Is Purim a Good Jewish Holiday for Non-Jewish Loved Ones?

 Is Purim a Good Jewish Holiday for Non-Jewish Loved Ones?
I’ve been asked about Purim as a “first” Jewish experience for non-Jewish loved ones. Purim is a two faced holiday. The dark side and the light side. Learn about both of them and help your partner or in-laws to see the many layers. A good place to start is at My Jewish Learning.

 Not every holiday is right for every person getting to know Judaism. Purim is a rather complicated holiday. We as adults learn the words of the Esther scroll and it is pretty dark. There is NO MENTION of God at all. A lot of people die. On the other hand, Purim is often sweetened up for children. Costumes, candy, a silly play – all make Purim child-friendly.

What to DO for Purim? Every synagogue will offer a Purim Shpiel, a reading or reenactment of the Purim story. Often the shpiel has a modern theme to it like, Harry Potter, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, or some topic currently in the media. These can be a lot of fun for all. I think a silly Purim play is a great first experience of Judaism.

The Purim Carnival
I always thought the carnival was also a good way to experience a Jewish holiday. But a couple contacted me after going to a new synagogue for the very first time for a carnival. As you can imagine the event was loud, crazy, full of people and children playing games. There was no way to get to know a new person in the chaos. So, don’t go to make new friends and connections. Go to a carnival to experience a CARNIVAL! If you want to meet people at a shul you’re better off going to a Shabbat service or a speaker or a musical program.
(If you’re looking at a particular synagogue, let me know. I can hook you up with a member who can introduce you around.)

Purim Food
The quintessential Ashkenazi Purim food is hamentashen. They are filled cookies. Look here for some good recipes. Do try one or three!



Jewish Music Class (Oakland)
Tot Shabbat (San Francisco)
Black Power, Jewish Politics (Palo Alto)
Beginnings of Judaism (Alameda)
Sababa Shabbat Service with Dinner (Oakland)
Purim Extravaganza (Palo Alto)
Community Wide Purim Carnival (Walnut Creek)
Jewish Baby Network Purim Palooza Costume Party! (Los Altos)
Purimpalooza 2019 (San Francisco)
Megillah Mia! (San Rafael)
Irreverently Yours, The Shushan Queens (Oakland)
Shabbat in the Round (Berkeley)
Introduction to the Jewish Experience (Berkeley)



Jewish Music Class
Parent and Me
Jewish Music Class Led by Temple Sinai Song Leader Isaac Zones!  Presented in collaboration with Sprout East Bay/PJ Library East Bay.
The class has started but you can jump in, contact Ellen (see below).

Dates:  Wednesdays, Eight weeks: March 6, 13, 20, April 3, 10, 17, May 1, & 8.
Time:   12:00-12:45pm
Place:   Fischer Library at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
Cost: $120 for series
For more information, contact Ellen. Register here now!

Tot Shabbat
We invite children, birth to age 5, and their families, to celebrate Shabbat mornings in a child-focused environment. Our music specialist, Toby Pechner, will facilitate this short and sweet, preschool-friendly, interactive service that allows even our youngest community members to experience the joy of Shabbat in a warm and welcoming setting.

Tot Shabbat begins at 11:15 a.m. and concludes at noon.
Following Tot Shabbat, everyone is invited to join the greater CBS community for Kiddush lunch at noon in Koret Hall.

Date:   Saturdays; March 9, March 16, April 6, May 4, May 18
Time:   11:15 a.m.
Place:   Main Meeting Room, Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave, San Francisco


Black Power, Jewish Politics:
Reinventing the Alliance of the 1960’s
Join Marc Dollinger, Ph.D. for a new and different look at Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement. We’ll see how American Jews leveraged the Black Power movement to increase Jewish ethnic and religious identity and challenge our classic understanding of black – Jewish relations. With current Jewish interest in Black Lives Matter and the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, our learning together will spark important conversations today. Click here to learn more.

Date:   Sunday, March 10
Time:   10:00 am
Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St, Palo Alto


Beginnings of Judaism
Biblical Roots
How did Judaism develop from its biblical roots to the highly developed system we know today? What has changed and what has remained constant? The answers to these questions are relevant to all faiths, as well as to anyone seeking to broaden their understanding of ancient history, a past that is inexorably linked to the present.

Date:   Sunday, March 10
Time:   10:30am
Place:   Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda


Sababa Shabbat Service with Dinner
Our Sababa Shabbat program meets monthly, from October through May, and provides opportunities for families with young children (Pre-K through 2nd grade) to celebrate Shabbat with others. Join us for a communal dinner, followed by a lively, musical, child-friendly Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Connect over easy pizza dinner and welcome Shabbat with service, song, and play!

Date:   Friday, March 15
Time:   5:30pm, Service at 6pm
Place:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
RSVP for dinner here by March 13.
Cost of dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for children under age 13. RSVPs are not required for service or for the Oneg (dessert) following the service, and families are welcome to attend the service without participating in the dinner.


Purim Extravaganza
Purim Shabbat Dinner and Costume Party
Join us for a fun family Shabbat dinner, including a creative reading of the Megillah, dancing and a costume parade.

Event schedule:

5:30 PM: Fun Purim activities, game stations and arts and crafts (appropriate for ages 2–10)
6:00 PM: Delicious Friday dinner
6:30 PM: Creative Theater Megillah reading
6:45 PM: Costume parade
7:00 PM: Dance party!

Mishloach Manot (Purim Gift Basket) Exchange
We invite all guests to participate in the Mishloach Manot (Gift Basket) exchange during our Purim Shabbat Celebration. Each family is welcome to bring one or more gift baskets (boxes) for the exchange. You will receive the same number of boxes you have originally brought. Self-made boxes decorated by kids are especially encouraged. We limit the value of the box to $10.

Traditional Michloah Manot contains food items, such as fresh or dried fruit, chocolate, baked goods, etc., as well as wine or juice. Ideally, one should not give something that requires preparation. It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews and their neighbors.

Date:   Friday, March 15
Time:   5:30–8:00 pm
Place:   Palo Alto JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Cost:    Free for children under two | $10 Children and Youth ages 2–18 | $20 Adult
Contact: Tamara Thiel Prizant | (650) 223-8750 |


Community Wide Purim Carnival
Dress up and join your friends for a Purim extravaganza including opening ceremony, costume contests, carnival games and prizes, face painting, bouncy house, pony rides, crafts, story-time, music and more! Pre-sale wristband for activities and lunch tickets are available now! Buy today here. 

Date:   Sunday, March 17
Time:   10:30 am – 1 pm
Place:   B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Ln, Walnut Creek


Jewish Baby Network Purim Palooza Costume Party!
Come enjoy costumes, an interactive Purim story, songs, crafts, Purim snacks, playtime and goody bags. Costumes strongly encouraged for both parents and kids; don’t forget your camera!

Boo Haman during our tot-friendly version of the Purim story. Sing songs, listen to a PJ Library Purim story, decorate a Purim mask or mishloach manot and of course, eat hamentaschen! We will have teens to help with the activities and older siblings so you can relax and enjoy the party.  This free event is fun for the whole family! Every family receives a Purim-themed goody bag.

No RSVP is necessary, and please come when you can. This event is free, but please consider a $10 donation to support all of the Jewish Baby Network’s wonderful programs.

Beth Am is graciously hosting our event, but you do not need to be a member of Beth Am or anywhere else to attend. Invite your friends!
Jewish Baby Network welcomes everyone, including unaffiliated, interfaith, single-parent and LGBTQ families.
For more information about the Jewish Baby Network and this event, please contact Director Carol Booth or visit Questions day of? Call Carol at (650) 388-8089.

Co-sponsored by Congregations Beth Am, Kol Emeth, Beth Jacob, and the PJCC. This program made possible in part by a grant from the Leslie Family Foundation. Major funding provided by Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Date:   Sunday, March 17
Time:   3:30 to 5pm
Place:   Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
More info here


Purimpalooza 2019
We hope you join us for our annual super fun family-friendly Purimpalooza!

Your ticket includes:
—All-You-Can-Eat Carnival Food
—Open Bar
—Carnival Games
—TWO Bouncy Houses
—Escape Room for Teens
—Raffle with unbeatable prizes
—Silent Auction
—Performance by Elai’s Band
—Magillah Reading with Rabbi Dan (FREE—Open to all)
—Performance by Three Sisters Belly Dancers
—Puppet Show by Mimi Greisman
—Purim Spiel, “The Shushana Maidel Goes West!” by Steve Miller of CBS

Date:   Wednesday, March 20
Time:   4 pm – 9:15 pm
Place:   Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave, San Francisco
Cost:    $36/adult, see details here


Megillah Mia!
Come in costume to our fabulous intergenerational congregation-wide celebration—get in spirit and let loose! Bring a box of mac & cheese to use as a grogger and then donate to the Food Bank/JFCS Food Pantry.

Date:   Wednesday, March 20
Time:   Purim Shpiel and Dance Party 6:30 pm
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 N San Pedro Rd, San Rafael


Irreverently Yours, The Shushan Queens
Building off last year’s sold out show, writer, director, and performer Kiki Lipsett has revised her original Purim musical to include more sass, rhymes, comedy, politics, and original lyrics. If the Book of Esther and Madonna had a child, it would be this hip, hilarious, reinterpretation of the megillah. With live music from the Shushan Players. Dance party with DJ Wildman after the show!
Event is strictly 21+

Date:   Thursday, March 21
Time:   8pm
Place:   Starline Social Club, Oakland, 2236 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland
Cost:    Presale: $15 / At the door: $20
Hosted by the East Bay JCC go here for details and tickets


Shabbat in the Round
Band! Singers! Dinner! Movie!
Join us at our new monthly Shabbat program as Beth El singers and musicians join Cantor Elaya Jenkins-Adelberg for a joyful and uplifting Shabbat celebration. Following a catered dinner, we will screen a movie to complete the evening. Come for any part – or stay for the whole evening!

6:15 pm 4th Friday — Shabbat in the Round
7:15 pm Catered dinner (RSVP here!)
8:00 pm Movie! Peggy Guggenheim: An Art Addict

Date:   Friday, March 22
Time:   6:15 pm​
Place:   Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley


Introduction to the Jewish Experience: Traditions of Judaism
Since the very beginning, the People of Israel have had multiple understandings and expressions of a living Torah. In this class we will study the varieties of Judaism in the 21st century. That list includes expressions that go back to the Middle Ages (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi) and modern movements (Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal). We will also look at some of the regional differences among Jews in North America and the historical reasons for those differences. We’ll begin by looking at the synagogue and the service. We’ll finish up by taking a look at Jewish food traditions and practices.

Dates:  Wednesdays, March 27–May 29
Time:   7:30 pm– 9:00 pm
Place:   Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
To register, visit this link.
This course is brought to you by Lehrhaus Judaica and taught by Rabbi Ruth Adar