Sanity savers: Crafting and Community

(Image: Cards made by participants at workshops)

Did you know that crafts like knitting, cooking and gardening act on your brain very much like meditation? It transitions you to a state of calm and creative focus. It can be a sanity saver.

Can we get crafty about Jewish holidays?
There are a lot of people like me who have a crafty hobby. Roughly 2.6 million Americans report having a crafting hobby. Based on the emails I receive from the craft industry I’m guessing that holiday crafting is a huge percent of that. But as one Christian woman asked me, “What are the Jewish craft options? Where are the Jewish materials?” Honestly, there are many fewer options. But we can get creative and adapt mainstream materials to a Jewish theme. For example, I bought a stamp set of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem for the desert images and the beautiful ancient city skyline. I bought felt carrots sold at Easter, for my autumn sukkah decorations. I walk the aisles of Michaels in search of artificial fruits – also to hang in my sukkah.

Let’s get crafty together!
Here comes Hanukkah, one of the few Jewish holidays that is “covered” by the American craft industry. So we’re starting off on easy ground. I want to make a paper craft with you that can be used to decorate your windows, your refrigerator, or cut down to send as a card or a cupcake topper! Stay tuned as I write up the description with the date.

I’m going to follow this activity with less represented holidays like, Tu Bishvat and Purim. I’ve done this kind of workshop with adults, teens (they LOVE spray paints), and families. We’ll do it online – yes, this really works. I’ll tell you what supplies to get and, if you want, I’ll mail you some materials too.  While we craft we can also discuss any questions you have about the holiday itself.

Pumpkins are one of my favorite fruits! That’s right, botanically speaking, they are a fruit. (I have a science-focused son who leaps to correct errors like these.)
Right now as we are bouncing back and forth between angst and our daily lives, I’m working on leaning towards the light. So join me in making some delicious pumpkin foods.  This list is from Reform Judaism’s website.

16 Pumpkin-CentricJewish Recipes for Fall

You Are Not Alone
So many people are feeling isolated, anxious and alone. Please feed your need for company. Shabbat begins at sundown tomorrow. A nice place to be is in shul. I’ll be going to Rock and Roll Shabbat at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland at 6:15pm. YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN ME!  You can email me if you want me to look for you. Or you can just show up and enjoy.

I’ll tell you a funny story about Rock and Roll Shabbat. Years ago I was planning to go and a new friend, a man who had contacted me about converting, asked to go with me. As we sat in the pews he turned to me and said, “Am I going to feel like I landed on Mars?”

“Yes,” I replied, “And not just because this is your first Jewish service. At Rock and Roll Shabbat the kids get wild, the adults dance around the room!”
It’s kind of a Jewish rave. So please, come fly to Mars with me tomorrow.

A couple useful links
Moral Accountability from Rabbi Dan Goldblatt
How to talk to Kids About Scary Situations from PJ Library


Rock and Roll Shabbat (Oakland)
Welcoming Shabbat with Dan Nichols (San Rafael)
Essentials of Judaism (Piedmont)
Jammies and Jeans Jurassic Shabbat (Palo Alto)
Transgender Awareness Shabbat (Fremont)
Jewish Community Shabbat Dinner (San Francisco)
Thanksgiving Celebration (Berkeley)


Rock and Roll Shabbat
It’s the return of Rock and Roll Shabbat!  This service is intended for all ages, including the smallest children but also for adults. If you are a family, you don’t need a babysitter.  It’s a loud, singing, dancing, joyous, spirited time, and it works much better if there’s a large crowd. The service lasts about an hour.

Date:   Friday, November 3
Time:   6:15pm
Place:   Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland

Welcoming Shabbat with Dan Nichols
Join us this Friday for a special evening as Dan Nichols returns to fill our spaces with his unique blend of song, Shabbat, and community. Get ready to make new connections, sing your favorite songs, and revel in uplifting prayer that will deepen your connection to the joys of Shabbat.   This week’s Shabbat service is wonderful for families and will highlight some of our Religious School classes. There will also be a kids activity, all families are welcome!

5pm: Jr. Jews (families with littles ages 0-6) – In Person – Music, stories, friends, fun, and pizza dinner!
5:45pm: Pre-Oneg & Schmooze – In Person
6:15pm: Shabbat Services* – In Person & Virtual
7:15pm: Community Dinner – In Person – Please bring a non-dairy veggie side dish to share, and we’ll provide the chicken main dish, challah, and drinks! RSVP FOR DINNER
8pm: Shabbat Unplugged – In Person & Virtual – All are welcome to participate or listen in this beloved community tradition of shared music and song.

Date:   Friday, November 3
Time:   See schedule above
Place:   Osher Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael – In Person & Virtual
Hosted by Rodef Sholom, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael

Essentials of Judaism
Join Rabbi Dev Noily for this seven week in-person ONLY course for a deep dive into some of the juiciest parts of Jewish practice and life. This class, or a comparable Intro to Judaism class, is required for Conversion Students and is open to all. Please note: This class is not a drop-in course. Students must register for the full series.

The topics that are expected to be covered are:
What is Judaism, Anyway?
Lashon Kodesh – Hebrew as a Holy Language
Mapping the Texts – Sacred Sources
Touching the Source – Prayer & Liturgy
Cycles of Jewish Sacred Time
The Jewish Life Cycle
Walking the Path – Halacha and post-Halachic Judaisms
Being a Jew in the 21st Century

Dates:  Mondays, Nov 6 to Dec. 18
Time:   7 to 9pm
Place:   Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont
Cost:    Non-Members – $234 for all sessions
No one turned away for lack of ability to pay; please pay what you can at registration or $0. REGISTER HERE
Please email Rabbi Sam Luckey at if you have any questions about registration.

Jammies and Jeans Jurassic Shabbat
It’s a Jammies and Jeans of Prehistoric Proportions!  For Families with children ages 0-5 and the people who love them

Date:   Friday, November 10
Time:   5:30 pm Pre-Shabbat Paleontology! Join us for dino-themed games, activities, and crafts perfect for little hands
6:00 pm Shabbat Blessings and Dinner
6:45 pm Shabbat Singing and Dance Party
Place:   Kol Emeth, 4175 Manuela Avenue, Palo Alto
Cost:    $18/adult and FREE for kids
Sign up here


Transgender Awareness Shabbat
Join us for a Transgender Awareness Shabbat as we kick off Transgender Awareness week. We will celebrate the beauty and joy that comes forth when human beings created B’tzelem Elohim (in God’s Image) are able to be their true selves in prayer.  Masks are OPTIONAL but recommended.

 Date:   Fri, Nov 10
Time:   7:30pm
Place:   Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont


Jewish Community Shabbat Dinner
You’re invited to Shabbat dinner with the San Francisco Jewish community to gather, break bread and be together during these challenging times.

Date:   Friday, Nov. 10
Time:   6 to 8pm
Place:   San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Cost:    $10. Register Here


Thanksgiving Celebration
Let’s gather for some Thanksgiving fun and celebrate those who we are thankful for.  Join Jen Altman from Jewish Baby Network  and Rabbi Steph from Jewish Gateways, for a Thanksgiving-themed morning of singing, dancing and making art.

Date:   Sunday, November 19
Time:   10:30am – 12pm
Place:   Virginia-McGee Totland, 1644 Virginia Street Berkeley
Cost:    The suggested donation for this event is $18 to help cover costs. No one is turned away, so please give what you can.