Shavuot is coming

Shavuot begins next week
Shavuot starts next week on Tuesday night, May 22. On that night many congregations and groups of congregations will hold late night (or all night) study sessions. It is traditional to study Torah all night on this anniversary of our receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. To learn more about the holiday go to I’ve listed a number of Shavuot study opportunities below. They are also called Tikun Leyl Shavuot (and many variant spellings of that).

The world is our oyster!
What a week! I spent last week with my fellow Outreach professionals at a conference just for us – the first of it’s kind. Ed Case of was our fearless leader; he obtained a grant from the Schusterman Foundation and moved heaven and earth to get us to a retreat center in Pennsylvania. You haven’t lived until you’ve spent a few days with a group of my peers! Enthusiasm ran high. From the local fold came Rosanne Levitt, founding director of The Interfaith Connection, now retired – well, let’s be frank, she works but she doesn’t get paid. Also, joining us was Helena McMahon, the current director of the Interfaith Connection, and Karen Kushner, director of Project Welcome. Let me tell you, we were the envy of the conference because we have the four of us, plus Karen Erlichman, local director for Jewish Mosaic (outreach to LGBT Jews), to work together and coordinate community activities.

Be glad you live in the bay area. We are so rich in opportunities, open doors, and welcoming congregations! Wondering where to connect? Don’t just sit there staring at your computer, call me! 510-839-2900 x347 or call Gail at JCI&R at 415-777-4545.

Grew up Jewish and still learning
Two weekends ago I attended the bat mitzvah of a dear friend at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo. My friend grew up in Texas at a time when few girls had bat mitzvahs. But now she decided was the time. Over the last few months when we meet for lunch she has bemoaned the challenge of learning to chant Hebrew. Yet she has persisted. On Saturday, May 5 she chanted her Torah portion, and one of her granddaughters went up to chanted one of the prayers with her.

With my friend were two other adults – one had converted to Judaism 13 years ago. He joked “today I am an adult.” He is divorced from his Jewish wife and said he often gets asked why he is going on with his bar mitzvah. Try, “Because I’m a Jew!” His three darling girls went up to give a short speech of congratulations consisting in large part of, “we love you, Daddy.”
Their rabbi, Rabbi Berg, was a gentle presence, clearly enjoying every moment. He spoke, praising each of them for their unique gifts and for the teaching they shared with the community.

It’s never too early or too late to learn Hebrew, to learn to chant, to read about history, theology, cuisine or cultures. If you’ve wished you knew more, start now. Call Lehrhaus Judaica, the adult Jewish school at 510-845-6420, they have classes all over the bay area. Or go online to and look at the catalog. Plan ahead. It’s in the fall that most classes begin.
All the synagogues offer adult education, call Jewish Community Information and Referral at 415-777-4545 and find out which synagogue is near you. Then get on their mailing list for the fall class listing.