Starting a new decade: Do something for your relationship

Welcome to 2010!  Wow, an entire decade behind us and a lot of hope for the coming year.  A long time ago I worked for UC Berkeley’s adult evening education program.  What I was surprised to learn is that more people decide to plunge into a new class in January/February.  I had assumed most people would begin in the fall.  So, with that in mind, I encourage each of you to try something new right now.  Never really felt confident of your knowledge in synagogue or around one or more holidays, or think your kids know more than you do about Judaism?  Start a class this term.  I can’t help you with classes on Christianity, Islam or other religions because that’s not my field.  But I do encourage you to learn about the religious tradition of your spouse.  You can start by just going to the library.


Maybe you’d like to get more comfortable in your own interfaith family this year.  Come to a workshop.


Want to talk about where you are right now?  Call me.  Having a baby?  Looking for a rabbi for your wedding?  Trying to figure out how to give your child an identity that is about both parents?  It’s all manageable and other couples are thinking about the very same things.  Come to an interfaith/intercultural couples discussion group this spring. I can promise that you will be stimulated and supported. 


I am looking forward to seeing all of you this year.


Let’s get off to a great start!





Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Torah, Memory, & History (Oakland)

Introduction to Judaism (Redwood City)

So This is Jewish Music?  (Redwood City)

Little Latkes Playgroup (Alameda)

A Jewish Celebration of Trees for Young Children (El Cerrito)

Jewish Practice and How It Works (San Anselmo)

The History of Reform Judaism (Lafayette)

What Makes Someone Jewish?  (El Cerrito)

Shabbat Shira (Sabbath of Song) (Walnut Creek)

Outreach Shabbat (San Francisco)




Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Torah, Memory, & History

Join Rabbi Ruth Adar for Unit 2 of this 3-part Introduction to Jewish Life. As Jews travel through history, we have recorded our experiences in various texts from the Bible to the Prayer Book. This course will begin with an overview of Jewish history, followed by an examination of how those texts illuminate Jewish life in the past, as well as in the present day. The class will culminate in a study of the Haggadah, the “script” of the seder, and a model seder.


Dates:   Wednesday, Jan. 6 through Feb. 24

Time:    7:30-9:30 pm

Place:   Temple Sinai’s Merritt Village on the Merritt College Campus, 12500 Campus View Dr., Oakland

Cost:    $95; $80/members per unit. Register through Lehrhaus Judaica at or call (510) 845-6420.




Introduction to Judaism

Seven-week course for Jews, non-Jews, and interfaith couples who are interested in gaining knowledge of Jewish history, life, traditions, and culture. Study together for seven weeks, be a welcome guest for Shabbat dinner in a congregation member’s home, and top it off with a Rockin’ Shabbat.  (Friday, February 26 – Shabbat Dinner; Friday, March 5 – Rockin’ Shabbat and Dinner) Taught by Rabbi Ezray, Bill Futornick, and Cantor Barbara Powell.


Date:    Wednesdays, January 6 to February 17

Time:    7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Place:   In Rabbi’s Office at Cong. Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

Free and open to all.  Questions?  Call Eric at 650-366-8481, ext. 333, he is the very nice Exec. Director of Congregation Beth Jacob.





So This is Jewish Music?

This class will embark on a journey of musical exploration, from traditional liturgy to Broadway, from folk music to hip hop, in search of the answer to this question. Recordings, articles, and live music will be our tools of inquiry. No musical experience required, just an open mind. Taught by Cantor Barbara Powell.


Dates:   Wednesdays, January 6, 13, 20, 27

Time:    7 to 8pm

Place:   Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

Call them for more info at 650-366-8481.  I email with Eric Stone, the Executive Director; he is extremely nice. 




Little Latkes Playgroup
A drop-in afternoon playgroup for infants and children age zero through 3 years with their parents or caregivers.  Free play for 45 minutes with a structured portion of singing, bubbles, mini-Shabbat service and getting to know each other better.  Open to all regardless of religious identity. Great way to meet parents with children of the same age group as your own.


Date:    Thursdays

Time:    3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Place:   Temple Israel of Alameda’s Social Hall, 3183 Mecartney Road, Alameda

Price: free to Temple Israel members, $5 for non-members.  Let’s play together every Thursday afternoon.

For more info email Stacy at




A Jewish Celebration of Trees for Young Children

 Join other families with young children to enjoy puppets, songs, and stories about trees, and to share bagels and fruit.  We’ll experience Jewish tradition’s annual “birthday of the trees” and celebration of the environment, Tu B’Shevat.  Open to all children age 0-5 years and those who love them . . . whether you’re Jewish or just curious. Feel free to invite friends who might be interested!  Our gathering will be led by Rabbi Bridget Wynne and beloved early childhood specialist Mimi Greisman. Space is limited. Early RSVP recommended.


Date:    Sunday, January 10

Time:    10:30am-12:00pm

Place:   Jewish Gateways, 409 Liberty St., El Cerrito

Cost: Free for first-time participants, RSVP required.

Info:     510-559-8140 or email Rabbi Bridget at




Jewish Practice and How It Works

with Rabbi Noa Kushner
It is not what you would expect but Jewish meaning doesn’t so much start with a set of things to believe, it begins with things to do. In this class, each week, over lunch, we will learn about a single aspect of Jewish practice: what it is, how to access it, how it might be meaningful. Also included in the discussion will be how to fit pieces of an evolving practice together, and how to begin to integrate those pieces in a modern, thoughtful life. Homework will involve a willingness to try Jewish stuff out between classes.


Dates:   11 Tuesdays, January 12 through March 23, (no class on February 16)

Time:    12 noon

Place:   Teapod Tea Bar, 701 San Anselmo Ave. San Anselmo

RSVP to Pete at




The History of Reform Judaism

Topics for the four evenings will be:

The emergence of “Religious School” in the early 20th century with Rabbi Nicki Greninger

Historical background to the emergence of Reform Judaism with Rabbi Roberto D. Graetz

The liturgies of the early reformers with Rabbi Judy Shanks

The Music of the early reformers with Cantor Leigh Korn


Dates:   4 Weds., Jan. 13 – Feb. 10 (no class 1/20)

Time:    7:00 – 8:30 pm

Place:   Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

Cost:    $10/members of Temple Isaiah; $25/non-members

Register online here,




What Makes Someone Jewish?

Who your parents are? What you believe? What you do?  Join us to explore these questions and to enjoy a delicious, no-experience-necessary Shabbat dinner.

All are welcome!

Date:    Friday, Jan. 15



Time:    6:15pm

Place:   Jewish Gateways’ cozy home near El Cerrito Plaza and BART station

Childcare: free by reservation

Cost:    First time participants bring a dish to share or contribute $7 towards the meal.

Info & sign up at: 




Shabbat Shira (Sabbath of Song)

This special musical Erev Shabbat (Evening of Sabbath) service will feature a choral ensemble of Religious School students singing new melodies, with additional musical accompaniment by the Herman Family and Joel Siegel. A special oneg follows. If you want to kick off 2010 with lots of joy, this service is the perfect place to start!


Date:    Friday, Jan. 29

Time:    7:00pm

Place:   B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek



Outreach Shabbat

A special Shabbat service honors our interfaith families and Jews by choice, and recognizes all those who support them in making Jewish choices. We also extend a special invitation to the unaffiliated – Jewish, interfaith or seekers – interested in learning more about Sherith Israel.


Date:    Friday, January 29

Time:    6 pm

Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco