Increasing your Happiness

American culture is one of individual RIGHTS. Jewish tradition is one of individual RESPONSIBILITY.  At the time of America’s founding our forefathers were leaving behind governments that oppressed them; rights were central to their thinking. Responsibility was already internalized. In modern times we’ve gone over the edge with personal rights and no longer give much thought to responsibility. Do you remember when every eighth grader took Civics?  That’s gone by the wayside. Too bad. Responsibility to our family, our community, our country are harder to understand and perform than just demanding our rights.

Interestingly, being responsible is more important to our happiness.  Helping others, being responsible to others, is actually good for YOU. It’s science.

You may be familiar with the Center for the Greater Good on the UC Berkeley campus. It was developed by Dacher Keltner. Their mission is:
The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

What research has found it that happiness is not a goal, it is an outcome. You’ll read a variety of “elements” that are necessary to reaching happiness, and three of them are on every list. They are: gratitude, community/loved ones, a belief that your life has meaning.  Being of service to others stimulates all of them.

How to be of service in a manageable way?
In our very independent culture, people can be fearful that asking for help will mean that at some point they will be asked to reciprocate – and that ask will be TOO big. The advantage to a synagogue is that all the other members are part of a network of helpers. As the proverb says, Many hands make light work.

Now for a little science –
You may know about the website, Meal Train, it is a place to arrange meals for a family or individual in need. On the site I found this article:
Why Helping a Friend Feels so Good. It’s Science

I would love to hear how you experience the three key elements:
What are you grateful for?
Where do you find your caring community?
How does your life have meaning (how are you making the world a better place)?


Shavuot Picnic Tot Shabbat (San Mateo)
Trans Celebration Shabbat (San Francisco)
It’s a Matter of Time: Delving into the Secrets of the Jewish Calendar (San Rafael)
Kabbalat Shabbat: Pride Edition (Berkeley)
Accessible Sinai Green Havdalah Hike (Oakland)
Always Already There: Shabbat and the Illusory Search for God (Berkeley)
The Story of Exodus (Palo Alto)
Park Play Dates for Children 4 and younger (San Leandro)

Shavuot Picnic Tot Shabbat
Meet friends from Jewish Baby Network and PTBE for a rockin’ baby/tot Shabbat picnic and Shavuot celebration with music, shakers, puppets, dancing, playing, yummy dairy treats and more!

Date:   Fri, Jun 7
Time:   5:30 – 7:00pm
Place:   Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Register here

Trans Celebration Shabbat
Kick off Pride month with a dose of trans Jewish joy! Please join us for Trans Celebration Shabbat, honoring the memory of our member, Ray Bernstein z”l. Led by Rabbi Copeland and Alyss Weissglass. Rabbi Reuben Zellman will be drashing. Learning sessions will be fully hybrid; you can participate from the synagogue or from your computer. The Kabbalat Shabbat service will be available via Zoom as usual, using the usual link for Shabbat. Our teacher will be Rabbi Reuben Zellman of SZ’s Welcome Home Project. People of all backgrounds and all genders are warmly welcome to Shabbat and the learning sessions.
Register here for in-person
Register here for Zoom (please note this is not the link for Shabbat, just for the learning sessions)

Date:   Friday, June 7
Time:   5:30pm

Place:   Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St, San Francisco
Zoom info + details here

It’s a Matter of Time: Delving into the Secrets of the Jewish Calendar
Join Rabbi Marx for a Shabbat exploration of Jewish time, paying special attention to the holiday of Shavuot, arguably the most neglected of our Festivals (unjustly so!). Linger after services for lively discussion.  Rabbi Marx is a Professor of liturgy and midrash at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem who recently published the book From Time to Time: Journeys in the Jewish Calendar.

Date:   Friday, June 14
Time:   6:15pm
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 N. San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
In Person & Virtual, details here.

Kabbalat Shabbat: Pride Edition
Gather with us to greet Shabbat with song, poetry, movement, and meditation. This evening will be a special Pride Shabbat celebrating our LGBTQ+ community and featuring some rainbow Torah from our very own Urban Adamah staff Kiki Lipsett and Allegra Guarino. All are welcome—don’t miss it! Light food and drinks will be served after with options to eat indoors or outdoors.

Date:   Friday, June 14
Time:   6:30 – 8:30pm
Place:   Urban Adamah, 1151 Sixth St, Berkeley
Cost:    Sliding scale.

Accessible Sinai Green Havdalah Hike
Join Sinai Green for an accessible Havdalah Hike. We’ll meet at Redwood Regional Park (see Google map showing starting point) and then follow the paved path through the trees to get to a picnic area for a short musical service followed by potluck snacks. (Please bring food or drink to share if you are able.)
Please register so we can meet your needs and plan appropriately. Your email address helps us contact you in case we need to cancel or provide any additional information.

Dates:  Saturday, June 15
Additional hike dates are July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19 at 5:00pm
Time:   5:30pm
Place:   Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Host:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Register here 

Always Already There: Shabbat and the Illusory Search for God
w/ Rabbi Chaim and Project Zug
Shabbat is a day of rest from the work of the week, and a time to dive deep into the soul.  But what if the work of the week is spiritual work and Shabbat is about stepping back from the ways we usually seek out God?  Through rich Hassidic teachings of the Sefat Emet (R. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter), we will explore Shabbat as a paradigm to illuminate ways we do and don’t, should and shouldn’t, try to find God in our lives and in our world.  We’ll trace the origins and impact of this profound theology that at once embraces and rejects the spiritual quest.

Dates:  Tuesdays June 18, 25 and July 2, 9 (4 Weeks)
Time:   Arrive at 7:00pm, Class Starts at 7:15pm – 8:45pm
Place:   Afikomen Judaica 3042 Claremont Ave. Berkeley
Course Fee: $48.00, register here

The Story of Exodus
In May 1945, at the end of WW-II millions travelled across Europe hoping to go back to their prewar homes. Upon arrival they found that they were not welcome. Thus began the “Escape” movement. One of its leaders was Mordechai Rozman.
In this lecture Itzik Rozman, the eldest son of Mordechai Rozman tells the story of Exodus, starting in May of 1945 and ending at the time of deboarding of the refugees in Hamburg, on September 9, 1947. The lecture includes video clips on the story of Exodus including interviews taken with his father Mordechai over the years.

Date:   Wednesday, June 19
Time:   7:00 – 9:00pm
Place:   Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Avenue, Palo Alto
Register here

Park Play Dates for Children 4 and younger
Tag along for this play date series in Toyon Park for families with young children ages 0-4. Come chat with other parents while the littles play!
RSVP to vlitman at gmail dot com.

Date:   Sunday June 23
Time:   10:00- 11:30am
Place:    Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Avenue, San Leandro