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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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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Boiling water

Boiling water

Rabbi Milder is a Reform rabbi who challenges his congregants to think about whether and how they might keep kosher for Passover. He sent them this delightful guide.

Three Stages of Kashering for Pesach

Deciding how kosher to be for Pesach is a distinctly Reform concern. If one is traditionally observant, the rules, extensive as they may be, are relatively clear. But for those of us who choose our own level of observance, we are challenged to find a meaningful and manageable way to keep kosher for Pesach.

Why keep kosher on Pesach? Ridding ourselves of chametz is all about re-enacting the Exodus and making it a part of our lives. It is a symbolic, physical and emotional act of recapitulating our history. To remove the chametz is to get ready for the journey.

Here are three-plus levels of kashrut that you can use as a personal yardstick. Choose your point of entry.

Level 0: Eat some matzah. I don’t consider this kashering for Pesach, because you haven’t removed anything from the house. But you have fulfilled one of the mitzvot of Pesach.

Level 1: Undertake a personal practice of not consuming chametz
during Pesach. This means not eating any product made from the five grains of wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt, unless it has first been transformed into matzah.

Level 2: Regard your home as a place where chametz will not be eaten during Pesach. Remove all the chametz from your refrigerator, and seal off the cabinets containing chametz for the duration of Pesach.

Level 3: Do a thorough cleaning of your home. Kasher surfaces with boiling water, kasher stoves and ovens by cleaning and super-heating them. Use a different set of dishes and utensils.

Of course, one could go into much greater specificity regarding all these details. The principle is to set a standard for yourself and your home, and to enter into the holiness of the holiday through spiritual discipline.

You can fulfill another mitzvah, feeding the hungry, by bringing your unopened packages of chametz and other non-perishable food to a food pantry.

Happy kashering!
Rabbi Larry Milder
Beth Emek, Pleasanton

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, Jewish holidays at home, Passover
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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.

2gens-cropped

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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challah loaf

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

Date: May 1
Time: noon to 4pm
Place: Beth Am Congregation(in the kitchen), 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $35
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Holidays, Jewish holidays at home, Programs archive, Shabbat, symbolic foods
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Carly and her mom

A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers

Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age are welcome.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 19
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $8 for non-members, free to Beth Am members
Register here.

Posted by admin under Jewish holidays at home, Programs archive, women
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bread wine & candles

A Jew may ask their spouse to agree to have a “Jewish” home. But what does that mean?
To a non-Jewish loved one it may mean simply that some of the people in the house say they are Jews. But our partners deserve a more in-depth answer. One Jew may say, a Jewish home has Jewish ritual objects – a menorah, Shabbos candlesticks, a ketubah on the wall. Another may add, but you need to do Jewish things in a Jewish home like observe Shabbat weekly or build a sukkah on Sukkot or recite the Shema before bedtime. Yet another will say we must act like Jews, give tzadakah, attend synagogue, refrain from eating pork.
Each Jewish partner will have their own ideas about what they need in order to feel that their home is “Jewish.” Or, they may have no clear idea at all! Every non-Jewish spouse deserves a clear statement as to what they are signing up for. Join other curious couples for an enlightening discussion and go home with your own individualized plan.

Date: Sunday, Oct 25
Time: 9 to 10:30am
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $8/public; free to Peninsula Temple Sholom members
Register here

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Couples, Jewish holidays at home, Programs archive
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There’s a little something for everyone this fall. Peruse the classes below, call if you have any questions, and I hope to see you at a program in the next few months.

Dawn

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3 faith traditions banner

Do You Have One Jewish Parent?
Do you see yourself as Jewish, half-Jewish, part Jewish, Jew-ish? Were you raised as a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu, some of this and a little of that? We are looking for people who have one Jewish parent and would like to talk about their experience, share their stories, their questions, their wisdom. What was good? What was not so good? Will you try to duplicate your parents’ path? What would you like to ask of or tell to the “organized” Jewish community? We will come together to discuss our shared experiences as well as our differences. What we want from life now and how we are going about making that happen.

Date: Thursday, Oct. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, but please RSVP here.

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Mezuzot at Afikomen in Berkeley

Mezuzot at Afikomen in Berkeley

What Makes a Home “Jewish”?
A Jew may ask their spouse to agree to have a “Jewish” home. But what does that mean?
To a non-Jewish loved one it may mean simply that some of the people in the house say they are Jews. But our partners deserve a more in-depth answer. One Jew may say, a Jewish home has Jewish ritual objects – a menorah, Shabbos candlesticks, a ketubah on the wall. Another may add, but you need to do Jewish things in a Jewish home like observe Shabbat weekly or build a sukkah on Sukkot or recite the Shema before bedtime. Yet another will say we must act like Jews, give tzadakah, attend synagogue, refrain from eating pork.
Each Jewish partner will have their own ideas about what they need in order to feel that their home is “Jewish.” Or, they may have no clear idea at all! Every non-Jewish spouse deserves a clear statement as to what they are signing up for.
Join other curious couples for an enlightening discussion and go home with your own individualized plan.

Date: Sunday, Oct 25
Time: 9 to 10:30am
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $8/public; free to Peninsula Temple Sholom members
Register here.

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Who is a Jew?

Who is a Jew?

Are Our Children Jewish?
Patralineal Descent, Reform Judaism and those other Jews
In 1983 the Reform movement officially recognized children of Jewish fathers as Jewish. But if you read the statement it says that every child of a mixed marriage, whether the mother or father is Jewish, must establish their identity as a Jew “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.” What are those acts? Do we really expect all kids from interfaith marriages to do so? What role do non-Reform Jews play in our lives and those of our children? Join Dawn Kepler for an exploration of Patrilineal Jews today.

Date: Sunday, Nov. 8
Time: 10:15am
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central St, Richmond
Free
Contact me, Dawn, if you have questions at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org or call 510.845.6420 x11
www.tbhrichmond.org

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Carly and her mom

Women in Interfaith Relationships:
A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age are welcome.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 19
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $8 for non-members, free to Beth Am members
Register here.

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Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar

After the Play: Disgraced
You’ve heard that one should not bring up religion, race or politics in polite company but in Disgraced these are central issues. One reviewer said, “As much as “Disgraced” is a play about the potential tensions between old faiths and the modern world, it also dramatizes the complexity of identity, the interior tug of war between the culture into which people are born and the culture they claim as their own.” This friction speaks to every minority or immigrant population. How much can one assimilate? How much does one want to blend in?

Professor Senzai will respond to these themes, as well as putting the play into a broader context of life for American Muslims. He will reflect on some of the realities and statistics of the American Muslim community and issues of assimilation, discrimination and Islamophobia.

Date: Thursday, December 3
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $8 public; free to Temple Sinai members
Register here

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Flora Scott Linda Calvin Panel

Conversion to Judaism
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Conversion
Are you curious about conversion to Judaism — for yourself or someone you love? Perhaps you know someone who is converting and wonder why someone would make that choice. Maybe this is the first time you heard that conversion to Judaism is a possibility. Curious? Confused? Join Jews by choice, born Jews and non-Jews as we work to answer all of your questions about conversion!

If you are a member of a synagogue, of course you can speak with your own rabbi about conversion. And you are still welcome to come hear from our panel. If you currently do not have a rabbi, this program will help you find one.

Sunday, Dec. 13
10:30-12noon
B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Ln, Walnut Creek
Free
Hosted by B’nai Shalom and Building Jewish Bridges
Co-sponsored by B’nai Tikvah, Temple Isaiah, Lehrhaus Judaica

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Two-Hearts

Let’s Talk Interfaith
Some people are not comfortable discussing their personal choices and dilemmas in a group. They want to discuss 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 great option. The two of you meet with me, Dawn, 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. You can come with your own questions or just ask me “what should we be discussing?”
The first session is always free so you can determine whether this is something you want to do and whether you feel comfortable. Your first step is to contact me, Dawn Kepler, at 510-845-6420 x11 or dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org to set up your free session.

Dates & times to fit your schedule.
Location: You have three options – come into my office on Bancroft Way in Berkeley or via Skype or on a conference phone call.
Cost is $120 for three 1.5 hour sessions. Or we can schedule individual one hour sessions at $50 per meeting.
Read more here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Conversion, Jewish Culture, Jewish holidays at home, Jewish Learning, Programs archive, Relationships
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Women in Interfaith Relationships: A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers

Carly and her mom

Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion, facilitated by Rabbi Lisa Delson and Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges, about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age welcome.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost: Free to members of Peninsula Temple Sholom, $8 to non-members

Register here.

Rabbi Lisa Delson

Rabbi Lisa Delson

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, Jewish holidays at home, Programs archive, women
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