Kim Carter Martinez is born Jewish and is tired of the questions: How did you get to be Jewish? OR How long have you been Jewish? She said, “I feel like saying, I got to be Jewish through my mother’s vagina.”

I told to go ahead and say that. People won’t forget.

Kim in her own words.

Kim at a Tour de Cure event (2)

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

I wanted to share with you this message that Rabbi Larry Milder sent to his congregation earlier this month.

Are You Intermarried? We Welcome You!

We are an intermarried congregation. I haven’t counted; I don’t know what the numbers are. It’s just an impression. Honestly, I don’t always know who is a Jew and who is not.

Things used to be different. When I began my career as a rabbi, back in the Pleistocene Age, intermarrieds were a cohort of members. They were a group, distinct. Sadly, they were sometimes marginal members, whether by their own choice or as a result of the reactions they received from in-marrieds.

It’s just not that way anymore. I don’t pretend for a moment that an intermarried family doesn’t have discussions that may be different from in-married families, or unique questions around extended family relationships. But something more fundamental has changed.

Intermarriage has moved from the periphery to the center of Jewish life, and that transition has taken place during our lifetime. We are a place where any Jew and his/her partner are integrated into the life of the congregation.

So, here is a shout out to all the non-Jewish moms and dads who bring their children to religious school, participate in family education, go to our early childhood programs, and learn Hebrew and Jewish prayers along the way. Here’s to all the non-Jewish partners, young adult and empty-nesters, who take classes, do social action projects, volunteer on committees and behind the scenes. Many are deeply moved by Judaism, and, while not Jewish themselves, hold Judaism and our traditions in high regard. Many are fellow travelers, understanding of their partner’s faith, and devoted to raising Jewish children. I am grateful for every hour you have put into what is a sacred task for us as a congregation. We simply could not achieve the raising of Jewish children, or realize our congregation’s potential, without your help.

Which leads me to a statement of Reform Jewish principles which bears repeating: Unlike the traditional movements of Judaism, we regard the child of either a Jewish mother or a Jewish father as potentially Jewish. We do not consider it an automatic identity; the parents must choose what religion their child will be, and must act upon that choice. But we do not follow the matrilineal descent principle which is practiced by Conservative and Orthodox Jews. We are egalitarian. A child may inherit his/her Judaism from either parent.

Sometimes, we take the commitments of intermarried couples for granted. That should not be the case. Their presence here in our congregation is a blessing to all of us. I hope that more will join us, and know that they are welcome here, too.

Rabbi Larry Milder is the spiritual leader of Beth Emek in Pleasanton, CA.
***

Are you looking for a synagogue that will be comfortable for an interfaith family? Don’t hesitate to call and make an appointment to speak with the rabbi. Be honest, say what you are looking for. If it isn’t a match, fine, shake hands and keep looking. If it is a match — then it’s good to be home!

Posted by admin under Community, Finding a Synagogue, Synagogues
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New Years Day

Happy 2016! This is a great time to commit to increase your understanding of your spouse/partner, learn more yourself and get to know others on the same path. Now is the time to consider what role your non-Jewish spouse will have in Jewish life. Time to think about how to balance your love of Judaism and your love of someone who isn’t Jewish. Time to ask, if the Jewish parent is Dad, how will our child be perceived & what can we do to strengthen their confidence in their own authenticity. And, of course, it’s always a good time to cook up delicious food and EAT it! I hope to see you at one of these events!

Bnai Tikvah bema

The Non-Jew in the Synagogue
Our synagogue is blessed to have many interfaith couples as members, many of whom are very involved. That involvement has led to some common questions. How should I behave in services; should I do what the Jews are doing – bow, recite the Hebrew? How should I deal with lines like, ‘thank you God for making me a Jew’ when I’m not a Jew? I wonder if I’ll be offending anyone by ‘acting’ like a Jew or by saying Shabbat Shalom or Shana Tovah. Does that make me an impostor? I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to touch the Torah.
For better or worse, every synagogue has its own customs. Come learn about the customs and traditions at B’nai Tikvah. We can also touch on common practice at other shuls if you are anticipating visiting elsewhere for a family simcha.

Date: Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here

chelsea Clinton smaller

Interlove Story: When Jews Love Non-Jews and Judaism
In 1994 Anne was a graduate student at Stanford University in the Film Department. For her Master’s Thesis she made a short film (9 minutes) about her parents’ intermarriage and titled it Interlove Story. In it she uses old family movies and current interviews with her parents to tell the story of their Catholic – Jewish marriage, the choices they made regarding religion in their home and the advice they gave her regarding her own relationship with a non-Jewish man. In her film, Anne does not propose any answers. She opens questions and relates choices, the choices that have brought her to be who she is.
There are some statements that jump off the screen – whether you agree or disagree, you’ll have an opinion.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here.

Jew dictionary definition

Patrilineal Descent, Reform Judaism & 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, March 13, 2016
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Free to members of B’nai Tikvah, $5/public
Sign up here.

Challah by Margee

Cooking Jewish Whether You’re Jewish or Not: Shabbat!
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the central observance or holy day of Judaism. Just about everything gives way before Shabbat – including Yom Kippur. Because it is the day that God gave us for rest and enjoyment, it should be a day of joy. It’s a great time to put something absolutely delicious on the table for Shabbat. How about warm bread, roasted chicken, a savory kugel, and a mouthwatering dessert. We won’t stop at the food. We’ll share lots of secrets for making Shabbat something worth staying home for, even if you have teenagers.

Date: May 1
Time: noon to 4pm
Place: Beth Am Congregation, in the kitchen
Cost: $35
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Couples, Current Programs, Finding a Synagogue, Food
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New Year Secular urj

We are delighted to offer a couple of special programs for Jews by Choice. Anyone is welcome to both of these. You don’t need to be a convert to attend.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Conversion to Judaism
Join a panel of Jews by choice and Rabbi Delson to learn all about conversion! Have you had questions like:
why do some people convert?
What changes in their lives?
What is the process of converting?
How do single people who convert integrate into Jewish community?
Is it harder for people of color to convert?
Are there things I should never ask of or say to a person I think is a convert?

Date: Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
Time: 9:15am to 10:45am
Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
Cost: $5 public; free to members of PTS and those working with the PTS rabbis.
Sign up here

This program is aimed at Jews by Choice but much of what will be discussed is applicable to interfaith families who are trying to figure out end of life choices. You are welcome to come and learn about Jewish mourning and burial practices.

Death and Mourning for the Jew by Choice
At some point we all lose loved ones. The person who has converted to Judaism will eventually be faced with mourning a non-Jewish relative. What is appropriate behavior for a Jewish mourner who has lost a non-Jewish loved one? What are the options for dealing with funeral masses, “visitations” at funeral homes, and the funeral itself? What about Jewish mourning practices, shiva and sheloshim? The potential for isolation is great, but certainly isolation is not what Jewish tradition seeks for a mourner!

A member of an interfaith family may have some of the same questions. How do I honor my loved one yet find comfort for myself?

Join Rabbi Ruth Adar for a two session class that is open to anyone interested in grieving in a multi-faith family with a special focus on how a Jewish convert may honor their non-Jewish loved ones and their own feelings and adopted tradition.

The first session will meet at Temple Sinai and will address the basics of Jewish mourning. The second session will be in a private home in San Leandro where Rabbi Adar will model a home observing shiva. Students will be able to ask hands on questions, to see and hold the objects associated with shiva.

Feb. 4 and 11
7:30 to 9pm
Temple Sinai and a private home in San Leandro
Cost: $15
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Conversion, Current Programs, Death & Mourning, Jewish Learning, Life Cycle
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Christmakah

You may have heard me tell this story because it had a deep impact on me – years ago in a workshop a non-Jewish wife told me that she waited all year for Christmas. She described herself as “a pressure cooker waiting to let off steam.” She recounted her love of the rituals of Christmas. She didn’t identify as Christian and she had considered conversion but she felt deeply attached to Christmas and her annual festive BANG.

It didn’t seem to me that she needed to convert; I thought she needed to have more than one day, one season, of celebration. Since she was married to a Jewish man and raising her children Jewish I suggested that she try adding the observance of Jewish holidays. I conjectured that her husband might be more engaged and participatory and that that would improve her celebrations/holidays quota. I even suggested she try Shabbat.

Two years later I saw her in the lobby of a JCC. She dashed to my side and in glowing terms told me that she had indeed begun observing Jewish holidays including Shabbat. She felt that her needs for ritual, spirituality and celebration were being met at last.

I have never forgotten that image of a pressure cooker. How very hard to have to “save up” your emotions for one holiday. What if this year Christmas doesn’t live up to your expectations and needs? I know that there are lots of people in danger of that happening. If you have set your heart on a bang-up Christmas please identify a few easy to accomplish activities. You might even plan them for after Christmas. You could have:

A games night with your kids & friends
A sing-along
A cookie bake-athon
A volunteer day at an animal shelter
A walk in the woods
A drive through the most Christmas decorated blocks in your town
Go out to dinner and a movie
Watch an old, beloved movie in pjs with popcorn.

Do one or more of these things with people that you love. Being with loved ones perks up any day of the year.

I wish you a Merry Christmas if you celebrate Christmas and to those who don’t, you can still schedule one or more of these activities.

EVENTS
Mu Shu & a Movie, Starring Uncle Yu’s and ‘Deli Man’ (Lafayette)
Chopshticks (Palo Alto)
Chinese Food and a Movie! (San Francisco)
Early Shabbat Service & Vegetarian Chinese Food Dinner (Palo Alto)
New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party (San Rafael)
DIY Jewish Home traditions: Empower Yourself! (San Rafael)
Modern Jewish Literature (Los Altos)
A Walk Through the Many Levels of Tu B’Shevat (San Francisco)
2016 Community-Wide Mitzvah Day (Palo Alto)
Tu B’Shvat in the Redwoods with Wilderness Torah (Oakland)
Jewish Film Series (Los Altos)

Mu Shu & a Movie, Starring Uncle Yu’s and ‘Deli Man’
It’s become a Jewish tradition that almost rivals hot pastrami on rye. While Santa makes his global deliveries on the eve of December 24, deliver yourself, your family, and your appetite to Temple Isaiah for Mu Shu and a Movie!
Feast on a delicious Chinese “take in” buffet by Uncle Yu’s Restaurant in Lafayette, and then savor – what else! – ‘Deli Man’, a sweet, juicy movie about Jewish delicatessens that features Larry King, Jerry Stiller, and plenty of haimishe maykholim (Yiddish for ‘home-style cooking’). Jingle Bells, Fortune Cookies, Corned Beef and Matzah Balls! Bubbe might plotz, but we’re eating it up.
Dinner includes that gourmet buffet, movie snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. You may bring and share your own wine and beer.

Date: Thursday, December 24
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Isaiah Adult Lounge, 945 Risa Rd, Lafayette
Cost: Non-Members: $25 (Adults/Teens), $17 (12 & under)
Questions? Please contact Bob Coleman at rccod@comcast.net
Sign up here http://www.temple-isaiah.org/mushu

Chopshticks
Enjoy Chinese food and gut-busting comedy at our annual holiday laugh fest! Our guest comedian this year is Wayne Federman, a comedian, actor, author, comedy writer and musician.

Date: Thursday, December 24
Time: Dinner at 7:45p | Show at 8:45p
Place: Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Cost: In advance: $60 General Public | $55 Member
$65 at the door, space permitting
Contact: Robin Vasilakos | (650) 223-8791 or rvasilakos@paloaltojcc.org
Sign up here http://paloaltojcc.org/Events/chopshticks

Chinese Food and a Movie!
What better way to spend Friday night, December 25th! Plan to join us for Chinese food, an abbreviated Shabbat service, and a movie.
Dinner at 6:30 pm, Erev Shabbat service at 7:30, and a screening of the film, Yentl following the service.

Date: Dec. 25
Time: Begins at 6:30p
Place: Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St, San Francisco
Cost: Adults: $10 and Children under 12 free.
Reservations for dinner will be accepted until 12:00pm on Wednesday, December 23rd.
Please call the Congregation Sha’ar Zahav office at 415-861-6932 for details.
Register here http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebzipusm43aa6f5e&llr=l9calgcab

Early Shabbat Service & Vegetarian Chinese Food Dinner
We’ll be mixing things up a little this Shabbat – the service will start at 5:30 followed by a vegetarian Chinese food dinner hosted by Rabbi Chaim. The dinner is free and open to all, but an RSVP by Wednesday, December 23, at noon is required so that we can order appropriate quantities of food. No RSVP is necessary if you are coming to the service but not staying for dinner.

Date: Friday, December 25
Time: 5:30 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Free but you must sign up by 12/23
Sign up here https://etzchayim.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=9845

New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party
A New Year’s Eve celebration made easy & funny. The 6th Annual Stand-Up Comedy Celebration is the perfect experience for New Year’s Eve in Marin. Group tables allow folks to bring their Party to a great comedy show with nothing to clean up. The evening is timed with maximum flexibility so attendees can enjoy an early dinner at a favorite restaurant, go elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or stay for the festive After Party with the Comics, featuring complimentary bubbly and a big-screen countdown!
Smart, funny and clean stand-up comedy from 5 comedians in ONE hilarious show with a rare Bay Area appearance by Kevin Meaney.
Osher Marin

Date: Thursday, December 31
Time: 9:00pm-12:00am
Place: Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Register here. http://www.marinjcc.org/events/2015/12/31/performing-arts/the-6th-annual-new-year-s-eve-stand-up-comedy-show-after-party/9282/
www.marinjcc.org

DIY Jewish Home traditions: Empower Yourself!
A Creative Jewish Traditions Series with Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown
There are so many beautiful Jewish traditions, stories, rituals, recipes and songs that are intended entirely for the home and take place outside the walls of the synagogue. But what are they? Where do they come from? And how can you feel empowered to create these traditions for yourself or your family in a way that is uniquely your own?
If you’re looking for guidance on how to create a meaningful Shabbat experience with your family, celebrate the Jewish holidays in creative ways, or how to incorporate simple Jewish teachings into daily moments then this class is for you! You will leave the class with many tools and resources for creating new Jewish traditions for yourself and your family.

Dates: Second Friday of the month, next date is Jan. 8
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30pm
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
RSVP to Molly atmolly@rodefsholom.org.

Modern Jewish Literature
Taught by Rabbi Marder and Dr. Joyce Penn Moser
This five-session seminar explores fascinating works by American, European and Israeli Jewish writers that illuminate the human condition. Come prepared for a lively discussion!
For book details and/or to register for this course, download and complete the signup form (coming soon) and return with a check to “Congregation Beth Am” attention Sheba Solomon.

Dates: Sundays, January 10, January 31, February 28, March 13 and April 17
Time: 9:00-11:00am
Place: Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Suggested donation: $36 per person (includes bagels, cream cheese, juice and coffee).
Registration required. Find details and sign up for here http://www.betham.org/learning-adult-education/event/modern-jewish-literature-class-1

A Walk Through the Many Levels of Tu B’Shevat
Tu B’Shevat is the first of the four new years in the Jewish calendar and is known as the “new year for the trees.” It celebrates the signs of life returning to earth in the form of green sprouts and blossoms. According to Kabbalah, it is the Tree of Life itself that is the ultimate source of this celebration.

In preparation for Tu B’Shevat seder join congregant Shulamit Sofia for a workshop exploring such Kabbalistic aspects as the four cups of wine, the four species of fruits and nuts, and the overarching context of the Four Worlds. To learn more about Shulamit, visit: www.soulstrengthseminars.com

Date: Tuesday, January 12
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Temple Emanu-El, Room 56, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco
www.emanuelsf.org

2016 Community-Wide Mitzvah Day:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
Join hundreds of your neighbors for a community-wide day of “tikkun olam” (“repair of the world”) as part of a National Day of Service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This inter-generational event will feature a range of hands-on service projects; participants will work in small groups on projects addressing issues of poverty, hunger, housing and homelessness, aging, the environment, and more.
Come on your own or with your family and friends! We ask that any volunteers under the age of 15 be accompanied by a parent. We look forward to working with you to promote Dr. King’s legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality and increase our community’s commitment to service & justice. This fun and inspirational day will leave you feeling accomplished and energized!

Monday, January 18, 2016
Time: 8am to 7pm
Place: Osher Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Details here http://paloaltojcc.org/Events/2016-community-wide-mitzvah-day-martin-luther-king-jr-day-of-service

Tu B’Shvat in the Redwoods with Wilderness Torah
Come to the redwoods to celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the unseen awakening of spring. In the tradition of the Tsfat mystics, we gather in the forest to create an experiential Tu B’Shvat seder that connects us to the trees and the elements. Morning seder, kids program, and afternoon workshops!

Date: Sunday, January 24, 2016
Time: 10 am to 3:30 pm
Place: Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Oakland.

Register here for Festival & Avodah (work exchange)
www.wildernesstorah.org

Jewish Film Series
This month’s Jewish Film Series presents When Comedy Went to School in the Beit Kehillah. Come see this saucy and spirited documentary about this country’s greatest generation of comics — the generation that includes the likes of Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, Mort Sahl and Jerry Stiller, all of whom make appearances in the film, sharing hilarious and personal experiences. With charm and wit, When Comedy Went to School seeks to answer why there are so many Jewish comedians.

This program is free, the community is welcome and refreshments will be served.

Date: Saturday
Time: 3:30p
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
www.betham.org

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Christmas, Community Activities, Couples, Holidays
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Do-you-have-one-Jewish-parent-

Are you male and grew up in an interfaith home? I am trying to balance out the ratio of male to female interviewees. Women seem to be more willing to share their thoughts and experiences. Guys! Time to jump on the train! We need your voices!

***
A couple years ago I asked Dr. Bruce Phillips to direct me to any research done regarding the experiences of adults from interfaith families. He told me that there was none and that WE should do a study. So that’s what we’re doing. We want to offer a picture of what adults who grew up in interfaith families think and feel about their upbringing. What did they get? What do they feel they missed? What worked particularly well, what didn’t. How do they see Judaism fitting into their adult lives?

This is not a huge study. This is about capturing some of the real life experiences and advice of the people who experienced an interfaith childhood. We need to get past the voices that tell us what these individuals are thinking and find out what adults from interfaith homes SELF REPORT.

Would you like to help? If you grew up with one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent, consider sharing your story in a 1.5 hour interview. The interview can be done in-person if you are in the bay area. Or we can do the interview via Skype or Google Hangout.

I encourage you to tell your friends about this too.

Contact me, Dawn, at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org if you are willing to participate.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, In their own words
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menorah_2

Rabbi Rebecca Gutterman sent out this hopeful message to her congregation, B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek. It made me think of my Jewish – Muslim couples who are going through tough times now with all the brutal, prejudice words flying around. I will us all peace and sanity.

It is a hallmark of Jewish experience that wherever we have lived, we have both contributed and adapted to the different cultures surrounding us. Indeed, over the years we have folded a variety of ideas, rituals and flavors into our own traditions, melodies and recipes. Judaism’s ability to stretch in these was means that our stories have also gone through different incarnations, with different points of emphasis depending on the needs of the times.

Chanukah is a good example… maybe one of the best. Whenever Jewish communities were persecuted, remembering the military victory Chanukah celebrates – that of the few against the many – supplied us with much needed pride and hope. At other times when our concerns have centered on assimilation and related issues we face as a religious minority, we have emphasized the Maccabees’ fight for religious freedom. Meanwhile, as winter approaches and the nights grow longer, we derive comfort and peace from the holiday’s symbols of miracles and light.

The holiday is significant in another way. After the Maccabees’ victory, lighting of the Chanukiah and re-dedication of the Temple, they went on to create their own rule. The Hasmonean dynasty that followed opposed anyone who did not go along with Temple ritual, and used force to create uniform Jewish practice. When we pick up the weapons of those who have hurt us, it is all too easy to become like them, no matter how noble we believe our cause to be. Difficult though this message of the Chanukah story may be, it only grows timelier with the years.

And speaking of timely. It’s not at all unusual to offer and receive Chanukah greetings expressing the hope that the light of our candles pierce the dark forces of hatred and ignorance surrounding us. That is especially true today. We are beset by all too familiar horrors of polarization, anger, distortion and fear. Chanukah, and the Jewish values for which it speaks, has always urged us towards resisting such forces, and connecting to the belief – sometimes against staggering odds – in all that is life affirming and good.

May we take all of Chanukah’s legacies to heart, even those that cast a shadow. And let us summon our courage and raise our voices to speak out against this present darkness. We know all too well how it has enveloped us. May it envelop no other people.

Though the night can be dark indeed, may the candles reflected in our windows and the gifts in our lives combine to lighten our hearts.

RabbiGutterman

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Chanukah, Synagogues
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San Bernardino candle

Rabbi David Booth send this message to his congregation. He has worries and a prayer. I hope you will find some comfort in his words.

I am worried about my reaction to the tragedy in San Bernardino on two levels. First, I found myself numbed to it. By contrast with Paris, or Tel Aviv, or so many other incidents of murder and terror, I saw the headlines and initially gave it little attention. I’m worried that I’m getting used to it, inured to regular occurrences of mass murder and terror.

Yet we are created in the image of God. Every death, every murder, is a loss of infinite value. I dare not get used to such loss. I need to be shocked and upset and in mourning each time because each time the divine image is lessened; lovers, children, parents have been lost forever.

Second, these murders are done in God’s name. I believe in God who brings out the truest essence of people. As the process theologians put it, God is in part the lure, the pull to do good, to be a source of blessing. I am so disturbed by God being invoked in murder and in terror. It does damage to religion because people who might be drawn to faith that heals, faith that transforms, instead turn away. If it leads to such incidents, I want nothing of it, they say. I am heartbroken to see faith inspire murder, whether in Paris, San Bernardino, or Israel.

And yet faith is how we heal, how we comfort one another, and how we uncover our capacity to be a blessing in the world. Our endeavor as Jews is to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth. I believe God wants that of all humanity. Our job is to uncover our own ability to bring good and blessing to one another, to all people’s and nations. Faith is one path that helps us achieve that divine mission.

A prayer for this tragedy:

May God who creates peace, who is good and does good, inspire us not to violence, but to blessing. May we find the strength to feel loss even when it is repetitive, inexplicable, and awful. May God grant us the strength to access our own inner resources of compassion to offer comfort to those in mourning, to those who have lost loved ones, to those who are afraid.

And yet, God, we know that prayer is only beginning. Prayer is the inspiration for good action, the moment to connect with You, source of blessing. Help us then to find the political, legal, and military pathways to bring about an end to terror and violence. Guide our leaders and all of us in the democratic West to wisdom towards a path that can restore Your holy name as it belongs – as a source of peace and blessing and safety, to the whole world.

Then may it be fulfilled that each person may sit at rest under their citrus tree, content with their portion, renewed and inspired to be blessing to all the families that walk this Earth.

Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Booth

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Prayer
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cloud scape

Miracles?
As a child didn’t you think of a miracle as a magical event, something that defied the laws of nature? Such a definition of miracles often leaves adults cold. Here is a quote from a handout I believe Vicky Kelman wrote: the correct question about miracles is not “Do you believe in miracles?” (Which is the one we usually hear) but rather “What miracle(s) have you experienced today?”

The word miracle derives from the Latin word mirari meaning wonder. According to several modern Jewish thinkers, the experience of miracle derives from the human capacity for wonder. This capacity for wonder, which Martin Buber called “abiding astonishment” and Abraham Joshua Heschel called “radical amazement” is the raw material of which miracles are made.

An extraordinary event (the exodus from Egypt, the victory of the Maccabees which we recall at this time of year, the recapture of Jerusalem in the Six Day War) is the kind of event likely to receive the label “miracle” but the prayer book teaches a complementary perspective on miracle by including the phrase “Thank you for … your daily miracles” among those prayers said three times a day. In this way otherwise ordinary events such as the birth of a baby, the blossom of a daffodil, the body’s recovery after illness are also miracles. The ability to experience daily miracles is at the core of the Jewish world view.

Looked at this way, a miracle is neither supernatural nor super-historical but an event which feels to people who experience it, as a miracle.

May we all experience the daily miracles and blessings that surround us. Make a list of your blessings. Science has found that people who spend a few minutes every day feeling grateful are happier and healthier. Sounds miraculous!

EVENTS
Tikvah Tots (Walnut Creek)
Child Friendly Service & Dinner (San Leandro)
The Road to Character by David Brooks (San Rafael)
Hanukkah Celebration and Crafts Fair (San Francisco)
A Hanukkah Celebration for All Ages (Berkeley)
Israeli Dancing for Chanukah (Los Altos Hills)
Shabbat YAFE Latkefest (Berkeley)
Reggae Shabbat and Chanukah Party (San Francisco)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Conversion to Judaism (Walnut Creek)
The Eighth Night of Hanukkah (Oakland)
The Rivers Of Babylon (San Francisco)
InterFaith Chanukah Celebration at Blackhawk Plaza (Danville)
4th Annual One Bay One Book (Burlingame)
Songs from Israel and Palestine (Berkeley)

Tikvah Tots
Little ones are welcome at Tikvah Tots every Friday morning from 10–11am for an informal get together. Led by Rabbi Gutterman, the event will include free play, chat time for adults, and circle time with Shabbat songs and blessings (and juice and challah, of course).

Dates: Fridays
Time: 10 to 11am
Place: Bnai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
More info look at this downloadable PDF.

Child Friendly Service & Dinner
Join the members of Beth Sholom in San Leandro for child-friendly worship service led by the returning Hebrew students. Services will be followed by a delicious dinner.

Date: Friday, December 4
Time: 6pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Ave., San Leandro
Cost: $10 per person 13 years old or older; free for children.
Call the office to reserve a place, 510.357-8505.
http://tbssanleandro.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
www.bnaiemunahsf.org

A Hanukkah Celebration for All Ages
Join Chochmat HaLev for the first night of Hanukkah.
4:00 “Zaide Makes Latkes”
Playful puppetry and music with Jen Miriam & Alon Altman
4:45 Community Candle lighting
Bring your chanukiah/menorah and add to the light!
5:00 Community Sing with Gary Lapow, Maggid Jhos Singer, Julie Batz, and Friends
Songs, stories, and teachings for all ages

Date: Sunday Dec. 6
Time: 4pm- 8pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince Street, Berkeley
Cost: Public/$15; Children/$5; Members of Chochmat HaLev $10
http://chochmat.org

Israeli Dancing for Chanukah
Community Potluck Meal to Follow
The Beth Am community and friends are warmly invited to a community lighting of the 5th candle of Chanukah! We will sing the blessings and Chanukah songs, share a potluck dairy meal, and dance the Horah to tunes performed by Naomi Zamir and her lively klezmer group, Majorly Minor. Come and dance — anyone can dance the Hora!
Please bring your chanukiyah and candles as well as a potluck dish to share. (Kashrut information: please note that Beth Am serves food “kosher style,” which means no pork or shellfish and we do not serve milk and meat in the same dish, such as meat lasagna. Thank you for observing in this way.) Bring your partner, your friends and let us celebrate a holiday that so deeply calls for freedom of religion!

Date: Thursday, Dec. 10
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
For more information, please the office at (650) 493-466.
www.betham.org

Shabbat YAFE Latkefest
Sponsored by the Men’s Club
Join us for the Men’s Club’s famous latkes, candle lighting, Chanukah songs and birthday cake in honor of the 10th anniversary of our Oxford Street building.

Shabbat YAFE is an inter-generational Shabbat celebration filled with music and ruach (spirit)! This month’s theme is “Kavod (Respect) for Our Home”. Join us for a catered dinner (Please sign up here). All YAFE families and the entire congregation are invited and welcome at the service.

5:00 pm Tot Shabbat in the Beit Midrash
5:30 pm Catered Vegetarian Dinner in the Social Hall
(cost: $15/family with RSVP and $20 at the door )
6:15 pm Candlelighting, Chanukah sing-a-long, and festive Shabbat services in the sanctuary

Date: Friday, December 11
Time: 5:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford, Berkeley
www.bethelberkeley.org

Reggae Shabbat and Chanukah Party
From Jerusalem and Jamaica to Sherith Israel, let the good times roll as we celebrate the sixth night of Chanukah. Rock out to the Jewish-themed reggae rhythms of Lior Ben-Hur and his band, Sol Tevel. We’ll recount the miracle of the burning oil and the Maccabees’ triumph over assimilation.

Our celebratory and light-filled Shabbat service will be followed by a catered latke dinner. And remember to bring your chanukiah to join in the festive congregational candle lighting.

Date: Friday, December 11
Time: 6 pm: Service and chanukiah lighting
7:30 pm: Dinner and dance party with Lior Ben-Hur and his band, Sol Tevel
Cost: Dinner: $36 for a family of four (two adults and two children under bar mitzvah age); $18 for adults, $10 for solo parent, and $8 for children.
Please purchase tickets by December 7th here
Questions? E-mail Eric Drucker or call him at 415.346.1720 x24.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Conversion to Judaism
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, 2015
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

The Eighth Night of Hanukkah
Join us for a concert and a sing-along of traditional and contemporary songs in Hebrew, Yiddish and English with the Nigunim Chorus and Music Director Achi Ben Shalom. Nigunim Chorus is dedicated to learning, preserving and presenting folks songs of the Jewish people.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 13
Time: 4pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free and open to the community so bring friends!
www.oaklandsinai.org

The Rivers Of Babylon – The First Judeans In The Babylonian Exile
Guest Lecturer Dr. Laurie Pearce
Dr. Laurie Pearce presents dramatic new evidence about the Judeans exiled to Babylonia after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. She will explore their successful integration into Babylonian life, and offers insights into ways that it was possible for Judeans to maintain their unique identity in their host land and among other foreign populations.

Date: Sunday, December 13
Time: 9:30 – 11:00 am
Place: In the Rinder Chapel at Congregation Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
www.emanuelsf.org

InterFaith Chanukah Celebration at Blackhawk Plaza
Join Beth Chaim Congregation and their faith community partners in a public lighting of candles on the 8th night of Chanukah to celebrate religious freedom for all.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 13
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Blackhawk Plaza
For more information contact the office of Beth Chaim Congregation of Danville at 925-736-7146.
www.bethchaim.com

4th Annual One Bay One Book
Join Rabbi Delson for a discussion of The Periodic Table, a memoir of the years before and after Primo Levi’s transportation from his native Italy to Auschwitz as an anti-Fascist partisan and a Jew.

Defying categorization, The Periodic Table is a pioneering work in its creative approach to memoir; it is the winner of the Royal Institution of Great Britain’s survey as the greatest science book ever written, and it is an invaluable record both of Levi’s life and of the experience of Jews in northern Italy.

Date: Monday, December 14
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
RSVP to Rabbi Delson (rabbidelson-at-sholom.org) to let her know you plan to attend the class.
www.sholom.org

Songs from Israel and Palestine
A Concert with Lior Tsarfaty and Naser Musa
Join Palestinian musician Naser Musa and Israeli musician Lior Tsarfaty for an evening of prayers for peace. During this time when violence and hatred are escalating between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East we join together in this concert to say that we refuse to be enemies. Join us.
With special guest Bouchaib Abdelhadi.

Date: Thursday, December 17
Time: 8pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince Street, Berkeley
Cost: Public/$20; Members of Chochmat HaLev $15
Get tickets here.

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Jennie Chabon

Cantor Jennie Chabon shared this story with her congregation:
For the first 13 years of my life, I had a beautiful Christmas tree in my living room every winter, and an Easter basket filled with chocolate waiting outside my door every spring on Easter morning. One year my parents made flour footprints leading from our bedrooms to the front door, sealing forever my belief in magic. My brothers and I were being raised Jewish, so we celebrated Hanukkah and had epic Passover seders and went to Hebrew school, but my dad wasn’t Jewish, so some of his favorite traditions lived on in our Jewish house. Even my mom, who had been raised agnostic in New York by two Jewish parents, had celebrated Christmas as a child. Some of her fondest childhood memories involved Christmas, so our Christmas tree was for many years a symbol of joy and family for all of us. (In fact, as I type and relive those memories, I am reminded of the years when we had advent calendars hanging in our kitchen, with the little windows containing chocolate surprises to be opened each day!)

All of that changed shortly before my bat mitzvah. I am the youngest of four, and at my brothers’ b’nai mitzvah, my father had participated somewhat from the sidelines in their ceremonies. Though he had brought Christian holiday customs into our house, he did not identify as Christian, and over the years Judaism called to him slowly but steadily, with its wisdom and meaningful rituals and emphasis on learning. He felt that for years he had been “sneaking into the ballpark.” He was ready to buy a ticket. It was time for him to become Jewish.

I was thrilled and honored that my dad wanted to be Jewish in time for my bat mitzvah. We would all be Jewish! I had never felt that I was half-Jewish, but I was still very aware, if even just unconsciously, of the impact of his conversion on our whole family. Now that we were all Jewish, what were we doing with a Christmas tree in our house? If my dad was now Jewish, was it appropriate to still have Christian symbols in our home? I felt a profound shift within me, a deep knowing that took me completely by surprise: now that we were all Jewish, I wanted nothing to do with Christmas trees or Easter bunnies. Even though I had not doubted my Jewishness before, I suddenly and urgently wanted to embrace it.

Not surprisingly, the other members of my family all had very different reactions to saying goodbye to the Christmas tree. For some, it was disappointing but understandable, because it was what our dad wanted. For others, the loss was quite profound. It was connected to memories and childhood goodness and a sense of security in the world. The change was not particularly difficult for my dad, but it took my mom many years to stop missing our Christmas tree.

There are so many families in our congregation who can relate to various elements of my story: families with one Jewish parent who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and are raising their kids as Jews; families with one parent who is born Jewish and one who is a Jew by choice, who are struggling to know how to honor their history without betraying their present; families with kids who can’t figure out exactly how to identify themselves because of the various holidays being celebrated in their home. The list of families and their unique experiences is quite endless, but what is most definitely universal is their desire to be seen and heard, particularly in December.

And so, Rabbi Gutterman and I would like to invite anyone for whom this topic is compelling or meaningful to meet us for a conversation about the joys and struggles of navigating the month of December. We will be meeting in the library on Sunday morning, December 6th from 10:30-12:00. What we can offer is a welcoming and accepting space in which to talk about this tricky topic with other people who also need this opportunity. We don’t expect to offer you many answers but we do hope to facilitate a meaningful and helpful conversation that will ease the transition into the holiday season. We hope that many of you will join us then.

Shabbat shalom,
Cantor Jennie Chabon, B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek

NOTE: Cantor Chabon and Rabbi Gutterman will be offering a number of programs specifically for interfaith families in the coming year, 2016.

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