christmas ornaments Pixabay

I wrote the opinion piece for the J-Weekly because so many Jews told me they felt pressured to embrace Christmas. Please expand your idea of what other people “should” like.

Growing up without a formal religion in the United States can lead many people to insist, “I have no religion. I’m certainly not a Christian.” They define “real” Christians as people who go to church, believe in Jesus as savior and observe Christmas and Easter as religious holidays.

But the reality is more nuanced. Despite the diversity we value and enjoy in this country, America’s culture is shaped by the Christian people who settled it. As a result, Christmas and Easter are federal holidays when government offices close. And the holidays are populated by figures like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty and the Easter Bunny. All of this is so ingrained in the culture that most Americans don’t see it as unique. But for those who come from a different culture or nation, American culture is indeed quite distinct.

I like to call these Americans who claim no religious identity but follow the customs “folkloric Christian Americans.” They have Christmas trees, give gifts, leave out cookies for Santa and truly love the holiday and all its trappings. To a lesser extent, they also love Easter, with its emphasis on chocolate, bunnies, Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts. They make no reference to the resurrection of Christ and don’t go to an early morning Easter service. But they love the food and decorations that accompany the holiday. They enjoy getting together with family over a big meal — very much like Thanksgiving.

They observe these Christian holidays as folkloric, cultural practices.

Now, here’s the rub: folkloric Christian Americans believe the holidays are about fun, and that no one should have to go through life without them. I’ve heard people say quite sincerely, “It would be cruel to deprive a child of the magic of Christmas.” This kind of statement implies that their cultural norms hold some ultimate truth that every human being should follow.

For Americans who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Native American and others, this perspective can feel like a frontal attack on their own cultural norms and practices. Members of minority communities who grew up surrounded by American norms may feel uncomfortable when they are put on the spot with such statements. And the less able they are to articulate why a particular holiday or practice is not for them, the more upset it makes them feel. They are defending themselves on a primal level but without the vocabulary to express their concerns.

To the Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Sufis, my fellow Jews and others, I want to say that each of us has the human right to be who we are and to decline to adopt the cultural holidays of mainstream Christian America. While some minority folks are happy to get on board and have Easter baskets and Christmas trees, know that you don’t have to. Do not be defensive or angry. Express your sense of self in a soft voice. Graciously decline invitations that would make you feel inauthentic. Let others have their fun. You have your own.

And to the folkloric Christian Americans, I want to say, please wake up to the reality that most of the people on this planet do not have a Christmas tree or Easter basket, and they are doing just fine. Children who don’t practice your cultural holidays won’t feel deprived unless you make a point of trying to make them feel deprived. If you truly welcome diversity, then show it with your actions. Allow others to be different from you. And we should all enjoy and celebrate these differences in one another.

Posted by admin under Christmas, Community, Couples, In the News
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xmas-hanukkah.png

Hanukkah and Christmas – the “December dilemma”. I never liked that term “dilemma”. Not that there isn’t an element of difficulty for an interfaith household, but the word made it seem so dire. I think I would prefer, December Questions, because it all boils down to a lot of questions. The core one being, how will we handle these two holidays, one of which is the Mother of All Holidays.

Let me say emphatically, this is not a one-answer-fits-all question. There are a few do’s and don’ts, but no template that everyone can squeeze into.

The first issue is that people often don’t want to talk about it until they are smack up against it – like now, December is here. But it’s much easier to contemplate in February, with the next occasion being months away.

Here are some questions to discuss:
1. Do one or both of us have strong feelings about this? This is usually Christmas.
2. Do we have a plan for this year or do we need some help sorting it out – right away?
3. Is December a cloud that floats through our lives with us – one we’d like to be rid of?
4. Are we stuck and just don’t know what to do or say at this point? Are we feeling overwhelmed?

Bonus question: How is this impacting our children? Do we really know?

If after reading this you’d like some help, please contact me. (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org). You are not alone. You haven’t done anything “wrong”. You may need some new ideas.

As for the Bonus Question, how this is affecting your kids matters. But you must take care of yourselves before you can focus on the children.

Shabbat Shalom & have a peaceful weekend,
Dawn

EVENTS
Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service (Los Altos Hills)
Library Shabbat (Lafayette)
Tot Shabbat (San Mateo)
Latkes and Vodka! (Walnut Creek)
Family Connections (San Rafael)
Pop ‘n Latkes (Berkeley)
Bring Your Own Menorah! (Foster City)
Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro (San Francisco)
Oy Chanikah (Palo Alto)
Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition (San Francisco)
Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center! (Palo Alto)
Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration (Oakland)
Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie! (Lafayette)
New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party (San Rafael)

Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service
at Beth Am’s Pre-Service Learning and Discussion
Do you wish you had a better understanding of the Shabbat evening service? Would you like to find more meaning in the worship experience? Join Beth Am clergy for learning and discussion of the structure and meaning of our Friday night prayers, along with practical suggestions for connecting these ancient words to our own lives. No question is too elementary! Led by Beth Am clergy.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Details here.

Library Shabbat
The Library Committee presents Temple Isaiah member and best-selling author Alan Jacobson discussing The Lost Codex, an exciting thriller with a biblical connection. The service will be followed by a festive oneg with book-signing and a pop-up library.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
www.temple-isaiah.org

Tot Shabbat
Join Rabbi Sara for a fun, interactive, and musical service. Rabbi Sara will tell a special story for young kids. Sing and dance with stuffed Torahs and experience a joyful Shabbat with friends. Followed by snacks, playtime, and a special Chanukah project!

Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 9:00 am
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Details here.

Latkes and Vodka!
Did you know that vodka can be made from fermented corn, rice, wheat, potatoes,
fruit or even just sugar? Start the Hanukkah celebration early with a class on the history of this distilled beverage given by a national vodka expert. Plus enjoy delicious latkes and tastings of four different international vodkas, all followed by a pianist. Lemon Dreidel Drops available for purchase.

Date: Sat., Dec. 9
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Pre-admission: $20; At-the-door: $23. RSVP is recommended by December 5 here.
Support Shalom Bayit and those fleeing domestic abuse by donating a supermarket or Target gift card to a family in need at this event.
Sponsored be Under One Tent, the Contra Costa JCC and B’nai Tikvah.

Family Connections
Connect with other families with young children! Learn about the Jewish holidays and traditions through music, art, cooking and parent education. Come nosh and schmooze with new friends!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 10
Time: 9:30 – 11:30am
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Cost: Free for families with children birth to 3years of age. Siblings and extended family are welcome.
Please RSVP to Melody Horowitz: mhorowitz@marinjcc.org
www.marinjcc.org

Pop ‘n Latkes
A Festival of Giving, Dancing, and Light
Community Holiday Hanukkah Celebration
Already dreaming about latkes? This year, they’ll be paired with breakdancing! Mark your calendar for our annual community celebration, where we’ll light the candles together at our all-ages extravaganza.

Enjoy a pop-up breakdance workshop with our resident dancer, Marcus; craft-making with Be’chol Lashon; storytelling with Diana Shmiana featuring the Mystery of the Missing Candle (for ages 3-7); singalongs with Isaac Zones; and a child-friendly screening with BimBam. Learn more about Hanukkah with our new Shamash Resident, Rachel Brodie. Visit the gift-wrapping station to beautifully package your donated gifts of brand-new children’s toys, and assemble a homemade note to go with gift cards to be donated.

Cozy up in the book nook, pop a move in the theater, and celebrate the season in our warm, inclusive environment.

Date: Sunday, December 10
Time: 2pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Cost: In advance : $6 for children, $8 for adults. At the door: $8 for children, $10 for adults; Children 2 and under are free of charge
Details here.

Bring Your Own Menorah!
Join us for the first night of Chanukah and BYOM (bring your own menorah). It will be a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday, as we eat latkes, spin dreidels, and light the candles as a community. Happy Chanukah!

Date: Wednesday night, December 13
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City
www.peninsulasinai.org

Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro
Light candles, sing, spin the giant dreidl, eat sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and dance! We are teaming up with Castro Merchants again to host this fun-filled evening to celebrate light and community. Bring your own Menorah (BYOM)!

Date: Wednesday, Dec 13 (2nd night of Hanukkah)
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Jane Warner Plaza at Castro & Market Street, San Francisco
Details here.

Oy Chanikah
Hadassah welcomes back the wonderful Mark Levy, who will lead us in his program called “Oy Chanikah.” It includes songs from the Old World and the new, sung in Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, English and Russian.

Date: Thursday, December 14: Concert from 10:30am to 12:00pm; Socializing & Desserts from 12:00 to 12:30pm
Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Place: Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto
RSVP required to Leah at SequoiaChapterRSVP@Hadassah.org
Cost: $18 Donation to Hadassah for Youth Aliyah program. Hadassah’s ‘Youth Aliyah’ assists young immigrants and at-risk children in Israel.
Sponsored by Hadassah Sequoia

Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition
The party for the after-work crowd celebrates Hanukkah through a Museum-wide party exploring the exquisite charm of art and culture before digital. Engage with tube amp craft, create tape loops, old-school liquid light show, typewriter petting zoo, Ask A Maven, and more.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Place: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
Cost: FREE with Museum admission; $5 after 5pm.
More info here.

Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center!
Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with a musical performance by Isaac Zones of Shamati, arts and crafts for the kids, dreidel games and a special candle lighting ceremony.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Place: Stanford Shopping Center, Macy’s Plaza, 660 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto
Free
Hosted by the Palo Alto JCC. Details here.

Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration
Join our community Hanukkah celebration including music, latkes, arts and crafts, and menorah lighting (bring your menorah to light). This is a child-friendly celebration for people of all ages.
Stay through the evening for a festive Hanukkah service and holiday oneg.

Date: Friday, December 15
Time: 6:00pm Dinner, Arts & Crafts, Music and Menorah Lighting, 7:30pm, Special Erev Shabbat Service “Friday Night Live!” with the Adult Choir and Mizmor Shir! band.
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: Dinner, including holiday treats; cost is $10/person.
Please click here to RSVP for the dinner by December 13. Dinner will be Mac & Cheese from Homeroom.

Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie!
According to recent American Jewish tradition, we gather on our friends’ holiday eve —December 24th — for delicious meals at Chinese restaurants, and good films at the cinema. At Temple Isaiah, our community enjoys the feast and film together, in our adult lounge, and calls it “MuShu and a Movie.”
Join us at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 24, for a very plentiful Chinese food buffet and a sweetly comic coming-of-age movie that’s a favorite at festivals everywhere: Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueberger.
The film is a smart, quirky portrait of a feisty Jewish teen’s quest to “fit in” by breaking out. Esther Blueburger is a nerdy misfit at a posh girls’ school. Her quest begins when she escapes from her Bat Mitzvah party and is befriended by Sunni, a spunky, independent “cool girl” who is everything Esther thinks she wants to be. When Sunni discovers how unhappy Esther is, the girls hatch a plan: Esther will leave behind her dysfunctional family to hang out with Sunni’s super-hip single mom and attend a taboo public school, all while disguised as a Swedish exchange student.
Everyone is welcome!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 24
Time: 6pm
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
Cost for Temple members is $20 for adults/teens, $15 for kids under 13; $25/17 for non-members. Movie snacks, beverages and dessert are included. Adults may bring their own beer and wine. Send a check (payable to Anshei Isaiah) to the Temple office.
Details here


New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party

The Osher Marin JCC joins the Other Cafe Comedy Showcase to present their 8th Annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Show of smart, clean and funny humor. Known as one of the top comedy shows of the year and always a sell-out, the evening is timed so attendees can enjoy an early dinner at a favorite restaurant, be elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or stay for the festive After Party with the Comics including complimentary bubbly toast at midnight! The event also offers a chance to use the evening as New Year’s celebration with friends at a reserved lantern-lit table for Four OR Eight.
Smart, funny and clean stand-up comedy from 5 comics in ONE hilarious show.

Date: Dec. 31
Time: 7:30pm to 12:45am
7:30pm: Pre-event No-Host Full Bar
8:00: Theater Doors Open
9:00pm: Comedy Showcase
11:15pm-12:45am: After Party & Countdown with the Comics
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Cost: Start as low as $39.50 with General Admission, Reserved Seats and Candle-Lit Group Tables.
Register here.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Community Activities, Couples, Jewish home celebrations
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This common question for this time of year came to me via my Mixed and Matched column in the Jweekly.

Congregation Emanu-el, San Francisco

Congregation Emanu-el, San Francisco

I am getting serious about my boyfriend (who is not Jewish) and I want him to understand what’s important to me about being Jewish. I’m thinking that this year I should take him with me to High Holy Day services. Chabad has free services and I was always treated kindly by the Chabad rabbi on my college campus, so I thought about going there. I was raised Reform; do you think I’ll be able to follow the traditional service and explain it to my boyfriend?
Wondering

My reply:

Dear Wondering: I appreciate your growing awareness that your boyfriend deserves to know more about what Judaism is and especially what it means to you. However, starting with the High Holy Day services is really pushing him into the deep end of the pool. I don’t recommend it.

In the 20-plus years I’ve been working with interfaith couples, I’ve seen exactly two people, both practicing Christians, who liked High Holy Day services. Two!

If you have grown up going to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, you are acclimated to the length of the service, the language and the atmosphere. But for your boyfriend it is utterly unknown and probably uncomfortable. The liturgy is unique; so is the music. The intention is to jolt Jews into a heightened state of awareness. Additionally, the reference to sins is heard by most Jews as “missed the mark,” but to most people raised in American culture, it can sound like the precursor to a quick trip to hell.

I suggest you take your boyfriend to a regular Shabbat service. At this time of year, many synagogues have outdoor services or services that include a picnic dinner or lots of music. Since you were raised Reform, I suggest you help him get familiar with a Reform environment. That is going to be most comfortable for you, and your comfort level will significantly influence his.

I would not recommend a Chabad or Orthodox service as his first experience because, for one, you would be sitting on opposite sides of the mechitza, which would preclude you from sharing a prayerbook and explaining things. Additionally, there are parts of a traditional Shabbat service that the Reform movement has deleted, so you too would be a bit confused.

I understand the concern about the cost of High Holy Day tickets, and I have a few suggestions. Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of Oct. 2. A couple of weeks before the holidays, this newspaper will print a long list of free services in the area (last year’s list at http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/75582 could give you a lead). Additionally, look at websites of Reform synagogues near you; many have lower prices for students, military and young adults. Or feel free to call me at (510) 845-6420 ext. 11; I can help you find options near you.

I also want to reflect on this idea you’ve formed: wanting your boyfriend to understand what is important to you about being a Jew. This is very important and he deserves to know. And you are doing the right thing by making this effort.

I want to you to consider the best way to go about assisting him. First, it is best if you and he learn together. Don’t make this a job for him with you as boss. Look for a basic Judaism class that you could attend together. Since most adult Jews haven’t studied Judaism since their teens, you’ll find yourself able to take in more of the details and the subtleties of Jewish history, practice and theology.

Many synagogues offer basic courses, and certainly Lehrhaus Judaica offers classes throughout the Bay Area, including an online option if you are located far afield.

Should you take him to services? Yes! But go easy. Find a service that is a bit shorter and has a lot of music. And, if you can, go with friends. Also, prepare a Shabbat dinner at home for him. Explain the elements of Shabbat at home. Demonstrate how Judaism is, in fact, a home-based religion. It is likely that the Jewish activities you will want him to do with you are home-based: Shabbat, Hanukkah, Passover. Have fun and be prepared to do this together.

Posted by admin under Couples, High Holidays, Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family, Relationships, Rosh Hashanah
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Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, CA

Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, CA

Here’s a comment I get frequently – I’m going to take my non-Jewish sweetheart to the High Holy Days this year. Here is one woman who posed it as a question —

I am getting serious about my boyfriend (who is not Jewish) and I want him to understand what’s important to me about being Jewish. I’m thinking that this year I should take him with me to High Holy Day services. Chabad has free services and I was always treated kindly by the Chabad rabbi on my college campus, so I thought about going there. I was raised Reform; do you think I’ll be able to follow the traditional service and explain it to my boyfriend? — Wondering

Dear Wondering: I appreciate your growing awareness that your boyfriend deserves to know more about what Judaism is and especially what it means to you. However, starting with the High Holy Day services is really pushing him into the deep end of the pool. I don’t recommend it.

In the 20-plus years I’ve been working with interfaith couples, I’ve seen exactly two people, both practicing Christians, who liked High Holy Day services. Two!

If you have grown up going to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, you are acclimated to the length of the service, the language and the atmosphere. But for your boyfriend it is utterly unknown and probably uncomfortable. The liturgy is unique; so is the music. The intention is to jolt Jews into a heightened state of awareness. Additionally, the reference to sins is heard by most Jews as “missed the mark,” but to most people raised in American culture, it can sound like the precursor to a quick trip to hell.

I suggest you take your boyfriend to a regular Shabbat service. At this time of year, many synagogues have outdoor services or services that include a picnic dinner or lots of music. Since you were raised Reform, I suggest you help him get familiar with a Reform environment. That is going to be most comfortable for you, and your comfort level will significantly influence his.

I would not recommend a Chabad or Orthodox service as his first experience because, for one, you would be sitting on opposite sides of the mechitza, which would preclude you from sharing a prayerbook and explaining things. Additionally, there are parts of a traditional Shabbat service that the Reform movement has deleted, so you too would be a bit confused.

I understand the concern about the cost of High Holy Day tickets, and I have a few suggestions. Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of Oct. 2. A couple of weeks before the holidays, this newspaper will print a long list of free services in the area (last year’s list could give you a lead). Additionally, look at websites of Reform synagogues near you; many have lower prices for students, military and young adults. Or feel free to call me at (510) 845-6420 ext. 11; I can help you find options near you.

I also want to reflect on this idea you’ve formed: wanting your boyfriend to understand what is important to you about being a Jew. This is very important and he deserves to know. And you are doing the right thing by making this effort.

I want to you to consider the best way to go about assisting him. First, it is best if you and he learn together. Don’t make this a job for him with you as boss. Look for a basic Judaism class that you could attend together. Since most adult Jews haven’t studied Judaism since their teens, you’ll find yourself able to take in more of the details and the subtleties of Jewish history, practice and theology.

Many synagogues offer basic courses, and certainly Lehrhaus Judaica offers classes throughout the Bay Area, including an online option if you are located far afield.

Should you take him to services? Yes! But go easy. Find a service that is a bit shorter and has a lot of music. And, if you can, go with friends. Also, prepare a Shabbat dinner at home for him. Explain the elements of Shabbat at home. Demonstrate how Judaism is, in fact, a home-based religion. It is likely that the Jewish activities you will want him to do with you are home-based: Shabbat, Hanukkah, Passover. Have fun and be prepared to do this together.

This letter is from the monthly column, Mixed and Matched, in the Jweekly.

Posted by admin under Couples, High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Synagogues
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Shana mom and dogs

Growing Up Interfaith
First Person Stories | Current Findings | Best Practices

What is it like to grow up in an interfaith family? For the first time we are asking young adults, “What was that like for you?”

At this program adults raised in interfaith families will talk about:

Taking charge of their Jewish identity
Making choices – the same or different from their parents
What really supported them in creating and maintaining their religious or cultural identities
How did being part of an interfaith family make them more open to differences in others
How much Jewish education is needed
Does it matter whether your Jewish parent is your father or your mother

Other workshops will cover:

Balancing the needs of your relationship with the needs of your child
How parents can support their children’s identity development
Should you let your child decide their religion or just give them one
Reform, Conservative, Orthodox – where does it all fit for the adult with a non-Jewish parent

May 22
1pm to 5:15pm
Everyone is welcome to come early for a tour of the photo exhibit, This Is Bay Area Jewry, and/or stick around for wine & cheese with the speakers afterwards.

The half day conference will be at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland, where there is plenty of parking.
The conference is free but you must sign up. Do so here.

Got questions? Email me, dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org or call me at 510-845-6420×11.

Caroline Taymor with Torah

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Community Activities, Couples, In their own words, Programs archive
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Pesach tart (horizontal)

Have you noticed that when we go without leavened foods we kind of freak out? Suddenly people need cups and cups of sugar to make it all up to them. These same people may eat very little leavened food as part of their regular diet but the forbidden-ness seems to do things to our brains.

A few thoughts on this desperation.

1. Embrace it! Give yourself a day, a couple days, a week, to actually think about this deprivation you are feeling and ask yourself, do I really care that much? Is going without a few food items for a few days SO terrible? Might I use this time to consider how refugees around the world are feeling? Or the poor people in this country who go to bed with very little food, and would happily have a box of matzah.

2. Can I be creative? What if I cook and eat “clean” for a week. That means no processed foods, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and stick to food you cooked yourself.

3. I want to be kosher for Passover and I WANT a rich dessert! OK, OK! Here’s a dessert that one friend has described as, very much like bread pudding. So you get your non-bread dessert and sort of get bread too! Best Passover Apple Cake

4. It isn’t just the food it’s the whole big deal; I just couldn’t pull it off this year. That’s OK. There’s always next year and you have 12 months to figure it out. First, ask for some help. See if you have friends with whom you could do a joint Seder. Look for a Community Seder, pay your money and let them do all the work. Talk to your rabbi. Talk to me.

5. It’s my spouse; he/she isn’t into it/doesn’t like it/won’t help. This is a bigger issue and my first question would be, how do you know? Have you asked your partner or just assumed it? Have you been guests at a Seder and was that OK? How much do you and your spouse know about Seder? If your spouse has experienced one horribly long and boring Seder you can’t blame them for now avoiding all Seders. But the good news is that there are lots of short, fun, delicious Seders out there and possibly your spouse would be willing to give it one more try. Let’s talk.

Posted by admin under Couples, Passover, Relationships
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Sasha_Saman-852

Growing Up Interfaith

What would happen if instead of telling people what they feel, we asked them? That’s the novel idea behind this gathering. In a qualitative study, Dr. Bruce Phillips and Dawn Kepler asked young adults who had one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent about their experiences, feelings and choices. On May 22nd the preliminary findings will be shared and discussed. Additionally, we will hear from experts. Many of those experts will be the individuals who grew up in an interfaith family.

Workshop leaders will include:

Dr. Bruce Phillips, a leading researcher in the sociology of American Jewry for over three decades and author of the 2004 San Francisco Jewish Population Study will discuss data now available about adults from interfaith families.

Dr. Joel Crohn, author of Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic and Interfaith Relationships and Beyond the Chuppah: A Jewish Guide to Happy Marriages, will discuss balancing your responsibilities as a partner and a parent.

A panel of adults raised in interfaith families will share their diverse experiences and well as their recommendations for intermarried parents and Jewish institutions.

A therapist who grew up in an interfaith home will discuss a therapist’s view of religious issues.

Rabbi David Kasher, Senior Rabbinic Educator for Kevah, will speak on An Orthodox View of Intermarriage, Patrilineal Jews and a Torah Life.

Rabbi Susan Leider, Rabbi of Kol Shofar of Tiburon, will discuss the options and opportunities for interfaith families in Conservative synagogues.

Jonathan+and+Francisco

Date: May 22
Time: 1 to 5:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Lehrhaus and Building Jewish Bridges will present This Is Bay Area Jewry, a photo exhibition showcasing the range of diversity in our community. The exhibition at Temple Sinai will enhance your conference experience.

List of Co-sponsors to date:

Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs in the Conservative/Masorti Movement, Rabbi Simon
Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael
Jewish Family and Community Services of the East Bay
Jewish Community Center of the East Bay
Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Foster City, Rabbi Lavey Derby
Coffee Shop Rabbi, Rabbi Ruth Adar
Beth Am, Los Altos, Rabbi Marder
Beth David, Saratoga, Rabbi Alexander
Beth Sholom, SF, Rabbi Glazer
B’nai Shalom, Walnut Creek Rabbi Drucker
B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek, Rabbi Gutterman
Kol Emeth, Palo Alto, Rabbi Booth
Kol Shofar, Tiburon, Rabbi Leider
Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, Rabbi Creditor
Peninsula Sinai, Foster City, Rabbi Helfand
Sherith Israel, SF, Rabbi Larry Raphael
Temple Beth Abraham, Rabbi Bloom
Temple Sinai, Oakland, Rabbi Mates-Muchin

This event is supported by the Ingrid D. Tauber Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Federation and Foundation and the Koret Foundation.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Couples, In their own words, Programs archive
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Serial (Bad) Weddings

Serial (Bad) Weddings

In this comedy sensation from France, we meet Marie and Claude Verneuil who pride themselves on their open-mindedness. But their lifestyle—they are affluent, church-going Catholics—is put to the test after three of their daughters marry men from vastly different ethnic and religious backgrounds. When their fourth daughter announces her engagement to a man from the Ivory Coast, they try to sabotage the interracial wedding, only to discover that the groom’s parents harbor prejudices of their own.

Tuesday, March 8
10:00 am
Century 16 Theatres, 125 Crescent Drive, Pleasant Hill
Tickets and details here.

Stay after for a brief discussion of the film.
Who is happy in a “happy ending”? Can anyone be “too” different? Are there any positives to cultural and religious homogeneity? Why did they change the name of the film for an English speaking audience?

Posted by admin under Couples, Film, Intercultural, Programs archive
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Kimberlee in Scotch plaid

When Jews love Non-Jews and Judaism

In 1994 Anne was a graduate student at Stanford University in the Film Department. For her Master’s Thesis she made a short film (9 minutes) about her parents’ intermarriage and titled it Interlove Story. In it she uses old family movies and current interviews with her parents to tell the story of their Catholic – Jewish marriage, the choices they made regarding religion in their home and the advice they gave her regarding her own relationship with a non-Jewish man. In her film, Anne does not propose any answers. She opens questions and relates choices, the choices that have brought her to be who she is.

There are some statements that jump off the screen – whether you agree or disagree, you’ll have an opinion.

Sunday, February 28
10:00 – 11:30 am
B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
$5 for the public; Free for members
Register here.

Posted by admin under Couples, Programs archive
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New Years Day

Happy 2016! This is a great time to commit to increase your understanding of your spouse/partner, learn more yourself and get to know others on the same path. Now is the time to consider what role your non-Jewish spouse will have in Jewish life. Time to think about how to balance your love of Judaism and your love of someone who isn’t Jewish. Time to ask, if the Jewish parent is Dad, how will our child be perceived & what can we do to strengthen their confidence in their own authenticity. And, of course, it’s always a good time to cook up delicious food and EAT it! I hope to see you at one of these events!

Bnai Tikvah bema

The Non-Jew in the Synagogue
Our synagogue is blessed to have many interfaith couples as members, many of whom are very involved. That involvement has led to some common questions. How should I behave in services; should I do what the Jews are doing – bow, recite the Hebrew? How should I deal with lines like, ‘thank you God for making me a Jew’ when I’m not a Jew? I wonder if I’ll be offending anyone by ‘acting’ like a Jew or by saying Shabbat Shalom or Shana Tovah. Does that make me an impostor? I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to touch the Torah.
For better or worse, every synagogue has its own customs. Come learn about the customs and traditions at B’nai Tikvah. We can also touch on common practice at other shuls if you are anticipating visiting elsewhere for a family simcha.

Date: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here

chelsea Clinton smaller

Interlove Story: When Jews Love Non-Jews and Judaism
In 1994 Anne was a graduate student at Stanford University in the Film Department. For her Master’s Thesis she made a short film (9 minutes) about her parents’ intermarriage and titled it Interlove Story. In it she uses old family movies and current interviews with her parents to tell the story of their Catholic – Jewish marriage, the choices they made regarding religion in their home and the advice they gave her regarding her own relationship with a non-Jewish man. In her film, Anne does not propose any answers. She opens questions and relates choices, the choices that have brought her to be who she is.
There are some statements that jump off the screen – whether you agree or disagree, you’ll have an opinion.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here.

Jew dictionary definition

Patrilineal Descent, Reform Judaism & 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, March 13, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here.

Challah by Margee

Cooking Jewish Whether You’re Jewish or Not: Shabbat!
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the central observance or holy day of Judaism. Just about everything gives way before Shabbat – including Yom Kippur. Because it is the day that God gave us for rest and enjoyment, it should be a day of joy. It’s a great time to put something absolutely delicious on the table for Shabbat. How about warm bread, roasted chicken, a savory kugel, and a mouthwatering dessert. We won’t stop at the food. We’ll share lots of secrets for making Shabbat something worth staying home for, even if you have teenagers.

Date: May 1
Time: noon to 4pm
Place: Beth Am Congregation, in the kitchen
Cost: $35
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Couples, Finding a Synagogue, Programs archive
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