Rituals and Memory

Tu Bishvat celebrates the Trees

I received the weekly email newsletter from Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. In it their rabbi, Menachem Creditor, spoke his congregation about tonight’s holiday, Tu Bishvat. I want to share his words with you.

Dear Chevreh (Friends),
Tonight is Tu Bishvat, the Jewish celebration of Trees, an annual reminder to care for the world we inhabit.
It is important to see ritual moments like Tu Bishvat as reminders, not as singular events. Do we only practice Teshuvah (repentence) on Yom Kippur? Are we aware of our freedom
only on Pesach? Are we grateful for Israel’s birth only on Yom Ha’atzma’ut? These questions have obvious answers, and yet I wonder about our communal attention span. After all, as we learn in the Talmud: “New troubles make the Jewish People forget the old.” Is it even possible to remain steadily focused on Teshuvah, freedom, Israel and the environment?
To be honest, I don’t know. That’s a lot to carry in our hearts when so much else is clamoring for our limited attention.
And this is yet another reason community matters so much. I can’t hold all these things in my heart alone. No one person can. But just today, the CNS Preschool and the Shorashim Religious School shared Tu Bishvat experiences, and 50 CNS members will share a Tu Bishvat Seder tonight. Netivot Shalom is a sacred village with many leaders, each of whom offers their heart as an anchor to (at least) one meaningful commitment, and as we grow as a community, so too does our capacity to impact the world positively.
Chag Sameach! May this Tu Bishvat see us engage with our roots as our branches continue to reach for Heaven!
Rabbi Creditor

Rabbi Creditor says we should use ritual moments to remind us of the things that are important. (Tu Bishvat reminds us of this magnificent earth on which we dwell.)

As interfaith families you are often in a position to decide which elements of your life you want to memorialize and what rituals you want to use to mark them.

Rabbi Creditor then says that ‘no on person’ can hold all these things. In fact, the very concept of memory requires others, even other generations, to remember. When you talk together to develop a ritual ask yourselves, what exactly do we want to have the next generation believe and do? And why? And who will help them with this ritual? Some things we can on our own or with family – like birthdays and anniversaries. Other things are enhanced by a community that shares the lifecycle moment, like a baby’s welcoming ceremony or a child’s coming of age. Yet other events are seldom seen without a formal community’s framework, like mourning and burial.

Of course, as long as you follow the laws of the land, you can do pretty much anything. The question is, will it be worth remembering and how will the ritual of memorializing work? You have to make it meaningful to those you wish to pass it along to or they will drop it as soon as you are not there to enforce it.

Black Sabbath (San Francisco)
Survivors Speak (Oakland)
Parenting Your Teen (San Francisco)
Imagine the Jewish Future (Oakland)
Purim Carnival (Berkeley)
Women in Interfaith Relationships (Palo Alto)
Pagan and Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar (Oakland)
Passover Made Easy (Tiburon)
Christian-Jewish-Muslim Dialog Group Interfaith Seder (Burlingame)
The Sacred Table: Ethical Food Choices & Options (Oakland)

Black Sabbath
Yiddish Jive? Sit down and relax or sing along and dance!
Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations is a musical journey through a unique slice of recording history–the Black-Jewish musical encounter from the 1930s to the 1960s. In contrast to the oft-told story of how Jewish songwriters and publishers of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway transformed Black spirituals, blues, and jazz into the Great American Songbook, scant attention has been paid to the secret history of the many Black responses to Jewish music, life, and culture. From Johnny Mathis singing “Kol Nidre” to Aretha Franklin’s 1960s take on “Swanee,” visitors can learn how Black artists treated Jewish music as a resource for African-American identity, history, and politics.

Date: Showing now thru March 31
Hours: Open daily 11am to 5pm, Thursdays 1 to 8pm, closed Wednesdays.
Place: The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., (btwn. 3rd and 4th Sts., San Francisco
Info: 415.655.7800, info@thecjm.org

Survivors Speak
Ella Jacobs will share her experiences, recollections & fond memories of life before the war, her heroic survival during it & her rebuilding afterwards.

Date: Wed, Feb 8
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Beth Jacob, 3778 Park Blvd., Oakland

Parenting Your Teen
BJE’s Jewish Teen Alliance presents a day of learning focused on Parenting Teens. Parenting Your Teen workshops include in-depth conversations and parenting tools on Bullying, Sex and Sexuality, Boundaries and Communication, and more, all presented within Jewish framework. Presenters include Denise Pope, Ph.D. (our keynote speaker, of Stanford University and Challenge Success), Rachel Brodie, Rabbi Howard Ruben (Head of School at JCHS, a co-presenter of the conference), Naomi Tucker and many others.

Date; Sunday, February 12
Time: 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Place: Jewish Community High School of the Bay, 1835 Ellis St., San Francisco
To register and see workshops and presenters, visit http://parentingyourteen.eventbrite.com.

Imagine the Jewish Future
Part of the What Color Are Jews series
Worldwide, the number of Jews is stagnant. Decimated by the Inquisition, the Holocaust, high intermarriage rates and low birth rates, Jews now comprise only 0.2% of the world’s people. In focusing our attention on traditional demographic models and Eastern European definitions of Jewish behavior and belonging, we miss out on the ways in which communities and individuals are Jewish in the modern world. Join us on our journey as we discover some of our lesser-known fellow Jews around the world and explore the multicultural reality that is American Jewry today.
Hear from Diane Tobin, director of Be’chol Lashon, an institute dedicated to educating the Jewish community about its own diversity.

Date: Wednesday, February 22
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Tuition: $18
Register here: http://bit.ly/uciJp9

Purim Carnival
Carnival booths, games, prizes, face painting, bouncy house, balloons, make crowns and masks, hamentaschen, food, drinks and more! Instrument Petting Zoo, part of the 27th Jewish Music Festival, will introduce a child to the wonders of the musical kingdom from 2:30-4:30. Purim with Puppets for Preschoolers from 3:30-4:00. Come dressed up for the costume parade, followed by our Purim Spiel at 4:30 (a comical retelling of the Purim story).

Date: Sunday, March 4
Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Place: JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Admission is an act of tzedakah, please bring canned goods to donate.
$1 tickets for carnival games & activities
510-848-0237 x148
Co-sponsored by Building Jewish Bridges, Congregation Beth El, JCC of the East Bay, Jewish Gateways, The 27th Jewish Music Festival, and Tehiyah Day School.

Women in Interfaith Relationships:
A discussion for girlfriends, wives, mothers, & grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith marriage in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family.

Date; Thursday, March 8
Time: 7 to 8:30pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Cost: $18 public, free to Etz Chayim members
Sign up here: http://bit.ly/zyJCmf

He’s back! Ira Steingroot, one of my favorite teachers! Ira is funny, so smart and delights in Judaism along with paganism and mysticism. This is going to be fun!
Pagan and Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar
Christianity has been described as Jewish wine in a pagan vessel. Likewise, the classical monotheistic grapes of Jewish history and law were grafted on to hardy mythic and magical rootstock, the agricultural year as a mirror of heaven. The medieval Kabbalists were able to link their mystical understanding of Jewish belief to these ancient pagan roots in ways that deepened the meaning of our traditional holidays and observances. Mystical texts like the Zohar did this not just for the mystics themselves, but for the average devout Jew who found cold comfort in Jewish philosophy. This workshop will explore the magical, numerological, astrological and mystical depths hidden within our own normative Jewish practice with the intention of reconnecting us to the life of the earth.

Dates: Three Wednesdays beginning March 14
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Tuition: $35/non-members, $30 members of Sinai
Register here: http://bit.ly/wEq33X

Passover Made Easy
Not everyone who holds a seder grew up with Passover traditions. Dawn will share tasty Passover recipes, shortcuts, and tips for engaging children (and spouses) of all ages in the holiday.

Date: Thursday, March 22
Time: 9:30 – 11:30am
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: $20
To register, please call the Osher Marin JCC at 415-444-8000 or visit the JCC website here: http://bit.ly/xrGQgf
Kol Shofar’s phone: 415-388-1818

Christian-Jewish-Muslim Dialog Group Interfaith Seder
This interfaith dialogue is for interested lay members as well as clergy and scholars. We welcome insights and personal perspectives.

Date: Sunday, April 8
Time: 7:15 – 9:15 pm
Place: Pacifica Institute, 1310 Bayshore Highway, Suite 11, Burlingame
(650) 307-5545
I am sharing this with you because it looks interesting. I saw it on the Temple Emanu-el weekly email. This is all I know. If you are interested, try calling the Institute.

I hope you will come to class with me. I asked Rabbi Adar to teach a class on the book, The Sacred Table and she agreed. I am interested in how Judaism finds meaning in the ordinary. We eat multiple times a day – how can this ordinary act have meaning? What about the eco-kosher movement? I come with questions!
The Sacred Table: Ethical Food Choices & Options
You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless upon the good land that God has given you (Deut. 8:10)
Eating is one of those ordinary experiences which Jewish observance makes holy. Traditionally, we bracket our eating with blessings before and after, for the food and for the satisfaction which the food has given. Even those Jews who do not observe Jewish dietary laws are conscious of the fact that in the book of Leviticus, the mixing of meat with milk is forbidden and certain meats are forbidden altogether as food.
We need food to survive. Food can also be a way of expressing love. It can be the object of addiction or of simple pleasure. Beyond the issue of Jewish dietary law, what ethical issues come up for the Jew who wishes to be a true mensch?
In this class we will use the essays in the collection The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic (ed. Mary L. Zamore, CCAR Press) as food for thought as we chew on the meaning and implications of our choices. Bon apetit!

Dates: Wednesdays, April 11, 18 and 25
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $30 public, $18 Temple Sinai members
Register here: http://bit.ly/Ax4wgX