“Big Tent Judaism” Words of Torah

In time for the holidays, JOI will be launching two new listserves which will feature Rabbi Kerry Olitzky’s insights—and those of us at JOI—on inclusive Judaism.

One is called Big Tent Judaism—Words of Torah on Inclusive Judaism. Taking a cue from the weekly Torah portion, it features insights on making the Jewish community more inclusive. The other listserve is called the Mothers Circle Minute to be issued each month (designed for bulletins, emails etc.), featuring a practical way that Jewish institutions can reach out and welcome in those on the periphery of the Jewish community, especially interfaith families.

If you would like to be part of these listserves, send an email directly to and we will make sure your name gets on the list.

Here is a taste of what you will find on the listserve:

Big Tent Judaism—Words of Torah on Inclusive Judaism

And not with you alone will I make this covenant and this oath. But with the one who stands here with us this day before the Lrd our Gd, and also with the one who is not here with us this day. (Deut. 29:9-14)

It was standing together at Sinai that gives us the strength to continue our journey together, even when our perspectives conflict and even when we disagree. But there is more to Moses’ astonishing final message that is recorded in the Torah. If you believe as I do that the giving of Torah was not limited to that single experience at the mountain, that we can still hear echoes of revelation across time, that we need only listen if we want to hear Gd’s voice, then the significance of Moses’ concluding address to the people is unmistakable:

The covenantal community is expansive enough to include those who stood at that moment at Sinai, as well as those who were strangers yet still welcome to dwell among the people, and the many who were not yet present.

Mothers Circle Minute

Often the excitement of the holidays bring with it stress for interfaith families. Sometimes the stress comes from not being familiar with the service. But often the source of stress is a little closer to home: the kitchen. Faced with having to cook unfamiliar recipes for a big, traditional meal, it’s easy to panic. What if I mess up Grandma’s famous honey cake? What are the apples and honey for? And what the heck’s a tzimmis?

If you feel confident about apples and honey, honey cake, and even tzimmis, then use the holidays to build bridges. Invite a neighbor over to help you make that honey cake. Share your family’s favorite recipes. Invite newcomers to Rosh Hashanah dinner. And sit with your new friends during services. It’s a good way to begin a sweet New Year.

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