What will you do for yourself/family in 5784?

This is the busiest time of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are just past, we are in the week of Sukkot which culminates in Simchat Torah. The Jewish month that follows is Cheshvan, sometimes called Mar Cheshvan meaning bitter Cheshvan. The most common explanation I’ve been taught is that it is bitter because there are no holidays. One could also be relieved to relax and simply enjoy Shabbat.

Sukkot continues until Friday, Thursday if you are Reform. So there’s still time to share some fun facts with you.

* Here’s a man after my own heart, Prof. Joshua Teplitsky learned a new word “etroger” and he went headlong into researching it and the etrog. If you go to NYC soon you can drop in on the exhibit that resulted. Or just read the article and dazzle people with your knowledge.
* Wander over to Nosh Art Fun to see the edible Jewish art that Deborah is creating. Check out Sukkot and the next holiday, Hanukkah.
* It’s not too late to make edible sukkahs, sweet or savory – for kids or adults. Here’s how I’ve done it

It’s a NEW Year – 5784 – do something for yourself!

Do you have religious concerns that are getting in the way of your marital/family happiness? Are you interested in an interfaith couples’ discussion group?

A couple asked me this week whether I am currently offering interfaith couples groups. I’m ready to do this. ARE YOU?  I have two options. We could meet in-person in Oakland and/or we could meet on Zoom. Please tell me whether you are interested in participating. I’m going to be brutally honest with you. These groups are rarely offered anymore. I’m thinking of dropping them in favor of one-on-one conversations because it is so difficult to get 5 couples to find a common time to meet. EMAIL ME at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org and let me know.

Every term I put together a list of the local SF Bay Area Basic Judaism classes. There are fewer since the pandemic but they are coming back. I’ve begun compiling them on my website, see here. If your synagogue is offering a class NOT on this list, please send me the info and I’ll add it.

Questions about learning: Are you interested in Hebrew classes? I don’t typically share them. Are you interested in other elements of Jewish learning? What kind would you like to see?

The hard side of marriage: divorce. When a child’s religious identity becomes a point of contention.

Have a great week,


Jewish Meditation with Saul Kaye (San Mateo)
Intro to Judaism (San Francisco)
PJ Shabbat & Brunch (San Jose)
From Animosity to Solidarity: Jews and Chinese in San Francisco (Online)
The Jew in the Modern World (Pleasanton)
Jews of Color–Beyond the Count & On the Horizon (San Francisco)
Community Shabbat Celebration (Berkeley)
America’s Twists of Faith (Walnut Creek)
Mussar: Cultivating Character through Ethical & Spiritual Growth (Berkeley & Online)
Intro to Judaism 101 (San Francisco and Online)
Get to Know Wornick Jewish Day School (Foster City/Online)
Introduction to Judaism (San Francisco)
Blessing of the Animals (Danville)
Jewish Community Sustainability Fair (Los Altos Hills)
Wornick Jewish Day School Open House (Foster City)



Jewish Meditation with Saul Kaye
Join prayer leader Saul Kaye for an hour of meditation with a Jewish setting twist. Through text prompts, niggunim, breath work, and quiet, add a moment of peace and reflection to your week.
We will meet in person at the synagogue.

Tuesday evenings
Level 1: Intro to Jewish Meditation 5 weeks
Dates:  October 3, 10, 17, 24 and November 7

Level 2: Deepening your Practice 5 weeks
Dates:  November 14, 21, 28 and December 5, 12
Time:   7 to 8pm
Place:   Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Non-Member: $18/Class
To RSVP, please email Nakia in the front office.

Intro to Judaism
Judaism is built around community, ritual, tradition, and faith. If you are Jewish, interested in converting or raising a Jewish family and looking to learn more, delve deeper, and connect – learn with us! Our engaging, university-accredited Intro To Judaism course is interactive and encourages questions, discussion, and hands-on learning. No knowledge of Hebrew is required.

This Introduction to Judaism class will be taught in three units. For those who are on the path for conversion, please register for the full course – all three units, as this is not a drop-in model.

Upon registration, each person or couple will receive a hard copy of the Introduction to Judaism course book. You should also order Aleph Isn’t Tough: An Introduction to Hebrew for Adults, which we will be using for learning the Hebrew language. There is also a recommended reading list for the class.

Time:   6:30 to 8:30pm in-person
Dates:  First class begins Oct. 5. There are three 6-session units. See registration link for dates.
Time:   6:30 to 8:30pm in-person
Place:   Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave., San Francisco
Cost:    A single unit of the class for each student is $100 for members and $150 for non-members. The full 3 unit course for each student is $225 for members and $350 for non-members.
Register here

PJ Shabbat & Brunch
Want to come to Shabbat, but too tired to get dressed? No worries! We’re hosting PJ Shabbat this morning, for families with kids 0 – 5 years old. Come roll out of bed, and join Rabbi Magat and Cantor Shafritz for Shabbat morning prayers. Afterwards, stick around for a yummy brunch! Be sure to register!

Date:   Saturday, October 7
Time:   9:30am to 10:30am
Place:   Temple Emanu-el, 1010 University Ave, San Jose
Registration required here.

From Animosity to Solidarity: Jews and Chinese in San Francisco from the Gold Rush to the Present
No group was more oppressed during San Francisco’s first century than its large, vibrant Chinese community. Jews, by contrast, were among the city’s most prominent corporate and civic leaders—and part of the dominant white society that persecuted Asian Americans. There were also, however, beneficial interactions between the groups. The relationship between the Chinese and Jews, ancient civilizations with many shared values, evolved in San Francisco’s second century to one of mutual support.

Join one of my favorite teachers, Fred Rosenbaum, along with Prof. Yong Chen of UC Irvine for this fascinating discussion! I plan to be there.

Date:   October 11
Time:   7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Place:   Zoom only
Free, but you must register to receive the Zoom link. Register here.
In partnership with Congregation Beth Am and CCJCC’s “Under One Tent”

The Jew in the Modern World
The history of the Jews since 1790 has been anything but linear. There are turning points that changed everything for the Jews, and there are geographic detours that divided the fate of Jews in different lands.
What were the seminal events that shaped the destiny of the Jews? What were the struggles and the opportunities that distinguished Jewish life from one land to another?
Ultimately, how did Jews come to be where we are, and who we are, today? This course will explore the pathways traversed by the Jew in the modern world.

• Western Europe: The Ghetto, the French Revolution and the Emancipation of the Jews
• Eastern Europe: The Pale of Settlement and Czarist Russia
• America: Jews in Colonial America, the Civil War, and the Great Migration
• Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
• The Dreyfus Affair, the Birth of Zionism, the State of Israel
• Religious and Social Movements of the 20th Century

Note: Students may attend The Jew in the Modern World in person or online, with the option to switch from week to week.

Dates:  8 Thursdays, Oct 12 & 26; Nov 2, 9 16 & 30; Dec 7 & 14
Time:   7:30 to 9:00pm
Place:   Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton and Online
Cost:    $100 – individual; $130 – couple
Register here

Jews of Color–Beyond the Count & On the Horizon
Ilana Kaufman, CEO of the Jews of Color Initiative (JoCI) will tell the story of the founding of JoCI, including why it is a vital part of today’s Jewish ecosystem. Kaufman will discuss key learnings from JoCI’s two major research studies that estimated 12-15% of American Jews are Jews of color. This is an engaging discussion about what’s next on the horizon for this field and how we can join together to collectively create change.

Shabbat service only streams on YouTube. A recording of the 8pm presentation will be posted after the event.

Date:   Friday, October 13
Time:   6 pm:   Kabbalat Shabbat with drash by Ilana Kaufman
7:30pm: Dinner
8 pm: Presentation by Ilana Kaufman
Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Cost:    Dinner Tickets: $30 general, $20 students, free for Jews of Color. Presentation only: free.
Register here

Community Shabbat Celebration
Enjoy good company, good food, and Shabbat blessings. Rabbi Bridget will lead us in exploring “What Can Jewish Tradition Teach Us About Democracy?”
This is a wonderful opportunity to come together, whether you’re a long-time Jewish Gateways participant or new to our community.
While democracy originated with the Greeks, Judaism can help us explore some of its core elements: the need for many voices to take part in decision-making, the importance of each individual life, and more. Join us to dig in on this important topic.
Everyone is welcome, no experience is necessary.

Date:   Oct. 13
Time:   6 to 8pm
Place:   To Be Determined. It will be in or near Berkeley, and we will update you once it is finalized.
Cost:    Our Community Shabbats are made possible by donations. We request a tax-deductible contribution of $5-$25/household to help cover the costs of this gathering.
Children of all ages are invited! While adults are learning and discussing, Rabbi Steph will lead activities for them.
Hosted by Jewish Gateways, 1164 Solano Ave #147, Albany

America’s Twists of Faith:
Four Episodes of Jewish Import in American Religious History
In their quest for religious liberty and cultural renewal, the Early Americans were conscious of their desire to be an exception to all the pitfalls of medieval, European, religious conflict.  The New World might bypass the crusades, prejudices, and dogmatic frictions of the Old.
Through the prism of Jewish settlement and ideological influence, this course will examine the values of the Founding Fathers, the mindset of waves of Jewish immigrants, the Civil War, and the modern yearning for innovative spiritual frontiers in determining the American religious landscape.
In our Jewish desire to be considered and consider ourselves in fresh ways, can we reconsider the gentile communities and their dynamics on this promising new land?  Or will there be new theocracies, race wars, and more trails of tears?
Taught by Rabbi Raphael Asher

Dates:  October 16th, 30th, November 13th, 27th, December 11
Time:   7:30-9:00pm
Place:   B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Register here

Mussar: Cultivating Character through Ethical and Spiritual Growth
How often do you feel out of sync with your own values, prompting you to think, “I wish I hadn’t done that” or “I wish I hadn’t said that”?
A powerful Jewish practice known as Mussar can help us align our actions and words with our “best selves.” We learn to become less reactive and driven by habit, and to act more wisely, as a partner, friend, parent, colleague, and community member.
Mussar is for anyone who wants to more consistently be the person you mean to be, in the small and large actions of daily life, both for your own growth and for the improvement of the world.

Dates:  There are two groups:
one on Zoom on Mondays beginning Oct. 16
one in-person in Berkeley on Tuesdays beginning Oct. 17
Both classes are 8-sessions
Time:   Both will meet from 7 to 9pm
Cost:    $240
See all the details and registration information here

Intro to Judaism 101
Judaism 101 is an introduction to Judaism for people who are new or returning to Judaism and are looking for a starting point to dive into Jewish learning and/or Jewish practice.  Anyone from any background is welcome.  We will be covering everything from Torah to Israel, spirituality to ethics, through a queer-positive, progressive, inclusive Jewish lens with plenty of room for questions.  Our learning will be interactive and communal; come ready to be in the learning with us. If you have questions, please contact the office (office@shaarzahav.org).
Open to members and non-members!

Dates:  Mondays, October 16-December 11
Time:   7:00-9:00pm
Place:   Shachar Zahav, 290 Dolores St. San Francisco and on Zoom. If you are participating online, the link will be sent on October 13th.
Cost     $149 However, no one turned away for lack of funds.  For financial assistance requests please email Susie Idzik (susie@shaarzahav.org) before completing the registration form. See here to register.


Get to Know Wornick Jewish Day School
Have you ever considered sending your child to a Jewish day school? Some families have told me that they have found day school as a non-religious Jewish immersion experience.
Annie O’Donnell, admissions director, sent me this invitation to share with you. It’s free; just pop on Zoom for an hour and learn about it.
Prospective families are invited to learn how Wornick recognizes the gifts of every student and empowers them to become engaged leaders steeped in the richness of Jewish tradition and values. Hear from a current Wornick student, parent, and Head of School.

Date:   Wednesday, October 18
Time:   8-9 pm
Place:   Zoom
Host:   Ronald C. Wornick Day School, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City
Zoom link will be provided to registered attendees prior to the event. Advanced registration required by Monday, October 16 at 12 noon.


Introduction to Judaism: Exploring Jewish Concepts and Practices
This survey course addresses four questions: How do Jews worship? What holidays do Jews observe? How do Jews approach life cycle events? And what do Jews believe? This course is designed for adults interested in learning about Judaism and is the first step in our Journey to Judaism conversion program. Full details here.

Free for Sherith Israel members. Class fee for nonmembers is $180 per person. Couples are encouraged to attend together. Scholarships available. No one turned away for financial reasons.  Questions? Give us a call: Talia 415-349-5209.

Dates:  14 Wednesdays beginning Oct. 18
Time:   6:30 to 8pm
Place:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco

Blessing of the Animals
Bring-Your-Own-Dinner with your beloved pet and join Beth Chaim and Rabbi Dan in the Sukkah where you and your pet will receive blessings! All pets must be leashed or crated.

Date:   Friday, Oct. 20
Time:   6pm
Place:   Beth Chaim, 1800 Holbrook Dr., Danville


Jewish Community Sustainability Fair: Become Part of the Solution
Come participate in the first ever Jewish Community Sustainability Fair!
Entertainment and Learning Opportunities for Kids and Adults!
Sponsored by synagogues and other Jewish organizations throughout the Peninsula and featuring a vast array of entertainment, activities, exhibits and presentations on sustainability, the fair will include a robust children’s program. Some of the highlights are:

The extraordinary storyteller Joel Ben Izzy 
A cooking demonstration using an induction burner from Erin Gleeson, New York Times best-selling author of Forest Feast
Music and other family-friendly activities including activity kits
Information on many sustainability topics so YOU can take personal action
Food and beverages
Experts will share information about everything sustainable including: solar, home electrification, rebates, gardening, landscaping, conservation and more. Join us and get all your sustainability questions answered with topics ranging from electric vehicles to green consumer products, managing waste to recycling and water conservation. There is much to learn so we can all reduce our carbon footprint.

Date:   Sunday, October 22
Time:   11:00am to 2:00pm
Place:   Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road Los Altos Hills
Cost:    Admission is free of charge, but please register here
For questions or to get involved, please contact dayenu@betham.org.

Wornick Jewish Day School Open House
Families are invited to Wornick’s campus to see our dynamic TK – 8 programs in action and meet our engaging professional community members. Activities and classrooms will be open from 10 am-12 pm viewing and meeting teachers, as well as hearing scheduled presentations.

Date:   November 5
Time:   10am to noon
Place:   Wornick Jewish Day School, 830 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
Advanced registration required by Thursday, November 2 at 12 noon. For any questions, please email admissions@wornickjds.org.