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Oct 7 2014

Which Soviet Jewish Baby Superstition Will Mila Kunis Try?

By at 10:05 am


As even Kveller has reported, actress Mila Kunis has given birth to her first child, a daughter. The dad is her former “That 70s Show” co-star, Ashton Kutcher.

On Friday, they revealed the baby’s name: Wyatt Isabelle.

And my first thought was: Mila’s parents will never be able to pronounce it. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2014

Why “Black-ish” Bombed For This Black & Jewish Family

By at 12:28 pm

via Youtube


When my middle child was in kindergarten, he asked me, “Ish means not really. So why do we say we are Jew-ish, when we’re really Jews?”

I thought about my son’s question while watching ABC’s new sitcom, “Black-ish,” which premiered last Wednesday, September 24, 2014. (Yes, that would have been Erev Rosh Hashanah. The same night “The Goldbergs”  premiered. Great scheduling, network guys!)

“Black-ish” tells the story of Andre, a financially successful African-American advertising executive, played by Anthony Anderson, married to Rainbow, an equally successful anesthesiologist, played by Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana, and, for what it’s worth, born Tracee Ellis Silberstein). Living a prosperous lifestyle in Los Angeles, Andre is worried that his four children are no longer Black, but rather Black…ish. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 30 2014

Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky–The Poster Child of Intermarriage?

By at 10:44 am


Poor little Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.

Let’s be clear about the term ”poor”–the adorable newborn daughter of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky isn’t actually “poor” in the financial sense. And it is already clear from the tweets of doting grandma Hillary that she is loved and adored–so there is no need to pity her for being lonely or neglected.

And yet, life won’t be easy for this brand new little girl. The eyes of the world will be upon her–perhaps not as unflinchingly as they are on young Prince George. But if she turns out to be the only child in American history with a grandmother running for president of the United States and a grandfather who once held the job, she and George may have a lot to talk about.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

Up Close: Ali & Patrick McDonald

By at 11:07 am


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Patrick and I met in a wine bar, in Kansas City. I was visiting family from out of town and went out for a drink with my mom. The bar was crowded, and Patrick gave up his seat so that I could sit down. We spent the evening talking (yes, the three of us!) and at the end of the night he asked me out. I almost didn’t go, because I lived in Vail, Colorado and thought I would never see him again. My mom encouraged me to go and enjoy a free dinner. I’ve been riding that free dinner for years now!

In the beginning, Patrick used to take 10-hour road trips to visit me, but within six months he had followed me to Vail and the rest is history. We moved to the DC metro for a couple of years after Vail and are now living in the Kansas City metro, near my family. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2014

Up Close: Amy Ravis Furey & Brian Furey

By at 10:17 am


1. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?

We are a Jewish family that has a Catholic dad and we are proud of that distinction. Our children like to ask a lot of questions to get clarity around who is Jewish in our family and who is Catholic. We make it very clear that to us being a loving family means celebrating and supporting one another–like helping our Catholic family celebrate the holidays that are important to them. Much like attending a friend’s birthday, our kids aren’t confused about joining in on celebrations of a different faith tradition. We all can attend birthday parties without being confused that the celebration is not yours–and we also know that we as guests are often an important element that makes the celebration meaningful.

Although we live in Kansas, because I am a Jewish community professional, a lot of our life looks Jewish, is surrounded by Jewish community and friends and is full of Jewish culture. We spend more waking hours at the Jewish community campus than at our actual home. The kids have a strong Jewish identity and an even stronger sense that there are all sorts of people in our family and our community and we value each of them for those differences.

For a guy that attended Catholic school all the way through college, Brian is fully bound up with the Jewish community and at the same time, he has no plans to convert. He likes being a Catholic dad with Jewish children and family. He helps to plan the congregational Purim carnival, served on the Associate Board for our Jewish retirement community, wakes up early to drive religious school carpool, gave blood at Mitzvah Day and recently traveled on a Jewish Federation Leadership Mission to Israel. We like to be an example that interfaith families can still raise Jewishly engaged children. Our children get the idea that it is not only Jews that can live a Jewish life, sustain Jewish heritage, and exemplify Jewish values. Those people that love us are also deeply connected to the Jewish people and will help us to flourish as a community with their commitment. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 17 2014

Up Close: Michelle Tirella-Ventura & Andre Ventura

By at 9:56 am


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Andre and I met through our mutual friend, Juli, who insisted that I go see her new home and meet her cute contractor who she happened to mention I had a lot in common with. When I refused, she said I must go over and check to see how things are going with her new home, because she couldn’t pull herself away from work and I worked around the corner.

I did go to see her “new home” and brought the cute contractor coffee and Andre and I ended up talking for an hour. A week later she coordinated his next appointment with my visit. When he saw me again, he asked me to dinner. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 13 2014

Up Close: Elizabeth & Matthew

By at 1:48 pm


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met in high school and stayed connected while attending different colleges.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2014

Up Close: Carin & Mike Mrotz

By at 9:55 am

(Photo credit: Steven Cohen)


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Some mutual friends were road-tripping and made a stop in the Twin Cities, visiting both of us separately and introducing us in the process. But when we met, Mike was a week or two away from leaving on a months-long trip out of the country, so it wasn’t until a year later, when we ran into each other at a coffee shop, that we really started hanging out. That was in the summer of 2000; we’ll be married 11 years in August.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?

We’re raising them Jewish, and we’re pretty intentional about having both parents, not just the Jewish parent, involved, so that the kids see Jewish life as a family thing, not just a “mom” thing. Mike might take Henry to a religious school program while I stay home with Miriam. He’s usually the one that reads them their PJ Library books before bed. We’re pretty clear that Mike’s not letting me raise Jewish kids, we’re doing it together.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2014

Up Close: Adina Kay-Gross & Family

By at 9:50 am


In what ways do you think having extended interfaith family has enriched your lives?

I’ve written about this a bunch before, and my feelings haven’t changed. My mother, who converted to Judaism, honored her non-Jewish mother by making sure she was never alone to celebrate her holidays. This meant she and my dad often packed up our family of five and shuttled us to the bowels of Italian Brooklyn for Christmas Eve and Easter dinner. Sometimes when holidays overlapped, we’d bring our matzah or our menorahs with us. My parents worked hard to make sure we knew who we were, and that meant not just knowing that we were Jews, but also knowing that we were, as the Talmud teaches, “the compassionate children of compassionate parents.” They were confident in their Judaism and instilled that confidence in us. There is no such thing as mutually exclusive in this situation; you can be religiously committed and not alienate family members who have made different choices. Sure, it’s hard work and it’s often confusing and complicated, but if you want to make it work, you can. In my family, love came before difference.

Is there a specific day/experience you can remember where this family set-up felt particularly complicated?   Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 10 2014

Up Close: Ben & Meida Tolsky

By at 9:57 am


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met at the first reading for a play that never actually happened. I was teaching English abroad in China, and for some reason I decided I should try to be in a play. Meida was helping to write and direct it.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between? Read the rest of this entry →


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