JWeekly

  • Free and low-cost High Holiday services, 2018
    We offer this listing every year as a service to our readers who are not members of synagogues, and who seek free or low-cost ($40 and under) Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Most synagogues have registration deadlines, even if services are free, while others offer sliding-scale tickets. Chabad services generally are free, and several are included here; for a complete list, visit chabad.org. Most congregations hold outdoor tashlich ceremonies that are free and open to the community. For detailed information, contact the synagogue or go to J.’s Jewish Resource Guide. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Sunday, Sept. 9 and Yom Kippur begins at sundown Tuesday, Sept. 18. San Francisco Congregation B’nai Emunah. Free for students and anyone who has never attended High Holidays here. 8 p.m. Sept. 9; 8:45 a.m. Sept. 10; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18; 9 a.m. Sept. 19. Conservative. At 3595 Taraval St.  (415) 664-7373 or bnaiemunahsf.org/celebrate/high-holydays Congregation Chevra Thilim. Free, donations welcome. 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9; 9 a.m. Sept. 10-11; 7 p.m. Sept. 18; 9:30 a.m. Sept. 19. Orthodox. At 751-25th Ave. (415) 752-2866 or tinyurl.com/sfshul-HH2018 Congregation Emanu-El. Free. 5 p.m. Sept. 9; 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10 (5 p.m. tashlich at Baker Beach); 5 p.m. Sept. ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-17
  • Why we’re adding $$$ for LGBTQ advocacy in Israel
    The nationwide LGBTQ strike in Israel last month, sparked by a July 18 Knesset vote to ban men and gay couples from surrogacy, culminated in an incredibly moving and powerful 100,000-person rally in Rabin Square. The strike’s potency underscores the need to build capacity for Israel’s LGBTQ community organizations. That’s why this week, A Wider Bridge is proud to announce the launch of our new AWB Impact Grantmaking initiative to help meet this need. The news was released Aug. 15. For years, Israel’s LGBTQ community has been reduced to two simple talking points: one, that when surveying the neighborhood, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that affords any kind of LGBTQ protections; and two, that the Tel Aviv Pride Parade is proof of Israel’s commitment to its LGBTQ community. Neither of these arguments, most often made with the best of intentions by supporters of Israel’s democracy, reflect an actual depiction of the full spectrum of LGBTQ experiences on the ground. Furthermore, these arguments award credit to the state, rather than to LGBTQ activists who have fought for decades to win their democratic right to live and to love. In the short term, advancing LGBTQ rights with Israel’s ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-17
  • At Federation, making space for community
    SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION AND ENDOWMENT FUND OF SAN FRANCISCO, THE PENINSULA, MARIN AND SONOMA COUNTIES At the Federation, we are designing Jewish experiences that connect people, generate a sense of belonging, and inspire a shared purpose. We’ve learned from experience that successful community building doesn’t happen by accident. It’s cultivated through practices and habits that develop our communal “muscles.” That’s why we fund programs that bring people together in intentional ways, but what about the physical spaces where community building occurs? Aren’t they critical to effective community building? Absolutely. Jewish history in the Bay Area is rich with examples of how Jews built or helped finance physical spaces where people gather to connect and feel part of a whole. Rosalie Meyer Stern donated her land to San Francisco which later became Stern Grove, a popular site in summer for free music festivals. Herbert Fleishhacker played a role in funding the War Memorial Opera House, and Ignatz Steinhart gifted the Steinhart Aquarium, which became the California Academy of Sciences. At the Federation, we continue this tradition with a modern approach of working collaboratively with the community to support the development of spaces that will foster human connections and ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-17
  • Israel and UC deepen water technology collaboration
    A scientist researching drip irrigation in Beersheva and an agriculturalist in Berkeley studying rainfall patterns can now swap ideas and discoveries, with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between parties in Israel and California. According to a press release, the memorandum will “promote cooperation and joint research in various agricultural fields and is designed to increase communication and collaboration between scientists and researchers on both sides.” S.F.-based Consul General of Israel Shlomi Kofman attended the MOU signing ceremony on July 16, held during a three-day workshop titled, “The Future of Water for Irrigation in California and Israel.” The document was signed by an agricultural division of the University of California, UC Davis and the Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. “This is bringing the best of the best together,” Kofman said. “We are trying to make the usage of water as efficient as possible.” From its founding, Israel has made immense progress in water technology research, including desalination, which transforms seawater into potable water; drip irrigation, which decreases the amount of water needed for farming; and recycling wastewater into water suitable for irrigation. Israel is now a water-surplus state, exporting water to neighboring countries. Ermias Kebreab (left), vice provost ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-17
  • The cost of locking Jews of color out of the Jewish literary canon
    A Jewish boy grows up poor. He goes to Hebrew school. Excels in academics and sports. Attends a prestigious college. He sees himself as a storyteller and an entertainer. After working hard, he tastes success in his 20s, and by his mid-30s he’s a superstar. We are familiar with this story. It applies to many of the 20th- century’s “great Jewish men” in the arts. Men like Philip Roth or Woody Allen, whose legacies have been debated at length. Each grew up at a time when anti-Semitism was commonplace, often manifest in physical attacks. Each lived to experience the nearly complete integration of Jews into American life — schools, jobs, neighborhoods and bedrooms. Fear and lust motivated the fictional characters they created. Death and sex were their favorite topics. Each embodied and shaped the public understanding of Jewish manhood and sexuality, and for marginalizing American Jewish women. Today, the Jewish boy described in the opening paragraph is Daveed Diggs. You probably know him as the Grammy- and Tony Award-winning actor who played Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson with the original cast of the musical “Hamilton.” Diggs grew up in Oakland, the son of a white Jewish mother and African-American ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-17
  • From the time of Moses to now, what are the rules of war?
    Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9 Isaiah 51:12–52:12 What are the rules of war? Although the conduct of war has changed greatly since the time of Moses, many of the moral and practical challenges have remained the same. When is a war justified? And what actions are permitted in war? In Parashah Shoftim, the Israelites are preparing to conquer the Land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua. This war is a direct command from God. Therefore, Moses prepares them for the war with specific mitzvot (commandments): offer a generous peace to a city if it will surrender and pay tribute, preserve the fruit trees that you encounter in enemy territory and allow soldiers who are engaged to leave their military service to get married. But for most of the last 2,000 years, the Jewish nation has had little practical need for these laws of war. The Roman Empire crushed the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE. In that final campaign, the Roman historian Cassius Dio reported that 580,000 Jewish men were killed and more than 1,000 Jewish communities in Judea were destroyed. The archeological evidence from this period implies that the Romans perpetrated a nearly complete genocide against the Jews of Judea. ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-16
  • Overflowing with photos of California’s oldest synagogues
    The subtitle of the book says it all: “Architecture, community and history.” In Julian H. Preisler’s latest book, “America’s Pioneer Jewish Congregations,” the synagogue buildings he describes are physical symbols of the Jewish communities formed across the United States since early European settlement. “Our American Jewish community is diverse, historic and the second largest in the world,” the independent researcher and author of four other Jewish history books writes in his introduction. “It is always growing and changing.” In his view, the stones, bricks and designs of the synagogues are a record of what different Jewish communities built over time, with differing budgets and circumstances. “It is vital that we document our ‘built’ Jewish environment and share what we find,” he says. Postcard of Congregation Emanu-El’s temple complex, circa 1960s. (Photo/Courtesy Julian H. Preisler)And document he does. Part history, part travel guide and part photo album, the book takes readers on a tour of the oldest existing Jewish congregations in each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands. The entries include a brief history of each congregation and photographs of the various buildings that have housed these congregations over the years. Some chapters ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-16
  • Day of Philanthropy award for John Goldman
    Honoring a leader who usually works behind the scenes? That’s what will be happening at the 2018 Day of Philanthropy on Nov. 13 when John Goldman receives the Robert Sinton Award for Distinguished Leadership. Given annually by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, the award goes to someone who exhibits a passion for Jewish philanthropy and volunteering. Goldman has done extensive volunteer and charitable work through the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, and through presidencies of the S.F.-based Federation and Jewish Family and Children’s Services. He also was president of the San Francisco Symphony and has served on many councils and boards. He and his wife, Marcia, also have endowed the John & Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. The John and Marcia Goldman Foundation focuses on youth, science, health and the arts. Some of his other charitable interests include the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, the Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation, Stanford Health Care, Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Goldman is the son of Richard N. Goldman (1920-2010) and Rhoda Haas Goldman (1924-1996). The award will be presented at this year’s Day of ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-16
  • At these Shabbat dinners, deep thoughts are on the menu
    It’s Friday night in the Mission District, and 30 people are sitting around the table in a San Francisco Victorian home outfitted as an event space. After the ritual blessings over the candles, wine and challah, the group digs into a meal prepared by a professional chef, and then quickly the diners get immersed in conversation. These aren’t casual social exchanges, however — they are facilitated discussions on contemporary topics that are chosen in advance, with an expert on the issue serving as moderator. Relevant readings are sent to participants ahead of time to elevate the conversations. On this night the topic is education. At one end of the table, a facilitator asks what people think about school uniforms. Another group discusses what’s known in the educational field as “the summer slide,” when a student backslides in reading skills because her family has no books at home or her parents do not take her to the library. For Pride Month, the topic was the gender spectrum. Others have included immigration and deportations, and gender inequality in the workplace. A social justice seder included African Americans, Muslims, Latinos and Jews all talking about modern-day slavery and emancipation. On Sept. 14, the ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-16
  • With new monument, Jews and Poles refuse to let the past fade away
    Jews from many corners of the globe travel to Poland and other Eastern European countries every year — to learn more about their heritage or to see with their own eyes the historical horrors of the Holocaust. But while many go, only some go back. On June 17, Berkeley resident Diane Mintz was one who returned to Poland, some 13 years after her first journey to her ancestral homeland. This time she went not on a heritage trip, but to attend a ceremony in Kroscienko, a Polish village about 75 miles from Krakow, to honor the 300 Jews who used to live there. One was Mintz’s grandfather, Chaim Rappaport. Though Rappaport survived because he left for the United States before World War II, approximately 280 of his fellow Jews did not. A plot of land in the town along the Dunajec river was used as a mass grave for those murdered by the Nazis. During her first trip in 2005, Mintz was devastated when she realized that no visitor or newcomer to Kroscienko would even know that a burial ground was there. When she and her son, Ilan Kayatsky, stood over the area, it looked like any other verdant part ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-16
  • Jewish green cemetery in Marin expands
    Gan Yarok cemetery in Mill Valley — billed as the nation’s first green Jewish cemetery when it opened in 2010 — is now even greener, having increased in size after a multi-denominational consecration ceremony on Aug. 9. The new section opened under the religious guidance of rabbis from three different denominations: Stuart Kelman, founding rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom (Conservative) in Berkeley; Gershon Albert of Beth Jacob Congregation (Orthodox) in Oakland; and David Cooper, rabbi emeritus of Kehilla Community Synagogue (Renewal) in Piedmont. Approximately 40 community members also attended the morning ceremony. Gan Yarok uses no concrete liners or embalming fluid, and bodies are buried in plain wooden boxes, wicker baskets or biodegradable shrouds, allowing decomposition and a return to nature. Gan Yarok (Hebrew for “green garden”) is a part of the Fernwood Cemetery and Funeral Home, which bills itself as “one of the country’s first environmentally conscious cemeteries.” Up until now, Gan Yarok’s space was big enough for 500 graves; the new section will add between 100 to 200 spaces. Both sections are divided into three subsections: Orthodox, Conservative and Community. Denominational diversity is one the things Albert likes best about Gan Yarok and how it was planned. “What ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-15
  • Trip to jittery Israel an eye-opener for California assemblymembers
    Protests over a controversial new nation-state law. The denial of surrogacy rights to same-sex couples. Firebomb kites from Gaza. The shooting down of a Syrian jet. Just another week in Israel. However, all of the above happened to occur when nine California lawmakers — most of them first-time visitors — toured the Jewish state as part of a special delegation led by Assemblymember Marc Levine of San Rafael. Funded by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, the legislators traveled the country from north to the south from July 21 to 27. Stops included Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Herzliya. Back for his first visit in 18 years, Levine said, “Israel is a country that I feel a strong connection to. Creating a delegation of state lawmakers would create a meaningful, safe way to learn about issues and to ask questions about Israel and the Middle East.” The group arrived at time when several high-profile issues hit the Israeli — and global Jewish — public sphere. “These issues,” Levine noted, alluding mainly to the nation-state law and the denial of surrogacy rights for same-sex couples, “raise questions about what it means for Israel to be a democracy. This is a country on ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-15
  • ‘BlacKkKlansman’ and the possibilities, then and now, of a black-Jewish alliance
    In a dramatic scene, word reaches local officials that the leader of a militant black organization is coming to town, intent on stirring up trouble. An uncover operation ensues when an African-American attends the event, taking copious notes, and reporting his findings back to his Jewish colleague. In this moment, it seems, the black-Jewish relationship stood strong. Racists and bigots, no matter what side of the racial or religion divide, will face blacks and Jews working together in pursuit of justice. It sounds like an early scene from Spike Lee’s latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” when African-American detective Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) surveils a speech by Black Power founder Stokely Carmichael. Instead, it’s the true story of a 1959 speech by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad at a mosque in Newark, New Jersey. Years before the events in the movie, in which a black detective and his Jewish partner go undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, the American Jewish Committee joined with African American civil rights leaders to investigate the threat posed by Muhammad and his call for black militancy. Even as Jewish leaders concluded that Muhammad’s speech proved more anti-white than anti-Semitic, the episode painted a picture ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-15
  • Where science and Judaism meet, in synagogue
    At Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, science is a familiar field: Two-thirds of the congregants work in science or in a profession that is aided by a scientific background. But even before there was a place called Silicon Valley, Jews have had a relationship to science that dates back centuries. Historically, choosing religion over science has “never [been] the Jewish way,” says Rabbi Melanie Aron of Shir Hadash. “Jews come out on the side of science. We were meant to use our intellect.” Starting next month, the shul will present opportunities to examine the interface between science and Judaism with the public series “Scientists in Synagogues.” The aim of the seminars is to start conversations about crucial issues relating to science, society and Jewish values. The Sept. 1 kickoff event will include three short films that delve into the compatibility of science with religion, followed by discussion groups. One of the films is “Awe and Wonder” and another features actress, neuroscientist and observant Jew Mayim Bialik, a strong advocate for both Judaism and science. Shir Hadash isn’t the only synagogue around the country offering this program, but the Reform congregation is part of a group of 12 (the only ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-15
  • East Bay talks will shine a light on Judaism, minus God
    If the idea of a godless Judaism baffles, intrigues or irritates you, then two upcoming events about Humanistic Judaism might present good opportunities to learn about this denomination that excludes God’s name but still celebrates Shabbat and Jewish holidays and embraces Jewish history and culture. The talks are being presented by Kol Hadash, the Northern California Community for Humanistic Judaism, which holds most of its events and gatherings in Albany. Both events will feature Paul Golin, the New York-based executive director of Society for Humanistic Judaism, which has 28 communities in North America. Golin has visited many of them in his first two years on the job, but this will be his first visit to the Bay Area. “Humanistic Judaism sees the value in continuing holidays and rituals, those that provide meaning,” Golin told J. “We still find meaning in the High Holidays, reassessing your life each year, but it does not require you to say a bunch of stuff to a God you don’t believe in. It’s about human life right here.” Golin will be part of a four-person panel on Aug. 25 titled “Religion, Humanism and Community.” Jim Barnett (Bay Area Humanists), Mashariki Lawson-Cook (Black Humanists and Non-Believers ... read more
    Source: JWeeklyPublished on 2018-08-14