In my previous article, I mentioned a concern that I share with many in our community. We are all concerned with our sense of security, both public and personal, but we may disagree fundamentally with how to react to the various factors that we feel contribute to this concern. What is even more disturbing is the fact that disagreement between individuals is often expressed in a way which is demeaning, insulting or sarcastic. At a time when it is vitally important to increase our understanding of the problems that beset us; to recognize the ways in which issues can be nuanced or seen from more than just one point of view, communication is breaking down. It is for this and other reasons that the Beth Ami Social Action Committee and I have developed a program which, we believe, addresses this concern. We are calling this program “Compassionate Conversations”.
Why should I come to the Compassionate Conversations?
Here at Beth Ami we hope to offer an opportunity to talk about our thoughts and feelings in safe and non-judgmental gatherings. We will share, heart to heart, about ourselves and our reactions to the dramatic changes in our country. We will listen in new ways that may help to relieve the burdens we carry and as a community we can support each other with caring, uninterrupted listening.
Our meetings will be based on principles of compassionate listening with an open heart. It will not be a time for finding solutions or problem solving, but rather a time to talk about thoughts and feelings and to experience growth and support through deep sharing. Each session will have a focus to consider, such as “Balance” or “Forgiveness”. We will share thought provoking readings and activities. In this safe environment we hope that by practicing and developing the skill of really speaking from our hearts that we will find strength and wisdom.
Our first gathering will be here at Beth Ami on Sunday, April 23 from 3:30 to 5:00. The focus of this meeting will be “Listening “. The sessions are based on a program developed by the Unitarian Fellowship of Albuquerque and the book Heart to Heart by Christine Robinson and Alicia Hawkins.
We encourage anyone to join us to learn and experience community in a safe environment.
If you have any questions please call or email email@example.com. (707) 526-7438 or Rabbi Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org (707) 889-6905
Dancers, we have been asked to demonstrate some dances for ten minutes or less at a free concert May 7 at Beth Ami by Israeli / San Francisco singers Achi Ben Shalom http://www.achibenshalom.com/ and Noa Levy http://www.noalevylive.com/
PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHO WANTS TO PERFORM/ DEMO May 7. I’m not worried about getting a large group, I just don’t want to dance around all by myself…
The schedule is
2 pm kids’ show
2:30 free refreshments in social hall
2:50 we dance in social hall
3:00 concert in sanctuary.
Our regular dance meetings are April 19 and May 3, before the concert.
After the concert we have
May 17– I’ll be gone and we’ll have to talk about someone else leading, or cancelling
May 31-I’ll be back
June 14 and 28
Rosh Chodesh Nissan: Monday, March 27 at 7pm: All Jewish women are invited to celebrate the new month of Nissan at Congregation Beth Ami. We’ll share our favorite Passover readings and songs, talk about the narrow places we’ve visited and what we want to leave behind.
If you have a favorite Passover recipe(s), feel free to bring it to share … and bring a nosh or beverage for the group to enjoy.
Questions? Contact Patty Bernstein (email@example.com or 546-6043)
Beth Ami is hosting Sonoma County’s variety show of Israel-Oriented skits, songs, and dance; take part to share your love of Israel. With you on stage will be two of the most talented Israelis around: Noa Levy and Achi Ben Shalom.
Already signed up are Hadassah, Stand With Us, and the Sonoma County Israel Dance group. Are you ready to do a 3-5 minute skit or otherwise show your love of Israel? Contact Eli at
Israel Celebration 2017 Show Your Talent!
While there may be great disagreement regarding the direction in which our country is heading, I suspect that we would all agree that we live in “interesting times”. By and large, higher numbers of individuals are sensing anxiety; some are palpably fearful. “Fear” is a powerful motivator. However it often blocks out “mindful” behavior. It’s easy to forget our ability to express our disagreements with civility and allow ourselves to slip into emotionally couched comments which leave our “opponent” feeling insulted. On an extreme level, this can lead to public expressions of Xenophobia and specifically, anti-Semitism.
There’s good reason to feel strongly about our current political climate and to have a need to share our thoughts and feelings. While our synagogue is subject to sanctions if we officially engage in party politics, the fact that we function as a sanctuary means that we owe it to our members and even those beyond our walls to serve in this capacity. We also have a responsibility to express our religious beliefs and values that are the bedrock of civilization.
Like so many others – including members of our Social Action Committtee – I’ve been motivated to become much more active in serving those in our general community who may be under potential censure and verbal or physical attack. Some months ago I agreed to serve on the “Of One Soul” Committee (referred to as “O1S”). This is a sub-committee of the Sonoma County Interfaith Council which draws together both clergy and lay members from a large spectrum of different religious denominations. “Of One Soul” was formed to combat discrimination against members of our Moslem Community. It aims primarily to educate the general community about Moslems; their beliefs and practices and the degree to which Moslems, like many other minority groups that comprise our country’s population are “humans” like us and that the vast majority – like any other immigrant population – simply want to serve as loyal and productive citizens of our country.
We have formed a sub-committee from this group under the (current) name “Safety Pin Subcommittee” of which I currently serve as chair. Given the heightened sense of division and emotionality in the United States, our essential mission is to develop non-violent ways to prevent bullying in a variety of social settings, regardless of the particular ideology, dress, race or religion of the one under attack. In other words it would include coming to the aid of someone who is being bullied for their support of our current administration. While there is still much work to be done, our committee has provided three workshops to provide training in non-violent intervention. Our hope is to schedule future trainings as long as the need persists.
On a personal note. I want you to know that if you would like to discuss the religious or spiritual dimensions of our current situation to give me a call (707) 889-6905 to set up a time to share and examine the broader issues. In some ways I believe that as human beings, God has tested us from the very creation of humans to see if, despite our differences, we can learn to bear compassionate hearts for one another: to see ourselves as members of a great family.
Rabbi Mordecai Miller
Rosh Chodesh Adar: Sunday, February 26 ~ Pizza and a Movie. Our original plan was to have lunch at Mary’s Pizza and see a movie at Summerfield Theaters. In an effort to find a good time, I’m presenting movie times for Sunday …
La La Land 10:30-12:30; 1:30-3:38
Lion 10:45 – 12:45
Hidden Figures 11:00-1:07
I Am Not Your Negro 10:15 – 11:50
Do you think that 1-ish might be a good time to meet for lunch? Any other ideas?
Hope to see you to welcome the new month of Adar … and all that goes with it!
The Social Action Committee recently met and prepared bags for the homeless and those in need. We have been doing this project for over a year and have found it to be a very worthwhile and satisfying experience. People on the receiving end have been very thankful and most responses have been positive. I want to thank the congregation for participating by bringing hygiene items and by taking some bags and distributing them. I also want to thank the members of SAC for donating so many wonderful items. The members are: Susan Miller, Cheryl Miller, Lenore Holloway, Judi Hyman, Tish Levy, Bobbie Rosenthal, Ellen Mundell, Karen Herskovic, and Lyla Nathan.
The bags have a new and very necessary item this time, they are very sturdy ponchos, so important this year. These ponchos were personally given to us by Billy Friedman. A warm thank you to you and your family for your continued generosity
helping those less fortunate in our community.
As always we continue to provide food for the pantry at JFCS. Thanks to the whole congregation for keeping the bin in the foyer full of healthy food products. They always need low sodium and non gluten foods. Peanut butter, tuna , non refrigerated milk are always needed. Please keep up the great work you do.
We will have our next volunteering at the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Wednesday, March 1, at 10:00-12:00, Hope you can make it.
Once again, thanks to everyone for making Beth Ami a giving and caring community.
Rosh Chodesh Shevat falls on Saturday, January 28! We’ll celebrate with havdallah (we’ll supply) and desserts (you bring, please) as well as our regular rituals for welcoming the new moon. It will all begin at 6:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Ami.
All Jewish women are welcome … no matter whether you’re affiliated with a congregation or not! We’d love to have you join us. No RSVP needed … but if you need a ride, let me know and we’ll try to put you in touch with someone nearby.
Save the Dates:
Rosh Chodesh Adar: Sunday, February 26 @ 11:30am
Pizza and a Movie … we’ll lunch at Mary’s Pizza Shack and select a movie to watch at Summerfield Cinemas
flexible timing depending on the movies showing, etc.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan: Monday, March 27 at 7pm @ Congregation Beth Ami
Passover foods and recipes
Discussion of narrow places and what to leave behind
Favorite Passover readings
Meaning of the Omer
Looking forward to sharing the joy of Rosh Chodesh with you all in 2017.