New Year Secular urj

We are delighted to offer a couple of special programs for Jews by Choice. Anyone is welcome to both of these. You don’t need to be a convert to attend.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Conversion to Judaism
Join a panel of Jews by choice and Rabbi Delson to learn all about conversion! Have you had questions like:
why do some people convert?
What changes in their lives?
What is the process of converting?
How do single people who convert integrate into Jewish community?
Is it harder for people of color to convert?
Are there things I should never ask of or say to a person I think is a convert?

Date: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
Time: 9:15am to 10:45am
Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $5 public; free to members of PTS and those working with the PTS rabbis.
Sign up here

This program is aimed at Jews by Choice but much of what will be discussed is applicable to interfaith families who are trying to figure out end of life choices. You are welcome to come and learn about Jewish mourning and burial practices.

Death and Mourning for the Jew by Choice
At some point we all lose loved ones. The person who has converted to Judaism will eventually be faced with mourning a non-Jewish relative. What is appropriate behavior for a Jewish mourner who has lost a non-Jewish loved one? What are the options for dealing with funeral masses, “visitations” at funeral homes, and the funeral itself? What about Jewish mourning practices, shiva and sheloshim? The potential for isolation is great, but certainly isolation is not what Jewish tradition seeks for a mourner!

A member of an interfaith family may have some of the same questions. How do I honor my loved one yet find comfort for myself?

Join Rabbi Ruth Adar for a two session class that is open to anyone interested in grieving in a multi-faith family with a special focus on how a Jewish convert may honor their non-Jewish loved ones and their own feelings and adopted tradition.

The first session will meet at Temple Sinai and will address the basics of Jewish mourning. The second session will be in a private home in San Leandro where Rabbi Adar will model a home observing shiva. Students will be able to ask hands on questions, to see and hold the objects associated with shiva.

Feb. 4 and 11
7:30 to 9pm
Temple Sinai and a private home in San Leandro
Cost: $15
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Conversion, Death & Mourning, Jewish Learning, Life Cycle, Programs archive
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It is common in Jewish parlance to say that someone is “having” or “getting” a bar mitzvah. But it doesn’t really work that way.

I love Rabbi Milder’s article on this topic. He covers it while talking about celebrating bar/bat mitzvah as adults. Here’s what he has to say.

Rabbi Milder

Rabbi Milder

Let’s talk about Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

No one really “has a Bar Mitzvah.” No one gets “Bat Mitzvahed.”

When a Jew turns 13, s/he becomes Bar (son) or Bat (daughter) Mitzvah (of the Commandment.) A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is one who has reached the age of majority in Judaism, the age at which the obligations of Jewish life kick in. No ceremony is required, and there is no transitive verb, “to Bar Mitzvah” someone.

On the other hand, being prepared to fulfill one’s Jewish responsibilities, and having the skills to execute one’s prerogatives as a Jewish adult, is a function of learning. At the age of 13, a Jew counts in the Minyan, the quorum required for Jewish prayer. That doesn’t make him/her competent to lead prayer. You don’t need to be a rabbi to lead prayer, but you do need to know how.

Similarly, the privilege of reading from the Torah is an honor that we grant those who have mastered a certain level of Hebrew, and trained in the art of cantillation. Chanting Torah is a beautiful skill, acquired through significant learning and practice.

That’s why we ask our children to study for years before they turn 13, so that they will be prepared to do what any adult Jew ought to be able to do: lead their congregation in worship, read from the Torah, and teach the meaning of Torah.

Of course, not all Jewish adults have those skills. Many of us never went to religious school, or never trained to be a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or were not Jewish when we were teenagers.

But it is never too late to learn.

You can continue reading about adult b’nai mitzvot here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Life Cycle, Synagogues
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Sometimes it’s easier to learn about something by watching a video. That can be especially true when the thing you are learning about is a sensitive topic. G-dcast has created a number of videos addressing elements of Jewish life. This one, on Jewish mourning practices, covers the basic issues that you will encounter in regard to a death and mourning.

A Jewish Guide to What To Expect at Shiva, and How to Help Your Friend in Mourning

G-dcast Guide to Mourning (2)

Posted by admin under Death & Mourning, Jewish Culture, Life Cycle
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bare-bottom-babies- from essential baby com au

Today I want to talk about an intimate, yet very common, human body part – the penis — which really means, let’s talk about circumcision.

A true story from the mother of a high school age boy
When my son was in middle school he decided he wanted to go to a Jewish summer camp with three of his close friends. My son is extremely private and was worried about showering and dressing in a strange place that might not offer his preferred level of privacy. My husband and I talked to him about other camp experiences we’d had as a family. For example, there is a public bathhouse at Yosemite, but each shower has a tiny, private room where you put your dry clothes. Reassured, off he went.

When he returned two weeks later and descended the bus with a suntanned face and a big smile, we were eager to hear about his experience at camp. From the back seat he described adventures, counselors, hikes, rivers and more. Finally I asked him, “how did the showering work out?”

“Mom,” he replied soberly, “it was one big open room with shower heads all around. I walked into a room full of penises.”

My husband isn’t Jewish but he is circumcised so we never even discussed circumcision, we just did it. What popped into my head was, what would it have been like for an uncircumcised Jewish boy to walk into a ‘room full of penises’ and to look different from all the other boys?

The question of circumcision
The reasons a parent chooses NOT to circumcise can range from a fear of it causing physical or mental pain (no medical studies have born this theory out), to a disinterest in Jewish tradition, to the desire to have a boy look like his uncircumcised father.

The decision TO circumcise often comes from a primal place for Jews. It is the mark of the covenant, proof that the parents have committed their child to being a Jew. This practice is said to be the oldest continuously observed religious ritual in civilization. Secondarily, all medical studies have shown tremendous health benefits, so much so that many countries have adopted the practice to save lives.

When considering whether or not to circumcise a boy that will be raised Jewish, it is important to think about how your choice will impact the boy’s life and how you will live with which ever choice you make.

It is normative to be circumcised as a male Jew. An uncircumcised boy will look different in a Jewish locker room. An uncircumcised male will be considered not able to approach the Torah in traditional Jewish settings. For the boy in this situation, he doesn’t have to drop his pants for anyone, but he will know in his own head that he is not circumcised. So it is important that you discuss your reasoning with your son. Begin when he starts noticing his penis. Be casual. If his father is uncircumcised you can say, “You’re like Daddy” or “We wanted you to look like Daddy.” If you didn’t circumcise for personal moral reasons or for fear of inflicting pain, use I statements. Chances are he will know other boys, perhaps family members, who will be circumcised and you don’t want him to start worrying about them. “Your mom and I didn’t want to do anything that we thought could hurt you so we didn’t have you circumcised.” “We don’t believe in doing anything to a baby. We think a baby is perfect as he is. So we decided not to circumcise you.” (This explanation works even if Dad is circumcised.)

Halachically, the responsibility to circumcise belongs to the parents; however the boy is responsible in adulthood to become circumcised if his parents didn’t. Some young men decide to go get them selves circumcised. If your son makes this decision, be supportive. Think of it like a tattoo or a piecing. “It isn’t want we wanted to be responsible for doing, but if you want to do it, then we support you.”

If you are raising your son as a Jew, don’t be dismissive of Jewish law. You can state that, while much of Jewish law holds beauty and meaning for you, this particular act does not.

Interfaith couples have an additional aspect to address. What does NOT circumcising your son mean in regard to his being a Jew? What does it mean to the non-Jewish parent?

A liberal rabbi told me that she had initially been happy to performed non-circumcision welcoming ceremonies for boys of interfaith parents. However, she found that in multiple cases conflict arose around raising these boys as Jews. A number of non-Jewish parents told her, “When my spouse decided to forego circumcision for our son I knew he/she wasn’t really serious about raising him Jewish.” The rabbi noted that in these cases it was the non-Jewish person who saw circumcision as the symbol of Jewish identity. That said, it is important that Jewish parents in interfaith relationships who choose not to circumcise be very clear about what they do mean by “raising our son as a Jew.” Does that mean joining a synagogue? Sending the boy to Hebrew school? Will he be expected to have a bar mitzvah? How will your home support his identity – will you go to synagogue with him? Will you observe Shabbat? Which Jewish and non-Jewish holidays will you practice?

Have a detailed and frank discussion with your partner. Make an appointment to talk to a rabbi. Be sure you BOTH have all the information you need in moving forward together. If you want non-clergy help, give me a call.

Posted by admin under Life Cycle, Parenting
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sun on graves

Where and how will each of us be buried?

I’ve been asked how to plan for a funeral in an interfaith family. What things should be taken into consideration in order to plan for that inevitable day when one spouse must bury the other? Can the non-Jew be buried in a Jewish cemetery? Who will do the service? What can non-Jewish clergy do in a Jewish cemetery? I have a friend who is a Jewish funeral director, so I sent her this question:

Dear Robin,
I would like to send out information to my interfaith couples about when, where and how a non-Jewish spouse can be buried in a Jewish cemetery with the Jewish partner. Could you send me a brief description for bay area couples?

Robin’s answer:
First, the general picture. The majority of Bay Area Jewish cemeteries do allow burial of a non-Jewish spouse next to the Jewish spouse. There may be some restrictions. For example, if a non-Jewish spouse dies before the Jewish spouse, the cemetery may require purchase of two adjacent graves–one for the Jewish spouse and one for the non-Jewish spouse–at the same time. They want to ensure that a non-Jew is buried there only if married to a Jewish spouse
Many Bay Area Jewish cemeteries have one or more sections for Orthodox congregations or individuals. Burial in that section may be controlled by a particular congregation (e.g. the Adath Israel section at Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma), or a group of Orthodox rabbis (e.g. the B’nai Emunah section at Gan Shalom Cemetery near Orinda). To be buried in that section, the deceased must be Jewish according to Orthodox law. The deceased must also meet Orthodox burial requirements–e.g. use a”kosher” casket, have tahara done (Jewish purification ritual), be dressed in tachrichim (Jewish burial garments), the grave is completely filled before the participants leave the cemetery, etc. A non-Jewish relative–spouse, sibling, child–would not be allowed burial in such a section
One Bay Area Jewish cemetery, Home of Peace in Oakland, is an entirely Orthodox property. It does not allow burial of any non-Jew on its property.
A Jewish funeral home will certainly know local cemeteries’ policies for interfaith couples and can advise the family before or after a death occurs. Calling the cemetery directly is just as effective, though staff at one cemetery may not know the policies at other cemeteries.
The Bay Area’s Jewish cemeteries (or inter-denominational cemeteries with a separate Jewish section) are generally more liberal than Jewish cemeteries in the Midwest or on the East Coast.

Steps to avoid future problems:

1. Every couple (interfaith or not) should have an open discussion about each partner’s burial wishes–are there other family members already buried at a particular cemetery? Is it essential that the partners be buried side-by-side at the same cemetery? Who should officiate at each person’s funeral? Do both partners plan to have a traditional ground burial, or might the non-Jewish spouse prefer cremation or placement in an above-ground crypt?

2. Before buying burial space, find out the cemetery’s policies about interfaith couples. Under what circumstances can a non-Jewish spouse be buried there? Must the couple buy two adjacent plots at the same time?

3. Ask the cemetery for a copy of its Rules and Regulations. A Jewish cemetery will probably limit the inscription permitted on a marker to traditional Jewish symbols only (Star of David, menorah) and prohibit other religious symbols (cross, angel). Jewish cemeteries will usually prohibit use of non-Jewish clergy to lead a burial service if the prayers, rituals, etc. are used from another religion.

4. Consult a funeral director before services are needed. You may want to have pre-need arrangements in place so each partner’s wishes are clearly stated in writing, to avoid future conflict within the family. Prepayment is not required, just a visit to a funeral home.

Dawn to Robin: I have one question about non-Jewish clergy – can you have a priest if he doesn’t say any Christian prayers? What would he be doing; just attending?

Robin’s answer:
An excellent question. I’ll give you an example.
I directed a service at a non-denominational cemetery for a man who had a living, non-Jewish spouse. The wife wanted her Unitarian minister to officiate. For Sinai Memorial Chapel to serve this family, she could use the minister to conduct the service but not with non-Jewish prayers, rituals, etc. So the minister led a generic service–no pall over the casket with a cross or anything, no mention of Jesus, no holy water sprinkled on the casket, no traditional Christian prayers. He wore a plain suit, not a minister’s robe or priest’s collar. He used the 23rd psalm because it’s used in both faiths and gave a wonderful eulogy.

To summarize, here’s what the non-Jewish clergy CAN do:
o offer the eulogy
o lead prayers which do not refer to Jesus, heaven, etc.

Here’s what non-Jewish clergy CANNOT DO:
o wear clerical robes of another faith
o say prayers of another faith which conflict with Jewish faith, e.g. Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer
o use symbols of another faith, e.g. casket pall with a cross

More information from specific branches of Judaism read these articles online.
Reform Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism

Posted by admin under Death & Mourning, Life Cycle
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Sunday at the Pride Parade Keshet organized the synagogues to march together. There was LOTS of gaiety and exuberance. Rabbis around the bay are encouraging their LGBT members to give them a call and set a date for their wedding. Looking for a rabbi to officiate at your LGBT — and interfaith wedding? Give me a call! Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11.

Let the celebrations begin!

Posted by admin under LGBT, Life Cycle, Weddings
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Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community
How can transgender people live Jewish lives when many of their significant life choices might be considered ‘un-kosher’? How do transgender Jews navigate gendered Jewish rituals such as burial and conversion?

Balancing on the Mechitza, winner of a Lambda Literary Award, is an anthology by scholars, activists, theologians and others, both transgender and non-transgender allies, who share their interpretations of classical Jewish texts about ambiguous bodies, as well as their stories of Jewish prayer, ritual, and social life.

Nov. 1
JCC East Bay, Oakland site, 5811 Racine St., Oakland
$7 public; $5 for JCC members
Register here.

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, LGBT, Life Cycle, Past Programs
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If not now when? NOW is the time to learn and to act so that your last wishes will be fulfilled. NOW is the time to decide questions of end-of-life medical care, the disbursement of your wealth and possessions, plans and funeral arrangements, mourning rituals that will bring comfort to your survivors. Few experiences are more agonizing than trying to intuit or guess the wishes of a loved one. Give yourself and your family and friends a gift by deciding NOW.

We have gathered a panel of experts to present, to give you relevant materials and to answer your questions.

Rabbi Judy Shanks will moderate the seminar and describe the Jewish practice of ethical wills, bequeathing our loved ones advice, wisdom and memories to carry to the next generation and the next.

Dr. Mitchell Tarkoff will review health care directives, how they work and how to ensure they are followed in the hospital, by medical personnel and family members.

F. William Dorband will cover the basics of estate planning, the administration of your wishes, the role of trustees and executors, and the proper and consistent content of personal legal documents.

Dawn Kepler will describe the many unique questions that interfaith couples and families face when making end of life plans.

Susan Lefelstein will review Jewish mourning rituals from the traditional perspective and also describe non-traditional choices some families make with regard to death and burial.

The seminar will include a light lunch.

Please RSVP to Nina Jones at Temple Isaiah (925/283-8575 or so we have enough food for everyone and will have enough copies of all materials.

February 27th, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Social Hall at Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

For more details look here

Posted by admin under Death & Mourning, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Life Cycle, Non-Jewish family, Past Programs
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Are you not Jewish, but keeping a Jewish home and raising Jewish kids?

Do you have questions about “doing Jewish,” or Jewish home rituals?

Do you have concerns about your child’s coming bar/bat mitzvah?

Has something bothered you or puzzled you in the Jewish community?

Are some (or all) of the holidays confusing?  Or fun, but you still have questions?

Do you practice another religion and wonder how other families balance the demands of multiple religious needs in one home?


Join Dawn Kepler, to discuss the questions and concerns that arise as you navigate your way through an interfaith/intercultural life.


Dates:   Sundays, March 7 and March 21 (2 meetings)

Time:    7:00-8:30pm

Place:   Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

Cost:    $20/member, $25/non-member of the Palo Alto JCC


To sign up contact:

Cody Schaffner

Family Connections Coordinator

Phone: (650) 223-8788

Posted by admin under Couples, Holidays, Jewish Learning, Life Cycle, Past Programs
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 Where do you find interfaith programming?

I asked you last week to tell me three places you know of that provide interfaith outreach programs.  The messages I got back were either, I don’t know of any or here’s the name of a synagogue that is welcoming.  This confirms my suspicion that what programs there are, are few, small, and unknown by most couples.  Good to know.  I want the community to change this.


If you can tell me even ONE program in the bay area that you know offers programs specifically for interfaith couples and families, email me.  You don’t have to come up with three.  Send your comments to


And thank you for all the kind words about my program.  The feeling is entirely mutual!  You know I’m very attached to you all.



Start the 2009 by doing something new!

Do something for your relationship

For starters I am going to recommend that you participate in an interfaith couples discussion group.  Call or email me right now and let’s talk about it.  You’ll look at who you each are as individuals, improve your communication, and sort out issues that have felt stuck.  If you want to talk to someone who has already gone through a group, just say so.  You don’t have to take my word for it.


Learn something

As I told you a few months ago I have moved my program back to Lehrhaus Judaica, where it all began.  Here I can offer programs around the bay – Lehrhaus serves the entire bay area.  There are lots of classes that Lehrhaus offers and I’ll be pointing out some of the ones that will support your exploration and understanding of Judaism.  I want you to feel comfortable and informed.


Facing Death

My father died 15 years ago; his yahrzeit* was Jan. 2. A few days ago a fellow who is writing a book about my dad emailed me asking for some information.  I stared at the screen and felt my entire body grow hot and my heart rise in my throat.  I ached for my dad; I felt like I could not possibly look up the information from the past for this stranger.  Why do people have to stay dead?  Why can’t there be visits?  My mind filled with the offers, the deals, the suggestions one makes to God to break the law of death.  No dice.  God didn’t answer.


Death is hard.  Rituals are for the living.  Jewish tradition has developed a series of behaviors that get you through that challenging first year and then help you to remember once a year.

There will be a program on Jewish Traditions Around Death & Mourning in Oakland, look below.  It can be helpful to know what is involved BEFORE you need it.



*yahrzeit – commemoration of a death.  Learn more at:






Beth Sholom’s Annual Jewish Comedy Film Festival (San Leandro)

11th Annual Feast of Jewish Learning   (Los Altos)

Buenos Aires comes to Rodef Sholom (San Rafael)

Bubbes + Zaddes + Babies = FUN!!!  (Lafayette)

Simchat Shabbat Dinner (San Francisco)

Thank God It’s Shabbat!  (Palo Alto)

Tot Shabbat: Loving the World (San Rafael)

Jewish Traditions Around Death & Mourning (Oakland)

Baruch Ha’ba – Jewish Parenting for Expectant Parents (San Francisco)

Kindergym Family Sunday (Oakland)

Pagan & Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar (Berkeley)

Singing for Peace: Jewish and Episcopal Traditions (Oakland & Berkeley)

Beth David Adult Purim Party (Saratoga)





Beth Sholom’s Annual Jewish Comedy Film Festival

From January 24 to Feb. 8 – Films include:

To Be or Not to Be, Mel Brooks, (1983)

It Runs In the Family, Kirk, Michael, & Cameron Douglas (2003)

History of the World, Part I, Mel Brooks, 1981

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Adam Sandler

Keeping the Faith, Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman, (2000)

The Bands Visit, Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, (2007)


Times vary, check the website.

Place:   Temple Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Ave, San Leandro

$8 is the suggested donation per evening/ double feature

Refreshments available for purchase are to be

Drinks, Popcorn, Sandwiches, Candy, & More!



Contact Beth Sholom in one of the following methods:

~ the office at 510-357-8505

~ send an email to: childcare@TBSSanLeandro DOT org

You will receive confirmation via email.

Go online to see the entire schedule of films.




11th Annual Feast of Jewish Learning

with the Greater Palo Alto Jewish Community

Join more than 45 educators and rabbis from dozens of local Jewish institutions.  This year’s theme is “Lost and Found.” As always, we will begin with a moving, community Havdallah ceremony in the Beth Am Social Hall, followed by classes, workshops and lots of schmoozing. Check the Beth Am website for a complete list of classes. Please carpool, as we expect parking to be tight.


Date:    Sat., Jan. 31

Time:    7pm

Place:   Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills





Buenos Aires comes to Rodef Sholom

A Cantorial Concert

Two amazing young cantors direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina, will give a beautiful and moving concert in our sanctuary. Diego Rubinsztein and Alejandra Levi are among the pioneers of Jewish renewal in prayer through music in South America. The two cantors have performed throughout the world, from New York and Miami to Brazil, Uruguay, and Israel.


Date:    Sunday, February 1

Time:    1pm

Place:   Rodef Sholom,170 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

This concert is free and open to the public.

RSVP to Gigi at 479-3441 or




Bubbes + Zaddes + Babies = FUN!!!

Calling all Grandmas & Grandpas to bring their Grand Babies to our Temple Isaiah Bubbes, Zaydes, & Grand Babies Group. We will meet in the Adult Lounge in the Temple House building, beginning February 6. We will share our experiences, questions, issues, and knowledge as we guide infants and toddlers in play on wonderful toys. We look forward to a special hour of discussions and FUN. As an added plus, the wonderful Temple Isaiah clergy will join us to talk about Jewish grand parenting.


Date:    Begins Friday, February 6

Time:    12:00-1:15pm

Place:   Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette


Please call Temple Isaiah member (and proud Bubbe!) Lucy DiBianca at (925) 935-7980 to RSVP, or if you have questions.

Do your parents live nearby?  Send them off with the baby to this grandparent program.  They’ll meet other grandparents, have fun and give you an hour off.




Simchat Shabbat Dinner 
The Simchat Shabbat dinner, on the first Friday of each month, begins at approximately 6:45 pm, so it’s perfect for those leaving the 5:30 or 6:00 pm services, or for those coming to the 7:30 pm service. Come enjoy a family-friendly (but not child exclusive!) Shabbat dinner. In an attempt to make this dinner accessible to all, we are offering a lower-priced Mediterranean menu, similar to what we’ve been serving after the SOMAnu-El service.


Date:    Feb. 6

Time:    6:45pm

Place:   Emanuel, 2 Lake St., San Francisco

Cost:    $10 for adults and $5 for children.

WE NEED YOU TO RESERVE AHEAD as we only order food based on reservations. Payment is due when you make your reservation, by the Tuesday before the dinner, either online at, or by calling Vera Zelichenok at (415) 751-2541 x189.




Thank God It’s Shabbat!

On Friday February 6, we will have our next Thank God It’s Shabbat (TGIS) potluck and service.

Sue Dinwiddie will play harp to accompany our joyful singing, in an experience new for Keddem on Friday evening. We plan to intersperse lots of songs! Whether you’re an undiscovered Pavarotti or Beverly Sills, or you couldn’t carry a tune in a basket, join us and contribute your spirit, your smile—and your voice!

Bring a vegetarian, cheese or fish (with scales) dish to share. If you bring dessert we will share it after the service.


Date:    Friday, Feb. 6

Time:    Doors will be open for set up starting at 5:40pm. The potluck is at 6pm, Services at 7, and an oneg with the desserts at 8pm

Place:   Keddem Congregation, 3900 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

For more information call the synagogue at 650-494-6400.

Come start the new year with us, and be part of the change.




Tot Shabbat: Loving the World

with Jonathan Bayerf

This is the month that we will be learning about our Sh’ma Yisrael, which is a prayer about listening to and loving the world. There is a special kind of Jewish listening that only happens when everyone sings all together. Experience this kind of listening and loving in our Sanctuary. We will also be tasting new fruit as we get ready for Tu B’Shvat, which is our new year of the trees!


Date:    Saturday, February 7   

Time:    9:30am

Place:   Rodef Sholom,170 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

For more information call (415) 479-3441



Jewish Traditions Around Death & Mourning

Join us for a panel presentation on Jewish traditions in death and mourning, and practical planning advice. Presenters include Warner Oberndoerffer, Home of Eternity Administrator; Rabbi Mates-Muchin; Robin Reiner, Funeral Director; and a representative of the Caring Committee of Temple Sinai. Attendees will receive a helpful handbook on traditions, shopping for funeral and cemetery services, and guidelines on what to do when an unexpected death occurs.


Date: February 22
Time: 11:30am
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St

Please RSVP to Robin Reiner at by February 17.




Baruch Ha’ba – Jewish Parenting for Expectant Parents
Are you expecting a baby? We offer an exciting series for expectant parents. Before your bundle of joy arrives, learn many ways to prepare for your new Jewish family. Leslie Ticktin, our Family Programs Coordinator, will facilitate the group along with our clergy and various guest speakers. If you have questions about the series, please contact her at . See for the course outline.


Dates:   Thurs., February 26; Wed., March 4; Thurs. March 12; Thurs., March 19; Thurs. March 26; Thurs. April 2 

Time:    7 – 8:30 pm

Place:   Emanuel, 2 Lake St., San Francisco

The cost for the 6-week series is $50 for members and $75 for non-members.

To register, go to:




Kindergym Family Sunday

Please join us for a morning of fabulous fun! Your under-3 year old can jump on a trampoline, slide, climb, slither in our ball pit, sing, create a playdough masterpiece, pop bubbles and all of you can make new friends!


Date:    March 1

Time:    10:30-12noon

Place:   Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland

Cost:    $10 per family

Open to ALL families. Please call Dawn Margolin at 510.547.7726 for more info! for schedule and directions

Our Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings are busy too! Join us for Kindergym and Toddler classes for your 9 month-3 year old.

Friday classes for toddlers include a 15 minute circle time, with candle-lighting and challah. Rabbi Bloom joins us with his guitar to lead us in rousing Shabbat songs for little ones.

If you are an East Bay Mom and you have not been to Kindergym to meet Dawn Margolin, well, you haven’t lived.  Dawn is wonderful, warm, great with kids and moms alike.  She has three kids of her own and a great deal of wisdom.  Go.  You’re going to love it. 





Pagan & Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar

Christianity has been described as Jewish wine in a pagan vessel. Likewise, the classical monotheistic grapes of Jewish history and law were grafted on to hardy mythic and magical rootstock, the agricultural year as a mirror of heaven. The medieval Kabbalists were able to link their mystical understanding of Jewish belief to these ancient pagan roots in ways that deepened the meaning of our traditional holidays and observances. Mystical texts like the Zohar did this not just for the mystics themselves, but for the average devout Jew who found cold comfort in Jewish philosophy. This workshop will explore the magical, numerological, astrological and mystical depths hidden within our own normative Jewish practice with the intention of reconnecting us to the life of the earth.


Date:    Wednesday, March 4

Time:    7:30 to 9pm

Place:   Netivot Shalom,

Cost:    $15; $10/member of the Alameda co-sponsors

Enroll at the Lehrhaus website.

Co-sponsored by Netivot Shalom, Berkeley

I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this class is going to be.  Ira Steingroot, the teacher, is full of information.  Got a mystical side?  You’ll love him.  Like your teachers down to earth and based in reality?  You’ll love him.  Join me there.



Singing for Peace: Jewish and Episcopal Traditions

The choir of  St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Berkeley and the choir of Temple Sinai of Oakland will join together for two evenings of songs to peace including Sim Shalom and Dona Nobis Pacem. Cantor Ilene Keys of Temple Sinai says they will sing both texts to the same melody as an expression peace and understanding between traditions.


There will be two performances:


Sunday, March 8

5:pm for Evensong

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Phone: (510) 848-5107


Friday, March 13

7:30 pm

Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Phone: (510) 451-3263




Beth David Adult Purim Party

Beth David Sisterhood invites the Jewish community to its Purim Party: Come in costume and dance the night away; for all generations of adults.  A dynamic DJ, decadent desserts, delightful dancing (Israeli, contemporary and square).


Date:    Saturday, Mar. 14

Time:    8 to 11pm

Place:   Beth David’s Social Hall, 19700 Prospect Rd., Saratoga.

Cost:    $20 per person includes two beverage tickets for beer or wine as well as unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tasty desserts.

RSVP to Beth David at (408) 257-3333.




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