Lehrhaus Judaica - This is Bay Area Jewry: Seidlitz-Smith

This is Bay Area Jewry:
Photo Essays on the Changing Nature of Our Community

Beth El, Lehrhaus Judaica and Building Jewish Bridges present a photo essay exhibition showcasing the range of diversity in our community. The exhibition features 21 intimate portraits of individuals and families (including Beth El congregants, Renee Passy-Zale and Seidlitz-Smith family) from a variety of backgrounds and levels of religious observance. The project is a combination of photographs and written profiles, shedding light on the unparalleled Bay Area Jewish community.

The exhibition will be on display until March 31, 2018.
Closing Celebration: Saturday, March 17 — details to come.

For more information you may contact Congregation Beth El, 510-848-3988 or Building Jewish Bridges, 510-845-6420 x111. Or email Dawn at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

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The Rainbow Challah

The Rainbow Challah

For those of us in the liberal bubble of the bay area we may need to put some extra energy into Pride this year. We may be feeling downtrodden and helpless.

If you are wondering, what can I do?, read this empowering and succinct post from Rabbi Ruth Adar, the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

If you want to make your own Rainbow Challah take a look at Whatjewwannaeat.com for a guide to coloring and braiding your bread.

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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

Space is limited so please sign up if you want to participate.

Panelists discuss their interfaith upbringings

Panelists discuss their interfaith upbringings

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.

Date: Thursday, Sept. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
FREE, but please register here to assure a place.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Jews of Color, LGBT, Programs archive
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LGBT Safe Zone

LGBT Safe Zone

Thanks to Keshet for this lovely sign.

I don’t have a huge amount of data about LGBT Jewish couples, but I do have the results of a survey done a few years ago of the East Bay LGBT Jewish population. Of the LGBT Jews in relationships 89% were in an interfaith relationship. If you didn’t think interfaith programming was important for the LGBT community before, I hope this changes your view.

Building Jewish Bridges is here to help ALL interfaith couples and families figure out their strategy for their family’s religious life. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dawn Kepler if you want to talk about the options you and your partner are exploring.

Happy Pride Month!

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The photo exhibit This Is Bay Area Jewry opened last night in Oakland. Three of the individuals who participated in the portraits spoke about how they see themselves, their community and their hopes for an increased understanding of the tremendous diversity that we have here in the Bay Area Jewish population.

Emmett at BA Jewry panel

Kim Carter at BA Jewry Panel

The exhibit will hang at Temple Sinai until June 30. From there it will travel to Emanu-el in San Francisco. We have three more organizations interested in hosting the exhibit. At each location we will include a program with the individuals, couples and families who are portrayed. Stay tuned for future program dates.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Jews of Color, LGBT
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This Is Bay Area Jewry

This Is Bay Area Jewry

Tonight the photo exhibit, This Is Bay Area Jewry, will hold it’s opening reception. We’ll begin at 7pm with some wine and cheese. Have a brief tour of the exhibit at 7:15, more wine and nibbles. Then at 7:45pm 3 of the groups who participated in the exhibit portraits will speak about their reasons for participating and their hopes for what this can reveal to local Jewry and Jews farther afield.

You can read more details here. Should you be willing, you can sign up at this link also. But just showing up is fine. It’s free and did I mention there’s wine?

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, In their own words, Jews of Color, LGBT
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Rabbi Larry Milder

Rabbi Larry Milder

I’ve been pleased and impressed by Rabbi Larry Milder‘s clear statements about acceptance within his synagogue, Beth Emek of Pleasanton. Here’s another good one that he sent to his congregation.

Are You Gay? Lesbian? Transgender? We Welcome You!

I am heterosexual. I expect my synagogue to be accepting of my gender identity. I was born this way.

And if I were gay, or transgender, or gender non-conforming, I would have exactly the same expectation of my synagogue.

The truth is, gender may not be as clear as many of us think it is. I know I first started thinking about the permeability of gender identity reading novels by Hermann Hesse.

Getting out of the simple dichotomies with which I grew up, however, is challenging. Judaism is filled with customs associated with traditional gender roles.

Even worse, a lot of prejudice about gender identity permeates the vocabulary of Jewish life.

We can do better than that.

That is why I am proud of the Reform movement’s public advocacy of the value of full inclusion in our synagogues and institutions for Jews regardless of gender identity. That ethical commitment extends to the public sphere, as well, continuing a legacy of advocacy for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and gender non-conforming people.

This past year, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted a resolution to that effect, saying that the URJ:
1. Affirms its commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions;
2. Affirms the right of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals to be referred to by their name, gender, and pronoun of preference in our congregations, camps, schools, and other Reform affiliated organizations.
The resolution continues with additional commitments. You can read the entire text here:
Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People

The Reform movement’s seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, admits transgender rabbinical students. NFTY and the URJ summer camps have become places that are safe and inclusive of transgender participants.

I am certain that thoughtful congregants will find ways that we can be more inclusive as a synagogue, too. What must be said, though, is that LGBTQ Jews are welcome here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Finding a Synagogue, LGBT, Synagogues
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Jewish Wedding with Conservative Rabbi

Jewish Wedding with Conservative Rabbi

What great timing! Last night I received the last email from my list of San Francisco bay area non-Orthodox rabbis replying to my question, “Do you officiate at same sex weddings for two Jews?” It was my belief that they all did. But I was challenged by a colleague who said that just wasn’t true. Well, guess what? I was right. Everyone of them (I only asked congregational rabbis) said, yes.

Religious marriages have been available to same sex couples for some years — if you could find a clergy person willing to perform the ceremony. Bay area rabbis will.

Civil marriage means that all those religious weddings are now recognized in every state in the United States.


If you are looking for a rabbi to perform your Jewish wedding in the San Francisco bay area, give me a call. 510-845-6420 x11.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, LGBT, Synagogues, Weddings
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Thank you Keshet for this sticker.

Thank you Keshet for this sticker.

I’m not going to pretend that LGBTQ folks are our primary audience just because it’s Pride Month. BUT LGBTQ folks do show up at many programs we offer. Why? Because 11% of the US population identifies as LGBTQ and 2% identifies as Jewish. So if you’re gay and Jewish the chances of finding another gay Jew is statistically challenging. It isn’t surprising that a study done a few years ago by the Jewish Federation of the East Bay found that 89% of LGBTQ Jews who are in a relationship are in an interfaith relationship.

Our doors are open to all interfaith couples whether they identify religiously or culturally with their traditions. We are here to provide honest answers and insightful suggestions. We have terrific resources and compassionate ears.

So go on, be old or young, gay or straight, any color you prefer, the faith/spirituality that moves you — we’re happy to hear from you.


The Pride Parade in San Francisco will be June 28 this year. The synagogues are taking contingents and you can join your own synagogue’s group. If you don’t have a group with whom to march Keshet, the Jewish LGBT organization, is delighted to have you sign up to march with them. Just go to this link to sign up. Note, they are marching with American Jewish World Service so when you get to the link it will be on AJWS’s website. You’re in the right place. Go here.

Learn more about Keshet here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Community, LGBT
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Proud to support Pride-image_FINAL-500x500

We will be marching with MANY friends at the Pride Parade in San Francisco on Sunday, June 29! Hope to see you there!

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