Elul, the month before the High Holy Days

Elul2 reduced

This is one of those years when you hear “the holidays are SO late this year!” While the Jewish holidays always fall on the same day of the Jewish calendar, the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar are always moving around.

The Gregorian calendar was put into practice by Pope Gregory in 1582. Just thinking about how the calendar shapes our daily thinking makes you realize how Jewish time & culture are naturally different than Gregorian/Christian time and culture. It’s really quite fascinating. One of these days I’m going to as a rabbi to teach about Jewish time – that’ll blow your mind!

Back to the High Holy Days – they fall late in the Western calendar this year, Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of October 2. The month leading up to Rosh Hashanah is Elul and it will begin Sept. 3 at sundown. For the entire month of Elul Jewish tradition teaches that we reflect on our selves. How are we doing? What would we like to improve? Similar to the January 1st New Year, this is a time to reassess one’s life.

For those of you who like to reflect here are some interesting options.

Take a look at a calendar where the Jewish dates are dominant and the Gregorian dates are subordinate.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat discusses the two times a year that Jews count the days here.
She gives this reason for counting:
We count the days between one thing and the next because that helps us stay situated in this moment in time. The counting can help us combat the tendency to draft either into the remembered past or into the anticipated future. Beyond that, it links us both with that past and with that future.

Rabbi Ruth Adar discusses Teshuvah (often translated as repentance but a better translation is return, as in returning to the right path) and how we can go about it without beating ourselves up.

What do you hope to do better in the coming year? Please tell me; I’d love to hear from you.

Shabbat Shalom,


Mussar & Meditation (Lafayette)
Shabbat for Baby and Me (Redwood City)
Sunset Picnic and Havdallah (Tiburon)
Shabbat with Rabbi Amy Eilberg (Foster City)
Young Families Havdalah Pizza Party (Pleasanton)
Open-Faith Salon: Ecumenical Exploration of Forgiveness (Berkeley)
The High Holy Days…Do I Want to? Do I Have to? (Pleasanton)
Temple Beth Hillel’s Religious School Open House (Richmond)
The Jewish Refugees of Syria (San Francisco)
Introduction to the Jewish Experience (Berkeley)
Preparation for the High Holy Days and Selichot Service (Richmond)
Erev Roshanah Family Picnic (Mill Valley)
Introduction to Judaism (Sam Francisco)

Mussar & Meditation
We often associate Shabbat with prayer. But Shabbat is also a story: For six days God created our world, and on the seventh, God rested. And we, who are in the image of God, live out this sacred story of creativity (a.k.a. work) and stillness. At Mussar and Meditation we are reminded of this story, and asks ourselves – who are we and who will we become? We reconnect to the art of creative, soulful Jewish living through singing, silence, community and discussions of Mussar wisdom. Mussar, a Jewish path toward menschlichkeit, deepens our commitment to ethical behavior and a more compassionate embrace of the unique qualities we find in ourselves and others.

This Shabbat we will focus on the middah (quality) of kashei oref, having a stiff neck. As the month of Elul begins and we start the journey towards teshuva (repentance), we ask together: where am I stubborn, and to what purpose?

Mussar and Meditation services are held the first Saturday each month. Join us!

Date: September 3
Time: 10:30am
Place: Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd., Lafayette

Shabbat for Baby and Me
Tot Shabbat and Childcare
For children ages 2.5 to 8. No prior registration or payment required. Come for
supervised Shabbat-friendly play, indoors and outdoors (weather permitting), with a Tot Shabbat service starting at about 10:45 a.m.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 10
Time: Childcare is open at 9am in case you want to attend services
Tot Shabbat is at 10:45am if you want to come just for that
Place: Beth Jacob, 550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City

Sunset Picnic and Havdallah
The end of summer is the perfect time to enjoy an evening al fresco! Gather a dairy picnic dinner, beach blanket and pillows, family and friends and come celebrate a communal Havdallah with our Kol Shofar community and Rabbi Leider. We’ll meet in the parking lot at Blackie’s Pasture and take a 5 minute walk out to the South Knoll Park. Chai Lights will provide wine, sparkling cider and sweet treats. Rabbi Leider will provide spiritual inspiration. After the sun sets at 7:26 pm we’ll locate 3 stars in the sky, form a circle and bid Shabbat farewell.

Date: Saturday, Sep. 10
Time: 6:30pm
Hosted by Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr, Tiburon
Call for more information 415-388-1818

Shabbat with Rabbi Amy Eilberg
Rabbi Amy Eilberg is the first woman ordained as a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She serves as the director of the Pardes Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) Communities Program, helping synagogues and Jewish organizations place the pursuit of peace in interpersonal relationships at the center of their communal mission. Rabbi Eilberg also serves as a spiritual director, interfaith activist and conflict counselor. Her book, From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, was published by Orbis Books in March 2014

Sermon during Services: Seeing You is Like Seeing the Face of God A Spiritual Practice For Our Times and Relationships
At Kiddish: The Pracatice of Peace Training the Heart and Mind For Peace and Tshuva For more information please contact Rabbi Helfand at rabbi@peninsulasinai.org.

Date: September 10
Time: Services begin at 9:30am
Place: Peninsula Sinai, 499 Boothbay, Foster City

Young Families Havdalah Pizza Party
Join Beth Emek Young Families for a night of playing, socializing, eating, and Havdalah with Rabbi Milder. Kids will play, parents and grandparents will socialize and supervise, and we’ll all eat dinner together before doing Havdalah as a group. Event is $20 per family, collected at 6 pm, and includes a pizza dinner with salad, fruit, and dessert. Hope to see you there to kick off the school year!

Date: Sept. 10
Time: 5pm
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
For more information, contact Anna Kalman, prekyouth@bethemek.org

Open-Faith Salon: Ecumenical Exploration of Forgiveness
In this first of three Open-Faith Salons, we will explore the theme of forgiveness from a Jewish, Muslim/Sufi, Christian and native Hawaiian perspective. Like the European-inspired salons of yore, this will be an evening of shared stories and practices, spiritual edification and dialogue involving leaders and members of different faith communities. At a time when so many people are erecting walls to keep “others” out, we seek to build bridges of understanding made up of our shared values and aspirations. This gathering is our special way of marking the 15th anniversary of 9-11.

Date: Sunday, September 11
Time: 7 – 9:30pm
Place: Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince St., Berkeley
Details here

The High Holy Days…Do I Want to? Do I Have to?
All are invited for this first workshop in the series “Interfaith Homes, Jewish Choices” facilitated by Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges. What is it about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that pulls Jews into the synagogue by the droves? Obligation? Faith? Remembrance? What do these holidays mean? What part do they play in our lives? Should our children miss school to observe these holidays? Join us in a discussion of history and meaning.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Time: 10:30am to Noon
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Cost: $8 for the public, free for members of Beth Emek
Register here if you are not a member.

Temple Beth Hillel’s Religious School Open House
Interested parents and children are invited to meet teachers and students, participate in classroom activities, and learn about the school’s educational program.

Temple Beth Hillel’s Religious School offers an exploration into Jewish history, culture, holidays, customs and Hebrew for toddlers 2 1/2 through Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation and beyond. First day of class is September 18th.
Also available is Mazel Tots, a special free class for toddlers, 2 1/2 through four years.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Place: Temple Beth Hillel,
For enrollment or more information look here.

Rock ‘n Roll Shabbat
Join Rabbi Bloom and the TBA Band for a ruach (spirit) filled service with music! Shabbat services will be followed by a Family Shabbat Chicken Dinner, if you chose to sign up for it.

Date: Friday, September 16
Time: 6:15pm
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland
Cost for the dinner is $18 per adult $7 per child (4 years old and under are free) Vegetarian option available only when requested in advance
RSVP to virginia@tbaoakland.org by September 12
Virginia’s email reply is your confirmation. Money is sent to the synagogue care of Virginia.

The Jewish Refugees of Syria
JIMENA invites you for a night of learning through the eyes Syrian Jews and those working with displaced Syrian communities. Rabbi Eli Joseph Mansour, of Syrian Jewish decent, will discuss his tight knit community and their response to current events in Syria. Rabbi Mansour is a Jewish Orthodox Sephardic Rabbi of Syrian descent. He is an eminent Torah scholar, internationally renowned and a highly sought out speaker. The Rabbi co-authored a Sephardic Hagada Shel Pesach with commentary that was published by Artscroll.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Magain David, 351 4th Ave, San Francisco
Free admission, light drinks & snacks afterwards.
JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa

Introduction to the Jewish Experience
Introduction to the Jewish Experience is a three-part series of classes to introduce students to Jewish culture and practice. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds: Jews who did not receive a Jewish education, Jews who wish to resume their education as adults, persons interested in conversion to Judaism, and others who wish to learn more about Judaism. The three parts of the series may be taken in any order. Click here for more information and to register. Taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar.
Co-sponsored by Congregation Beth El with Lehrhaus Judaica.
Three sessions—the first starts October 19, Wednesdays, 7:30–9:00 pm

Preparation for the High Holy Days and Selichot Service
Prepare for the High Holy Days with Cantor Fran Burgess. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and explore the meaningful liturgy found in the Mishkan HaNefesh, Machzor for the Days of Awe. Cantor Fran and the High Holy Days Choir continue with a Havdalah ceremony followed by Selichot (forgiveness), a moving and beautiful service introducing the themes of the season through music and meditation. Selichot provides a quiet time for personal reflection and self examination.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central St, Richmond
More information here.

Erev Roshanah Family Picnic
Join our community to welcome in the new year, 5777 at Boyle Park in Mill Valley! We will enjoy an evening of fun activities for families, music, and food. This event is open to everyone. Bring your picnic dinner to the park, hear the shofar and an enjoy a sweet way to celebrate the new year with a beautiful evening among friends!

Date: Oct. 2
Time: 5:00-7:00pm
Place: Boyle Park, Thalia St, Mill Valley
Sponsors: Kol Shofar is partnering with the PJ Library and Marin Mishpacha for this family picnic.
Details here.

Introduction to Judaism
Join with Emanu-El clergy to learn about the breadth and wonder of Jewish tradition. This class is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover or deepen Jewish knowledge, non-Jews who are marrying a Jewish partner, and those who are considering conversion to Judaism. Mark your calendars now for the 2016-2017 classes:
Fall: Oct. 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15; Dec. 6, 13
Winter: Jan. 17, 24, 31; Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28
Spring: Mar. 21, 28; Apr. 4, 25; May 2, 9, 16

Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Emanu-el, 2 Lake St., San Francisco
Cost: Emanu-El Member Cost: $54, Non-member cost: $75
Register here