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, Current Programs, Jewish Culture, Jewish home celebrations, Jewish Learning, Relationships
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Jewish coffin

Recently a woman wrote to me about her first experience with death and shiva as a Jew. Here’s what she said:
I am a recent convert and a single mother. My sister died recently. When I got the news, I was paralyzed and didn’t know what to do. I had been told that once the word of my sister’s passing got out, people would flock to my door with food, comforting visits and offers to watch my child so I could have time to grieve, but nothing happened. I went to work and kept up with my housework. My rabbi offered to help, but I really didn’t know what to ask for. And actually, I’m not good at asking for help. It felt like people were pretty hands off. People did attend the service, but there was no food since we held the shiva at the temple. My shiva experience could have benefited from more support. What should I know for next time? — Still grieving

She is not alone. Anyone who is not securely embedded in their synagogue community could feel at sea when grief hits. Here is what I answered her in my column, Mixed and Matched.

Posted by admin under Conversion, Death & Mourning, In the News
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Henry Robinson age 6 mo

March 2014 column of Mixed and Matched in the J-Weekly

The question:

I am Jewish and my husband is not. We adopted a girl, 8 months old, whose birth mother is not Jewish. We belong to a Reform synagogue and our rabbi said if we raise our daughter with Jewish lifecycle events and synagogue life, she is considered Jewish by the Reform movement. My problem is I don’t feel like that’s enough to make her Jewish. My daughter is Korean and I think people will question her Jewish identity. I would like to have her converted but I can’t do that without my rabbi, right? And what do I tell my husband? — Happy to Be a Mother

My response is here.

Posted by admin under Conversion, In the News, In their own words, Jews of Color, Parenting
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A number of organizations have basic Judaism classes that run from fall to spring but are offered in modules so it is easy to start the class throughout the year. Even if you see that a class has already started, give the synagogue or institution a call and see if you can join the class. Many teachers will arrange to speak with you and bring you up to date with the other students.

Genesis

Introduction to Judaism
Winter: Space and Place
Join with Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism.
Intro to Judaism meets on Tuesday evenings over three trimesters and has rolling admission. A student can begin in any of the trimesters. Trimesters do not have to be completed in a particular order.

Date: Tuesdays, January 6, 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10, 17, 24
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member $18; non-member $25 (per trimester)
One-time book fee: $65 (for members and non-members)
Telephone: (415) 751-2535
Information here.

Jewishing: An Ongoing Conversation about Doing & Being Jewish
What is quintessentially Jewish? The Passover Seder? This most ancient Jewish celebration was actually modeled on an ancient Greek banquet. What about the intricate layout of a Talmud page? A joint creation of rabbis and Jewish scholars working with Italian Catholic printers under the direction of a Dutch Protestant publisher. And then there’s the questionable origins of the bagel.
“Jewishing” is an exploration of Judaism not as a monolith of static concepts and practices but as a dynamic system of choices and questions. Listen and talk, read and write and sing and eat your way into questions of Jewish identity, seeing through a Jewish lens and living among Jews in the Bay Area in the twenty-first century.
Complementing the group classroom experience, students are also guided through a process of individualized self-study, using books, media, other courses and tutorials that enhances group process and deepens learning.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 7 – February 25
Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: $175/public; $160/ JCC members
Includes books and refreshments
Register here.

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew. Instructor: Rabbi Ruth Adar

You can enter this class at several points, the entry points are:
Jewish Text & History: Jan. 11, 25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8
Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music: 3/15, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3

Date: Sundays, through May 3, 2015
Time: 10:10-11:10 a.m.
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette, across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah. The class is in the library (Rm 211) upstairs to the right. Follow the voices.
Cost: Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
For more information see on the Temple Isaiah website.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Israel and Texts
The land of Israel has been central to Jewish history, both ancient and modern. Even during the years of galut (exile) the Jewish heart was “in the east,” in the words of medieval poet Yehudah HaLevy. This class will examine the history of ancient Israel, the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism, and the modern return to the land. With that history as a backdrop, we will learn about the great texts of Judaism: Tanach (Bible), Midrash, Talmud, the Prayer Book, and the Codes of Jewish Law.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 14 – March 11 (no class 3/4)
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Euclid St., Berkeley
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members of Beth El
Register here.
Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar, this class is part of a three-unit series. This course will be available to registered students via Adobe Connect distance learning software at no extra charge, both live and via full video recording. Students may attend live in the classroom, live online, or anytime via recording.

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, mu sic and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
Taught by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.
The spring term is from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2015.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 21 – March 11
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm, Plus a Friday evening Shabbat experience TBD
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Cost: $120 for the public
Register here.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Conversion, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Learning, Past Programs
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names in Hebrew

Join B’nai Tikvah congregants for services on Friday January 9 at 6:30pm, when I will be speaking in the sermon slot. My subject is the special place name and naming rituals holds in Jewish tradition. This dovetails with the start of a new book of the Torah called Shemot, in which the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named. Whether you have a Jewish name or want to choose one for yourself or someone else, this presentation will get you thinking. Please join us!

Date: Jan. 9, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
www.tikvah.org

Posted by admin under Conversion, Parenting, Past Programs
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Introduction to Judaism classes around the Bay!
Starting September through November

Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar

Rabbi Susan Leider, Kol Shofar


NEW!
** Don’t worry about missing the first class. I’m sure they will gladly bring you up to speed. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to sit down and get to know Rabbi Leider – one on one.
Judaism 101
with Rabbi Susan Leider
We warmly welcome all who desire a deeper connection to Judaism, those who are considering conversion, and those seeking their Jewish voice and identity. Our course incorporates an introduction to basic Hebrew, biblical and rabbinic writings, the history and culture, holy days, festivals, the Sabbath, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, kashrut: the Jewish dietary laws, our connection to the land of Israel and contemporary Jewish life.

Dates: Sundays, September 14 & 21, October 19 & 26, November 2, 9, 16 & 23, December 7 & 14, January 25, February 1,8, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Time: 9:30am – 12 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: Kol Shofar members: Free. Public: $10.00 per class or $100.00 for 18-week series. Advance registration is appreciated by contacting Ricki Singer at rsinger@kolshofar.org
More info here.

Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek

Rabbi Laurence Milder, Beth Emek


Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is an overview of the basics of Jewish beliefs, history, and traditions. This survey course is appropriate for those curious about Judaism, as well as those who would like an adult level understanding of that which they learned as a child. Topics will include Bible, Jewish history, holidays, life cycle customs, prayer, theology, Israel, Jewish peoplehood and Jewish movements. Go here to register. Taught by Rabbi Laurence Milder, Ph.D.

Date: Thursdays, September 4 – December 18 (14 sessions)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm
Cost: $80 members/ $100 non-members
Couples: $ 120 / $150
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton

Arik Labowitz

Arik Labowitz


Judaism for the Beginner’s Mind
Jewish Spirit in the Present with Arik Labowitz
Daily Jewish Practices, Approaches to Prayer, Meditation, G-d, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, Hebrew Calendar
Whether you are new to Judaism or simply wanting to connect on a deeper level, these classes offer an opportunity to engage with the tradition with fresh eyes and a new perspective. This module, the second of three, is entitled Jewish Spirit in the Present. This series will focus on Judaism as a personal spiritual practice, including the topics of: Prayer and Blessings, Meditation, Tefillin, Kashrut, Shabbat, Mikvah, Torah Study, and the Hebrew Calendar.
There are some participants in this group that are working towards an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony which will take place at the end of the three modules. These participants meet a half hour before each class to study Hebrew and Torah Chanting. If you are interested in joining this group, please speak to Arik directly (arikzev@gmail.com).

Dates: Tuesdays, Sept. 9 through Jan. 20, 2015 (13 weeks)
Time: 7:00pm-9pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince Street, Berkeley
Cost: $435
Details and registration here.

Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha'ar Zahav

Rabbi Camille Angel, Sha’ar Zahav

Essence & Essentials: Judaism Through the Eyes of Rabbi Angel
Whether you are beginning your Jewish journey and needing the basics or a seasoned, learned Jewish scholar wanting a new twist on an old idea, join us for this special 11 week course.
We will discuss: What is Judaism, God, Ethics, Torah, Prayer & Blessings, Jewish Holidays & Festivals, Life Cycle Events, Synagogue and Jewish Movements, the Holocaust, and Israel
Dates: 11 Thursdays, Sept. 11 through Dec. 4 (no class on 9/25 & 10/2)
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Sha’ar Zahav
Cost: $100 registration fee; no fee for Sha’ar Zahav members; book and materials fees extra.
Register here.

Emanu El SF
Introduction to Judaism
Fall: Seasons of Joy
Join with Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism.
Intro to Judaism meets on Tuesday evenings over three trimesters and has rolling admission. A student can begin in any of the trimesters. Trimesters do not have to be completed in a particular order.

Date: Tuesdays, October 7, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18; December 2, 9
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member $18; non-member $25 (per trimester)
One-time book fee: $65 (for members and non-members)
Register here. http://www.emanuelsf.org/page.aspx?pid=402

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Lehrhaus

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew. Instructor: Rabbi Ruth Adar
Year-long Course (24 sessions)

Date: Sundays, Sept 14, 2014 through May 3, 2015
Jewish Calendar / Holidays (i.e. Jewish “public time”): 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26
Jewish Lifecycle & Home (i.e. Jewish “private time”): 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 12/7, 12/14
Jewish Text & History: 1/11, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8
Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music: 3/15, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3
Time: 10:10-11:10 a.m.
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette, across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah. The class is in the library (Rm 211) upstairs to the right. Follow the voices.
Cost: Tuition: $100/members; $250/non-members for the year
If you would like to sign up for 1 or more blocks of Exploring Judaism (instead of registering for the whole year), we welcome you to do so. Tuition is $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
More information is on the website of Temple Isaiah here.
Sponsored by Temple Isaiah of Lafayette.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays
Communal and individual Jewish life dances to the rhythm of two different cycles: Jewish lifecycle events and the cycle of the Jewish year. This class covers a basic introduction to the Jewish lifecycle (weddings, birth, bar mitzvah, conversion, mourning, and funerals). Then we will look at the Jewish year, with its cycles of fall and spring holidays as well as holidays reflecting historical events.
Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar, this class is part of a three-unit series. See the full series here.

This course will be available to registered students via Adobe Connect distance learning software at no extra charge, both live and via full video recording. Students may attend live in the classroom, live online, or anytime via recording.

Dates: 8 Wednesdays, October 22 – December 17 (no class 11/26)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members
Register here.

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker, Beth Am

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, mu sic and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
Taught by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.

The fall term of this class runs from Oct. 22 to Jan. 14, 2015. The spring term is from Jan. 21 to March 11, 2015. You can sign up for one semester or for the entire year.
Go here for details.
Date: Begins Oct. 22
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $245 for the public; $230 for members; $105 for Émigrés; $105 Full-time students

Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla

Rabbi David Cooper, Kehilla

Shabbat Inside Out
A “Doing Judaism” class
More than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people. Ahad Ha-am
For millennia, individual Jewish practitioners and communal Jewish culture have been fed and sustained, materially and spiritually, by the practice of Shabbat (in English “the Sabbath” or in Yiddish, “Shabbos”), the “pause that refreshes.” Tradition teaches that this most quintessential of Jewish practices is built into the very fabric of Creation. In the first and second, fourth and fifth classes of this series, Rabbi Diane will guide you in an exploration of the “deep structure” of Shabbat practice, from its roots in Torah and rabbinic tradition, to the intimate secrets of the mystics. Through meditation and chant, text study and conversation, we’ll experience the multiple levels on which Shabbat resonates, delighting and igniting body and soul. In the third class, Hazzan Shulamit will offer an in-depth introduction to some of the most beloved and powerful of the Shabbat z’mirot (songs) and piyyutim (poems set to music). During the last two classes, Rabbi David will connect the dots from the inner essence to the outer world, revealing how Shabbat has always been—and will continue to be—a subversive force for social justice. Not only has Shabbat preserved the Jewish people, it has motivated social change around the planet for everybody. Come and jumpstart your Shabbat practice! We’ll culminate our learning with a freilach (joyful!) Kabbalat Shabbat celebration that evokes the many layers of the Sabbath. Taught by Rabbis Diane Elliot & David Cooper with Hazzan Shulamit Wise Fairman.

Dates: 6 Thursdays & 1 Wednesday: Oct 23 & 30; Nov 5, 13, & 20; Dec 4 & 11
Time: 7 – 9pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave, Oakland
Cost: $126 for Kehilla members; $140 for non-members
Register here.

Aubrey Glazer
Introduction to Jewish Thinking & Spiritual Practice
Want to delve deeper into what it means to think and practice as a Jew? Adult B’nai Mitzvah? Conversion? Tefilla with training wheels? Inquiring mind? Meditator? Join the first installment of this comprehensive introduction to framing your exploration into Judaism as a philosophy and practice. All are welcome.

This is basically an ongoing, continuously running class with some breaks. I am told that they are about to start Section 3 and that new students should consider reading the materials from the first two sections. Look at the class description and reading list here. Taught by Rabbi Aubrey Glazer.

For more information, feel free to contact David Wolk at dwolk@bethsholomsf.org or call 415.221.8736.

Date: Thursday, October 23, ongoing
Time: 6:30-7:30 pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue (near the corner of Clement St), San Francisco
Free

Rabbi Mark Melamut

Rabbi Mark Melamut


NEW!
What is the next chapter in your Jewish Journey?
Introduction to Judaism and Jewish Living
All are welcome to join us for this unique opportunity to learn together with 3 rabbis of 3 different denominations. In this course we will cover a breadth of topics and invite students to plumb more deeply in individualized reading assignments. Topics include: the Jewish people, Torah, G-d, Israel, History, Life Cycle, Year Cycle, belief, practice and the Jewish Home.

Dates: Thursdays, October 23 – May 28
Time: 7:00-9:00
Location: B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval (46th), San Francisco
Cost: Free
Contact: rabbimarkm@gmail.com
Sponsored by 3 Congregations: Beth Israel Judea, B’nai Emunah, and Ner Tamid

Rabbi Lisa Delson

Rabbi Lisa Delson


NEW!
Basic Judaism
Basic Judaism is a course for those yearning to learn more about Judaism, whether you were born Jewish, are studying toward conversion, or just want to learn more about your Jewish friends and relatives. Each class will focus on a different aspect of Jewish living and learning, from holidays to Jewish texts, from celebrations to mourning. This class is open to the community. This class is free, books and other materials are not provided.

Dates: 12 Thursdays, November 6, 13, 20 December 4, 11, 18 January 1, 15, 22, 29 February 5, 12
Time: 7-8:30pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
For more information and to register, please contact Rabbi Lisa Delson at rabbidelson@sholom.org.

Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Addison Penzak JCC, Los Gatos

Introduction to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is offered in partnership between the Reform and Conservative congregations and the JCC of the South Bay. It is for anyone interested in exploring Judaism — individuals, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and Jews looking for adult-level basics.
This class introduces the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice in 20 weeks. Topics include Jewish holidays and life cycle events, theology and prayer, Israel, history, and Hebrew.
Why take the course? Perhaps because:
– you recently discovered you have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about your roots
– your partner is Jewish and you are not
– your adult child is helping to raise Jewish grandchildren
– you are seeking conversion to Judaism
– you are Jewish yet somehow, when you were younger, you didn’t learn what you’d like to know about the culture and religion of the Jewish people and now you seek a way to live a fuller and richer Jewish family life
Whatever you are seeking, Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness. It can launch you on a path to deeper personal Jewish connection, acquire a basic Jewish vocabulary, and gain intellectual and experiential knowledge of Judaism as well as the skills necessary to “do Jewish.”
In addition to the weekly class and reading, there will be two Shabbat Dinners and two Shabbat Lunches, one at each of the sponsoring congregations.

Dates: Tuesdays beginning November 11
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Place: Synagogues & JCC in South Peninsula: San Jose, Los Gatos & Saratoga.
Cost: The purchase of books is recommended. For more information or to register please contact Jenessa Schwartz at (408) 357-7411
Locations: Multiple Locations: Congregations Shir Hadash, Beth David, Sinai, Emanu-El, and the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the APJCC. The first class, Nov. 11, is held at Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center, 14855 Oka Rd, Los Gatos.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Conversion, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Culture, Jewish home celebrations, Jewish Learning
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one-Jewish-child

Kveller, an online magazine published the first person story of a woman whose eldest daughter from her first marriage is not Jewish and her second daughter from a Jewish marriage, is Jewish.

How this woman got to this place in life is interesting and is the result of being alive in a time when many things are possible. You might read her story and think that she should have done things differently. Or you may believe you know how she should handle things with her ex. In my work I see the bottom line being the daughter who wants to be included. Mom has her hands tied in a number of ways but there are things she can do to create work-arounds that will help her older child to feel part of the family.

Read Rita’s story.

Here’s my advice to her.

Rita, I’m betting that there is a lot more to this than can be put in a single article. If it is possible, I would suggest broaching the subject with your ex. Can you figure out some cultural things that our new family does that could include your daughter without upsetting him? When non-Jewish kids in my family visit us, we include them in holiday activities – decorating the sukkah, making charoses pyramids, picking flowers for the Shabbat table. Have a list of potential activities and see if he can OK them. I am guessing that she will decorate a Christmas tree, dye eggs, dress up for Halloween while with her dad. These are all Christian cultural activities. It is reasonable that raising her as a culturally aware individual that she learn about other cultures. You could include some of the Jewish traditions from Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews so that both girls have a richer understanding of the practices of others around the globe. (My sister-in-law is from Tunisia. Their dress, food, dance, music and language are all different from my Ashkenazi family.)

Also, sit down and explain to your daughter that her dad loves her and that the two of you have agreed on some special things in her life. Point out the things that she will be doing at each home and explain that this is what you both have decided to give her.

One very important thing that parents in your situation frequently fail to do is decide WHAT AGE is it that you will let your child make her choice. Will it be a particular year – age 12? 16? 18? Or will it be after a particular accomplishment? Since this is now an important time in her life, the two of you need to be clear about when it is. Then going forward you can say, “Honey, you’re learning about the different cultures that your dad and I practice so that you’ll be ready to decide when you are…”

See if there are some things around the house right now that she can do to feel included. Can she help set the table? Help make her sister’s Purim costume? Hold the poles up as you put up the sukkah? Find ways that she is essential to your family activities so you can honestly say, “You are important. You do …”

Surely your ex wants his child to feel good about herself. Approach this topic not as a conflict but as a solution that the two of you will solve together. Good luck!

Posted by admin under Conversion, Divorce, Parenting
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Michella Ore wrote a wonderful article for JVibe, a now out-of-print Jewish teen magazine, back in the spring of 2009. I contacted her recently to ask if I could reprint her article. I also asked her to give us an update on how her decisions were turning out for her. As a biracial daughter of interfaith parents she had decided to officially convert. First, here’s her 2009 story.

Catholic to Kugel
I had always thought about going to synagogue. But it wasn’t until a year-and-a-half ago that I stepped foot in one for the first time. I was 12. Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., was warm and spacious–not like the cold pews I was used to sitting in during services. That night I stayed for the Shabbat service, and when it ended, my dad introduced me to the congregation. We joined them for Kiddush, and met some of the kids.
Being in a new environment was a scary thing. Everyone had obviously known one another for a long time, and I was just meeting them for the first time. I was shy about starting new chapter in my life, but I decided that I would come back and give it a try.
You see, I’m Catholic. My mom is an African-American Christian, and my dad is a mixture of Nigerian, Native American, Russian and German–and is Jewish by birthright. After years of attending a Catholic school, I realized that Judaism allowed me to question things in ways that Catholicism did not. Judaism offered me the opportunity to learn from the Scripture but also to question it. During my elementary years in Catholic school, I had always questioned whether Jesus was the son of God. I felt that we are children of God and that no one person should be singled out as more God-given than the rest.

Learn Fast
After more than a year, I still learn new things at synagogue every week. When I’m not able to go to services, I read the weekly Torah portion. I have also been attending a bat mitzvah prep class on Sundays in which we discuss Jewish women and their influences on the Torah.
In the beginning of my process of conversion, I had to learn how to read Hebrew. It was tough at first, but not being able to sing along in services was motivation to learn. I got help from a friend at Netivot Shalom, who taught me the basics. I also studied on my own, and now I can keep up with services and sing the psalms and prayers myself. But the most difficult thing has been studying religious texts and balancing my regular schoolwork. Add to that my extracurriculars and social life, and you have a pretty busy 14-year-old!
There were times when I was frustrated with Hebrew and days of religious observance when I had to decide whether to go to school or to synagogue. When I decided to go to school, I was questioned about what’s more important. I have since learned that religion and education are equally important, and I need to find a balance so I can get what I need from both.

Faking It
The process has not been smooth sailing. People have sometimes called me a “fake Jew.” Because of my mixed heritage, I’ve been told I don’t look Jewish–I’ve even been questioned about how I could possibly be Jewish. To me, stating that I’m a Jew should be enough information. I believe there’s no such thing as a fake Jew. The term is usually directed toward converts and those whose mothers aren’t Jewish, but I feel as much of a Jew as anyone. If you are a Jew at heart, you’re Jewish–period. As future generations are born, fewer Jews will still look like the “stereotypical” Jew.
Converting is important to me because I want to officially be confirmed as a Jew. I want to be acknowledged throughout the world as a Jew, without a doubt from anyone. Converting will state on paper what I have felt all along. Being Jewish is more than a religion to me; it’s a way of life. People say that being Jewish is just a religion, but it’s more than that. I know atheistic Jews who don’t believe in God but still consider themselves Jews. I have learned that Jews don’t just read the Torah, they live by it. And this is one of the reasons I was drawn closer to the religion and the culture.

It’s My Life
I hope the conversion process teaches me what it means to be a Jew, including the many devastating events Jews have experienced so I can share that pain and support with those who need help. I want to have a Jewish household when I grow up and pass along the teachings to my children. Along the way, I may even gain a thicker skin–after hearing that I don’t “look” Jewish, I hope to learn how to ignore negative comments and instead focus on my goals.
In January, I flew to Boston (my first time on an airplane!) for an event run by The Curriculum Initiative –a Jewish educational organization serving independent high schools. I was uneasy about the people I was going to meet during the weekend. From what little I had heard, East Coast Jews aren’t that tolerant of “diverse” Jews. So when I arrived and saw that the event was being led by an African-American Jew, I was pleasantly surprised. While I was in Boston, I met many types of Jews from different ethnicities who had diverse views on politics. The trip stripped me of my ignorance and reinforced my decision to convert.
Throughout this intense process I have learned that we must follow what we know is best for ourselves, even if other people don’t see it that way. I haven’t had everyone’s support, but I know it’s the right answer for me.

* * *
I asked Michella how life has been in the past 5 years. She replied:

I completed my conversion in 2009. I had my bat mitzvah when I was 16. I’ve felt pretty great since then and I’m almost 20. My school doesn’t have a huge Jewish presence on campus but I try to attend events when I can. While, I was in high school I attended Berkeley Midrasha for four years and went to shul at least once a month.

Being a multiracial Jew doesn’t really impact my activities. People seem positively intrigued when they find out I’m Jewish and I don’t feel the need to explain how – as I thought I would years ago.

In regards to words of wisdom, I would say follow what you feel is right. I chose to learn more about Judaism because of my dad’s lineage but that isn’t what compelled me to go through the conversion. I did it because I felt a personal connection to Judaism (the appreciation of questioning and digging beneath the surface in particular attracted me) and wanted to continue along that path.

Hope this helps!
Michella

Michella Ore

Now a student at Williams College in MA, Michella told me she hopes her story will support other young people who are curious and want to explore Judaism.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Conversion, In their own words, Jews of Color, Spirituality
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Happy-New-Year

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to learn more about Judaism? Intro to Judaism classes are great for interfaith couples — take the class together –they stimulate good discussions, answer questions and you’ll get to know other interesting people. Jump in!

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Winter term covers Jewish Text & History. Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar.
(Students may expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew.)

Dates: Sundays, 1/5, 1/12, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9, 2/23, 2014
Time: 9 to 10am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
Cost: $65 public; $30 for members of Temple Isaiah
Register here

Jewishing: An On-Going Conversation about Doing and Being Jewish
Join fellow travelers and guides, JCCSF Chief Jewish Officer Rachel Brodie and Rabbi Batshir Torchio, on a wandering journey through Jewish history and culture. We will be “Jewishing,” exploring Judaism not as a monolith of static concepts and practices but as a dynamic system of choices and questions. Listen and talk, read and write, sing and eat your way into questions of Jewish identity, seeing through a Jewish lens, and living among Jews in the Bay Area in the twenty-first century.
Whether you are Jewishly literate or beginning your exploration, if you’re interested in learning more about your Jewish heritage, if you are coupled with or parented by someone who is Jewish, if you are thinking about conversion, or if you are just plain curious, we hope that you will consider joining us.

Dates: Wednesdays, January 8 – February 19
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Place: JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: $125 for the public; $100 for members of the JCC
Register here

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, music and literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.
These eight classes cover Part 2 of the class. The topics we’ll explore include liturgy, Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the Modern State of Israel. Students may continue with Part 1 of the class, which will begin in Fall 2014.

Dates: Thursdays, January 16 – March 20, 2014 (no class 2/13, 3/13)
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Includes a Friday evening Shabbat experience March 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm
Place: Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Cost: $125 for the public, $115 for Beth Am members; $65 for Émigrés & Full-time students
Register here

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Israel & Texts
The land of Israel has been central to Jewish history, both ancient and modern. Even during the years of galut (exile) the Jewish heart was “in the east,” in the words of medieval poet Yehudah HaLevy. This class will examine the history of ancient Israel, the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism, and the modern return to the land. With that history as a backdrop, we will learn about the great texts of Judaism: Tanach (Bible), Midrash, Talmud, the Prayer Book, and the Codes of Jewish Law.
This class is part of a three-unit series.
See the full series here: http://catalog.lehrhaus.org/series/2013/fall/I150-TS/
Cosponsored by Temple Sinai, Beth El and Building Jewish Bridges.

Date: Wednesdays, January 15 – March 5
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members of Temple Sinai or Beth El
Register here

An Introduction to Judaism
Learn about Judaism Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices
With Rabbi Larry Raphael, Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, Lisa Erdberg
Get an in-depth look at the basics of Jewish thought and practice. Engage in a mix of study, discussion and hands-on experiences. Topics include:
* Jewish beliefs and values
* Holidays and the Jewish calendar
* Prayer and liturgy
* Lifecycle events
Date: Sundays January 26 – May 18 (except holiday weekends)
Time: 10 am
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Free
Information & registration: Eric Drucker, 415.346.1720, x24, or email Eric at edrucker@sherithisrael.org.

Posted by admin under Conversion, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Learning, Past Programs
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Everything You Always Wanted to Know but had No One to Ask

Nzinga at Beth Sholom

Conversion can be a difficult conversation for an interfaith couple. The non-Jewish partner may want to learn about it without committing to anything or getting their partner’s hopes up. The Jewish partner can want to ask whether the non-Jew is open to discussing it but be afraid of offending.

For those reasons I suggest that the curious partner come alone to this discussion. Don’t bring your spouse if, as much as you love them, you think they will just make you uncomfortable. If you’re the partner being left at home, don’t fuss or worry. Just go to a movie or take a walk with a friend.

On this evening in Oakland I will have a panel of people who have converted – black and white, straight and gay – they will share their personal decisions and journeys. All you have to do is listen. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions too.

It is a topic that floats around in the Jewish world so let’s talk about it.

Here’s the description I’ve put in various places (like the Lehrhaus catalog).

Are you curious about converting to Judaism — for yourself or someone you love? Perhaps you know someone who is converting and wonder why anyone would make that choice. Maybe this is the first time you heard that Jews believe in conversion. Curious? Confused?
Join Jews by choice, born Jews and non-Jews to discuss a subject more awkward than sex. Yes, we’re going to answer all your questions about conversion!

Date: Thursday, Oct. 10
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Cost: $7 for the public, free to Beth Abraham members
Register here

Posted by admin under Conversion, Past Programs, Programs archive
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