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Cultural Jews
“I’m culturally Jewish.” How many times have I heard this? Too many to count. What does it mean? It means different things to different people. The common thread is, “I don’t believe in God.” Let’s not even go into what “God” means; let’s jump right to what does “cultural” mean? For the non-Jewish partner this can be like a visit to a nonexistent country – a series of no statements. No God, no ritual, no prayers, no spirituality, no belonging. The non-Jewish partner may begin to believe that this means we can have an American home – but then the Jew adds some more Nos – no Christmas, no church services, no carols that include Jesus. Now “cultural” sounds stingy and flavorless.

The Jewish partner may try to explain Jewish culture. If it’s a meeting between me and the couple this is often when the Jewish partner turns to me and says, “You know, Jewish culture.”

So what the devil is “Jewish culture?” First the bad news, it comes from Jewish religion. There is no food, music, art, dance or even language that is universal to all Jews everywhere. What is universal is the religion of Judaism. BUT! Now the good news, where ever Jews went on the planet they took their religion and adapted it to the host country, creating a Jewish version of that place – i.e. Jewish culture. So you have the Jewish culture of Mexico and the Jewish culture of Morocco and so on – each with their own food, music, language, etc.

So when the Jewish partner says, “I’m culturally Jewish” there’s a lot to explore.

What country or countries does the Jew in question come from? I met a man a couple weeks ago who was born in Iran, his family moved to Israel when he was a little boy and then to the US when he was a teen. So he has multiple languages, foods, music, etc. to share with his soon to be spouse.

My sister-in-law’s family came from Tunisia. The family was expelled when her parents were young adults and fled to France. Her wedding to my Ashkenazi brother-in-law included arab, French and American elements. The food, all kosher, was middle Eastern at one of the banquets and French at another. Her parents speak three languages – Arabic, Hebrew, and French plus few words of English. The bridal parties included belly dancing and henna. My sister-in-law thinks American Jews eat too much “white food!” Bagels, challah and gefilte fish all horrify her. Why have a fiddle when you can use a drum?

What is YOUR Jewish culture?
Begin by exploring your roots. Most American Jews are Ashkenazi – that is, originating from Eastern Europe and from a community that spoke Yiddish. Go to the Jewish museums, music festivals, art & food fairs and find the elements that represent “Jewish” to you. That’s your Jewish culture. It will probably include Klezmer music, bagels, Yiddishisms, and images of bearded men dressed in long black coats. None of this would be culturally appropriate for my sister-in-law but it will be for the majority of American Jews.

Eastern European Jewish Food

Eastern European Jewish Food

Buy recordings of old Jewish comedians – and new/young ones. Talk about why the jokes are funny. Don’t assume that everyone gets the jokes you get. (I was at a Jewish conference a few years back and there was a Jewish comedian entertaining us. We were roaring. The young Hispanic facilities man sat by handling the sound with a placid expression. Finally the comedian turned to him after a wonderful bris joke and said, “So, you getting any of this?” “No,” smiled the man.)

Visit the local Jewish museums.

Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley
Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St, San Francisco

100 Jewish films

One of the easiest ways to learn is by watching a film. The fantastic San Francisco Jewish Film Festival comes every year and screens films at locations all around the bay area.

Or just go rent an old film and watch it with an interpretive eye. Try to explain the details.
The Producers
The Frisco Kid
The History of the World: Part one
Exodus
Fiddler on the Roof
Prince of Egypt
An American Tail
The Chosen

Old black and white Yiddish films like The Dybbuk or Yidl Mitn Fidl.

Modern films from around the world.
Being Jewish in France
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
Ushpizin
The Infidel

And Check out the site, Rabbi at the Movies for more ideas.

All of these can start conversations about what it means to be Jewish, for the most part, without a religious component. Religion exists on the sides of some of these films, just the way it hovers on the side of the lives of cultural Jews.

Posted by admin under Books, Film, Jewish Culture
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The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is in its 35 year.
Building Jewish Bridges is delighted to be a co-presenter of the following films at this year’s festival.

Dough-770x433

Dough
Food has always represented more than sustenance in Jewish culture, and its transformative power is on display in this delightful British dramedy which unites a widowed third generation kosher baker, Nat (a crusty yet compassionate Jonathan Pryce), and his new Muslim apprentice, Ayyash (Jerome Holder in a breakout performance). Dayan & Son Bakery is in a downward spiral. Nat’s customers are all moving or dying. To top it off, his adversarial competitor is moving in on his turf, and his son has no interest in carrying on the family business. Read more

Thursday, July 23, Castro Theater, San Francisco
Sunday, July 26, CineArts, Palo Alto
Wednesday, August 5, California Theater, Berkeley
Sunday, August 9, Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael

Red Leaves

Red Leaves
After the death of his wife, Ethiopian immigrant Meseganio Tadela makes a fateful decision. Settled in Israel for the past 30 years, the 74-year-old widower sells his apartment and informs his grown children that he has no intention of buying a new place. Instead, the obstinate Meseganio plans to shuttle between each of their homes for the remainder of his life. Read more

Sunday, July 26, CineArts, Palo Alto
Monday, July 27, Castro Theater, San Francisco

Dear-God1

Jews in Shorts
Five short films with a range of topics. Read the details here

Wednesday, July 29, Castro Theater, San Francisco

Posted by admin under Current Programs, Film, Jewish Culture
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I’m reading a wonderful book, The Mathematician’s Shiva. Of course, it’s about Jews – but also other Russians, Poles, Americans, scientists and more. I love the underlining Jewishness of the characters and I really love that it is not about the Holocaust. There is so much more to Judaism than misery and murder.

The Mathematician's Shiva

The Mathematician’s Shiva

Which leads me to the topic of cultural Judaism. What does it mean to be culturally Jewish? It can mean the books you read (see book groups below in the events). It could be the movies you see (films below). It could be a hike with other Jews and non-Jews or going to the Jewish Heritage Night at the Giants or the A’s. It could be hanging out at the pool. Hearing a lecture on God and science. But it does mean learning and doing Jewishly infused things. I’ve collected a number of them below. If you have an idea to add, please send it to me. If you have a favorite Jewish themed book or film, tell me about it. I’ll share it with the rest of our gang.

Dough showing at the SFJFF

Dough showing at the SFJFF

Building Jewish Bridges will again be co-presenting some films at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I know for sure one of them will be Dough. Take a look at it on their website.

Cheers,
Dawn

EVENTS
Alfresco Shabbat (Burlingame)
Tot Shabbat Playgroup (Pleasanton)
Kumzits Shabbat! (Oakland)
Torah with Soul (San Rafael)
Poolside Sundays (Palo Alto)
Sneak Preview: 2015 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (San Rafael)
Men’s Book Group at Beth Am (Los Altos)
Saturdays Unplugged: Brazil-Flavored Family Fun (San Francisco)
A Scientist Looks at God (Los Altos)
Havdallah Hike in Redwood Park (Oakland)
Story Shabbat (Pleasanton)
Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night (San Francisco)
Oakland A’s Jewish Heritage Night (Oakland)
Congregation Beth Emek Open House (Pleasanton)

Alfresco Shabbat
Join us for special Shabbat evening services under the summer sky. We’ll begin in the Misle & Sosnick Families Foyer at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy some delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres. Then, we’ll move outside for an alfresco service in the Wornick Family Courtyard. We’ll finish with finger sandwiches and Oneg Shabbat treats. Come see how the prayer experience is enhanced when our voices are carried on a gentle summer breeze!

Dates: Fridays, Jul. 3 to Aug. 28
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame
www.sholom.org

Tot Shabbat Playgroup
Tot Shabbat, a playgroup geared toward young children (ages birth to toddler) and their parents or caregivers, meets Friday mornings. Activities include free play along with Shabbat or Jewish holiday-themed craft projects, play dough, and parachute play.

Date: July 3 and Every Friday
Time: from 9:30 to 11:30am
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
www.bethemek.org

Kumzits Shabbat!
Join us for this lively Erev Shabbat Kumzits (“come sit”) Family Service around the firepit. Yes, there will be s’mores!

Date: Friday, July 3
Time: 6:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, in the Upper Courtyard (you can see it from the parking lot), 2808 Summit St., Oakland
www.oaklandsinai.org

Torah with Soul
Whether you are a Torah veteran, or completely new to Torah, all are welcome. Shabbat by Shabbat, we will study the weekly parsha, based on the first year of the triennial cycle. Additionally, time permitting, we’ll continue our study of the Book of Psalms. On the third Saturday of each month, weather permitting, Torah with Soul becomes Torah on the Trails, where we take a short hike on a local trail before studying Torah surrounded by nature. To be added to the Torah with Soul and/or Torah on the Trails email lists, please contact Molly at molly@rodefsholom.org.

Date: July 4, and most Saturdays, contact Molly at 415.479.3441 to make sure before you go.
Time: 9:15 am
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 No. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
www.rodefsholom.org

Poolside Sundays
Join us all summer long for the best poolside parties in Palo Alto! Meet your friends or make new ones while relaxing on our spacious outdoor deck. Entertain the kids with water games, arts activities, a bounce house and sports activities led by our enthusiastic J-Camp counselors. Poolside Parties are FREE for OFJCC Center Members. Non-Member guest passes may be purchased.

Dates: Every Sunday, for the July 5 schedule look here
Place: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
www.paloaltojcc.org

Sneak Preview: 2015 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
See clips of this year’s upcoming festival highlights, peek “behind the scenes”, learn how the films are selected, and discover the history of the largest Jewish film festival in the world!

Date: Wed, July 8
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Osher Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Cost: Free!
www.marinjcc.org

Men’s Book Group at Beth Am
In July, the Beth Am Men’s book group reads All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The blind girl, Marie-Laure, and her father flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo to save a valuable museum piece. Werner, an orphan in a mining town in Germany, develops a skill for repairing radios. The Nazis recognize this talent and send him to track the French Resistance. He winds up in…. Saint-Malo! Join us to discuss this fascinating historical novel set at a critical time for European Jewry.

Date: Thursday, July 9
Time: 4:00pm
Place: Beth Am Library, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
www.betham.org

Saturdays Unplugged: Brazil-Flavored Family Fun
Live music, fun for the kids and caipirinha cocktails for the big people. It’s Saturdays Unplugged and July’s version features the amazing Fogo Na Roupa Brazilian Carnaval Ensemble. Enjoy the rest of Shabbat.

Date: Saturday, July 11
Time: 3:00 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Free & Open to Everyone
www.jccsf.org

A Scientist Looks at God
Taught by Rabbinic Intern Adam Lutz
Knowing the evils that occur in the world, how can God be all powerful, all knowing and all good? Come find out how a scientist (and soon to be rabbi) tries to create a Jewish belief system that reflects our experience in the world and honors God at the same time. Learn about Adam Lutz, our summer rabbinic intern from Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

Date: Sunday, July 12
Time: 10:00am
Place: Beth Am, Conference Room, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
www.betham.org

Havdallah Hike in Redwood Park
What a lovely way to wind down your Shabbat with a gentle stroll in the redwood forest , a spirited Havdalah service in a meadow, followed by a light snack and a chance to shmooze with others. Join the Green Committee of Temple Sinai for a peaceful close to Shabbat.. Please bring a snack to share if you are able..

Date: Saturday, July 18
Time: 5:30pm
Place: In the last parking lot of Redwood Park: 7867 Redwood Road, Oakland
Questions? Please contact Richard Hart at richard.p.hart at gmail dot com

Story Shabbat
Story Shabbat is geared toward families with children ages 3-6. During this special Shabbat celebration, children are introduced to Shabbat in an age-appropriate service which includes music and a story, followed by a snack and craft project. Siblings are welcome. For more information about Story Shabbat, contact Lisa Kama (925.461.3591).

Dates: July 25 and August 29
Time: 10:30am
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
www.bethemek.org

Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night
Giants vs. Brewers
Join the Bay Area Jewish community and Congregation Sherith Israel at the Giants’ annual Jewish Heritage Night. As you may know, CSI always has a huge section on Jewish Heritage Night. Your ticket includes a seat in the Jewish Heritage section, a limited-edition Giants Kiddush cup, and admission to the Jewish Heritage Night pregame party in Seals Plaza from 5 – 7 pm.

Date: Monday, July 27
Time: Pregame Party: 5 – 7 pm; First Pitch: 7:15 pm
Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco
Cost: Bleacher seats $35/ticket
Details on the Giants’ website

Oakland A’s Jewish Heritage Night
This season’s fifth annual Jewish Heritage Night on Tuesday, August 4 is all new. The pregame event will take place in the spacious Eastside Club. All participants that purchase a special ticket through the link below will be able to attend the pregame event, as well as enjoy a traditional food item and receive an exclusive A’s Jewish Heritage giveaway item. As an added bonus, August 4 is one of the A’s Chevy FREE PARKING Tuesdays.
For more information, please contact Jeff Perlmutter at 510-563-2250 or jperlmutter@athletics.com.
Please note, you must purchase a special ticket for this event to attend the pregame event in the Eastside Club and receive the giveaway item and food item.
EVENT HIGHLIGHTS
Pregame event in the Eastside Club
Exclusive A’s Jewish Heritage giveaway item
Traditional Jewish food item
Chevy FREE PARKING Tuesdays

Date: Tuesday, August 4
Time: Game starts at 7:05, Jewish festivities at 5:30pm
Place: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland

Congregation Beth Emek Open House
Whether you are new to the area or just new to Beth Emek, we invite you to educational programs for all ages. Meet Rabbi Larry Milder, Education Director Judith Radousky, and Preschool Director Melinda McDonald. Take a tour of the building and visit our sanctuary and classrooms. Light refreshments will be served. Congregation Beth Emek is an inclusive Reform synagogue with an open and participatory atmosphere. We welcome all people on their Jewish journey.

Sunday, August 9
Time: 10:00a to noon
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
For more information, call the synagogue at 925.931.1055

Posted by admin under Books, Film, Jewish Culture
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Jewish Wedding with Conservative Rabbi

Jewish Wedding with Conservative Rabbi

What great timing! Last night I received the last email from my list of San Francisco bay area non-Orthodox rabbis replying to my question, “Do you officiate at same sex weddings for two Jews?” It was my belief that they all did. But I was challenged by a colleague who said that just wasn’t true. Well, guess what? I was right. Everyone of them (I only asked congregational rabbis) said, yes.

Religious marriages have been available to same sex couples for some years — if you could find a clergy person willing to perform the ceremony. Bay area rabbis will.

Civil marriage means that all those religious weddings are now recognized in every state in the United States.

Hallelujah!

If you are looking for a rabbi to perform your Jewish wedding in the San Francisco bay area, give me a call. 510-845-6420 x11.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, LGBT, Synagogues, Weddings
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Do-you-have-one-Jewish-parent-

As I continue my work with adults who have grown up in an interfaith home I’m looking forward to another dynamic discussion. Do you have something to add to the conversation? Please come! This class isn’t online yet but you can email me (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org) and let me know that you’re interested.

Do You Have One Jewish Parent?
Do you see yourself as Jewish, half-Jewish, part Jewish, Jew-ish? Were you raised as a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu, some of this and that?
We are looking for people who have one Jewish parent and would like to talk about their experience, share their stories, their questions, their wisdom.
What was good? What was not so good? Will you try to duplicate your parents’ path? What would you like to ask of or tell to the “organized” Jewish community?
We will come together to discuss our shared experiences as well as our differences; what we want from life now and how we are going about making that happen.

Oct. 22, 2015
7:30 to 9pm
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Free to Temple Sinai members, $10 public

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family
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It is common in Jewish parlance to say that someone is “having” or “getting” a bar mitzvah. But it doesn’t really work that way.

I love Rabbi Milder’s article on this topic. He covers it while talking about celebrating bar/bat mitzvah as adults. Here’s what he has to say.

Rabbi Milder

Rabbi Milder

Let’s talk about Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

No one really “has a Bar Mitzvah.” No one gets “Bat Mitzvahed.”

When a Jew turns 13, s/he becomes Bar (son) or Bat (daughter) Mitzvah (of the Commandment.) A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is one who has reached the age of majority in Judaism, the age at which the obligations of Jewish life kick in. No ceremony is required, and there is no transitive verb, “to Bar Mitzvah” someone.

On the other hand, being prepared to fulfill one’s Jewish responsibilities, and having the skills to execute one’s prerogatives as a Jewish adult, is a function of learning. At the age of 13, a Jew counts in the Minyan, the quorum required for Jewish prayer. That doesn’t make him/her competent to lead prayer. You don’t need to be a rabbi to lead prayer, but you do need to know how.

Similarly, the privilege of reading from the Torah is an honor that we grant those who have mastered a certain level of Hebrew, and trained in the art of cantillation. Chanting Torah is a beautiful skill, acquired through significant learning and practice.

That’s why we ask our children to study for years before they turn 13, so that they will be prepared to do what any adult Jew ought to be able to do: lead their congregation in worship, read from the Torah, and teach the meaning of Torah.

Of course, not all Jewish adults have those skills. Many of us never went to religious school, or never trained to be a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, or were not Jewish when we were teenagers.

But it is never too late to learn.

You can continue reading about adult b’nai mitzvot here.

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Life Cycle, Synagogues
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Comic book character Hot Stuff

Comic book character Hot Stuff

I received this question from a Jewish mom to my Mixed and Matched column:

My husband was raised in a nominally Christian family. We are raising our kids Jewish. Our oldest is going to public school in the fall. I feel like I should prepare our son for the inevitable Christian child who tells him, ‘Jews are going to hell.’ I don’t want to cast aspersions on my in-laws and other Christians. How do I handle this? — Love My In-laws

My answer:

Dear Love: Some people will read your letter and say, “It’s not inevitable; you don’t need to say anything.” But they are wrong. There is rarely a fire at public school, but they hold practice fire drills nonetheless. Be prepared, have the conversation upfront.

Begin by discussing your message with your husband so that you have a comfortable, shared story for your son. Then explain to your son that in any group, whether it is a group of baseball fans, people from the same country, those on the same soccer team or those who share the same religion, there is always the chance that some of those people think differently, even so differently that we may not like what they believe. Tell him that some Christians believe differently from your own family members. These Christians believe that Jesus is the God for everyone and that anyone who does not agree is going to hell.

Remember for yourself that this basic message will at some point extend to people who are racist or homophobic. The goal is to share some bad news about life without making him feel hate toward others.

What often helps children is telling them that while Christians believe in hell, Jews do not, so there is nothing to fear. Give them a bit of the history of early Christianity; for example, early Christian leaders argued whether or not Jesus was God and eventually the yeses won. So even early Christians weren’t 100 percent clear about Jesus being God. Also, do acknowledge that Jesus was a real historical person and he was Jewish. In his lifetime, Jesus didn’t claim to be a Christian and in fact, Christianity was not invented until long after his death so it would have been impossible for him to call himself a Christian. That is enough information for your child to feel competent in a conversation about the facts regarding Christian history and Jewish beliefs.

Although Jews don’t believe in hell, Christian friends may continue to trouble your child, saying his soul is in danger. Again, point out that there are many different religions practiced here in our own community as well as around the world, each with different beliefs. As your child ages, you will undoubtedly talk about how different people view God and serve God. We Jews tend to focus on justice. That is why we have a book of laws (Torah) and books explaining the laws (Talmud and rabbinic writings). Other religions also believe in justice, but they believe in other core ways of performing their service to God. If you ask a Christian what their core message is, I have found that they typically say, ‘Love, it’s all about love.’ A great message, and one that Judaism embraces, too. So we are all similar and yet unique.

Do kids still say this kind of stuff? Yes, because that’s what they are being taught. They are not being mean. In their eyes, they are being informative. So your child should respond with more information, not fear or defensiveness. Each child, your Jewish one and his Christian friend, can discuss these important topics with their respective parents. Dialogue is a good thing. My own children were told they were going to hell, one in elementary school and the other in high school. Naturally, these conversations were different and took an age-appropriate direction. Neither child was distressed. We have extended family members who are Christian, which had no impact on our relationships.

The Jewish child who is told by a family member that he or she or a parent is going to hell is in a different situation, but that does not sound like a concern in your family. I feel confident that the conversation will go smoothly.

Posted by admin under Children, God, Relationships
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Rabbi Sarah Weissman of Beth Am, Los Altos

Rabbi Sarah Weissman of Beth Am, Los Altos

Have you wondered what happens at some of the workshops that you missed? It’s a pretty common question I get – so what happened? Here is one of the topics that came up in Interlove Story:

What is the position of the Reform movement regarding kids with a Jewish dad (patralineal descent)? There we were in a Reform shul, Beth Am, and Rabbi Weissman explained the Reform policy that states that any child with one Jewish parent, whether the father or the mother, must be raised observing Jewish holidays and lifecycle events in order to be affirmed as Jewish. So bottomline, for the Reform movement, the mother doesn’t have to be the Jewish parent.

This looks in one way, stricter than the other movements, you have to DO something to make your child officially Jewish.

In practice, I mentioned to Rabbi Weissman, I have yet to find a rabbi of ANY denomination that does not accept matrilineal descent as affirming Jewish identity in the children. She smiled and said quite honestly, “there is policy and there is practice.” Well, I just fell more in love with her at that moment because she was totally honest. I believe that all of YOU are intelligent adults in the midst of making thoughtful decisions. What you deserve is not the party line, rather you should be given as many facts as can be assembled.

Rabbi Weissman went on to articulate some of the options that a family with a Jewish father has – such as staying within the Reform community or taking your child to the mikvah. But very important, let the information regarding Jewish identity come from you, the child’s parents.

I feel strongly that you can handle such comments with a matter-of-fact tone and with age appropriate terms. The particular non-Jewish mom in this workshop was concerned that a little girl had told her child that he “was not Jewish and never would be.” Well, “not Jewish” is based on one’s belief system and “never would be” is quite simply 100% wrong. It is essential that the parents be ready to handle comments like this without the charge of negative feelings. Don’t give the topic more weight than necessary for your child. Let them come away from the conversation with a light heart and a confident sense of self.

If you want to talk this through with me, I’m happy to do so. Just email or call.

Posted by admin under Past Programs
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Camp Tawonga Dining Hall

Camp Tawonga Dining Hall

Here comes summer! I asked Liora, the Youth and Family Concierge for the East Bay Federation to share some thoughts about Jewish Summer Camp. I did so because she has a marvelous spreadsheet of summer camp options and I want you to feel welcome to give them a try. Here’s what she has to say about her own take on Jewish Summer Camp:

With Memorial Day and Shavuot (The holiday marking the giving of the Torah) on the same weekend this year, nothing says “Summer” like ending the Jewish holiday cycle and BBQ at the same time! Shavuot is the last holiday until Rosh Hashana (mark your calendars, Evening of September 13th!) and with that Jews are officially on summer vacation. What better way to rejoice in the season than to meet new friends and reunite with old friends at summer camp?

Summer camp was a formative experience for me. I recently met up with a former camper from a summer when I was a bunk counselor. She is now married and seeing her again was so special for me. In the songs I sing to my own children (silly, serious, English, Hebrew) or the memories I cherish (Games of “capture the flag,” or cozy in my sleeping bag among my bunkmates) camp is really a special time.

In our first year of the Sprout Initiative at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, it seemed only natural to produce a Summer Camp Guide for Families in the East Bay. From day camps to overnight camps in the region there are many wonderful options. Want to speak with someone to help you sort through the possibilities? I’m here for your family! As the Youth and Family Concierge, my job is to help families connect to Jewish life in the East Bay. I’d love to connect with you.

Not sure your children are camp material? Are your children too young to attend day camp or overnight camp? Try family camps. Specialty family camp weekends are a great way to test the waters or have a getaway while in community. Tawonga has family weekends and Be’chol Lashon has a weekend in November.

Check out our 2015 Summer Camp Guide for Families Click here to view the guide. (PDF)
Whatever your family has planned, all of us at Sprout wish you a wonderful summer.

Liora
liora@jfed.org

I urge you to try something Jewish this summer. It’s a great time, no pressure, that wonderful summery feeling. If you’re not sure what you want to try, feel free to give me a call.

Camp Kee Tov campers

Camp Kee Tov campers

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Children, Community
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So one of you proposed and the other accepted. Mazel tov! The most common place to go from here is excitement and questions – what day will we get married and where – are usually at the top of the list. But where and when should be put on a low simmer while you work out the questions that will significantly impact those choices.

From TieTheKnotinSantorini.com

From TieTheKnotinSantorini.com

A better starting question is, what kind of wedding are YOU vs. I envisioning? Many people grew up assuming they’d have a church wedding. While others anticipated a synagogue as the site. Some grew up with a clergy person from an early age and they always assumed would that person would marry them. Some have family members who adhere to the traditions of their faith and are therefore unable to attend a wedding in a house of worship other than their own.

Now ask each other, what kind of home do we plan to build? If there will be children, what kind of home do we want for them? Did one or both of you grow up participating in a spiritual community? Is it important to you that your child also be a part of your religious community? Or does one of you feel that another/different religious community is fine. Some say, it can be your religion but there DOES need to be religion. Others want to avoid anything that hints of religion or God.

How important is it that you please your parents and grandparents? What traditions would make them happy and are those traditions authentic to you, or just to them? Are you ready to break away and take responsibility for having a family of your own that may not look like the one your parents created? Or will your wedding be a compromise for everyone?

Who will officiate? Couples often leave this question till the end and that can severely limit your options. When you approach a clergy person, a minister, priest or rabbi, they are going to want to know what kind of marriage and family they are creating. If it is important to you that you have a rabbi officiate then you should not make that impossible. Don’t schedule your wedding for the Jewish Sabbath (sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday). While there are a few rabbis who will perform a Shabbat wedding, you are greatly reducing your options. Additionally, if you have observant Jewish relatives, you may be assuring that they won’t be able to attend. If you want a priest or minister, check with them to see what their limits are. I remember asking a priest to participate in a day long program on a Sunday some years back. He had to lead multiple masses that day. Luckily his church was only 5 blocks away and we figured out a time between services when he could pop over for an hour.

Catholic Priest from Wikipedia

Often as a couple begins to experience conflict with extended family members they ruffle and tell me, “That person needs to respect my feelings! This is my beloved and my wedding!” A good way to receive respectful treatment is to give it. Just as you have a right to your feelings and desires, so too do your family members have a right to theirs. Before feelings are hurt and relationships damaged, give me a call. Chances are quite good that negotiations can be made. If you have to come down with an absolute, we can at least find the words to explain your decision in a way that does not lay blame or dispersions on those you love.

Posted by admin under Weddings
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