hanukah candles4

While I believe we can’t make Hanukkah into Christmas because we don’t have 99% compliance from the American public, we can certainly make Hanukkah a big date on our own social calendar. My sister-in-law throws a big Christmas Eve Party for Jewish Orphans — that is Jews who don’t do Christmas. It has turned into a major event in snowy Minnesota.

The person who made me think of this was Mary, a member of this list. She replied to my inquiry about what interfaith couples do for the holidays with this statement:

My husband Bill is Jewish, and we joke that he married a Christian because he likes all the pageantry of Christmas. We only celebrate Hanukah at home, but we really do it up. We are known in our neighborhood as the Hanukah House because we have a giant homemade menorah on our roof, and every night Bill climbs up the ladder to the roof and plugs in another bulb. The whole house is covered in flashing blue and white lights. And every year on the Saturday of Hanukah, for 25 years, we’ve had a huge latke fry that you can smell for blocks away. A whole array of frying pans are set up in the backyard, like a winter barbeque, where all the guys stand around and fry while the guests party inside the house. I have a Hanukah “charm belt” that I add something onto every year – a potato, a fork, gelt, matches, silly stuff. People bring their menorahs and we line them up and light them – and pass out song sheets to the crowd so that everyone can sing along – prayers and old favorites like the Dreydl song. Jews and non-Jews feel equally at home. People love this party – it’s a beloved tradition in our neighborhood, and it beats any Christmas party I’ve ever been to!

The Hanukkah House

The Hanukkah House

Here’s Mary’s house with the massive roof menorah!

Mary with her belt

Here’s my favorite invention – Mary’s Hanukkah Charm Belt! See the potato, the menorah and the dreidel? This year Mary is on the lookout for a little plastic jar of applesauce. Let me know if you find one!

Now go get creative!

Posted by admin under Chanukah, In their own words, Jewish holidays at home
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(Pixabay, Natan)

(Pixabay, Natan)

Here come the holidays!

I love warm colors. I prefer gold to silver, red to blue. So you can imagine how much I want to change up the “traditional” colors of Hanukkah. Years ago I bought some gorgeous gold and red Hanukkah wrapping paper at my synagogue’s gift shop. It hit me – I don’t HAVE to have a blue and silver Hanukkah. Gold, red, green, silver, blue, purple are just colors, not religious symbols. I began to decorate my holiday with the warmth that I desired.

This year I was thrilled to find a craft blog that I follow, Chai and Home, has a Pinterest page called Hanukkah: Gold. Another resource for creating my personal home decoration style!

One of the things that Christianity has been really good at is absorbing the cultures of the countries and societies that it flows into. Christmas, aided by the American marketplace mentality, has been masterful at blending with just about anything. At Christmas time, a sale becomes a Christmas sale, a car becomes a Christmas gift, a dog gets a red bow, a train gets a wreath, trees get lights and bulbs, scarves get red & white candy stripes. One of the difficult things about reducing or giving up Christmas is that it is massive and everywhere. Some Jews react by downplaying Hanukkah. This can add to the feeling of loss for the non-Jewish partner. I don’t suggest that you try to make Hanukkah match Christmas – that’s truly not possible. But you can certainly borrow from American culture to spice up your Hanukkah. You can even look at your past Christmas practices and see what can be absorbed into Hanukkah celebration. What do you particularly love about Christmas? For some it is all the baking. There’s no law that says you can’t bake your heart out anyway. You can even look for themes that mesh with Judaism while using your already existing tools. Got a bunch of animal cookie cutters? Make a centerpiece of edible Noah’s Ark critters. Love to make gorgeous cakes? There are so many options. During the Gulf War one of my sisters had a friend who deployed as a nurse. For Christmas my sister and I baked a dozen different kinds of cookies to send to her.

Have you got ideas and suggestions for keeping a favorite non-Jewish tradition in a Jewish way? Please share it! Let’s get creative!
Email your ideas to me at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org.

EVENTS
Ganeinu Jewish Playgroup (Lafayette)
Thanksgiving Shabbat (Palo Alto)
Tot Shabbat Morning (Lafayette)
Kol Neshama Minyan (Tiburon)
Shabbat in a Bag (Berkeley)
Patralineal Jews: Navigating the Jewish World (Oakland)
Folktales from Around the World (San Francisco)
Community Kristallnacht Commemoration (Walnut Creek)
Let’s Go to the Theater: Imaginary Comforts (Oakland)
Peninsula Sinai & Ramah Community Shabbat Dinner (Foster City)
November Community Shabbat Dinner (Pleasanton)
Glitter Kabbalat Shabbat and Trans Day (Piedmont)
A Benefit Performance for North Bay Fire Storm Victims (Richmond)
Is Judaism a Religion? (Palo Alto)
Shabbat Hallelu Service (San Mateo)
Making Shabbat Your Own: Shabbat Candlesticks (Berkeley)
Chanukah Shabbat w/Mizmor Band (Lafayette)
Hanukkah Celebration (Oakland)
Mizmor Shir! Service Friday Night Live! (Oakland)
Jews of Color: Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity (Oakland)

Ganeinu Jewish Playgroup
Temple Isaiah is proud to offer a free, weekly, Jewish, drop-in playgroup for parents and caregivers, and their infants and toddlers (0-30 months). All are welcome.

Date: Every Friday, next one is Nov 10
Time: 9:15am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 925 Risa Rd., Lafayette; in the Adult Lounge.
www.temple-isaiah.org

Thanksgiving Shabbat
Come join us for this special Thanksgiving themed Shabbat! We’ll give thanks by renewing the ancient Jewish ritual of Bikkurim, where we’ll share our achievements and news for the year and celebrate our successes together as a community.

Please bring a dish to share with the group.
We are also collecting canned food which will be donated to the needy.

Date: Friday, November 10
Time: 5:30–8:00 pm
Place: Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, in Room E-104
Cost: $10 per Family
Register here.
Contact: Tova Birnbaum | (650) 223-8694 | tbirnbaum@paloaltojcc.org

Tot Shabbat Morning
Geared toward families with children 0 to 5 years old, Tot Shabbat is an interactive and friendly Shabbat experience. Enjoy a free bagel brunch, activities and prayer with other young families.

Date: Saturday, November 11
Time: 9:30am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 925 Risa Rd., Lafayette, in the Adult Lounge
RSVP here.
www.temple-isaiah.org

Kol Neshama Minyan
with Rabbi Chai Levy
This musical, meditative, and participatory prayer experience is a chance to open your heart through song, to sink into the peace and joy of Shabbat, and to find a meaningful personal connection to the Torah portion and to others in our community. “Kol Neshama” means “voice of the soul/breath.” No Hebrew knowledge required.

Dates: Saturdays on Nov. 11, Dec 9, Jan 13, Feb 10, Mar 10
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr, Tiburon
http://kolshofar.org

Shabbat in a Bag
Celebrate Shabbat together with other families with young children!
We’ll enjoy song, dance, and instruments, led by Rabbi Bridget and beloved Jewish songleader Isaac Zones, plus challah, juice, and other Shabbat treats.
Each family will also decorate your own “Shabbat in a Bag” to bring home, including candleholders, challah cover, and Shabbat kiddush cup, along with blessings, songs, and family-friendly Shabbat ideas to create your own traditions.
This event is part of Jewish Gateways’ HandsOn Holidays series for children 1-5 and their grownups. Older siblings and babies are welcome, too.

Date: Saturday, November 11
Time: 10:30am-12:00pm
Place: Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
Cost: $30 per family
Register here.

Patralineal Jews: Navigating the Jewish World & Keeping Your Identity Strong
Are you the child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother? At some point in life patrilineal Jews usually are told, “You know you’re not really Jewish, right?” Let’s talk about how to be a confident Jew even if others don’t affirm your identity. Share your stories and ideas with others. Join us for coffee at We’ll offer you an array of approaches for dealing to unwanted comments.

Date: Sunday, Nov. 12
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Café Dejena 3939 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland
Free, but preregistration is requested.
Sign up here.

Folktales from Around the World
Join us for a magical storytelling experience with Muriel Johnson, telling folktales related to themes from the current exhibition Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid.

Date: Sunday, November 12
Time: 11:30am-12:00pm
Place: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
Cost: FREE with regular admission as follows: Members and youth 18 and under, Free; General Admission, $14; Students with a valid ID and Seniors, $12.
http://www.thecjm.org

Community Kristallnacht Commemoration
If you are a bystander and witness a crime, should intervention to prevent that crime be a legal obligation? Or is moral responsibility enough? Law professor Amos Guiora, the former Commander of Israel’s School of Military Law, examines these profound questions from a deeply personal and legal perspective, focusing on the Holocaust and then exploring cases in contemporary society.

Date: Sunday, November 12
Time: 3pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Admission is free. Open to the public.
www.bshalom.org
Co-sponsored by the Israel and World Jewry Committee.

Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit
Join us this fall for Berkeley Rep’s new play by Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, that “celebrates ordinary people trying to make sense out of life in the midst of endless, comedic chaos.” The play is described this way,

The genius behind Lemony Snicket brings his relentlessly mischievous style to a new play for adults. Sarah’s father is dead, her mother is in hysterics, and the new rabbi totally bungled the funeral. To further the absurdity, the ghost of a rabbit hops into her life, pushing her to confront her deepest issues. Fantastical and wise, hilarious and sobering.

Jews have often felt that life is chaotic, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic. Join Rabbi Chester to reflect on how Judaism makes sense of life that often feels nonsensical.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 16
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: Free to Temple Sinai members; $10 to the public
Register here.

Peninsula Sinai & Ramah Community Shabbat Dinner
Celebrating Jewish camps!
Join us for a delicious community Shabbat dinner at 6:15 pm co-hosted by Peninula Sinai Congregation and Camp Ramah. This is a great opportunity to learn about and connect with the Ramah community! After dinner, stay for a spirited and music-filled Shabbat Sovev led by our clergy.

Date: Friday, November 17
Time: 6:15pm
Place: Peninsula Sinai Congregation, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City
Cost: $5 for non-members, free for members
Please RSVP here
https://www.peninsulasinai.org

November Community Shabbat Dinner
Come celebrate Shabbat!
Prior to Shabbat services, we invite you to come for a potluck dinner. This is a wonderful opportunity to eat great food and connect with the Beth Emek community.
As with many of Beth Emek’s best events, the Community Shabbat Dinner relies on community volunteers for its success. We appreciate all participants helping at the end of the meal by putting away tables and chairs and assisting in kitchen clean-up.
Please RSVP by 3:00 pm on Friday, November 17.
Feel free to bring your own bottle of wine to go with dinner.
Please contact the CBE office if you have any questions at 931-1055.

Date: Friday, November 17
Time: 6:15pm
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Here is the sign-up sheet for what folks are invited to bring.

Glitter Kabbalat Shabbat and Trans Day of Remembrance & Resistance
Glitter Kehilla invites the community to join us for our annual Shabbat observance that centers and honors the resilience of the trans community and remembers lives lost to anti-trans violence. We will be collecting tzedakah for the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project).

Date: Friday, November 17
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont
Details here.

A Benefit Performance for North Bay Fire Storm Victims
An Evening of Wine and Music with Award-winning Singer and Songwriter Steve Seskin
Steve Seskin, singer-songwriter and acoustical guitar player, will perform and all proceeds from the evening will go to the Jewish Federation of East Bay North Bay Wildfire Emergency Relief Fund.
“Steve Seskin is an electrifying performer. His voice has a natural lilt that can’t be learned,” writes Joel Selvin in the San Francisco Chronicle; he is “a really exceptional talent,” says Alan Lewis in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. His “presentation is simple, affective, and effective,” writes Jim Carnes in the Sacramento Bee.

Our neighbors in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake and other counties in the North Bay, suffered from devastating wildfires with loss of residences and lives. Temple Beth Hillel provides its support to fire victims by donating all the proceeds from the Steve Seskin Benefit concert to the North Bay Wildfire EmergencyRelief Fund. Please join us for an evening of wine and music. Details here.

Date: Saturday, November 18
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central (Hilltop exit off I-80), Richmond
Cost: Admission is $18 and any extra amount you would like to donate at the door.
To make your reservations: call 510-223-2560 or email alisby@tbhrichmond.org.

Is Judaism a Religion?
Is Judaism a religion, and if so, how is it similar to, and different from, other religions? Join UCSC Professor Nathaniel Deutsch as he explores when and why Jews, themselves, began to adopt the category of “Judaism” to describe the basis of their collective identity.

Date: Sunday, November 19
Time: 10:00 am
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto
www.etzchayim.org

Shabbat Hallelu Service
Welcome in Shabbat with joyous singing and music with Elana Jagoda Kaye and the Hallelu Band. Elana Jagoda Kaye is a local star; people love her music. This is a great way to experience Peninsula Temple Beth El.

Date: Fri, December 1
Time: 7:15pm – 8:15pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
http://www.ptbe.org

Making Shabbat Your Own: Shabbat Candlesticks
Come make Shabbat candlesticks from metal foil, discuss how to make the celebration of Shabbat work for yourself or your family, and learn the “Secret of Shabbat!” While discussing Shabbat we will explore lots of options for decorating our candlesticks: emboss lines, attach beads, add color, and cut decorative holes for the light to shine through. No artistic talent or prior knowledge required to create incredible candlesticks. Appropriate for age 8 and up. Join Claire Sherman, artist and mensch for this fun filled workshop.

Date: Dec. 3
Time: 10am to noon
Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley
Cost: $20
Register here

Interfaith Shabbat
with the Islamic Center of North Marin and Mill Valley with keynote speaker Imam Fasih
Last year Rodef Sholom hosted the Islamic Centers of North Marin and Mill Valley for a wonderful service of sharing stories and getting to know our neighbors’ faith. Since then we have joined in each other’s homes for conversations and learning. Imam Fasih serves as Imam for the Islamic Center of North Marin community. He is an active member of the Marin Interfaith Council and travels extensively as a visiting scholar to Muslim communities throughout the United States.

Potluck dinner to follow. Please bring a vegetarian dish for approximately eight to share.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 6:15 pm
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
https://rodefsholom.org

Chanukah Shabbat w/Mizmor Band
Join us for a special Shabbat service with Chanukah celebration and sing along with our Mizmor Band. Remember to bring your chanukiyah to light!

Date: Friday, December 15
Time: 6pm Oneg and 6:30pm Service
Place: Temple Isaiah, 925 Risa Rd., Lafayette
www.temple-isaiah.org

Hanukkah Celebration
Join our community Hanukkah celebration including music, latkes, arts and crafts, and menorah lighting. This is a child-friendly celebration for people of all ages.

Date: Dec. 15
Time: 6 to 7:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free
www.oaklandsinai.org

Mizmor Shir! Service Friday Night Live!
A musical Shabbat service featuring Cantor Keys and the Mizmor Shir! musicians which include: piano, guitar, mandolin, flute, saxophone, clarinet, drums and other percussive instruments. This service features congregational melodies and eclectic, contemporary music which compliment the creative service booklet compiled by Rabbi Mates-Muchin specifically for this service.

Date: Dec. 15
Time: 7:30 to 8:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free
www.oaklandsinai.org

Jews of Color: Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity
It is not unusual for a Jew of color to be asked, “How did you get to be Jewish?” Quite simply the question stems from their appearance, “You don’t look Jewish.”
There are a number of ways that an adult from a biracial Jewish 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, Dec. 17
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Free, but preregistration is required.
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Community Activities, Current Programs, Holidays, Jewish holidays at home
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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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blue-balls

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

When Hanukkah and Christmas Coincide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the alignment of our cosmic lights!

Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Larry Milder

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning
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patricia-l-with-cousins

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.

EVENTS
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
http://templeisraelalameda.org

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
www.ptbe.org

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.)
Free
For more information contact the Interfaith Interconnect by emailing to: interfaith.interconnect@gmail.com

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.
www.interfaithinterconnect.weebly.com
interfaith.interconnect@gmail.com

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
www.shaarzahav.org

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
www.bethjacobrwc.org

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Children, Community Activities, Death & Mourning, Parenting
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emanu-els-dome-horizontal

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 (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org) if you have a topic that you’d like to see offered.

Dawn

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
www.bethemek.org
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
www.bethemek.org
Register here.

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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
www.bethemek.org
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.

RabbiGutterman

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
GingerbreadMenorah

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!

doughnuts

Doughnuts

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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