Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day. I heard a news report that less than one percent of Americans actually know someone serving in the armed forces. I am part of that one percent; my nephew is in the army and has been deployed twice.

Quite the opposite is true in Israel where not only does the vast majority of the population serve in the armed services, some member of most Israeli families is probably serving right now or has served recently.

When the coffins containing the remains of Goldwasser and Regev, captured with Gilad Shalit, were returned to Israel on 15 July 2008 the Israelis lined the streets. My nephew, serving in the US Army, called me and said, “Americans would never do that for us.”

Of Shalit’s recovery Rabbi Rick Jacobs, entering head of the Reform movement’s Union for Reform Judaism, wrote: On Tuesday, October 18, the dawn finally broke for Gilad Shalit as he was released from captivity to make his way home. After 1,941 nights and 1,941 days in a dark pit, Gilad found his way to the morning light. What a day that was for our people, for our Jewish State, for all people of conscience and decency. Unforgettable.

What a day that was for our people. When Gilad was released it was the freeing of the son of all of us. How is it that the Jews can continue this archaic attachment to each other while Americans have broken away from obligation to community and, yes, even to family? Is it really better to be free from these obligations?

We sent our sons and daughters to war in Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan. But when they come home we turn away. We don’t hire them. We see them as damaged.

What a day for our American people it will be when all our troops come home, are employed, receive the benefits they need and deserve, are invited into our homes and welcomed into our hearts.

This Veteran’s Day do something for a soldier. Last year a woman made a quilt and asked me for the name of a woman soldier to send it to. I got a name from my nephew, a young Chinese-American woman who had been wounded in Iraq. The quilter sent the handmade quilt to Christine. These two women will never meet. But Christine can cover her children with the quilt and tell them, “Someone appreciated me.”

Michelle Obama is working to support the families of troops through the USO, look here for more information:

Learners’ Circle (Tiburon)
Diversity from a Biblical Perspective (Oakland)
Inviting Judaism to the Thanksgiving Table (Oakland)
The Abrahamic Family Feud: Its Aftershocks for Judaism and Islam (Walnut Creek)
Women’s Book Club (San Rafael)
Celebrate Jewish Book Month & Meet Author Dana Reinhardt (Los Altos)
Havdallah PJ Party (San Francisco)
Book Club (Palo Alto)
Michael Krasny’s Spiritual Envy (Pleasanton)
Multiracial Jews: Born This Way (Oakland)
Whole-Lotta-Latke Cook-off! (Palo Alto)
Hanukah Festival of Light & Isaac Zones Family Concert (Berkeley)
Hanukkah Celebration & Latke Party (Richmond)
Chopshticks (Palo Alto)

Learners’ Circle
Join us for a Learners Circle about the Shabbat morning service. Teachings, discussions, singing and experiential practice will be led by different lay leaders in our congregation, and all levels of learning and curiosity are welcome to attend.
The Learners’ Circle meets the 2nd & 4th Saturdays.

Class dates:Nov. 12, Dec. 10, Jan. 14 & 28, Feb. 11 & 25, Mar. 10
Time: 9:45 – 10:45am
Place: Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Dr., Tiburon

Diversity from a Biblical Perspective
What does the bible say about diversity? Is the mandate to encourage or reject diversity? Or is it both? Join us for an interactive discussion, with Rabbi Mates-Muchin, of issues of diversity as seen through the lens of our biblical text.

Date: Sunday, November 13
Time: 9:30am to 11am
Place Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland

Inviting Judaism to the Thanksgiving Table
You are invited to hear a panel of speakers talk about how to add layers of understanding to your Thanksgiving meal. They will explore some of the roots of this very American tradition and look at how we can bring use some of our experiences with Passover, Sukkot and other holidays to add ritual and meaning without necessarily remaking the holiday as “Jewish” since many of us share the holiday table with friends and relatives of different backgrounds.
We’ll also discuss (and sample) some Thanksgiving foods with a Jewish twist.

Date: Sunday, Nov. 13
Time: 3 to 5 p.m.
Place: Temple Beth Abraham, 327 Euclid Avenue, Oakland, CA.
The event is free to members of Women of Temple Beth Abraham, $18 for others.
Please email Faith at clickblogappetitATgmailDOTcom if you would like more information or to RVSP.

The Abrahamic Family Feud: Its Aftershocks for Judaism and Islam
How has the legend about Ishmael affected Jewish-Islamic relations? Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Ph.D., the co-director of the new Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at Hebrew Union College, will explore the Abrahamic family feud in Part I of the four part series “An Introduction of Islam for Jews.”

Date: Sunday, November 13
Time: 4pm
Place: Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek
Phone: (925) 934-9446
Cost: $18
Organized by Cong. Beth Chaim, Cong. B’nai Shalom, Cong. B’nai Tikvah and Temple Isaiah, this series will take place at each of these synagogues during the coming year. Co-sponsors: Beth Chaim Cong. and Cong. B’nai Shalom.

Women’s Book Club
Join the women of Rodef Sholom who will be discussing Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. The group meets monthly in the Lefferts Jewish Community Library, accessible via the 2nd floor landing at the Osher Marin JCC.

Date: Wednesday, November 16
Time: 7:15 pm
Place: Marin Osher JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road San Rafael
For more information on how to join this dynamic club, please contact

Celebrate Jewish Book Month & Meet Author Dana Reinhardt
You are invited for dessert and conversation with award-winning author Dana Reinhardt.
November is Jewish Book Month and the Beth Am Library Committee is sponsoring an exciting event for teens and adults. Dana Reinhardt will discuss her writing career, her books and how her Judaism has influenced her writing. There will be time for questions and conversation.
Ms. Reinhardt’s book The Things a Brother Knows won the 2011 Sydney Taylor Gold Medal Award in the Teen Readers category. In the book, Levi’s older brother Boaz returns from the military a hero, but refuses to engage with his family and barely leaves his room. Levi wonders if his brother will ever be normal again. With the help of his friends and his Israeli grandfather, Levi begins a journey to bring his brother back.

Date: Wednesday, November 16
Time: 7 – 9 pm
Place: Beth Am, in the Beit Kehillah, 26790 Arastradero Rd, Los Altos Hills
If you have not been on the Beth Am campus before please note that it is large. Call first to be sure you know where you’re going. (650) 493-4661

Havdallah PJ Party
Come join our early childhood educator Meredith Reich for a Havdallah PJ Party. The evening concludes with lighting the Havdallah candle, smelling the sweet spices, and holding on to the sweetness of Shabbat as we begin the new week.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 19
Time: 4pm
Place: Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., San Francisco
Cost: $15/family for pizza.
RSVP by November 18 to Meredith Reich.

Book Club
People of the Books, the book group at Etz Chayim, will discuss In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson. This group is open to all.

Date: Sunday, Nov 20
Time: 10:30am
Place: Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Michael Krasny’s Spiritual Envy
One of NPR’s most popular interviewers, award-winning broadcaster Michael Krasny (Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest) asks us to engage in a conversation about God, human responsibility, the nature of evil, paranormal theories, and the role of organized religion in society.

Date: Wednesday, November 30
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Street, Pleasanton
Phone: (925) 931-1055
Cost: $10

Multiracial Jews: Born This Way
The biggest job children have is to figure out who they are. What if they’re Jewish, a child of color, and trying to understand what the adults are saying about them?
Come hear a panel of local Jews of color discuss what it is like growing up Jewish. How can we support multiracial families in our community? How can we be better at drawing this often unaffiliated segment of our community into Jewish life?
Facilitated by Dawn Kepler.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 4
Time: 9:30am
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
My friends, the turn out for this series, What Color Are Jews, has been getting bigger and bigger. Come early if you want to sit close to the front. We’ll be in a large room. Call if you have any questions. This event is handicap accessible.

Whole-Lotta-Latke Cook-off!
For families with preschool & school-age children
Bring the entire family for a whole-lotta-fun at the Hanukkah Celebration everyone’s talking about ~ the Whole-Lotta-Latke Cook-off!

Peruse children’s gift vendors, enjoy Hanukkah arts & crafts, participate in our carnival-style games, listen to live entertainment and put your taste buds (or cooking skills) to the test. Everyone is invited!

Think you make the best latkes?
Enter the latke cook-off no later than Wednesday, November 16! Go here to learn more about how to enter the contest:

Date: Sunday, Dec. 4
Time: 2 to 5pm
Place: Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way Palo Alto
Info: Ori Zadok,

Hanukah Festival of Light & Isaac Zones Family Concert
A fun day of Hanukah activities for the whole family!
* Hanukah for young children, with fabulous storytelling by Miriam Schwartz
* Family Hanukah Concert with Isaac Zones & Band
* Lots of latkes!
* Menorah making
* Hanukah-themed art and crafts projects
* Dreidel games
* Read aloud stories for young children, from PJ Library
* Other yummy treats!

Date: Sunday, December 11
Time: 10:00am-2:00pm
Place: JCC of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley
Cost: Suggested donation $5/person + canned food donations.
Co-sponsored by: Center for Jewish Living and Learning/PJ Library of the East Bay, Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, Jewish Gateways, Building Jewish Bridges

Hanukkah Celebration & Latke Party
The community is invited to Temple Beth Hillel’s celebratory Hanukkah candle lighting and annual latke lunch with all the trimmings. The gift shop will be open and there will be children’s activities. There will also be display and sale of beautifully designed work from temple craftspeople and local artisans. A raffle will be held during the party for selected items of the handmade crafts.
The community is encouraged to bring food donations for the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry. Help fill red barrels located in the synagogue’s lobby with food for the hungry.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 11
Time: 11am to 3pm with latke lunch at 12:30pm
Place: Temple Beth Hillel,
This event is free and open to all. Here is a link to information:
Contact Rabbi Dean Kertesz at (510) 223-2560 for additional information.

With Brad Zimmerman
Help yourself to tasty treats and gut-busting comedy at our annual local tradition! This year, comedian Brad Zimmerman will perform his solo show My Son the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy.
Besides making a splash at the prestigious Montreal “Just For Laughs” Festival, Brad is a regular at New York’s best comedy clubs including Caroline’s Comedy Club and Stand Up NY.

Date: Saturday, December 24
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Palo Alto JCC,
Price: $50 JCC Members, $55 Non-Members; $65 at the door, space permitting
Price includes hors d’oeuvres and dessert.
Info: Boris Vladimirsky, (650) 223-8609,