Selichot – a peaceful opening to the High Holidays

Selichot text

As we move closer to the High Holidays in the shadow of 9/11 it is a good time to think about Selichot. To quote Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, “Selichot, the penitential service which occurs on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana.” Selichot is a time to reflection on who we are, where we’ve been and where we are headed. It is a time to make a new commitment to our core values. I’ve listed a bunch of Selichot (or S’lichot) events below. This observance has a dreamy quality for me. It’s late, the lights are often low, the white and gold of Torah covers seems other worldly and beautiful. Try going to one — even if only to sit and ponder, where has the past year gone? What have I done well? What would I like to do better in the coming year?

Let me suggest some actions for the new year (Judaism is build on action):

Do something to build the strength of your interfaith/intercultural relationship*
Look deeply into your spiritual, emotional self – are you meeting your needs
Make a friend of someone who is quite different from you

*Consider joining a couples discussion series, listed in red below. Not a group person? Then consider the Let’s Talk Interfaith option for a couple to do together.

Shana Tova, may you have a joyous & prosperous new year (5775 – easier to remember!),

Jewish Meditation (San Mateo)
Chai Shabbat (Piedmont)
After the Play: Degenerate, Forbidden, Suppressed (Berkeley)
September Transitions: Bringing Calm to Chaos (Oakland)
What is the Sound of the Shofar? (Los Altos)
S’lichot Program: Soul Searching (Lafayette)
S’lichot: Film Screening, Havdalah & Service (Berkeley)
Selichot Musical Program (Oakland)
Selichot with Music (San Mateo)
Selichot Dessert, Havdalah, and Preparing for a New Year (San Francisco)
Selichot Service (Pleasanton)
Rosh Hashanah Road Trip (Petaluma)
Discussion series for Interfaith/Intercultural Couples (Berkeley)

Jewish Meditation
Or HaLev, the Center for Jewish Spirituality at Beth El, has resumed its weekly meditation sits in the Meditation Room behind the bima. Begin to prepare for the High Holy Days through contemplative Jewish chanting and meditation. Sits are led by experienced teachers and no prior experience is necessary.

Dates: Mondays
Time: 7 – 8:15pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

Chai Shabbat
Come enjoy an especially musical and festive Shabbat. Led by Kehilla’s spiritual and musical leaders and Ketzev Kehilla (our percussion orchestra). Special invite to NEW MEMBERS. Our Elul Shabbatot continue with a no-holds barred Chai Shabbat in our sanctuary. Join us for this heart-opening service.
The Kiddush lunch that follows is in honor of our new members. During and after lunch, there will be an opportunity for current and new members to meet and for a fuller introduction of people and the shul. If you are able to, bring vegetarian finger foods to share.

Date: September 13
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Place: Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave, Piedmont

After the Play:
Degenerate, Forbidden, Suppressed: Music and Otherness in Fascist Europe

You liked it so I did it again. Here’s another class with a Berkeley Rep play!
This fall, the Berkeley Rep presents An Audience with Meow Meow, about an international singing sensation and uber-award winning comedienne. This workshop explores music as a “degenerate” art form. The attitudes displayed by European fascist regimes (especially Italy, Germany, and Vichy France, from the early 1920’s to the end of WW2) towards musical cultures of the “other” — including Jewish, Romani, North African, and African American music, as well as cabaret and popular song — ranged from unambiguous condemnation and suppression, to more nuanced tolerance and even inclusion. This class will examine Fascist rules about music, examples including Brecht and Weill’s musical theater, Django Reinhardt’s “Gypsy Jazz,” Italian adaptation of American blues and jazz, and traditional music in colonial North Africa, exploring myths and facts about music history in the early 20th century.

Whether you take the class to prepare to see the play or as post play expansion, you’ll love the wild ride through degenerate music!
Info and play tickets here

Date: Wednesday, September 17
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12
Register here.

September Transitions: Bringing Calm to Chaos
September is a time of transition for families.No matter how old your children are, their internal adjustment transitions can result in all sorts of behaviors that will challenge you. In this parent workshop with Meg Zweiback, you will get practical ideas for helping your children and yourselves to cope with the transitions of September and every other month of the year. Meg Zweiback is a pediatric nurse practitioner and a family consultant who has had years of experience working with parents and young children.

Date: Thursday, September 18
Time: 7:30-9:00pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
RSVP to Rachel at

What is the Sound of the Shofar?
Join Rabbi Heath to celebrate Shabbat (and the upcoming New Year) with your kids ages 0-5 at Tot Shabbat. We’ll sing, we’ll dance, and we’ll blow our imaginary shofars in our Outdoor Chapel, then enjoy a delicious dinner (including apples and honey) together in Rooms 5-6. Siblings, friends and grandparents are also welcome! RSVP online by Wednesday, September 17 so we know how much food to order.

Date: Friday, September 19
Time: 5:15 p.m.
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills

S’lichot Program: Soul Searching
with Joyce Klein at 8:30pm in the Adult Lounge
Soul Searching is a workshop featuring Improvisational Midrash, using one of the Biblical stories we read on Rosh Hashana. In groups, participants, will read through the text of the story and look for places to inject their own midrashic additions-and then present their midrashim to each other. The discussion will focus on the story, the improvised midrashim and an examination of some of the traditional midrashim on this powerful story. We will conclude with reflection in anticipation of the Kol Nidrei communal prayer that opens Yom Kippur. What good intentions or vows did we not live up to over the past year? How do we forgive ourselves for that? What kinds of changes might we be considering for the coming year?

S’lichot Service
Saturday, September 20 at 10:30pm in the Sanctuary
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Resa Rd., Lafayette

S’lichot: Film Screening, Havdalah & Service
A contemplative service of reflection and song, S’lichot is observed on the Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah. Join us for Havdalah, dessert and an evening of inspiration, joy and beauty. Sweet Dreams, a story of reconciliation and women’s empowerment in Rwanda, is an award-winning documentary created by Lisa Fruchtman, Academy Award winner and Beth El member. Director Lisa Fruchtman will introduce the film. This inspiring and beautiful story of communal and individual resolve and renewal will combine with our S’lichot service to reawaken the themes and melodies of the Day of Awe.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley

Selichot Musical Program
The evening will begin with a special musical presentation by Denise Davis, Judy Bloomfield, Jill Rosenthal, and Jeanne Korn. They have prepared a number of songs, mostly in English, consistent with the themes of return and repentance that are the subject, Selichot, the penitential service which occurs on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana. Interspersed among the songs will be a discussion on 10 significant questions for this time of year, part of the “10Q” program sponsored by the organization Reboot. The evening will conclude with the traditional late night service in the sanctuary.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 8:30pm
Place: Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland

Selichot with Music
As we enter the High Holy Days’ season of renewal, Selichot is a time for reflection on who we are, where we’ve been and where we are headed. In the belief that singing in harmony refreshes and renews our connections to each other, Cantor Hirschhorn will be teaching some of her songs in harmony for everyone to join in. The evening of original songs and stories will tackle the subjects of love, family dynamics, and moments of transition, all sprinkled with appropriate doses of anxiety and humor.

Date: Sat., Sept. 20
Time: 8 to 10pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

Selichot Dessert, Havdalah, and Preparing for a New Year
Join us as we open the gateways of the heart and spirit in preparation for the coming Days of Awe. After dessert and Havdalah, our clergy will lead small group programs ranging from text study, to cultural exploration, to music and movement. Once our small groups conclude, we will join together once again for a short and beautiful Selichot service.
Schedule (You can engage in one or more of these opportunities)
7:00 pm – Dessert and Havdallah
7:30 pm – Open Stations
Rabbi Beth Singer: The Art of Writing for Forgiveness
Rabbi Mintz: What We Talk About When We Talk About Israel
Cantor Barak: LARS AND THE REAL GIRL: Approaching Teshuva Through Film
Rabbi Kushner: Text and Teshuvah
Rabbi Bauer: Building Your Relationship for the Year to Come: A Talmudic Workshop for Couples
Cantor Attie:Tshuvah Yoga – Return to Self (Dress to move and bring yoga mat or towel)
9:00 pm – A short and beautiful Selichot Service will round out the evening.

Date: Saturday, September 20
Time: 7pm
Place: Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco

Selichot Service
Selichot is the gateway service to the High Holy Days, observed on the Saturday night preceding Rosh Hashanah. The program begins at 9:00p, followed by refreshments, the changing of the Torah covers, and the beautiful and poetic service of Selichot. This year, our Selichot program will focus on the music of the High Holy Days. Mike Regal will join Rabbi Milder in teaching and talking about the special melodies that make our High Holy Day services distinctive. Not only will we teach a few of the oldest melodies, but we will also explore the exquisite compositions familiar to our congregation but written in recent years.

Date: Saturday, Sep 20
Time: 9:00pm
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Info and to RSVP: Liz Sufit,

Rosh Hashanah Road Trip
Join the JCCSF urban garden team for apple picking at Chileno Valley Ranch in Petaluma followed by mead tasting at Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station. Tour both facilities: fill your basket with award-winning organic apples, learn about honey bees and toast each other with one of the few American-made sparkling honey wines. Gain a better understanding of some of the Bay Area’s special agricultural offerings as we share in this sweet adventure celebrating the Jewish New Year.

Date: Sunday, Sep 21
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sponsor: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost: JCC Member fee: $ 75.00; Non-member fee: $ 85.00*
*Cost includes round-trip transportation from the JCCSF, light lunch, picked apples to take home, and tour/tasting at meadery. Must be over 21 years of age. Trip involves physical activity.

Discussion series for Interfaith/Intercultural Couples
Interfaith couples get it – this is going to take some discussion, some compromise. But what exactly is ‘fair’? Can each of us get what we want and that will be OK for our kids? Then there’s our parents, grandparents, and siblings – how do we get them on board with our choices?
There’s a step-by-step process of breaking down the parts of this puzzle and finding out what you want and how to go about getting it. Join us! This may surprise you but it will actually be enjoyable!

Exchange ideas about such issues as:
Holiday Observances – Which holidays will be celebrated in our home?
Dealing With Our Families – How will we talk to our parents about our choices?
Raising Children – How can we make sure our child is “part” of each of us?
Spiritual Concerns – How do we satisfy our needs and recognize our Partner’s?
Cultural Differences – How do communication styles and familial expectations impact our relationship?

This is one of the most meaningful and powerful things you can do for your relationship. I encourage every couple to participate in a couples group.

Dates: 6 Tuesdays, Oct. 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 11, 28. Plus one social gathering to be arranged with the group.
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Cost: $120/couple
There is a sliding scale. NO ONE turned away.
Register here.