Shavuot and finding joy here and now

We are living with a cascade of disasters. Mass murders, war, climate chaos. I am so sorry and send my condolences to all of you, my fellow travelers. If you are moved to pray, here is a Kaddish that may speak to you.
Mourner’s Kaddish after a Mass Murder from the Ritual Well.

But I’m going to try to find joy in the life that has been given to us. Let me start with song and food!

My dear friend, Phil, is enamored with the Tin Pan Alley musicians, many of whom were Jews. Years ago he started an annual sing-along as a way to share the music and history of Tin Pan Alley. Covid stopped his annual event – but only temporarily. Phil is back with “If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews” another homage to those songs that we all know because they are part of the American songbook.  It will be Saturday night, June 11; I hope you’ll join me. All that drawing in of big breaths required for singing will certainly be good for us.

And then there’s food…  One of the topics I raise with you all frequently is the fabulous exploration of melding food traditions. Having discussed this with J-Weekly food columnist, Faith Kramer, on several occasions I am delighted to have her speak on the ways that Jewish cuisine has been shaped by the location of the Jews cooking it. There are so many variations and flavors beyond Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) foods. Join us on the evening of June 23 and you’ll even get to create spice mixes to take home for your own kitchen research!

The Upcoming Holiday: Shavuot
Shavuot is one of the three Pilgrimage holidays – biblical and important. However, many people don’t do much for it. First, it is a scholar’s holiday. The big activity is staying up all night studying. Then there’s eating dairy foods.

Why eat dairy?  Chabad has a good article on it.

So does My Jewish Learning.

You’ll note that the Chabad article refers to this being a holiday when there is a “two-loaf bread offering”.  This stimulated my women’s group to make large tree shaped challahs for one of our gatherings. Because don’t cheese and butter go nicely on bread?

Blintzes! What’s not to love? Here’s my favorite recipe with a little story from my grandmother-in-law.

Find joy in your loved ones and stay safe!

Tikkun Leyl Shavuot (East Bay locations)
If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews (Oakland)
Shir Joy Pride Shabbat (Walnut Creek)
Spicy Jews: Jewish Food Around the World (Oakland)
The El-Salomons: Still Married (Redwood City)


Tikkun Leyl Shavuot
The 34th Annual East Bay Tikkun: A Day of Learning on Shavuot is this Sunday! This year’s event will be located at the JCC and 3 additional local, outdoor, and COVID-safe locations.

Date:   Sunday, June 5
Time:   1:30pm to 6:30pm
Various locations
Hosted by the East Bay Jewish Community Center with offices in Berkeley.
Details and registration here

If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews
The Melting Pot Reflected in Popular Song
What do “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” “I’m Sitting on Top of the World,” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” all have in common (besides that they were written by Jews)?  Find out as we sing them along with another two dozen songs from the heyday of Tin Pan Alley.

We will project the lyrics to all of the songs.  Don’t forget your glasses.
And, of course, please bring a mask.

Date:   Saturday evening, June 11
Time:   7pm
Place:   Temple Sinai’s Chapel, 2808 Summit Street (enter on the Webster Street side), Oakland
Suggested donation: $15 (All proceeds go to support taking musical shows to Senior Living Facilities)
Questions? Email Phil at

Shir Joy Pride Shabbat
with Guest Speaker Alex Mikesell
Our Shir Joy service is a powerful musical experience featuring Rabbi Chabon’s angelic voice accompanied by dynamic professional musicians on the bimah. This service is sure to lift our individual and collective spirits as we enter the space of shabbat, renewed and inspired.
This service will also be available virtually.

Date:   Friday, June 17
Time:   7:30 – 9:00pm
Place:   B’nai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek
Cost:    Free
Register here to attend in person or watch on B’nai Tikvah’s YouTube channel here

Spicy Jews: Jewish Food Around the World
With Hands-on Spice Mix Making
Jews dispersed around the globe and encountered a myriad of cuisines and their spices. Locally available foods and those that traveled the ancient trade routes influenced what became “Jewish food”.

Join food columnist, author, and recipe developer, Faith Kramer, to explore this spicy journey and test some spice mixtures that became a part of Jewish food.
Each participant will take home three spice mixes for recipe development in their own kitchen.

Date: June 23
Time: 7 to 8:30pm
Place: Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland
This program is free but you much register to attend. Email me, Dawn, at to sign up for the class.
Masks are required.

The El-Salomons: Still Married
The El-Salomons are a married Jewish-Palestinian lesbian comedy couple who can never break up, because they can’t let people be right.

In celebration of Pride Month, the Peninsula JCC and the Oshman Family JCC proudly partner to present an unforgettable evening of entertainment and laughter with live stand-up comedy at Club Fox in Redwood City.

Date:   Thursday, June 23
Time:   8:00pm-9:00pm
Place:   Club Fox, 2209 Broadway Street, Redwood City
Cost:    $23
Phone:   650-223-8700

Posted in Shavuot
Published on June 1st, 2022