Shabbat Table3

In the June 2016 column of Mixed and Matched, I responded to a comment from a woman who had experienced what was described in the previous month’s column – having her Jewish authenticity questioned.

I can relate to your May 20 column “My father is Jewish and my mother is not.” My mother and I both had Conservative conversions when I was 9 years old. Still, all my life I’ve heard “You’re really not Jewish since your mother isn’t Jewish.”

I have always led a Jewish life. As an adult, I married and had children with a Muslim man, and both of my girls were raised Jewish. When I taught Hebrew school at my Reform synagogue, the director asked if I felt conflicted about the occupation of Gaza since my husband was Muslim. I told her that I felt conflicted because I am Jewish. She didn’t get it.

I have been divorced for over a decade. My daughters get comments all the time, saying “How strange to have a Jewish mother and a Muslim father.” Since my mother wasn’t born Jewish, I guess it makes my children not Jewish. We just keep living as Jews.
Oh well


Dear Oh well: Where to begin? I’m sorry that my column speaks to your life. I hope the day comes when this attitude goes the way of the woolly mammoth. You are a Jew, as is your mother, as are your daughters. Are there some who do not accept Conservative conversion? Yes. There are also people who are vegetarians and others who are carnivores. We are all free to believe what makes sense to us.

However, I find it disturbing that members of your synagogue, including the Hebrew school director, are so ill-informed about the Reform movement’s policies regarding both conversion and patrilineal descent. I am confident that your rabbis would not approve of these remarks. Sadly, many self-identified liberal Jews are not as open as they believe themselves to be.

In regard to the comment made to your daughters, many people are surprised that a Jew and Muslim would marry. But it does happen, even in Israel, and I wish others would stop feeling the need to say something about it. From what you tell me, your girls are happy as Jews and have been able to brush aside the questions and remarks. Good for them!

You raise the issue of “What is a Jewish name?” Two quick points on this challenging matter: Jews have all sorts of names in modern America; we are no longer just Goldsteins and Levines. And when you encounter a Jew whose last name shouts not Jewish, like Christensen or Church, that individual is likely the child of a non-Jewish father and a Jewish mother. This makes the individual halachically Jewish.

Many have said to me, “But I’m just curious, not malicious.” If you learned of a person whose child had died, would curiosity be a sufficient reason to ask the parent about the circumstances? No. Do not raise topics that are going to cause pain. If you are uncertain of whether a topic is appropriate, err on the side of kindness and don’t.

I brought your concerns to my friend and colleague at Lehrhaus Judaica, Reform Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, who reflected that Jewish tradition teaches the concept of tzniut, usually translated as modesty. He pointed out that it also means privacy and said all Jews could benefit from observing this mitzvah by respecting the privacy of others.

I would encourage you and your daughters to answer invasive questions this way: “I observe the mitzvah of tzniut, so I can’t respond to that.” If your inquisitor is baffled, suggest they query a rabbi who can explain more fully what this means.

I have no quarrel with traditionally observant Jews who believe that only a person born of a Jewish mother or converted by an Orthodox court is halachically Jewish. Within their community they should live and be well. They should also observe tzniut and refrain from talking about the identity of others.

For the rest of us, it’s important to examine our beliefs and be honest about what we think. Do we accept non-Orthodox conversions? Do we accept patrilineal descent? Hillel taught, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah.” It is hard to do, but we need to anyway.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Conversion, Mixed & Matched
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couple's shoes

In my May Mixed and Matched column in the Jweekly I chose to address a question I hear regularly: “My father is Jewish and my mother is not. Where will I be accepted? Where can I go that they won’t quiz me?”


Ever since the Reform movement refined its views on so-called patrilineal Jews three decades ago, this has been a pervasive issue, in the liberal movements in particular — how do Jews with one Jewish parent fit into the community? Because Judaism traditionally is passed through the mother, the issue is particularly sharp for those with a Jewish father.

Not so, say many Reform Jews, who rush to tell me what patrilineal Jews should think or do. They say that people with a Jewish father shouldn’t care what others think; they should join a Reform or other non-halachic congregation. These individuals state adamantly and angrily that Jews who don’t accept patrilineal descent must change, must see the future and accept it or die out. They loudly support a person’s right to self-define and to choose how to be Jewish, except, of course, those Jews who choose to self-define and practice differently than they do. In other words: traditionally observant Jews. This derails the entire conversation, while ignoring the feelings of the patrilineals.

What have patrilineal Jews experienced? What do they want? Do they have a sense of what would reassure them? No one has asked about their feelings at all. How sad. We liberal Jews, and I include myself as a Reform affiliated Jew, need to stop lecturing and start listening, really listening — without judgment.

A number of patrilineal Jews have told me they chose to convert. Others told me, “I wish someone had offered to teach me, to guide me, to just tell me about conversion, just say it was an option.” Others have said that they went through a period of worry and reflection before deciding not to convert.

Yet, others have said that they have been hurt even in synagogues that purport to accept patrilineal Jews. “When I say I have one Jewish parent, people immediately ask me which one, and that makes it clear that it matters or they wouldn’t ask.” Several others said that Jews, affiliated and not, upon learning that the Jewish parent is their father, have said, “So you’re not really Jewish.” One individual who had chosen a Reform conversion because she’d been raised Christian had a fellow congregant say, “Wow, you’re so active, even though you’re not really Jewish.”

This Sunday I am moderating a conference in Oakland called “Growing Up Interfaith.” When I asked individuals who had shared their life stories with me to participate, one replied, “I don’t want to speak publicly, because members of my synagogue won’t think I’m really Jewish.”

On the other hand, one might think that at least the matrilineal Jews are fine; having a Jewish mother has given them clear passage into their Jewish identity. Sadly, that is not always the case. For some it’s been relatively easy. But for others, having a last name like Christianson or O’Malley has meant constant questioning.

And then there are ethnic and racial intermarriage issues. Between 15 and 20 percent of Bay Area Jewish families are multiracial. Many of them don’t “look Ashkenazi.” They too face constant questioning.

I’ve interviewed more than 50 adult children of intermarriage over the past four years. Many don’t know where to start the conversation. They talk about the barriers they face and try to sort out just where they want to engage. What would make them feel authentic? There is not one size fits all. Each person has to find his or her community. I encourage them to speak up and tell their rabbi the kinds of messages they are getting.

We can help. We can listen. We can show compassion and sympathy. We can ask how they want to handle their identity and how they want to engage. Then we need to speak up when fellow Jews are insulting — intentionally or unintentionally. Not with words of bitterness, but with calm, firm words that hold a mirror to the speaker. Let’s all become allies, no matter what Jewish movement we claim.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Mixed & Matched
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jason-segel-USA Today

Jason Segel, star of How I Met Your Mother (and various films) is the son of a Christian mother and a Jewish father. Segel was recently interviewed on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. About 15 minutes into the podcast the subject of religion comes up. For the next 5 minutes Jason pokes gentle fun at his experience of being raised between religions. He states that letting a child choose their religion, “is like the dumbest thing you can do for a kid.”

He goes on to chat with Marc Maron about the typical challenge to a patralineal child’s identity and the status of perennial outsider – a Jew in Christian environments and a Christian in Jewish ones.

Despite the highest ideals and wishes of parents, the people around us will retain their own view of religion and identity. It is better to be prepared for reality – and to prepare your kids – that to just dream of an homogenous world when everyone shares our personal perspective.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, In their own words
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Comic book character Hot Stuff

Comic book character Hot Stuff

I received this question from a Jewish mom to my Mixed and Matched column:

My husband was raised in a nominally Christian family. We are raising our kids Jewish. Our oldest is going to public school in the fall. I feel like I should prepare our son for the inevitable Christian child who tells him, ‘Jews are going to hell.’ I don’t want to cast aspersions on my in-laws and other Christians. How do I handle this? — Love My In-laws

My answer:

Dear Love: Some people will read your letter and say, “It’s not inevitable; you don’t need to say anything.” But they are wrong. There is rarely a fire at public school, but they hold practice fire drills nonetheless. Be prepared, have the conversation upfront.

Begin by discussing your message with your husband so that you have a comfortable, shared story for your son. Then explain to your son that in any group, whether it is a group of baseball fans, people from the same country, those on the same soccer team or those who share the same religion, there is always the chance that some of those people think differently, even so differently that we may not like what they believe. Tell him that some Christians believe differently from your own family members. These Christians believe that Jesus is the God for everyone and that anyone who does not agree is going to hell.

Remember for yourself that this basic message will at some point extend to people who are racist or homophobic. The goal is to share some bad news about life without making him feel hate toward others.

What often helps children is telling them that while Christians believe in hell, Jews do not, so there is nothing to fear. Give them a bit of the history of early Christianity; for example, early Christian leaders argued whether or not Jesus was God and eventually the yeses won. So even early Christians weren’t 100 percent clear about Jesus being God. Also, do acknowledge that Jesus was a real historical person and he was Jewish. In his lifetime, Jesus didn’t claim to be a Christian and in fact, Christianity was not invented until long after his death so it would have been impossible for him to call himself a Christian. That is enough information for your child to feel competent in a conversation about the facts regarding Christian history and Jewish beliefs.

Although Jews don’t believe in hell, Christian friends may continue to trouble your child, saying his soul is in danger. Again, point out that there are many different religions practiced here in our own community as well as around the world, each with different beliefs. As your child ages, you will undoubtedly talk about how different people view God and serve God. We Jews tend to focus on justice. That is why we have a book of laws (Torah) and books explaining the laws (Talmud and rabbinic writings). Other religions also believe in justice, but they believe in other core ways of performing their service to God. If you ask a Christian what their core message is, I have found that they typically say, ‘Love, it’s all about love.’ A great message, and one that Judaism embraces, too. So we are all similar and yet unique.

Do kids still say this kind of stuff? Yes, because that’s what they are being taught. They are not being mean. In their eyes, they are being informative. So your child should respond with more information, not fear or defensiveness. Each child, your Jewish one and his Christian friend, can discuss these important topics with their respective parents. Dialogue is a good thing. My own children were told they were going to hell, one in elementary school and the other in high school. Naturally, these conversations were different and took an age-appropriate direction. Neither child was distressed. We have extended family members who are Christian, which had no impact on our relationships.

The Jewish child who is told by a family member that he or she or a parent is going to hell is in a different situation, but that does not sound like a concern in your family. I feel confident that the conversation will go smoothly.

Posted by admin under Children, God, Mixed & Matched
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Camp Tawonga Dining Hall

Camp Tawonga Dining Hall

Here comes summer! I asked Liora, the Youth and Family Concierge for the East Bay Federation to share some thoughts about Jewish Summer Camp. I did so because she has a marvelous spreadsheet of summer camp options and I want you to feel welcome to give them a try. Here’s what she has to say about her own take on Jewish Summer Camp:

With Memorial Day and Shavuot (The holiday marking the giving of the Torah) on the same weekend this year, nothing says “Summer” like ending the Jewish holiday cycle and BBQ at the same time! Shavuot is the last holiday until Rosh Hashana (mark your calendars, Evening of September 13th!) and with that Jews are officially on summer vacation. What better way to rejoice in the season than to meet new friends and reunite with old friends at summer camp?

Summer camp was a formative experience for me. I recently met up with a former camper from a summer when I was a bunk counselor. She is now married and seeing her again was so special for me. In the songs I sing to my own children (silly, serious, English, Hebrew) or the memories I cherish (Games of “capture the flag,” or cozy in my sleeping bag among my bunkmates) camp is really a special time.

In our first year of the Sprout Initiative at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, it seemed only natural to produce a Summer Camp Guide for Families in the East Bay. From day camps to overnight camps in the region there are many wonderful options. Want to speak with someone to help you sort through the possibilities? I’m here for your family! As the Youth and Family Concierge, my job is to help families connect to Jewish life in the East Bay. I’d love to connect with you.

Not sure your children are camp material? Are your children too young to attend day camp or overnight camp? Try family camps. Specialty family camp weekends are a great way to test the waters or have a getaway while in community. Tawonga has family weekends and Be’chol Lashon has a weekend in November.

Check out our 2015 Summer Camp Guide for Families Click here to view the guide. (PDF)
Whatever your family has planned, all of us at Sprout wish you a wonderful summer.


I urge you to try something Jewish this summer. It’s a great time, no pressure, that wonderful summery feeling. If you’re not sure what you want to try, feel free to give me a call.

Camp Kee Tov campers

Camp Kee Tov campers

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Community
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Afikomen Treasure Hunt half size

I’m struck dumb with admiration! The Bible Belt Balabusta has come up with an Afikomen Treasure Hunt that will mollify the most ardent Easter Egg longings.

Here’s what she says about her 2015 hunt:

Here’s the first clue in this year’s Afikomen Treasure Hunt. Each guest had an origami frog place card (my index card hopping frogs) and after dinner, we were told to unfold it. Inside seven of our frogs was a single letter. The kid had to line up the letters and spell the right word, which happened to be ARMOIRE, and which happened to hold the next clue. Oh, how I love a good treasure hunt.

You can go to her website and read MORE about her staggering creativity here.

Posted by admin under Children, Passover
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Easter Eggs Sweden

I’ve received many questions this month about painting eggs. Spring brings Passover and Easter, sometimes right on top of each other. While Jews are focusing on slavery, emancipation and unleavened bread, Easter seems to be focusing on bunnies, candy baskets and egg hunts. The real meaning of the holiday gets lost on a lot of Jewish families, especially the children. So I did some research on Easter that may be helpful in deciding what is best for your own family.

Dear Jewish parents everywhere,
We hear just bits and pieces about the meaning of Easter. I did some research so that we could have a more thorough understanding. Then, we can make our own determinations about what is best for our family. My firm belief is that knowledge makes our decision making easier and more comfortable. It can help to cut down on arguments between spouses and between parents and children. I want you to know what Easter observances are about, where they came from and, armed with this knowledge, decide what works for you. And yes, I know many Jews with two Jewish parents who colored eggs as kids. It was basically a craft activity for them.

The Easter Story
Easter is not a jolly holiday about the birth of a baby; rather it is a grim story of a gruesome death. The story’s ending is positive for believers in that Christ’s resurrection symbolizes salvation. Religious Easter is impossible to separate from its Christian message. Many Jews can’t put aside the fact that the person who is horribly killed is a Jew and yet all Jews get blamed for it… for all eternity. So be prepared for many Jews to have a visceral reaction to the idea of celebrating Easter in anyway. You may feel that you’re just doing the chocolate part of the holiday, yet others may see that as unacceptable. Be prepared to deal with these emotions. Remember that that’s what they are, emotions, and as such are neither right nor wrong.

The Easter Egg
The early Christians actively proselytized and one of the effective methods of doing so was to absorb the traditions of the community into which they spread their faith. Reinterpreting a ritual and reframing it in Christian symbolism was a less obvious way to monopolize the religion practices of indigenous peoples and to ease them into Christianity. It may feel creepy to our modern ears, but it’s better than being killed. So, Easter, like many Christian holidays, borrows heavily from pagan practices; in this case, springtime rituals.

The tradition of coloring eggs goes back thousands of years in pagan traditions. The egg was widely used as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Painted eggs are still used at the ancient Iranian spring holiday, Nooruz, which is from the Zoroastrian religion. Just a note, Zoroastrianism is as old as Judaism; both of us have our beginnings in the earth based rituals of early civilization. Pysanka eggs, those gorgeous wax-resist eggs from the Ukraine, also date back to a pagan religion from a time when Ukrainians worshipped a sun god, Dazhboh. Part of that worship included decorated eggs.

Easter Pysanky eggs

Easter Pysanky eggs

The Easter egg is the latest addition to these springtime egg festivities. It is also called the Paschal egg, Paschal meaning “pertaining to Easter or Passover” How’s that for mixing things up! The egg was re-interpreted to symbolizes the sealed tomb in which Jesus’ body was placed. Think: just as a bird hatches alive from an egg, so too did Jesus emerge alive from the tomb. The message being that believing Christians will also experience eternal life. Traditionally the eggs were dyed red to symbolize Christ’s blood.

The Easter Bunny
The rabbit has always been known to be quite fertile so their association with springtime, fertility and rebirth is natural. Ancient Greeks believe that the rabbit was a hermaphrodite and could reproduce without a partner. Christianity interpreted this to mean that the rabbit remained a virgin even though it gave birth and it became associated with the Virgin Mary.

Now, what do we do with this knowledge?
Clearly there is nothing Jewish about Easter. Celebrating or observing any of the rituals of Easter, whether you see them as Christian or pagan, is going to be seen as “not Jewish” in the Jewish community. Now you must ask yourself, what do I want to teach my children? And what do I feel about other people’s opinions?

So, what about the kids?
If you want to color eggs because “it’s fun” I suggest you teach your children the historical meaning of painted eggs. By teaching them the truth you are equipping them to respond with confidence, and probably greater knowledge, to anyone who challenges them. You can say, “Decorating eggs has been a tradition for thousands of years in other religions, here are some of the ways that it was done and understood by people from other places in the world. We are painting them because it’s fun and pretty and we are learning about their history.”

To the Jewish mom who said her daughter wants to paint eggs to represent the 10 plagues I say, wow, your daughter is wonderfully creative! You could tell your daughter that people from different backgrounds borrow from each other and you are borrowing the idea of painted eggs and turning it into a Jewish expression for your family. You could use the eggs as part of your Seder table decorations and get the kids to guess which egg is which plague. This practice isn’t a Jewish tradition now, but who knows, maybe she’s starting something!

What about the opinions of others?
I’m not going to tell you to ignore or denigrate them. Judaism is a communal practice; we do it together for better or worse. I suggest you use your now superior knowledge to explain to them what you’ve learned, what you’ve decided based upon that and your family’s best interests. If they still can’t accept what you are doing AND they are important to you, I suggest you ask them if there is a Jewish practice that seeing you do would comfort them. Explore whether they feel that these eggs are going to curtail your Jewish practice or damage your child’s Jewish identity? If you currently send your child to Hebrew school, observe Shabbat, and have a Passover Seder gently point out to them that your Jewish practice far outweighs some colored eggs. If they still can’t accept your practice, or these are people you don’t really care about anyway, tell them that you will have to agree to disagree, and walk away.

Posted by admin under Children, Community, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Parenting
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Trang & Ron from behind (resized)

Another question from my Mixed and Matched column in the J-Weekly.

I’m a 26-year-old Conservative Jew and celebrate the major Jewish holidays, although I’m not terribly religious. I’ve been dating a Korean girl who is Catholic but also not very religious. We are getting serious and I’m scared. I do love her, she’s my best friend, and I think about what would happen if we got married. She is open to raising our kids Jewish but still would want to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter. I think this would cause identity issues for our kids, and obviously they won’t look Jewish. Do you have any thoughts on whether it’s possible to successfully raise mixed children with a Jewish father and Asian mother without the children feeling confused or left out? — Uncertain

Dear Uncertain: You are asking the right questions, and answering them will clarify your options. There are two primary concerns: your kids being multiracial (can Jews be Asian?) and your home being interfaith (can we do two sets of holidays and have the kids feel Jewish?).

You are correct that a biracial child is more likely to be “questioned” about his or her Jewish identity. Don’t let starry-eyed liberals tell you that race doesn’t matter. Young biracial Jews report that it is harder when their parents don’t address racial assumptions about “what does a Jew look like” and racism in general. You can build your children’s confidence by making sure they have a Jewish community — typically a synagogue — that doesn’t just accepts them, but affirms their Jewish identity. There are many such children; I suggest you pick a synagogue that has a noticeable multiracial membership.

A biracial or multiracial child in an interfaith family faces additional concerns. First is the American assumption that Asians can’t be Jewish. Many only consider someone to be Jewish if he or she has a Jewish mother. A young biracial woman whose mother is Jewish and father is Vietnamese told me, “I can’t get the words ‘My mom is Jewish’ out of my mouth fast enough.”

In the eyes of the Conservative movement, your children would not be considered Jewish unless you convert them. Typically, a Conservative Jewish man in your situation takes his infants to the mikvah for conversion. This is something you should think about and discuss with your sweetheart. For some young people, knowing that they were taken to the mikvah is tremendously important. They tell me, “My parents made sure I went to the mikvah. I’m Jewish and have been since before I have any memory.”

Otherwise, I suggest you go to a Reform congregation where they accept patrilineal children as Jewish. But be aware that even if your children are raised Jewish, they will still come into contact with people who do not accept patrilineal descent, and you must be prepared to deal with that in a calm and supportive manner.

Before you go any further, you need to have a discussion about what is involved in raising children as Jews. You are right that a number of Jewish kids who grow up with Christian holidays often feel a sense of dual loyalty. The truth is that this is a compromise, and it does affect the children. This isn’t to say they don’t end up Jewish. But it means you have to be sensitive to how they are taking it in. If you do decide to celebrate Christian holidays, decide in advance which ones and how your partner wants to observe them. Then be sure that you are truly “doing Jewish” the rest of the year.

Ask yourself how important it is that your children self-identify as Jewish. If it is extremely important, then ask your sweetheart if she is willing to have a dialogue about what that would involve. Chances are she has no idea and you have only a sketchy one. She must be given the opportunity to find out what she is getting into before marriage.

No one can promise that your children will be Jewish if you marry a non-Jew. But no one can promise that you will ever feel this strongly about another woman. I would highly recommend that the two of you go to a couples discussion group to sort things out. You’ll get a chance to hear from other interfaith couples and make your decision together. If you can’t get to a group then consider doing individual sessions with me to assess where you and your girlfriend agree and disagree. (I often do these via Skype so you will be in the comfort of your own home.)

You can read the original letter with readers’ responses here.

Posted by admin under Children, In the News, Jews of Color, Mixed & Matched, Parenting
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cousins on bema

Planning a b’nai mitzvah is stressful enough if you had one yourself, but if you weren’t raised Jewish it can be truly nerve wracking. There are the questions of how the study process works, timing, sessions, amount to be learned, how to help your child succeed. Then there’s the non-Jewish partner and extended family. How do you include them, make them comfortable, and explain what is going on.
How does a non-Jewish parent participate? What part of the planning do they want to share? What if it’s all on you alone? What role does each parent play during the bar or bat mitzvah? Is this a service or a celebration of one child? Join other wondering parents of all backgrounds as we decipher this life cycle event!

Sunday, February 22, 2015
9:30 – 11:00 am
Temple Sinai

You can call Dawn for more details at 510-845-6420.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Non-Jewish family, Parenting, Past Programs, Programs archive, Synagogues
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New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

The Spring 2015 line up of Building Jewish Bridges workshops and classes!


names in Hebrew

What’s in a Jewish Name?
Join B’nai Tikvah congregants for services on Friday January 9 at 6:30pm, when I will be speaking in the sermon slot. My subject is the special place name and naming rituals holds in Jewish tradition. This dovetails with the start of a new book of the Torah called Shemot, in which the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named. Whether you have a Jewish name or want to choose one for yourself or someone else, this presentation will get you thinking. Please join us!

Date: Jan. 9, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek

Are Our Children Jewish?
Patralineal Descent, Reform Judaism & Those Other Jews
In 1983 the Reform movement officially recognized children of Jewish fathers as Jewish. But if you read the statement it says that every child of a mixed marriage, whether the mother or father is Jewish, must establish their identity as a Jew “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.” What are those acts? Do we really expect all kids from interfaith marriages to do so? What role do non-Reform Jews play in our lives and those of our children? Join Dawn Kepler for an exploration of Patralineal Jews today.

Date: Friday, Jan. 23
Time: 7:30pm (the discussion will be a part of the Shabbat service)
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
You can RSVP if you like here.


What Makes a Home “Jewish”?
A Jew may ask their spouse to agree to have a “Jewish” home. But what does that mean?
To a non-Jewish loved one it may mean simply that some of the people in the house say they are Jews. But our partners deserve a more in-depth answer. One Jew may say, a Jewish home has Jewish ritual objects – a menorah, Shabbos candlesticks, a ketubah on the wall. Another may add, but you need to do Jewish things in a Jewish home like observe Shabbat weekly or build a sukkah on Sukkot or recite the Shema before bedtime. Yet another will say we must act like Jews, give tzadakah, attend synagogue, refrain from eating pork.

Each Jewish partner will have their own ideas about what they need in order to feel that their home is “Jewish.” Or, they may have no clear idea at all! Every non-Jewish spouse deserves a clear statement as to what they are signing up for.

Join Rabbi Glazer, Dawn Kepler and other curious couples for an enlightening discussion and go home with your own individualized plan.

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue (near the corner of Clement Street), San Francisco
Cost: Free to members of Beth Sholom, $8 for a non-member individual, $12 for a non-member couple.
Register here.

Preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah for Interfaith Families
Planning a b’nai mitzvah is stressful enough if you had one yourself, but if you weren’t raised Jewish it can be truly nerve wracking. There are the questions of how the study process works, timing, sessions, amount to be learned, how to help your child succeed. Then there’s the non-Jewish partner and extended family. How do you include them, make them comfortable, and explain what is going on.
How does a non-Jewish parent participate? What part of the planning do they want to share? What if it’s all on you alone? What role does each parent play during the bar or bat mitzvah? Is this a service or a celebration of one child? Join other wondering parents of all backgrounds as we decipher this life cycle event!

Sunday, February 22, 2015
9:30 – 11:00 am
Temple Sinai

How Dare People Say I’m Not Jewish!
My dad is Jewish, my mom is not.
I was adopted and raised Jewish.
My mom had a Reform conversion.
Why do people tell us we aren’t Jewish?
Are you annoyed, hurt, confused by challenges to your Jewish identity? Let’s talk about patralineal Jews, halachic Jews, Judaism, and how to handle other people’s opinions.

Date: Thursday, Feb. 26
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $5
Register here.


This is a workshop I am doing for Temple Sinai. ANYONE is welcome to attend. It will have some relevance to you at any Reform synagogue.
The Non-Jew in the Synagogue
Temple Sinai is blessed to have many interfaith couples as members, many of whom are very involved. That involvement has led to some common questions. How should I behave in services; should I do what the Jews are doing – bow, recite the Hebrew? How should I deal with lines like, ‘thank you God for making me a Jew’ when I’m not a Jew? I wonder if I’ll be offending anyone by ‘acting’ like a Jew or by saying Shabbat Shalom or Shana Tovah. Does that make me an imposter? I don’t even know if I’m allowed to touch the Torah!
For better or worse, every synagogue has its own customs. Come learn about the customs and traditions at Temple Sinai. We can also touch on common practice at other shuls if you are anticipating visiting elsewhere for a family simcha.

Date: Wednesday, March 25
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
An RSVP is appreciated.

Raising A Mensch:
What it Means to Raise a Jewish Child with Universal Values
Many families decide to raise their children Jewish but for the non-Jewish parent, what does that really mean? What are the expectations of both parents? Dawn Kepler will lead a conversation about this important topic with parents. Each session we will address a Jewish value. Parents will go home with tools, ideas and thought-provoking questions ensuring both parents are on the same page.

Dates: Sundays, March 29, April 19 & 26, and May 3
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Cost: Free to Temple Israel members, $18 public per session or $30 for all four.
Register here.


Women in Interfaith Relationships: A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion, facilitated by Rabbi Lisa Delson with Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges, about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age welcome.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost: Free to members of Peninsula Temple Sholom, $8 to non-members
Register here.


After the Play: Head of Passes
Join us again to explore Jewish values in the arts. Playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney, author of Berkeley Rep’s Head of Passes, states that his play was inspired by both the biblical story of Job and Shakespeare’s Lear. “This play is about a literal discourse in faith.”

How does Judaism perceive Job, or tragedy? How do we in modern times, view the concept of faith? What is our internal guide? Is McCraney correct in saying that, “everybody needs to invent or hold onto some inalienable truth. Or at least that they feel is the truth.” Is there a core Jewish truth?

Join Rabbi Chester to explore Job, faith, and meaning.

Date: Thursday, May 21
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12
Register here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Past Programs, women
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