Jewish community online + classes and discussions

(Rabbi Stein of B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek. An online sermon)
I feel like attaching an audio link to the Simon & Garfunkel song, “It’s All Happening at the Zoo” and then writing new lyrics that say, “It’s all happening on the internet”.  Every doggone thing is online! Today I read that during the pandemic Jews are turning to classes online. So I’m tossing all of us into that population of learning online! But ALSO we are trying to do community online. I want to help make that easier for you all.

First, all the synagogues are holding services online, except Orthodox shuls.  If you want to participate in Shabbat services you can go to the website of a synagogue and find out whether their services are on Facebook, Zoom, YouTube or some other platform. Please go online a bit early to be sure you have the right information. If it doesn’t work the first time you can certainly call the shul’s office (or email me) and get clarification on how to join the service.

Second, there are classes, lectures, and chats aplenty coming out of synagogues and Jewish organizations. What are you looking for?  Or are you just wide open to SOMETHING. Peruse websites. Google. Ask your rabbi and friends.  Also, I’m sending you some ideas below.

Here are a couple items to explore right now:

A Conversation from the Front Line
Mayor London Breed and Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf discussed COVID-19, the movement for racial justice, and other challenges of this time. The conversation was recorded and you can view it on YouTube.
Host:   Sherith Israel
Sherith Israel has past events and services recorded and archived here.


Elul | High Holidays | Sukkot:
The Cycle of Teshuvah
You can join Wilderness Torah for their 50 days of Reflection, Renewal & Praise. Go to their website and read the details. You can prepare for the High Holy Days with them.

Would this interest you?
One last thought, a woman on this list said that while she is sick of screens from working online all day she also would like to connect with others. She expressed an interest in an online chat about Jewish parenting in a pandemic. Please let me know if you would enjoy such chat or if there is another topic that you’re interested in? FYI, I think one hour is the maximum we can tolerate these days so it would be short and sweet. Of course, we could add on further conversations. Let me know,


Shabbat Service (Palo Alto)
Kabbalat Shabbat (Burlingame)
Unsung Jewish Heroes (Pleasanton)
Ready to Learn How to Whip Up a Healthy Israeli Feast? (San Rafael)
Tisha B’Av (Palo Alto)
Tisha B’Av in the Time of Covid (Lafayette)
COVID-19: A Conversation From the Front Line (San Francisco)
Family Tu B’Av Celebration (San Mateo)



Shabbat Service
Shabbat Service with Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky.
Log in a few minutes before the service is scheduled to begin. Click here to participate by Zoom.  Click here to view the Service by live streaming.

Date:   Friday, July 24
Time:   7:30 pm
Host:   Etz Chayim, Palo Alto


Kabbalat Shabbat
Welcome Shabbat with your PTS clergy and community. Chant your favorite tunes and learn some new ones with Cantor Anna Zhar.
Watch on their website.

Date:   Friday, July 24
Time:   6:30 pm
Host:   Peninsula Temple Sholom, Burlingame


Unsung Jewish Heroes
Learn about lesser known Jewish heroes.
While everyone has heard of such famous Jewish heroes as Ben Gurion or Moshe Dayan, what of those other individuals who played important roles in Jewish history and are relatively unknown?

Date:   July 26
Time:   7:30 to 9pm
Host:   CongregationBeth Emek, Pleasanton
Register here.


Ready to Learn How to Whip Up a Healthy Israeli Feast?
Class will be on Zoom.
Food/Life Writer Julie Fingersh will show you how to make a simple, healthy version of falafel and eggplant sabich, two of Israel’s most delicious and popular street foods.

Date:   Sunday, July 26
Time:   11am
Host:   Rodef Sholom
Since the pandemic Rodef Sholom of San Rafael has been titling their congregational email, Rodef Sholom @ Home.  I love that title! You can peruse their “at home” events on their website.


Tisha B’Av
Like Jerusalem, we are all sitting alone, apart in our own kind of exile this year. How do these themes of isolation, destruction, exile, resonate differently this year? For Tisha B’av we’ll join together with Kol Emeth for a traditional chanting of Eichah (Book of Lamentations) followed by subdued singing and reflections.

7:45 Optional Minchah and Maariv Prayer Service
8:15 Eichah (Book of Lamentations) and reflections on the Fast Day

The mood of Tisha B’Av is somber. The tradition is to read Eichah like a mourner sitting on the ground. Feel free to bring down the lights in your home, light a candle, sit low to the ground or on the floor as we mourn together. Click here for the zoom link.

Date:   Wednesday, July 29
Time:   7:45-9:00 pm
Host:   Etz Chayim, Palo Alto


Tisha B’Av in the Time of Covid
Delving into Destruction and Growing from Grief
Join Rabbis Perlman and LeVine as we delve into the Jewish response to destruction and chaos in the time of Covid. The evening will be a combination of song and study led by our rabbis. We will listen to the words of Lamentations/Eicha and share words of Kaddish both for those who have died of Covid-19 and for our people across the centuries.

What is Tisha B’Av? Tisha B’Av literally means the 9th of the Hebrew month known as Av. It commemorates days of tragedy for our people, including the destruction of both of the first and second temples. Traditionally, it is a day of woe and mourning that includes fasting.

This year, we will look at the essence of Tisha B’Av, its focus on tragedy, and how we can grow from our grief.

Date:   Wednesday, July 29
Time:   7pm
Host:   Temple Isaiah, Lafayette
Details for joining the class are here.


COVID-19: A Conversation From the Front Line
What’s Next?
Dr. Jeremy Faust and Dr. Jonathan Graf
We welcome back Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the division of health policy and public health, and an instructor at Harvard Medical School for a conversation with our host, Dr. Jonathan Graf, for an update on the pandemic.

Date:   Wednesday, July 29
Time:   5 pm
Host:   Sherith Israel
Join here.


Family Tu B’Av Celebration
with PJCC, Jewish Baby Network, and Peninsula Temple Beth El

Join Peninsula Temple Beth El for a rocking Tu B’Av family celebration! Have a blast sharing the Jewish holiday of love with songs, puppets, schmoozing, and crafts, sure to fill your hearts with community and belonging. Takes place via Zoom. Register Here!

Day:    Sunday, August 2
Time:   10:00 a.m.
Host:   Peninsula Temple Beth El
Peninsula Temple Beth El has all their online events listed on their website so it’s pretty easy to browse through them.