Will Our Kids Become What We Want Them to Be?

A couple often breathes a sigh of relieve when they decide what their target is – THIS is the religion we want for our child. But I want that sigh to be both for the joy of having a shared goal and for accepting that you can’t actually determine your child’s future religion/culture/identity. Every child deserves a foundation and that is what you are now aiming to do. But remind each other that your child will surprise you again and again and their religious choices may be one of the surprises.

So, you say, what’s the point! What are we to do? Your children are watching you with love and admiration. You are the most interesting thing, after themselves, in their lives. What you DO is what shapes them. If you drop them off at religious school or piano lessons or soccer practice to dash off and do what you really enjoy, they will know. They may or may not enjoy their assigned activity but they will notice what draws your interest and attention.

Have you seen toddlers when their parents are on the phone? Boy, do they want that phone. You can tell a child, ‘you need to read a half hour a night’ but then you watch TV, they know what real entertainment is.

Have you noticed that the children of athletes are interested in sports, that musicians have musical children, that readers raise readers?
If you want a child to be Jewish – or any other religion – you have to role model that it’s a good thing to be. So good that you spend time doing it.

A friend went to a Star Trek convention and sent me the above photo.  Will the happy Trekkie mom have a Trekkie kid? It is not guaranteed, but her child will certainly know that Star Trek is darn fun. He’s see that it is worth spending time and money on, worth making a costume, flying to conventions, spending hours putting on an elaborate mask. Why do people stand for 45 minutes in line at Disneyland? Because it’s worth it to them!

Sit down with your partner. Ask yourselves – what do you want? What are you willing to spend time and money on? Be honest with each other. Don’t be a horse trying to raise a fish.


Shabbat Mishpacha/Family Service (Palo Alto)
Kitchen Playground Musical Shabbat (San Francisco)
Climate Torah Study with Rabbi Josh (San Leandro)
Havdalah: Cultivating Joy through Story & Art (San Francisco)
Family Fun Havdalah (San Mateo)
Tot Shabbat (Piedmont)
Family Fun Time (San Francisco)
Eshet Chayil: Sessions on Sephardic Women for Women’s History Month (Lafayette)
Shabbat Shmooze (San Rafael)
Mishpacha Kabbalat Shabbat (Berkeley)
Purim Playdate Party (Oakland)
Honoring Your Jewish Child’s Non-Jewish Heritage (On Zoom)
Jr. Jews Purim Costume Party! (San Rafael)
Rock & Roll Purim Family Service (Oakland) 


Shabbat Mishpacha/Family Service
Join this special service for children and their families in the spirit of Purim Katan. We’ll begin singing songs, followed by story and art time for kids 2-8 while adults enjoy a relaxed and interactive service. Finally we will get together for an experiential Torah service. All are welcome, including adults who appreciate a more interactive service!

Date:   Saturday, February 24
Time:   10:15 am
Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto

Kitchen Playground Musical Shabbat
Join us for a renewing and restoring Shabbat morning with Tkiya Music. We will pause our busy weeks to sing and dance together. Stay after for lunch with bagels, salad, and cookies with our whole Kitchen community!

Date:   Saturday, February 24
Time:   10:30 – 11:30am
Place:   Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, San Francisco
Registration and details here

Climate Torah Study with Rabbi Josh
It’s raining now, but what do we do when it doesn’t rain? Let’s explore fascinating and relevant teachings about rain and what to do when it doesn’t come — that is, when there’s a drought!
Drought is something we know all too well here in California, even more so in this era of climate peril. It was also something that our ancestors thought about a lot, living in a climate just like California’s and relying as they did on rain for their crops. So they developed sophisticated and powerful teachings for how to respond to drought. I invite you to join me to delve into this ancient yet amazingly relevant wisdom.

Date:   Saturday, February 24
Time:   3:00pm
Place:   In the Little Shul, Temple Beth Sholom, 642 Dolores Ave. San Leandro
RSVP by emailing Rabbi Josh Weisman, rabbi@tbssanleandro.org.

Havdalah: Cultivating Joy through Story & Art
For Young Adults
For ages 21 to 40, you are invited to join Rabbinic Intern Shirah Kraus for community building, a meaningful creative program, and havdalah. Participants will explore the theme of joy through art and storytelling in honor of the Hebrew month of Adar 1. We hope to see you there!

Date:   Saturday, February 24
Time:   7 pm
Place:   Location will be provided when you register. It will be very near Sherith Israel, the host.
Host:   Sherith Israel, 2266 California St, San Francisco
Registration is REQUIRED. Email Rabbi George to RSVP.

Family Fun Havdalah
Get to know other Peninsula families with babies and toddlers and celebrate Havdalah. Join PTBE’s Alison Levy and Jewish Baby Network’s Carol Booth for a Sunday playtime with singing, movement, puppets, crafts, snacks, and a special Havdalah ceremony. Havdalah is a sweet ceremony with juice, spices, and candlelight to mark the beginning of a new week. This program is designed for families with children aged 0-36 months but bring the whole family! Grandparents and extended family welcome too.

Date:   Sunday, February 25
Time:   3:00-4:30 p.m.
Place:   Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Register here
Questions? Contact Alison Levy

Tot Shabbat
with Jen Miriam and Alon Altman with their Puppet Friends
Designed for babies, tots, and children up to 5 with their families! Join us for Shabbat songs and prayers, dancing and puppets and community.

Date:   Saturday, March 2
Time:   10:30 – 11:00 am
Place:   Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont
More details here

Family Fun Time
Got a baby age 0 to 5 years old? Come join Jewish Baby Network SF’s Jeni Markowitz Clancy for instruments, puppets, playtime, and more! We’ll sing, wiggle and make new friends with music, stories and giggles galore. Bring a blanket to sit on and meet us in the grassy area above the rocky beach.

Date:   Sunday, March 3
Time:   10 to 11:30am
Place:   Crane Cove Park, San Francisco
Cost:    $18/family recommended donation but no one turned away for lack of funds
Registration and details here

Eshet Chayil: Sessions on Sephardic Women for Women’s History Month
Taught by Tamar Zaken
March 7 – Sephardic Women Sages- Getting to know Osnat Baraszani, Flora Sasson and other inspiring Sephardic women: Together we will explore the lives of three Sephardic women leaders, and how they broke barriers in different ways throughout history.
March 14 – Sephardic Perspectives on Women and Torah Study: In this session, we will explore progressive responses to women’s Torah learning in the Sephardic world. We will understand the different way these rabbis introduced the values of French colonialism into Halachic (Jewish legal) writing.
March 21 – Hidden Figures-The Strengths of Sephardic Women in Surprising Spaces: In this session we will explore rabbinic sources that shed light on the strengths of Sephardic women in the home and private spheres.

Dates:  Thursdays, March 7, 14, and 21
Time:   10:15 to 11:15am
Place:   Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Rd, Lafayette
FREE and Open to the Public. Folks can attend one, two, or all three sessions. Each class stands alone, but themes are woven throughout the series.
Click here to RSVP for one or all of the classes.

Shabbat Shmooze
Join us in welcoming in Shabbat—the Jewish day of rest at our monthly Shabbat Shmooze in the JCC Lobby at 4 pm. Our gathering features local live music and drinks. Drop by for this FREE event held the second Friday of every month. No sign up required, and all are welcome.

Date:   Friday, March 8
Time:   4:00 –5:00 pm
Place:   Osher Marin JCC 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael – in the lobby

Mishpacha Kabbalat Shabbat
Families with children ages 0-5 are invited to an early evening Shabbat-themed play experience on the preschool yard, followed by a child-friendly Shabbat dinner. This program leads into the community-wide Kabbalat Shabbat at 6 p.m. with an all-age dinner at 7 p.m. Childcare is available for families who wish to stay for the service.
4:30 pm Shabbat-themed play and activities for children 0-5
5:15 pm Child-friendly dinner
6:00 pm Kabbalat Shabbat Service
7:00 pm Shabbat dinner for all ages

Date:   Friday, March 8
Time:   Begins at 4:30pm
Place:   Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave, Berkeley
Cost:    The child-friendly dinner is $5/plate.
RSVP for dinner by 9am the morning of each Mishpacha Kabbalat Shabbat Program.
For more information email Vanessa at mishpacha@netivotshalom.org

Purim Playdate Party
Join Jewish Baby Network East Bay for a fun Purim celebration including holiday treats, gift bags, crafts, and a costume parade. For babies 0 to 5 and their families.

Date:   Sunday, March 10
Time:   3:30 – 5pm
Place:   Dracena Quarry Park in Oakland
Free, but donations are welcome.
Registration and more details here.

Honoring Your Jewish Child’s Non-Jewish Heritage
Every child needs to understand where they come from. If you are raising your child as a Jew, but one parent is not Jewish it is essential that you teach your child about that side of their family. This is half of them! They need to be comfortable with how they put these parts together to make a whole person: themselves.

Jews may be concerned that learning about the non-Jewish parent means learning about another religion that will compete with Judaism. Not at all. There are hundreds of elements to another tradition or culture that are important and utterly without religious content:

There are cultural traditions which may include language, food, and music.
There are family traditions that include stories, memories, trips, games.
There are the traditions you create in your own nuclear family.

What if one parent has a religion? How can that be taught in a way that feels right to all members of the family – especially your child?
Let’s discuss how to teach your child about BOTH sides of the family and how to integrate both parents into your child’s identity.

Date:   March 21
Time:   7 to 8pm
Place:   Online
Free, email me at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org to receive the Zoom link.

Jr. Jews Purim Costume Party!
For families with young children (ages 0-5)
We are excited to celebrate Purim with you! Come in your best costume (or come as you are), and get ready for a party filled with stories, a parade, pizza, crafts, and hamantaschen! FREE for all, and all are welcome.

Date:   Friday, March 22
Time:   5:00 to 5:45pm
Place:   Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Hosted by JCC Early Childhood Education and Congregation Rodef Sholom
Contact Rachel at rweiss@marinjcc.org for questions.

Rock & Roll Purim Family Service
A few years ago I invited a friend to attend a Rock & Roll Shabbat service with me at Beth Abraham. As we sat down he asked me, “Am I going to feel like I’m on Mars?”  OH YES, I assured him, and Mars is fabulous!
Rock and Roll services are rompin’, stompin’, kids singing, adults dancing, and I love them. Come on over and join me for this wonderful Purim service with lots of music and laughter.

Date:   Saturday, March 23
Time:   6:15pm
Place:   Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland