The rabbis of Peninsula Temple Beth El sent out this email to their community.

Dear PTBE Community,

This morning the sun rose just as it did yesterday and as it will tomorrow, but for most of us it doesn’t feel the same.

Today greets our nation with feelings of unprecedented division. For some elation and optimism, for others despair and anxiety. As a Jewish people, when we have entered uncertain times, we have persevered by holding Torah close, by living the values that define us as a religion and as a people.

We hope that these values guide us all in the work of reaching toward one another to bridge political divides, affirm the sacredness of our community, and continue the work of justice that our country desperately needs.

This has to be a time of personal and communal healing, a time for personal and communal reflection, and a time for personal and communal hope.

For those who are feeling as if they don’t quite know what this means right now, or what to do, we invite you into your spiritual home to sit, reflect, talk, process, pray, and gain support from your clergy and friends. Our meditation room, sanctuary, and garden will be open for you. Rabbi Sara, Rabbi Lisa, and Rabbi Dennis will be around throughout the day to lend a comforting ear and a hopeful shoulder to lean on.

May God bless our congregation and our country.


Rabbi Dennis Eisner
Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin
Rabbi Lisa Kingston

For all those who are seeking healing, check the synagogues, churches and mosques near you. A number of communities of faith are coming together to discuss healing from the terrible divisiveness we have seen in this election. Find a community, find welcome and comfort.

From Rabbi Chaim at Etz Chayim in Palo Alto:
Dear Friends,

This election- and its results- has raised a lot of strong emotions.
I will be leading a gathering from 7:15- 8:30 pm this evening for anyone who wants to join together in prayer and reflection.
This will be an opportunity to connect to one another as we express care for our country at this important crossroads.
Feel free to invite your friends.
With you all in this moment of transition–
Rabbi Chaim

In the North Bay:

It’s been a hard election season on many levels. The rhetoric has been divisive and polarizing. Bring your neighbors, bring your kids, bring your soul, bring your heart. We join together in love and blessings for the future of our community and country. Tonight we gather to hold one another, reflect, pray, and stand together in hope.
Please join us for one or both of the following events this evening:

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 pm
at Congregation Rodef Sholom
Interfaith Gathering
in Prayer for Our Country

170 N San Pedro Road, San Rafael

7 p.m.
at Congregation Kol Shofar
Gatherings for adults and teens
with Rabbi Chai Levy & Jonathan Emanuel
and Meditation with Larry Yermack
215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon

In Walnut Creek
Rabbi Gutterman of B’nai Tikvah writes:
I hope we can give ourselves a wise and forgiving period of time to mourn our losses, to ache for what might have been, to be patient with ourselves, to quiet our racing minds and find a steady place.
Friday night November 11, our 6:30 Kabbalat Shabbat will be a time to offer up the prayers of our hearts together. We will also share in the joy of our 1st/2nd grade class’s participation – they are very excited to show you what they’ve learned! And more than ever, they are our light and our hope for the future.

Saturday night November 12 at 6:00pm, Cantor Chabon and I will lead a community Havdallah in the Amphitheatre, followed by time to continue singing, and to be there for and with each other. There will not be speeches, strategizing or partisan debate; rather, it will be an opportunity to stand with each other and let our presence speak for itself.

Bring a candle (a friend too if you’d like) and dress warmly – unless it rains, we will be outside.
May we be blessed with a measure of peace as Shabbat approaches.

From Berkeley
Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Netivot Shalom says:
All ye who are weary and suffer from post-election shock syndrome:
Join us at Good Shepherd for a multi-faith service of togetherness at 7:00pm. 9th and Hearst in Berkeley.

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Oneg Shabbat

Oneg Shabbat

Another question sent to my Mixed and Matched column in the Jweekly.

My husband is Jewish; I’m not. This is a second marriage for both of us, and we raised our kids within our own religions. My husband attended synagogue as he was raising his children, but I never had a religious community. I guess I was sort of Christian because everything around me was. Now I’m attracted to the community that Judaism has. I’m not saying I want to convert; I just want my husband to be part of the community and take me. Any suggestions to get him to go to synagogue?
— Missed Out on Community

Dear Missed Out: This is tough, because you feel like you want something that your husband “owns” and to which you have no access on your own. Frankly, it is probably impossible to sit at home with your husband and coax him into wanting to go to synagogue. I suggest that you explore Jewish community on your own. Carved into the walls of an Oakland synagogue are the words, “My house shall be a house of worship for all people.” You, all by yourself, are welcome to enter a synagogue.

First, I want you to make a list of the things you believe you’d get from participating in Jewish community. Get it clear in your own head so you can talk about it with confidence and ease.

I suggest you then make an appointment with a rabbi at a synagogue near you. Go in and explain your situation to her. Using your list, tell her what it is you’d like to get out of being in a Jewish communal setting. For example: a place to celebrate holidays, a class to learn more about Judaism, new friends, a place to act on your social responsibilities, a place to “belong,” a place to pray, people to turn to in times of trouble.

Everything I’ve just listed can be had as a non-Jew, even without joining the synagogue. A lovely Christian minister used to attend my synagogue’s services because she wanted a place to pray without being in charge. Another woman joined the synagogue’s young adults email group so that she could make friends, be invited for holidays and have a group of people who care about her. She has no intention of converting; she just likes being part of the community. You could do what these women have done and just hang out with the Jews.

What will happen next? You could find that you have been wearing rose-colored glasses and Jewish community isn’t what you really want. Then you could take your list and look into churches. Or you could find that you loved participating with your new circle of friends and get so involved with them that you don’t feel the need for your husband to be there, too. Or you could have such a good time that your husband gets curious and decides to give Judaism a second look.

It may be that your husband has always seen being Jewish as a responsibility — one that he had to uphold by going to services, sending his kids through Hebrew school and making monetary donations. He may have never really felt any personal satisfaction or joy from being Jewish and practicing Judaism. If you start having fun, enjoying holiday gatherings, meeting friends at services, joining the synagogue book group or classes, he may be drawn to your activities. If he isn’t, at least you won’t be depriving yourself of the benefits of communal life, the sense of belonging.

First steps: Make your list of expectations and desires. Look online at the synagogues in your area. Peruse their websites to get a feel for what they offer. Call synagogues and ask for an appointment with the rabbi. Also, mention to the person answering the phone that you’d like to receive their e-newsletter. Start combing through the newsletters you receive to see what you’d enjoy.

You may be feeling shy at the very thought of taking these steps. You can call me and I’ll match you with a member of one or more shuls near you. Also, when you meet with the rabbis, you can ask them if they have any goodwill ambassadors who would be willing to sit with you at services or Torah study or a class.

Once you are going to events and on the rabbi’s radar, the rabbi will steer you toward people who will help you in your exploration.

Posted by admin under Community, Finding a Synagogue, Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family
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I received this message from a reader of my Mixed and Matched column in the J-weekly.

Your column is always suggesting convoluted ways that interfaith couples can deal with more traditional Jewish views. Why bother? Why don’t you just tell them to join a Reform synagogue and be done with the people who don’t agree with their life choices or see their kids as Jewish?
— Annoyed with Traditional Jews

And my answer —

Dear Annoyed: I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you asked this question! I’ve been wanting to discuss this topic since I started writing the column.

I don’t know the religious makeup of your family, but my loved ones include Christians, Muslims, atheists and Jews of all stripes. Additionally, they are white, black, Hispanic and Asian; some Jewish, some not. What do they have in common? I love them. I don’t want to discard any of them. I may not agree with all their views or practices, but I choose to hold them close all the same.

The most challenging moment of inclusion I experienced was traveling to Texas to visit my nephew, who was serving in the Army. He wanted to take us all to a shooting range as an outing. He had dozens of guns and had prepared some for our use. Live ammunition was to be used. What should I do, I who was raised by a pacifist to abhor violence and guns? I sucked it up.

I looked at this situation through the eyes of my beloved nephew. For him, guns are a daily part of life and were essential to staying alive when he was deployed in Iraq. Shooting is a skill, and like hunting, fishing or golf, it can be a hobby. Granted, it is a hobby that I never anticipate adopting, but I made the effort to see it all through the eyes of someone I love. I am proud to say that I was able to do that.

I also came smack up against my boundaries. I realized right then and there that I never even considered being among people who own guns. I don’t want a gun owner to move in next door. I don’t want people to be allowed to carry guns in my community. That means I wouldn’t want my nephew as a neighbor — but the thing is, I would, guns and all.

So the dilemma is: Is the love we feel for our family members so strong that we can accept things about them that push our buttons?

Jews within the same family circle are going to practice their Judaism differently. Interfaith families with patrilineal Jewish children will have family members who accept only matrilineal descent. Therefore, an interfaith couple needs to figure out how to live among those they love despite significant differences. We all need to figure this out for ourselves, because whether we embrace traditional halachah or not, we will interact with Jews who do.

I see more and more adults in my work who grew up with a non-Jewish parent. It is vital that our entire Jewish community stop speaking for this next generation and instead listen. For decades, many have said of interfaith families with patrilineal children, “Let them be Reform,” essentially avoiding the work of creating caring relationships. It is time to ask young adults from interfaith homes to share their experiences with us: What are we doing well, and what needs to change? It is time for both individuals and institutions in the Jewish community to be open to patrilineal children and observant coreligionists alike, without judging or condemning their beliefs.

I am currently involved in a study of the experience of those raised in interfaith families. Their Jewish practice is across the spectrum. In the Bay Area, they have been met with kindness by rabbis in all movements, although they have not always felt empowered to share their feelings about their upbringing with other Jews.

This is a time and opportunity ripe for learning. As we approach the High Holy Days, I hope we can all commit ourselves to love our fellow Jews, patrilineal or matrilineal, observant or secular, as members of our family.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Community, Mixed & Matched
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Israel in the Garden

Israel in the Garden

Sometimes people who feel they are on the margin of Jewish community because they don’t belong to a synagogue believe that there is not much available for them to do. Wrong! Every week I send out a list of random activities that ANYONE can attend. Here’s a list for the coming weeks. Of course there are MANY more. If you need help, just call me. Dawn 510-845-6420 x11

Kabbalat Shabbat on the Farm (Berkeley)
Torah with Soul (San Rafael)
Green Shabbat (Oakland)
Tot Shabbat in the Park (San Mateo)
Hummus! The Movie (Palo Alto)
Qirvah Sacred Ecstatic Participatory Music Event (Palo Alto)
Chardonnay Shabbat (Berkeley)
Fifth Friday Kumbaya Shabbat (Palo Alto)
Etz Handworkers (Palo Alto)
Tisha B’Av Today: Contemplating Our Tragedies (Burlingame)

Kabbalat Shabbat on the Farm
Join Urban Adamah for a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service on the farm. Kabbalat Shabbat was invented in the 16th century by the Jewish mystics. Today, it is practiced in most Jewish communities as a spiritual and emotional doorway into our day of rest. Our version includes chanting, meditation, poetry, movement and quiet alone time on the farm. Drums, guitar and clarinet will joyfully carry us into the night.

Date: Friday, July 22
Time: 6:30: Kabbalat Shabbat Service
8:00: Community Potluck Dinner – Please bring a vegetarian dish to share.
Place: Urban Adamah, 1050 Parker St., Berkeley
This event is free and open to the public, but please register in advance. As with every Urban Adamah event, please bring a canned good to donate to our weekly farm stand.
Details here.

Torah with Soul
Whether you are a Torah veteran, or completely new to Torah, all are welcome. Shabbat by Shabbat, we will study the weekly parsha, based on the second year of the triennial cycle. Additionally, time permitting, we’ll continue our study of the Book of Psalms.

On the third Saturday of each month, this Saturyday, Torah with Soul becomes Torah on the Trails, where we take a short hike on a local trail before studying Torah surrounded by nature.

To be added to the Torah with Soul and/or Torah on the Trails email lists, please contact Molly at

Date: Most Saturdays including July 23
Time: 9:15am
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 No. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

Green Shabbat
Join us under the redwoods to celebrate all that is around us. To better enjoy the outdoors, we recommend dressing in layers and bringing lawn chairs or picnic blankets for the service. A Potluck kiddush lunch will follow the service. Please bring a dish to share, if you are able.

Date: Saturday, July 23
Time: 10:30am, Roberts Park, Diablo Vista picnic area
Sponsored by Temple Sinai’s Green Committee.

Tot Shabbat in the Park
Join Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin, Elana Jagoda Kaye, and Peninsula Temple Beth El families with young children for a Shabbat morning play date at the park. You will sing a few Shabbat songs and munch on challah, but mostly enjoy the beautiful California weather and a relaxing Shabbat morning together.
This is a great opportunity to meet some PTBE families!

Date: Saturday, July 23
Time: 10:00 am
Place: Laurelwood Park, 3471 Glendora Drive, San Mateo
Sponsored by Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

Hummus! The Movie
Oren Rosenfeld | USA, Israel | Documentary
From the SF Jewish Film Festival –
Where can you find the best hummus in the world? From Suheila, a single Muslim woman who is known for her legendary hummus, to Jalil, a Christian Arab hipster in Ramle who runs his father’s hummus joint, to Eliyahu, a born-again Orthodox Jew who owns a hummus restaurant chain, this fun and fascinating film about the highly competitive hummus restaurant business in Israel shows how powerful this chickpea spread can be.
Learn more here.

Date: Sat, Jul 23
Time: 12:30pm
Place: Cinearts at Palo Alto Square, Palo Alto

Qirvah Sacred Ecstatic Participatory Music Event
King David says in the Psalms: “qirvat Elohim li tov!” “Closeness to G!d is so good for me!”
How to get there? As David did: with chant, drumming and movement.
Come join Reb Tsvi and the Hevrah-team in learning how to get into the G!dzone (dveikut) using a variety of chants, drumming – both on drums and on the body, and movement.

Date: Sunday, July 24
Time: 2:00pm
Place: Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Avenue, Palo Alto
For more information, contact Reb Tsvi Bar-David

Chardonnay Shabbat
Celebrate the joy of Shabbat and the early summer evening with a glass of wine or juice, light snacks and song. Chardonnay Shabbat begins at 5:30 pm; Shabbat evening services are at 6:15 pm. Join us for this fun, informal Shabbat gathering.

Date: Friday, July 29
Time: 5:30 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford Street, Berkeley

Fifth Friday Kumbaya Shabbat
Whenever there are five Fridays in a month, we like to do something a little different. Join us for an informal backyard service featuring songs sung around the campfire. Bring a blanket and a picnic to enjoy on the grass (no pork or shellfish, please). We’ll have some tables and chairs for those who find that more comfortable. Wine for kiddush and challah for motzi will be provided. All ages are welcome! As the song says, “the more we get together, the happier we’ll be!”

Date: Friday, July 29
Time: Picnic at 5:45 pm, services at 7:00pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Etz Handworkers
Would you like to do some needlework with others? Etz Chayim has a circle of members that quilt, crochet, knit, do needlepoint, embroidery, etc. Everyone brings their own project and tools – or you can work on one of their quilts for the Jewish Vets at the VA. All are welcome and this is a great opportunity to sit and schmooze.

If you’d like to join in please contact the woman in charge, Jessica. Email me and I’ll give you her personal email address.

Date: Monday, August 1
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Tisha B’Av Today: Contemplating Our Tragedies
Tisha B’Av, or the 9th of Av, commemorates many tragedies in Jewish history, most notably the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and again in 70 CE. This year, we will dedicate our contemporary observance of Tisha B’av to remembering not only what happened to us, but what happens every day to those who are in physical, spiritual and emotional exile in the 21st century.

Our evening will begin with a study session from Reform CA that will help us transform the mourning of our Temple’s destruction into a call of action to repair the wrongs in today’s society. We will conclude with an evening prayer service and a modern chanting from Eichah, the Book of Lamentations.

Join Peninula Temple Sholom and Peninsula Temple Beth El with Support from Reform CA. Led by Rabbi Molly Plotnik and Rabbi Lisa Kingston

Date: Saturday, August 13
Time: 7:00 to 8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame

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Star of David

I feel very strongly that we need to teach compassion for our fellow Jews and to avoid sinat chinam (senseless hatred). Many Jews condemn other Jews, citing internalized anti-Semitism, in-group elitism and the unpleasant practice of figuring out whether a person is Jewish or Jewish-enough. I think it is important to stimulate compassion for the people who do this. They are the ones suffering. We need not take on their bad behavior, nor their dark feelings and fears. We can and should feel sorry for them and we can and should strive to act differently. There is an old poem that my father used to recite that is my guide in this area in particular:

They drew a circle to keep me out,
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took them in.

We are the fortunate ones when we don’t feel the need to reject others.

In my teens my good friend, Irene, became a born again Christian. At one point she burst into tears and said she was so unhappy because I was going to hell. I said to her, “Irene, I’m 17! What can I have possibly done at this age that would cause me to go to hell?” But for her, not accepting Jesus as my savior was enough to bring this terrible fate and, for her, such grief. How lucky was I to be free of this dark fear! I knew she accepted Jesus as her savior and although I didn’t believe poor Jesus could do a thing for her, I believed she would be fine. She was, and is, a good person. I had and have no fear for her soul.

This is not to say that anyone has the right to pry into the background of another person. My June column of Mixed and Matched is about deflecting that rude behavior. But I want to congratulate those of us who are fortunate enough to not feel a need to invalidate or degrade a fellow human being, Jewish or not.

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“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.”
This statement, from Rabbi Ken Cohen, is truly worth considering

Apologize? I know people who can’t get the words, “I’m sorry” out of their mouths. They sometimes will say, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” IFyou hurt me? Obviously you did or you wouldn’t have gotten this far. But “if” I hurt you is not an apology. Why can’t these folks just say it? Because they are afraid; afraid that admitting wrong doing will make them subject to derision. It does indeed take courage to make yourself vulnerable by admitting an error or wrong doing. I know families whose members remain fractured because one or more people are not brave enough to acknowledge that they are human, fallible and have done something wrong to another person.
Do be brave. Is there someone that you are uncomfortable seeing because you know you have wounded them? Don’t waste time trying to justify your self. Pray, talk to your clergy person, read about how to apologize even when it scares you.

Forgive? Being able to forgive someone is tremendously liberating. It means you are not waiting for someone else to act. If you can forgive and move on, you own your life. No, don’t keep deceivers or hurtful people in your life. But forgive those people you love for being imperfect – you probably are imperfect too.

Forget? This one is a bit trickier. Utterly forgetting what transpired is not a good idea. But we do get to chose what and how we remember. A year and a half ago my sister died after a brief struggle with cancer. While we had been very close when we were younger she had become a very angry adult. She requested, through our other sister, that I not attempt to see her. It was hard but I promised. In the last weeks of her life her son told me to come see her. I was so conflicted as I felt I had made a promise to her and wanted to honor it. But in the end I went. She was a shriveled scrap of her self; it was shocking. As soon as she saw me she started to cry. I went to her and hugged her gently, “I love you,” was all I could say. She wept and said, “I love you too.”

Now I could try to forget the down right dangerous things my beloved sister had done but that would have meant not seeing the real pain she had left behind in my other family members. It would have meant not learning anything from all the misery, including her illness. But I could choose to focus on the memories of good times. I could pull out photos of us swimming or playing or hugging. That is what I chose. I will remember what went wrong and hope to avoid and heal that. AND I can remember my beloved sister as she was when we were best friends.

If you are able, and I know that family members don’t always allow you to contact them, consider healing a relationship this coming week. You will be able to celebrate a true personal liberation.

May we all be blessed with many imperfect, but loving family members and friends.

Welcome Shabbat Outdoors (Los Altos)
Taqueria Sinai Shabbat! (Oakland)
Summer Shabbat Potlucks (Palo Alto)
Community Picnic with B’nai Shalom (Walnut Creek)
Grand Opening! At the Palo Alto JCC! (Palo Alto)
PTBE Book Club (San Mateo)
Prospective Members Open House (San Rafael)

Welcome Shabbat Outdoors
Summer worship outdoors is a tradition at Beth Am, giving congregants an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of our campus. Everyone is welcome, feel free to bring friends and enjoy a picnic dinner before or after the service.

Date: July 8
Time: 6:15
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills

Taqueria Sinai Shabbat!
Join us for this Sinai summertime favorite: a casual Shabbat dinner catered by Taqueria El Paisa followed by Erev Shabbat services in the Albers Chapel. BYO Bottles of beer or wine.

You must register and pay for dinner by July 11. You can do that here.

Date: Friday, July 15
Time: Dinner 6:00pm followed by Shabbat Services at 7:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland, in the Sacred Garden

Summer Shabbat Potlucks
Join Kol Emeth for a potluck this summer. Want to meet new people? These potluck dinners are a perfect place. They begin with an outdoor evening service and are followed by the meal. They are held in members’ backyards. So call Elaine Sigal, executive director of Kol Emeth at 650.269.3058 so she can tell you where you’ll be going and talk to you about what to bring.

Elaine says: This is exciting. The dinners are so haimish and warm, and friendly. Kids are for sure welcome.

They begin with an outdoor evening service and are followed by the meal.
On three Fridays in July, join us for outdoor Shabbat Evening Services at 6:00pm, followed by a festive potluck dinner.

Dates: July 15 and 29
Time: 6pm
Place: Call Elaine for the address.
Hosted by Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto
More info: Elaine Sigal, 650.269.3058,

Community Picnic with B’nai Shalom
Want to check out a synagogue this summer before the High Holidays? Why not go to B’nai Shalom’s fabulous annual Community Picnic with games, swimming, hot dogs and more! All are welcome!

Sunday, July 17
Time: 12:00pm
Place: Cowell Park in Concord
Call Lisa at the synagogue office at 925-934-9446 x102 if you have any questions. She is incredibly kind and helpful.

Grand Opening! At the Palo Alto JCC!
The Palo Alto JCC is proud to announce the Grand Opening of four new destinations on our campus!

* The Oasis Play Space–a unique play experience for kids ages 1-10–with gentle hills, tunnels, slides, a climbing structure and benches on which to hang out
* Nourish, a Newish Jewish Cafe offering a savory and healthy menu
* Family Center–a cozy hangout for parents with little ones
* Outdoor Training Area–an al fresco workout space for our members (open to the community at the Grand Opening)

The free celebration, which is open to the community, will include:

* Music and entertainment
* Samples from our tasty cafe menu
* Goodies and giveaways
* Fitness Center tours and demos
* Demos at our Outdoor Training Area
* Coupons for future cafe treats and drink
* Face painting, bounce house and carnival games

Date: Sunday, July 17
Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm
Place: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

PTBE Book Club
Milton Steinberg’s As A Driven Leaf will be this summer’s reading. Also known as one of Rabbi Dennis’ favorite books, this masterpiece of modern fiction tells the gripping tale of renegade Talmudic sage Elisha ben Abuyah’s struggle to reconcile his faith with the allure of Hellenistic culture. Steinberg’s classic novel also transcends its historical setting with its depiction of a timeless, perennial feature of the Jewish experience: the inevitable conflict between the call of tradition and the glamour of the Modern world.
Please join Rabbi Lisa Kingston and Lisa Meltzer Penn for an exciting conversation based on the book.

Date: Thursday, August 18
Time: 7:00 – 8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Details here.

Community Shabbat Service and Dinner
You’re invited to Beth Am’s Shabbat service under the trees, followed by a special community Shabbat potluck dinner. We’ll have a chance to enjoy the delights of Shabbat together while savoring a beautiful summer evening. Please sign up here to bring a dish to share (enough for 10 people) according to your last name:
A-M main dish
N-Z salad or side dish
Beth Am will provide a delicious ice cream dessert!

Date: Friday, July 15
Time: Service at 6:15pm Potluck Dinner to Follow
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Service in the Outdoor Chapel; Dinner on the Patio

Prospective Members Open House
Considering joining a synagogue in Marin? Want to learn more about Rodef Sholom?
Here’s the perfect opportunity! You will get to meet the clergy and other members of the Rodef Sholom community. RSVP to Molly at

Date: Friday, August 26
Time: 5:45 pm reception in Rabbi Stacy Friedman’s study; 6:15 pm Shabbat services
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Community, Community Activities, Relationships
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Religious Action Center

Many synagogue congregants are receiving emails from their clergy about the tragedy in Orlando. I am confident that many church members are getting similar messages. I share with you the one that Peninsula Temple Sholom‘s clergy, Rabbi Dan Feder, Rabbi Lisa Delson, Rabbi Molly Plotnik and Cantor Barry Reich.


Over the weekend, the Jewish people celebrated Shavuot, the festival of receiving Torah at Mount Sinai. However, instead of waking to the wholeness and peace that comes with accepting our sacred stories, we awoke to news of devastating human destruction. We mourn the 50 lives that were cut short at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a place where LGBT folks came to enjoy themselves in a comfortable and life-affirming place. Our thoughts are also with the more than 50 who were injured as well. Just like last week when we mourned the deaths of four people who were killed in Tel Aviv, once again we are reminded that we live in a broken world.

It is becoming clear that it is not only enough to pray. We must speak out against extremism and join together with the vast majority of our Muslim brothers and sisters who reject violence in the name of their religion. We must speak out against homophobia and spread the message that love is love. And finally, we must join together and advocate against gun violence and promote gun control laws to keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to cause harm.

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof – Justice, justice you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20). Judaism offers us a framework for how we should act in the world. Prayer and study are important, but so is action. Let us cry and mourn over the lives lost and then transform our tears and fear into creating a more just and peaceful world.

To take action, visit and share your thoughts with our elected officials.

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LGBT Safe Zone

LGBT Safe Zone

Thanks to Keshet for this lovely sign.

I don’t have a huge amount of data about LGBT Jewish couples, but I do have the results of a survey done a few years ago of the East Bay LGBT Jewish population. Of the LGBT Jews in relationships 89% were in an interfaith relationship. If you didn’t think interfaith programming was important for the LGBT community before, I hope this changes your view.

Building Jewish Bridges is here to help ALL interfaith couples and families figure out their strategy for their family’s religious life. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dawn Kepler if you want to talk about the options you and your partner are exploring.

Happy Pride Month!

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Community Seder

Community Seder

Typically the first night of Passover (Pesach) involves a family Seder at home. But there are some places where there are community Seders for those who don’t have a family to invite.

Second night community Seders have become very common at synagogues and there are lots of them! If you don’t see what you need below just Google the name of your city and “community Passover Seder.”


Community Passover Seder
led by Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky
The Exodus from Egypt is not only something that happened to us thousands of years ago, but also something we continue to experience in our lives today. Seder night is the time to identify and share these stories of liberation as we weave the national and personal narratives into a tapestry of freedom. Come and experience the seder as you’ve never experienced it before with probing questions, the sharing of stories, lively discussion, festive singing, games for kids, and an evening of surprises for the whole family.

Friday, April 22 at 6:00 pm
Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Click here to register – but hurry. The deadline is Sunday, April 17, at midnight. We won’t be able to accept reservations after that, as we have to give final numbers to the caterer.

First Night Family Seder in Berkeley
Rabbi Bridget Wynne of Jewish Gateways and Oakland musician Eric Schoen will lead us through the night. A kid-friendly event, our seder includes singing, storytelling, and a light meal served picnic-style.

Date: Friday, April 22, 5:00-6:15 pm (Doors open at 4:30 pm)
Berkeley Branch – 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Details here

First Night Family Seder in Oakland
Rabbi Mike Rothbaum (Co-Chair at Bend the Arc and Director of Education at Congregation Beth El) and notable Yiddish musician Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell will lead us in a social justice themed Passover celebration. A kid-friendly event, our seder includes singing, storytelling, and a light meal served picnic-style.

Friday, April 22, 5:00-6:15 pm (Doors open at 4:30 pm)
Oakland Branch – 5811 Racine Street, Oakland
Details and cost here

First Night Community Seder in Berkeley
Rabbi Bridget Wynne of Jewish Gateways and Oakland musician Eric Schoen will lead us through the night. Join us for a warm, lively, and social celebration for people of all ages.
Friday, April 22, 7:30pm – 9:30pm
JCC of the East Bay, Berkeley Branch – 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Cost and details here.

First Night Community Seder in Oakland
Rabbi Mike Rothbaum (Co-Chair at Bend the Arc and Director of Education at Congregation Beth El) and notable Yiddish musician Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell will lead us in a social justice themed Passover celebration. A warm, lively, interactive full seder celebrating the Festival of Liberation — for us and all people! Full seder meal to be served. All are welcome!

Friday, April 22, 7:30pm – 9:30pm
JCC of the East Bay, Oakland Branch – 5811 Racine Street, Oakland
Cost and details here.


Peninsula Sinai Community Passover Seder
Join us for the 2nd Night of Passover at PSC. We will be hosting a seder on the 2nd night of the holiday, Saturday evening,April 23, at 6:30 pm. A great opportunity for people of all age. Kids and interfaith families welcome.

RSVP’s are due no later than April 15, 2016. Cost is $70 per adult and $25 per kid ages 3-12 (Kids under 3 eat for FREE). Vegetarian options available. This will be a great experience for the novice and the experienced at the seder table. Hope you can join us. Questions? Contact Rabbi Helfand at

April 23, 6:30pm
Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay, Foster City
Please RSVP to by calling 650-349-2816 or
Details here.

Rodef Sholom’s 2nd Night Seder
Once again we are hosting a 2nd Night Seder. Join Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown and Cantor David Margules, along with many of our own Rodef Sholom musicians as they host a beautiful, meaningful and musical Seder.

Saturday, April 23, 5:00 pm
Social Hall of Rodef Sholom, 170 No. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

RSVP to Molly at by April 18. Prices for congregants are $50 for adults and $35 for children; prices for non-congregants are $60 for adults and $45 for children. Spaces are limited so RSVP soon!

Second Night Passover Seder
Join us for a warm, celebratory and multi-generational seder. We’ll share stories of slavery and freedom, join together in song, and enjoy a delicious Passover feast.

Saturday, April 23, 6:00 to 8:00pm
Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost: $50/adult, $32/child 12 and under. Make your reservation by Friday, April 15.
Details here.

Beth Am’s Annual 2nd Night Community Seder
Led by Rabbi Jennifer Clayman
Rabbi Jennifer Clayman will lead this year’s Beth Am Community Seder on the 2nd night of Passover. Enjoy a delicious multi-course meal without having to cook, clean up or remember where you hid the afikomen.

Saturday, April 23, 6:00pm
Social Hall of Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
Cost $47 per adult; $27 per child (12 and under). Seating is limited. Please sign up for Beth Am’s Community Seder by Friday, April 15. For more information, please contact Emily Osterman or call (650) 493-4661.
Details here

Temple Israel of Alameda’s Community Second Night Seder
Details here.
(seating is limited) Click here
or call the Temple office 510-522-9355

April 23, 5:00 – 8:00pm
Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road, Alameda

Temple Sinai’s Annual Community Passover Seder
Let all who are hungry- for food and community- join us!
Join Rabbi Ruth Adar and Cantor Ilene Keys as we retell the story of Passover, enjoy delicious foods catered by Z Cafe, meet new friends and sing!

Saturday, April 23, 5:30pm (doors open at 5:00pm)
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Please purchase tickets early as seats are limited and sell out every year.
Purchase tickets online here.

Sherith Israel’s Second-Night Community Seder
Let all who are hungry come and eat. We say these words every year as we sit down to tell the Passover story of the Israelites’ journey from bondage to freedom.
Once again, the festive Sherith Israel community Seder is the congregation’s annual fundraiser for our Chicken Souper and HaMotzi programs. They feed homebound seniors, people with chronic illnesses, and adults and children at the Women’s Shelter of San Francisco and the Compass Family Center.
Our wonderful volunteers, who sustain these critical programs year after year, will cater dinner. Joel Siegel will lead us in song. Rabbis Larry Raphael, Jessica Graf and Julie Saxe-Taller will keep us all on the same page.

Saturday, April 23, 5–8 pm
Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Pricing and details here.

Oshman JCC Community Passover Seder Dinner
The Oshman Family JCC is holding a Jewish Passover Seder for all who would like to join us. The meal will be catered (Kosher for Passover).
Share your Jewish journey while sharing a meal with friends and family. Experience Passover in a warm and welcoming setting at a Seder which combines tradition and creativity. Meet people in the community and make new friends.

Date: Friday, April 22
Time: 6:30–9:00pm
Place: Palo Alto JCC, Room E-104, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Suggested donation of $36; subsidized places available for those in need
Contact: Robin Vasilakos | (650) 223-8791 |
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Community, Community Activities, Passover
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Larry Milder with torah

I wanted to share with you this message that Rabbi Larry Milder sent to his congregation earlier this month.

Are You Intermarried? We Welcome You!

We are an intermarried congregation. I haven’t counted; I don’t know what the numbers are. It’s just an impression. Honestly, I don’t always know who is a Jew and who is not.

Things used to be different. When I began my career as a rabbi, back in the Pleistocene Age, intermarrieds were a cohort of members. They were a group, distinct. Sadly, they were sometimes marginal members, whether by their own choice or as a result of the reactions they received from in-marrieds.

It’s just not that way anymore. I don’t pretend for a moment that an intermarried family doesn’t have discussions that may be different from in-married families, or unique questions around extended family relationships. But something more fundamental has changed.

Intermarriage has moved from the periphery to the center of Jewish life, and that transition has taken place during our lifetime. We are a place where any Jew and his/her partner are integrated into the life of the congregation.

So, here is a shout out to all the non-Jewish moms and dads who bring their children to religious school, participate in family education, go to our early childhood programs, and learn Hebrew and Jewish prayers along the way. Here’s to all the non-Jewish partners, young adult and empty-nesters, who take classes, do social action projects, volunteer on committees and behind the scenes. Many are deeply moved by Judaism, and, while not Jewish themselves, hold Judaism and our traditions in high regard. Many are fellow travelers, understanding of their partner’s faith, and devoted to raising Jewish children. I am grateful for every hour you have put into what is a sacred task for us as a congregation. We simply could not achieve the raising of Jewish children, or realize our congregation’s potential, without your help.

Which leads me to a statement of Reform Jewish principles which bears repeating: Unlike the traditional movements of Judaism, we regard the child of either a Jewish mother or a Jewish father as potentially Jewish. We do not consider it an automatic identity; the parents must choose what religion their child will be, and must act upon that choice. But we do not follow the matrilineal descent principle which is practiced by Conservative and Orthodox Jews. We are egalitarian. A child may inherit his/her Judaism from either parent.

Sometimes, we take the commitments of intermarried couples for granted. That should not be the case. Their presence here in our congregation is a blessing to all of us. I hope that more will join us, and know that they are welcome here, too.

Rabbi Larry Milder is the spiritual leader of Beth Emek in Pleasanton, CA.

Are you looking for a synagogue that will be comfortable for an interfaith family? Don’t hesitate to call and make an appointment to speak with the rabbi. Be honest, say what you are looking for. If it isn’t a match, fine, shake hands and keep looking. If it is a match — then it’s good to be home!

Posted by admin under Community, Finding a Synagogue, Synagogues
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