Making the most of Summer!

I think about two things in August – first I worry that the summer is almost over and I rush to enjoy the out-of-doors as much as possible. Second, I begin to think about the coming High Holy Days.

Enjoying the summer
DO IT! Go outside! Look at the sky, the trees, the flowers! On my street a delightful thing happened. A spring broke through the asphalt. At first we all thought there was a broken pipe but the city came out and said, nope, Oakland is full of underground springs and when they surface we just accept that it’s nature. Can I get a Hallelujah! Now a pair of doves, who are ground feeders, have found the tiny stream and the small puddle it has made. I see them bathing there daily.

Go out. See what this amazing world has waiting for you.

Thinking about the High Holy Days
ALERT! PLEASE DO NOT TAKE YOUR NON-JEWISH LOVED ONE TO HIGH HOLIDAYS AS THEIR FIRST EXPERIENCE OF A JEWISH SERVICE. The High Holy Days are truly the deep end of the pool. Ancient and difficult liturgy, loooong services, hundreds of people, and did I mention loooong services? There are outdoor services, musical services, tot Shabbat services – start there. Go to High Holy Days on your own. Or start checking out services in August. Go to a service where they have dinner afterwards. Below you’ll see Chaardonnay Shabbat and Shabbat Sha-Boogie, those are starting places.

Here’s a nice Beginner’s Guide to the High Holy Days by my friend, the Coffee Shop Rabbi, take a look:

Shabbat Shalom all!

Lunch and Learn (Tiburon)
Chardonnay Shabbat (Berkeley)
Torah on the Trails (San Rafael)
Fun at Four (Palo Alto)
No Grocery Store in Sight (Oakland)
Shabbat Sha-Boogie! (Los Altos)
Chuppah and Beyond (San Francisco)
Bagels & Babies (San Francisco)
Rabbis Roundtable: The Binding of Isaac (Foster City)
Mazel Tots! (San Francisco)
Sukkot on the Farm (Pescadero)
Judaism 101 (Foster City)

Lunch and Learn
with Rabbi Chai Levy
Regulars and newcomers are invited to join Rabbi Chai Levy for Lunch & Learn. Bring a kosher dairy lunch and a curious mind and heart.

Date: Thursdays, next Thursday up is Aug. 9
Time: noon–1:00 pm
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr., Tiburon – in room Beit Am C (just ask when you get there),

Chardonnay Shabbat
Refreshments and Schmoozing followed by services. Enjoy a summer evening with wine and cheese before a lovely erev Shabbat Service.

Date: Friday, August 10
Time: 5:30pm, Shabbat services at 6:15pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Euclid St., Berkeley

Torah on the Trails
On the 3rd Saturday of the month we leave the temple parking lot promptly at 8:30 am for a good hike and some good learning in the beautiful Marin outdoors. We’ll drive a little ways, hike about a half hour, talk Torah and then hike back.
If you would like to be added to the Torah on the Trails e-mail list, contact Cynthia at and let her know.

Date: Aug. 18
Time: meet at 8:30am
Place: Start at the parking lot of Rodef Sholom, 170 No. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

Fun at Four
Shalom Dubi hopes his young friends (any Jewish child from 2 to 5 years old) with their parents will join us at for stories, arts and crafts, snacks and summertime outdoor play. Free and open to the community. Please help us spread the word!

Date; Sunday, August 19
Time: 4:00pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

No Grocery Store in Sight
A conversation on Food Access or (Lack Thereof) in East Bay Neighborhoods
Why is it so hard to find fresh produce in poor urban neighborhoods? What economic, social and political factors lead planners to decide where to build grocery stores? What can we do to work towards food sovereignty for all? Join us for a panel discussion about food justice in our East Bay communities.

Date: Thursday, August 23
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: JCC East Bay, Oakland Branch: 5811 Racine Street, Oakland
$5 Suggested donation.

Shabbat Sha-Boogie!
Did your child go to camp this summer? Did you once work at a summer camp? Wear your camp shirts with pride! Wish you’d gone to camp?! This is your chance! Join your friends at Beth Am for a rockin’ high-energy camp-style
Shabbat service, Come sing and pray with us at a special camp-style Shabbat Service — our last outdoor service of the summer! It’s also our first Shabbat Sha-Boogie of the year. Parents, bring your tallitot with you to the service for a special blessing over your children. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious dinner of burgers and hot dogs. Dinner is free, but RSVP to Mike Mason at by Wednesday, August 29 so we know how much food to prepare.

Date: Friday, August 31
Time: 6:15pm
Place: Outdoor Chapel at Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Contact us at (650) 493-4661

Chuppah and Beyond
Are you recently engaged or recently married? Mishpacha Family Programs presents: “The Chuppah and Beyond,” a series that prepares couples for the wedding, marriage, and beyond! This is also a great opportunity to meet other couples and share Jewish traditions together. Facilitated by Laura Firestone* these classes will help you enhance your communication, learn the principles of good financial planning, and develop the necessary skills to foster a long, happy, loving relationship. Join us as we help you plan your future together!

All classes will be at Congregation Emanu-El from 7:00 – 9:00 pm on the following dates:
Sept 6, 13, 20, Oct 4, 11, 25 and save the date for a Chuppah and Beyond Yom Kippur Break the Fast on Sept 26, and Shabbat dinners on Oct 19 and Nov 9th (details tba).

Cost for entire course, per couple:
Members $75 ($37.50 per person)
Non members $125 ($62.60 per person)
No one will be turned away due to financial circumstances. Please email Mike for more info
*Laura Firestone is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Pacific Heights.

Bagels & Babies
Starting on September 7, Bagels and Babies will be WEEKLY on Fridays!
Bring your bundle of joy (under 18 months) and spend time with other parents. Join us as we prepare to welcome Shabbat with Mimi Greisman.

Date: Fridays, beginning Sept. 7
Time: 9:30 – 11:00am
Place: Temple Emanu-el, in the Martin Meyer Reception Rm., 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: $215 for 15 drop-in sessions, First session free!
Questions? Contact Maricela Valencia at mvalencia@ or call (415) 751-2541 x118. More info here:

Rabbis Roundtable: The Binding of Isaac
There is perhaps no more disturbing Biblical story than the Binding of Isaac, in which Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac in the name of faith. Yet this story plays a central role in the service for the High Holidays. Four senior spiritual leaders of the North Peninsula will engage in a discussion moderated by Rabbi Lavey Derby on the meaning and relevance of this well-known Biblical story. In the course of the conversation they will share their personal beliefs about the journey of faith, hope, personal autonomy, and the nature of God. Participants will include Rabbi Dennis Eisner of Peninsula Temple Beth El, Rabbi Nat Ezray of Congregation Beth Jacob, Rabbi Daniel Feder of Peninsula Temple Sholom, and Rabbi Corey Helfand of Peninsula Sinai Congregation.

Date; Wednesday, September 5
Time: 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Place: Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City
Cost: Member $7; Public $10
Info: (650) 212-7522

Mazel Tots!
For parents and toddlers (18 – 30 months)
This group will provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with other parents and create lasting friendships. Join other parents and toddlers and welcome the new week with Havdalah and Mimi Greisman.

Date: Mondays, Starting Sept. 24
Time: 9:30 – 11:00 am
Place: Temple Emanu-el, in the Martin Meyer Reception Rm., 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: $140 for 10 drop in sessions
Come check out a trial class on Monday September 10!
Questions? Contact Maricela Valencia at mvalencia@ or call (415) 751-2541 x118. More info here:

Sukkot on the Farm
Wilderness Torah invites you to gather in multi-generational community for the sixth annual Sukkot on the Farm Festival – a four-night camp out and celebration of the fall harvest. Come co-create our village and enjoy the Columbus day weekend with farm-fresh organic food, Shabbat and Sukkot celebration, bonfires, music, learning, kids activities, meditation, movement, and more! Reawaken the Water Festival, Simchat Beit Hashoevah, where we honor and call in the waters for the coming year and dance and celebrate with live music on Saturday night!

Dates: Oct. 4 – 8
Place: Green Oaks Creek Farm, Pescadero
Cost: Work Exchange: $160 or less, see website for work opportunities; Adult $325-$550, Age 13-17: $150; Age 4-12: $75, Children Aged 3 and under: $35
More details here:

Judaism 101
Judaism 101 is a twelve-session course designed for Jews who seek a deeper connection with their heritage and for people who are not Jewish who desire an introduction to Jewish life and ideas. Topics include fundamental Jewish ideas and beliefs, ethics, the Sabbath and holidays and Jewish identity. Each one of the senior rabbis of the community will teach two sessions of the course so that participants may have the opportunity to get to know them.
This course will be facilitated by Rabbi Lavey Derby, Director of Jewish Life at the PJCC.

Dates: Wednesdays, October 10, 17, 31; November 7, 14, 28; December 5, 12, 19; January 2, 9, and 16.
Time: 7 to 8:30pm
Place: Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd. Foster City
Cost: PJCC Members $72; Public $108
For information and registration: