First, a shameless celebrity tidbit to boost this blog’s Google rankings: the inter-engaged Natalie Portman (fiance is ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied) has reportedly named her new son Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. No consensus yet on whether they’re spelling it Aleph or Alef. But if the Portman-Millepied family’s next child is a girl, will she be named Beth? (If you don’t get that joke, time to take a crash course in Hebrew.)
While we’re making fun of people’s names (yes, I’m sitting in a thin glass house, I realize), Israel’s “Good Evening With Guy Pines” TV program has been credited with breaking the news. That’s pronounced, pee-ness, yet another Hebrew name (think Dudu and Moran) that just doesn’t make the jump to English very smoothly. (For more bad Israeli names, check out this article on Kveller.)
Which leads to the yet-to-be-decided/announced name of Anthony Weiner’s still-in-utero child. On the off chance that the disgraced Jewish former congressman and his Muslim wife opt for a Hebrew name, I suggest they avoid Osnat. And if they want to mimic Natalie and choose a Hebrew letter, don’t do “hey,” as in “Hey, Weiner.” Or worse, Zayin, which is Hebrew slang for, well, the same thing Weiner is slang for (not hot dog).
OK, with that taken care of, I can now move on to weightier matters: the trove of fabulous intermarriage-related articles in this week’s Jewish Week.
All of you doubtless read our paper from cover to cover and/or keep up with every item we post online, but just in case you’ve overlooked anything, I am offering a guide to things you might want to check out:
Text/Context, a supplement that The Jewish Week puts out almost monthly in partnership with Nextbook (the publishers of Tablet magazine and the Jewish Encounters book series) is focused this month on the theme of “The Other” in Judaism. It includes an essay on the contributions of converts to Judaism, as well as two pieces on the increasing racial/ethnic diversity of American Jewish life, spurred primarily by the growth of interracial adoption, interfaith/interracial marriage and conversion.
Speaking of contributions made by converts, Rabbi Andrea Myers, a Jew by choice whose new book, “The Choosing: A Rabbi’s Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days” is on my to-read list, also has an essay in this Text/Context: on how to respond to “those who turn away from the community as a result of their difficulties with God.”
Incidentally, I copy edit Text/Context (and much of The Jewish Week), so if you see any typos or errors, let me know.
One other story this week — and this one I didn’t copy edit — is an op-ed by Sheila Gordon, the president of The Interfaith Community, critiquing The Jewish Week & UJA-Federation of New York’s recent “Conversation” for not adequately addressing the needs of interfaith families. I interviewed Sheila a few years ago about her organization, which is for interfaith families that want to expose their children to both faiths. While their approach is not my own, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited to see how thoughtfully, respectfully and intelligently the group operates.