Beth El hosts weekend on interfaith family issues

"All in the Jewish Family: Interfaith family issues we face as a synagogue and community" is the topic of a scholar-in-residence weekend Jan. 14-16, 2011, at Beth El Congregation.

The weekend is part of the Keruv Initiative started by Len Gimbel 12 years ago, when he was president of the national Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs; his five daughters had married non-Jewish men.

The featured scholars are Harvey Braunstein of Larchmont, N.Y., who is co-chair of the Keruv Initiative's effort to address issues of interfaith marriage, and Natalie Merkur Rose, director of Jewish Community Outreach at the Jewish Social Service Agency in Rockville, Md. She is a licensed clinical social worker who has organized and led numerous workshops, groups and conferences for interfaith couples and their families.

The program starts with an introduction to keruv (outreach) during the 5:45 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday, followed by a 7 p.m. Shabbat dinner featuring stories and a Q&A session about interfaith families.

On Saturday, after a 9 a.m. service, the featured scholars will talk about how changes in society changed the face of Judaism. Workshops will be held after kiddush, 1-3 p.m., with topics such as how to talk to interfaith children. On Sunday, from 9 a.m. to noon, there will be sessions on sensitizing teachers and grandparenting interfaith grandchildren.

Beth El is located at 1118 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix. The program is free, except for an $18 charge for the Shabbat dinner. Dinner reservations are required by Jan. 7 to Renee Jofee, 602-944-3359, ext. 113, or

VOSJCC to host winter open house

The Valley of the Sun JCC will hold its winter open house noon-2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

The theme is "Peace, Love & Fitness" and will include special promotions and a Ride for the STARS (Support the Agency Raising Scholarships) indoor cycling Spin-a-Thon benefiting JCC scholarships, which runs from 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, to 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9. Participants can sign up for increments of one to two hours. Jewish News is a media partner of the open house.

An active adult brunch sponsored by ARTE will be held 10:30-11:30 a.m. The brunch is free, but reservations are required, 480-483-7121, ext. 1230.

The event will also feature an all-day Fittest Family Competition and the grand opening of the Parenting Place from noon to 2 p.m. The Parenting Place, which is open to nonmembers, will offer workshops and safety programs and will feature a parenting lounge.


Heritage center is featured tour site

The Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center will be included on the route of the "Historic Women of Downtown Phoenix" bus tour sponsored by the Arizona Women's Heritage Trail (AWHT) 9:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, Jan. 6.

As they travel along the trail during the bus tour, AWHT historians will share information about the roles of women in Phoenix history and point out such notable sites as the Heard Museum, the Adams Hotel and the Girl Scouts-Arizona-Cactus Pine. Stops on the tour include the Carver Museum and Cultural Center to learn about what it was like teaching in segregated schools and the Carnegie Center, the city's first library, which houses exhibits related to women's history. AWHT is a statewide centennial legacy project.

The tour leaves from the Arizona Capitol Museum, 1700 W. Washington St., at 9:30 a.m.

Cost is $15 adults, $12 seniors and $8 students. For reservations, call 480-471-7792 or e-mail

- Leisah Woldoff

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