Get Your Culture on this Summer!

I’m reading a wonderful book, The Mathematician’s Shiva. Of course, it’s about Jews – but also other Russians, Poles, Americans, scientists and more. I love the underlining Jewishness of the characters and I really love that it is not about the Holocaust. There is so much more to Judaism than misery and murder.

The Mathematician's Shiva
The Mathematician’s Shiva

Which leads me to the topic of cultural Judaism. What does it mean to be culturally Jewish? It can mean the books you read (see book groups below in the events). It could be the movies you see (films below). It could be a hike with other Jews and non-Jews or going to the Jewish Heritage Night at the Giants or the A’s. It could be hanging out at the pool. Hearing a lecture on God and science. But it does mean learning and doing Jewishly infused things. I’ve collected a number of them below. If you have an idea to add, please send it to me. If you have a favorite Jewish themed book or film, tell me about it. I’ll share it with the rest of our gang.

Dough showing at the SFJFF
Dough showing at the SFJFF

Building Jewish Bridges will again be co-presenting some films at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I know for sure one of them will be Dough. Take a look at it on their website.


Alfresco Shabbat (Burlingame)
Tot Shabbat Playgroup (Pleasanton)
Kumzits Shabbat! (Oakland)
Torah with Soul (San Rafael)
Poolside Sundays (Palo Alto)
Sneak Preview: 2015 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (San Rafael)
Men’s Book Group at Beth Am (Los Altos)
Saturdays Unplugged: Brazil-Flavored Family Fun (San Francisco)
A Scientist Looks at God (Los Altos)
Havdallah Hike in Redwood Park (Oakland)
Story Shabbat (Pleasanton)
Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night (San Francisco)
Oakland A’s Jewish Heritage Night (Oakland)
Congregation Beth Emek Open House (Pleasanton)

Alfresco Shabbat
Join us for special Shabbat evening services under the summer sky. We’ll begin in the Misle & Sosnick Families Foyer at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy some delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres. Then, we’ll move outside for an alfresco service in the Wornick Family Courtyard. We’ll finish with finger sandwiches and Oneg Shabbat treats. Come see how the prayer experience is enhanced when our voices are carried on a gentle summer breeze!

Dates: Fridays, Jul. 3 to Aug. 28
Time: 6:00 pm
Place: Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame

Tot Shabbat Playgroup
Tot Shabbat, a playgroup geared toward young children (ages birth to toddler) and their parents or caregivers, meets Friday mornings. Activities include free play along with Shabbat or Jewish holiday-themed craft projects, play dough, and parachute play.

Date: July 3 and Every Friday
Time: from 9:30 to 11:30am
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton

Kumzits Shabbat!
Join us for this lively Erev Shabbat Kumzits (“come sit”) Family Service around the firepit. Yes, there will be s’mores!

Date: Friday, July 3
Time: 6:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, in the Upper Courtyard (you can see it from the parking lot), 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Torah with Soul
Whether you are a Torah veteran, or completely new to Torah, all are welcome. Shabbat by Shabbat, we will study the weekly parsha, based on the first year of the triennial cycle. Additionally, time permitting, we’ll continue our study of the Book of Psalms. On the third Saturday of each month, weather permitting, Torah with Soul becomes Torah on the Trails, where we take a short hike on a local trail before studying Torah surrounded by nature. To be added to the Torah with Soul and/or Torah on the Trails email lists, please contact Molly at

Date: July 4, and most Saturdays, contact Molly at 415.479.3441 to make sure before you go.
Time: 9:15 am
Place: Rodef Sholom, 170 No. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

Poolside Sundays
Join us all summer long for the best poolside parties in Palo Alto! Meet your friends or make new ones while relaxing on our spacious outdoor deck. Entertain the kids with water games, arts activities, a bounce house and sports activities led by our enthusiastic J-Camp counselors. Poolside Parties are FREE for OFJCC Center Members. Non-Member guest passes may be purchased.

Dates: Every Sunday, for the July 5 schedule look here
Place: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

Sneak Preview: 2015 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
See clips of this year’s upcoming festival highlights, peek “behind the scenes”, learn how the films are selected, and discover the history of the largest Jewish film festival in the world!

Date: Wed, July 8
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Osher Marin JCC, 200 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
Cost: Free!

Men’s Book Group at Beth Am
In July, the Beth Am Men’s book group reads All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The blind girl, Marie-Laure, and her father flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo to save a valuable museum piece. Werner, an orphan in a mining town in Germany, develops a skill for repairing radios. The Nazis recognize this talent and send him to track the French Resistance. He winds up in…. Saint-Malo! Join us to discuss this fascinating historical novel set at a critical time for European Jewry.

Date: Thursday, July 9
Time: 4:00pm
Place: Beth Am Library, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills

Saturdays Unplugged: Brazil-Flavored Family Fun
Live music, fun for the kids and caipirinha cocktails for the big people. It’s Saturdays Unplugged and July’s version features the amazing Fogo Na Roupa Brazilian Carnaval Ensemble. Enjoy the rest of Shabbat.

Date: Saturday, July 11
Time: 3:00 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Free & Open to Everyone

A Scientist Looks at God
Taught by Rabbinic Intern Adam Lutz
Knowing the evils that occur in the world, how can God be all powerful, all knowing and all good? Come find out how a scientist (and soon to be rabbi) tries to create a Jewish belief system that reflects our experience in the world and honors God at the same time. Learn about Adam Lutz, our summer rabbinic intern from Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

Date: Sunday, July 12
Time: 10:00am
Place: Beth Am, Conference Room, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills

Havdallah Hike in Redwood Park
What a lovely way to wind down your Shabbat with a gentle stroll in the redwood forest , a spirited Havdalah service in a meadow, followed by a light snack and a chance to shmooze with others. Join the Green Committee of Temple Sinai for a peaceful close to Shabbat.. Please bring a snack to share if you are able..

Date: Saturday, July 18
Time: 5:30pm
Place: In the last parking lot of Redwood Park: 7867 Redwood Road, Oakland
Questions? Please contact Richard Hart at richard.p.hart at gmail dot com

Story Shabbat
Story Shabbat is geared toward families with children ages 3-6. During this special Shabbat celebration, children are introduced to Shabbat in an age-appropriate service which includes music and a story, followed by a snack and craft project. Siblings are welcome. For more information about Story Shabbat, contact Lisa Kama (925.461.3591).

Dates: July 25 and August 29
Time: 10:30am
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton

Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night
Giants vs. Brewers
Join the Bay Area Jewish community and Congregation Sherith Israel at the Giants’ annual Jewish Heritage Night. As you may know, CSI always has a huge section on Jewish Heritage Night. Your ticket includes a seat in the Jewish Heritage section, a limited-edition Giants Kiddush cup, and admission to the Jewish Heritage Night pregame party in Seals Plaza from 5 – 7 pm.

Date: Monday, July 27
Time: Pregame Party: 5 – 7 pm; First Pitch: 7:15 pm
Place: AT&T Park, San Francisco
Cost: Bleacher seats $35/ticket
Details on the Giants’ website

Oakland A’s Jewish Heritage Night
This season’s fifth annual Jewish Heritage Night on Tuesday, August 4 is all new. The pregame event will take place in the spacious Eastside Club. All participants that purchase a special ticket through the link below will be able to attend the pregame event, as well as enjoy a traditional food item and receive an exclusive A’s Jewish Heritage giveaway item. As an added bonus, August 4 is one of the A’s Chevy FREE PARKING Tuesdays.
For more information, please contact Jeff Perlmutter at 510-563-2250 or
Please note, you must purchase a special ticket for this event to attend the pregame event in the Eastside Club and receive the giveaway item and food item.
Pregame event in the Eastside Club
Exclusive A’s Jewish Heritage giveaway item
Traditional Jewish food item
Chevy FREE PARKING Tuesdays

Date: Tuesday, August 4
Time: Game starts at 7:05, Jewish festivities at 5:30pm
Place: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland

Congregation Beth Emek Open House
Whether you are new to the area or just new to Beth Emek, we invite you to educational programs for all ages. Meet Rabbi Larry Milder, Education Director Judith Radousky, and Preschool Director Melinda McDonald. Take a tour of the building and visit our sanctuary and classrooms. Light refreshments will be served. Congregation Beth Emek is an inclusive Reform synagogue with an open and participatory atmosphere. We welcome all people on their Jewish journey.

Sunday, August 9
Time: 10:00a to noon
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
For more information, call the synagogue at 925.931.1055