Easter Eggs Sweden

I’ve received many questions this month about painting eggs. Spring brings Passover and Easter, sometimes right on top of each other. While Jews are focusing on slavery, emancipation and unleavened bread, Easter seems to be focusing on bunnies, candy baskets and egg hunts. The real meaning of the holiday gets lost on a lot of Jewish families, especially the children. So I did some research on Easter that may be helpful in deciding what is best for your own family.

Dear Jewish parents everywhere,
We hear just bits and pieces about the meaning of Easter. I did some research so that we could have a more thorough understanding. Then, we can make our own determinations about what is best for our family. My firm belief is that knowledge makes our decision making easier and more comfortable. It can help to cut down on arguments between spouses and between parents and children. I want you to know what Easter observances are about, where they came from and, armed with this knowledge, decide what works for you. And yes, I know many Jews with two Jewish parents who colored eggs as kids. It was basically a craft activity for them.

The Easter Story
Easter is not a jolly holiday about the birth of a baby; rather it is a grim story of a gruesome death. The story’s ending is positive for believers in that Christ’s resurrection symbolizes salvation. Religious Easter is impossible to separate from its Christian message. Many Jews can’t put aside the fact that the person who is horribly killed is a Jew and yet all Jews get blamed for it… for all eternity. So be prepared for many Jews to have a visceral reaction to the idea of celebrating Easter in anyway. You may feel that you’re just doing the chocolate part of the holiday, yet others may see that as unacceptable. Be prepared to deal with these emotions. Remember that that’s what they are, emotions, and as such are neither right nor wrong.

The Easter Egg
The early Christians actively proselytized and one of the effective methods of doing so was to absorb the traditions of the community into which they spread their faith. Reinterpreting a ritual and reframing it in Christian symbolism was a less obvious way to monopolize the religion practices of indigenous peoples and to ease them into Christianity. It may feel creepy to our modern ears, but it’s better than being killed. So, Easter, like many Christian holidays, borrows heavily from pagan practices; in this case, springtime rituals.

The tradition of coloring eggs goes back thousands of years in pagan traditions. The egg was widely used as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. Painted eggs are still used at the ancient Iranian spring holiday, Nooruz, which is from the Zoroastrian religion. Just a note, Zoroastrianism is as old as Judaism; both of us have our beginnings in the earth based rituals of early civilization. Pysanka eggs, those gorgeous wax-resist eggs from the Ukraine, also date back to a pagan religion from a time when Ukrainians worshipped a sun god, Dazhboh. Part of that worship included decorated eggs.

Easter Pysanky eggs

Easter Pysanky eggs

The Easter egg is the latest addition to these springtime egg festivities. It is also called the Paschal egg, Paschal meaning “pertaining to Easter or Passover” How’s that for mixing things up! The egg was re-interpreted to symbolizes the sealed tomb in which Jesus’ body was placed. Think: just as a bird hatches alive from an egg, so too did Jesus emerge alive from the tomb. The message being that believing Christians will also experience eternal life. Traditionally the eggs were dyed red to symbolize Christ’s blood.

The Easter Bunny
The rabbit has always been known to be quite fertile so their association with springtime, fertility and rebirth is natural. Ancient Greeks believe that the rabbit was a hermaphrodite and could reproduce without a partner. Christianity interpreted this to mean that the rabbit remained a virgin even though it gave birth and it became associated with the Virgin Mary.

Now, what do we do with this knowledge?
Clearly there is nothing Jewish about Easter. Celebrating or observing any of the rituals of Easter, whether you see them as Christian or pagan, is going to be seen as “not Jewish” in the Jewish community. Now you must ask yourself, what do I want to teach my children? And what do I feel about other people’s opinions?

So, what about the kids?
If you want to color eggs because “it’s fun” I suggest you teach your children the historical meaning of painted eggs. By teaching them the truth you are equipping them to respond with confidence, and probably greater knowledge, to anyone who challenges them. You can say, “Decorating eggs has been a tradition for thousands of years in other religions, here are some of the ways that it was done and understood by people from other places in the world. We are painting them because it’s fun and pretty and we are learning about their history.”

To the Jewish mom who said her daughter wants to paint eggs to represent the 10 plagues I say, wow, your daughter is wonderfully creative! You could tell your daughter that people from different backgrounds borrow from each other and you are borrowing the idea of painted eggs and turning it into a Jewish expression for your family. You could use the eggs as part of your Seder table decorations and get the kids to guess which egg is which plague. This practice isn’t a Jewish tradition now, but who knows, maybe she’s starting something!

What about the opinions of others?
I’m not going to tell you to ignore or denigrate them. Judaism is a communal practice; we do it together for better or worse. I suggest you use your now superior knowledge to explain to them what you’ve learned, what you’ve decided based upon that and your family’s best interests. If they still can’t accept what you are doing AND they are important to you, I suggest you ask them if there is a Jewish practice that seeing you do would comfort them. Explore whether they feel that these eggs are going to curtail your Jewish practice or damage your child’s Jewish identity? If you currently send your child to Hebrew school, observe Shabbat, and have a Passover Seder gently point out to them that your Jewish practice far outweighs some colored eggs. If they still can’t accept your practice, or these are people you don’t really care about anyway, tell them that you will have to agree to disagree, and walk away.

Posted by admin under Children, Community, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Parenting
No Comments

Belle in Montclair

In December my sister died. There was Jewish ritual and community to gather around me and comfort me. Just two months later my beloved old dog died. A dear rabbi friend told me, “all deaths will bring up previous losses and these two deaths come very close together. Don’t be surprised if you feel a resurgence of your grief for your sister.” He was right.

A number of people sent me sympathy cards after my sister passed. Then I was surprised to receive cards and notes about my dog too. A woman at my synagogue mailed me a page from the book, The Book of Sacred Jewish Practices, which addresses loss of a pet. I had no idea there was any Jewish guidance for loss of a pet so I thought I’d share it with you. My children have taken the death of their beloved pet very hard. If your child needs a funeral or other Jewish practice for a pet, try some of these out.

Saying Good Bye to a Pet

Saying Good Bye to a Pet

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Death & Mourning, Jewish Learning
No Comments

purim-family-carnival

Though Purim is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, it is widely observed and a favorite of children. According to the scroll of Esther 9:22, we are to observe Purim as a time of “feasting and gladness.” The holiday is marked not only the by reading of the scroll, but by Purim plays (spiels) and the wearing of costumes. A festive meal is eaten (se’udah) on Purim afternoon. These led to the rise of carnivals, incorporating these traditions and often adding games for children. In Israel, Purim is joyfully observed by parades and people of all ages dressed in costumes.

(From ReformJudaism.org, read more on their website.)

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Purim
No Comments

A number of organizations have basic Judaism classes that run from fall to spring but are offered in modules so it is easy to start the class throughout the year. Even if you see that a class has already started, give the synagogue or institution a call and see if you can join the class. Many teachers will arrange to speak with you and bring you up to date with the other students.

Genesis

Introduction to Judaism
Winter: Space and Place
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.
Intro to Judaism meets on Tuesday evenings over three trimesters and has rolling admission. A student can begin in any of the trimesters. Trimesters do not have to be completed in a particular order.

Date: Tuesdays, January 6, 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member $18; non-member $25 (per trimester)
One-time book fee: $65 (for members and non-members)
Telephone: (415) 751-2535
Information here.

Jewishing: An Ongoing Conversation about Doing & Being Jewish
What is quintessentially Jewish? The Passover Seder? This most ancient Jewish celebration was actually modeled on an ancient Greek banquet. What about the intricate layout of a Talmud page? A joint creation of rabbis and Jewish scholars working with Italian Catholic printers under the direction of a Dutch Protestant publisher. And then there’s the questionable origins of the bagel.
“Jewishing” is an exploration of Judaism not as a monolith of static concepts and practices but as a dynamic system of choices and questions. Listen and talk, read and write and sing and eat your way into questions of Jewish identity, seeing through a Jewish lens and living among Jews in the Bay Area in the twenty-first century.
Complementing the group classroom experience, students are also guided through a process of individualized self-study, using books, media, other courses and tutorials that enhances group process and deepens learning.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 7 – February 25
Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: $175/public; $160/ JCC members
Includes books and refreshments
Register here.

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. Instructor: Rabbi Ruth Adar

You can enter this class at several points, the entry points are:
Jewish Text & History: Jan. 11, 25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8
Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music: 3/15, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3

Date: Sundays, through May 3, 2015
Time: 10:10-11:10 a.m.
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette, across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah. The class is in the library (Rm 211) upstairs to the right. Follow the voices.
Cost: Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
For more information see on the Temple Isaiah website.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Israel and Texts
The land of Israel has been central to Jewish history, both ancient and modern. Even during the years of galut (exile) the Jewish heart was “in the east,” in the words of medieval poet Yehudah HaLevy. This class will examine the history of ancient Israel, the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism, and the modern return to the land. With that history as a backdrop, we will learn about the great texts of Judaism: Tanach (Bible), Midrash, Talmud, the Prayer Book, and the Codes of Jewish Law.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 14 – March 11 (no class 3/4)
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Euclid St., Berkeley
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members of Beth El
Register here.
Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar, this class is part of a three-unit series. This course will be available to registered students via Adobe Connect distance learning software at no extra charge, both live and via full video recording. Students may attend live in the classroom, live online, or anytime via recording.

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, mu sic and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
Taught by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.
The spring term is from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2015.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 21 – March 11
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm, Plus a Friday evening Shabbat experience TBD
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Cost: $120 for the public
Register here.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Conversion, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Learning, Past Programs
No Comments

Selichot text

As we move closer to the High Holidays in the shadow of 9/11 it is a good time to think about Selichot. To quote Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, “Selichot, the penitential service which occurs on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana.” Selichot is a time to reflection on who we are, where we’ve been and where we are headed. It is a time to make a new commitment to our core values. I’ve listed a bunch of Selichot (or S’lichot) events below. This observance has a dreamy quality for me. It’s late, the lights are often low, the white and gold of Torah covers seems other worldly and beautiful. Try going to one — even if only to sit and ponder, where has the past year gone? What have I done well? What would I like to do better in the coming year?

Let me suggest some actions for the new year (Judaism is build on action):

Do something to build the strength of your interfaith/intercultural relationship*
Look deeply into your spiritual, emotional self – are you meeting your needs
Make a friend of someone who is quite different from you

*Consider joining a couples discussion series, listed in red below. Not a group person? Then consider the Let’s Talk Interfaith option for a couple to do together.

Shana Tova, may you have a joyous & prosperous new year (5775 – easier to remember!),

EVENTS
Jewish Meditation (San Mateo)
Chai Shabbat (Piedmont)
After the Play: Degenerate, Forbidden, Suppressed (Berkeley)
September Transitions: Bringing Calm to Chaos (Oakland)
What is the Sound of the Shofar? (Los Altos)
S’lichot Program: Soul Searching (Lafayette)
S’lichot: Film Screening, Havdalah & Service (Berkeley)
Selichot Musical Program (Oakland)
Selichot with Music (San Mateo)
Selichot Dessert, Havdalah, and Preparing for a New Year (San Francisco)
Selichot Service (Pleasanton)
Rosh Hashanah Road Trip (Petaluma)
Discussion series for Interfaith/Intercultural Couples (Berkeley)

ONGOING
Jewish Meditation
Or HaLev, the Center for Jewish Spirituality at Beth El, has resumed its weekly meditation sits in the Meditation Room behind the bima. Begin to prepare for the High Holy Days through contemplative Jewish chanting and meditation. Sits are led by experienced teachers and no prior experience is necessary.

Dates: Mondays
Time: 7 – 8:15pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
www.ptbe.org

Chai Shabbat
Come enjoy an especially musical and festive Shabbat. Led by Kehilla’s spiritual and musical leaders and Ketzev Kehilla (our percussion orchestra). Special invite to NEW MEMBERS. Our Elul Shabbatot continue with a no-holds barred Chai Shabbat in our sanctuary. Join us for this heart-opening service.
The Kiddush lunch that follows is in honor of our new members. During and after lunch, there will be an opportunity for current and new members to meet and for a fuller introduction of people and the shul. If you are able to, bring vegetarian finger foods to share.

Date: September 13
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave, Piedmont
www.kehillasynagogue.org

After the Play:
Degenerate, Forbidden, Suppressed: Music and Otherness in Fascist Europe

You liked it so I did it again. Here’s another class with a Berkeley Rep play!
This fall, the Berkeley Rep presents An Audience with Meow Meow, about an international singing sensation and uber-award winning comedienne. This workshop explores music as a “degenerate” art form. The attitudes displayed by European fascist regimes (especially Italy, Germany, and Vichy France, from the early 1920’s to the end of WW2) towards musical cultures of the “other” — including Jewish, Romani, North African, and African American music, as well as cabaret and popular song — ranged from unambiguous condemnation and suppression, to more nuanced tolerance and even inclusion. This class will examine Fascist rules about music, examples including Brecht and Weill’s musical theater, Django Reinhardt’s “Gypsy Jazz,” Italian adaptation of American blues and jazz, and traditional music in colonial North Africa, exploring myths and facts about music history in the early 20th century.

Whether you take the class to prepare to see the play or as post play expansion, you’ll love the wild ride through degenerate music!
Info and play tickets here

Date: Wednesday, September 17
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12
Register here.

September Transitions: Bringing Calm to Chaos
September is a time of transition for families.No matter how old your children are, their internal adjustment transitions can result in all sorts of behaviors that will challenge you. In this parent workshop with Meg Zweiback, you will get practical ideas for helping your children and yourselves to cope with the transitions of September and every other month of the year. Meg Zweiback is a pediatric nurse practitioner and a family consultant who has had years of experience working with parents and young children.

Date: Thursday, September 18
Time: 7:30-9:00pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
RSVP to Rachel at Rachel@oaklandsinai.org

What is the Sound of the Shofar?
Join Rabbi Heath to celebrate Shabbat (and the upcoming New Year) with your kids ages 0-5 at Tot Shabbat. We’ll sing, we’ll dance, and we’ll blow our imaginary shofars in our Outdoor Chapel, then enjoy a delicious dinner (including apples and honey) together in Rooms 5-6. Siblings, friends and grandparents are also welcome! RSVP online by Wednesday, September 17 so we know how much food to order.

Date: Friday, September 19
Time: 5:15 p.m.
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
www.betham.org

S’lichot Program: Soul Searching
with Joyce Klein at 8:30pm in the Adult Lounge
Soul Searching is a workshop featuring Improvisational Midrash, using one of the Biblical stories we read on Rosh Hashana. In groups, participants, will read through the text of the story and look for places to inject their own midrashic additions-and then present their midrashim to each other. The discussion will focus on the story, the improvised midrashim and an examination of some of the traditional midrashim on this powerful story. We will conclude with reflection in anticipation of the Kol Nidrei communal prayer that opens Yom Kippur. What good intentions or vows did we not live up to over the past year? How do we forgive ourselves for that? What kinds of changes might we be considering for the coming year?

S’lichot Service
Saturday, September 20 at 10:30pm in the Sanctuary
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Resa Rd., Lafayette
www.temple-isaiah.org

S’lichot: Film Screening, Havdalah & Service
A contemplative service of reflection and song, S’lichot is observed on the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah. Join us for Havdalah, dessert and an evening of inspiration, joy and beauty. Sweet Dreams, a story of reconciliation and women’s empowerment in Rwanda, is an award-winning documentary created by Lisa Fruchtman, Academy Award winner and Beth El member. Director Lisa Fruchtman will introduce the film. This inspiring and beautiful story of communal and individual resolve and renewal will combine with our S’lichot service to reawaken the themes and melodies of the Day of Awe.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
www.bethelberkeley.org

Selichot Musical Program
The evening will begin with a special musical presentation by Denise Davis, Judy Bloomfield, Jill Rosenthal, and Jeanne Korn. They have prepared a number of songs, mostly in English, consistent with the themes of return and repentance that are the subject, Selichot, the penitential service which occurs on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana. Interspersed among the songs will be a discussion on 10 significant questions for this time of year, part of the “10Q” program sponsored by the organization Reboot. The evening will conclude with the traditional late night service in the sanctuary.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 8:30pm
Place: Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
www.tbaoakland.org

Selichot with Music
As we enter the High Holy Days’ season of renewal, Selichot is a time for reflection on who we are, where we’ve been and where we are headed. In the belief that singing in harmony refreshes and renews our connections to each other, Cantor Hirschhorn will be teaching some of her songs in harmony for everyone to join in. The evening of original songs and stories will tackle the subjects of love, family dynamics, and moments of transition, all sprinkled with appropriate doses of anxiety and humor.

Date: Sat., Sept. 20
Time: 8 to 10pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
www.ptbe.org

Selichot Dessert, Havdalah, and Preparing for a New Year
Join us as we open the gateways of the heart and spirit in preparation for the coming Days of Awe. After dessert and Havdalah, our clergy will lead small group programs ranging from text study, to cultural exploration, to music and movement. Once our small groups conclude, we will join together once again for a short and beautiful Selichot service.
Schedule (You can engage in one or more of these opportunities)
7:00 pm – Dessert and Havdallah
7:30 pm – Open Stations
Rabbi Beth Singer: The Art of Writing for Forgiveness
Rabbi Mintz: What We Talk About When We Talk About Israel
Cantor Barak: LARS AND THE REAL GIRL: Approaching Teshuva Through Film
Rabbi Kushner: Text and Teshuvah
Rabbi Bauer: Building Your Relationship for the Year to Come: A Talmudic Workshop for Couples
Cantor Attie:Tshuvah Yoga – Return to Self (Dress to move and bring yoga mat or towel)
9:00 pm – A short and beautiful Selichot Service will round out the evening.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 7pm
Place: Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
www.emanuelsf.org

Selichot Service
Selichot is the gateway service to the High Holy Days, observed on the Saturday night preceding Rosh Hashanah. The program begins at 9:00p, followed by refreshments, the changing of the Torah covers, and the beautiful and poetic service of Selichot. This year, our Selichot program will focus on the music of the High Holy Days. Mike Regal will join Rabbi Milder in teaching and talking about the special melodies that make our High Holy Day services distinctive. Not only will we teach a few of the oldest melodies, but we will also explore the exquisite compositions familiar to our congregation but written in recent years.

Date: Saturday, Sep 20
Time: 9:00pm
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Info and to RSVP: Liz Sufit, religious@bethemek.org

Rosh Hashanah Road Trip
Join the JCCSF urban garden team for apple picking at Chileno Valley Ranch in Petaluma followed by mead tasting at Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station. Tour both facilities: fill your basket with award-winning organic apples, learn about honey bees and toast each other with one of the few American-made sparkling honey wines. Gain a better understanding of some of the Bay Area’s special agricultural offerings as we share in this sweet adventure celebrating the Jewish New Year.

Date: Sunday, Sep 21
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sponsor: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: JCC Member fee: $ 75.00; Non-member fee: $ 85.00*
*Cost includes round-trip transportation from the JCCSF, light lunch, picked apples to take home, and tour/tasting at meadery. Must be over 21 years of age. Trip involves physical activity.

Discussion series for Interfaith/Intercultural Couples
Interfaith couples get it – this is going to take some discussion, some compromise. But what exactly is ‘fair’? Can each of us get what we want and that will be OK for our kids? Then there’s our parents, grandparents, and siblings – how do we get them on board with our choices?
There’s a step-by-step process of breaking down the parts of this puzzle and finding out what you want and how to go about getting it. Join us! This may surprise you but it will actually be enjoyable!

Exchange ideas about such issues as:
Holiday Observances – Which holidays will be celebrated in our home?
Dealing With Our Families – How will we talk to our parents about our choices?
Raising Children – How can we make sure our child is “part” of each of us?
Spiritual Concerns – How do we satisfy our needs and recognize our Partner’s?
Cultural Differences – How do communication styles and familial expectations impact our relationship?

This is one of the most meaningful and powerful things you can do for your relationship. I encourage every couple to participate in a couples group.

Dates: 6 Tuesdays, Oct. 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 11, 28. Plus one social gathering to be arranged with the group.
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Cost: $120/couple
There is a sliding scale. NO ONE turned away.
Register here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, High Holidays, Jewish Learning
No Comments

Introduction to Judaism classes around the Bay!
Starting September through November

Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar

Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar


NEW!
** Don’t worry about missing the first class. I’m sure they will gladly bring you up to speed. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to sit down and get to know Rabbi Leider – one on one.
Judaism 101
with Rabbi Susan Leider
We warmly welcome all who desire a deeper connection to Judaism, those who are considering conversion, and those seeking their Jewish voice and identity. Our course incorporates an introduction to basic Hebrew, biblical and rabbinic writings, the history and culture, holy days, festivals, the Sabbath, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, kashrut: the Jewish dietary laws, our connection to the land of Israel and contemporary Jewish life.

Dates: Sundays, September 14 & 21, October 19 & 26, November 2, 9, 16 & 23, December 7 & 14, January 25, February 1,8, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Time: 9:30am – 12 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: Kol Shofar members: Free. Public: $10.00 per class or $100.00 for 18-week series. Advance registration is appreciated by contacting Ricki Singer at rsinger@kolshofar.org
More info here.

Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek

Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek


Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is an overview of the basics of Jewish beliefs, history, and traditions. This survey course is appropriate for those curious about Judaism, as well as those who would like an adult level understanding of that which they learned as a child. Topics will include Bible, Jewish history, holidays, life cycle customs, prayer, theology, Israel, Jewish peoplehood and Jewish movements. Go here to register. Taught by Rabbi Laurence Milder, Ph.D.

Date: Thursdays, September 4 – December 18 (14 sessions)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm
Cost: $80 members/ $100 non-members
Couples: $ 120 / $150
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton

Arik Labowitz

Arik Labowitz


Judaism for the Beginner’s Mind
Jewish Spirit in the Present with Arik Labowitz
Daily Jewish Practices, Approaches to Prayer, Meditation, G-d, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, Hebrew Calendar
Whether you are new to Judaism or simply wanting to connect on a deeper level, these classes offer an opportunity to engage with the tradition with fresh eyes and a new perspective. This module, the second of three, is entitled Jewish Spirit in the Present. This series will focus on Judaism as a personal spiritual practice, including the topics of: Prayer and Blessings, Meditation, Tefillin, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, and the Hebrew Calendar.
There are some participants in this group that are working towards an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony which will take place at the end of the three modules. These participants meet a half hour before each class to study Hebrew and Torah Chanting. If you are interested in joining this group, please speak to Arik directly (arikzev@gmail.com).

Dates: Tuesdays, Sept. 9 through Jan. 20, 2015 (13 weeks)
Time: 7:00pm-9pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince Street, Berkeley
Cost: $435
Details and registration here.

Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha'ar Zahav

Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha’ar Zahav

Essence & Essentials: Judaism Through the Eyes of Rabbi Angel
Whether you are beginning your Jewish journey and needing the basics or a seasoned, learned Jewish scholar wanting a new twist on an old idea, join us for this special 11 week course.
We will discuss: What is Judaism, God, Ethics, Torah, Prayer & Blessings, Jewish Holidays & Festivals, Life Cycle Events, Synagogue and Jewish Movements, the Holocaust, and Israel
Dates: 11 Thursdays, Sept. 11 through Dec. 4 (no class on 9/25 & 10/2)
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Sha’ar Zahav
Cost: $100 registration fee; no fee for Sha’ar Zahav members; book and materials fees extra.
Register here.

Emanu El SF
Introduction to Judaism
Fall: Seasons of Joy
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.
Intro to Judaism meets on Tuesday evenings over three trimesters and has rolling admission. A student can begin in any of the trimesters. Trimesters do not have to be completed in a particular order.

Date: Tuesdays, October 7, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18; December 2, 9
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member $18; non-member $25 (per trimester)
One-time book fee: $65 (for members and non-members)
Register here. http://www.emanuelsf.org/page.aspx?pid=402

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus

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. Instructor: Rabbi Ruth Adar
Year-long Course (24 sessions)

Date: Sundays, Sept 14, 2014 through May 3, 2015
Jewish Calendar / Holidays (i.e. Jewish “public time”): 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26
Jewish Lifecycle & Home (i.e. Jewish “private time”): 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 12/7, 12/14
Jewish Text & History: 1/11, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8
Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music: 3/15, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3
Time: 10:10-11:10 a.m.
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette, across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah. The class is in the library (Rm 211) upstairs to the right. Follow the voices.
Cost: Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members for the year
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.
More information is on the website of Temple Isaiah here.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah of Lafayette.

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.
Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar, this class is part of a three-unit series. See the full series here.

This course will be available to registered students via Adobe Connect distance learning software at no extra charge, both live and via full video recording. Students may attend live in the classroom, live online, or anytime via recording.

Dates: 8 Wednesdays, October 22 – December 17 (no class 11/26)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members
Register here.

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, mu sic and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
Taught by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.

The fall term of this class runs from Oct. 22 to Jan. 14, 2015. The spring term is from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2015. You can sign up for one semester or for the entire year.
Go here for details.
Date: Begins Oct. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $245 for the public; $230 for members; $105 for Émigrés; $105 Full-time students

Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla

Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla

Shabbat Inside Out
A “Doing Judaism” class
More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people. Ahad Ha-am
For millennia, individual Jewish practitioners and communal Jewish culture have been fed and sustained, materially and spiritually, by the practice of Shabbat (in English “the Sabbath” or in Yiddish, “Shabbos”), the “pause that refreshes.” Tradition teaches that this most quintessential of Jewish practices is built into the very fabric of Creation. In the first and second, fourth and fifth classes of this series, Rabbi Diane will guide you in an exploration of the “deep structure” of Shabbat practice, from its roots in Torah and rabbinic tradition, to the intimate secrets of the mystics. Through meditation and chant, text study and conversation, we’ll experience the multiple levels on which Shabbat resonates, delighting and igniting body and soul. In the third class, Hazzan Shulamit will offer an in-depth introduction to some of the most beloved and powerful of the Shabbat z’mirot (songs) and piyyutim (poems set to music). During the last two classes, Rabbi David will connect the dots from the inner essence to the outer world, revealing how Shabbat has always been—and will continue to be—a subversive force for social justice. Not only has Shabbat preserved the Jewish people, it has motivated social change around the planet for everybody. Come and jumpstart your Shabbat practice! We’ll culminate our learning with a freilach (joyful!) Kabbalat Shabbat celebration that evokes the many layers of the Sabbath. Taught by Rabbis Diane Elliot & David Cooper with Hazzan Shulamit Wise Fairman.

Dates: 6 Thursdays & 1 Wednesday: Oct 23 & 30; Nov 5, 13, & 20; Dec 4 & 11
Time: 7 – 9pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave, Oakland
Cost: $126 for Kehilla members; $140 for non-members
Register here.

Aubrey Glazer
Introduction to Jewish Thinking & Spiritual Practice
Want to delve deeper into what it means to think and practice as a Jew? Adult B’nai Mitzvah? Conversion? Tefilla with training wheels? Inquiring mind? Meditator? Join the first installment of this comprehensive introduction to framing your exploration into Judaism as a philosophy and practice. All are welcome.

This is basically an ongoing, continuously running class with some breaks. I am told that they are about to start Section 3 and that new students should consider reading the materials from the first two sections. Look at the class description and reading list here. Taught by Rabbi Aubrey Glazer.

For more information, feel free to contact David Wolk at dwolk@bethsholomsf.org or call 415.221.8736.

Date: Thursday, October 23, ongoing
Time: 6:30-7:30 pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue (near the corner of Clement St), San Francisco
Free

Rabbi Mark Melamut

Rabbi Mark Melamut


NEW!
What is the next chapter in your Jewish Journey?
Introduction to Judaism and Jewish Living
All are welcome to join us for this unique opportunity to learn together with 3 rabbis of 3 different denominations. In this course we will cover a breadth of topics and invite students to plumb more deeply in individualized reading assignments. Topics include: the Jewish people, Torah, G-d, Israel, History, Life Cycle, Year Cycle, belief, practice and the Jewish Home.

Dates: Thursdays, October 23 – May 28
Time: 7:00-9:00
Location: B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval (46th), San Francisco
Cost: Free
Contact: rabbimarkm@gmail.com
Sponsored by 3 Congregations: Beth Israel Judea, B’nai Emunah, and Ner Tamid

Rabbi Lisa Delson

Rabbi Lisa Delson


NEW!
Basic Judaism
Basic Judaism is a course for those yearning to learn more about Judaism, whether you were born Jewish, are studying toward conversion, or just want to learn more about your Jewish friends and relatives. Each class will focus on a different aspect of Jewish living and learning, from holidays to Jewish texts, from celebrations to mourning. This class is open to the community. This class is free, books and other materials are not provided.

Dates: 12 Thursdays, November 6, 13, 20 December 4, 11, 18 January 1, 15, 22, 29 February 5, 12
Time: 7-8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
For more information and to register, please contact Rabbi Lisa Delson at rabbidelson@sholom.org.

Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is offered in partnership between the Reform and Conservative congregations and the JCC of the South Bay. It is 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 events, theology and prayer, Israel, history, and Hebrew.
Why take the course? Perhaps because:
– you recently discovered you have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about your roots
– your partner is Jewish and you are not
– your adult child is helping to raise Jewish grandchildren
– you are seeking conversion to Judaism
– you are Jewish yet somehow, when you were younger, you didn’t learn what you’d like to know about the culture and religion of the Jewish people and now you seek a way to live a fuller and richer Jewish family life
Whatever you are seeking, Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness. It can launch you on a path to deeper personal Jewish connection, acquire a basic Jewish vocabulary, and gain intellectual and experiential knowledge of Judaism as well as the skills necessary to “do Jewish.”
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.

Dates: Tuesdays beginning November 11
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Place: Synagogues & JCC in South Peninsula: San Jose, Los Gatos & Saratoga.
Cost: The purchase of books is recommended. For more information or to register please contact Jenessa Schwartz at (408) 357-7411
Locations: Multiple Locations: Congregations Shir Hadash, Beth David, Sinai, Emanu-El, and the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the APJCC. The first class, Nov. 11, is held at Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, 14855 Oka Rd, Los Gatos.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Conversion, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Programs archive
No Comments

Feast of Jewish Learning

The Feast is bigger and better than ever! It’s a full day of activities, classes and workshops for adults, families, teens and kids of all ages. There is also childcare available so you can learn with some of the best and brightest educators in the Bay Area while the kids play with new friends.

No need to RSVP for this FREE event, but if you’re a person who likes to pitch in, please sign up for a volunteer slot here!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning
No Comments

Alef Bet

In January 2014 my Mixed and Matched column addressed the concerns a Jewish Dad had about his wife’s ‘failure’ to raise the kids Jewish. Many people reacted to the article with some anger at his failure to take responsibility for raising his own children. But some non-Jewish spouses had other thoughts.

One non-Jewish mother had this to say:

I agree that the Dad needs to get more involved but I would not want him to necessarily “lead the way”. I am not Jewish but am raising my children Jewish. I don’t take a back seat to my Jewish family members and would not want them to “lead the way” in my children’s spiritual upbringing. I think instead it is important for the non-Jewish parent (who has agreed to have a Jewish home) to determine how best to embrace Judaism in a way that resonates personally with him/her.

In fact, I chose the Jewish preschool that felt most comfortable to me. I chose our temple. I go to the schools to spin dreidles and host parties for the Jewish holidays. I have one chance to raise my children and their spirituality is important enough to me that I want a central role in guiding my children (rather than deferring that to others). That is why, when I learn of Jewish traditions, I determine which ones are meaningful to me and have the most parallels with my own upbringing. And then I embrace these traditions and weave them into the fabric of the family that my husband and I are building, together.

I would suggest that the husband ask his wife what spiritual traditions were meaningful to her growing up. For instance, did she say a certain prayer? Can she weave elements of this prayer into Shabbat? Make date nights to go to services and let her choose the temple that feels best to her.

As you point out, his wife agreed to raise their children in a religion that is somewhat foreign to her. As much as possible, he should let her take the lead in defining elements of a Jewish life that resonate with her—including choosing a temple and adopting meaningful traditions. I believe this is the surest way for her to embrace Judaism, and therefore their family to embrace Judaism.

Every couple will have their own approach to raising their children. Just be sure that you and your partner are openly discussing both your desires.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, In the News, Jewish holidays at home, Jewish Learning, Parenting, Spirituality
No Comments

Tony Kushner’s new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures

Intelligent Homosexual

This spring, Berkeley Rep presents Tony Kushner’s new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
In this play Kushner uses one argumentative family to explore some of the major questions of life. What is a meaningful life? What if you are disappointed at the end of your life? How do we deal with the uncontrollable and constant changes? Is suicide a valid choice?
None of these issues are new. Jewish wisdom, in particular Kohelet, or Ecclesiastes, has addressed these questions, often leaving the reader still unsure of whether to be comforted by simple pleasures or tormented by the meaninglessness of human existence. Put on your philosopher’s cap and join Rabbi Chester to discuss little things, like the meaning of life.

Date: Thursday, May 29
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12
Register here

When you register you will receive a special discount code that you can use when purchasing your ticket.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Jewish Learning, Past Programs, Programs archive, Spirituality
No Comments

Building Jewish Bridges is again using local theater arts to explore elements of Jewish thinking and identity. This spring we are working with Berkeley Repertory Theater using two of their productions as springboards to a discussion.

This spring playwright Nina Raine’s play, Tribes, will be produced at Berkeley Rep from April 11 to May 11. Raine is herself the daughter of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. In her play it is not the Jewishness of the family that her characters seek to protect, but a different form of being unique, deafness.

Class participants should plan to see the play on their own. Contact me, Dawn Kepler, to get the discount code for purchasing your ticket.

tribes-at Berkeley Rep

After the Play: Tribes
In April 2014 Berkeley bring to their stage Nina Raine’s Tribes. Nina Raine explained in a 2010 interview that the idea of writing the play came to her after she saw a documentary about a Deaf couple who were expecting a child, and they said that they hoped their child would be Deaf. She said that it occurred to her that a family was a tribe, whose members wanted to pass on values, beliefs and language to their children. She began to see that there were “tribes everywhere,” in groups including individual families and religious communities, with their own rituals and hierarchies that are hard to understand by “outsiders.”

Jews commonly refer to being Jewish as being ‘a member of the tribe.’ How much are we indeed a tribe? Are there core rituals and beliefs that all Jews share? How does one gain entry to a family, clan or tribe? Join us for a discussion of Jewish identity and how it works both to support a sense of confidence and belonging in a world grown so big that many feel disenfranchised, yet remains elusive to some who feel outside its boundaries.

Join Rabbi Menachem Creditor to discuss being inside and outside of the Jewish tribe.

Date: Thursday, April 24
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12

Sign up for the class here.

Questions: Contact Dawn at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org or call 510-845-6420 x11

Posted by admin under Community, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Past Programs, Programs archive
No Comments

« Previous PageNext Page »