In an effort to “create a meaningful and comfortable holiday experience” for intermarried couples, the Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County in Edison will hold a four-session program to explore customs and traditions around Jewish holidays.
“Intermarriage rates are high and keep growing,” said Jennine Shpigel, the JCC director of Jewish and family programming. “Intermarried couples are often at a loss as to how to celebrate the Jewish holidays and Shabbat in their homes, especially after having children.
“Our goal at the JCC is to present this program in a non-threatening, nondenominational, and non-religious setting, and to give couples a positive, hands-on experience and some good ideas for bringing the holidays into their homes and transmitting Jewish culture to the next generation.”
The Jewish Celebrations 411 program, which is being offered for the first time, will be held weekly, in “intensive sessions,” from Jan. 9 to 29 and will kick off with Passover, followed by Hanukka, Rosh Hashana, and Shabbat. Each session will begin with an information and discussion segment followed by an interactive activity such as food preparation or learning and listening to music.
Shpigel and three local rabbis — Ari Saks of Congregation Beth Mordecai in Perth Amboy, Gerald Zelizer of Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen, and David Vaisberg of Temple Emanu-El in Edison — will each lead one session.
“Often, the Jewish partner does not know how to bring up the subject of Jewish holiday observance, so we are trying to provide a positive, comfortable experience for both the non-Jewish and the Jewish spouse,” said Shpigel. “The whole objective of this program is not to encourage a particular level of observance, but to help couples find ways to bring the holidays into their homes.”
The program is being partially underwritten through a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County. Shpigel said if it proves successful, it is likely the JCC will offer it again, using different holidays.
The sessions are offered on Wednesday or Thursday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $80 per couple or $20 a session. To register, call 732-494-3232.