Enrich Your Relationship

When I was a newlywed I joined a book club and met an interesting couple.  They were a couple decades older than I, wealthy, intelligent, interesting.  About three years into the club I was sitting in their lovely garden and Risa said to me, “The book club saved my marriage.”

I was startled.  “It did?  How?” I asked.

“Over the years we became more and more focused on the kids.  When the last one left for college we looked at each other and had nothing to say.  Then we joined the club.  We read together, discussed the ideas.  We found new interest in each other.”

I never forgot that valuable information she shared with me.  Never put your spouse in last place.  Communication isn’t enough; you must find shared meaning in life.  I urge each of you to do the same.  Have you thought about participating in a couples discussion group but felt you couldn’t carve out the time?  What is more important than your relationship?

Worried that talking about the issues will only make them worse?  I remember the woman who told me, “I thought we were stuck, Dawn.  I felt hopeless when we first came.  I didn’t know we could be so happy!”

Give yourself a new year’s gift.  Give the time to get closer to your partner.  Your children will thank you.

I’m putting together a couples group now.  Email me.

I am listing events below.  The ones’ with an asterisk are mine own workshops.  I hope to see you at one of them.


Something’s Cooking Under the Dome   (San Francisco)
Jewbilee (Los Gatos)
Morasha (Inheritance): Oakland Learns Together (Oakland)
A Jewish Take on the Seven Deadly Sins (San Rafael)
Our Wider Jewish Family: Understanding Conversion (San Francisco)
Tu b’Shv’at Seder Dinner (Palo Alto)
Celebrating Jewish and Christian Holidays in an Interfaith Family (San Francisco)*
Terrific Grandparenting in an Interfaith Family (Oakland)*
Non-Jewish Partner Discussion (Palo Alto)*
Growing Your Child’s Identity in an Interfaith Family (San Francisco and San Rafael)*


Something’s Cooking Under the Dome
Ongoing classes taught by guest cooks at Congregation Sherith Israel:

1/24/10: Gabrielle Moskowitz, Vegetarian Cooking
2/28/10: Mojdeh Stone and her mother, Purim and Persian Cooking
3/21/10: Jacalyn Kornblatt, Passover Cooking

Dates:   Sundays, next class Jan. 24
Time:    10am to noon
Place:   Congregation Sherith Israel. 2266 California Street (@ Webster) San Francisco, CA 94115.
Fee: Per class: $8 members/ $10 nonmembers; Series: $36 members/$45 nonmembers. For more information call Sherith Israel at 415-346-1720, x30.


An afternoon of exciting array of activities, led by rabbis from all Jewish denominations, professors from Bay Area universities and colleges, teachers, artists, performers and students.  Check out the website for full details.  http://www.svjcc.org/jplace/jewbilee/

Date:    January 24
Time:    1:00pm-8:00pm
Place:   Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Rd., Los Gatos
Info:     408.357.7413
Tickets are $7for adults, $4 students/seniors, children under 4 free; Childcare available.


Morasha (Inheritance): Oakland Learns Together
All four Oakland-Piedmont synagogues will once again join together for an evening of communal learning! Beth Jacob Congregation, Temple Beth Abraham, Temple Sinai & Kehilla Community Synagogue invite you to engage in a stimulating & lively study of our traditional texts. This learning experience will include chevruta (partnered or small group) learning, as well as a panel discussion of the text. Panelists will include rabbis & educators from each synagogue. The text will be studied in English, with Hebrew provided for those who prefer. No background necessary! Simply bring your desire to be with the community & your love of learning! Topic: Aharon’s sons Nadav and Avihu.

Date:    Sun. Jan. 24
Time:    7:00 pm
Place:   Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
For more information call Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11


 A Jewish Take on the Seven Deadly Sins
Join guest speaker Rabbi Melanie Aron of Shir Hadash, Los Gatos for the January session of Exploring the World of Judaism.

Sunday, Jan. 24
Time:    9:30 to 11:30am
Place:   Osher Marin JCC Lounge, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
No reservations necessary.
Co-sponsored with Rodef Sholom. Free to Rodef Sholom congregants; small donation suggested for non-congregants. Refreshments will be served.
Info: 415-479.3441



 Our Wider Jewish Family: Understanding Conversion
Dinner and lecture with Rabbi Mark E. Washofsky
6 pm – deli dinner by Max’s Restaurant
7 pm – lecture, FREE
In the biblical era, a “Jew” was born to a Hebrew or Israelite father, married a Hebrew or Israelite man, or simply followed the ways of the patriarchs or Torah. The Rabbinic era created a formal – and not always easy – conversion process. Join Rabbi Washofsky to discover how and why that process emerged – and what it means to us today.

Date:    Thursday, Jan. 28
Time:    6pm for dinner, 7pm for the lecture
Place:   Sherith Israel. 2266 California Street (@ Webster) San Francisco
Price: Lecture is free. Dinner for CSI members – no charge; nonmembers – $10. Dinner registration required by Monday, January 25, 2010. Contact Gabi Moskowitz, 415.346.1720, ext 24 or gmoskowitz@sherithisrael.org.


 Tu b’Shv’at Seder Dinner
What is T”u b’Shvat? It is a celebration of the trees’ new year and a chance to partake of their fruit as well as the fruit of the vine. The Tu b’Shevat seder is an event unlike any other, reaching into kabbalistic ritual to explore the physical and metaphysical elements that connect us to the earth. And when else can you have an excuse to drink four different colors of grape juice (or wine, if you prefer) in one evening?  This special celebration at Etz Chayim features an informal vegetarian meal with a variety of tree-related foods, including an assortment of fruits and nuts that reflect the meaning of Tu b’sh’vat.

We welcome new faces and would love to have you join us to celebrate Tu b’Shv’at with us. If you would like to join us please your check or call the office 650 813-9094 for more details.

Date:    Friday, Jan. 29
Time:    6:30pm
Place:   Congregation Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St., Palo Alto
See costs on the downloadable flier here:


 Celebrating Jewish and Christian Holidays in an Interfaith Family
Christmas and Chanukah, Easter and Passover, December and April can be challenging times for Jewish families and interfaith families.  The whole country seems to be wrapped up in a holiday that Jews don’t observe.  Can an interfaith family celebrate both holidays?  How would that work for the kids?  Why do Jews react against Christian holidays?  Can the anxiety be eased?  Will children raised celebrating Christmas and/or Easter feel Jewish when they grow up?  Join other interfaith families to explore these issues.

Date:    Jan. 31
Time: 10am to 11:45am
Place: Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco
Cost: $7; free to Beth Israel Judea members
For more information all Dawn at 510-845-6420 x11


Terrific Grandparenting in an Interfaith Family
Your kid(s) married non-Jews, now they have kids, or you hope they will, but there’s no clear agenda for how those grandchildren will be raised.  Maybe you’ve heard:

We’ll expose them to both
We’ll raise them Jewish with an understanding of Christianity
I’m not as attached to Judaism as you are, Mom & Dad
We’ll see
Don’t ask me, we haven’t decided yet

Or maybe you haven’t raised the topic for fear of upsetting a delicate balance.

Get active!  Met with other parents & grandparents to talk about ways to be a pro-active Jewish grandparent.  You can show respect to your kids while maintaining open communication, sharing beloved memories, and building strong and loving bonds with your kids and grandkids.

Date:    Monday, Feb. 22
Time:    7pm
Place:   In Private home in Oakland
Free to members of Temple Sinai; $7 for non-members
Call Dawn for details at 845-6420 x11 or email me.


 Non-Jewish Partner Discussion
Are you not Jewish, but keeping a Jewish home and raising Jewish kids?
Do you have questions about “doing Jewish,” or Jewish home rituals?
Do you have concerns about your child’s coming bar/bat mitzvah?
Has something bothered you or puzzled you in the Jewish community?
Are some (or all) of the holidays confusing?  Or fun, but you still have questions?
Do you practice another religion and wonder how other families balance the demands of multiple religious needs in one home?

Join me, Dawn, to discuss the questions and concerns that arise as you navigate your way through an interfaith/intercultural life.

Date:    Sundays, March 7 and March 21 (2 meetings)
Time:    7:00-8:30pm
Place:   Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Cost:    $20/member, $25/non-member of the Palo Alto JCC
To sign up contact: Cody Schaffner at the JCC, Phone: (650) 223-8788 or cschaffner@paloaltojcc.org


Growing Your Child’s Identity in an Interfaith Family
Children move through a variety of developmental stages. How can we support their identity development and family attachment in age appropriate ways? Children in interfaith families are integrating multiple traditions and family heritages, we will look at how to weave together disparate backgrounds into one whole “self.”

San Francisco Brandeis Day School, 655 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco
Monday, March 15, 2010
7 to 8:30pm


Marin Brandeis Hillel Day School, 180 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael
April 27, 2010
8:30am to 10am

FREE and open to the community.  For more information email Dawn at dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org