Coming this Spring…

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black background

The Spring 2015 line up of Building Jewish Bridges workshops and classes!


names in Hebrew

What’s in a Jewish Name?
Join B’nai Tikvah congregants for services on Friday January 9 at 6:30pm, when I will be speaking in the sermon slot. My subject is the special place name and naming rituals holds in Jewish tradition. This dovetails with the start of a new book of the Torah called Shemot, in which the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named. Whether you have a Jewish name or want to choose one for yourself or someone else, this presentation will get you thinking. Please join us!

Date: Jan. 9, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Place: B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek

Are Our Children Jewish?
Patralineal Descent, Reform Judaism & Those Other Jews
In 1983 the Reform movement officially recognized children of Jewish fathers as Jewish. But if you read the statement it says that every child of a mixed marriage, whether the mother or father is Jewish, must establish their identity as a Jew “through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people.” What are those acts? Do we really expect all kids from interfaith marriages to do so? What role do non-Reform Jews play in our lives and those of our children? Join Dawn Kepler for an exploration of Patralineal Jews today.

Date: Friday, Jan. 23
Time: 7:30pm (the discussion will be a part of the Shabbat service)
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
You can RSVP if you like here.


What Makes a Home “Jewish”?
A Jew may ask their spouse to agree to have a “Jewish” home. But what does that mean?
To a non-Jewish loved one it may mean simply that some of the people in the house say they are Jews. But our partners deserve a more in-depth answer. One Jew may say, a Jewish home has Jewish ritual objects – a menorah, Shabbos candlesticks, a ketubah on the wall. Another may add, but you need to do Jewish things in a Jewish home like observe Shabbat weekly or build a sukkah on Sukkot or recite the Shema before bedtime. Yet another will say we must act like Jews, give tzadakah, attend synagogue, refrain from eating pork.

Each Jewish partner will have their own ideas about what they need in order to feel that their home is “Jewish.” Or, they may have no clear idea at all! Every non-Jewish spouse deserves a clear statement as to what they are signing up for.

Join Rabbi Glazer, Dawn Kepler and other curious couples for an enlightening discussion and go home with your own individualized plan.

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue (near the corner of Clement Street), San Francisco
Cost: Free to members of Beth Sholom, $8 for a non-member individual, $12 for a non-member couple.
Register here.

Preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah for Interfaith Families
Planning a b’nai mitzvah is stressful enough if you had one yourself, but if you weren’t raised Jewish it can be truly nerve wracking. There are the questions of how the study process works, timing, sessions, amount to be learned, how to help your child succeed. Then there’s the non-Jewish partner and extended family. How do you include them, make them comfortable, and explain what is going on.
How does a non-Jewish parent participate? What part of the planning do they want to share? What if it’s all on you alone? What role does each parent play during the bar or bat mitzvah? Is this a service or a celebration of one child? Join other wondering parents of all backgrounds as we decipher this life cycle event!

Sunday, February 22, 2015
9:30 – 11:00 am
Temple Sinai

How Dare People Say I’m Not Jewish!
My dad is Jewish, my mom is not.
I was adopted and raised Jewish.
My mom had a Reform conversion.
Why do people tell us we aren’t Jewish?
Are you annoyed, hurt, confused by challenges to your Jewish identity? Let’s talk about patralineal Jews, halachic Jews, Judaism, and how to handle other people’s opinions.

Date: Thursday, Feb. 26
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $5
Register here.


This is a workshop I am doing for Temple Sinai. ANYONE is welcome to attend. It will have some relevance to you at any Reform synagogue.
The Non-Jew in the Synagogue
Temple Sinai is blessed to have many interfaith couples as members, many of whom are very involved. That involvement has led to some common questions. How should I behave in services; should I do what the Jews are doing – bow, recite the Hebrew? How should I deal with lines like, ‘thank you God for making me a Jew’ when I’m not a Jew? I wonder if I’ll be offending anyone by ‘acting’ like a Jew or by saying Shabbat Shalom or Shana Tovah. Does that make me an imposter? I don’t even know if I’m allowed to touch the Torah!
For better or worse, every synagogue has its own customs. Come learn about the customs and traditions at Temple Sinai. We can also touch on common practice at other shuls if you are anticipating visiting elsewhere for a family simcha.

Date: Wednesday, March 25
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
An RSVP is appreciated.

Raising A Mensch:
What it Means to Raise a Jewish Child with Universal Values
Many families decide to raise their children Jewish but for the non-Jewish parent, what does that really mean? What are the expectations of both parents? Dawn Kepler will lead a conversation about this important topic with parents. Each session we will address a Jewish value. Parents will go home with tools, ideas and thought-provoking questions ensuring both parents are on the same page.

Dates: Sundays, March 29, April 19 & 26, and May 3
Time: 10:30am to noon
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Cost: Free to Temple Israel members, $18 public per session or $30 for all four.
Register here.


Women in Interfaith Relationships: A Discussion for Girlfriends, Wives, Partners, Mothers and Grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships 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, facilitated by Rabbi Lisa Delson with Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges, about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age welcome.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burlingame
Cost: Free to members of Peninsula Temple Sholom, $8 to non-members
Register here.


After the Play: Head of Passes
Join us again to explore Jewish values in the arts. Playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney, author of Berkeley Rep’s Head of Passes, states that his play was inspired by both the biblical story of Job and Shakespeare’s Lear. “This play is about a literal discourse in faith.”

How does Judaism perceive Job, or tragedy? How do we in modern times, view the concept of faith? What is our internal guide? Is McCraney correct in saying that, “everybody needs to invent or hold onto some inalienable truth. Or at least that they feel is the truth.” Is there a core Jewish truth?

Join Rabbi Chester to explore Job, faith, and meaning.

Date: Thursday, May 21
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Lehrhaus, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $12
Register here.