent

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 12:00am
Gayle Redlingshafer Berman for Jewish Book Council


"Ima, Aunt Angela is trying to reach you. I know it's grandma! I want to go to her funeral!" My 13-year-old son was home manning the phone in Efrat while I was busy teaching piano to American girls at a school in Jerusalem. My mother had been ill for many years with dementia, that terrifying disease that steals the memory and dignity of its victims. Long before we had made Israel our home 3 1/2 years earlier, each day we had expected the call from Illinois telling us that her body had given up the fight. That moment had apparently arrived. Not having my sister's U.S. number in my Israeli cell phone, I simply continued teaching my piano student.

Soon my cell phone rang. I was sure my sister was indeed calling to tell me that what my son had suspected was true. I told my student, "I'll be right back," knowing I could handle what I had been anticipating for years. "Dad died this morning!" I couldn't believe my ears! No, she meant "Mom," my head screamed! "Dad?" I yelled! "Yes, Dad."

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My Family Celebrated Hanukkah with Our Non-Jewish Friends. This Is What Happened

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:00am
BY MELISSA HENRIQUEZ for Kveller


Salad fix-ins? Check.

Cookies? Check.

Menorah, candles, and dreidels? Check, check, check.

My husband, kids, and I were headed to family dinner at our dear friends’ house. Though she and her husband aren’t Jewish, my friend is a history teacher who loves learning about and sharing multicultural traditions.

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Tips for Interfaith Families Celebrating Hanukkah & Christmas

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:00am
Kveller Staff


Being part of an interfaith family can be difficult, especially around the holidays. When it comes to raising children, the question of how to fairly and fully raise your children religiously and culturally is hard because there is no right or wrong way. It’s simply about what is best for your family.

Of course, knowing that there is no wrong way doesn’t necessarily take the pressure off. Many of our readers are in interfaith marriages, many with a spouse who is Christian, or have extended family who are. Explaining to your kids why you have a Christmas tree and a menorah can be confusing, but we know it’s not impossible.

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Want more great Hanukkah ideas? Find articles, crafts, and recipes in our Hanukkah Guide.

Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


What is Hanukkah?

View a PDF of our Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families 

Hanukkah is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish recapture and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. It's celebrated for eight days and usually falls in December. The traditional observances of Hanukkah are lighting a menorah, or ceremonial candelabra, spinning a top called a dreidel and eating fried foods. Though it is religiously minor, Hanukkah is a popular holiday. It's a happy festival in the winter, so it provides what seems to be a universally needed break from the dark and cold. It's a holiday about Jews winning a war, which is not the usual subject for a Jewish holiday. The third reason is obvious: for Jews in Christian culture, Hanukkah is the closest Jewish holiday to Christmas.

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Want more great Hanukkah ideas? Find articles, crafts, and recipes in our Hanukkah Guide.
 

We Made Our Bris Inclusive. Here’s How.

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily *

by Sarah Rizzo


At just nine weeks pregnant, my doctor ran a blood test and we waited on the results, full of anticipation. When they came back, we found out our baby was a healthy baby boy! Seeing is believing for me, so I waited until the anatomy scan to be sure we needed to start preparing for a boy. Sure enough, the blood test didn’t lie.

Our first baby was a girl, so after the birth, there was no rush to pull off a Jewish lifecycle event. We had done a simchat bat (also called a brit bat) celebration for her (a Jewish naming ceremony for a baby girl), but it was almost two months after she was born, so we had already started to settle into a routine and we were somewhat rested. This time would be very different. This boy would have a bris on his eighth day of life, no matter when that would fall. For my Type A personality, it was going to be tricky to relinquish control.

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*Photo by Melissa Naclerio, Modern Birdcage Photography

Planning a Japanese, American & Jewish Wedding

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am

This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily 


By Kristin Posner


As a fourth generation Japanese-American, I’ve often felt my heritage was slipping away from me. I grew up feeling in between the two: not quite Japanese enough or American enough, not really belonging in either category. There have been phases of my life when I’ve embraced being just American or just Japanese. It wasn’t until my conversion and our wedding that I came to realize that there is space for both.

When Bryan and I started dating, I became interested in his Jewish heritage. As things started getting serious, I felt that if we were to spend our lives together I had a responsibility to learn about his heritage too. In many ways, in Judaism I found the sense of belonging, spirituality and sense of community I had been searching for my whole life.

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Jews and Non-Jews: Interfaith Relations

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 8:00am
myjewishlearning.com 


Dialogue” is the watchword in defining relations between Jews and peoples of other religions, particularly in North America’s environment of religious pluralism. The emphasis on dialogue comes as a result of years of hard work on the part of religious leaders and a growing concern about religious intolerance that has continued to brew and cause turmoil throughout the world.

Leaders from the Catholic Church, for example, take a proactive role in seeking dialogue with Jewish leaders. Since the Vatican II decision of the 1960s formally ending the Catholic belief that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, Catholic leaders such as Pope John Paul II have attempted to change their relationship with Jewish people. All major archdiocese include specific offices of interreligious affairs, in which a team of priests, nuns, and educators work with members of clergy from the Jewish (and other) faiths. These offices often play a key role in helping to create annual community-wide Holocaust memorial services on Yom Hashoah (Day of Holocaust commemoration).

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