sukkah with lights on

Another letter from my Mixed and Matched column

Dear Dawn: My friends and family agree with you that the High Holy Days were not the right time to introduce my boyfriend to Judaism. So when is the right time? I don’t want to scare him, but being Jewish is very important to me. I am hoping that he will come to really love it, too, because I think he’s the one. He loves the outdoors. He isn’t into cooking as much as grilling. He has a very sweet dog that he treats very well. He’s a caring guy. We’ve been together for about six months and I’d like to start introducing him to Judaism. What do you suggest I do first? Or even second? — In Love

Dear In Love: What a delightful message to receive. You couldn’t have timed this better because Oct. 4-11 is the wonderful outdoor Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Tradition says that we are to build a sukkah and then live in it for a week. If your boyfriend enjoys making things — does he already own things like a saw, hammer and electric drill? — then you could consider making a sukkah together. It is “just” a three-walled hut with a partial roof. Many years ago, I got directions for construction from a woman at my shul, and my husband, who loves building, happily made us our first sukkah.

If you’re not ready for that, consider buying a kit online. No, it will not be cheap. Think of it like a Christmas tree; it’s at the center of the holiday, gets decorated and (good news) can be taken down and saved for next year. So the cost is one time, unlike a Christmas tree (well, the nonplastic kind, anyway). In recent years, I’ve assembled the kit and it’s pretty simple. Since I live where there’s a significant evening breeze, my husband bolts the sukkah frame to the ground. Yes, my sukkah has completely toppled over! We just put it back, and since then it has been bolted.

Have meals in the sukkah. Sleep in the sukkah; his dog will love it. Or just sit together in the sukkah and watch nature around you — butterflies, bees, birds. It’s better than meditating.

If the thought of building a sukkah is too much for you, then consider using the other parts of the holiday to delight your boyfriend.

This is a harvest festival. Make luscious meals all week; have your boyfriend do some grilling. Invite friends over. Eat outside. Tell your boyfriend the story and the symbolism of the holiday so that he can appreciate our funny little huts as much as any other holiday paraphernalia.

This is a great time to also make Sukkot more fun for you and your extended family. Did you know that the traditional foods of Sukkot (Askenazi or Sephardic) are stuffed foods? That could be zucchini, pumpkins, peppers, grape leaves or other things. You can stuff them with meat, rice, quinoa, textured vegetable protein. Think about what the two of you really love and invent your own special Sukkot dish. It can be the beginning of your own tradition.

Do you have a friend who has a sukkah? Or do you belong to a synagogue that has one? See if you can get over to someone else’s sukkah. If you are going to be a guest: Make a decoration to hang in the sukkah, be it temporary (like a paper chain) or permanent (like a decorative lantern); bring along a fruit-stuffed pie; bring some branches to add to the roof.

After Sukkot, there will be a quiet stretch in the Jewish calendar, but there is always weekly Shabbat. If you don’t currently do anything for Shabbat, why not start? Have some friends over for dinner or have a candlelit dinner the two of you.

Try doing one Jewish thing at each dinner and figure out which ones the two of you most enjoy. Having guests? Lighting candles? Having fresh challah? Reflecting on the past week?

If your boyfriend is feeling that you could be the one, start showing him what life with a Jewish woman is like. Don’t hit him over the head with it, but tell him that you want to share what you love most about being Jewish. Maybe see a Jewish-themed film or play. Play him some music; take him to the Contemporary Jewish Museum or to a local Judaica shop.

Let me know how it goes.

Posted by admin under Mixed & Matched, Non-Jewish family, Relationships, Sukkot
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Yom Kippur white tallit

I can’t fast this year. I’ve been sick for about five days and I know that fasting with result in my falling face first onto the synagogue floor. Everyone who rushed to me would end up scolding me for being so ridiculous. So, I’m circumventing that and not fasting.

A lot of people think that fasting for Yom Kippur is right up there with total holiness. But if you read the teachings of the rabbis, you’ll see that taking care of yourself – and the one body God gave you – is way up at the top. I knew my friend, Rabbi Ruth Adar, had written about this a few years ago and I went to find her article, Physical and Mental Health During the High Holy Days. In it she articulates the commandment to “choose life” and how to go about doing so.

I also read an article, How to Do Yom Kippur Without Fasting, by a woman who has an eating disorder and must never fast. I liked the ideas she gave herself to keep the day forefront in her mind, like eating round foods.

Third, I read and loved this article, 4 Ways Kids Can Participate on Yom Kippur! These four suggested behaviors are significantly more meaningful than merely fasting. I shared the articles I found with my friend, Rabbi Ruth, who said, “I am glad you are taking care of yourself. I like to remember what Isaiah says about the fast God desires: not the forgoing of food but deeds of righteousness and care for those who are suffering.”

Wishing you a healthy and happy year.

Gemar chatimah tovah

Posted by admin under A meaningful life, Fast Days, High Holidays
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Fall 2017 Programs

Shaking the Lulav

Shaking the Lulav

Sukkah Party for Interfaith Couples & Families
Come to the Sukkah for some food and fun. Together we’ll make and hang sukkah decorations and everyone will get a chance to wave the lulav and etrog. We’ll make edible sukkahs that kids (and adults) can take home.

Date: Sunday, October, 8
Time: 2 to 4pm
Place: Private home in Oakland, address sent after registration
Cost: $5/person or $15/family of 4 or more.
Register here.

Carly and her mom

Parenting and Grandparenting in an Interfaith Family
Techniques for listening and talking to adult children

Your child has married a non-Jewish person, maybe a Christian. Possibly they have not yet determined whether to have a Jewish home. The question of children may also be up in the air. You know that any children they have are THEIR children but you hope to impart some of your Jewish identity to your grandchildren. How can you talk to your own child and child-in-law about your desire while respecting them as parents? What is reasonable to say or request? How do you open the conversation?

Join other grandparents and Dawn Kepler to discuss this delicate conversation and come away with ideas for being the fabulous grandparent you know you can be!

Date: Monday, Oct. 30
Time: 7 – 9pm
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Ct, Pleasanton
Free, preregistration required.
Please register here.

Michella Ore
Patralineal Jews: Navigating the Jewish World & Keeping Your Identity Strong
Are you the child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother? At some point in life patrilineal Jews usually are told, “You know you’re not really Jewish, right?” Let’s talk about how to be a confident Jew even if others don’t affirm your identity. Share your stories and ideas with others. Join us for coffee at We’ll offer you an array of approaches for dealing to unwanted comments.

Date: Sunday, Nov. 12
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Café Dejena 3939 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland
Free, but preregistration is required.
Sign up here.

Imaginary Comforts

Imaginary Comforts


Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit
Join us this fall for Berkeley Rep’s new play by Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, that “celebrates ordinary people trying to make sense out of life in the midst of endless, comedic chaos.” The play is described this way,

The genius behind Lemony Snicket brings his relentlessly mischievous style to a new play for adults. Sarah’s father is dead, her mother is in hysterics, and the new rabbi totally bungled the funeral. To further the absurdity, the ghost of a rabbit hops into her life, pushing her to confront her deepest issues. Fantastical and wise, hilarious and sobering.

Jews have often felt that life is chaotic, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic. Join Rabbi Chester to reflect on how Judaism makes sense of life that often feels nonsensical.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 16
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: Free to Temple Sinai members; $10 to the public
Register here.

Making Shabbat Your Own: Shabbat Candlesticks
Come make Shabbat candlesticks from metal foil, discuss how to make the celebration of Shabbat work for yourself or your family, and learn the “Secret of Shabbat!” While discussing Shabbat we will explore lots of options for decorating our candlesticks: emboss lines, attach beads, add color, and cut decorative holes for the light to shine through. No artistic talent or prior knowledge required to create incredible candlesticks. Appropriate for age 8 and up. Join Claire Sherman, artist and mensch for this fun filled workshop.

Date: Dec. 3
Time: 10am to noon
Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley
Cost: $20
Register here.

Raising Kids in an Interfaith Family
As partners and parents we want the best for each member of our family. Does that mean putting our relationship before the children? Can’t we give equally to our partner and our kids?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to love and parenting in any family, including interfaith families. Together we will look at balancing competing needs and how to sketch out a plan for your family’s choices. We’ll touch on the December holidays too.

Date: Dec. 10
Time: 10:30am to 12noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Free, but please RSVP to dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org so that I’ll know how many to expect. Thanks!
https://templeisraelalameda.org

Jews of Color: Taking Charge of Your Jewish Identity
It is not unusual for a Jew of color to be asked, “How did you get to be Jewish?” Quite simply the question stems from their appearance, “You don’t look Jewish.”
There are a number of ways that an adult from a biracial Jewish or interfaith family can arm themselves for these micro-aggressions. Join Kim Carter Martinez, the biracial daughter of an African American father and a white Ashkenazi mother. Kim has spent years honing her skills and is pleased to teach others how to own your identity in spite of the doubts of others.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 17
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Free, but preregistration is required.
Sign up here.

Posted by admin under Adult Child of an Interfaith Family, Current Programs, Jewish holidays at home, Jews of Color, Sukkot
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sarah as Shabbat star

Raising Kids in an Interfaith Family
As partners and parents we want the best for each member of our family. Does that mean putting our relationship before the children? Can’t we give equally to our partner and our kids?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to love and parenting in any family, including interfaith families. Together we will look at balancing competing needs and how to sketch out a plan for your family’s choices. We’ll touch on the December holidays too.

Date: Dec. 10
Time: 10:30am to 12noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Free, but please RSVP to dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org so that I’ll know how many to expect. Thanks!
https://templeisraelalameda.org

Posted by admin under Children, Parenting
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Imaginary Comforts

Imaginary Comforts

Once again we go to a local theater production and then take a Jewish look at the play. That won’t be difficult with this comedy from Daniel Handler. See the play before – or after – the class.

Imaginary Comforts, or the Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit
Join us this fall for Berkeley Rep’s new play by Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, that “celebrates ordinary people trying to make sense out of life in the midst of endless, comedic chaos.”
The play is described this way:
The genius behind Lemony Snicket brings his relentlessly mischievous style to a new play for adults. Sarah’s father is dead, her mother is in hysterics, and the new rabbi totally bungled the funeral. To further the absurdity, the ghost of a rabbit hops into her life, pushing her to confront her deepest issues. Fantastical and wise, hilarious and sobering.
Jews have often felt that life is chaotic, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic.

Join Rabbi Chester to reflect on how Judaism makes sense of life that often feels nonsensical.
Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit will be in production at the Berkeley Repertory Theater October 5 – November 19.

Date: Thursday, November 16
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $10 for the public, Free for Temple Sinai members
Register here.
Do sign up soon, we always get a big turnout.

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Current Programs, Jewish Learning
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Rabbi Adar teaching

Rabbi Adar teaching

It is autumn and the Jewish year will start up very shortly. Along with the new year come all the new BASIC Judaism classes. I am listing all those of which I am aware. Do email me (dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org) to tell me of other BAY AREA basic Judaism classes.

Introduction to Judaism:
Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices

Looking for a good foundational knowledge of Judaism? Whether you are in a relationship with a Jew or want to become Jewish or are just plain curious, this is a good starting place. Sherith Israel has provided the following syllabus for the class:

Sept. 13: Introduction to the course and High Holidays: The Meaning of the Shofar with shofar expert Maurice Kamins
— High Holidays / no classes —
Oct. 18: History and texts—Torah to Second Temple period
Oct. 25: History and texts—Second Temple period to modernity
Nov. 1: Theology and belief
Nov. 8: Prayer and liturgy—overview
Nov. 15: Prayer and liturgy—arc of the service
Nov. 29: Calendar and festivals
Dec. 6: Mitzvot—exploring the commandments
Dec. 13: Shabbat
Dec. 20: Kashrut—dietary laws
Jan 10: The Jewish lifecycle
Jan 17: Zionism and Israel
Jan 24: Judaism in contemporary society: Reform, Conservative and Orthodox
Judaism; Responsa; Keeping an ancient tradition relevant
Jan 31: Personal Reflections/What do I believe?
Don’t worry if you miss the very first class; it will mostly be introductions. Contact Allison Green to get started.
FYI: street parking is free in the evening and many take Lyft to Sherith Israel.

Date: Wednesdays September 13, 2017 and then Oct. 18, 2017–Jan. 31, 2018
Time: 6:30–8 pm
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California Street, San Francisco
Cost: Free to Sherith Israel members; $180 for nonmembers. Interfaith couples are encouraged to attend together: $180 plus $72 for a second person. Scholarships available. No one turned away for financial reasons.
For more information or to register, contact Allison Green at agreen@sherithisrael.org or 415.346.1720, x 24.
Note: Allison is incredibly nice and will work things out for you. Give her a call.

Exploring Judaism Part One: An Introduction
This course will provide participants with a foundation in the basic tenets of Judaism. The course is organized around the three pillars of Judaism mentioned in the Mishnah: Torah, Prayer, and Acts of Loving Kindness/Social Justice. Within these topics we will also cover the Jewish calendar, Shabbat practice, and deepen our ability to interpret and understand texts. Participants in this class have ranged from 40-year-long members of Rodef Sholom to individuals completely new to Judaism. This class welcomes learners of all ages and levels looking to (re)-ground themselves in the basics of Judaism. Participants will also have the opportunity to experience Shabbat and havdalah together. RSVP to www.rodefsholom.org/rsvp.

Dates: Sunday, September 24; Oct. 8, 15, 22; Nov. 12; Dec. 3, 10, 17
Time: 9:15-10:15am
Place: Marin JCC in the library, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Sponsored by Rodef Sholom, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Free

The Building Blocks of Judaism
This course is for those who wish to learn (or re-learn) Judaism. All are welcome: non-Jews, Jews, interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Judaism. Students will learn the basics of Judaism in a friendly and informal atmosphere. We’ll explore fundamental aspects of Jewish practices such as holiday observance and life-cycle celebrations, including opportunities for some hands-on practice and 2 field trips. We’ll also cover Jewish understandings of God and religious beliefs, essential Jewish texts, Jewish history, literature, and the significance of Israel in Judaism today.

There are two semesters. You may enroll for just the Fall or for the entire year. Look here for details.
Please note, there was a first class on Sept. 7th but the class will really get underway in October. So don’t hesitate to enroll.

Date: October 5 to Dec. 7
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Cost: $245 for the public, reduced rates for members, students and émigrés.
Register here.

Exploring Judaism
This course is a year-long exploration of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Jewish people. “Exploring Judaism” will be interesting and meaningful whether you are becoming an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah, you are just beginning to explore Jewish studies, you are considering choosing Judaism, you are in an interfaith relationship, or you are simply looking for a deeper and more mature understanding of Jewish history and tradition. Students are encouraged to expand their Jewish literacy by taking this course in conjunction with Beginning Hebrew. Books for the course are TBD; please note that books are not included in the price for the course.

Dates: Sundays, Oct.8 through May 20, 22 sessions*
Time: 10:10-11:10am
Place: Contra Costa Jewish Day School on the Temple Isaiah campus, 945 Risa Rd, Lafayette, Room 207 of the CCJDS Building
Cost: Tuition: $100/ Temple Isaiah members; $250/non-members
*Year-long Course Sundays, Oct 8 through May 20 (No class: 10/29, 11/19, 11/26, 12/17, 12/24, 12/31, 1/14, 2/18, 4/1, 4/8, 5/13)
Details and enrollment here.

Introduction to Judaism
An overview of the Jewish life-cycle, holidays, and ritual. During the course of the year, students will gain an understanding of Jewish belief, history and calendar and gain exposure to important Jewish books including the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. Each session includes thirty minutes of Hebrew instruction. Sessions will rotate among local synagogues and the APJCC based on which rabbi is teaching.

Date: October 10, 2017 to May 1, 2018
Time: 7:00 to 8:30pm
Place: Classes rotate between synagogues and the JCC.
Cost: $180 for a set of books. A couple who buys only one set will pay only $180.
Details and registration here.
For more information, please contract rabbihugh@apjcc.org
Instructors: Rabbi Berkenwald of Congregation Sinai, Rabbi Aron of Congregation Shir Hadash, Rabbi Ohriner of Congregation Beth David, Rabbi Magat of Temple Emanu-El, and Rabbi Seid-Valencia of the APJCC.

Intro to Judaism: Learning for the Mind, Heart, & Soul
Jew-Curious? Interested in converting to Judaism? Sharing your life with a Jew and want to crack the code? Calling all potential conversion students and interfaith couples!

Our engaging, university-accredited Intro to Judaism class is interactive and encourages questions, discussion, and hands-on learning. No knowledge of Hebrew is required, but you will learn to read the language as part of the class.

Dates: 8 Sundays, meeting monthly on Oct. 14, Nov. 4, Dec. 9, Jan 13, 2018, Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, and May 12
Time: 10 am – 12 pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue, San Francisco
Cost: $360 for an individual, $540 for a couple, with 20% discount offered to Beth Sholom members. Some financial aid and payment options are available — CBS is committed to never turning people away. For more information, contact email Amanda Russell or call us at 415-221-8736.
Details here.

Judaism 101
This 18-week course is for those who would like to learn about Judaism from the ground up, or to fill in gaps from what they learned (or didn’t learn) as a child. The class also prepares those considering conversion. It covers Hebrew pronunciation, biblical and rabbinic writings, history and culture, holy days, festivals, Shabbat, Jewish concepts of God and ethics, life cycle, dietary laws and Israel.
By the end of the course, students will be able to read aloud any Hebrew text with vowels. Students who wish to take a single class by topic may do so. Topical learning begins a half hour into the session.

Date: 18 Sundays, October 15 – May 6
Time: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr., Tiburon
Cost: $275 for the 18-week series or $20 per class. Free for members.
To register, contact Alona Shahbaz at ashahbaz@kolshofar.org or 415-388-1818 x100

Introduction to Judaism
Join Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism. Participants register for each trimester separately.

Date: Begins on Tuesday, October 17
Time: 7:00 -9:00pm
Place: Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: Public/$75 each trimester; members of Emanu-El $54
Register here.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Lifecycles and Holidays
Communal and individual Jewish life dances to the rhythm of two different cycles: Jewish lifecycle events and the cycle of the Jewish year. This class covers a basic introduction to the Jewish lifecycle (weddings, birth, bar mitzvah, conversion, mourning, and funerals). Then we will look at the Jewish year, with its cycles of fall and spring holidays as well as holidays reflecting historical events.

This class is part of a three-unit series.

Dates: Wednesdays, October 18 – December 13 (no class 11/22)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $105 for the public; $90 for members
Register here.
There is also an ONLINE version of this class. Go here to explore that option.

Introduction to Judaism
Whether your familiarity with Jewish learning and experience is academic or informal, you are warmly invited to join a conversation that seeks to integrate your knowledge and explore your questions. This four-week-long class is comprised of classic and contemporary thought on Jewish ethics, the Jewish calendar, Shabbat, life-cycle events and theology. All materials will be provided.

Date: 4 Wednesdays, October 18 – November 8
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: $120 for the public and $110 for JCC members
Register here.

Judaism 101
Bring your questions and insights to this introduction to Jewish thought and practice. We will explore Jewish denominations, theology and atheism, liturgy/services, the role of learning and key Jewish texts, death and the afterlife, relationship to Israel, Judaism as a spiritual practice, the Jewish lifecycle, Shabbat and holidays. This class is perfect for Jews and non-Jews, those brand new to learning about Judaism, people who are looking for a refresher, interfaith couples exploring Jewish life, and those hoping to convert to Judaism through our Journey to Judaism program. No previous knowledge required-just bring a thirst for learning and discussing! Open to members and non-members.

Dates: 7 Mondays, Oct.30-Dec.11
Time: 6:45 – 8:00pm
Place: Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., San Francisco
Cost: $149/public
If you’re a Sha’ar Zahav Member, email heidy@shaarzahav to access your discount code.
Register here.

AND ONE MORE that begins later in the year –
Introduction to Judaism
Join this 12-week course taught by Rabbis Dennis Eisner, Sara Mason-Barkin, and Lisa Kingston. This course is for anyone who wants to learn more about Judaism. Course will cover life cycles, holidays, culture, and belief. Text: Living Judaism by Wayne Dosick.

Dates: Thursdays, November 2, 9, 16, 30; December 7, 14; January 11, 18, 25; February 1, 8, 15
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Cost: Public/$180 and members are free
www.ptbe.org

THIS JUST IN! For those of you who plan far in advance, Rabbi Bloom of Oakland’s Beth Abraham sent this class listing in for 2018.

Introduction to Judaism
Rabbi Mark Bloom’s class will be aimed primarily at those interested in conversion but open to everyone who is curious to learn more. Running approximately 10 weeks, it will cover Jewish texts, holidays, the Jewish life cycle, prayer, the Holocaust, Israel, and more.

Date: Begins Wednesday, January 31, 2018 & continues through mid April 2018
Time: 7:30-8:45pm
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 341 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Cost: $54
If you would like to register for this class you can contact Rabbi Bloom at: Rabbibloom@tbaoakland.org, 510-832-0936

Posted by admin under Community Activities, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Learning
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9 11

Every 9/11 we remember that hellish morning when we learned that planes had hit in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. We know just where we were standing, what we were doing when we learned of the attack.

One young man, an Oakland firefighter who went to New York as part of the mobilization of firefighters emailed me a few weeks later. He told me that he had been dating a Jewish woman and the relationship was important to him. But he told me that in the smoke and debris of the Towers he had knelt with a priest and reaffirmed his Catholic beliefs. He told me that it was a time and place when God suddenly mattered to him a great deal. Over the following months we emailed as he healed mentally from the trauma and his relationship with Catholicism because stronger.

In the end the relationship did not survive. He couldn’t turn away from his faith, nor could his girlfriend accept the idea of a Catholic home. I realize that this is not the happy ending that we are programmed to want. But it is an honest ending, one with integrity. My Catholic friend found the religion of his upbringing. His girlfriend realized that being Jewish mattered to her.

Every year on this date, I email him both to thank him for his service and to say that I remember his personal sacrifice. Sadly, his email began bouncing just one month ago. So Jay, wherever you are out there, I’m thinking of you and wishing you a rich and fulfilling life.

Posted by admin under In the News, Relationships, Spirituality
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Shaking the Lulav

Shaking the Lulav

Sukkah Party for Interfaith Couples & Families
Come to the Sukkah for some food and fun. Together we’ll make and hang sukkah decorations and everyone will get a chance to wave the lulav and etrog. We’ll make edible sukkahs that kids (and adults) can take home.

Date: Sunday, October, 8
Time: 2 to 4pm
Place: Private home in Oakland, address sent after registration
Cost: $5/person or $15/family of 4 or more.
Register here.

Posted by admin under Current Programs, Sukkot
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Bridget's photo of resistance

We are reeling from the events in Charlottesville. Across the Jewish community clergy and laypeople are moved to words and actions. Here are some from the Bay Area.

Cantor Chabon, B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek
The older I get, the more I understand that living a fulfilling life depends on how we respond to the joys and sorrows in our world. When we embrace the moments of grace and love, we feel empowered and inspired to fight against hatred and bigotry when we next encounter them. Too often it seems that those two experiences–spiritual nourishment and the reality of our broken world-are juxtaposed against one another. That was never more true than this weekend.

I am sure I was not the only person to have a version of this experience over Shabbat: on Shabbat morning, 75 of us gathered in our beautiful social hall to sing and pray and learn together in our Nishma service, to imbue ourselves and our community with light and hope. After a beautiful oneg we all got into our cars, only to learn of the horrific violence at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that same day. As we were praying for healing in our world, Heather Heyer z”l, was killed as she protested intolerance, inequality and violence across our country. Her mother, Susan Bro, says she wants her daughter’s death “to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”

In the spirit of that call, we will be gathering this evening at 7:00 at Civic Park (at the corner of Civic Dr and North Main Street) for an interfaith peace vigil along with members of many faith communities in our county. Please bring prayers and supportive, peaceful signs. A group of CBT members will hold our banner to represent our synagogue’s desire to stand in solidarity against discrimination and hatred. Please join us.

Rabbi Bridget Wynne, Jewish Gateways, El Cerrito
​Like you, I am horrified by the hatred and violence in Charlottesville, and the disturbing lack of condemnation by our president. Continue reading here.

Rabbi Ruth Adar, Coffeeshop Rabbi, East Bay educator at Lehrhaus Judaica.
The events in Charlottesville are a wake-up call to all of us who were asleep. People marched with Nazi regalia, with racist and antisemitic slogans in an American city and the President of the United States had to be prodded to say more than platitudes. The Justice Department had to be prodded into action.
Folks, we are beyond the pale. Continue to read here.

Rabbi Singer and the clergy of Congregation Emanu-el, San Francisco
Emanu-El Clergy Statement on the violence in Virginia and Minnesota
The clergy of Congregation Emanu-El condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the ongoing horrific display of white supremacist violence in our country. Continue reading here.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
The Day After Charlottesville
In the aftermath of a horrific day in Charlottesville, there is an image I ask us to hold onto.

Don’t just read this, do something!

Posted by admin under Community, In the News, Jewish Culture, Spirituality, Synagogues
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seeds-of-light Jhos

I want to share with you a beautiful piece that Jhos Singer sent out to his community, Chochmat Halev. It is a reminder to take time to notice the blessings around you. Slow down, enjoy this life.

There are seeds of light planted everywhere if you can see them

Shabbat Shalom Chaverim,

There is a line from Psalm 97 that says, Or zarua l’tzaddik, u’l’yishrei lev simcha. It isn’t the easiest snippet to translate, but here’s my take:

There are seeds of light and gladness planted everywhere, you just gotta be curious and openhearted enough to see them.

During the week we might be driving too fast, working too hard, or stressing too many details to notice that we are literally surrounded by life affirming miracles. Maybe you are trying to get a budget to balance while a bird flies, unnoticed, past your window. Or you are wrangling your squirrely children into the car just as there are strawberries silently ripening in a raised bed near your parking place. You are racing to beat a deadline oblivious that your own body is turning that hastily gobbled lunch into energy and nutrients that fuel your maxxed out brain. And that’s OK for the rest of the week—but on Shabbat, we have an excuse to slow down and take notice of all the incredible points of light that surround us.

It has been another rough week in our country—sigh. It’s easy to obsess and stay tapped into the madness when our political and gubernatorial systems seem so completely broken. Yet without some respite from it we grind ourselves down to dust with worry, over exertion, stress and anger. And then we miss the light show. We miss the way the trees are growing regardless of what happens in Washington, we don’t take time to stick our feet in the frigid Pacific and feel the sand shift to hold our weight, we forget to marvel at the delightful curve of our best friend’s smile, or the way a perfectly ripe peach is impossible to eat with out making a mess. We miss the or zaruah, the glinting, sparkling light that revives our hearts—so, here we go, friends. Shabbes is upon us. Stow away meddlesome things, take a deep breath and look around for the dazzling array that surrounds you.

Blessin’s—Jhos

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