Love and Religion

Interfaith Consultation for Jews and their Families

A Guide to the Passover Seder

I hope you enjoy this guide to the Passover Seder. Please reach out to me if you have any questions! http:// Read More >
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Five Things to Think About as You Prepare for Passover

My mother kept a calendar that revolved around the Jewish holidays. As soon as one finished she began talking about the next one. We hadn’t yet finished all the hamentashen and she began thinking about her Passover preparations. I have vivid memories of her polishing all the silver flatware and serving pieces. Then the bathtub was filled with glassware, dishes and any other kitchenware that could be made kosher for Passover by the “soaking with stones” method. She also started the cleaning of the house with a vengeance making sure that every surface had been scoured and cleaned thoroughly. Her way of thinking about time has become one of the ways I think of time. When I think of getting ready for Passover, I remember all my mother’s efforts and I will also change my dishes as she did. However, I have other aspects of the holiday I like to focus on. Here’s my list of things I focuses on during Passover: First, think about how you want this Seder to be. Of course, there is the basic text of the Haggadah, but think of what you would like the people at the table to reflect on. Is it freedom, […] Read More >
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“Being Jewish on Valentines Day”

As some of you might remember, last year, the Washington Post’s On Faith column published some of my thoughts on the origins and history of Valentines Day. I have included a snippet of the article below, I hope you all enjoy! Here in the United States even the name of the holiday has been changed from religious to secular. No one even thinks about the religious origins of the holiday. There were in fact three St. Valentines. While all three were martyred, the patron saint of the day was indeed a benevolent soul. During the third century when Claudius III, ruler of the Roman Empire, realized that unmarried young men made better soldiers, he forbade them to marry. It is Valentine who took the risk and performed the marriages clandestinely.  He was celebrated for his acts of bravery and made a saint. The romantic aspect came much later at the end of the fifth century. The oldest valentine still in existence was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.   Click here to read the whole article, and […] Read More >
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How Does Judaism Inform My Daily Life?

How Does Judaism Inform My Daily Life?

In my interfaith classes, I’m often asked the question, “How does Judaism inform your daily life?” Yesterday, I had one of those days where everything that is meaningful and special to me was a part of my day from sun up to sun down. In the morning, I gathered with my friends and family to celebrate my dear friend’s 80th birthday. To honor someone’s life, to mark the event by being present, and to share our love of his presence in our lives was very special to me. All of these activities give my life meaning, and fill up my internal psyche. Next we went to celebrate the brit milah of our Cantor’s newborn baby. The entire Adas Israel Congregation was invited–our cantor and her husband wanted to include us in bringing their child into the Jewish community. I was both honored and grateful to be included. For me, this invitation represents an authentic building of our congregational community. And lastly, I ended the day by having a good friend over for dinner. I knew she was grieving a loss, and hadn’t been out in a while, so having her at the table was a gift to us all. To […] Read More >
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Six Tips for Conversion

Are you seriously involved in an interfaith relationship? Are pondering the idea of becoming a Jew-by-choice? Here are six tips to guide you as you go on this wonderful and important journey. 1. This tip is for the Jewish partner in the relationship, the partner who is not converting. Now is the time to express your gratitude and appreciation to your partner who is considering this life altering decision. It is imperative that you demonstrate how thankful you are to be receiving this magnificent gift. 2. Sign up for an “Introduction to Judaism” class together. Not only will you learn, you will also meet other couples who are exploring their Jewish journey. 3. Everyone who wants to convert needs a sponsoring rabbi to help guide his or her process. Before you pick someone, I would recommend visiting several synagogues together. Research the synagogues online, and go to several services before you make an appointment with the rabbi. This will help you get a feel of the synagogue and congregation, and decide if you would feel welcomed there. 4.  Go with your gut. Once you attend a synagogue where you feel welcomed, and where members of the congregation have reached out […] Read More >
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An evening of Storytelling About Interfaith Families and Their Jewish Journeys: Recap

A little known fact about Adas Israel Congregation, is that we have over 90 families in our conservative congregation who identify as interfaith. It is part of Adas Israel’s mission to integrate this group into the many facets of synagogue life, and so on December 15th Adas Israel hosted its first storytelling event that focused on interfaith families. Ten people volunteered, okay, were persuaded, to present their narratives. Each of these couples was, at one time, composed of a Jewish partner and a partner of another faith. Some have become Jews-by-choice, and some have not converted, but all are raising their children Jewish. Nine of the couples had participated in my “Love and Religion” Workshop, and one couple was in the very first session I ran 19 years ago! Each person had 5 minutes to present his or her story, and what incredible stories they were! The themes ranged from “forbidden fruit” to how “conversions can make many generations of Jews” to “what do you get when you mix an Irish Catholic with an Israeli Jew.” The audience laughed and sighed–some stories were sad, some were happy, some focused on issues still out there to be addressed, and some talked about […] Read More >
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Malbec and Midrash: Developing New Traditions and Creating Memories

It always pays to do someone a favor. While the benefits are obvious, the gifts we receive can be totally unexpected. About a month ago, I received a phone call from a wonderful young woman who had been a participant in my “Love and Religion” workshop many years ago. She had a favor to ask of me. She belongs to a Jewish women’s discussion group, and the Rabbi who leads the group was going to be out of town. Could I please lead the group in her stead? While I was flattered, I am certainly not equipped to lead a biblical text study. She sweetened the pot when she added, “You can talk on whatever topic you want.” This was irresistible! As she described the goals for the group, I began to formulate what I wanted to discuss with them. Since we were meeting before Thanksgivakkah I knew the holidays would be one of the themes we would address. I also wanted to know if there were any interfaith families within the group and she said there were a few. When this group meets, they start with wine and cheese–what a civilized ritual after a long day of work and […] Read More >
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My Tips for an Interfaith Thanksgivukkah

This year, Thanksgiving falls on the second night of Hanukkah, this is the first time this has happened, and it won’t happen again for another 79,000 years! This can certainly make life a bit complicated since Jews will want to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. My solution to is to marry your Hanukkah and Thanksgiving traditions together, just as you do in an interfaith relationship! Here is a real world situation that involves the need to marry together traditions, just as we all must do this year with the timing of Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah: Say you are in your second marriage, and you are your spouse are an interfaith couple. You have decided to raise the children you have together children Jewish, but you have a child from your first marriage who is of a different faith that will be celebrating Thanksgivukkah with you. Thanksgiving is the easy part, but how do you approach Hanukkah as a family with children who practice different religions. Here is how I would manage this situation. First, you and your spouse should first call whoever you are celebrating the holiday with and discuss the situation with them. Talk about how they can make your […] Read More >
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Happy Thanksgivukkah…Recipes

Happy Thanksgivaukkah! I bet you are busy preparing for your family’s celebration-I know I am! I thought it would be fun to post some of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving and Chanukah recipes, incase you need any last minute additions to your family’s food table. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, and be sure to let me know if you try any of my recipes! Marion’s Thanksgiving Brussel Sprouts:  ½ lb thick cut duck bacon [found in kosher stores] cut into ¼-inch lardons 36 Brussels sprout, trimmed and cut in ½ 2 tsp sea salt 12 chestnuts, roasted, peeled broken into chunks 3 garlic cloves, minced 6 sprigs of thyme ¾ cup non-dairy cream kosher substitute ¼ cup maple syrup ½ lemon   In a large skillet, render the duck bacon over medium heat. Cook until brown, remove with a slotted spoon. Put on paper towels. Leave fat in the pan and cook Brussels sprouts for 1 minute. Add chestnuts, cook for 4 minutes Add garlic and thyme, cook for 3 more minutes Pour in non- dairy creamer. Reduce liquid in half. Season to taste Add duck bacon bits; pour in maple syrup and a squeeze […] Read More >
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Guest Post from my Great-Niece Marnie Kremer: Hillel at UVA

You all might remember my great-niece, Marnie Kremer, she posted here about her experiences as a Jewish camp counselor. Today, Marnie is back with a post about her experiences as a leader at the UVA Hillel. I am very proud of Marnie, and the fantastic work she is doing for Jewish youth! Since the beginning of this year, I have been working with my fellow leaders at the UVA Hillel to organize a program called First Year Connection. First Year Connection works to introduce incoming first years to Jewish life at UVA, and acts as a resource for information about life at UVA in general. So far First Year Connection has: created a Facebook Group to let students know about the activities going on at Hillel, and created an intramural basketball team for Jewish first years to get to know each other outside of Hillel. Older members also act as mentors for first years. We meet them at their dorms so they don’t have to walk to Hillel alone, and we talk to them about how they can become involved in Hillel leadership. The most important thing to me about my work with this program is to create connections among […] Read More >
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