Yes, There’s a Cross in My Jewish Home. Here’s Why

Posted on December 11th, 2016
By Carla Naumburg for Kveller

“Mommy, can we put up Christmas decorations in the house?”

And thus began yet another December conversation. Christmas decorations are out of the question for us, as we don’t celebrate Christmas in our home. That particular line in the sand is quite clear in my mind, but that’s pretty much where the clarity ends.

My family background is a mix of secular Jews, Oklahoma Christians, and skeptical Italians. I was raised hanging pickle ornaments on Christmas trees with my mother and siblings and singing holiday carols at my Jewish grandmother’s parties.

Continue reading.


The Secret Jewish History of Robbie Robertson and The Band

Posted on December 4th, 2016
Seth Rogovoy for The Jewish Daily Forward

Of the many revealing moments in Robbie Robertson’s terrific new memoir, “Testimony” (Crown Archetype), one stands out for what it says about the legacy of the esteemed, influential rock group, the Band, for which Robertson served as chief songwriter and guitarist; what it says about Robertson’s relationship with his fellow Band-mate, Levon Helm, with whom he sometimes vied for leadership of the group; and what it implies about Robertson’s sense of self-identification.

Tired of the heckling and booing to which the musicians were subjected on a nightly basis while touring as Bob Dylan’s backup band (at the time still known as the Hawks) on the latter’s first electric tour (chronicled in a new, massive 36-CD collection called “Bob Dylan: The 1966 Live Recordings”), Levon Helm confronted Robertson one night to tell him was leaving the group. Robertson recounts the moment: [Helm said,] “I don’t like this damn music. I don’t trust Albert Grossman and these people. And I don’t wanna be around Bob Dylan and all these New York…” Helm didn’t finish the thought, but the implication was clear. Not for the first time and not for the last, Helm, born and bred in rural Arkansas, was about to let loose with an anti-Semitic epithet. The only thing that stopped him, in this case, from completing the phrase “New York Jews,” was that his interlocutor was pretty much one of “them.”

Continue reading.

Things Toddlers Say At Services

Posted on November 27th, 2016

This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily

by Emily Mace

With the drama of the High Holidays receding into the past, I find myself thinking about the charms and challenges of bringing a toddler to synagogue services.

This past summer, our family moved to a different, nearby suburb, one that’s full of as many synagogues as we could reasonably hope to shop around. With the business of moving, we didn’t attend services very often this summer, saving the serious shul-shopping for a more settled time.

Not attending services, though, has meant that our 3-year-old daughter has virtually forgotten what happens at synagogue. During this time she’s also moved more firmly into the phase of life where every other statement begins with, “Mommy, why?”

Continue reading.

From Baptism to Bar Mitzvah: Navigating a Dual-Faith First Communion

Posted on November 20th, 2016
By Sheri Kupres. This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily

When my Catholic husband and I decided to participate in a dual baby-naming/baptism ceremony for our firstborn, it was not warmly accepted by my Jewish parents. The ceremony, while wonderful for the three of us starting our journey as a dual-faith family, was fraught with tension. So when we had two more children, we didn’t invite my parents to these baby-naming/baptism ceremonies.

Fast-forward seven years later, and we were again embarking on a religious milestone as my oldest was about to take his First Communion through the dual-faith Sunday school we enrolled in. The First Communion ceremony was to be officiated by both a priest and a rabbi. The service itself, while being a Catholic ceremony, weaved in elements of Judaism, including Jewish prayers and stories.

Continue reading.

When East Meets East

Posted on November 13th, 2016

Review of 'JewAsian,' by Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt


Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Maury Povich and Connie Chung, George Soros and Tamiko Bolton—these cross-cultural unions are enough to make you think that marriage between Asians and Jews is a trend. There is in fact some statistical evidence to suggest that Asian-Jewish couples make up a disproportionate percentage of the recently intermarried. A study in the 1990s by California State University professor Colleen Fung and Judy Young of the University of California found that Jews made up 18 percent of the white spouses chosen by East Asians (Chinese or Japanese) in America. Given the small number of Jews and East Asians in the general population, this is a surprisingly high percentage.

Continue reading.