“Judaism is a communal tradition.”

“Judaism is a communal tradition.” But what does that mean?

Living in America which has an individualist tradition it can be difficult to fully understand what “communal” means.

You can be WHATEVER you want in the privacy of your own home, but to join with a community requires compromise.  I urge couples and families to find a shul that most closely suits them, but not to expect to find a group of people who think just as they do. That means compromise. A synagogue should function as an extended family. The community cares for you in times of joy and sorrow. They celebrate your wedding, your children’s arrival and life cycle events. They bring food when you are sick and sit shiva with you when you have a loss. In return you do these things for others in the community. When it comes to prayer liturgy, kashrut, and practices in the shul you all compromise.

When finding and establishing your community remember that no two people think exactly alike. (Consider the differences you have with your own partner.)  It is a guarantee that your fellow congregants will not be in lockstep with your opinions. The beauty of difference of opinion is that, in community, we are pushed to listen, understand and compromise. We are best served if we come to see that, in most cases, ours is an opinion, not The Truth.

I love what Rabbi Milder of Beth Emek in Pleasanton wrote to his congregation that illuminates this idea:

Religion is what happens when people take their spiritual values and commit to working on them together. Admittedly, some religions put their emphasis on the personal dimension. Nothing wrong with that.  Judaism clearly gets the personal part of religious life: the kavanah, the intentionality that we bring to prayer.
But, Judaism is, at its heart, a communal faith. We live out our spiritual lives in community.
Now, I can be happy as a clam if I never need to negotiate spiritual values with anyone else. I just won’t get much further than a clam. (No insult intended toward bivalves).
Ah, but when we come together, there is something greater, something transcendent, that only happens in moments of meeting.
You might think that spirituality is all about what happens in worship. I think differently. Spirituality is the expression of our collective efforts to reach for the most meaningful, ethical, compassionate community that we can create.


Lag BaOmer, (San Leandro)
Erev Rock Shabbat Service (San Jose)
Fifth Friday Service with Saul Kaye (Palo Alto)
Park Shabbat Picnic (Foster City)
Tots Together with Mimi Greisman (San Francisco)
Musical Shabbat Services (San Rafael)
Accessible Sinai Green Havdalah Hike (Oakland)
Jewish Mindfulness Meditation (Oakland)

Lag BaOmer
Grab your favorite picnic blanket or camp chair and join Temple Beth Sholom this Sunday, May 26, from 4:00-5:30 PM in the TBS backyard for Lag BaOmer as we gather around a crackling bonfire, sing camp-style Jewish folk songs, and roast delicious s’mors!  This event is suitable for the whole family, so don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to connect with others and create lasting memories!
BYOB (Brink your own blankets… or chairs!)

Date:   Sunday May 26
Time:   4:00-5:30pm
Place:   Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Ave, San Leandro
Sign up here

Erev Rock Shabbat Service
An innovative and joyous worship experience with musicians (piano, percussion, guitars, brass, etc.) and singers joining Cantor Leah Shafritz and Rabbi Dana Magat that combines your favorite secular tunes with Shabbat evening worship. Congregational singing is definitely encouraged, as is dancing in the aisles.

If you can’t make it in person, no worries. Tonight’s experience will be a multi-access service, with options to either attend in person, or watch online.
Before the service, everyone is invited to attend our appetizer reception, starting at 6pm. Grab a nosh and shmooze with your friends!
Registration in advance WILL be required. Contact the Temple Administrative Office to learn more.

Click here to follow along in the Mishkan T’Filah
You Can Also Watch on our YouTube Channel

Date:   Friday, May 31
Time:   7:00 – 8:00pm
Place:   Temple Emanu-el, 1010 University Ave, San Jose

Fifth Friday Service with special guest musician Saul Kaye
Whenever there are five Fridays in a month, Etz Chayim likes to do something a little different. Come for a Sulam service in the style of the Nava Tehila service at the Jerusalem train station. There will be lots of spirited singing and dancing may break out.

 Date:   Friday, May 31
Time:   7:30 pm
Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St., Palo Alto
Details here

Park Shabbat Picnic
Join us along with Peninsula Sinai Congregation for a rockin’ outdoor baby and tot Shabbat with music, shakers, puppets, dancing, playtime and more! Challah, grape juice, and drinks will be provided.

 Date:   Fri, May 31
Time:   5:30 – 7:00pm
Place:   Boothbay Park, Foster City
Sign up here

Tots Together with Mimi Greisman
Celebrate Shabbat together with music, stories, puppets, and bubbles! Experienced early childhood educator Mimi Greisman leads an interactive Shabbat for babies and toddlers.

Date:   Saturday, Jun 1
Time:   10:00 to 11:00am
Place:   Am Tikvah, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco
More info 

Musical Shabbat Services with Noah Aronson
Please join us for this special evening of Shabbat, song, and community with Noah Aronson. Get ready to make new connections, sing your favorite tunes, and revel in uplifting prayer that will deepen your connection to the joys of Shabbat.

Date:   Friday, June 7
Time:   6:15 PM – 7:15pm
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Feel free to join us IN PERSON, on ZOOM, or FACEBOOK LIVE.
See here for all the details!

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.

Date:   Saturday, June 15
Time:   5:30pm
Place:   Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
Additional hike dates at 5:30pm: July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19 at 5:00pm

Jewish Mindfulness Meditation
Come join Steve Goldstein as he leads a monthly Jewish Guided Meditation session in cultivating middot (attributes) such as gratitude, loving kindness, joy, forgiveness/self-forgiveness, and compassion. All are welcome, both experienced meditators and those who are new to meditation.

You are welcome to come to one or all the sessions. Each class is a stand-alone session.

We will be meeting on the third Shabbat morning of the month from 9:00AM-9:45AM.

Date:   June 15
Time:   9 to 9:45am
Place:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Register here.