Nous Sommes Tous Français


CSJO has a "sister" organization in France called "Liberté du Judaïsme." They, too, are a secular Jewish organization which sends their newsletters (in French) to us to keep us informed as to their actions and positions on issues. Sadly one of their members lost a family member in this past week's terrorist attack in Paris. Condolences were sent along with our support.

Inappropriate Words


By Joan Kurtz At our recent Executive Committee meeting, I made a remark (can’t remember exactly what it was) but I used the word “marranos.” I was quickly corrected and told that “marranos” literally means “pig” and is used as an insult when referring to Jews of Spanish descent who were forcibly converted during the Inquisition. The preferred term is “conversos.” Though I knew both terms, I did not know the difference.

Another term I recently learned about is “gyped,” as in when one feels as if they have been ripped off, cheated or mislead. That term comes from the word “gypsy” and is also an insult.

We learn something new every day!

CSJO Conference 2015 ... and Next Year


Hello: It’s been a few weeks since another successful CSJO conference ended. First, we had four first-time young attendees (from the Ann Arbor Jewish Cultural Society, Michigan and from the Oak Park Jewish Secular Community and School, Illinois) all of whom seemed to have had a great time. Additionally, we had new adult attendees from Illinois and Toronto, and a returnee who hadn’t been back in 10+ years, and another returnee who hadn't been back in 13+ years. Nice to see all the other familiar faces as well.

We are giving a shout out to our wonderful keynote speakers, Julie Gales from Ann Arbor, MI, and Ben Haas from Folkshul (Philadelphia), PA. Julie spoke about the history of the youth conference and Ben spoke about the teen/young adult conference as it is today. Julie's slideshow included both the beginning of the teen conference and culminated in a photoshoot of people at this year's conference.

For the first time, we decided to hold an intergenerational Saturday night event with a Murder Mystery on campus. Attendees dressed up as if in a 1920’s speak-easy with tough-talking characters with Brooklyn accents as well as a roaming “cigarette” girl (for those of you over 60: “Cigars, cigarettes, Tiparillos?”). All of this made the setting that much more realistic and fun. There were prizes given out – the three lucky winners each will receive $100 off next year’s conference!

Workshops and seminars were various and enlightening. One of the workshops on outreach was able to continue later that day in an available lecture room, as we still had more to discuss. As usual, topics were also discussed and debated over meals. That’s some of the best parts of the conference – networking, sharing ideas and offering successful programs to each other.

All the staff on campus were wonderful, accommodating all our needs from a VERY late arrival on Friday night to making food available for people with severe dietary restrictions. This was all done with smiles on their faces and parting words of, “Anything else I can do for you?” We appreciated all their hard work and effort in making this again a very successful conference.

The site for next year’s conference has yet to be decided, so if you’d like to host it, please let us know. Most of the work is performed by a Conference Committee, who organizes workshops, while the Site Committee primarily procures a place where to host the conference. We’ll be happy to detail what would need to be done if you'd like to help!

Happy summer!

Rifke Feinstein CSJO Exec. Dir.

Joan Kurtz CSJO Treasurer