Thu 30 Oct 2014
Halloween is the second biggest holiday in America according to KCBS News. Did you know that? I sure didn’t. Yes, I’ve noticed that Halloween has become dramatically more marketable than it was when I was a kid, or even when my own kids were little. Costumes are no longer homemade – with the hobo costume, your dad’s work shirt and some charcoal smudges on your face being the easiest. Gone are the paper bags, left over from grocery shopping. Now you can buy it all – costumes of all shapes and sizes, yard and house decorations, candy of all sorts, pre-shaped jack o’lantern cake pans, you name it. What does KCBS mean by “second biggest holiday in America”? They mean it generates a huge amount of money. Second only to… well, you know.
On the Jewish calendar we are in the quiet period of no holidays, other than Shabbat, from Simchat Torah to Chanukkah. For American Jews this period may include Halloween and most likely does include Thanksgiving.
What is Halloween? It is Christianity, really Catholicism, absorbing a Pagan holiday. It’s origin is All Hallows Eve.
For the rabbis this has clear and strong Christian and Pagan meanings. So in traditional Jewish homes there would not be a Halloween observance. Many people, Jewish or Christian or atheist, don’t resonate to the religiosity of the holiday and just like it for the candy and dressing up.
Live a life of intention
My first suggestion is that rather than tossing aside the meaning of the holiday and just jumping into the candy, live intentionally.
Learn about the holiday. It has things to teach us about our culture and the cultures of others.
Make a conscious decision to do, or not do, Halloween in your family. Don’t do Halloween “because everybody does.” That’s never a good reason and you don’t want to teach it to your children.
There are Challah-ween events going on around the bay. Urban Adamah has this event.
Of course, be safe, be sure that any costumes worn by your children allow for ease of movement and sufficient warmth. Have your kids bring their candy home to show you before then eat it. It is unlikely that there will be anything bad among the goodies but there’s no harm is being sure. Plus, you should monitor the sugar consumption since you probably want them to go to bed without a stomachache.
I hope to see some of you this Sunday, Nov. 2 at the Peninsula JCC for:
Religious & Cultural Identity for Your Child
Choosing a religious identity for your child is often the hardest thing an interfaith couple faces. If both of you are attached to your religious/cultural heritage you may have gotten stuck in a circular conversation that nobody wins. How can you get free and make a decision?
Or, perhaps you have made a decision, Christian or Jewish. But having done so, what do you do if you’ve chosen Christianity? What do you do if you’ve chosen Judaism?
Three workshops, come to one or come to all of them:
What Religion Will We Pick for our Child? We Can’t Decide
This decision feels hard. Couples want to be fair to each other; they know how important their spouse feels about their religion, but what about mine? Can we do both? How does that work? In this workshop we’ll discuss tools for making a decision, key elements to consider and how to test out your choice. – Nov. 2
One of Us is Jewish but We’ve Chosen Christianity, Now What?
The Christian spouse knows how to ‘do’ Christianity and is supported in this by our American Christian culture, but you may still want to introduce a concept of Jewish heritage to your child. We’ll discuss how to offer the concept of Jewish roots without disrupting your child’s Christian identity. – Nov. 9
Raising a Jewish Child in an Interfaith Home
You’ve made the big decision – we’ll raise our child(ren) as Jews. Now what? Does this mean no Christmas or Easter? How do we interact with our non-Jewish family’s holidays? What synagogue should we join and how can we ask for specific support in our process? Is a lot of the effort falling on a non-Jewish woman who doesn’t have a gut feeling for Judaism; how can she be supported? Let’s talk about how to integrate non-Jewish family and their holiday expectations, what to say to parents and siblings, what you can expect from a synagogue community and how to support the non-Jewish parent. – Nov. 16
*If the non-Jewish spouse is not Christian but a different minority religion like Hindi or Buddhist, a different set of issues arise. Living with two minority religions in America presents its own challenges.
Come to one or the entire series.
Sundays, Nov. 2, 9, 16
3pm to 4:30pm
Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
Cost: Series of three sessions: $25 for members of the sponsoring organizations; $30 for the public
Individual session: $10 to members of the sponsoring organizations; $12 to the public.
Co-sponsored by Peninsula Jewish Community Center, Peninsula Temple Beth El, Peninsula Sinai Congregation, Peninsula Temple Sholom.
I wish you a wonderful end of October; don’t forget to have something pumpkin flavored – ice cream, muffins, something!
Family Cooking Havurah: Challah-it forward & Build Community, Together! (Palo Alto)
Roots & Branches (Berkeley)
Happy Holidays? Understanding December Dilemmas in the Context of Interfaith Families (San Francisco)
Jewish Self-Care (Oakland)
Shabbat Yafe! (Berkeley)
Junior Jews (San Rafael)
Jewish Wisdom at Journey’s End (Oakland)
Is it Good for the Jews? (Palo Alto)
Rock and Roll Shabbat! (Oakland)
An Evening with Maggie Anton (Pleasanton)
Family Cooking Havurah: “Challah-it forward” & Build Community, Together!
Discover the joys of baking together as a family, and then “bake it forward” by donating some of what you make to the wider community!
In this hands-on family series, participants will bake Jewish breads from all over the world, and learn what our tradition has to say about the importance of giving. A portion of each session will be devoted to the creation of an interactive shadow puppet show based on the folktale that helped inspire the “Challah-it-Forward” movement. All ages are welcome!
Dates: Sundays, November 2, November 9, November 23, December 7
Place: Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, Rooms E-116 & E-118 (inside the preschool)
Cost: $25 per Family
Registration information here.
Roots & Branches
with Rabbi Kahn
You are welcome to join Rabbi Yoel Kahn’s open-ended, on-going exploration of the texts and ideas of the Jewish tradition continues this Fall. This year’s topic is Ketuvim, The Writings, the third section of the Hebrew Bible. Everyone is welcome.
Date: Begins November 2, continues on Sundays through May 2015
Time: 9:15 – 10:30 am
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Happy Holidays? Understanding December Dilemmas in the Context of Interfaith Families
As the December holiday season approaches, interfaith families often want to know how to respect and honor each others’ religious holidays, while at the same time, finding a level of participation in family traditions that they can feel comfortable with.
Join Rabbi Beth Singer for a candid conversation as we learn from each other “best practices” of how to handle what may be a delicate subject!
Date: Tuesday, November 4
Time: 7:00 – 9:00pm
Place: Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
Learn more here.
A 3-Part Series
Join us for a three-part workshop exploring Jewish Self-Care. In the first meeting, Julie Emden of Jewish LearningWorks will lead a Iyengar-based yoga session infused with teachings and themes from Torah. Jeanette Gross will lead the second session, a sacred chant healing circle, designed to bring energy and healing to ourselves and our loved ones. We’ll conclude with Gavriel Strauss who will discuss how Jewish tradition incorporates many forms of meditation and will then guide the group through some meditative practice.
Date: Thursdays, November 6, 13, and 20
Place: Temple Sinai, in the Albers Chapel, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $45 for series/$18 for individual classes.
Register for the full series or for individual dates here. Or call Lehrhaus at 510-845-6420.
Mah yafe hayom ~ How beautiful is this day!
Celebrate Shabbat together with an all-ages service & spirited song-leading! This Shabbat Yafe service features a Tot Service at 5pm, Catered Dinner (you must register in advance for dinner) at 5:30, Service at 6:15 pm followed by an Oneg & Community Activity at 7pm. This month’s theme is Sameach B’chelko, Gratitude.
Want to give your kid or grandkid some deeper Jewish roots?
Want to empower them to become the biggest mensch s/he can be? Then join us once a month for some great singing, some great playing and some great learning. Join our clergy and educators for this family-friendly hour in the JCC Lounge. RSVP to Molly at email@example.com. Bring your friends and/or come and make some new ones!
Dates: Select Sundays, now scheduled are November 9 & December 7
Time: 10:00 – 11:00am
Place: In the Marin JCC Lounge, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Sponsored by Congregation Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Jewish Wisdom at Journey’s End
Join a discussion on Jewish burial and mourning practices. This will be a fascinating look at Jewish traditions in planning, burying, and mourning with Rabbi Mates-Muchin and our friendly Cemetery Administrator, Robin Reiner, at our own Home of Eternity. Wear comfy shoes for a short tour.
Got questions like:
Can Jews choose cremation?
What about my non-Jewish family?
Death and taxes may be certain, but what will it all cost?
There’s no more graves available here…or are there?
Truffles will be served to celebrate the cemetery’s 150th anniversary.
Date: Sunday, November 9
Place: Home of Eternity, 4712 Fairfax Ave, Oakland
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it Good for the Jews?
A Lecture Series with Professor Marc Dollinger
The civil rights movement, long considered the high point of Jewish liberal activism, actually masked deeper and more complex dynamics in American Jewish life. Join us for a year-long exploration of Jews and power, culminating in a two-generation presentation on American Jews and our relationship to the rebirth of Jewish life in modern Poland.
The promise of freedom and equality in modern times granted Jews, especially those in the United States, unprecedented access to the corridors of power. Jews, especially since World War II, have enjoyed the privileges of whiteness, even as their population has become even more diverse. We will explore the impact, benefits, and profound challenges of realizing the most elusive goal in all of diaspora Jewish history: civil equality in a Christian-dominated society.
Dates & Times: Tuesdays, November 11, January 13, February 10, March 10 & May 12
8:00pm on February 10, March 10, & May 12.
7:30pm on November 11 & January 13
Place: Room E-104 at the Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Cost: $50 Members, $60 Non-Members per series in advance | $15 per lecture at the door
Registration information here.
Rock and Roll Shabbat!
Join Rabbi Bloom and the Temple Beth Abraham Band for a rockin’ Shabbat service! To be followed by a Family Shabbat Chicken dinner! A vegetarian option is available ONLY when requested in advance.
Date: Friday, Nov. 14
Place: Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Cost: $18/adult; $7/child (4 years and under are free)
You must send your check to Virginia at Beth Abraham by Nov 10. Her email confirming receipt is also your confirmation.
An Evening with Maggie Anton
Acclaimed Author of Rashi’s Daughters
Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.
The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter has conjured literary magic in the land where “abracadabra” originated. Maggie will discuss the research behind her exciting new historical novel, Enchantress.
Admission is free. Copies of all of Maggie Anton’s novels will be available for sale and signing.
Date: Wednesday, Nov 19
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, Social Hall, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
More info: Leslie Silberman – email@example.com