Faith Kramer's Cheesecake

Faith Kramer’s Cheesecake

I have a friend who is a food writer and chef. She blogs about food and she writes a food column for the J-weekly (the San Francisco bay area Jewish newspaper). She called me a couple months ago as she was writing her December column to ask, “Is having Christmas and Hanukkah overlap fantastic for interfaith families?” For some families, I told her, it’s fine. But a lot of families have the December dumps and some have told me that they ‘run away to Hawaii’ during the school break so that they won’t have to face the (pick your poison) conflict/sadness/stress/sufit of the December holidays.

“Well, what food would be good for interfaith families this time of year?” Faith asked. She took my feedback and came up with a Mint Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust! You can read her recipe in her December column of the J.

If nothing else studies have shown that chocolate increases serotonin levels in the brain. So you’ll feel better just having a slice!

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

When Hanukkah and Christmas Coincide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the alignment of our cosmic lights!

Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Larry Milder

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning
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A wonderful couple I know have five grown children who are interracial, intercultural and sort of interfaith. The Chinese mom converted before marriage and is now trained as a mohel. The couple raised their children Jewish and Chinese. Yup, they got asked questions like, “Are you adopted?” “Is your mother Jewish?” “How come you’re in a synagogue; do you want to convert?”

But this wise couple knew what was in store for their kids and they prepared them. They knew the kids would be asked questions when the parents were not around to step in. They wanted their kids to feel strong ownership of their Jewish identities.

Their family is interfaith in that all of mom’s side of the family is not Jewish. Some of the 5 kids have married non-Jewish spouses and are raising Jewish kids – just like Mom and Dad did.

The systematic teaching of the children to be confident and comfortable as Chinese Jews was brilliant. It reminded me of some of my African American friends who said, “I’ll teach my kids what to expect in the white world. I’LL be the voice they hear, they’ll be ready for racist ignorance.”

On November 10, I will be sharing the strategies that this couple – and many adults who grew up in interfaith families – advocate doing to help kids in interfaith families grow up confident and comfortable with who they are.
Raising a Confident Child in an Interfaith Family

I hope to see you on the tenth.

How Jesus Became God (Alameda)
Or HaLev – Jewish Meditation (San Mateo)
Dispelling (Religious) Myths (Pleasanton)
Raising a Confident Child in an Interfaith Family (Berkeley)
Preschool Science Fair! (Foster City)
Mourning and Grief: After Death (Walnut Creek)
Fourth Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service (Livermore)
Klezmer Shabbat (San Francisco)
Chanukah Festival (Redwood City)

How Jesus Became God
How did the radical Jewish learner, Jesus, change Judaism and the World?
Rabbi Brickner will lead a discussion, following a DVD screening that traces one of history’s most significant movements led by a world-changing Jew: Jesus. The radical Jew? Prophetic Jew? The promised Messiah?
The series will discuss issues such as the historic, scientific, cultural and spiritual context of Israel and the Mid-East during the Roman era, key events and personalities, different perceptions of Jesus.

Dates: Sundays, Nov. 6 and 13
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd., Alameda

Or HaLev – Jewish Meditation
For the last 14 years, Or HaLev (Light of the Heart) – the Center for Jewish Spirituality at PTBE – has provided the opportunity for one of our meditation teachers to teach about a different Jewish topic related to mindfulness meditation along with one or two short sits. Whether you are an experienced meditator or have never meditated before, please join us!

Dates: Mondays, November 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 7:00 to 8:15 pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

Dispelling (Religious) Myths
Our topic will be “What myths would you like to dispel about your religion or religious practice? What are frequent misconceptions?” The speakers will be Imam Tahir Anwar of the Muslim Community Center and Robin Wood, Jewish Educator. Religion Chat is sponsored by Interfaith Interconnect the second Wednesday of every month.

Date: Wednesday, November 9
Time: 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Place: Muslim Community Center, 5724 West Las Positas Blvd., Pleasanton.
(Please enter from the school side of the building, Suite 100.)
For more information contact the Interfaith Interconnect by emailing to:

Raising a Confident Child in an Interfaith Family
A child needs happy, loving parents more than anything else. They also deserve to feel comfortable with their own identity. We’ll come together to discuss what parents are currently doing, what they may want to alter and to talk about planning for your child’s religious traditions.

Date: Thursday, November 10
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12 per couple; $8 per person; no one turned away for lack of funds
Register here

Preschool Science Fair!
Wornick Jewish Day School and PJ Library invite you to a morning of science exploration especially for children ages 3 to 5 and their families.

Date: Sunday, November 13
Time: 10 am to Noon
Place: Wornick Jewish Day School, 800 Foster City Boulevard, Foster City
Admission is free. Lunch will be served.
Advanced registration is required at their website.

Mourning and Grief: After Death
In this essential session we will address Kaddish basics, what the Jewish tradition says about mourning and grief and memory, and how to gather community support. We will create a safe place to share special cases such as stillbirth and neonatal death; sudden, and traumatic death. We will explore the customs of the first year and talk about “When does grief really end?”

Date: Nov. 13
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: $10
Register here.

Fourth Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
All are invited to attend this year’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, ‘Our Common Humanity.’ The service is free, but space is limited, so please register on Eventbrite.
Through readings, music, and reflections, our many faith communities will explore the common ground that unites us all. During the service an offering will be accepted; donations will go to Big Heart Wellness Center after minimal event costs are covered.

Interfaith Interconnect comprises sixteen Tri-Valley congregations. Its mission is, “To enrich, inform and educate ourselves and others about the great diversity of faiths and cultures in our valley.”

Date: Sunday, November 20
Time: 5:30–6:30pm
Place: St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 678 Enos Way, Livermore
Simple reception in the church hall immediately following the service.

Klezmer Shabbat
Come light candles, sing songs, delight in familiar prayers melded with klezmer rhythms and melodies, dance, and of course, eat and drink!

Cantor Sharon Bernstein will be joined by master klezmorim Stu Brotman on bass, Sheldon Brown on clarinet, and Ilana Sherer on violin, and Josh Horowitz on accordian. And, the magnetic Bruce Bierman will provide dance support and instruction.

Date: December 2
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St (@16th St), San Francisco

Chanukah Festival
Come eat some latkes, buy your presents from our vendors, enjoy our Preschoolers in Concert, and of course see friends.

Date: Sunday, December 11
Time: 11:00am – 2:30pm
Place: Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Children, Community Activities, Death & Mourning, Parenting
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Here’s autumn! Time to consider what we want to do in the upcoming Jewish year of 5777. Here are all the workshops and classes scheduled from Building Jewish Bridges. I hope you’ll find something you like. As always, feel free to email me ( if you have a topic that you’d like to see offered.


The High Holidays…
Do I Want to or Do I Have to?

What is it about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that pulls Jews into the synagogue by the droves? Obligation? Faith? Remembrance? What do these holidays mean? What part do they play in our lives? Should our children miss school to observe these holidays? Join us in a discussion of history and meaning.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Time: 10:30 – 12:00
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
Register here

Adults from Interfaith Families: A Roundtable Discussion
Join other adults who grew up in an interfaith family to discuss how that went for you and to consider challenges and desires. Do you think of yourself as Jewish? Half Jewish? Jew-ish? Does it annoy you that other Jews want to put their own label on you? Do you have a comfortable relationship with your Jewish community or not? Come share your insights and suggestions with others who have dealt with similar life situations.

Thursday, September 22
7:30 – 9:00 pm
Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Free, please sign up here as we have limited space.

Kim Carter Martinez

Kim Carter Martinez

Being Black, Asian, Danish…and Jewish: Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity
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.

Making Shabbat Your Own
Would you like to start doing Shabbat? Do you need an easy way to start or do you want to take your current observance up a notch? Come learn easy steps to create “your” Shabbat. We’ll tell you how to have warm, homemade challah even if you work until 6pm. How to engage children of all ages. Ways to approach teens or other skeptics in your family. As a bonus, we’ll tell you how one simple ritual can improve your child’s and your health, happiness and wellbeing. No kidding!

Date: Sunday, October 30
Time: 10:30 – 12:00
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
Register here.


Raising a Confident Child in an Interfaith Family
A child needs happy, loving parents more than anything else. They also deserve to feel comfortable with their own identity. We’ll come together to discuss what parents are currently doing, what they may want to alter and to talk about planning for your child’s religious traditions.

Date: Thursday, November 10
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12 per couple, $8 per person
Register here.

Double Roots: A Film and Discussion
A young woman with a Jewish mother and a Christian father was raised religiously “nothing.” She was told that “if the Nazis were here, they’d kill you” and that was the extent of her Jewish education. Decades later she went out to learn what others with one Jewish parent had been taught and how their lives were similar or different from her own. When asked, “Why did you make this film of interviews with adults from interfaith families she replied, “I wanted our voices to be heard.”
Please join us to hear these voices as they were interviewed and to hear from some of the interviewees about their lives today.

Date: Thursday, December 1
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont
Free, please sign up here.

To Tree or Not to Tree: What Will We do for the Holidays?
You may want to decorate a Christmas tree while your partner wants to make latkes. What will work for you as a family? Whether December is your favorite month – full of Christmas cookies and chocolate gelt – or your most dreaded month – material surfeit and cultural overwhelm – you are invited to join this open and supportive discussion on how to handle the December dash.

This year will be especially interesting because the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 4
Time: 10:30 – 12:00
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
Register here

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Chanukah, Children, Christmas, High Holidays, Jewish holidays at home, Jews of Color, Parenting, Programs archive, Shabbat
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Rabbi Rebecca Gutterman sent out this hopeful message to her congregation, B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek. It made me think of my Jewish – Muslim couples who are going through tough times now with all the brutal, prejudice words flying around. I will us all peace and sanity.

It is a hallmark of Jewish experience that wherever we have lived, we have both contributed and adapted to the different cultures surrounding us. Indeed, over the years we have folded a variety of ideas, rituals and flavors into our own traditions, melodies and recipes. Judaism’s ability to stretch in these was means that our stories have also gone through different incarnations, with different points of emphasis depending on the needs of the times.

Chanukah is a good example… maybe one of the best. Whenever Jewish communities were persecuted, remembering the military victory Chanukah celebrates – that of the few against the many – supplied us with much needed pride and hope. At other times when our concerns have centered on assimilation and related issues we face as a religious minority, we have emphasized the Maccabees’ fight for religious freedom. Meanwhile, as winter approaches and the nights grow longer, we derive comfort and peace from the holiday’s symbols of miracles and light.

The holiday is significant in another way. After the Maccabees’ victory, lighting of the Chanukiah and re-dedication of the Temple, they went on to create their own rule. The Hasmonean dynasty that followed opposed anyone who did not go along with Temple ritual, and used force to create uniform Jewish practice. When we pick up the weapons of those who have hurt us, it is all too easy to become like them, no matter how noble we believe our cause to be. Difficult though this message of the Chanukah story may be, it only grows timelier with the years.

And speaking of timely. It’s not at all unusual to offer and receive Chanukah greetings expressing the hope that the light of our candles pierce the dark forces of hatred and ignorance surrounding us. That is especially true today. We are beset by all too familiar horrors of polarization, anger, distortion and fear. Chanukah, and the Jewish values for which it speaks, has always urged us towards resisting such forces, and connecting to the belief – sometimes against staggering odds – in all that is life affirming and good.

May we take all of Chanukah’s legacies to heart, even those that cast a shadow. And let us summon our courage and raise our voices to speak out against this present darkness. We know all too well how it has enveloped us. May it envelop no other people.

Though the night can be dark indeed, may the candles reflected in our windows and the gifts in our lives combine to lighten our hearts.


Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Chanukah, Synagogues
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Happy Hanukkah Banner

A big part of the fun of holidays — like Christmas — is the decorations, the spiffy seasonal accessories. Hanukkah can come up pretty short in this regard and that’s natural since this minor Jewish holiday has nowhere near the glamour of Christmas. But there are still things you can do to decorate and accessorize your Hanukkah. Here are some things to consider for your holiday festivities.

Always check your nearest Judaica store; they carry the most extensive stock. In the San Francisco Bay Area that includes:

Afikomen in Berkeley
Dayenu Judaica in the SF Jewish Community Center in San Francisco
Alef Bet in Los Gatos

Some other festive ideas
Hanukkah Banner
Hanukkah tablecloth – you can get them at many mainstream shops
A funny Hanukkah doll, Mensch on a Bench

Do you love those gingerbread houses? The Hanukkah options are a lot of fun.
Hanukkah House from Manischewitz

Gingerbread Menorah from Sweet Thrills

Baking holiday cookies with children is fun and delicious. Get Hanukkah themed cookie cutters, at your local Judaica store or online.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Holidays
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I found this email from Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Netivot Shalom in Berkeley to be powerful and well said. I want to share it with you.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Much has been made of the overlap of Channukah and Thanksgiving this year, a convergence that will not occur again for over 79,000 years.

On the one hand, the meanings of the days are similar:
* Channukah is a story of Jewish rededication, the Maccabbees reclaiming contaminated sacred space, marking God’s miraculous intervention in the military and ritual lives of our ancestors.
* Thanksgiving is an American story of bounty, gratitude expressed by formerly persecuted minorities, blessed to find home again through miraculous arrival.

But both these also narratives require of us, as American Jews, deeper and clearer thinking. Both holy days contain more within their stories than meets the eye, more than their ritualized re-tellings readily offer. The commonalities of these hidden, darker strata are also striking, perhaps even shocking:

* Channukah is a serious challenge to the modern Jew, as comfortable (if not more) living as a global citizen than being seen as a Jew. Channukah’s notion of the “contamination of Jewish sacred space” is a code-phrase for Jewish assimilation, the natural dynamic of a Jew engaged in society, where the politics of identity easily make particularism uncomfortable. Only through the fanatic zealotry of the Maccabbees, including the murder of fellow Jews who identified strongly with Greek custom, did the Channukah story occur.
* Thanksgiving marks the Pilgrims taking of a land from its native inhabitants, one formerly marginalized group marginalizing another. Thanksgiving’s celebration of “bounty and gratitude” forgets the Puritan’s zealotry and their slaughter of those who already inhabited the “new” world. Only through the Pilgrim’s fundamentalist world-view did the original Thanksgiving story take place.

The Maccabbees and the Puritans were zealots. Their violent thoughts and actions left a muddied legacy for Jews and for Americans. And, gevalt, my friends. We’re both. How befuddling our sacred narratives can be!

What, then, are we to make of these days, these cold, dark days with contested, twisted narratives? How are we, as complicated modern Jews, to light our lights? What illumination pours through our windows into the world?

A popular Channukah song goes as follows:

“We have come to banish the darkness. / In our hands is light and fire. / Every one is a small light. / But together we are a mighty fire. / Out, darkness! / Run away before the power of light!”

Are we called, in the name of our cherished heritages, to shine brightly? Without a doubt.
Being a Jew is a beautiful gift in the world. Being an American is a blessing. Both come with weighty obligations, which are their very best parts.
Must we learn from our troubled pasts to never again deny others the brightest light of all: their dignity? Without a doubt.

* Being a modern Jew requires the ethical use of necessary and hard-earned power, constant vigilance to stand in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable, remembering the oppressed stranger we’ve frequently been in history. Being a modern American means bearing responsibility – doing Teshuvah – for enduring American social policies and processes that have much in common with Puritans. An American wields the most noble of our nation’s sacred ideals at no one’s expense.

Can we be Jews in the world, proud and particular, and at the same time Global Citizens, pluralist and present? Let’s see if we can.

I think we’ve got that kind of Jewish power just waiting to be harnessed for the common good.

May this Channukah and Thanksgiving truly banish darkness, bring bounty, cultivate gratitude, and challenge us to see the light in others’ eyes.

Channukah Sameach, and Happy Thanksgiving,
Rabbi Creditor

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Chanukah, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning
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I love doughnuts and I love a good jelly – but not together. So for Hanukkah I prefer good old plain doughnuts. Powdered or Glaze!



2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
5 Tbsp. melted butter
4 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
Canola oil

Beat eggs; continue beating and add the sugar slowly. Stir in milk and melted butter. In a separate bowl sift flour with baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. Chill dough about 30 minutes so it is easy to handle. Roll it out on a very lightly floured board. Roll or pat to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut with a double ring cutter to make a doughnut shape.

Heat an inch & ½ of oil in a flat bottomed pan to 375 degrees. Gently slide dough into oil. Fry each doughnut 2 – 3 minutes on each side. Don’t crowd the pan. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon or fork and put on paper towels to drain.

You can dust with powdered sugar or glaze with a Milk Glaze.

Milk Glaze
Sift ½ cup powdered sugar and add 2 tsp. hot mil and ¼ tsp. vanilla. Mix until smooth.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, symbolic foods
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When Ramadan fell over Hanukkah we had some Muslim friends over. They made a fried honey cookie and I made Bimuelos!

Photo credit: Israel Jewish News blog

Photo credit: Israel Jewish News blog


2 packages yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 egg
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
3 c. flour
Canola oil
Honey syrup

In large bowl mix yeast and 1/3 cup warm water; let stand to dissolve yeast – about 5 minutes.
Add egg, salt, ½ tsp of the cinnamon, and the butter and beat to mix well. Add flour alternately with remaining warm water and mix the batter well. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let stand in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
In a 4 quart pan heat an inch & ½ of oil to 425 degrees. Drop dough by the tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Don’t over crowd the pan. Turn bimuelos to brown on both sides. Cook until golden brown and puffy – about a minute.

Lift out bimuelos with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

Honey syrup
In a 1 qt pan combine 1 cup honey and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour hot over the bimuelos.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, symbolic foods
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Afikomen cards

Chanukah Party (San Leandro)
Community Chanukah Celebration at The Village (Corte Madera)
LatkeFest! (Berkeley)
Kol Emeth Community Chanukah Party (Palo Alto)
Community Menorah Lighting (Redwood City)
Making Room for Shabbat: Chanukah Edition! (Palo Alto)
Rockin’ Shabbat Shira (Redwood City)
DIY Judaism: Let’s Practice Havdalah! (Oakland)
Sam Glaser Concert: “The Promise Tour” (Palo Alto)
Film: From Lone Soldier to Filmmaker (Walnut Creek)
Why Pray? (Lafayette)
DIY Judaism: Let’s Make Challah (Oakland)
Jewish Birth Preparation Class (Palo Alto)

Chanukah Party
Lots of fun, concert with Yonat Mayer, games, delicious homemade latke dinner sponsored by the Sisterhood, candle lighting, and quality time with family and friends. Bring your family’s favorite Chanukiah and 5 candles to light. Everyone is welcome at this fun, free event.

Date: Sat., Nov. 30
Time: 5:30pm
Place: Temple Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Ave., San Leandro

Community Chanukah Celebration at The Village!
Come join Rodef Sholom, Chabad, and the rest of the Marin Jewish community for a Chanukah Festival of Unity as we light the Chanukah menorah together and celebrate one of the most important messages of Chanukah – the right to religious freedom. You won’t want to miss the festivities, the treats, the crafts, or the singing!

Date: Sunday, December 1
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: The Village, 1618 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera
If you have questions, call Rodef Sholom, they gave me the info, (415) 479-3441

Join us for our congregation’s annual Chanukah celebration, filled with music, latkes and lights. Our LatkeFest will be held on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend to gather as a community and celebrate this holiday of miracles.
The Men’s Club will be busy making their delicious latkes as a grand finale to Thanksgiving weekend. There will be activities for participants of all ages, as well as a wonderful opportunity to light our chanukiot (festive candleholders) together. Bring your chanukiah and candles; we will provide the community and the ruach (spirit).
Please bring with you an unwrapped gift for a teen in Oakland and/or canned food for the Alameda County Food Bank.

Date: Sunday, December 1
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford, Berkeley

Kol Emeth Community Chanukah Party
Join us for a grand Chanukah celebration! Sing Chanukah songs, watch our courtyard glow with a spectacular community candle-lighting, and win prizes in an exciting game of Chanukah Bingo! Enjoy a delicious Chanukah dinner, including traditional latkes and fresh donuts. We’ll have festivities for all ages to enjoy, and this celebration is open to the whole community!

5:35-6:10 School Chanukah Assembly
6:10-6:25 Community Candle-lighting & Songs (please bring your family’s menorah!)
6:30-7:00 Chanukah Dinner with Latkes & Fresh Donuts
6:45-7:30 Fun Chanukah Activities, including Bingo, Dreidel, Arts & Crafts, and more!

Date: Dec. 3
Time: 5:30pm
Place: Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave, Palo Alto
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
Families and community members are all invited! Sign up here
Questions? Email Ruthie at

Community Menorah Lighting
Join the fun Community Menorah Lighting – a menorah made out of LEGOs! Donuts, latkes, crafts and music.

Date: Tuesday, December 3
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: 2200 Broadway Street, Courthouse Square, Redwood City
More info call 650-232-0995

Making Room for Shabbat: Chanukah Edition!
Celebrate the warmth and light of Chanukah with a festive Shabbat family service, gourmet dinner, and fun activities for kids. We’ll begin with special Chanukah activities for families with tots, followed by a festive Shabbat evening for all ages to enjoy!

4:30 Tot Chanukah Activities & Early Dinner
5:30 Shabbat Family Service
6:30 Gourmet Chanukah Dinner for All Ages
7:00 Oneg & Schmoozing, with Fun Activities for Kids (grades K-7)

Date: Friday, Dec. 6
Time: 4:30pm
Place: Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave, Palo Alto
Cost: $10/adults ~ $5/kids (age 5 thru 7th Grade) ~ kids 4 & under eat free!
RSVP as soon as possible, as space is limited. All RSVPs must be received by Tues, Dec 3rd!
RSVP online
Questions? Email Ruthie at

Rockin’ Shabbat Shira
Come to this much-loved first-Friday musical Shabbat service and dinner! Rockin’ Shabbat is a multigenerational spiritual and social experience, enjoyed by members and friends from newborn to 90+!

Date: Friday, December 6
Time: Service at 6:15 pm Dinner after services – Dinner reservations are required by
Wednesday, December 4.
Place: Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City
You can make your reservation online here

DIY Judaism: Let’s Practice Havdalah!
Havdalah is a wonderful ritual that ends the Sabbath on Saturday evening. It’s a time that gathers loved ones together with a little wine, a candle, and some spices to look forward to a new week. It’s a nice way to spend family time, or to connect with friends. It also affords each of us a moment of awareness to reflect on what we want from the coming week.

Date: Saturday, December 7
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Place: Private home in Oakland – friends, it’s at my house.
Cost: $20 per family, $10 per person
Register here

Sam Glaser Concert: “The Promise Tour”
Sam Glaser’s soulful music has become part of the fabric of Jewish life in communities worldwide. Named one of the top ten Jewish performers in the US by Moment magazine, he has appeared at such venues as L.A.’s Greek Theater, Universal Amphitheater, Staples Center and Dodger Stadium as well as on Broadway and at the White House.
Sam’s energetic style and passionate delivery never fails to ignite the spirit of audiences of all sizes and age groups. Don’t miss his live performance!

Date: Saturday, Dec. 7
Time: 7pm
Place: Congregation Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave, Palo Alto
Cost: $5/kids, $8/adults. Family discount: $20 for a family of 4. Tickets sold at the door.
Concert co-sponsored by Congregation Beth David & The Bernard H. and Ruth E. Raskin Educational Endowment Fund at Congregation Kol Emeth

Film: From Lone Soldier to Filmmaker
Filmmaker and former “lone soldier” Ilan Benjamin left Lafayette for Israel when he joined the Israel Defense Forces. Upon completion of his army service, he began studying film at USC. He will read from MASA, his powerful collection of short stories
chronicling his life in the IDF, and screen two of his short films.

Date: Thursday, Dec. 12
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Social Hall of B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
General admission is $7; students free. All are welcome.
A program of the Contra Costa Jewish Book & Arts Festival with author/filmmaker Ilan Benjamin.
Co-sponsored by Congregation B’nai Shalom, Diablo Valley Hadassah and Friends of the Israel Defense Force.

Why Pray?
Jewish prayer has been around since biblical times. With the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, prayer became a more formal way for Jews to offer “avodah” (worship/sacrifice) to God as a community. That being said, many Jews find the experience of prayer today to be alienating, frustrating, challenging, boring, or all of the above. In this class, we will address the philosophy and theology behind Jewish prayer and wrestle with our own personal ways to answer the questions “Why pray (in general)?” and “Why pray as a community with fixed liturgy at fixed times?”
Taught by Rabbi Nicki Greninger.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 15
Time: 11:15am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road, Lafayette
RSVP here
Free of charge.

DIY Judaism: Let’s Make Challah
Everyone loves the smell of baking bread or the taste of warm homemade bread from the oven. Do you wish you could make delicious challah for Shabbat, but don’t consider yourself a baker or are short on time?
Join us in the kitchen, and we’ll quickly put your mind at ease. We’ll talk about the secrets of baking, the power of food as a part of ritual, and favorite recipes for challah.
Experienced bakers are welcome to come and brag about their fabulous recipe. Just be sure to bring copies of the recipe for everyone. Everyone will go home with a loaf of bread, a packet of ideas, and the confidence to bake challah like a professional.

Date: Sunday, December 15
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Place: Private home in Oakland
Cost: $20/person
Register here

Jewish Birth Preparation Class
The birthing class with a Jewish twist! The class will cover information related to the birth process (anatomy, stages of labor, pain management, etc.) and Jewish rituals and traditions around birth and babies (planning a welcoming ceremony, choosing a name, parenting from a Jewish perspective, etc.). The class is designed to be a one-stop shop for expectant parents and can take the place of a birthing class offered by local hospitals and birthing centers. Become informed and make friends!

Date: 6 sessions beginning Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014
Time: 6 to 9pm
Place: Parents Place, 200 Channing Ave., Palo Alto.
Cost is $200 per couple.
To register for the class please go here. For more information, please contact Program Director, Jen Wolosin at

Jewish Funeral Customs
What are the traditional customs of a Jewish funeral? How do we deal with them, and with mourning practices, if we are an interfaith family? Why should we plan far ahead of the time? What should we consider in planning? What if we want cremation or other elements that are not in keeping with Jewish tradition? How do we get started?

Robert Malinow, Beth Am member and the Peninsula/South Bay’s Managing Funeral Director at Sinai Memorial Chapel will join Rabbi Sarah Weissman to address such questions in a relaxed, pressure-free setting. You will be encouraged to ask any questions you may have. You will also have time to begin a personal worksheet that can help you with the decisions to be made.

Date: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: Beth Am, Rooms 5/6,
Co-Sponsored by Gesharim, the Interfaith Outreach Committee, Building Jewish Bridges, and Lehrhaus Judaica

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