"A Taste of Judaism"

October 14, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On October 14, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "a popular national program, 'A Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious?' will be rolled out over the next couple of months at seven Reform temples around Orange County. The first class begins next weekend. 'A Taste of Judaism' is designed for just about anyone who has the slightest interest in Jewish religion and culture. In fact, about 40% of those who attend are not Jewish. It's a chance for people of Jewish heritage to reconnect to their religion and for interfaith spouses to better understand husbands, wives and in-laws. It's also an opportunity for Christians to get deeper meaning from--as author Philip Yancy puts it--the Bible Jesus read and the culture that produced it. One Brownie Girl Scouts leader even took the classes so she could be more sensitive to the Jewish girls in her troop. 'The idea came about because there are a lot of people who know absolutely nothing about Judaism,' said Arlene Chernow, regional outreach director for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which developed the program. 'They really do have a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes.' Organizers are expecting about 400 people to take the three two-hour classes that are free. 'A Taste of Judaism' has been taken by 25,000 people at 500 Reform synagogues across the nation, from New York to Los Angeles and Miami to Bangor, Maine, drawing crowds of up to 700. The classes have also been offered in smaller towns, including Downey, Ventura, Pomona and San Bernardino in Southern California. 'What was really wonderful is that they are exposed to many dimensions of Jewish faith,' said Karen Borek, who just completed the program in Tucson. 'I'm a Christian, and there's so much of value in understanding our Hebrew heritage. There's a richness there.'"