What to do in 2014?


If I could get interfaith/intercultural couples to do one thing for themselves it would be to participate in a couples discussion group. I’ve never heard anyone say they regretted it. How could you regret getting closer to your partner? Getting a chance to really explain who you are and what you value? Hearing from others how they are addressing the questions that they share with you?

I know, some people are really scared to share their feelings. You don’t have to bare your soul. There are questions and activities that help you discover what it is you need to say to your partner and yourself. Call me. Let’s talk. If you’re feeling stuck or worried about making decisions, this could be the best thing you can do for your relationship. Trust me, it’s not as painful as divorce or breaking up.

See the Interfaith/Intercultural Couples Discussion Group in below. Also, I have a fun cooking for Shabbat class. (Yes, it’s on the same day as that big football game but you’ll be home in time.)

Tu BiShvat Seder (Palo Alto)
Wilderness Torah’s Tu B’Shvat in the Redwoods (Oakland)
An Introduction to Judaism (San Francisco)
Film: American Jerusalem (Palo Alto)
5th Friday Shabbat: The Best of the Best (Palo Alto)
Cooking Jewish Whether You’re Jewish or Not: Shabbat! (Los Altos)
Fatherhood as a Spiritual Journey (San Rafael)
The Joy of Jewish Dance (Berkeley)
Interfaith/Intercultural Couples Discussion Group (Berkeley)
Wilderness Torah’s Spring B’hootz for Kids (Oakland)

Tu BiShvat Seder
Celebrate the seasons, the blossoming of the trees and the fruits of Israel!
Join us for a Tu BiShvat seder in Hebrew and English (transliteration provided).
There will be stories and songs while everyone is snacking on symbolic fruits and nuts and drinking wine (four cups!) and a delicious potluck dinner cooked by volunteers.

Date: Sunday, January 19
Time: 7:00
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto
For more info or to sign up, click here

Wilderness Torah’s Tu B’Shvat in the Redwoods
Come to the redwoods with your whole family to celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the unseen awakening of spring. In the tradition of the mystics of Tsfat, we gather in the forest to create an experiential Tu B’Shvat seder, co-led by visiting scholar Bonna Haberman, that connects us to the trees and the elements.

Date: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Place: Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Oakland
Cost: $20 to $50. See details here.

An Introduction to Judaism
Learn about Judaism Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices
With Rabbi Larry Raphael, Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, Lisa Erdberg
Get an in-depth look at the basics of Jewish thought and practice. Engage in a mix of study, discussion and hands-on experiences. Topics include:
* Jewish beliefs and values
* Holidays and the Jewish calendar
* Prayer and liturgy
* Lifecycle events

Dates: Sundays January 26 – May 18 (except holiday weekends)
Time: 10 am
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Information & registration: Eric Drucker, 415.346.1720, x24, or email Eric at

Film: American Jerusalem
This documentary tells the epic story of the pioneering Jews of San Francisco, their rise to prominence, and how, freed from discrimination, they reinvented themselves as a distinctly new kind of Jew: they weren’t just American Jews – they were San Francisco Jews.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 25
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

5th Friday Shabbat: The Best of the Best
For this 5th Friday service we’ll do the best songs of the last seven years of 5th Fridays, spanning generations of 20th and 21st-century songwriters. Don’t miss this fabulous service!

Date: Friday, January 31
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Cooking Jewish Whether You’re Jewish or Not: Shabbat!
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the central observance or holy day of Judaism. Just about everything gives way before Shabbat – including Yom Kippur! Because it is the day that God gave us for rest and enjoyment; it should be a day of joy. So you must want to put something absolutely delicious on the table for Shabbat! How about warm bread, roasted chicken, a savory kugel, and a mouth watering dessert. We won’t stop at the food. We’ll share lots of secrets for making Shabbat something worth staying home for, even if you have teenagers.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
Time: 1 to 4pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
Cost: $35
Register here

Fatherhood as a Spiritual Journey
Attention fathers of grade school children. Feeling inspired by your journey? Overwhelmed? Looking to connect with other dads who are parenting younger children? This lay-led group will gather monthly to take inventory of our journeys as fathers and to harness Jewish texts and traditions that might help us pay closer attention to this most sacred journey.

Dates: First Sunday of the month through May 4, next meeting is Feb. 2
Time: 9:15am to 10:30am
Place: Rodef Sholom, Rabbi Lezak’s office, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
For more information and to RSVP to Molly at molly@rodefsholom.org.
Rabbi Lezak says that guys are joining the group all the time so do come. You can email him if you have questions at mlezak@rodefsholom.org

The Joy of Jewish Dance
Join Jewish dance maven, Bruce Bierman, on a journey back to the sources of Jewish dance reaching back as far as Miriam celebrating with drums and timbrels. Groove to new and ancient rhythms. Sing and move to heart opening Hasidic dance nigguns, Yemenite ecstatic drumming, shtetl hot Klezmer and classic Israeli folk melodies. No dance experience needed. All ages and backgrounds welcome.

Dates: 4 Mondays, February 3 – 24, 2014
Time: 7:00 – 8:30pm
Place: Chochmat Halev, 2215 Prince St, Berkeley
Cost: General Public $100; Chochmat Halev Members $85
Info: www.chochmat.org

Interfaith/Intercultural Couples Discussion Group
Interfaith/Intercultural couples are usually aware that they will have to negotiate differences in their religions, but they may be surprised by needing to navigate cultural differences regarding communication, parenting, parents, and their definition of community. Make the process easier by engaging with other couples facing similar questions. Create an outline of how to approach a conversation with your partner that is honest, caring, and supportive. This discussion series will get the conversations rolling!
Exchange ideas about such issues as:
Holiday Observances – Which holidays will be celebrated in our home?
Dealing With Our Families – How will we talk to our parents about our choices?
Raising Children – How can we make sure our child is “part” of each of us?
Spiritual Concerns – How do we satisfy our needs and recognize our partner’s?
Cultural Differences – How do communication styles and familial expectations impact our relationship?
This is one of the most meaningful and powerful things you can do for your relationship.

Date: Wednesdays, Feb. 12 to March 26, 2014
Time: 7:30 to 9pm
Place: Lehrhaus Judaica, 2736 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Cost: $120 per couple
Register here

Wilderness Torah’s Spring B’hootz for Kids
B’hootz (“Outside” in Hebrew) brings Judaism to life through nature mentorship that focuses on discovering the natural world and provides fundamental naturalist, survival, and leadership skills through the lens of Jewish stories, blessings, and ethics.

Led by mentors skilled in Jewish studies and experiential nature education, B’hootz Roots (grades K–1) focuses on Jewish stories, embodied games, and imagination, while B’hootz Shoots builds on the Roots foundation and adds more wilderness skills and challenges.

Date: begins February 16, 2014
Place: East Bay Redwoods
Details here.