Lehrhaus Judaica - This is Bay Area Jewry: Seidlitz-Smith

This is Bay Area Jewry:
Photo Essays on the Changing Nature of Our Community

Beth El, Lehrhaus Judaica and Building Jewish Bridges present a photo essay exhibition showcasing the range of diversity in our community. The exhibition features 21 intimate portraits of individuals and families (including Beth El congregants, Renee Passy-Zale and Seidlitz-Smith family) from a variety of backgrounds and levels of religious observance. The project is a combination of photographs and written profiles, shedding light on the unparalleled Bay Area Jewish community.

The exhibition will be on display until March 31, 2018.
Closing Celebration: Saturday, March 17 — details to come.

For more information you may contact Congregation Beth El, 510-848-3988 or Building Jewish Bridges, 510-845-6420 x111. Or email Dawn at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

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High Holidays at Emanu-el, San Francisco

High Holidays at Emanu-el, San Francisco

Our Jewish community is increasingly multiracial, raising multiracial Jewish children is a relatively new phenomenon. Not many parents have the example of their own parents. Parents of multiracial kids have to consider:

What is it like growing up Jewish if you consistently told “you don’t look Jewish”
What comments and behaviors impact a multiracial child’s sense of their Jewishness
How can parents acknowledge the existence of racism and stereotyping while still supporting their child’s identity
All of us want to know: what can we, as friends, neighbors and fellow Jews, do to support and affirm the children growing up among us?

Join a panel of parents and teens from multiracial Jewish families who will address successful strategies and positive behaviors.

Date: Feb. 22, 2018
Time: 7:30 – 9pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
RSVP by emailing dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org to let me know you are coming! I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted by admin under Children, Current Programs, Jews of Color, Parenting
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Gammy & family

How to be a Fabulous Grandparent in an Interfaith Family
Your child has married someone not Jewish. You love their new spouse, but you worry. Will my grandchildren be Jewish? Will I say the wrong thing if I express my concerns and feelings? Should we invite the non- Jewish in-laws to Jewish celebrations at our home? Can we do Jewish activities with the grandchildren without over stepping our children’s boundaries? Which holidays will they celebrate and how? Join other parents and grandparents to explore how to be terrific grandparents to your intermarried child and their family.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 18
Time: 10:30am to 12 noon
Place: Temple Israel of Alameda, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
https://templeisraelalameda.org

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I’m looking for a synagogue. Here are my (many) demands.

Beth Israel Judea, SF

Beth Israel Judea, SF

(This was published in my Mixed and Matched column in the J-weekly.)

I received an inquiry that, quite frankly, annoyed a number of people who read about it. A young man approached me about his desire to find the “right” synagogue. Here is his perspective.

I am serious about a woman who is not Jewish, and I want to expose her to Jewish community and traditions. I grew up as a Conservative Jew in the Midwest and I live in the Bay Area now, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find a synagogue that is right for me and my girlfriend. I can’t find a Conservative synagogue where all the men wear kippot when they are at shul, and I am also concerned that a Conservative shul won’t consider our children Jewish. But I don’t want to go to a Reform synagogue, because they don’t use Hebrew in services and are basically Jewish lite. I grew up with a male rabbi and I would be most comfortable with a male rabbi. Can you give me any suggestions? — Serious About My Judaism

Dear Serious: I’m going to be straight with you — this has little or nothing to do with your girlfriend’s religion. This is about you. You clearly have some very definite ideas of what Judaism needs to look like to feel authentic and to satisfy you. You’ve moved a great distance from your hometown, and the Jewish cultural norms here are different. I would bet that in the decades you’ve been gone, the norms have changed there to some extent. But you are here now, and this is the Jewish community where you are seeking connection.

I notice that you have some small and specific demands, like men always wearing kippot inside the synagogue and the rabbi being male, vs. some very large demands, such as the recognition of patrilineal descent and the use of Hebrew. My friend, you are going to have to compromise on some of your demands. Start by reconsidering the little things, and then let them go. Judaism is a communal tradition. That means the needs of the community are put before the individual desires of the members. There is nowhere that you will get all your wishes met. In fact, there’s not a synagogue anywhere in which every member is getting his or her way all the time. You can’t make all of the male members wear kippot just because you want them to. The synagogue that fits you in other ways may have a female rabbi.

You have some more significant issues to reconcile. The Conservative movement does not currently recognize patrilineal descent. Maybe it will in the future. For now, though, you will have to juxtapose that requirement with your idea that Reform Judaism is “lite.” Which is more important to you? Do you want a Hebrew-heavy liturgy, an observance of kashrut, more days of Hebrew school, greater Shabbat observance, a belief that halachah is binding? Or do you want a community that accepts patrilineal descent?

Next, do any of these concerns supersede issues like geographical convenience? A feeling of connection to the rabbi? Or a sense of comfort with the members? If you are certain you need a familiar Conservative service, start by visiting the shuls nearest to you. It is going to be a lot easier to attend activities if you don’t have to drive a half-hour to get there. It also will be easier for your girlfriend if you are in a familiar environment and feeling at ease. Introduce yourself to the rabbi and chat with members. How does the place feel? Check out the services — are they familiar on a gut level? Go to Torah study or an adult class — is the study at a depth that nurtures you?

Keep in mind that the Conservative movement does not want to reject interfaith couples, and you will find it offers Jewish avenues to giving your child a solid, halachic identity.

It is time to accept that you can’t control everything. As a woman, let me say, “Welcome to my world!” It is one in which typically men are calling the shots and getting their way. If a closer adherence to Jewish law and tradition is what speaks to you, then you will have to accept that sometimes that law doesn’t give you your way. This is also a wonderful opportunity to learn about privilege and humility. And it will benefit your relationship as you see the influence and impact your girlfriend has on your life.

Yes, you may be laughing or angry about this man’s strict requirements for a synagogue. But we make very narrow demands do this at times. It’s worth taking seriously; it’s also a good idea to really consider whether what you want should take precedence over the desires or needs of others.

Posted by admin under Community, Mixed & Matched, Synagogues
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genes from Pixabay

With the new availability of DNA research many people are finding that they have some Jewish ancestry. I’ve gotten quite a few emails asking, “Am I Jewish?” And some stating, “I just found out I’m Jewish.” It isn’t that simple. Recently Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek wrote a useful post to help clarify Jewish identity as it relates to DNA.

Genetic Judaism

Is there a Jewish gene?

It seems that tracing one’s genetic ancestry is all in vogue. You can even watch famous people discover their family history on reality tv.

The phenomenon has increased what used to be a rare occurrence, i.e. people coming to the conclusion that they are Jewish, because of some aspect of their personal ancestry.

Indeed, many people can reasonably say that they have Jewish ancestry, because their genetic profile has so much in common with Jews, particularly Ashkenazic Jews.
That may provide some insight into one’s family history, but it doesn’t make one Jewish.

Think about the following scenario: You discover a diary of your great-great-grandparent, stating that s/he had been born a Jew, but converted to Christianity. No one in your family has thought of themselves as Jewish in five generations.

Would that fact of family history make you a Jew?

That the information comes from a DNA test does not change the calculus.

One might argue halachically, on the basis of one’s maternal line, that one has a claim to Jewishness even though no one in the family has been Jewish for five generations.

The Reform movement does not accept the halachic standard of maternal lineage. If a person’s parents are Christian, one cannot claim to be Jewish.

The State of Israel does not accept the halachic standard of maternal lineage, either, as demonstrated by the famous case of Brother Daniel, who converted to Christianity, then sought to claim Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. The Israel Supreme Court said that maternal Jewishness alone was not the determining factor in one’s claim to being Jewish.

The traditional practice of Judaism, from the Middle Ages on, regarding those seeking to return to an identity as a Jew is to require a ritual of reaffirmation, similar to conversion.

Then, there is the evidence of DNA testing itself. There may be common ancestry among Jewish men, but not so much among Jewish women. Apparently, Jewish men who migrated to Europe in the Roman period tended to marry local women.

In other words, most of those who can identify Jewish ancestry are able to do so through their paternal line, not their maternal line.

One of the fallacies of popular science is that biology is identity.

But we are not Jews simply because there once was a Jew in our past. Jewishness is a social construct. It must be passed affirmatively from parent to child, or chosen willingly through conversion.

Those with Jewish ancestry may have discovered something fascinating about their family’s past, as have many of us. That doesn’t determine who they are now, in this life.

It may, however, invite consideration of what Judaism is.

Biology is not destiny, but past may be prologue.

Rabbi Larry Milder

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christmas ornaments Pixabay

I wrote the opinion piece for the J-Weekly because so many Jews told me they felt pressured to embrace Christmas. Please expand your idea of what other people “should” like.

Growing up without a formal religion in the United States can lead many people to insist, “I have no religion. I’m certainly not a Christian.” They define “real” Christians as people who go to church, believe in Jesus as savior and observe Christmas and Easter as religious holidays.

But the reality is more nuanced. Despite the diversity we value and enjoy in this country, America’s culture is shaped by the Christian people who settled it. As a result, Christmas and Easter are federal holidays when government offices close. And the holidays are populated by figures like Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty and the Easter Bunny. All of this is so ingrained in the culture that most Americans don’t see it as unique. But for those who come from a different culture or nation, American culture is indeed quite distinct.

I like to call these Americans who claim no religious identity but follow the customs “folkloric Christian Americans.” They have Christmas trees, give gifts, leave out cookies for Santa and truly love the holiday and all its trappings. To a lesser extent, they also love Easter, with its emphasis on chocolate, bunnies, Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts. They make no reference to the resurrection of Christ and don’t go to an early morning Easter service. But they love the food and decorations that accompany the holiday. They enjoy getting together with family over a big meal — very much like Thanksgiving.

They observe these Christian holidays as folkloric, cultural practices.

Now, here’s the rub: folkloric Christian Americans believe the holidays are about fun, and that no one should have to go through life without them. I’ve heard people say quite sincerely, “It would be cruel to deprive a child of the magic of Christmas.” This kind of statement implies that their cultural norms hold some ultimate truth that every human being should follow.

For Americans who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Native American and others, this perspective can feel like a frontal attack on their own cultural norms and practices. Members of minority communities who grew up surrounded by American norms may feel uncomfortable when they are put on the spot with such statements. And the less able they are to articulate why a particular holiday or practice is not for them, the more upset it makes them feel. They are defending themselves on a primal level but without the vocabulary to express their concerns.

To the Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Sufis, my fellow Jews and others, I want to say that each of us has the human right to be who we are and to decline to adopt the cultural holidays of mainstream Christian America. While some minority folks are happy to get on board and have Easter baskets and Christmas trees, know that you don’t have to. Do not be defensive or angry. Express your sense of self in a soft voice. Graciously decline invitations that would make you feel inauthentic. Let others have their fun. You have your own.

And to the folkloric Christian Americans, I want to say, please wake up to the reality that most of the people on this planet do not have a Christmas tree or Easter basket, and they are doing just fine. Children who don’t practice your cultural holidays won’t feel deprived unless you make a point of trying to make them feel deprived. If you truly welcome diversity, then show it with your actions. Allow others to be different from you. And we should all enjoy and celebrate these differences in one another.

Posted by admin under Christmas, Community, Couples, In the News
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christmas decor Pixabay

A holiday season email from a non-Jewish guy came to my Mixed and Matched column:

I love Christmas but my Jewish girlfriend won’t participate with me, and this is our first holiday season together. I’ve told her that Christmas isn’t really religious for me. The tree and Yule log are pagan originally; they have nothing to do with Jesus. Santa and Rudolph are just American holiday symbols like a turkey for Thanksgiving. Christmas is just what we do in America! How can I get through to her so we can have fun together? — Festive Guy

Dear Festive: Let me be frank with you. You are experiencing the myopic understanding of folkloric-Christian America. I don’t fault you for understanding the world through your own cultural upbringing. But I want you to reflect on what you’ve said, and try to see it through Jewish eyes.

Christmas means “Christ Mass” — that is, a religious service for the Christ. This is the origin and the core meaning of this holiday. Even if you don’t believe in what it expresses, it still represents the birth of the Christ. Its meaning remains intact. It’s like how Yom Kippur retains its meaning even though millions of non-Jews don’t observe Yom Kippur.

You mention that the tree and the Yule log are pagan in origin. True. However, Judaism has opposed paganism from the beginning — take a look at the stories in Genesis and Exodus.

Being pagan doesn’t make it OK. Christianity altered and integrated innumerable practices of the cultures it absorbed. Every country, every culture that has been rendered Christian has leftover traditions that have been adapted to a Christian understanding. That assimilation of indigenous peoples’ heritages is not seen as a plus by many Jews.

Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman (and even the Grinch), and so on, are indeed American symbols of stories that derive from Christmas and have little or no religious meaning or connection to Jesus. However, everyone knows that they are a part of this specific holiday and displaying them is a reference to Christmas.

You are right. All these symbols, stories and practices are “what we do in America.” Professionally, I refer to your view as American folkloric Christianity. You engage with Christianity more as folklore, like Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed.

However, unlike those American myths, Christmas is huge. It arrives in September and doesn’t exit until after New Year’s Day. It alters the entire American landscape. It infiltrates sports, government, commerce, media and daily social interaction. It is seen as sacred by many, which supercharges its role.

For you, and most Americans, Christmas is so much a part of the fabric of our culture that it is hard to see. Remember the saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? That’s what you are experiencing. It is just so darn hard to see a lifelong practice through the lens another.

For your Jewish girlfriend, Christmas may be the epitome of her otherness. As a Jew, she doesn’t observe this massive holiday. She has different holidays and they are the signposts on her calendar, for her life.

I don’t want to put words into your girlfriend’s mouth, so sit down with her and ask her to explain to you how she feels about Christmas and why. She may not dislike it, but simply does not want to participate in it.

The two of you need to understand one another’s viewpoints. Living in America, she assuredly is familiar with Christmas, but personalize it for her. Are there things you do with your family that are particularly meaningful to you? I have a friend who always chops down his own tree and another who has a Christmas cookie exchange. There will be things that your girlfriend refuses to do, but there may be activities that feel neutral to her.

I don’t know how serious you two are, but this conflict is a signal that if you are thinking about a permanent relationship, you should do some serious talking about what you each want in a partner and in the home you will make with that person. You don’t want to be expecting your first child and realize that you want the baby baptized and she wants a bris.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Intercultural, Mixed & Matched
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xmas-hanukkah.png

Hanukkah and Christmas – the “December dilemma”. I never liked that term “dilemma”. Not that there isn’t an element of difficulty for an interfaith household, but the word made it seem so dire. I think I would prefer, December Questions, because it all boils down to a lot of questions. The core one being, how will we handle these two holidays, one of which is the Mother of All Holidays.

Let me say emphatically, this is not a one-answer-fits-all question. There are a few do’s and don’ts, but no template that everyone can squeeze into.

The first issue is that people often don’t want to talk about it until they are smack up against it – like now, December is here. But it’s much easier to contemplate in February, with the next occasion being months away.

Here are some questions to discuss:
1. Do one or both of us have strong feelings about this? This is usually Christmas.
2. Do we have a plan for this year or do we need some help sorting it out – right away?
3. Is December a cloud that floats through our lives with us – one we’d like to be rid of?
4. Are we stuck and just don’t know what to do or say at this point? Are we feeling overwhelmed?

Bonus question: How is this impacting our children? Do we really know?

If after reading this you’d like some help, please contact me. (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org). You are not alone. You haven’t done anything “wrong”. You may need some new ideas.

As for the Bonus Question, how this is affecting your kids matters. But you must take care of yourselves before you can focus on the children.

Shabbat Shalom & have a peaceful weekend,
Dawn

EVENTS
Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service (Los Altos Hills)
Library Shabbat (Lafayette)
Tot Shabbat (San Mateo)
Latkes and Vodka! (Walnut Creek)
Family Connections (San Rafael)
Pop ‘n Latkes (Berkeley)
Bring Your Own Menorah! (Foster City)
Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro (San Francisco)
Oy Chanikah (Palo Alto)
Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition (San Francisco)
Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center! (Palo Alto)
Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration (Oakland)
Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie! (Lafayette)
New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party (San Rafael)

Learn About the Shabbat Evening Service
at Beth Am’s Pre-Service Learning and Discussion
Do you wish you had a better understanding of the Shabbat evening service? Would you like to find more meaning in the worship experience? Join Beth Am clergy for learning and discussion of the structure and meaning of our Friday night prayers, along with practical suggestions for connecting these ancient words to our own lives. No question is too elementary! Led by Beth Am clergy.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Details here.

Library Shabbat
The Library Committee presents Temple Isaiah member and best-selling author Alan Jacobson discussing The Lost Codex, an exciting thriller with a biblical connection. The service will be followed by a festive oneg with book-signing and a pop-up library.

Date: Friday, December 8
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
www.temple-isaiah.org

Tot Shabbat
Join Rabbi Sara for a fun, interactive, and musical service. Rabbi Sara will tell a special story for young kids. Sing and dance with stuffed Torahs and experience a joyful Shabbat with friends. Followed by snacks, playtime, and a special Chanukah project!

Date: Saturday, December 9
Time: 9:00 am
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Details here.

Latkes and Vodka!
Did you know that vodka can be made from fermented corn, rice, wheat, potatoes,
fruit or even just sugar? Start the Hanukkah celebration early with a class on the history of this distilled beverage given by a national vodka expert. Plus enjoy delicious latkes and tastings of four different international vodkas, all followed by a pianist. Lemon Dreidel Drops available for purchase.

Date: Sat., Dec. 9
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost: Pre-admission: $20; At-the-door: $23. RSVP is recommended by December 5 here.
Support Shalom Bayit and those fleeing domestic abuse by donating a supermarket or Target gift card to a family in need at this event.
Sponsored be Under One Tent, the Contra Costa JCC and B’nai Tikvah.

Family Connections
Connect with other families with young children! Learn about the Jewish holidays and traditions through music, art, cooking and parent education. Come nosh and schmooze with new friends!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 10
Time: 9:30 – 11:30am
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Cost: Free for families with children birth to 3years of age. Siblings and extended family are welcome.
Please RSVP to Melody Horowitz: mhorowitz@marinjcc.org
www.marinjcc.org

Pop ‘n Latkes
A Festival of Giving, Dancing, and Light
Community Holiday Hanukkah Celebration
Already dreaming about latkes? This year, they’ll be paired with breakdancing! Mark your calendar for our annual community celebration, where we’ll light the candles together at our all-ages extravaganza.

Enjoy a pop-up breakdance workshop with our resident dancer, Marcus; craft-making with Be’chol Lashon; storytelling with Diana Shmiana featuring the Mystery of the Missing Candle (for ages 3-7); singalongs with Isaac Zones; and a child-friendly screening with BimBam. Learn more about Hanukkah with our new Shamash Resident, Rachel Brodie. Visit the gift-wrapping station to beautifully package your donated gifts of brand-new children’s toys, and assemble a homemade note to go with gift cards to be donated.

Cozy up in the book nook, pop a move in the theater, and celebrate the season in our warm, inclusive environment.

Date: Sunday, December 10
Time: 2pm
Place: East Bay JCC, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Cost: In advance : $6 for children, $8 for adults. At the door: $8 for children, $10 for adults; Children 2 and under are free of charge
Details here.

Bring Your Own Menorah!
Join us for the first night of Chanukah and BYOM (bring your own menorah). It will be a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday, as we eat latkes, spin dreidels, and light the candles as a community. Happy Chanukah!

Date: Wednesday night, December 13
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City
www.peninsulasinai.org

Sha’ar Zahav’s Third Annual Hanukkah in the Castro
Light candles, sing, spin the giant dreidl, eat sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and dance! We are teaming up with Castro Merchants again to host this fun-filled evening to celebrate light and community. Bring your own Menorah (BYOM)!

Date: Wednesday, Dec 13 (2nd night of Hanukkah)
Time: 6:00pm
Place: Jane Warner Plaza at Castro & Market Street, San Francisco
Details here.

Oy Chanikah
Hadassah welcomes back the wonderful Mark Levy, who will lead us in his program called “Oy Chanikah.” It includes songs from the Old World and the new, sung in Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, English and Russian.

Date: Thursday, December 14: Concert from 10:30am to 12:00pm; Socializing & Desserts from 12:00 to 12:30pm
Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Place: Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Ave., Palo Alto
RSVP required to Leah at SequoiaChapterRSVP@Hadassah.org
Cost: $18 Donation to Hadassah for Youth Aliyah program. Hadassah’s ‘Youth Aliyah’ assists young immigrants and at-risk children in Israel.
Sponsored by Hadassah Sequoia

Night at the Jewseum: Light, Analog Edition
The party for the after-work crowd celebrates Hanukkah through a Museum-wide party exploring the exquisite charm of art and culture before digital. Engage with tube amp craft, create tape loops, old-school liquid light show, typewriter petting zoo, Ask A Maven, and more.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Place: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
Cost: FREE with Museum admission; $5 after 5pm.
More info here.

Hanukkah comes to Stanford Shopping Center!
Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with a musical performance by Isaac Zones of Shamati, arts and crafts for the kids, dreidel games and a special candle lighting ceremony.

Date: Thursday, December 14
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Place: Stanford Shopping Center, Macy’s Plaza, 660 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto
Free
Hosted by the Palo Alto JCC. Details here.

Sinai Community Hanukkah Celebration
Join our community Hanukkah celebration including music, latkes, arts and crafts, and menorah lighting (bring your menorah to light). This is a child-friendly celebration for people of all ages.
Stay through the evening for a festive Hanukkah service and holiday oneg.

Date: Friday, December 15
Time: 6:00pm Dinner, Arts & Crafts, Music and Menorah Lighting, 7:30pm, Special Erev Shabbat Service “Friday Night Live!” with the Adult Choir and Mizmor Shir! band.
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: Dinner, including holiday treats; cost is $10/person.
Please click here to RSVP for the dinner by December 13. Dinner will be Mac & Cheese from Homeroom.

Hey Hey It’s Mushu and a Movie!
According to recent American Jewish tradition, we gather on our friends’ holiday eve —December 24th — for delicious meals at Chinese restaurants, and good films at the cinema. At Temple Isaiah, our community enjoys the feast and film together, in our adult lounge, and calls it “MuShu and a Movie.”
Join us at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 24, for a very plentiful Chinese food buffet and a sweetly comic coming-of-age movie that’s a favorite at festivals everywhere: Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueberger.
The film is a smart, quirky portrait of a feisty Jewish teen’s quest to “fit in” by breaking out. Esther Blueburger is a nerdy misfit at a posh girls’ school. Her quest begins when she escapes from her Bat Mitzvah party and is befriended by Sunni, a spunky, independent “cool girl” who is everything Esther thinks she wants to be. When Sunni discovers how unhappy Esther is, the girls hatch a plan: Esther will leave behind her dysfunctional family to hang out with Sunni’s super-hip single mom and attend a taboo public school, all while disguised as a Swedish exchange student.
Everyone is welcome!

Date: Sunday, Dec. 24
Time: 6pm
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette
Cost for Temple members is $20 for adults/teens, $15 for kids under 13; $25/17 for non-members. Movie snacks, beverages and dessert are included. Adults may bring their own beer and wine. Send a check (payable to Anshei Isaiah) to the Temple office.
Details here


New Year’s Eve Stand-Up Comedy Show & After Party

The Osher Marin JCC joins the Other Cafe Comedy Showcase to present their 8th Annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Show of smart, clean and funny humor. Known as one of the top comedy shows of the year and always a sell-out, the evening is timed so attendees can enjoy an early dinner at a favorite restaurant, be elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or stay for the festive After Party with the Comics including complimentary bubbly toast at midnight! The event also offers a chance to use the evening as New Year’s celebration with friends at a reserved lantern-lit table for Four OR Eight.
Smart, funny and clean stand-up comedy from 5 comics in ONE hilarious show.

Date: Dec. 31
Time: 7:30pm to 12:45am
7:30pm: Pre-event No-Host Full Bar
8:00: Theater Doors Open
9:00pm: Comedy Showcase
11:15pm-12:45am: After Party & Countdown with the Comics
Place: Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Cost: Start as low as $39.50 with General Admission, Reserved Seats and Candle-Lit Group Tables.
Register here.

Posted by admin under Chanukah, Christmas, Community Activities, Couples, Jewish home celebrations
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A song of ascents

I offer workshops specifically for patrilineal Jews who want to solidify their confidence in their own Jewish identity. I ask those who are confident to share ideas and strategies that helped them reach this secure place.

Jeffrey, a gentleman in his 60’s had this wisdom to offered.

Very briefly, as a patrilineal Jew, what I would say is this: if you want to be Jewish and to be accepted as such, educate yourself. Serious ongoing study of Judaism is incredibly enriching, and it is definitely respected in the Jewish world. The other thing is to hang out primarily with Jews who are inclusive and accepting. Join such a community. Be an active learner, committee member, etc. Acceptance (and self-acceptance) will arise…then, the slights, which are probably inevitable, are just that: slight, i.e. insignificant. The other thing is to do your own psychological work…face and dispel pernicious shame.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, In their own words
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A turkey challah

A turkey challah

Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek in Pleasanton sent out this delightful message to his congregants. I simply HAD to share it with you. There are so many great things in it.
1. There’s a lovely blessing to say at your Thanksgiving table. (Below in italics)
2. There’s the delightful learning about the meaning of a word (Hodu) and the way in which Jewish students & scholars love to dig into the root meaning of every letter!
3. There’s the history story about Turkey and India and America.

So whether you go away charmed, humored or touched, enjoy and give thanks for a life so full of good things.

How should Jews celebrate Thanksgiving?

For starters, let’s begin Thanksgiving with Motzi. If you don’t regularly recite this blessing for a meal, this is certainly the occasion that calls for it.

Now, if you would like to add something special, try this Thanksgiving hymn from the book of Psalms, Psalm 100:

Enter into the gates of the Eternal with thanksgiving
And into God’s courts with praise;
Give thanks to God,
And bless God’s holy name.
For the Eternal is good,
God’s kindness endures forever…

The words in Hebrew are particularly fitting for this holiday. “Give thanks to God” is “Hodu lo.”

Now, here is what you need to know to appreciate this accidental double entendre.

The word “hodu”, give thanks, is also the Hebrew word for India, as in the country. I don’t know why. It just is.

When Columbus arrived on these shores, and saw these strange birds running around, thinking he was in India, he dubbed them “Indian chickens,” which is what turkeys were then called. Turn “Indian chicken” into Hebrew, and you get Tarnegol Hodu, which has, over time, been shortened simply to Hodu.

This should not be surprising. After all, Americans name the bird after one Asian country, Turkey; Jews name it after another Asian country, India.

But, in a coincidence that only God could have planned, this etymology yields the magnificent double entendre of the Hebrew “Hodu lo,” which can mean either “Give thanks to God,” or alternatively, “Turkeys for God.”

And that, friends, is how Jews should celebrate Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Larry Milder

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Holidays, Intercultural, Prayer, Spirituality
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