Ladies First!

Gender Roles in our Homes
I was running a program for women only (Women in Interfaith Relationships) and a young non-Jewish mother began to cry as she explained that she had agreed to raise her children as Jews before she got married but in fact she had no idea how to do that. The women in the circle dashed to comfort her. Hugs and tissues were extended and then the women settled in. “How could you know; you weren’t raised Jewish!” “What is he doing to make this happen!?” “Come to my house with your kids, I’ll teach you all to make rugelach.” With further discussion it came out that she wanted to raise the children Jewish but she also wanted help, her husband worked crazy hours, her own mother was, to put it kindly, quite unpleasant and she longed for some mothering herself. Finally she said, “I have to tell my husband we need to join this synagogue because I need this kind of support.”

I noticed that she never waivered on her commitment to her husband to have a Jewish home. She just wanted help. She WANTED to be in charge of her home and her kids. She saw her role in raising them and was jumping in with both feet. This is pretty common among women. They tend to take on more than 50% of child rearing – because they actually want to. So given this desired role in the home, how can women support each other, get support from the men in their lives, and feel successful and happy with the home environment they feel responsible to create? Join me on tomorrow at Beth El for Women in Interfaith Relationships; let’s talk!

Moms in Multiracial Families
A white Jewish mother excitedly described to me the activities she was planning for her Filipina daughters. I could see delight in her face as she explained the food she was planning to make with them. She had gotten the recipe from her mother-in-law. Then she paused, “It’s funny, John never thinks about this. He doesn’t do a thing to teach them about his heritage.” She paused and added, “But he is grateful and tells me so. I guess this just is more important to me than it is to him.” Or, I thought, somewhere in his unconscious he is aware that he can rely on you to do it. Now there is nothing wrong with him relying on her – because he thanks her. I see that it is often the mom who is making a point of bringing the dad’s heritage into the family – Jewish or not! But let’s celebrate, thank and honor the efforts that either parent does to build the children’s sense of identity and embrace all that they are.

A note regarding GENDER – in both these stories I have described heterosexual couples. But not all interfaith couples or Jewish couples are straight. How same sex partners deal with these very same issues is sometimes the same and at other times different. So two things – one, if you are in a same sex relationship, you are most welcome to come. We will speak to your experiences and I can promise you that the conversation will be valuable. Two, I would like to do a program on same sex couples in interfaith relationships but I need critical mass. If you are interested in such a program please email me and I’ll put it together. I have a lesbian colleague who will lead it with me. If you are thinking TOO MANY WOMEN and want a group for men with a man facilitator you can tell me that too and I’ll work on it.



Women in Interfaith Relationships
A discussion for wives, partners, mothers and grandmothers
Join other women, Jewish or not, to examine interfaith relationships in relation to culture and gender. What are the unique expectations and responses that a woman encounters as she creates a home and builds a family life in which her religion is not that of her partner? Join a multi-generational discussion, facilitated by Dawn Kepler of Building Jewish Bridges, about the assumptions and possibilities surrounding our roles as sustainers of the family. Women in any stage of relationship, any sexuality, and any age welcome.

Date: Thursday, November 8
Time: 6:15 pm
Place: Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley
Cost: $7 public; free to Beth El members
Juliet at Beth El is still taking child care reservations so call her right away at 510-848-3988
Register here:

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Jews talk about their multiracial families
Parents, siblings, aunts and cousins may be white but when their family includes racially diverse members they too are impacted by racial assumptions in the Jewish community. What do white family members have to share with us about how we can be more tuned in to their family? Join us for a dynamic and exciting panel; this year’s opening program for What Color Are Jews?

Nov. 11
Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
Cost: $5 public; free to Beth Abraham & Temple Sinai members
Register here:

Note: The value of group discussions like this one are highly dependent on the facilitator. This discussion will be lead by Rabbi Katz, a thoughtful, kind man.
Mother’s Circle
Are you a mother raising Jewish children…but you’re not Jewish?
Don’t do it alone!
The Mothers Circle Mini-Course provides FREE education and support for women of other religious backgrounds who are raising Jewish children. Taught by Rabbi David Katz, The Mother’s Circle will cover how to create a Jewish home, life cycle events for Jewish children, and an overview of the Jewish holidays. Come be a part of this warm and nurturing environment and feel empowered to take on the responsibility of raising children in Judaism.
Mothers in all family constellations are welcome and participants do not have to be affiliated with a Jewish institution or have any prior knowledge. Free Babysitting is provided!

Dates: Wednesdays, Nov. 7, 14, 28
Time: 10am
Place: Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton
Phone: 925•931•1055
Register here:

Family Shabbat & Potluck Dinner (San Francisco)
Stories from the Fringe: Women Rabbis, Revealed! (Tiburon)
Shabbat Salon: The Ethics of Shabbat (Los Altos)
Tot Shabbat (Alameda)
The Invitation: With Author Anne Cherian (San Francisco)
Tot Shabbat Service (Los Altos)
Two Among the Righteous Few (San Francisco)
Shabbat Kumsitz! (Los Altos)
God Talk (For Adults) (Berkeley)
Talking to Children about God (Oakland)

Family Shabbat & Potluck Dinner
Join us for Family Shabbat services featuring music by Lior Ben-Hur and singing by Religious School students. Special guest Judith Escalante will talk to us about her experience with organ donation as part of our continuing conversation about God, science and prayer.

Please join us for our monthly congregational potluck. Bring enough of your favorite dairy or vegan dish to feed at least 6 people. Congregants with last names beginning with A-M, please bring a pasta or rice dish. Congregants with last names beginning with N-Z, please bring fresh fruit or a salad. We are still accepting food donations for the SF Food Bank.
After dinner Religious School teacher Natalie Weizman will lead games for the children.

Date: Friday, November 9
Time: 6 pm Services; 7:15 pm Kiddush and congregational potluck
Place: Sherith Israel, in Newman Hall, 2266 California Street, San Francisco
Please RSVP and let us know what you are bringing: Eric Drucker,415.346.1720, x24, or email Eric.

Stories from the Fringe: Women Rabbis, Revealed!
Finding holy moments in love, God, and a fabulous pair of shoes
Join Congregation Kol Shofar as we rejoice at the 40th anniversary of the first ordained female rabbi. As the only synagogue in the country with two female rabbis and a female board president, we embrace, support and celebrate female religious leadership. The play will be followed by a panel discussion Kol Shofar Rabbis Susan Leider and Chai Levy and Stories from the Fringe co-writer Rabbi Lynne Kern.
Find a PDF flyer on Stories from the Fringe here:

Date: Saturday, November 10
Time: 8pm
Place: Kol Shofar Synagogue, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon
Cost: Tickets are $10 for Kol Shofar members, $15 for community
Contact: Hagar Ben-Eliezer,, 415.388.1818 x111

Shabbat Salon: The Ethics of Shabbat
Rabbi Mira Wasserman to Speak on the ethics implied by the celebration of Shabbat and its relationship to creation.
It has often been noted how the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people Jewish. In this session, we’ll explore how Sabbath-keeping might also help to make us more fully human. Through a combination of textual analysis, chevruta (partnered study) learning, and group discussion, we’ll examine laws and stories from the Torah and Talmud. Hiding within these traditional texts is an appreciation for Shabbat as a social revolution.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 10
Time: 4:00pm
Place: Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Sponsored by the Library Committee of Beth Am

Tot Shabbat
Please join us as we welcome in Shabbat with songs, puppets, and parachute time provided by the wonderful Mimi Greisman- a specialist in Jewish Early Childhood Education. Following the 1/2 hour service, we will have a craft led by our own talented congregant, Mary Gold. Rabbi Brickner will of course be there to join in on the fun. A yummy oneg will be hosted by Andy & Deb Cohen. A big thank you to them! We looking forward to seeing you there.

Date: Saturday November 10
Time: 9:30am
Place: Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road, Alameda

The Invitation: With Author Anne Cherian
Anne Cherian was born and raised in India. Her Jewish mother, the granddaughter of a rabbi, grew up in Berkeley, and her father was a Jacobite Syrian Christian from India. During her youth, Cherian’s close circle of friends included Baghdadi and Bene Israel Jews. In 1982, she was finally able to meet her mother’s family when she began her graduate studies at UC Berkeley.

Cherian’s new novel, The Invitation, explores the themes of identity, assimilation, family, friendship, and success among a group of first-generation Indian immigrants. The novel is set in California and begins when Vikram invites three of his college friends from UCLA to celebrate his son’s graduation from MIT. They accept out of obligation and curiosity; all are Indian immigrants, and one has a Jewish husband who is now exploring his heritage. At Vikram’s Newport Beach mansion, the showmanship they anticipate dissolves as each is forced to deal with his or her own problems and to re-evaluate the costs of assimilation.

Date: Thursday, November 15
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: The Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, between Scott and Pierce on the campus of the Jewish Community High School
FREE and all are welcome
There is free garage parking at the entrance on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy. The building is wheelchair accessible. For more information contact Allison at (415) 567-3327, ext 703 or or visit the website:

Tot Shabbat Service
Fun Programming for Families with Children Ages 0-5
Join Rabbis Jennifer Clayman and Adam Rosenwasser for a special Shabbat service for families with children ages 0-5 years. Following the service, enjoy grape juice and challah as well as arts and crafts. Come have fun with your child and meet other parents of young children! If you have any questions, please contact Rabbi Rosenwasser at

Date: Sat. Nov. 17
Time: 9:30am
Place: Rooms 1 & 2 at Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills

Two Among the Righteous Few:
A Story of Courage in the Holocaust
A presentation by Marty Brounstein
Frans and Mein Wijnakker saved the lives of at least two dozen Jews living in southern Holland during the Holocaust and World War II. This courageous Catholic couple led a simple life in a small town, but took risks to help others in dire need. Those saved lived in the Wijnakkers home along with them and their four young children. Marty Brounstein commemorates this story in his new book which is based on interviews, research, and audiotapes that Frans Wijnakker made before his death in 1994. Brounstein will also discuss his own special personal connection to this remarkable story.

Date: Sunday, November 18
Time: 1:30 pm
Place: The Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, between Scott and Pierce on the campus of the Jewish Community High School
FREE and all are welcome
There is free garage parking at the entrance on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy. The building is wheelchair accessible. For more information contact Allison at (415) 567-3327, ext 703 or or visit the website:
Sponsored by The Jewish Community Library and co-presented by The Holocaust Center of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, The Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust at Mercy High School, San Francisco, Building Jewish Bridges, and Hadassah, San Francisco Chapter.

Shabbat Kumsitz!
Bring your instrument and play with us! Make music, schmooze and celebrate Shabbat with other music lovers in an informal, relaxed setting. Bring your instrument of choice, whatever it is: guitar, flute, fiddle, recorder, drum, voice or other and we will make Jewish music together. You should have basic knowledge of your instrument, meaning you can play basic chords or melodies. Rabbi Adam will lead the group. We will of course have snacks and refreshments for you to enjoy. If you are interested in joining us, please email Rabbi Adam at

Date: Saturday, Dec. 1
Time: 2:30pm
Place: Room Aleph at Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills

God Talk (For Adults)
Rabbis have amazing God conversations with children fairly regularly. Why we don’t continue these conversations as easily as we age? The questions certainly don’t get any easier! Perhaps we forget, over the years, that sharing doubts and yearning for hope is what makes us human. I invite you to join an open and caring – and non-judgmental – conversation. “You bring your questions. I’ll bring mine!” —Rabbi Creditor
Interfaith couples — please bring your shared, or differing, views of God to the conversation!
Date: Dec. 5
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley
Registration fee: $5
Register here:

Talking to Children about God
Join Rabbi Straus and other parents to explore children’s concepts of God. Should parents open a conversation about God or wait for children to ask questions? What if you don’t believe in God but your spouse does? What should you say about what they are being taught in Religious School? Bring your own questions and we’ll look for answers together.

Date: Dec. 9, 2012
Time: 10am to 11:30am
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland