Bridget's photo of resistance

We are reeling from the events in Charlottesville. Across the Jewish community clergy and laypeople are moved to words and actions. Here are some from the Bay Area.

Cantor Chabon, B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek
The older I get, the more I understand that living a fulfilling life depends on how we respond to the joys and sorrows in our world. When we embrace the moments of grace and love, we feel empowered and inspired to fight against hatred and bigotry when we next encounter them. Too often it seems that those two experiences–spiritual nourishment and the reality of our broken world-are juxtaposed against one another. That was never more true than this weekend.

I am sure I was not the only person to have a version of this experience over Shabbat: on Shabbat morning, 75 of us gathered in our beautiful social hall to sing and pray and learn together in our Nishma service, to imbue ourselves and our community with light and hope. After a beautiful oneg we all got into our cars, only to learn of the horrific violence at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that same day. As we were praying for healing in our world, Heather Heyer z”l, was killed as she protested intolerance, inequality and violence across our country. Her mother, Susan Bro, says she wants her daughter’s death “to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”

In the spirit of that call, we will be gathering this evening at 7:00 at Civic Park (at the corner of Civic Dr and North Main Street) for an interfaith peace vigil along with members of many faith communities in our county. Please bring prayers and supportive, peaceful signs. A group of CBT members will hold our banner to represent our synagogue’s desire to stand in solidarity against discrimination and hatred. Please join us.

Rabbi Bridget Wynne, Jewish Gateways, El Cerrito
​Like you, I am horrified by the hatred and violence in Charlottesville, and the disturbing lack of condemnation by our president. Continue reading here.

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffeeshop Rabbi, East Bay educator at Lehrhaus Judaica.
The events in Charlottesville are a wake-up call to all of us who were asleep. People marched with Nazi regalia, with racist and antisemitic slogans in an American city and the President of the United States had to be prodded to say more than platitudes. The Justice Department had to be prodded into action.
Folks, we are beyond the pale. Continue to read here.

Rabbi Singer and the clergy of Congregation Emanu-el, San Francisco
Emanu-El Clergy Statement on the violence in Virginia and Minnesota
The clergy of Congregation Emanu-El condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the ongoing horrific display of white supremacist violence in our country. Continue reading here.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
The Day After Charlottesville
In the aftermath of a horrific day in Charlottesville, there is an image I ask us to hold onto.

Don’t just read this, do something!

Posted by admin under Community, In the News, Jewish Culture, Spirituality, Synagogues
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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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Purim Mask

Purim Mask

Purim
We are a few days from Erev Purim! I hope you have a costume planned and a place to go for the Purim Schpiel. Purim is one of those “different” holidays. There’s the kids’ level – a story of Queen Esther saving the Jews, and the adult level – where there’s a lot of killing, beginning with Vashti. I don’t suggest that you start with the dark story with kids. But it is worth the time to learn the full story and to investigate the rabbinic teachings on this story in which God is never mentioned.

Here’s a somewhat sanitized version of the story from My Jewish Learning.

Here is a more complete and darker version from Chabad.

On the light side, go here to download a printable template for a Purim crown from Chai and Home.

Of course, you’ll need to eat! So here are some Hamenashen recipes.

Trouble Times
Many of you are aware that I have a multiracial, interfaith, multiethnic family. I’ve been more frightened of my own government that ever before. What has helped me is to become part of the activism that is growing rapidly. A friend told me about an app that will send you a “Daily Action” https://dailyaction.org I have attended services at synagogues and churches. I have marched and will again. Don’t just sit there and get depressed! Look into your conscience and act on behalf of those who are vulnerable. Every major faith believes in protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.

Bomb Threats
Yes, there have been a lot of bomb threats to Jewish buildings, especially JCCs and Jewish schools. But guess what? A number of Muslim veterans have tweeted that they want to guard Jewish organizations! Many Muslim organizations have reached out to offer compassion and support to the Jewish community. Our own Palo Alto JCC was threatened and a local group of Muslim-Jewish women sent them this letter of support.

EVENTS
Purim Carnival (Walnut Creek)
Tri-Valley Cultural Jews Purim Celebration (Livermore)
Shushan County Fair (Saratoga)
This Shabbat Rocks! (San Mateo)
Wendy Mogel “Blessing of a Skinned Knee” (Los Gatos)
Beyond Bubbie: Taste of the Old East (Berkeley)
An Evening of Learning About Jewish Mindfulness (San Mateo)
Jewish Women’s Theater presents Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks (San Rafael)
Passover Second Night Seder (Walnut Creek)

Purim Carnival
Join us for a fun filled afternoon with Pony Rides, Laser Tag, Giant Inflatables, Face Painting, Midway Games, and Fun Prizes. Hot dog lunch and carnival treats for purchase.

Date: Sunday, March 12
Time: 11:00am – 1:30pm
Place: Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
Cost: $18 per child includes all games; $20 at door per child
RSVP office@bshalom.org

Tri-Valley Cultural Jews Purim Celebration
Tri-Valley Cultural Jews will be holding a secular Purim celebration! We will make hamantaschen, have crafts, games, and fun for all ages, and present our annual Purim skit. Attendees are welcome to come dressed as their favorite Purim character.

Date: Sunday, March 12
Time: 10:30am – 12:30pm
Place: The Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 8th St., Livermore
Cost: Free for TVCJ members, and costs $10 for non-members (which can be applied to a membership if someone wishes to join).
For more information email maluba2@yahoo.com

Shushan County Fair
Come One, Come All, to the Shushan County Fair!
Fun for all ages.
Featuring the Klezmer band “Hot Kugel”
Pony Up Petting Zoo
Rides and Inflatables Including a 20’ Slide
Haman Haunted House
Games, Food, Entertainment
White Elephant Sale and Auction
Exhibit Hall, Contests and Prizes
Demonstrations: Robot pancake maker, Shaving soap & candle making, Yarn spinning, 3D printer and more.

Date: Sunday, March 12
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Place: Beth David, 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga
Cost: Pre-purchase a wristband for access to all inflatables and games plus a $5 voucher for food! Online or call the office 408-257-3333. $30 before March 3rd and $36 at the door. Individual tickets for games and rides will also be available for sale at the event. Buy tickets online.

This Shabbat Rocks!
This joyous Shabbat service will awaken our bodies and souls with a prayerful shake, rattle, and roll. Come and experience this vibrant service with The Band and you’ll find yourself exclaiming, “this Shabbat rocks!”

Date: March 18
Time: 9:00am – 9:40am
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
www.ptbe.org

Wendy Mogel “Blessing of a Skinned Knee”
Dr. Wendy Mogel, clinical psychologist, parenting expert, and New York Times best-selling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B-, will be giving a parenting talk.
Dr. Mogel’s books address the question of how to raise resilient children in the face of trends toward anxious parenting and over-parenting

Date: March 23
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos
Cost: General admission is $18, JCC members $10. JCC members get a special early bird price of $7 when you buy tickets online by 3/15.

Beyond Bubbie: Taste of the Old East
with Reboot and JIMENA
Join us for an immersive Sephardic culinary experience where participants will get a taste of traditional North African and Middle Eastern Passover recipes and stories from JIMENA speakers. Guest chefs will each prepare and demonstrate a traditional Sephardic dish from their country of origin. These chefs and other members of the community will share their stories and the family histories that go along with them. Come for the food, stay for the conversation.

Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: JCC East Bay Berkeley Branch, 1414 Walnut St, Berkeley
Cost: $12 (presale, student, senior, member); $15 (at the door)
Tickets here.

An Evening of Learning About Jewish Mindfulness
with Rabbi Jeff Roth
Rabbi Roth offers a contemporary approach to Jewish meditation. He focuses on the practice of mindfulness/heartfulness, combined with the teachings of Torah, to offer a path to liberate us from alienation, awaken us to the truth of the present moment, and open us to a sense of the Divine Presence.

Date: Thursday, March 23
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Sponsored by Or HaLev, the Center for Jewish Spirituality at Peninsula Temple Beth El.
This program is free, but please help us plan: RSVP to cserbin@ptbe.org by March 21.

Jewish Women’s Theater presents Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks
Come for an evening of salon-style theatrical entertainment with professional actors performing contemporary stories in intimate settings. Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks explores the Sephardic legacy of family, community and country, looking for home more than 500 years after the expulsion from Spain. It is a Jewish immigrant story that is rarely told on stage. Until now.

Date: Sunday, April 2
Time: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Place: Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
http://www.marinjcc.org
Cost: $18 Members; $25 Public and same-day tickets. Purchase tickets here.

Passover Second Night Seder
Join us second night for a family friendly service led by Rabbi Daniel Stein and Hazzan Wallach. Please call Alyssa at 925-934-9446 x102 to get all the details and to tell her what entrée you want.

Date: Tuesday, April 11
Time: 6:30pm Service
Place: Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
Cost: $54 per adult 13 and up; $36 per child ages 9-12; $15 per child ages 5-8; Free for children 4 and under
RSVP office@bshalom.org by Tuesday March 28th

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Jewish Culture, Purim, symbolic foods
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blue-balls

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

When Hanukkah and Christmas Coincide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the alignment of our cosmic lights!

Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Larry Milder

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning
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I received this question sent to my Mixed and Matched column.
This isn’t a common question, but it is not unheard of either. Sometimes the adult child of an interfaith couple wants to feel they are part of both their parents and they want others to reflect their choice.

My father is my Jewish parent. I was raised with Hanukkah, Christmas, Easter and usually we had a Seder. Neither of my parents cared about religion and they never told me I was any religion. I want to call myself Christian AND Jewish and be recognized as such by my Jewish friends. But I can’t get them to use that phrase. What can I do to change them?

Dear Half and Half,

My mother, an attorney, used to say, “You can call yourself Mickey Mouse as long as you pay your bills.” In other words, you have the right to call yourself whatever you like. The trouble comes when others don’t go along with you. In this case, it isn’t just that your friends don’t believe that you are both Christian and Jewish, it’s most likely that they don’t believe in the concept of being both, period.

What you want is for your friends to believe in an identity called, “Christian and Jewish,” and then apply it to you.

I suggest you make a list of what makes you “Christian and Jewish.” Is it simply because your parents are those two identities? Or do you practice particular Christian and Jewish rituals that you see as imbuing you with both religious identities? What are your theological beliefs? Do you see Jesus as divine? Have you studied the religious teachings of either faith? Do you agree with one or the other’s theology? Or do you see your identity as cultural because you are observing holidays from both traditions?

I’m suggesting you make this list so that you can be clear in your own mind as to what creates and sustains the identity you want to claim.

H&H, annoying as it can be, there are times when we can’t change the beliefs of others. You could certainly talk with your friends about your differences. Perhaps the conversation would be enlightening for all of you. But please remember that, just as you have a right to believe in a particular identity, your friends have the right to not believe in it. It is terribly hard when we have core belief differences from those we love and respect. You are touching on a central issue that comes up for interfaith couples – really wanting to be in agreement with the people who are important to us. From what you describe, neither of your parents cared deeply about their religion. So you have grown up in a home that did not put an emphasis on religion or religious/cultural identity. You are now coming into contact with people who have a greater attachment to religious identity.

For Jews, who are constantly worried about dwindling numbers and assimilation into the dominant culture, it is unlikely you will find many Jews who accept your self description.

You must ask yourself, can I just be happy in my own head; can I be content with my personal conviction that I am half and half? If yes, then you’re good to go.

If not, are you seeking the affirmation that comes from being accepted by a community? You have a much better chance of being seen as half and half in a Christian community that in a Jewish one. Since Judaism is typically seen as the parent of Christianity by many Christians a number of churches will be comfortable with your self description. They are likely to say something about Jesus being Jewish.

However, Christianity for many centuries and in many places today, sees itself as updating or replacing Judaism. It is the New Testament, come to replace the “Old Testament,” the Hebrew scriptures. So Jews are likely to be sensitive to your statement that you are both. You will be asked essentially to, pick a team.

To join any group of people means compromise. If you want to be a citizen who can legally drive a car, you have to abide by the rules of the road. If you want to pick Judaism and be part of a synagogue or other Jewish communal institution you will have to compromise. There are a few very liberal synagogues where you could get by but you are likely to be challenged by someone, Jewish or Christian, when you claim to be half and half in a Jewish environment. You could consider being just Jewish or just Christian.

Only you can determine which will be most satisfying to you. Feel free to call me. We can go over your list. Maybe there are some answers there.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Jewish Culture, Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family
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torah-script

It’s no secret that one of my dearest friends is an Orthodox rabbi with whom I have studied for years. I’ve learned A LOT from him, including the fact that one should ignore all the prejudices that are directed at the Orthodox. Rabbi Judah Dardik (previously rabbi of Beth Jacob in Oakland) is one of the kindest people I know and NO he has never turned away from a non-Jewish person or a patrilineal Jew. So it was a personal loss to me when he made aliyah.

I loved getting a traditional perspective on topics. Having belonged to a Reform congregation for more than 30 years I am well versed in Reform teachings. But I needed to stretch myself.

THE GOOD NEWS is that Rabbi Gershon Albert, who is now the rabbi at Beth Jacob is running a series of classes that are right up my (and your) alley.

Judaism’s Big Questions
“Ask good questions.” This piece of advice has fostered a thirst for knowledge in the Jewish people for generations. This year, we have compiled some of the most important and interesting Jewish questions; let’s engage in the study of some answers (and of course more questions) together!
With Rabbi Gershon Albert

Date and Time: Tuesday Evenings at 7:15 – 8:15pm
Location: Beth Jacob Congregation, 3778 Park Blvd, Oakland, Main Sanctuary

Tentative Schedule (Subject to Change – contact Beth Jacob at 510-482-1147 for up to the minute details.)

November 8: Introduction: A brief history of Jewish history and thought
November 22: Is the world actually 5777 years old? And other contradictions between science and tradition?
November 29: What is the soul?
December 6: Evil Part 1: What is evil and why does it exist?
January 10: Evil Part 2: why did God create man with an evil inclination?
January 17: Does Judaism believe in the afterlife and reincarnation?
January 24: What is the Messiah? What do we believe about the end of days?
January 31: Does Judaism believe in free will?
February 7: Do Jews need to believe? (Do we need to believe in God?)
February 14: Why do Jews call themselves the “Chosen People”?
February 21: What does Judaism think about other religions and cultures?
February 28: What are Jewish attitudes towards work?
March 7: Kashrut, Shatnez, Mikvah, and more. Are there reasons behind the laws I can’t wrap my head around?
March 21: Why do observant Jews dress funny? Modesty in the Jewish tradition.
March 28: What is Torah and what is the significance of its study?
May 2: Philosophical Responses to the Holocaust.
May 9: What is Halacha and how did it develop?
May 16: It’s just a hug! What does Halacha say about interactions with the opposite gender?
May 23: What is the value of Israel in traditional Judaism?
June 6: What is Judaism? A nation, ethnic group, religion, or culture?
June 13: It’s your turn – send in your big questions about Judaism!

Rabbi Albert with daughter

Rabbi Albert with daughter

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, Jewish Learning, Synagogues
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Star of David

I feel very strongly that we need to teach compassion for our fellow Jews and to avoid sinat chinam (senseless hatred). Many Jews condemn other Jews, citing internalized anti-Semitism, in-group elitism and the unpleasant practice of figuring out whether a person is Jewish or Jewish-enough. I think it is important to stimulate compassion for the people who do this. They are the ones suffering. We need not take on their bad behavior, nor their dark feelings and fears. We can and should feel sorry for them and we can and should strive to act differently. There is an old poem that my father used to recite that is my guide in this area in particular:

They drew a circle to keep me out,
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took them in.

We are the fortunate ones when we don’t feel the need to reject others.

In my teens my good friend, Irene, became a born again Christian. At one point she burst into tears and said she was so unhappy because I was going to hell. I said to her, “Irene, I’m 17! What can I have possibly done at this age that would cause me to go to hell?” But for her, not accepting Jesus as my savior was enough to bring this terrible fate and, for her, such grief. How lucky was I to be free of this dark fear! I knew she accepted Jesus as her savior and although I didn’t believe poor Jesus could do a thing for her, I believed she would be fine. She was, and is, a good person. I had and have no fear for her soul.

This is not to say that anyone has the right to pry into the background of another person. My June column of Mixed and Matched is about deflecting that rude behavior. But I want to congratulate those of us who are fortunate enough to not feel a need to invalidate or degrade a fellow human being, Jewish or not.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Community, Jewish Culture
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kippot

A worried Jewish father with a non-Jewish wife wrote to me about the take his college age daughters had towards New York Jewish “culture”. I answered him in my Mixed and Matched column.

I’m Jewish, my wife is not. Our two daughters, who have been to Israel, were raised Jewish with all the Jewish lifecycle events. They have left California for college in New York. There they encountered New York Jews and have found them to be “awful.” Now they repeat numerous negative stereotypes about Jews. One is happy to “pass” and the other wants to identify as “half and half.” They say Bay Area Jews are different and they still like all the people at our home synagogue. Their mom, who learned Hebrew, drove to religious school, hosted Seders, sees this as amusing. I’m worried they won’t date Jewish men. What can I do? — Sad Dad

Dear Sad Dad: I’m so sorry this has hit you so suddenly and so hard. Your girls are experiencing a new part of the Jewish world that may be strange to them. They would be equally surprised by the differences between their Bay Area experience and the Jews of Mexico City, Paris or Morocco. But since the Jews of New York are American, they expected to feel a sense of familiarity. Additionally, they are in school with Jewish peers, who bring their own culture of origin with them to college. I suggest you do three things:

• Talk with your wife. Why is she amused? Does she perhaps have some insight into your daughters? Does she see this as a time of exploration, but feels confident of the girls’ Jewish identity? Can she comfort or reassure you?

• Talk to your rabbi, who may reassure you with stories about other young members and their parents who passed through this and now have a next-generation Jewish family.

• Talk to your girls. It is important that they not harbor stereotypes and prejudices toward any group, including Jews.

Begin by asking your girls why they say these things. Are there events that have caused them to respond with these negative thoughts? Have people been cruel to them? Do they feel defensive with other Jews? If they feel embarrassed to be identified as Jews, what caused that? You need to get to the heart of this. It would be best if your wife could join you in this conversation. It is possible that they have encountered some nasty people who happen to be Jews and in the college social group, they don’t want to be associated with them.

How do the girls define the difference between good Bay Area Jews and the bad New York Jews? Do they feel positively about Israeli Jews? Can they see the difference between Israeli culture and Bay Area Jewish culture? Can they see that every Jewish group or community may be unique? Would they be open to dating an Ethiopian Jew? Or an Italian Jew? Is it just New York Jews that they find distasteful? It may be that you and they simply need to clarify what it is that they are rejecting.

Have you told them that you wanted them to date Jewish guys? If this is the first they are hearing of it, expect some pushback. They may be surprised for many reasons, the first that since you married their non-Jewish mother, they may take your message as an insult to her. Be ready to explain exactly why you want them to date, and I’m assuming marry, a Jew. They may feel that it can work out equally well for them in an interfaith couple, as it did for you. You need to have a sound reason that doesn’t insult their mom.

I know an interfaith couple, a Jewish dad and non-Jewish mom who, upon hearing that their son was engaged to a non-Jewish girl, sat them down and had a heartfelt talk about the challenges of interfaith marriage and raising Jewish children in an interfaith home. I was told this story by the non-Jewish fiancée, who thought her in-laws’ frank sharing was wonderful. The goal here is to assess with your wife what you want for your girls. Do you want them to raise Jewish kids, but your wife doesn’t care? Get that out in the open. Your daughters can sense what you each want, and being honest is best. From there, you and their mom can explain why you each feel as you do, and the girls can feel respected. You’re welcome to contact me if you need help with the conversation.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Jewish Culture, Mixed & Matched, Parenting
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Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar

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 Farid 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.

Posted by admin under Jewish Culture, 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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