new-years-eve

Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek in Pleasanton sent this email to his congregation. He summarizes the four Jewish new years and considers the meaning of the Gregorian New Year that is observed on Dec. 31.

Which New Year Is It?

The Mishnah records that there are not one, but actually four new years. The rabbis needed one new year for reckoning the date of festivals (the first of Tishri), one for determining when the reign of a king begins (the first of Nisan), one for calculating to which year new-born animals belonged (the first of Elul, after the summer calving season had ended), and one for calculating the produce of trees (the fifteenth of Shevat). According to Biblical law, it was not permitted to use the produce of trees during their first three years.

The new year observed in the Gregorian calendar (January 1) has little to do with the sacred themes of the Jewish calendar. It has a lot to do with ancient themes of chaos, and the conquest of chaos in the coronation of a supreme deity. That chaos is replicated in the revelry of New Year’s Eve, which comes to a halt when the clock strikes twelve and everyone kisses and sings Auld Lang Syne.

In contrast, the Jewish New Year observed in the dead of winter (Tu Bishvat) is one marked by a sacred and optimistic commitment to the future–the planting of trees. No raucous parties accompany this act, just a sense of wonder in the miracle of nature, and a sense of obligation that was put into words in a famous Midrash from the Talmud: “Just as my ancestors planted for me, so shall I plant for my children.”

Likewise, the new year for the festival cycle, Rosh Hashanah, emphasizes themes of reflection and personal assessment. People talk about making new year’s resolutions on the Gregorian New Year, while Rosh Hashanah is less concerned with making promises to ourselves, and more concerned with examining what we have done with the past year. It’s easy to look forward and ignore the past; it is more difficult to confront oneself and acknowledge our weaknesses.

I enjoy the festive quality of the Gregorian new year, while recognizing that the important work of our lives is not about conquering chaos. It is the steady work of planting for the future, and self-examination, that make our lives a continuous work of art.

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blue-balls

Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek in Pleasanton shared the following thoughts with his congregation on the overlap of Christmas and Hanukkah this year. He doesn’t just explain how it is that the two holidays can overlap one year but not the next, he explains the different calendars. It’s some pretty useful information. As Americans we often forget that the calendar we use is not really a secular calendar, but rather a Christian calendar that is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582.

When Hanukkah and Christmas Coincide

Okay, this doesn’t happen very often. The first night of Hanukkah happens to fall on Christmas eve this year, December 24.

How unusual? It won’t happen again until 2027, and then it won’t come up again until 2073!

Of course, Hanukkah and Christmas overlap every few years, but the confluence of the beginning of the Jewish and Christian holiday is fairly rare.

Why is that? The holidays operate on two different calendars, and there is no relationship between the two. Even though Chanukah begins on the 25th of Kislev, and Christmas on the 25th of December, the months of Kislev and December have nothing to do with one another.

The calendar that we commonly think of as the secular calendar (on which today happens to be December 23, 2016) is actually a Christian calendar, known as the Gregorian calendar. It is based on the solar cycle, i.e. it has 365 days a year, plus a correction every four years to make up for the actual solar cycle. If there are 9 hours and 33 minutes of daylight today, next year on December 23 there will also be 9 hours and 33 minutes of daylight.

The Jewish calendar, however, is a lunar-solar calendar. Every month is a lunar month, with the first day being the new moon. Hanukkah will always begin on a waning crescent moon, near the end of the month of Kislev. Gregorian months, by contrast, have nothing to do with the moon.

Since a lunar month is either 29 or 30 days long, while the Gregorian months are 30 or 31 days long, twelve Jewish months wind up being about 12 days shorter than the Gregorian year. The Jewish calendar, therefore, has a correction to get it back in sync with the solar year. That correction is an extra month (Adar I), which gets inserted every two or three years.

For the next couple of years, Hanukkah will move earlier and earlier in December, until we add a leap month, which will push Hanukkah into late December again. The pattern keeps repeating, but the exact days of the respective months don’t sync up very often.

Wondrous? Fascinating? Yes, particularly if you like math and astronomy.

There is a lot to admire and appreciate about the holidays celebrated by other faiths. That Christmas and Hanukkah begin at the same time this year gives us pause to consider what we have to learn from one another. We may not believe the same things, but like the sun and the moon, we are in a kind of dance that goes round and round, shining light each in our own way.

Here’s to the alignment of our cosmic lights!

Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Larry Milder

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torah-script

It’s no secret that one of my dearest friends is an Orthodox rabbi with whom I have studied for years. I’ve learned A LOT from him, including the fact that one should ignore all the prejudices that are directed at the Orthodox. Rabbi Judah Dardik (previously rabbi of Beth Jacob in Oakland) is one of the kindest people I know and NO he has never turned away from a non-Jewish person or a patrilineal Jew. So it was a personal loss to me when he made aliyah.

I loved getting a traditional perspective on topics. Having belonged to a Reform congregation for more than 30 years I am well versed in Reform teachings. But I needed to stretch myself.

THE GOOD NEWS is that Rabbi Gershon Albert, who is now the rabbi at Beth Jacob is running a series of classes that are right up my (and your) alley.

Judaism’s Big Questions
“Ask good questions.” This piece of advice has fostered a thirst for knowledge in the Jewish people for generations. This year, we have compiled some of the most important and interesting Jewish questions; let’s engage in the study of some answers (and of course more questions) together!
With Rabbi Gershon Albert

Date and Time: Tuesday Evenings at 7:15 – 8:15pm
Location: Beth Jacob Congregation, 3778 Park Blvd, Oakland, Main Sanctuary

Tentative Schedule (Subject to Change – contact Beth Jacob at 510-482-1147 for up to the minute details.)

November 8: Introduction: A brief history of Jewish history and thought
November 22: Is the world actually 5777 years old? And other contradictions between science and tradition?
November 29: What is the soul?
December 6: Evil Part 1: What is evil and why does it exist?
January 10: Evil Part 2: why did God create man with an evil inclination?
January 17: Does Judaism believe in the afterlife and reincarnation?
January 24: What is the Messiah? What do we believe about the end of days?
January 31: Does Judaism believe in free will?
February 7: Do Jews need to believe? (Do we need to believe in God?)
February 14: Why do Jews call themselves the “Chosen People”?
February 21: What does Judaism think about other religions and cultures?
February 28: What are Jewish attitudes towards work?
March 7: Kashrut, Shatnez, Mikvah, and more. Are there reasons behind the laws I can’t wrap my head around?
March 21: Why do observant Jews dress funny? Modesty in the Jewish tradition.
March 28: What is Torah and what is the significance of its study?
May 2: Philosophical Responses to the Holocaust.
May 9: What is Halacha and how did it develop?
May 16: It’s just a hug! What does Halacha say about interactions with the opposite gender?
May 23: What is the value of Israel in traditional Judaism?
June 6: What is Judaism? A nation, ethnic group, religion, or culture?
June 13: It’s your turn – send in your big questions about Judaism!

Rabbi Albert with daughter

Rabbi Albert with daughter

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Beth Sholom, San Francisco

Beth Sholom, San Francisco

THIS JUST IN:
A class at Beth Sholom in San Francisco

Intro to Judaism: Learning for the Mind, Heart, & Soul
Jew-Curious? Interested in converting to Judaism? Sharing your life with a Jew and want to crack the code? Or maybe you’re a Jew who doesn’t know much about Judaism or Jewish identity?

Our engaging, university-accredited Intro To Judaism course is interactive and encourages questions, discussion, and hands-on learning. No knowledge of Hebrew is required, but you will be learning to read the language as part of the class. The 2015-16 course syllabus is available for download here. The syllabus and schedule for the 2016-17 course will be distributed during the first class and available for download here shortly thereafter.

Taught by Henry Hollander, a CBS congregant, service leader, bookseller (specializing in Judaica), and the teacher of both our weekly Talmud shiur and Intro To Judaism class.

Dates: Sundays, 2016: Oct. 23, Nov. 6 & 20, Dec. 4 & 18; 2017: Jan. 15 & 29, Feb. 5 & 19, March 5, 12 & 26, Apr 9 & 23, May 7 & 21, June 4 & 18
Time: 10am to 12 noon
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave., San Francisco
Cost: $344/person, $533/couple. Some financial aid available – Beth Sholom is committed to never turning anyone away. For more info, contact info@bethsholomsf.org or call the shul at 415-221-8736.
Details here.
www.bethsholomsf.org
Note: Yes, the first class on Oct. 23 is past. You can ask to prorate the tuition and to have the teacher give you any reading for the class.

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Basic Judaism Fall 2016

I have put together a list of all the basic Judaism classes that I know of in the SF Bay Area. If you know of one that I have not listed, PLEASE email me the class info. You’ll see that the first three locations’ classes began in September. However, the one in Tiburon is available on a drop in basis. AND you can join ANY of them anytime and simply ask the instructor to give you catch up information. Please be aware that the class, Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays offered in Berkeley is also available online on Sunday mornings. If you miss a session, either on Sunday or on Wednesday evening, Rabbi Adar will have you watch the session online. So you are covered!

Rabbi Susan Leider

Rabbi Susan Leider

Judaism 101
with Rabbi Leider
This 18-week course is for those who would like to learn about Judaism from the ground up, or to fill in gaps from what they learned (or didn’t learn) as a child. The class also prepares those considering conversion. It covers Hebrew pronunciation, biblical and rabbinic writings, history and culture, holy days, festivals, Shabbat, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, dietary laws and Israel.
By the end of the course, students will be able to read aloud any Hebrew text with vowels. Students who wish to take a single class by topic may do so. Topical learning begins a half hour into the session.
See course details here.

Dates: Sundays, September 18 though May 7, 2017
Time: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Tuition: $180 for the 18-week series; or $20 per class; Free for members
To register, contact Alona Shahbaz at Ashahbaz@kolshofar.org or (415) 388-1818, ext. 100

Rabbi Oren Postrel

Rabbi Oren Postrel


Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew. Books for the course will be Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, along with Michael Strassfeld’s The Jewish Holidays and The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. The books are not included in the price for the course. Taught by Rabbi Oren Postrel.

Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Sept 25 through May 7 (No class: 10/2, 10/23, 11/27, 12/18, 12/25, 1/1, 1/15, 2/19, 3/12, 4/9, 4/16)
If you would like to sign up for 1 or more blocks of Exploring Judaism (instead of registering for the whole year), we welcome you to do so. Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
• Jewish Calendar & Holidays: How we Celebrate Together – 9/25, 10/9, 10/16, 10/30, 11/6, 11/13
• Jewish Life Passages and our Homes: How Jews Do Jewish – 11/20, 12/4, 12/11, 1/8, 1/22
• Jewish Text and History – 1/29, 2/5, 2/12, 2/26, 3/5
• Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music – 3/19, 3/26, 4/2, 4/23, 4/30, 5/7

Dates: Sundays, beginning Sept. 25
Time: 9:00-10:00am
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 955 Risa Rd, Lafayette (Room 206) Immediately across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah.
Cost: The year long class is offered in 4 blocks. Tuition is $100/members; $250/non-members for the year or $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
Details here.

Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown

Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown


Exploring Judaism
Part One,with Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown
This course will give participants a foundation in the basic tenets of Judaism. We will explore areas such as history, holidays, life-cycle events, theology, Torah and prayer through foundational Jewish texts, beliefs and customs. Whether you grew up Jewish and are looking to explore more deeply as an adult, are entirely new to Judaism, or are part of an interfaith family and want to study together, we welcome you to join us!

Dates: Select Sundays starting September 25
Time: 9:15 – 10:15 am
Place: Rodef Sholom, in the Library, 170 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael
RSVP here.

Rabbi Ruth Adar

Rabbi Ruth Adar


Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays
Communal and individual Jewish life dances to the rhythm of two different cycles: Jewish lifecycle events and the cycle of the Jewish year. This class covers a basic introduction to the Jewish lifecycle (weddings, birth, bar mitzvah, conversion, mourning, and funerals). Then we will look at the Jewish year, with its cycles of fall and spring holidays as well as holidays reflecting historical events.
(This class is part of a three-unit series. You are welcome to take one or more in the series.)

Date: Wednesdays, October 19 – December 14 (no class 11/23)
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $105/public; $90/members of Beth El
Register here

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays – online class registration here.

Emanu-El in San Francisco

Emanu-El in San Francisco


Introduction to Judaism (2016-2017)
Join with Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism. Mark your calendars now for the 2016-2017 classes:
Dates
Fall: Oct. 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15; Dec. 6, 13
Winter: Jan. 17, 24, 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28
Spring: Mar. 21, 28; Apr. 4, 25; May 2, 9, 16

Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member Cost: $54, Non-member cost: $75
Register here.
www.emanuelsf.org

Rabbi Melanie Aron

Rabbi Melanie Aron


Intro to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is offered in partnership with our local Reform and Conservative congregations for anyone interested in exploring Judaism – individuals, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and Jews looking for adult-level basics. This class introduces the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice in 20 weeks.
Topics include Jewish holidays and life cycle celebrations, theology and prayer, Israel, history, and Hebrew. In addition to the weekly class and reading, there will be two Shabbat Dinners and two Shabbat Lunches, one at each of the sponsoring congregations.
Whatever you are seeking, Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness and give you the skills necessary to “do Jewish”.

Dates: Tuesdays, November 1, 2016 to May 9, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Each class is at the facility associated with the teacher for that evening: Rabbi Aron at Congregation Shir Hadash; Rabbi Ohriner at Congregation Beth David; Rabbi Berkenwald at Congregation Sinai; Rabbi Magat at Temple Emanu-El; and Rabbi Seid-Valencia, the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the APJCC.
In the South Bay.

Cost: $180 for an individual or a couple. Registration Fee includes one set of books for the class. For more information or to register, please contact the Center for Jewish Life and Learning at (408) 357-7411 or look here.
Register here

Rabbi Molly Plotnik

Rabbi Molly Plotnik


Intro to Judaism
From concepts of God to Jewish history, learn the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice with our clergy. This ten-session course is perfect for interfaith couples, non-Jews considering conversion, and Jews looking for an adult-level introduction.

Dates: Mondays, November 7, 2016 – January 30, 2017
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Taught by Rabbis Dan Feder, Lisa Delson, and Molly Plotnik
Cost: Free for members of Peninsula Temple Sholom; $36 for non-members
For more information look on the synagogue’s website.

THIS JUST IN:
A class at Beth Sholom in San Francisco

Intro to Judaism: Learning for the Mind, Heart, & Soul
Jew-Curious? Interested in converting to Judaism? Sharing your life with a Jew and want to crack the code? Or maybe you’re a Jew who doesn’t know much about Judaism or Jewish identity?

Our engaging, university-accredited Intro To Judaism course is interactive and encourages questions, discussion, and hands-on learning. No knowledge of Hebrew is required, but you will be learning to read the language as part of the class. The 2015-16 course syllabus is available for download here. The syllabus and schedule for the 2016-17 course will be distributed during the first class and available for download here shortly thereafter.

Dates: Sundays, 2016: Oct. 23, Nov. 6 & 20, Dec. 4 & 18; 2017: Jan. 15 & 29, Feb. 5 & 19, March 5, 12 & 26, Apr 9 & 23, May 7 & 21, June 4 & 18
Time: 10am to 12 noon
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave., San Francisco
Cost: $344/person, $533/couple. Some financial aid available – Beth Sholom is committed to never turning anyone away. For more info, contact info@bethsholomsf.org or call the shul at 415-221-8736.
Details here.
www.bethsholomsf.org
Note: Yes, the first class on Oct. 23 is past. You can ask to prorate the tuition and to have the rabbi give you any reading for the class.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Learning
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New Year Secular urj

We are delighted to offer a couple of special programs for Jews by Choice. Anyone is welcome to both of these. You don’t need to be a convert to attend.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Conversion to Judaism
Join a panel of Jews by choice and Rabbi Delson to learn all about conversion! Have you had questions like:
why do some people convert?
What changes in their lives?
What is the process of converting?
How do single people who convert integrate into Jewish community?
Is it harder for people of color to convert?
Are there things I should never ask of or say to a person I think is a convert?

Date: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
Time: 9:15am to 10:45am
Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $5 public; free to members of PTS and those working with the PTS rabbis.
Sign up here

This program is aimed at Jews by Choice but much of what will be discussed is applicable to interfaith families who are trying to figure out end of life choices. You are welcome to come and learn about Jewish mourning and burial practices.

Death and Mourning for the Jew by Choice
At some point we all lose loved ones. The person who has converted to Judaism will eventually be faced with mourning a non-Jewish relative. What is appropriate behavior for a Jewish mourner who has lost a non-Jewish loved one? What are the options for dealing with funeral masses, “visitations” at funeral homes, and the funeral itself? What about Jewish mourning practices, shiva and sheloshim? The potential for isolation is great, but certainly isolation is not what Jewish tradition seeks for a mourner!

A member of an interfaith family may have some of the same questions. How do I honor my loved one yet find comfort for myself?

Join Rabbi Ruth Adar for a two session class that is open to anyone interested in grieving in a multi-faith family with a special focus on how a Jewish convert may honor their non-Jewish loved ones and their own feelings and adopted tradition.

The first session will meet at Temple Sinai and will address the basics of Jewish mourning. The second session will be in a private home in San Leandro where Rabbi Adar will model a home observing shiva. Students will be able to ask hands on questions, to see and hold the objects associated with shiva.

Feb. 4 and 11
7:30 to 9pm
Temple Sinai and a private home in San Leandro
Cost: $15
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Conversion, Death & Mourning, Jewish Learning, Life Cycle, Programs archive
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rain circles in a puddle banner

California’s environment is quite similar to Israel’s. Both do not receive summer rain and rely on winter for all our precipitation. So it is that with the end of Sukkot and the arrival of Shemini Atzeret (or Simchat Torah, for non-traditional Jews) a prayer for rain is introduced to the daily liturgy. The prayer itself is quite old and resonates with the magical thinking and formulaic incantations of ancient agrarian cultures. So the prayer as written may or may not speak to you. However, if you are living in California where we are experiencing a prolonged and dangerous drought, some sort of prayer for rain feels natural.

Beginning at this time of year I love to go out into my parched garden and pray for rain. I stand among the dying zinnias and cosmos and direct my focus to the land and plants that are under my care. Asking for rain fills me with hope and gratitude. I make up my own prayer. I certainly hope that it will be a case of: from my lips to God’s ears! Throw your lot in with mine and try asking for some rain.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Jewish Learning, Prayer
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Yom Kippur white tallit

Rabbi Aderet Drucker sent an email to her congregation, B’nai Shalom, explaining the practices of Yom Kippur. I am sharing them here with you. Don’t worry if you don’t do all these things. If one or more of them speaks to you, you can plan to include it next year.

Before sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the community has gathered in the synagogue, the Ark is opened and the Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark. The Hazzan chants the Aramaic text of Kol Nidrei. Kol Nidrei or Hatarat Nedarim, is a legal formula that in essence annuls all vows, obligations and oaths made by every member in the community. Therefore, Kol Nidrei should not take place during Shabbat or Yom Tov (a Festival) and that is why we gather together prior to sunset and the start of Yom Kippur.

Before Yom Kippur:
Last Meal Before The Fast:
The rabbis considered it a mitzvah to eat a festive meal, Seudah Mafseket (last meal before a fast) before Yom Kippur begins. Before the meal one is to do the ritual hand washing with blessing followed by a blessing over bread. Click here for the blessings for hand washing (netilat yadayim) and over bread prior to eating the meal (hamotzi).

Yizkor (Memorial) Candle or Ner Neshama (Soul Candle):
If a parent or other close relative has died, before lighting the holiday candles, light a Ner Neshama, soul candle, also known as a memorial candle, that will burn throughout Yom Kippur. There is no traditional blessing for lighting the memorial candle. Click here for private intentions to recite upon lighting the candle.

Resting Candle:
Before Yom Kippur begins, light a separate long-burning candle to be used at the conclusion of Yom Kippur – the Havdalah candle will be lit from this “Ner Sheshavat” – a candle that rested – meaning the flame was burning before Yom Kippur. One may also use the Yizkor (Memorial) Candle for this purpose. Ensure that this is a candle that will burn for at least 26 hours.

(If you don’t have such a candle, don’t worry. You can plan to have one next year.)

Candle Lighting for Yom Kippur:
One may light candles at home prior to coming to synagogue, here are instructions for doing so:
1) Light candles at least 18 minutes before sunset (candle lighting is at 6:47pm).

2) As one may light candles before going to services, and thus do so considerably earlier than the latest posted time, please remember as you light candles, to have in mind a proviso that you are not actually accepting the sanctity of the day until your arrival at synagogue.

3) Recite 2 brachot (blessings):

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting Blessing:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner shel Yom Ha-kipurim.

Translation:
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of
the Day of Atonement.

The Shehechiyanu blessing:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam
she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

Translation:
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.

Blessing the Children:
Before leaving for the synagogue, it is custom to bless the children, with the Priestly Benediction (Numbers 6:24-26):

יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ May God bless you and keep you
יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ May God cause the divine light to shine upon you and be gracious to you
יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם May God turn toward you, and grant you peace

What to Wear? Wearing White & Tallitot Throughout Yom Kippur:
It is custom to wear white on Yom Kippur and to wear one’s tallit (prayer shawl) from the evening of Yom Kippur throughout all of Yom Kippur. In Rabbinic tradition the precept of tzitzit (the fringes on the tallit, the prayer shawl) applies only during the day. Consequently, the tallit is only worn during the morning prayers except on Yom Kippur when the tallit is worn, as a token of special reverence for the holy day, during the night service of Kol Nidrei and throughout the entirety of Yom Kippur. Therefore, when you arrive at the synagogue before sunset tonight, recite the blessing for tallit prior to putting on your tallit.

Yom Kippur Prohibitions & Practices:
The Torah (Leviticus 23:32) refers to Yom Kippur as Shabbat Shabbaton – a Sabbath of complete rest. Thus, even when Yom Kippur does not fall on Shabbat, cooking, use of fire, and carrying are not permitted. Unlike other Yom Tov (Festival) days, Yom Kippur always takes on all the restrictions of Shabbat.

In addition, the following are not permitted until dark after Yom Kippur has ended (Yom Kippur ends on Wednesday night, September 23rd @ 7:43pm)
Eating and drinking
Intimate relations
Bathing or washing (except for minimal washing of hands to remove dirt after using the bathroom)
Using skin or bath oils
Wearing leather shoes

Wishing us all a meaningful and introspective Yom Kippur and an easy fast.
May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!

Shana Tova and G’mar Chatima Tova,
Rabbi Aderet Drucker

Posted by admin under High Holidays, Jewish Learning, Prayer, Spirituality
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There’s a little something for everyone this fall. Peruse the classes below, call if you have any questions, and I hope to see you at a program in the next few months.

Dawn

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3 faith traditions banner

Do You Have One Jewish Parent?
Do you see yourself as Jewish, half-Jewish, part Jewish, Jew-ish? Were you raised as a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu, some of this and a little of that? We are looking for people who have one Jewish parent and would like to talk about their experience, share their stories, their questions, their wisdom. What was good? What was not so good? Will you try to duplicate your parents’ path? What would you like to ask of or tell to the “organized” Jewish community? We will come together to discuss our shared experiences as well as our differences. What we want from life now and how we are going about making that happen.

Date: Thursday, Oct. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, but please RSVP here.

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Mezuzot at Afikomen in Berkeley

Mezuzot at Afikomen in Berkeley

What Makes a Home “Jewish”?
A Jew may ask their spouse to agree to have a “Jewish” home. But what does that mean?
To a non-Jewish loved one it may mean simply that some of the people in the house say they are Jews. But our partners deserve a more in-depth answer. One Jew may say, a Jewish home has Jewish ritual objects – a menorah, Shabbos candlesticks, a ketubah on the wall. Another may add, but you need to do Jewish things in a Jewish home like observe Shabbat weekly or build a sukkah on Sukkot or recite the Shema before bedtime. Yet another will say we must act like Jews, give tzadakah, attend synagogue, refrain from eating pork.
Each Jewish partner will have their own ideas about what they need in order to feel that their home is “Jewish.” Or, they may have no clear idea at all! Every non-Jewish spouse deserves a clear statement as to what they are signing up for.
Join other curious couples for an enlightening discussion and go home with your own individualized plan.

Date: Sunday, Oct 25
Time: 9 to 10:30am
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $8/public; free to Peninsula Temple Sholom members
Register here.

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Who is a Jew?

Who is a Jew?

Are Our Children Jewish?
Patralineal Descent, Reform Judaism and those other Jews
In 1983 the Reform movement officially recognized children of Jewish fathers as Jewish. But if you read the statement it says that every child of a mixed marriage, whether the mother or father is Jewish, must establish their identity as a Jew “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.” What are those acts? Do we really expect all kids from interfaith marriages to do so? What role do non-Reform Jews play in our lives and those of our children? Join Dawn Kepler for an exploration of Patrilineal Jews today.

Date: Sunday, Nov. 8
Time: 10:15am
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central St, Richmond
Free
Contact me, Dawn, if you have questions at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org or call 510.845.6420 x11
www.tbhrichmond.org

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Carly and her mom

Women in Interfaith Relationships:
A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age are welcome.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 19
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $8 for non-members, free to Beth Am members
Register here.

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Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar

After the Play: Disgraced
You’ve heard that one should not bring up religion, race or politics in polite company but in Disgraced these are central issues. One reviewer said, “As much as “Disgraced” is a play about the potential tensions between old faiths and the modern world, it also dramatizes the complexity of identity, the interior tug of war between the culture into which people are born and the culture they claim as their own.” This friction speaks to every minority or immigrant population. How much can one assimilate? How much does one want to blend in?

Professor Senzai will respond to these themes, as well as putting the play into a broader context of life for American Muslims. He will reflect on some of the realities and statistics of the American Muslim community and issues of assimilation, discrimination and Islamophobia.

Date: Thursday, December 3
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $8 public; free to Temple Sinai members
Register here

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Flora Scott Linda Calvin Panel

Conversion to Judaism
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Conversion
Are you curious about conversion to Judaism — for yourself or someone you love? Perhaps you know someone who is converting and wonder why someone would make that choice. Maybe this is the first time you heard that conversion to Judaism is a possibility. Curious? Confused? Join Jews by choice, born Jews and non-Jews as we work to answer all of your questions about conversion!

If you are a member of a synagogue, of course you can speak with your own rabbi about conversion. And you are still welcome to come hear from our panel. If you currently do not have a rabbi, this program will help you find one.

Sunday, Dec. 13
10:30-12noon
B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Ln, Walnut Creek
Free
Hosted by B’nai Shalom and Building Jewish Bridges
Co-sponsored by B’nai Tikvah, Temple Isaiah, Lehrhaus Judaica

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Two-Hearts

Let’s Talk Interfaith
Some people are not comfortable discussing their personal choices and dilemmas in a group. They want to discuss the key questions in an interfaith/intercultural home but they want to have that conversation in private. For those of you in this category Let’s Talk “Interfaith” is a great option. The two of you meet with me, Dawn, to cover topics like: How will we interact with our families? Where will we go for which holidays? Which holidays will we have in our home? How do we feel about each other’s religious and/or cultural tradition and how will we share them? What about children? We will focus on the topics you feel are most important to you. You can come with your own questions or just ask me “what should we be discussing?”
The first session is always free so you can determine whether this is something you want to do and whether you feel comfortable. Your first step is to contact me, Dawn Kepler, at 510-845-6420 x11 or dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org to set up your free session.

Dates & times to fit your schedule.
Location: You have three options – come into my office on Bancroft Way in Berkeley or via Skype or on a conference phone call.
Cost is $120 for three 1.5 hour sessions. Or we can schedule individual one hour sessions at $50 per meeting.
Read more here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Conversion, Jewish Culture, Jewish holidays at home, Jewish Learning, Programs archive, Relationships
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The bat Mitzvah girl's family

The bat Mitzvah girl’s family

Compassion, generosity, respect and satisfaction are values shared by all religions.
When do they become uniquely “Jewish” and why bother to color values with a particular religion? Because there are ways in which this helps a child identify with and incorporate the values you are seeking to transmit.

Join other parents for a fascinating discussion that combines Jewish teaching and the current Science of Happiness to develop tools to raise a mensch. Warning: you may increase your own menschlichkeit (humanity) too!

Raising a Mensch is 4 sessions; come for one or more.

Dates & Topics:
March 29 Gimme, Gimme, Gimme: Contentment & Tzedakah
Jewish tradition teaches, “Who is rich? Those who are content with their lot.” The marketing culture around us equates contentment with possessions; who ever dies with the most toys wins. How can we establish a family value of tzedakah? How does tzedakah (responsible giving) result in contentment?

April 19 What’s in it For Me: Compassion for Others
The world is sustained by loving-kindness (Pirkei Avot 1:2)
How does being kind to others make us happier and how can we encourage children’s natural tenderness in a tough world?

April 26 I Can’t Get No Respect: Kavod in an Open and Free Society
Who is worthy of honor? The one who honors others. (Pirkei Avot 4:1)
Our culture worships the famous and rich. How can we teach our children to respect those whom we believe are truly of value, like parents and teachers?

May 3 Why Should I Care: Taking Action
Do Not Stand Idly By As Your Neighbor Bleeds. (Pirkei Avot 2:4)
When should one take action? Whether defending a classmate against a bully or stopping to help a lost dog, there are times when we want our children to stand up for justice. But we also want them to be safe. How do share our values, protect our kids and set an example of how to be a good person?

Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd., Alameda
Cost: Free to Temple Israel members, $25 for the series, $9 per single session (please bring cash or a check.)
To register go here
Co-sponsored by Temple Israel, Building Jewish Bridges and Lehrhaus Judaica.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Jewish Learning, Non-Jewish family, Parenting, Past Programs, Programs archive
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