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.


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
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
Register here.


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
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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child-baptism medium

A message from a young woman soon to be a mother sent to my Mixed and Matched column in the J-weekly.

I was raised Catholic but no longer practice. I’m pregnant and happy to raise my children Jewish, and my husband and I belong to a Conservative synagogue. We plan to take our baby to the mikvah. My mom wants the baby to be baptized even though she knows we plan to raise our baby Jewish. Mom says it’s not that big a deal, and why can’t I just do it? Also, I don’t see myself as Jewish now, but what if at some point I do? — Anxious mom-to-be

Dear mom-to-be: If it really weren’t that big a deal, your mother could let go of it. Ask her to tell you why it matters to her.

If your mother fears that your child will not be saved, you should encourage her to speak to her priest, as the Catholic Church has been moving toward accepting the Jews as a covenantal people.

If she fears that Jews go to hell, let me offer a lovely paper written by the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. In “A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People,” the scholars ask whether God would revoke a promise and conclude that the answer is no. Therefore, they determine, the covenant between God and the Jews remains intact, valid and eternal. Because the Jews are in a “saving covenant with God,” it means they are not going to hell. You can find the paper online.

If your mother’s desire is more of a gut reaction because this is how she was raised and how she sees the world, you will need to address her claim that this isn’t a big deal. It is obviously one to her, and she needs to understand that it is also a big deal to you and your husband.

Baptism is the ritual that officially says a person has entered the body of the Catholic Church. It is the wrong ritual for a child who will grow up as a member of the Jewish people.

Try to help your mom see that baptism, circumcision, receiving a Hebrew name and other religious acts performed to welcome a baby are in fact very important. The rituals that parents choose are a declaration of who their child is and the foundation of the child’s religious identity. Birth rituals affirm a baby’s entrance into a spiritual community. In return, that community accepts the responsibility of caring for the child.

Here’s another way to think about it: Is this ritual important enough to take pictures? Typically people have photos of their babies and family at christenings, brises, baptisms and namings. These photos are shown to children as they get older and explained as important moments in their lives. The pictures we use to fill our photo albums or display in our homes reveal what we value. Doing both ceremonies reduces the status of each. Hopefully your mother can see that for your child’s sake, one message is easier.

If she is worried that her grandchild will not understand her and her religion and therefore will not be close to her, please reassure her that this is not the case. Children naturally attach to grandparents based on love. Also, her grandchild will be raised in America, where Christianity is the dominant religion; there is no way the child will not come to know about it.

Additionally, this is a good time to discuss with your husband which holidays your family will share with your parents. I encourage you to include them in all of your Jewish celebrations and to identify elements from their tradition that will be shared with your child.

Finally, you mention that you might someday want to be Jewish. Indeed, that may happen. Have you given your mom subtle messages about this? Could her fear be more about losing you? If so, lavish some extra time on your mother.

If you are simply acknowledging that anything can happen — I say, time will tell. If someday you want to be Jewish, discuss this with your rabbi and other Jews by choice. Those who have chosen this path can help you figure out how and what to say to your mother.

Posted by admin under Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family, Parenting
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Jew-ish horizontal

A couple years ago I heard a mother interviewed on NPR. She was talking about her son, now a young adult, who had overcome serious learning disabilities. She said that her son had told her that despite all that he had gone through he would not wish away his condition because it had made him who he was. But, she said, as his mother, “I would wish he had not had these difficulties. I believe that he would still be a terrific person without the suffering.”

Often when I read stories written by young people about overcoming adversity, I think of that mother. Would the parents of these individuals want them to have endured their hard times? Are there not enough difficulties in life already, so that one need not add another “special” thing?

I felt this again when I hear some of the stories of adults of interfaith families. They had taken long and sometimes, trying, journeys to find their Jewish identities. In fact, some are still at it.

There are two groups that can make a difference to these individuals.

One is their own parents. Parents can shoulder the lion’s share of sorting out what a child will be taught, choosing an identity and giving it freely to the child, developing a spiritual community that will support that identity, sacrifice personal wants in order to give the child a strong foundation. The parents can be willing to hear hard questions, make tough decisions, determine when it is time for a course correction. They can tell the truth, admit error, try again. They can demonstrate strength, commitment, faith in the child, and an equilibrium in the family choices. They can be ready to change what isn’t working and they can be firm about parental responsibilities that don’t please a child’s passing whim.

Two is the Jewish community. Jews in every part of the community can be willing to accept a seeking child/young adult. We can have no age limit, a seeker may be 70 and still be a beginner at Judaism. We can be willing to teach, to befriend, to answer. Slow to judge. Ready to embrace. Jews can, as one rabbi put it, “cross the bridge into their world to be with them for a moment as a person.” We can be patient, we can believe in a process over an instant fix. We can allow time for these individuals to figure out what they want. We can remember that, “It is not our task to complete the work, nor are we free to desist from it.”

What have we got to lose? Our angst or our children?

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Parenting
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thank you god book65-8_LRG

An Early Childhood Educator once told me, “Children are organically spiritual.” Children naturally explore the non-physical world. They wonder about it. For children, the whole world is new. They are curious and will hear from friends, TV, the internet, commercials, etc. about God. They will wonder about God. Is God really a man? Does he have a beard? Can you see God? Have you seen God, Mom? Whether you personally have a God concept or not, chances are that our society will give your children one – an American, socially appropriate concept. However, that concept may not sit well with you. So how CAN we talk to our children about God?

Begin by asking your child what they believe. Do they believe in “God”? If so, what is God like? See what things they say that you can affirm.

Working with your spouse or a good friend, try to articulate your own God concept – or your reason for disbelief. Put words to it. Make it real to you. Then listen to their beliefs and interpretations. I hope that you pick someone with whom you do not entirely agree; because, believe me, neither you nor I actually know what God is. Once you have a way to describe what you believe, you have something tangible to tell your child. You may express some doubt too, like “no one has ever seen God so no one knows exactly what God is like.” You may tell your child, “When you said X it made me really think.” Children can have some pretty profound ideas.

Then there is the challenge of sharing your ideas, plus those of your child’s other parent, into age appropriate words. What if the two of you disagree? Do you have to have an agreed upon message for your child? What if your child is going to Hebrew school and bringing home bible stories that anthropomorphize God and it’s driving you mad? What do you say to your child, your spouse, the clergy?

Rabbis have amazing conversations about God with children. They are pretty used to it and can help you sort out what you want to say to your child. In fact, all clergy are confronted with this task daily. Go talk to your rabbi, minister or priest. Share your awkward, unrealistic, doubting thoughts. Trust me, they won’t be surprised. Go as a couple.

Do you need to be on the same page as parents? Yes, it is best if you are. But you don’t have to believe the same thing. Perhaps what you’ll both be telling your child is, “Mommy believes in God, but Daddy doesn’t. Here’s why we each think as we do. No one knows for sure about God so we all are just trying to figure it out. We have decided to raise you Jewish/Christian/Hindu so you’ll get to learn from rabbi/minister/priest how Judaism/Christianity/Hinduism understands God. As you get older you’ll keep thinking and you’ll be able to tell us what ideas have come to you.”

This is a time when your interfaith family can come in quite handy. You can point out that Grandma doesn’t believe in God but she always goes to synagogue because she believes in keeping the Jewish people together. Grandpa believes in Jesus but doesn’t really like to go to church so he prays at home. Aunt Julie is an atheist; she can’t decide whether there’s a God or not, but she believes in being a good person so she chose to be a doctor.

Your core message about God will reflect those things that you want to see in your own and your child’s life. Is that kindness, service to others, patience, acceptance of the ideas of others? You will tie these actions/values to the way you speak of the BIG things in life: God, Purpose, Meaning.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, God, Parenting, Spirituality
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I don’t like the way emotions make me feel!

This classic teenage line was spoken by my own daughter during a teen *moment*. She knew what she was saying was silly but she also hated the roller coaster of emotion that teens are heir to. We all have feelings that we’d like to discard at times.

I thought of that line when a dear man I know, the Christian spouse in an interfaith family, said to me, “It’s so hard to worry about how the kids respond to various religious practices. Couldn’t we do what we want and hope it all turns out fine?” Of course he was joking, kind of. I had to give him a hug because it was clear that he didn’t relish the idea of digging down into feelings and all that murky stuff. Seriously though, there are far more parents who avoid that conversation than who make identity formation a conscious part of their parenting job. Why? Primarily two reasons – one, they really don’t have any idea how to even discuss identity with their spouse and kids. Two, it feels uncomfortable, to down right painful, to be out of sync with your partner.

I get it.

“Thank God, we’re not stuck anymore!” is the most common phrase I hear from couples after we’ll talked. It really doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. Think of it like cleaning out the hall closet. Everybody’s stuff is in there. You’re not sure what to do with the belongings of others. It will take time. What if your spouse wants to toss your favorite old sweater? So think of me as a professional organizer. We’ll sort through all that “stuff”, create some order and priorities. We’ll finish up with a plan to keep the closet neat in the future. Think of me as the Konmari of relationships.

You can even test drive the experience by coming to my Growing Up Interfaith Conference on May 22 and FOR FREE hearing lots of ideas on how to have a peaceful family relationship for everyone involved. Go ahead, sign up now. You’ll be glad + there are snacks.

Pirke Avot Study (San Mateo)
Friday Night Lights: The Lag b’Omer Virtual Bonfire Edition (Palo Alto)
Cab Shabbat (San Francisco)
Mizmor Shir! (Oakland)
Jewish Film Series Presents: Mamele (Los Altos Hills)
Preparing for Revelation (Berkeley)
Tikkun Leyl Shavuot – All Night Study (Berkeley)
Kol Truah (Alameda)

Pirke Avot Study
Come study this short and fun Talmud tractate full of pithy sayings and wisdom with Cantor Doron! It’s traditionally studied on Shabbat afternoons between Passover and Shavuot. Texts will be provided or bring your own from home if you have them.

Dates: May 14, 21, 28; June 4 and 11
Time: During Shabbat Kiddush lunch from 12:45-1:30 p.m.
Place: Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay Ave, San Mateo

Achshav Yisrael Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration
All are invited to our community celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)! Join us to celebrate the 68th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

There will be fun, food, and activities for the whole family: Israeli musician Lior Ben-Hurand his band, Sol Tevel, will perform in Koret Hall — come ready to dance! There will also be a film screening (Dancing in Jaffa), a variety of activities for families and kids on Eva Gunther Plaza, tasty Israeli goodies and drinks, and opportunities for schmoozing and reflecting on Israel’s accomplishments and challenges in the last 68 years.

Date: Sunday, May 15
Time: 3 to 5:30pm
Place: Congregation Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave, San Francisco
Tickets and info here

Friday Night Lights: The Lag b’Omer Virtual Bonfire Edition
This program for the six and under crowd and their families features Shabbat singing, a light dinner, activities for the children including our featured Friday Night Lights Scavenger Hunt, and wine, cheese and conversation (without the children) for the grown-ups. This program is free and open to all, but please let us know you’re coming so we can plan appropriately.

Date: Friday, May 20
Time: 5:45pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Cab Shabbat
Yes, that’s ‘cab’ as in cabernet! Kabbalat Shabbat Service featuring melodies by Shlomo Carlebach, led by Jeff Dielle, and wine and cheese pairings, led by Ken Mitchell.

Date: Friday May 20
Time: 7:30pm
Place: B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval St., San Francisco

Mizmor Shir!
Mizmor Shir! is a popular phrase found in the Book of Psalms which means ‘Sing a Song,’ and was used during ancient times to direct the Levites, the musicians in the Temple in Jerusalem. Psalm 150 lists the many instruments the Levites played in the Temple as they sang the liturgy during worship. Some of these instruments include: cymbals, harp, lyre, drums, strings and shofar.
In the spirit of the Levites and our ancient heritage, we have created our own Mizmor Shir!Shabbat service featuring guitar, mandolin, percussion, piano, clarinet and flute.

Date: Friday, May 20
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Jewish Film Series Presents: Mamele
A Sparkling Gem Starring Molly Picon
Molly Picon, “Queen of the Yiddish Musical,” shines in Mamele (little mother), as the dutiful daughter who keeps her family intact after the death of their mother. She’s so busy cooking, cleaning, and matchmaking for her brothers and sisters that she has little time for herself – until she discovers the violinist across the courtyard! The film is free and refreshments will be served.

Date: Saturday, May 21
Time: 3:30pm
Place: In the Beit Kehillah building of Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
More information here

Preparing for Revelation
Join Rabbi Shefa Gold in counting the days of the Omer, as we are preparing ourselves to become the vessels for God’s Presence and messengers for the Divine Word. God instructs Moses to tell us to make ourselves holy for the Day of Revelation, to wash our garments and get ready!
We will joyfully prepare for revelation with this evening of Hebrew Chant. The Chant will help us connect with our longing for Truth, clear our minds, open our hearts and strengthen our commitment to receive Torah anew.

Date: Thursday June 9
Time: 7-9:30pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince St, Berkeley
Cost: General Public: Advance $25 /at the door $30; Members: Advance $20 /at the door $25
Details here

Tikkun Leyl Shavuot – All Night Study
Get ready for a unique celebration and night of learning – a spiritual journey bringing together people from a variety of perspectives and affiliations. Come for an hour or stay all night, joined by teachers from our diverse Bay Area Jewish community.

Saturday, June 11 – Sunday, June 12 (6pm – 7am)
JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St in Berkeley
co-sponsored by Chochmat HaLev

For most updated info, please check www.jcceastbay.org/tikkun
Childcare provided – pre registration required by June 10
Volunteers Needed! Please contact the office.

Kol Truah
We don’t think great music should disappear, so we’ve put together a volume of what we hop will be many concerts. Come hear us reprise favorites from the past 12 years, and if you don’t hear your own favorite, let us know! The only theme is that we love this music and we know you will too.

Featured on the program will be Ladino, Yiddish, Hebrew, English, Sephardic, old, new, liturgical… well, a mishmash of music!

Date: June 23
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Suggested donation: $15 general, $10 for students and seniors
For more information contact Cantor Pamela Sawyer at cantorpam@koltruah.org or go to their website.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Parenting, Relationships
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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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It can be hard to hear another person when the words in your head are drowning out their voice.

Definition of "shema"

Definition of “shema”

Everyone deserves to be heard out. If someone else’s experience is being blotted out by your own pain you may need to be heard out before you can listen to that person. Try to sort out what is YOUR reaction from what the other person is talking about.

A thoughtful man wrote to me about a letter I’d published regarding a young person who chose to have an Orthodox conversion. That decision was up to the young woman, but this man’s pain made it hard to differentiate between her choice and his distress.

Though you tried to respond to the woman’s angst about her not-kosher-enough conversion in your March 11 column (“Conversion didn’t grant ‘born-Jewish privilege,’”), I am saddened by your seemingly bland acceptance that these basically bigoted ultra-Orthodox are the sole and final arbiters of who is a Jew.

If one is truly interested in “building Jewish bridges,” these folks are certainly terrible obstructionists, and in my opinion should be called out on every occasion possible.

This issue really came home to me — a 100 percent Jew, son of a Reform rabbi — when our elder daughter went to Israel with her confirmation class 28 years ago. My wife is half-Jewish — the wrong half — though American Reform congregations now recognize patrilineal descent. We have raised our children to embrace their Jewish identity. My daughter, then age 16, was invited to a home Shabbos dinner where she was told in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t really Jewish, and if she should ever want to make aliyah (which she doesn’t) that she would have to beg the indulgence of a rigid old man (my characterization) and have a “real” conversion.

Although I have mostly enjoyed your columns and generally admire your work, you can sign me — Very Disappointed

I’m so glad he wrote because he clearly has valid pain also.

Read my reply here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Conversion, In the News, In their own words, Mixed & Matched, Parenting
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That's not funny

That’s not funny

“My wife and I knew that raising biracial Jewish kids meant there would be situations when people would question their Jewish authenticity. We thought about scenarios that could come up. We brainstormed how to response and how to teach the kids to respond. We told them, “You owe nobody an explanation. No one has the right to question you about who you are or where you come from.”

Join us on May 22nd to hear from parents and children in interfaith families. Hear how being biracial and Jewish impacts kids.

Growing Up Interfaith | May 22 | 1pm to 5:15pm | Temple Sinai, Oakland

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Parenting
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Christmas tree and menorah

My mom and I are Jewish, my dad is Catholic. Growing up we were members of a synagogue and I went to Hebrew school. When I got close to my bat mitzvah it suddenly hit me, We have a Christmas tree! I went to my parents and said, “We have to stop having a tree. We’re Jewish!” My mother said quite calmly, “I have the Christmas tree for your dad, not for you. You don’t have to have one when you have your own home but here, we will have a tree.”

I was 12 so I didn’t exactly think she was right and I was wrong, but I did realize that it was not about me or my Jewishness.

Join us May 22nd in Oakland, CA to hear first person stories from adults who grew up in interfaith families. More info here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, In their own words, Parenting
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Helena Karen me Laurie

Women are typically more comfortable discussing the challenges of their marriage and parenting. So when husbands balk at coming to a program Women in Interfaith Relationships is a great option because the women can attend and take the good ideas home to share. I am not saying that men never discuss these things, only that women are generally more comfortable doing so. If you are a woman in a heterosexual relationship it doesn’t matter what your religion is or the religion of your partner, chances are that you are carrying the lion’s share of home making and child rearing. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many women have told me, “I prefer to be in charge of the house and children.” Still there are times when you want your spouse to step up. It’s pretty obvious that if you are raising the kids in his religion he should put effort into making that run as smoothly as possible. But even if you are one of those women who is thinking, “I’m just grateful that he is letting me raise the kids Jewish; I don’t want to ask for more” let me remind you that they are still his kids and being a father has responsibilities. Your husband may not enjoy the ballet but if your child is having a ballet recital, he goes. He may not have much love of soccer but he still takes the kids to practice and goes to their games. I hope many of you will join me for the Nov. 19 program at Beth Am in Los Altos to share ideas, questions and solutions to the everyday problems of running your home.

Shabbat Tots ‘n’ Torah (Burlingame)
Eat, Sing, Connect: Friday Evening Shabbat Celebration (Berkeley)
Sababa Shabbat (Oakland)
Jewish Time Travel (San Jose)
Tot Shabbat Morning (Lafayette)
San Francisco’s Own Norton I, Emperor of the United States (San Francisco)
From Pioneers to City Slackers Film Screening (San Francisco)
Women in Interfaith Relationships (Los Altos)
Concert with Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn (Tiburon)
‘Almost Chanukah!’ Fair (Berkeley)
Pop-Up Jewish Marin: Almost Hanukkah! (San Rafael)
The Road to Character by David Brooks (San Rafael)
Hanukkah Celebration and Crafts Fair (San Francisco)
Annual Chanukah Party (Castro Valley)
The East Bay Hanukkah Party (Berkeley)
American Jews & Christmas (Oakland)

Shabbat Tots ‘n’ Torah
Shabbat songs and prayers, Torah parade, and a special interfaith family blessing, followed by a kid-friendly dinner.

Date: Friday, November 13
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost for adults is $10, children $5. Click here to RSVP.

Eat, Sing, Connect: Friday Evening Shabbat Celebration
Slow down and relax … it’s Shabbat! Gather in a beautiful home setting for a brief service in Jewish Gateways’ tradition of music and meaningful reflection, then enjoy a potluck dinner and time to connect as a community.
All are welcome, and no experience is necessary. The event is free.

Friday, November 13
Private home in Berkeley
Register here
More info here

Sababa Shabbat
Come celebrate Shabbat with us! Pizza dinner at 5:30, service starts at 6:00 in the Albers Chapel, oneg following at 6:30. Join other families with kids to make some new friends.

Date: Friday, November 13
Time: 5:30-7:00pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: The pizza dinner is $25/family
Please RSVP for the pizza dinner here

Jewish Time Travel
Experience Jewish life in the 1800s at History Park: Hands-on Jewish and general activities in the school house, homes, fire station, bank, fruit barn and more.
Enjoy the charm of vintage ice cream parlor & snacks, free popcorn, live music, singing quartet, Jewish and Western dancing, films and talks about Jewish live in the 1800s, gold panning, old time photos, 1800’s games and more.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 14
Time: 7-9:30pm
Place: History Park, 635 Phelan Ave., San Jose
Cost: Advance tickets are $15 adults, $7 kids and teens 4 and up, 3 and under is free
At door tickets are $18 adults, $9 kids age 4 and up, 3 and under free.
Free Parking
RSVP & Info: www.beth-david.org/timetravel

Tot Shabbat Morning
Geared toward families with children up to 5 years old, Tot Shabbat is an interactive and friendly Shabbat experience. Enjoy food, activities and prayer with other young families. All are welcome.

Date: Saturday, November 14
Time: 9:30am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road, Lafayette, in the Adult Lounge
RSVP for FREE bagel brunch www.temple-isaiah.org/totshabbat

San Francisco’s Own Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico
San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society

A Jewish businessman originally from England and South Africa, Joshua Abraham Norton arrived in San Francisco in 1849 with $40,000, which after some shrewd investing increased to $250,000 (about $3 million today). After losing his fortune to a bad rice investment, Norton disappeared, returning to San Francisco in 1859 and declaring himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. In any other city, he would have been dismissed as a madman, but the people of San Francisco embraced his reign.

Date: Sunday, November 15
Time: 1:30pm
Place: Rhoda Goldman Plaza, 2180 Post Street, San Francisco
Coffee and tea will be served. Meetings are free and everyone interested is welcome to attend. More information here.

From Pioneers to City Slackers:
The Evolving Image of Israelis On the Silver Screen

Israeli cinema is cutting-edge and exciting, and offers a wonderful glimpse into the nuances of Israeli society. Join us to learn about the evolution of Israeli cinema with Dr. Eran Kaplan, an expert on Israeli film and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Israel Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. This will be an interactive presentation, including film clips, a conversation with Dr. Kaplan, and a chance to dialogue on the issues. Popcorn and refreshments will be served. This event is presented in partnership with the Jewish Film Institute.

Date: Sunday, November 15
Time: 3 – 5pm
Place: Koret Hall, Congregation Beth Sholom 301 14th Avenue, San Francisco
Cost: $10 per person. Purchase your tickets on Universe.
Parents, please note that childcare for kids one year and older will be available onsite for the cost of $5 per child. This fee can be paid directly on the ticket sales page.

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.

Concert with Kirtan Rabbi Andrew Hahn
Join us for a unique evening of meditation, music, and community spirit with the Kirtan Rabbi and special musical guest artists. Enjoy Hebrew chants, soothing vocals, dreamy loops, and hypnotic world rhythms drawn from the Torah, the siddur (Jewish prayer book), and Jewish mysticism.

Date: Sat, Nov. 21
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr, Tiburon
$15 for Kol Shofar members; $20 for the public.
RSVP to Ricki Singer at rsinger@kolshofar.org or 4150388-1818 x100.

‘Almost Chanukah!’ Fair
Featuring: live music; Chanukah latkes and treats; arts and crafts by Bay Area artists; Fair Trade Judaica from around the world; children’s books; menorahs, dreidels and candles; Fair Trade Chanukah chocolate; and a jumpy house!
Participate in a holiday gift drive: Bring a gift card or other holiday gift for a teen in need.
All are welcome!

Date: Sunday, November 22
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm
Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley
Sponsored by Congregation Netivot Shalom and co-sponsored by: URJ Camp Newman, Camp Tawonga, Camp Ramah of Northern California, Tehiyah Day School, Oakland Hebrew Day School, The Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay. Learn about local Jewish summer camps, Jewish day schools, and programs and opportunities for families.

Pop-Up Jewish Marin: Almost Hanukkah!
Meet us at Northgate Mall in Terra Linda for “almost Hanukkah” festivities! Explore global Jewish life and celebratory traditions from around the world: join Be’chol Lashon in making potpourri bags filled with aromatic spices to brighten up our senses. Find out more about the upcoming Festival of Lights, the Osher Marin JCC’s free, open-to-all Hanukkah celebration on December 6th! Learn more about Winter Camp 2015! Taking the fun and magic from our summer camp, Winter Camp offers arts and crafts, swimming, sports, music and more – and NEW this year – Winter Camp will include a New Year’s Eve Overnight! Sign up for one day or sign up for them all. Find out how Brandeis Marin’s dynamic programming for children K-8 grade, and find out how their programs and approach uniquely align with our Marin community!

Date: Sunday, November 22
Time: 12-3pm
Place: Northgate Mall, Inside Central Atrium, San Rafael
Free to All!
Presented by the Osher Marin JCC & Be’chol Lashon with Marin JCC Camp, Brandeis Marin & Kesher
Info: online here or email Heidi Sanders at hsanders@marinjcc.org

The Road to Character by David Brooks
with Rabbi Stacy Friedman

In The Road to Character, David Brooks focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success. Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “resume virtues” – achieving wealth, fame and status – and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed. Blending psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional, The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.

Date: Sunday, December 6
Time: 10:00 – 11:10am
Place: JCC Lounge, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
RSVP to Molly at molly@rodefsholom.org.

Hanukkah Celebration and Crafts Fair
It’s not too early to mark your calendars for our annual Hanukkah Celebration and Crafts Faire. We will have entertainment (Jewish Folk Chorus), lots of beautiful crafts, jewelry and of course, Hanukkah and other gift items from our B’nai Emunah Gift Shop. Yes, of course, we’ll have home-made latkes and a variety of children’s games and crafts.

Date: Dec. 6
Time: 11:30am to 3:30pm
Place: B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval St, San Francisco

Annual Chanukah Party
TriValley Cultural Jews is pleased to announce our annual Chanukah party. We will have a secular humanistic candle lighting ceremony, latkes, dreidles, friends, and fun! Please bring a potato, a menorah to light, and a side dish to share.
Free tickets available at https://goo.gl/tOzOr6.

Date: Friday, December 11
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Private home, the Ireland home, located at 19663 Fremery Court, Castro Valley
RSVP to Jamie Ireland at 510-888-1404 or jdireland@att.net.

The East Bay Hanukkah Party
Celebrate the last night of Hanukkah with a party that has something for everyone.
Latkes and other holiday treats, a variety of great kids’ programs, crafts for adults and for families, adult learning with Rabbi Bridget, and Hanukkah music and singing with the amazingly talented Isaac Zones.
All are welcome! Find the schedule and other info

Date: Sunday, December 13
Time: 3:30-6:00pm
Place: Jewish Community Center, Berkeley
Cost: $12 for adults / $6 for kids (2 – 12 years) / Free for children under 2 / Price includes all food and activities. No one turned away for lack of funds.
Sign up here.

American Jews & Christmas
with Dr. Shaina Hammerman

Begin to unravel Jewish anxieties surrounding Christmas in America by analyzing a legal case, a Grace Paley story, an episode of Frasier, a series of interfaith greeting cards, and an SNL sketch, and discuss how Christmas became a touchstone for American Jewish identity. Students are strongly encouraged to read in advance the six-page short story The Loudest Voice by Grace Paley. http://www.lehrhaus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Paley-LoudestVoice.pdf

Date: Sunday, December 13
Time: 9:30-11:00am
Place: Temple Sinai, in the Albers Chapel, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free, but please register here

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