When you think “High Holy Days” what do you feel?

High Holy Days usher in a wide range of emotions for Jewish people. Some are looking forward to the solemn yet joyful services, seeing everyone at shul, gathering with the “usual crowd” for a special meal, going to tashlich and Breaking the Fast. Others dread what they perceive to be the depressing message of Yom Kippur, the fast (or the expectation that one will fast), the hot synagogue sanctuary, the Vidui (the confessional prayer), and the longer than usual services.

May a Jew is annoyed at the demands of the holidays. But who is making these demands? Typically, we are making them on ourselves. But it is much easier to project them onto someone else. “My rabbi expects everyone to come to services,” “my spouse wants me to go with him/her,” “my parents expect me to set an example for my kids.” Some of these may be true, some we are simply sure that others are thinking.

What to do about this? First, it is essential that you figure out what you want to do and what you feel obligated to do. Then figure out why you feel obligated and is it a good thing or a bad thing? As a parent I feel obligated to feed and clothe my children. I feel obligated to stay home with them when they are sick. As a spouse I feel obligated to spend time with my husband, to be an ear when he is troubled, to stand together with him when we are dealing with a challenging child. As a friend I feel obligated to make time to see my friends, to help them when they are sick or worried, to celebrate and mourn with them. My parents are dead. So I am no longer obligated to visit them, write letters, make phone calls.

I embrace my obligations to my children, spouse and friends. Frankly, I wish I still had my parents; I would welcome the responsibilities of that relationship.

Can you sort out which obligations you feel as a Jew – or a partner of a Jew – and determine which you embrace and which you find irritating? Until you really know what it is you want to do and don’t want to do and why, you won’t be able to make peace with the holiday or yourself. I invite you to join me this coming Sunday morning in Pleasanton at Beth Emek for: The High Holidays… Do I Want to or Do I Have to?

If you can’t make it but want to talk, just shoot me an email or give me a call.

Musical Early Childhood Sing Along (Tiburon)
The High Holidays…Do I Want to or Do I Have to? (Pleasanton)
Adults from Interfaith Families: A Roundtable Discussion (Berkeley)
Tot Shabbat (Pleasanton)
Preparation for the High Holy Days & Selichot Service (Richmond)
Exploring Judaism (Lafayette)
High Holiday Pop-Up in the Lobby (San Rafael)
Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays (Berkeley)
Introduction to Judaism (San Francisco)
Intro to Judaism (San Jose area)
Intro to Judaism (Burlingame)

Are the High Holy Days a good time to introduce my non-Jewish boyfriend to Judaism?

Musical Early Childhood Sing Along
with Rabbinic Intern Sam Rotenberg
Join Sam for this special musical experience – sing, dance, and get all jazzed up for the High Holy Days.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Time: 9:30- 10:30am
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon

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.

Tot Shabbat
Bring the babies and toddlers for our weekly playgroup. We have bagels and coffee and the snacks you bring to share. At 11 am, Rabbi Milder joins us for our Shabbat celebration, including songs, candle lighting, motzi, and kiddush. Kids have fun, adults have fun – come check it out!

Dates: Every Friday, Sept. 23, 30
Time: 10 am – Noon
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
For more information, contact Anna Kalman,

Preparation for the High Holy Days & Selichot Service
Prepare for the High Holy Days with Cantor Fran Burgess. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and explore the meaningful liturgy found in the Mishkan HaNefesh, Machzor for the Days of Awe. Cantor Fran and the High Holy Days Choir continue with a Havdalah ceremony followed by Selichot (forgiveness), a moving and beautiful service introducing the themes of the season through music and meditation. Selichot provides a quiet time for personal reflection and self examination.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Time: 8:00pm
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central, Richmond
For more information on Beth Hillel’s High Holy Day services, look 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. Books for the course will be Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, along with Michael Strassfeld’s The Jewish Holidays and The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. The books are not included in the price for the course. Taught by Rabbi Oren Postrel.

Year-long Course (22 sessions): Sundays, Sept 25 through May 7 (No class: 10/2, 10/23, 11/27, 12/18, 12/25, 1/1, 1/15, 2/19, 3/12, 4/9, 4/16)
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.
• Jewish Calendar & Holidays: How we Celebrate Together – 9/25, 10/9, 10/16, 10/30, 11/6, 11/13
• Jewish Life Passages and our Homes: How Jews Do Jewish – 11/20, 12/4, 12/11, 1/8, 1/22
• Jewish Text and History – 1/29, 2/5, 2/12, 2/26, 3/5
• Jewish Thought, Prayer, and Music – 3/19, 3/26, 4/2, 4/23, 4/30, 5/7

Dates: Sundays, beginning Sept. 25
Time: 9:00-10:00am
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School, 955 Risa Rd, Lafayette (Room 206 ) Immediately across the parking lot from Temple Isaiah.
Cost: The year long class is offered in 4 blocks. Tuition is $100/members; $250/non-members for the year or $30 per block for members; $70 per block for non-members.
Details here

High Holiday Pop-Up in the Lobby
Honey & reflection for a sweet New Year at our High Holiday pop-up in the Lobby!
During the holiday of Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish new year— it is time to take a moment to reflect on our past year and make resolutions for what’s to come. It is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey and to give gifts of honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, blessings and abundance.
At this pop-up in the Osher Marin JCC Lobby, drop by to:
Sample local apples, pick up a sweet honey treat, and discover the best places to go apple picking in Marin!
Participate in our High Holidays scavenger hunt—for kids and adults alike! Peruse a selection of holiday-related Judaica and gifts.
Find your high note! Blow your best tekiah in front of a captive audience with our shofar.
Everyone can make teshuvah (turning from where we missed the mark): make a holiday card for Jewish inmates at San Quentin.
Toss your regrets into a pool as we model the ritual of tashlich (using rubber duckies).
And more!

Date: Tues, September 27
Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Place: Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael

Bring the kids! No RSVP necessary.
Details here

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.
(This class is part of a three-unit series. You are welcome to take one or more in the series.)

Date: Wednesdays, October 19 – December 14 (no class 11/23)
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $105/public; $90/members of Beth El
Register here

Introduction to Judaism (2016-2017)
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. Mark your calendars now for the 2016-2017 classes:
Fall: Oct. 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15; Dec. 6, 13
Winter: Jan. 17, 24, 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28
Spring: Mar. 21, 28; Apr. 4, 25; May 2, 9, 16

Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member Cost: $54, Non-member cost: $75
Register here

Intro to Judaism
Introduction to Judaism is offered in partnership with our local Reform and Conservative congregations 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 celebrations, theology and prayer, Israel, history, and Hebrew. 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.
Whatever you are seeking, Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness and give you the skills necessary to “do Jewish”.

Dates: Tuesdays, November 1, 2016 to May 9, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Each class is at the facility associated with the teacher for that evening: Rabbi Aron at Congregation Shir Hadash; Rabbi Ohriner at Congregation Beth David; Rabbi Berkenwald at Congregation Sinai; Rabbi Magat at Temple Emanu-El; and Rabbi Seid-Valencia, the Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the APJCC.

Cost: $180 for an individual or a couple. Registration Fee includes one set of books for the class. For more information or to register, please contact the Center for Jewish Life and Learning at (408) 357-7411 or look here
Register here

Intro to Judaism
From concepts of God to Jewish history, learn the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice with our clergy. This ten-session course is perfect for interfaith couples, non-Jews considering conversion, and Jews looking for an adult-level introduction.

Dates: Mondays, November 7, 2016 – January 30, 2017
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Taught by Rabbis Dan Feder, Lisa Delson, and Molly Plotnik
Cost: Free for members of Peninsula Temple Sholom; $36 for non-members
For more information look on the synagogue’s website

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