What about the minor holidays? Shall we skip them?

(Image: A hamentashen bake with friends)
We just observed Tu B’shvat and are now coming up on Purim. Both of these are minor holidays in the Jewish calendar. It can be tempting to say, we don’t need to do anything for them; they aren’t really that important.

But pause and consider, why might they be important to you and YOUR family? I strongly encourage couples who are raising their children as Jews to not be a family of “what we don’t do.”  Being Jewish is hard because it isn’t what the rest of society is doing. So make it sweet. Fill it with wonderful moments, meaningful values, lasting traditions. If one or both of you  doesn’t have an extensive Jewish education these “lesser” holidays can be a mystery and seem difficult to do. Take the time to read – what I write to you, what your synagogue or JCC sends you, the Jewish newspaper, PJ Library books, adult books and magazines. Find out what values and pleasures are waiting to be experienced.

Jewish holidays are very old and quite multilayered. There are the top layers, food, music, fun activities. For upcoming Purim there are hamentashen cookies, costumes for the kids (and the adults!), a funny play at the synagogue and probably a carnival there also.

The sights of the players in the Purim skit, the costumes, the sounds of the chanting and also of the booing, the raucousness of the carnival in full swing, the making and consuming of hamentashen – all these will make memories that will color your children’s lives with delightful memories.

For the adults, there are additional deeper meanings. Purim, which falls in the Jewish month of Adar, is called a time of joy.  The Talmud says “when the month of Adar arrives, we increase in joy” to welcome a season of miracles. Here comes spring, Passover, new life. It is a good time for us to remember to rejoice in what we’ve each been given. Gratitude is a component of happiness. Let’s use this holiday to cultivate it.

Purim is also a holiday of mystery. No where in the Purim story is GOD mentioned. Much is discussed and taught about the hiddenness of God in the scroll of Esther. In many ways this is one of the most contemporary stories we read, because God is certainly not obvious in our own daily lives. We must take events into our own hands, as Mordechai and Esther did. There is no hand from heaven to alter things. I hope this stimulates you to act against injustice when you encounter it, because if we don’t, who will?

I urge you to look at each of the many Jewish holidays as the year goes around. Take from each of them the treasures that they offer.



Mizmor Shir! (Oakland)
Shabbat in the Round (Berkeley)
Marc Dollinger on “Black Power, Jewish Politics” (Redwood City)
Multifaith Song Fest (Burlingame)
First Friday with Dan Nichols (San Rafael)
Purim Etz-travaganza (Palo Alto)
Our World Famous Purim Carnival (Alameda)
Purim Palooza (San Rafael)
Megillah Reading and Purim Shpiel (Palo Alto)
Beach Purim Party! (Tiburon)
Trans Jews and Families Shabbat Dinner (Palo Alto)
National Refugee Shabbat (Berkeley)
Shabbat Unplugged (San Mateo)



Mizmor Shir!
Come to a musical Shabbat service featuring Cantor Keys and the Mizmor Shir! musicians which include: piano, guitar, mandolin, flute, saxophone, clarinet, drums and other percussive instruments.

Date:   Friday, Feb. 21 (Third Friday of every month)
Time:   7:30pm
Place:   Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland


Shabbat in the Round
Join us at our monthly Shabbat program on the 4th Friday of the month as Beth El singers and musicians join Cantor Elaya Jenkins-Adelberg for a musical Shabbat celebration. We will enjoy a catered dinner together from local fave, Poulet! RSVP for dinner here!

Date:   Friday, February 28
Time:   6:15 pm: 4th Friday Shabbat in the Round Evening Service
7:15 pm: Catered Dinner from Poulet!
Place:   Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost and sign up for dinner – Non-member adults $18, non-member children $9. Sign up & pay here 


Note: I’ve heard Professor Dollinger speak on his book. It is fascinating and informative.
Marc Dollinger on “Black Power, Jewish Politics”
Black Power, Jewish Politics
How American Jews leveraged the Black Power movement to strengthen American Jewish religious, ethnic, and cultural life
Author Marc Dollinger charts the transformation of American Jewish political culture from the Cold War liberal consensus of the early postwar years to the rise and influence of Black Power–inspired ethnic nationalism. Undermining widely held beliefs about the black-Jewish alliance, Dollinger describes a new political consensus, based on identity politics, that drew blacks and Jews together and altered the course of American liberalism.

Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University.

Date:   Sunday, March 1
Time:   3:00pm – 4:30pm
Place:   Congregation Beth Jacob, 1550 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City



Multifaith Song Fest
The Peninsula Multifaith Coalition presents their 7th Annual Song Fest.
The joy of music unites us! We will share our choirs, our cantors, our chants, our songs. A dessert reception will follow the concert.
Learn more about the Coalition on their website, http://www.peninsulamultifaith.org

Date:   Sunday March 1
Time:   3-5pm
Place:   Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Dr., Burlingame


First Friday with Dan Nichols
5:00 Jr. Jews: Purim Costume Party for Littles in our Sanctuary. Bring your little ones (babies through kindergarteners) in their costumes, and join us for songs, silliness and hamantaschen.

5:45 pm: Pre oneg
6:15 pm: Shabbat services | Shabbat Club
7:30 pm: Shulchan shabbat dinner. RSVP here.
8:30 pm: Shabbat Unplugged at the JCC. RSVP here.

Date:   Friday, March 6
Time:   Begins at 5pm
Place:   Rodef Sholom, 170 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael


Purim Etz-travaganza
Ride a horse like Mordechai! Visit Queen Esther in her palace. Feast with King Ahashuerus. Bake hamantaschen in the Shushan Bakery. And so much more! Free and open to all! A perfect Purim plan for children 12 and under. Six and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Date:   Sunday, March 8
Time:   9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto


Our World Famous Purim Carnival
Magic show begins at 1:00 with Boswick the Magician and kid friendly clown.
Please plan to visit our SHUSHAN CAFE between 12 – 1 pm. You support our Carnival by having lunch. We’ll have burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chicken nuggets, steak sandwiches, corned beef sandwiches, salads, chips, drinks, etc. for sale.
Bring the family and tell friends to attend! There will be lots of game booths and prizes… AND GOLDFISH!

Date:   Sunday, March 8
Time:   11:30 am – 2pm
Place:   Temple Israel of Alameda | 3183 Mecartney Rd, Alameda
Questions: Cantor Brian




Purim Palooza – A Free Family Carnival and Open House
Come one, come all! Bring your friends to the Osher Marin JCC for a free family carnival. This is a joyous day, and all in the community are welcome, regardless of faith.
Enjoy arts & crafts, carnival games, delicious food, and live music! Come in costume! Games, Prizes, Live Music, and More!

Date:   Sunday, March 8
Time:   11:30am-2:00pm
Place:   Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael


Megillah Reading and Purim Shpiel
The schedule for our celebration is this:

5:00pm Tots Puppet Show and Dinner
6:00pm Adult Dinner
6:30pm “Frozen” Shpiel Part I
7:00pm Ma’ariv and Megillah Chapters 1-3
7:30pm “Frozen” Part II
8:00pm Megillah Reading
9:00pm Hamentaschen

Hosted by Kol Emeth

Date:   Monday, March 9
Time:   Begins at 5pm
Place:   Cubberley Theatre, 4120 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto


Beach Purim Party!
Enjoy the megillah sung to your favorite Beach Boys and surfing songs! Starring the Kol Shofar Purim Spielers.

Purim Program Schedule:

Dinner 5:30 -6:30 p.m
Community Megillah Reading 6:30 p.m.
Purim Shpiel  7:00 p.m.
Full Megillah Reading 7:30 p.m.

Date:   March 9
Time:   Begins at 5:30 if you go for dinner, at 6:30 for the activities
Place:   Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon


Trans Jews and Families Shabbat Dinner
Come together for a vegetarian potluck dinner and (optional) service. Meet other trans Jews and families. This will be a space for parents to connect, siblings to compare notes, and trans folks of all ages to find friends and resources. Contact Rayden to RSVP and to access the potluck signup sheet.

Date:   Friday, March 13
Time:   6:00 pm
Place:   Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma, Palo Alto


National Refugee Shabbat
Beth El will join the wider the American Jewish community in dedicating sacred time and space to refugees and asylum seekers as part of HIAS’ National Refugee Shabbat.

With more than 70 million people worldwide who have fled their homes due to persecution and violence, we are now witnesses to one of the largest humanitarian crises in human history. And, yet, in this moment of unprecedented need, the policies of the current administration are grinding the U.S. refugee admissions program to a halt, imposing extreme limits on the ability of asylum seekers to find safety in our country, and cutting humanitarian aid. This National Refugee Shabbat will be an opportunity to raise awareness in our community, to recognize the work that has been done, and to reaffirm our commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. To learn about HIAS and the Jewish communal engagement with advocacy and resettlement, visit hias.org.

Date:   Friday, March 20
Time:   6:15 pm
Place:   Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley


Shabbat Unplugged
Shabbat Unplugged is a different kind of worship experience. It offers a meaningful way to “unplug” from our work week and transition into Shabbat. Welcome in Shabbat with joyous singing and meaningful prayer.

Date:   Friday, March 20
Time:   6:30pm – 7:30pm
Place:   Peninsula Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo


Tot Shabbat
An experience for children 6 and under with singing, stories, learning the service, and community. Service led by Asaf, our JCC Preschool musical teacher and Kol Shofar Rabbis. RSVP appreciated but not required to: Jschreiber731@gmail.com

Dates:  March 28, April 25 & May 16
Time:   11:00 am
Place:   Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive Tiburon