Fall 2017 Programs

Shaking the Lulav

Shaking the Lulav

Sukkah Party for Interfaith Couples & Families
Come to the Sukkah for some food and fun. Together we’ll make and hang sukkah decorations and everyone will get a chance to wave the lulav and etrog. We’ll make edible sukkahs that kids (and adults) can take home.

Date: Sunday, October, 8
Time: 2 to 4pm
Place: Private home in Oakland, address sent after registration
Cost: $5/person or $15/family of 4 or more.
Register here.

Carly and her mom

Parenting and Grandparenting in an Interfaith Family
Techniques for listening and talking to adult children

Your child has married a non-Jewish person, maybe a Christian. Possibly they have not yet determined whether to have a Jewish home. The question of children may also be up in the air. You know that any children they have are THEIR children but you hope to impart some of your Jewish identity to your grandchildren. How can you talk to your own child and child-in-law about your desire while respecting them as parents? What is reasonable to say or request? How do you open the conversation?

Join other grandparents and Dawn Kepler to discuss this delicate conversation and come away with ideas for being the fabulous grandparent you know you can be!

Date: Monday, Oct. 30
Time: 7 – 9pm
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
Free, preregistration required.
Please register here.

Michella Ore
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 required.
Sign up here.

Imaginary Comforts

Imaginary Comforts


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.

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.

Raising Kids in an Interfaith Family
As partners and parents we want the best for each member of our family. Does that mean putting our relationship before the children? Can’t we give equally to our partner and our kids?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to love and parenting in any family, including interfaith families. Together we will look at balancing competing needs and how to sketch out a plan for your family’s choices. We’ll touch on the December holidays too.

Date: Dec. 10
Time: 10:30am to 12noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Free, but please RSVP to dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org so that I’ll know how many to expect. Thanks!
https://templeisraelalameda.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 Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Current Programs, Jewish holidays at home, Jews of Color, Sukkot
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Imaginary Comforts

Imaginary Comforts

Once again we go to a local theater production and then take a Jewish look at the play. That won’t be difficult with this comedy from Daniel Handler. See the play before – or after – the class.

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.
Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit will be in production at the Berkeley Repertory Theater October 5 – November 19.

Date: Thursday, November 16
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $10 for the public, Free for Temple Sinai members
Register here.
Do sign up soon, we always get a big turnout.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Current Programs, Jewish Learning
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Shaking the Lulav

Shaking the Lulav

Sukkah Party for Interfaith Couples & Families
Come to the Sukkah for some food and fun. Together we’ll make and hang sukkah decorations and everyone will get a chance to wave the lulav and etrog. We’ll make edible sukkahs that kids (and adults) can take home.

Date: Sunday, October, 8
Time: 2 to 4pm
Place: Private home in Oakland, address sent after registration
Cost: $5/person or $15/family of 4 or more.
Register here.

Posted by admin under Current Programs, Sukkot
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One of the hardest things about getting assistance with your interfaith relationship is making the move to ask for that assistance. What the devil will it be LIKE to talk to someone? I thought it would be helpful for you to hear what other folks have said about the experience of working with me. One note, if you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area that’s OK, we can “meet” by Skype or phone. If you do live in the area, we can meet in person OR Skype or phone.

I find it helps to know what someone looks like, so I’m including a photo of myself.

Me with the President  (I thought you should know that I have a sense of humor.)

Me with the President (I thought you should know that I have a sense of humor.)

It is also nice to know what their voice sounds like. If you’d like to hear my voice you can listen to my podcast on finding a rabbi for your wedding. It’s short. Here’s the link.

And now people’s comments on working with me.

COMMENTS

I sought out Dawn’s services after I got engaged because my fiancé, who was Catholic, and I were having trouble navigating what it meant to have a Jewish household and a Jewish wedding. While he had agreed to have a Jewish family, while planning the wedding it became clear that there was not a clear understanding of what that meant and we were having trouble communicating about it. Dawn created a safe space for us to be able to talk about our expectations for raising a family and what it meant to incorporate beliefs and customs that were important to each of us. She provided us with great resources, including books, events, and people to talk to. The experience was invaluable, and I can’t thank her enough for the clarity she brought to the relationship. I would recommend her services (which I have) in a heartbeat!
H, San Francisco

Thanks Dawn. You were such a big part of us growing in our relationship. I can’t say that the time before being engaged was easy. Ah, waiting and not knowing where we were headed and trying to figure out some major stuff. Phew, it was intense at times. But I know I speak for both me and Mike, you really helped us navigate some hard questions and know how to talk about them with each other. There were so many times we just didn’t even know what questions to be asking but wanted to be proactive in exploring deeper in our relationship. You really challenged us and allowed for more open honest discussion.
H & B, San Francisco

We wish we were closer to your classes and could have meet in person, but the phone calls did work great. We are so glad we found you via the web.
Now we are so excited to get married and glad we talked through so much early on. It really helped all the holiday drama and concerns we had. Not that this past year was all smooth sailing, but we were more equipped to talk it through and find a solution we both felt comfortable with!

K & M, Colorado

Dawn, I love how you challenge people to be their best selves. I am attending services more regularly – thanks for all you did to help me reach this point.
L, El Cerrito

We miss you so much, Dawn! We wish there were two of you so Denver could be blessed with your presence as well. If you do know of a counterpart to Building Jewish Bridges in Colorado, please send us the info. I have found a few things online but nothing as good as what we had with you.
Love, S & P – from Berkeley, now in CO.

I want to personally thank you for all that you do to make people like me feel welcome at the “Jewish table.” Words cannot describe what a difference it has made. In fact, part of why we wanted to have a child was to bring another Jew into the world. We’re excited to learn about Judaism ourselves, so that we may teach our kiddo.
I & S in San Francisco

Thank you for the meeting yesterday. You really provided us with incredibly helpful context and perspective. We have much to sort through but feel that we now have many more guideposts. We also appreciate your open style, from welcoming us into your home, to being direct and sharing personal stories.
B & N Oakland

Posted by admin under Current Programs, Finding a Synagogue, In their own words, Weddings
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2 adults talking

Are you interested in an interfaith/intercultural couples discussion group for couples not planning to have children? I’m planning a group in the Berkeley/Oakland area. Call if you’re interested in participating.

Dawn – 510-845-6420 x11
4 Sessions

Exchange ideas about such issues as:
Holiday Observances – Which holidays will be celebrated in our home?
Dealing With Our Families – How will we talk to our families about our choices?
Spiritual Concerns – How do we satisfy our needs and recognize our Partner’s?
Cultural Differences – How do communication styles and familial expectations impact our relationship?
This is one of the most meaningful and powerful things you can do for your relationship. I encourage every couple to participate in a couples group.
There is a sliding scale. NO ONE turned away. Tell me you work evenings but don’t tell me it’s the money because we can make it work.

Posted by admin under Couples, Current Programs
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Love Valentine

Some people just are not “group” people. They want to have the same conversatons about the key questions in an interfaith/intercultural home but they want to have that conversation in private. For those of you in this category Let’s Talk “Interfaith” is a better option. The two of you meet with me, Dawn, for three 1.5 hour sessions to cover topics like: How will we interact with our families? Where will we go for which holidays? Which holidays will we have in our home? How do we feel about each other’s religious and/or cultural tradition and how will we share them? What about children? We will focus on the topics you feel are most important to you.

Cost is $120 for the three sessions. Or we can schedule individual one hour sessions and see how many meetings you want. These are $50 a meeting.

The first session is always free so you can determine whether this is something you want to do and whether you feel comfortable. I also do skype sessions with people who are unable to come in. No one turned away for lack of funds. Sessions to be scheduled to fit your home and work life.
Call or email me.

profile

Thanks Dawn. You were such a big part of us growing in our relationship. I can’t say that the time before being engaged was easy. Ah, waiting and not knowing where we were headed and trying to figure out some major stuff. Phew, it was intense at times. But I know I speak for both me and M, you really helped us navigate some hard questions and know how to talk about them with each other. There were so many times we just didn’t even know what questions to be asking but wanted to be proactive in exploring deeper in our relationship. You really challenged us and allowed for more open honest discussion.

We wish we were closer to your classes and could have meet in person, but the phone calls did work great. We are so glad we found you via the web.
— K & M, Colorado

Posted by admin under Couples, Current Programs, In their own words
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