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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High Holidays at Emanu-el, San Francisco

High Holidays at Emanu-el, San Francisco

Our Jewish community is increasingly multiracial, raising multiracial Jewish children is a relatively new phenomenon. Not many parents have the example of their own parents. Parents of multiracial kids have to consider:

What is it like growing up Jewish if you consistently told “you don’t look Jewish”
What comments and behaviors impact a multiracial child’s sense of their Jewishness
How can parents acknowledge the existence of racism and stereotyping while still supporting their child’s identity
All of us want to know: what can we, as friends, neighbors and fellow Jews, do to support and affirm the children growing up among us?

Join a panel of parents and teens from multiracial Jewish families who will address successful strategies and positive behaviors.

Date: Feb. 22, 2018
Time: 7:30 – 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
RSVP by emailing dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org to let me know you are coming! I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted by admin under Children, Current Programs, Jews of Color, Parenting
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KIm Carter Martinez, our speaker

KIm Carter Martinez, our speaker

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 Jews of Color, Parenting, Past Programs, Programs archive
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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, Jewish holidays at home, Jews of Color, Sukkot
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This is Bay Area Jewry: Photo Essays on the Changing Nature of our Community
Lehrhaus Judaica and Building Jewish Bridges present a photo essay exhibition showcasing the range of diversity in our community. The exhibition features 16 intimate portraits of individuals and families from a variety of backgrounds and levels of religious observance — from the North and South Peninsulas, San Francisco, Oakland/Berkeley, Contra Costa, and Marin. The project is a combination of photographs and written profiles, shedding light on the unparalleled Bay Area Jewish community. Each person, couple or family profiled has loved ones who are not Jewish. The reality of Bay Area Jewry is that we are all touched by our non-Jewish family members. We invite you to meet these unique individuals – born Jewish and converts, LGBT Jews, and multicultural Jews all take center stage. Their paths to Judaism and spiritual connections may differ, but they are all Jewish.

Opening Event — Tuesday, June 13, 7-9 pm
Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

Join us for a reception with refreshments. There will be a tour of the exhibit at 7:15 pm. At 7:45, three of the participants will be in conversation with Dawn Kepler, discussing why they participated and what they hope to communicate to the Jewish community. There will be time to mingle and talk.

The exhibition will be on view June 1 to August 31 at the Osher Marin JCC.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Intercultural, Jews of Color
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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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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

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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At the Oneg

At the Oneg

I had an ah-ha moment this week. I had attended a community meeting on the subject of responding to the violence against black people. We met at a black church. The event was organized by PICO, an organization that teaches faith-based community organizing. There were people of different faiths and races present. Afterwards there was some discussion among the dozen Jews around me about next steps. I felt oddly uncomfortable and out of place. It took me a couple days to realize why. Then it hit me. The conversation felt like we were helping “other people,” people of color. But I have family members who are people of color. Members of my synagogue are people of color. This isn’t about “them;” it’s about “us.” I know from speaking with you that many of you have multiracial families and friends. This struggle is our struggle. If you are feeling alone, reach out. There are many Jewish groups, synagogues, etc, that are confronting the violence; you can say you need support. If you want to help, reach out. Everyone is needed. Call your rabbi, call the Jewish Community Relations Council.

The most meaningful thing that I did (for me) was to start contacting my family and friends of color and say, “Are you OK? I’m thinking about you. I’m worried that even if you are physically unharmed you are being psychologically and spiritually hurt. I love you.” One on the young people I called was numb and depressed. I asked her, “What can I do to brighten your day?” Obviously I couldn’t alter the universe but I could do something to cheer her. She told. We did it. I’ll see her again tonight for Shabbat dinner and services. I will be sure to tell her that I love her.

Go tell someone that you love them, that you are thinking about them. Say you want them to be safe and to feel loved. See if you can do some small loving thing for them. Then please tell me what you did.

Some good articles:
6 Concrete Things You Can Do To Help End Police Brutality
Jews of Color Ask Us All to Dream of – and Fight for -Justice

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Jews of Color
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Gold star on Genesis text

In a conversation with a young person who is Asian and Jewish (yes, halachically Jewish, as in has a Jewish mother) I asked, “Are you comfortable in a synagogue?” The answer was, no, so I asked why. The answer:

1. I didn’t get much Jewish education so I don’t really know what’s going on in a service. It’s not familiar to me.
2. No one looks like me (biracial). I’m an outsider.
3. I don’t go to shul so I am literally a stranger. People looking at me might be thinking who is he or they could be thinking, he’s Asian, why is he even here.
4. I’m a secular Jew and going to synagogue is a religious thing. I feel intrinsically that these are my people but I don’t feel comfortable with all this religion.

How can we, as a community, alter this situation?

1. Publicize services that are less formal – musical services, children’s services, learner’s services. These allow adults to come in with no knowledge and just enjoy.

2. We should hold as an ongoing goal to have a more racially diverse synagogue environment – one that matches the demographics of our larger community. How do we get Jews of color to come in our doors? This one is tough. The best way I’ve found to do this is to face it head on and offer not just one, but several programs about Jews of color. A discussion, a lecture, a film – all should be promoted to the community at large. Jews of color are typically not getting the “usual” Jewish media. To promote our What Color Are Jews? program we took out ads on BART. We treated this as a mainstream topic. Which it is.

3. As a member of a synagogue, just assume that everyone who comes in belongs there. It’s no skin off your nose if you treat someone well who turns out to be a non-Jew, a non-member, a curious Christian visiting. But don’t over do it. Smile, say “Shabbat Shalom” and move on.

4. Publicize the non-religious activities of your synagogue as strenuously as the religious ones. Do you take out an ad to announce your High Holy Day services? Consider taking out an ad to announce a class, lecture, or musical performance at your shul. Make sure you have events that someone brand new to the environment can join in without worrying that there will be prayers or Hebrew that is unfamiliar. Remember that a synagogue is “a house of prayer, a house of study and a house of assembly.” Assemble for a wine tasting, bagel bake off, a film, a book discussion and invite the community.

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