A turkey challah

A turkey challah

Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek in Pleasanton sent out this delightful message to his congregants. I simply HAD to share it with you. There are so many great things in it.
1. There’s a lovely blessing to say at your Thanksgiving table. (Below in italics)
2. There’s the delightful learning about the meaning of a word (Hodu) and the way in which Jewish students & scholars love to dig into the root meaning of every letter!
3. There’s the history story about Turkey and India and America.

So whether you go away charmed, humored or touched, enjoy and give thanks for a life so full of good things.

How should Jews celebrate Thanksgiving?

For starters, let’s begin Thanksgiving with Motzi. If you don’t regularly recite this blessing for a meal, this is certainly the occasion that calls for it.

Now, if you would like to add something special, try this Thanksgiving hymn from the book of Psalms, Psalm 100:

Enter into the gates of the Eternal with thanksgiving
And into God’s courts with praise;
Give thanks to God,
And bless God’s holy name.
For the Eternal is good,
God’s kindness endures forever…

The words in Hebrew are particularly fitting for this holiday. “Give thanks to God” is “Hodu lo.”

Now, here is what you need to know to appreciate this accidental double entendre.

The word “hodu”, give thanks, is also the Hebrew word for India, as in the country. I don’t know why. It just is.

When Columbus arrived on these shores, and saw these strange birds running around, thinking he was in India, he dubbed them “Indian chickens,” which is what turkeys were then called. Turn “Indian chicken” into Hebrew, and you get Tarnegol Hodu, which has, over time, been shortened simply to Hodu.

This should not be surprising. After all, Americans name the bird after one Asian country, Turkey; Jews name it after another Asian country, India.

But, in a coincidence that only God could have planned, this etymology yields the magnificent double entendre of the Hebrew “Hodu lo,” which can mean either “Give thanks to God,” or alternatively, “Turkeys for God.”

And that, friends, is how Jews should celebrate Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Larry Milder

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First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church

Reflections on Texas Attack

During our services this past Shabbat, I offered a prayer: that the sense of normalization we feel around acts of senseless violence soon end. It feels as though each month is punctuated with unimaginable pain. After last week’s attacks in New York and Texas, words fail us. There are no words that explain the murder of the innocent, and our hearts break at the stories of children whose lives were cut short.

Last month, after the senseless attacks in Nevada, I wrote,

“As we learned over our High Holy Day season, the Jewish tradition teaches that prayer is effective only when it leads to action and that while our prayers allow us to atone before God, only our deeds can restore ruptures among people. The epidemic of mass shootings across America is a public health crisis of massive proportions; this year alone has witnessed 270 incidents with multiple victims. If our prayers today are to ring true, we must call on our leaders to create policy solutions that curb violence and create a safer nation.”

I continue to believe in the need for our nation to address gun violence in meaningful ways. And while prayer is called for–especially after tragedies in a house of prayer–I believe that prayer is not enough.
This past Shabbat, when we reflected on Abraham’s activism in Sedom, I shared the words of a prayer written by Rabbi Jack Reimer. He writes, in part,

We cannot merely pray to You O God, to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.

Therefore we pray to You instead, O God,
For strength, determination, and willpower,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.

I join with our community in praying for the day when we become a safer nation and a safer world.
Rabbi Stein
B’nai Shalom, Walnut Creek

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I love summer and am a bit sad to see autumn arrive. But S’lichot gets me in the mood for the coziness of cool weather, the prayers of the High Holy Days, and the emotional warmth of returning my energies to the Jewish community from my garden.

S’lichot translates as forgiveness and refers to the prayers of repentance that are said as we approach Yom Kippur. Read more details here.) Just about every synagogue has a special late night service for S’lichot. They may include food (we are Jews, you know!) and teaching and possibly, music. To go into the sanctuary late at night surrounded by friends and family has such a loving, peaceful feeling. The congregants take the regular mantles off the Torah scrolls and redress them in white covers. There is both a solemnity and a joy to the activity.

An interesting thing to note is that the rabbis teach that Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av are the happiest holidays in the year. Why? Because they represent love and intimacy. Tu B’Av focuses on the relationship between lovers. Yom Kippur is said to be the day that each of us draws near to God, recites our failings and God says, “I know. I love you.” It is being accepted for who you are – warts and all. Of course, we strive to do better each year and, God willing, we are better people this season than we were last season. But what is nicer than being seen for who you are and loved just as you are?

Shabbat Shalom,


S’lichot Service (Lafayette)
S’lichot and Havdalah Service (Palo Alto)
Jewishness: A Cultural History (Oakland)
Exploring Judaism (San Rafael)
Judaism 101 (Tiburon)
5th Friday Shabbat: High Holy Day Melodies (Palo Alto)
Greatest Hits of the High Holidays! (Oakland)
Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity: Being Black, Asian, Danish…and Jewish (Oakland)
Sukkot Shabbat Dinner (Palo Alto)
Isaac Zones Concert and Harvest Festival (Foster City)
Hollywood and Censorship (Walnut Creek)

S’lichot Service
Prepare yourself for the Days of Awe with our S’lichot program and service exploring repentance and forgiveness.
7pm Join us in the Social Hall where we will watch two short films: “The Science of Character” and “The Making of a Mensch,” followed by learning and discussion.
8pm Service in the Sanctuary. A beautiful and moving service setting us on the path of repentance, forgiveness and renewal. We will also participate in the ritual of changing the Torah mantles to white for the High Holy Day season.

A dessert reception will follow in the foyer. Please bring sweet treats to share.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Temple Isaiah, 925 Risa Rd., Lafayette

S’lichot and Havdalah Service
In preparation for the High Holy Days, Etz Chayim and Keddem will hold a co-led S’lichot observance with a short service, including Havdalah and changing the Torah covers for the High Holy Days. The service will include poetry, prayer, meditation and chanting. We hope you’ll join us for this beautiful and meaningful observance. Co-led by Elaine Moise from Keddem and by Jonathan Salzedo.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Time: 8:30 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St, Palo Alto

Jewishness: A Cultural History
with Shaina Hammerman, PhD
Jewish cultures span thousands of years and at least as many villages and urban centers, political ideologies, theologies, rituals, and literatures. Indeed, it is impossible to point to a singular entity called “Jewish Culture.” If we contend that Jewish cultures are so varied, what about these cultures makes them “Jewish”?
In this session, we will take a look at the variety of Jewish cultures from Jewish societies in antiquity through the contemporary Jewish-American scene. We will focus on the theme of “the Other”: how Jewish cultures create themselves by constructing boundaries between themselves and their neighbors, as well as themselves and their historical predecessors.

Date: Sunday, September 25
Time: 9:30-11:00am in the Albers Chapel
Place: Temple Sinai, in the Albers Chapel, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
For course and registration information go here.
Co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica and Temple Sinai

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

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

5th Friday Shabbat: High Holy Day Melodies
Come get in the mood for Rosh Hashanah with this special Fifth Friday service led by Rabbi Chaim and Karen Kennan. The service will incorporate High Holy Day melodies and reflections as an opportunity for introspection and preparation for welcoming the New Year.

Friday, September 30
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St, Palo Alto

Greatest Hits of the High Holidays!
Are you interested in learning more about the High Holidays, but not ready for (or want to supplement) traditional synagogue services?

Join us at Beth Jacob Congregation for the Greatest Hits of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur!

All are invited to join Rabbi Fox for “The Greatest Hits of Rosh HaShanah” on the first day of Rosh HaShanah, Monday, October 3rd at 6:15 PM and Rabbi Albert for “The Greatest Hits of Yom Kippur” on Wednesday, October 12th at 8:00 AM in the Small Sanctuary. Both are only one hour long.

This is a learners’ service that will include some of the special prayers of the day, learning, and discussion. Please feel free to invite family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

Dates: Rosh HaShanah, Oct. 3 at 6:15pm
Yom Kippur, Oct. 12 at 8:00am
Place: Beth Jacob Congregation, 3778 Park Blvd, Oakland

Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity: Being Black, Asian, Danish…and Jewish
Adults from interfaith families often have their Jewish identity challenged by both Jews and non-Jews. Having a name that is not perceived as Jewish, like Anderson, Christiansen, O’Toole, or Wong, can lead to questions like, “How did you get to be Jewish?” For biracial Jews the question stems from their appearance, “You don’t look Jewish.”
There are a number of ways that an adult from a biracial or interfaith family can arm themselves for these micro-aggressions. Join Kim Carter Martinez, the biracial daughter of an African American father and a white Ashkenazi mother. Kim has spent years honing her skills and is pleased to teach others how to own your identity in spite of the doubts of others.

Date: Sunday, October 9
Time: 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, but space is limited so reserve your spot here.

Sukkot Shabbat Dinner
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot commemorates the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert after being freed from Egypt. Huts, or Sukkahs, represent the temporary shelters that the Israelites lived in during those 40 years.

Join the OFJCC in our community Sukkah for a festive Shabbat dinner celebration, with music from Jewish musicians Jeremiah Lockwood and Jewlia Eisenberg.

Sukkot and Shabbat are times to come together with family and sit in the Sukkah, connecting with nature and each other as we express gratitude for the good things in our lives.

Date: Friday, October 21
Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm
Place: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Cost: $20 per person | $10 per child | $50 per family | Free for children under age 2.

Isaac Zones Concert and Harvest Festival
Wornick and PJ Library invite you to a joyful concert and a morning of fun learning activities for children ages 3 to 5 and their families. Lunch will be provided.

Date: Sunday, October 30
Time: 10:00 am to Noon
Place: Wornick Jewish Day School, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
This event is free, but you must register.

Hollywood and Censorship
From the earliest days of motion pictures in America, bluenose reformers accused the film industry of poisoning the minds of its viewers with scenes of illicit sex and wanton violence.
With the use of film clips, we will explore how the push for film censorship led to the 1934 Production Code Authority, the near erasure of Jewish characters in American films and the prohibition of movies that explored what was happening in The Third Reich.

Dates: 5 Wednesdays, November 2 – December 7 (no class 11/23)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
Cost: $70 for the public; $50 for members of B’nai Shalom
Register here.

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San Bernardino candle

Rabbi David Booth send this message to his congregation. He has worries and a prayer. I hope you will find some comfort in his words.

I am worried about my reaction to the tragedy in San Bernardino on two levels. First, I found myself numbed to it. By contrast with Paris, or Tel Aviv, or so many other incidents of murder and terror, I saw the headlines and initially gave it little attention. I’m worried that I’m getting used to it, inured to regular occurrences of mass murder and terror.

Yet we are created in the image of God. Every death, every murder, is a loss of infinite value. I dare not get used to such loss. I need to be shocked and upset and in mourning each time because each time the divine image is lessened; lovers, children, parents have been lost forever.

Second, these murders are done in God’s name. I believe in God who brings out the truest essence of people. As the process theologians put it, God is in part the lure, the pull to do good, to be a source of blessing. I am so disturbed by God being invoked in murder and in terror. It does damage to religion because people who might be drawn to faith that heals, faith that transforms, instead turn away. If it leads to such incidents, I want nothing of it, they say. I am heartbroken to see faith inspire murder, whether in Paris, San Bernardino, or Israel.

And yet faith is how we heal, how we comfort one another, and how we uncover our capacity to be a blessing in the world. Our endeavor as Jews is to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth. I believe God wants that of all humanity. Our job is to uncover our own ability to bring good and blessing to one another, to all people’s and nations. Faith is one path that helps us achieve that divine mission.

A prayer for this tragedy:

May God who creates peace, who is good and does good, inspire us not to violence, but to blessing. May we find the strength to feel loss even when it is repetitive, inexplicable, and awful. May God grant us the strength to access our own inner resources of compassion to offer comfort to those in mourning, to those who have lost loved ones, to those who are afraid.

And yet, God, we know that prayer is only beginning. Prayer is the inspiration for good action, the moment to connect with You, source of blessing. Help us then to find the political, legal, and military pathways to bring about an end to terror and violence. Guide our leaders and all of us in the democratic West to wisdom towards a path that can restore Your holy name as it belongs – as a source of peace and blessing and safety, to the whole world.

Then may it be fulfilled that each person may sit at rest under their citrus tree, content with their portion, renewed and inspired to be blessing to all the families that walk this Earth.


Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Booth

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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I saw an article titled, “How to Prepare Your Kids for Summer.” Wow, whose kids are these? Are they from Mars and unaccustomed to our atmosphere? The way my kids prepare for summer is with whoops and hollers. Summer is utter freedom, no homework, sleep late and dig for emeralds in the backyard. Yes, we as parents may need some preparation – camp reservations, play dates, grandparent coverage – but I believe that summer is the time to let your children’s minds and bodies run free. Studies have found that our most creative time is when we are musing or daydreaming. Be sure to pack some of that time into your kids’ days as well as your own.

With my apologies to the hard working clergy, I find some of the best musing time is during services. The rhythm of the chanted prayers, the soft lights, the hum of humanity around me, these all help me to let go of the stresses of the week and drift into my own thoughts. Whether those thoughts are a prayer for a sick friend, what to do with those extra garden zucchinis or the formulation of a solution to a problem, that quiet time in my own mind is soothing and inspirational. Try going to a service and letting your mind drift. Then email me and tell me what you thought about.

Happy June!


Summertime Splashes and Sleepytime Stories (Los Gatos)
Tot Shabbat & Dinner, Anyone? (Pleasanton)
Friday Night is ‘Chicago’ Night (Walnut Creek)
Community Shabbat Dinner (Pleasanton)
Yoga for Your Soul (Palo Alto)
Pride Shabbat (Berkeley)
San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade (San Francisco)
Summer Shabbat Potluck (Palo Alto)
Summer Tot Shabbat (Los Altos)
Shabbat Under the Stars (Pleasanton)

Summertime Splashes and Sleepytime Stories
The PJ Library Program and Congregation Shir Hadash present a fun afternoon for kids.
Join other parents of children age 3 to 7 for water play and bubble fun. Children are encouraged to come in bathing suits. Children will change into pajamas for dinner, a craft activity, dinner, and cuddles with family and friends.

Date: Thursday, June 20
Time: 4:30 to 6:00pm
Place: Shir Hadash, 20 Cherry Blossom Lane, Los Gatos
Free, but advance registration is required.

Tot Shabbat & Dinner, Anyone?
Beth Emek holds Tot Shabbat before their June community dinner (above) at Beth Emek. If you have lttle ones and just want a short service, early dinner and to head home, you can attend Tot Shabbat at 5:45pm, stay for dinner at 6:15pm and go home afterwards. Or you can just go to Tot Shabbat and get wee ones home to bed.

Date: Friday, Jun 21
Time: Tot Shabbat at 5:45pm and Dinner is at 6:15pm
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Tot Shabbat is always free, just show up.
Dinner is free to newcomers but you do have to RSVP.
Clink here to RSVP to the dinner: http://bit.ly/11vYK52
For more information contact Ellen Kiefer at bethemek@bethemek.org or 925.931.1055

Friday Night is ‘Chicago’ Night
Did you grow up in CHICAGO?
Did you live in CHICAGO as an adult?
Come to Shir Joy on Friday and meet other CBT members who, at one time or another, called CHICAGO home. Some will share Jewish stories during the service.
Some are bringing CHICAGO comfort food for you to enjoy during the Oneg (sorry – no hot dogs), while our wonderful Tikvah Tones will be playing some CHICAGO favorites.

Date: Friday, June 21
Time: 7:30 pm (not Chicago time)
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek

Community Shabbat Dinner
Curious about getting Jewishly connected in Pleasanton? Check out Beth Emek at this community dinner. Come join the friendly members at this month’s community potluck Shabbat dinner. Feel free to bring a bottle of wine to share (or not!).
RSVP by Friday, June 21 at 3:00pm.

Date: Friday, Jun 21
Time: Dinner is at 6:15pm and is followed by a family service at 7:30pm
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Free to newcomers
Clink here to RSVP
For more information contact Ellen Kiefer at bethemek@bethemek.org or 925.931.1055

Yoga for Your Soul
Start your summer fresh, relaxed, and rejuvenated! Join Rabbi Laurie Matzkin for a Sunday morning workshop combining gentle stretching and movement, Jewish prayer and meditation. Wear loose clothing, bring water and a yoga mat if you have one.
All levels are welcome – no charge.

Date: Sunday morning, June 23
Time: 9:30-10:30am
Place: Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto
To RSVP just email Ruthie, ruthie@kolemeth.org

Pride Shabbat
In honor of GLBT Pride and Freedom, you, as well of course as your friends, family, kids, parents — along with the rest of Beth El !– are invited to our second annual Pride Shabbat on Friday, June 28. The evening will begin at 5:30 pm with a glass of wine or juice and other refreshments at Chardonnay Shabbat. The evening will continue with our gay and festive Shabbat evening service – with special readings and music for the festival – after which we’ll gather under the oak trees for a Pride-B-Q picnic dinner, featuring veggie burgers, kosher hot dogs and all the sides.

Date: Friday, June 28
Time: 5:30pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford Street, Berkeley
Free; Newcomers are welcome but please RSVP so there is enough food by emailing Juliet at Juliet@bethelberkeley.org

San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade
March with Bend the Arc and Jews from all over the Bay Area in San Francisco’s Pride Parade. Meeting location TBD. For more information and to RSVP Bend the Arc.

Sunday, June 30, 10:30 am
San Francisco

Summer Shabbat Potluck
Join Kol Emeth families for the first in a series of summer Shabbat potlucks! The evening features a 6pm Friday Night service in the backyard of a Kol Emeth family, followed by a kosher dairy potluck dinner. It’s always a very relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, and the food is always delicious and plentiful! These evenings are free and open to all.
This is a great way to experience the Kol Emeth community, meet lots of incredibly friendly families, and make new friends.

Date: July 5
Time: 6pm
Place: A Palo Alto home
What to bring: Your family & friends! One potluck dish per family is also appreciated. If you’d like to bring something homemade, please see Kol Emeth’s Kashrut Guidelines here. If bringing something store bought, please bring a dish with a dairy or parve heksher (kosher symbol). Otherwise, just some whole, uncut fruit would make a great addition to the meal! Confused? No problem, just call Ruthie who is a user-friendly member of Kol Emeth and who REALLY wants you to come!

For more information and the location of the potluck this month, call Ruth at 650-948-7498.
Sponsored by Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Avenue, Palo Alto
Future Shabbat Potluck dates are July 19, July 26, Aug. 2 and Aug 9.

Summer Tot Shabbat
Summer is here and that means it’s time to celebrate Shabbat outside with your tots, family and friends! Bring a picnic blanket for you and your family, and we’ll provide dinner and drinks. We’ll start with some singing, we’ll bless our kids and then we’ll enjoy a wonderful meal together. Rabbis Jennifer and Adam will be there to shmooze, tell stories and hang out. You and your kids are welcome to stay after dinner and join the larger Beth Am community for the main service, which begins at 6:15 p.m. and is held in the Sanctuary.

Dates: Friday July 12 at 5:15pm
Friday August 16 at 5:15 pm
Saturday September 21 at 9:30 am – no dinner this morning, but a kid-friendly snack!
Place: Grassy area next to the Beth Am playground at Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
RSVP to youthed@betham.org by the Wednesday before the date listed so we know how much food to order.

Shabbat Under the Stars
The entire Tri-Valley community is invited to join Congregation Beth Emek as it moves its weekly Shabbat observance to a public park near downtown Pleasanton. Revel in the summertime weather, relax with your CBE friends, reconnect with your Jewish friends, make new friends, invite your neighborhood friends…it’s all about friends, community, and cultivating Jewish connections.
Come early, stay late
Shabbat Under the Stars is open to everyone in the Tri-Valley community and you are welcome to attend any of the three components:
COMMUNITY DINNER, 6:00: Bring a blanket, your lawn chairs, and your favorite picnic food. In the spirit of Jewish tradition, we request that you follow kosher style with your meal.
SHABBAT SERVICE, 7:00: Rabbi Milder and a group of guitarists and music lovers will bring a light and friendly tone for all to enjoy. Bring your favorite blanket and/or lawn chair.
ONEG, ~8:00: Enjoy a sampling of delicious desserts and cold beverages, compliments of CBE host families.
Tell a Friend
Beth Emek members are encouraged to bring non-member families with them—unaffiliated Jews or friends and neighbors of any faith. Everyone is welcome to attend this evening.

Date: Friday, July 19
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Harvest Park, 1401 Harvest Rd., Pleasanton
Sponsored by Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
More info here: http://shabbatunderthestars.com/

Giants Jewish Heritage Night
See the Giants battle the Milwaukee Brewers, receive a limited-edition Jewish-themed item, and gain admission to the pregame party.

Date: Tuesday, August 6
Time: 7:15 pm
Get tickets here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Community Activities, Prayer
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Do you pray that you might be able to pray? Do you bless your food with gratitude that a stooped worker picked it for you? Do you breathe in the rest of the Sabbath with ecstatic peace? Or, do you just wish you could?
Join Rabbi Creditor to explore how you can deepen your personal Jewish practice. We will explore three key areas: Shabbat, food, and prayer. Come exactly as you are and honestly determine what you would like MORE of in your life. Each person will be on their own journey but will share their questions and challenges.
Invite a thoughtful friend.

Dates: 3 Wednesdays, April 17 – May 1
Time: 7:30 to 9:00pm
Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Avenue, Berkeley
Cost: $20 for the public, Free for Netivot Shalom members

Enroll here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Jewish Learning, Prayer, Spirituality
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Secrets of the (Synagogue) Sanctuary
Most Americans have never been inside a synagogue. Those that have may not know the parts of the sanctuary and their meaning. What is the bema? What’s the Eternal Light and is it really eternal? Do Jews kneel? Where should you sit? Should visitors wear head coverings? What about prayer shawls? Why do some people sit up in front, not with the rest of the congregation? Where is the Torah scroll kept and what does a Torah scroll actually look like? Do Jews use prayer books or hymnals? Where does the rabbi stand and what exactly is a cantor? Join Rabbi Andrew Straus and other inquisitive people to learn the secrets of the synagogue sanctuary.

Date: Feb. 7, 2013
Time: 7:30pm to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, please RSVP so we’ll get enough snacks. Email dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org with the number in your party. See you there!

Posted by admin under Conversion, Finding a Synagogue, High Holidays, Jewish Culture, Past Programs, Prayer, Spirituality
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More Jewish Experience – Prayer: Erev Shabbat
There is an internal logic to the order in which Jews say the prayers in the service, but it is not always easy to see. Have you ever wished that you understood what we are doing in the service? This class will examine the Friday evening Erev Shabbat service as well as some of the key prayers. No Hebrew is required.

More Jewish Experience is a new series, designed to expand one’s Jewish knowledge beyond the basics in the areas of Jewish prayer, Jewish texts, and Jewish ethics. While it is designed as a follow-up to Introduction to the Jewish Experience, all interested students are welcome.

Dates: 4 Thursdays, February 7 – February 28
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $50 public, $40 for Temple Sinai members
Register here.

Posted by admin under Past Programs, Prayer, Shabbat, Spirituality
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