Love and Religion

Interfaith Consultation for Jews and their Families

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What is the Hardest Part of Passover for Interfaith Families?

The holiday of Passover brings up many issues to think about as we prepare for this festival. We are asked to tell a story—a very scripted story—and one that has many messages for us to heed. We are instructed to change our dishes and clean our houses from top to bottom. There are questions in the text to answer and so many versions of the haggadah to use. As a result, I sit at one end of the table with many haggadot, each with Post-It notes in it to remind me of a special passage that I would like to include. We always read Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Season of the Egg,” and we read a passage describing Miriam’s Cup, something that was not on the Passover table when I was growing up. Then there are the writings from the Labor Zionist, family, children’s, social justice and feminist haggadot. It goes on and on. When we were blessed with three additional grandchildren at the Seder, I changed the whole thing. I wanted them to understand the Exodus story from beginning to end. Now we start with baby Moses in the Nile. I hide baby Moses in his cradle, and the […] Read More >
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Thinking about Rosh Hashanah

Is it time to think about Rosh Hashanah? Up until a few days ago, I would have said no. August is just coming to a close, and the Jewish New Year falls late in September, so why should I begin to focus on the holidays and introduce stress into my life during my calm, bucolic summer vacation in Vermont? Three friends called recently and brought up the subject. The first was obsessing about the invitations she received, trying to decide where she wanted to go versus where she felt obliged to go. The second sent me the recipe for the fabulous bulgur salad she made for our book club last night, and when I called to thank her, both of us decided it would be great dish to make for Rosh Hashanah lunch. So whether I liked it or not, the New Year was moving into my consciousness. My third conversation with another friend centered on how and what we each think about as Rosh Hashanah approaches. She said this is the time when she pays attention to doing something different during the year. This has been a goal of hers for many years. Sometimes she has something specific in mind; […] Read More >

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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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 Pt. 2

I’m back with another one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes, this time a Chanukah recipe. You can bet these will be on my Thanksgivukkah table this Thursday. Marion’s Sweet Potato Latkes  1 lb [about three] sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped 1/3 cup flour 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 tsp salt ½ tsp black pepper   Mix all together Make latkes by using a slotted spoon Fry in hot oil. I use Mazola Corn oil Makes about 20 small latkes Read More >
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Creating New Traditions: A Canadian Learns about American Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving, my parents fly from Montreal, Quebec to Washington DC to celebrate Thanksgiving with me and my family. One Thanksgiving in particular stands out in my mind, it was 1977, and one of my very first “American Thanksgivings.” We never celebrated Thanksgiving in Montreal. As observant Jews, my parents thought it was a great time of the year to go to New York, visit our relatives, go to the theatre, and have a great vacation. Since I never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up, I had no Thanksgiving memories to rely on when it came time for me to host the holiday. Everyone was obsessing over where they were getting their turkey, how they were going to prepare it, and what other dishes they were serving and I was at a loss. Okay, I understood that I had to serve turkey, but that was it! My father and I cooked up an idea that would combine our Canadian heritage, while also embracing the American holiday.  My father knew how much I loved smoked turkey, a Montreal delicacy, so we decided that he would bring one with him when my parents came for Thanksgiving. To go with our meal I made sour […] 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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