Next Holiday Up: Purim!

Purim will begin Wednesday evening, March 7. That’s the night that synagogues typically hold their Purim Schpiel – the retelling of the Purim story. Sometimes the story is chanted from a simple scroll and many times there is a comical play telling the story. It is popular to pick a theme – like Purim according to the Beatles. Then the story is put into songs and sung to the familiar tunes of, in this case, the Beatles. I’ve also heard Purim set to Elvis, Motown and other musical genres.

This is the one holiday when you are actually supposed to get drunk, extremely drunk. So drunk you can no longer tell the difference between the names of the hero and the villain. I don’t know anyone who does that. Non-traditional Jews simply don’t drink that much. Traditional Jews take a nap. That’s right, you are supposed to be in a state of unconsciousness and sleep works just fine for that!

Learn more about Purim at one of these links:

Wilderness Camp for Kids (Oakland)
Purim: The Jewish Mardi Gras! (Berkeley)
Being a Jew in the 21st Century (Oakland)
Purim! (San Rafael)
Women in Interfaith Relationships (Palo Alto)
Purim Spiel and Carnival (Oakland)
Pagan and Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar (Oakland)
Religion for Atheists (San Francisco)
Shabbes Beat (San Francisco)
Passover Made Easy (Tiburon)
Jewish Identity Development for Multiracial Jews (Oakland)
Tot Shabbat (San Mateo)
The Sacred Table: Ethical Food Choices & Options (Oakland)

Wilderness Camp for Kids
BaMidbar, In the Wilderness
Bring to life the lessons of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness as your kids develop important community and wilderness survival skills in the forest, including foraging, tracking, shelter-building, fire-building, and lost-proofing.
Their skill-building will be embedded in Torah stories as they travel through the Jewish calendar from Tu B’Shvat: the New Year of the Trees, toward Passover: the day of our liberation from slavery into wilderness!

Dates: 10-week session, March 4 – May 13th, Sundays 10 – 1pm
Place: Redwood Regional Park in Oakland
Children grades 3-5: 10-1pm | Children grades 1-2: 10-1pm
FEES: $400, $350 sibling discount | Scholarships available.

Purim: The Jewish Mardi Gras!
Join us for a stimulating evening of cocktails, crafts, comedy, and conversation! All adults (21 and over) are welcome to celebrate this wild and crazy holiday. No Jewish experience necessary.

7:00 – Brief & boisterous telling of the Purim story by comedian Joshua Walters
7:30- Choose from four exciting conversations:
*Sasha Goldberg of Keshet & Rabbi David Dunn Bauer of Nehirim: Yentl, Tootsie, and The Nanny: The Private Parts and Public Performance of Jewish Gender
*Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges & Young Adult Leaders: When YOU are the Other: Jewish Diversity, Identity, and Belonging
*Rabbi Bridget Wynne of Jewish Gateways: Conceal or Reveal?: The Power of Our Hidden Selves
*Julia Malkin of EastBayJews: Unmasking Tzedakah and How You Give

8:15 – Cocktails, crafts, snacks, photo booth,and games with Moishe House

Date: Monday, March 5
Time: 7:00pm-9:30pm
Place: JCC of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley



Being a Jew in the 21st Century
In many different ways we are identified with particular groups – by our sexual orientation, our political affiliations, our family status, our careers, and more. In this workshop Rabbis Straus and Mates-Muchin will lead us through a discussion about what our Jewish identity means to us. What does it mean to be a “good Jew” or living in a Jewish family? What does it mean to be part of the tribe? Are there legitimate expectations that the community has of me or that I have of the community? In this age of assimilation, why should I be Jewish? Why should I be part of a synagogue? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions – just an opportunity for us to better understand our relationship with the Jewish community. Free and no advance registration required.

Dates: Tuesdays, March 6 – March 27
Time: 8:15pm to 9:15pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland or call 510-451-3263.

Purim is around the corner! Join us on Wednesday, March 7, 5:45 pm Spaghetti dinner*, 6:30 pm Megillah reading. Be prepared for a wild and crazy service as we read the megillah in our Sanctuary. Come in costume ready to laugh so hard you’ll be crying! Bring a box of macaroni & cheese (any brand will do) to use as a grogger to drown out Haman’s name- we will collect them to donate to Jewish Family and Children’s Services’ Food Pantry!

Date: March 7
Time: 5:45pm
Place: Congregation Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Rd, San Rafael
*Reservations needed for dinner by March 2nd by contacting Pete at or 479.3441.
Cost is $5 per person or $20 per family; gluten-free option available.

Women in Interfaith Relationships
A discussion for girlfriends, wives, mothers, & grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith marriage in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family.

Date; Thursday, March 8, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Cost: $18 public, free to Etz Chayim members, register here
No one turned away for lack of funds.

Purim Spiel and Carnival
Join us at the Purim Spiel, “The Megillah According to Vashti,” and carnival afterwards in Stern Hall. We’ll have challenging games, thrilling prizes, delicious food and lots of fun! These events have no admission charge. Tickets for activity booths and food during the carnival are available for pre-purchase in the Education or at the carnival.

Date: Sunday, March 11
Time: Spiel at 10:30am in the Sanctuary
Carnival for kids K-2nd Graders – 9:30am to 10:30am
Carnival for kids 3rd Grade and higher – after the Spiel
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Pagan and Mystical Roots of the Jewish Calendar
Christianity has been described as Jewish wine in a pagan vessel. Likewise, the classical monotheistic grapes of Jewish history and law were grafted on to hardy mythic and magical rootstock, the agricultural year as a mirror of heaven. The medieval Kabbalists were able to link their mystical understanding of Jewish belief to these ancient pagan roots in ways that deepened the meaning of our traditional holidays and observances. Mystical texts like the Zohar did this not just for the mystics themselves, but for the average devout Jew who found cold comfort in Jewish philosophy. This workshop will explore the magical, numerological, astrological and mystical depths hidden within our own normative Jewish practice with the intention of reconnecting us to the life of the earth.

Dates: Wednesdays, March 14 – March 28
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Tuition: $35 for the public, $30 for members
Register here:

Religion for Atheists
The popular philosopher and bestselling author of The Consolations of Philosophy and How Proust Can Change Your Life presents a deeply provocative argument for benefiting from the wisdom and power of religion – without having to “believe” in any of it. De Botton, a non-believer himself, offers a surprisingly useful look at religion for atheists as the source of best practices for living and arranging our societies, building communities and sustaining relationships.

Date: Thursday, March 15
Time: 8:00 pm
Place: San Francisco JCC, 3200 California St., San Francisco
Tickets range in price, $20 to $25:

Shabbes Beat
It’s all about that Shabbes groove. Rock, jazz, Latin, and blues.
Cantor Sharon and the Shabbes Beat band and chorus. Sing, dance, and pray. . . Joy up, relax, breathe, and sway . . . every 3rd Friday 7:30pm March-June.

Date: March 16
Time: 7:30 to 10:30pm – (you don’t have to stay the whole time)
Place: Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores Street, San Francisco
Info: 415-861-6932

Passover Made Easy
Not everyone who holds a seder grew up with Passover traditions. Dawn will share tasty Passover recipes, shortcuts, and tips for engaging children (and spouses) of all ages in the holiday.

Date: Thursday, March 22
Time: 9:30 – 11:30am
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: $20
To register, please call the Osher Marin JCC at 415-444-8000 or visit the JCC website here:
Kol Shofar’s phone: 415-388-1818

Jewish Identity Development for Multiracial Jews
With Dr. Jerry Diller & Rabbi Mates-Muchin
Children experience life quite differently than adults. We will address what it is like to grow up Jewish if you don’t look Jewish. What comments and behaviors impact a multiracial child’s sense of their Jewishness? What happens to a child whose Jewish parent is ambivalent about their own Jewish identity? We will discuss what we can do/say to support those around us and will contemplate when is silence golden.
Join Dr. Jerry Diller, emeritus professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley and psychotherapist who has focused extensively on identity development for multiracial people, and Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, rabbi at Temple Sinai and a Chinese Jew, in conversation about developing healthy and happy identities in multiracial families and communities. Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges will moderate the conversation and facilitate Q&A from the audience.

Date: Wednesday, March 28
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $18/public; free to Sinai members. No one turned away for lack of funds.
Register here:

Tot Shabbat
This Shabbat experience is designed for newborns through pre-schoolers, is held monthly at 9:00 am. Celebrate Shabbat with a morning service filled with songs and stories, an Oneg Shabbat snack, and time on the playground.

Date: March 31, April 28, May 26 and June 16
Time: 9am
Place: Peninsula Beth El, 1700 Alameda De Las Pulgas, San Mateo

The Sacred Table: Ethical Food Choices & Options
You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless upon the good land that God has given you (Deut. 8:10)
Eating is one of those ordinary experiences which Jewish observance makes holy. Traditionally, we bracket our eating with blessings before and after, for the food and for the satisfaction which the food has given. Even those Jews who do not observe Jewish dietary laws are conscious of the fact that in the book of Leviticus, the mixing of meat with milk is forbidden and certain meats are forbidden altogether as food.
We need food to survive. Food can also be a way of expressing love. It can be the object of addiction or of simple pleasure. Beyond the issue of Jewish dietary law, what ethical issues come up for the Jew who wishes to be a true mensch?
In this class we will use the essays in the collection The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic (ed. Mary L. Zamore, CCAR Press) as food for thought as we chew on the meaning and implications of our choices. Bon apetit!

Dates: Wednesdays, April 11, 18 and 25
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $30 public, $18 Temple Sinai members
Register here