The Finley/Person Community Center is returning to normal activity, and our next Israeli dance will be back in room 3 of the Person Center. I am not sure what the break in scheduling will do to registration, but do check the webpage and register for the next group of classes.
Moving to California felt like moving to a new country. One impression that has struck me deeply is the sense that there is a certain “untamed” quality about living here. Between the majestic beauty of the mountains, the wild and dangerous coastline and the mysterious vastness of the Pacific Ocean, mother nature has a strong hold over our lives. Maybe that’s why our state has such a pro-active population when it comes to preserving this rugged beauty. Day by day we’re engaged in what might be termed a dance with nature: trying to appreciate this precious partner, to enjoy the beauty of her paces and not step on her toes.
At the same time we live with ever-present threat of the next big one and in recent weeks found ourselves facing the destructive forces of fire driven by strong winds. I’ve since learned that the bone dry conditions of late summer inevitably spark over a thousand fires over California. Under usual conditions we might be inconvenienced when some fire in some remote area gets too close to a highway. It’s a whole different story when the wildfire enters a densely populated area.
I recently traveled through one area affected, I found myself becoming emotional seeing the charred trees, the utter destruction of buildings left with nothing but rubble and twisted metal, and the random way in which the fire selected its victims.
There were two reasons I became emotional. One was the picture of a literal holocaust (the word itself refers to complete burning up by fire). The second was the recognition of the incredible valor of the fire fighters and everyone involved in securing lives in those early horrifying minutes and subsequently attacking one of the largest conflagrations in California history. Just thinking of the combined forces of eleven thousand firefighters attacking the overwhelming forces of wind and flame on dry vegetation and buildings was humbling.
I’m still amazed at the ability and speed in which such a huge number of people were organized sparing thousands of lives. I’m deeply moved by all those families and individuals who lost their homes and all their possessions—many of them family heirlooms and priceless memories—the stories of terror and bravery; the compassion showed to neighbors by people for whom every second counted in attempting their own escape and ultimately, the lives that were lost.
The 911 dispatchers were the unsung heroes fielding hundreds of calls from people screaming for help; telling them that help was on the way; hearing from the firefighters that the flames were making it impossible to break through and staying on the phone until the line became silent.
Is it possible not to be emotional? These are times when the partnership of the dance tragically becomes a need to overcome and take control. Clearly, there’s something to be learned from every experience. These are moments that bring out the extremes of human nature as well. It’s important to reflect on the overwhelming number of acts of compassion and bravery that overshadowed those who choose to profit from the misery of others.
We really are privileged to live in a great state and as we look ahead to the future, may our dances be celebrations filled with tears of joy.
Dear Friends, At this point, last week seems like a blur. Monday, Tuesday etc. all just merged into “days”. Coming home last Friday and making “kiddush” around the table had a surreal quality to it. “Normalcy” seemed out of place! I continue to be amazed by the efforts of those who combatted these terrible fires and performed all the associated tasks to rescue life and property. As someone said, “They all deserve medals!”
Now comes the time to slowly make necessary adjustments and regroup. It’s been heartwarming to see how the various segments of the community are coming together to support one another. I’m sharing the following items in the hopes that this information will be helpful.
1. I’ve accepted Rabbi George Gittleman’s gracious invitation for us to join Shomrei Torah for their Services this Friday evening at Congregation Shomrei Torah, 2600 Bennett Valley Road starting at 6:15 p.m.
2. Also, this Friday evening Rabbi Mendel Wolvovsky and Chabad is hosting a free community dinner at the Flamingo Hotel starting at 5:30 p.m. While this conflicts with Shomrei Torah services, we want to give people the information so they can attend this dinner if they wish.
3. Beth Ami Religious School and our Congregation will be hosting a Family Service of Comfort followed by a free dinner a week from this Friday on October 27th. The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the service, which features the vocal talents of Lisa Iskin. At about 6:15 we will sit down for dinner in the social hall.
Please call the Beth Ami office (707) 360-3000 no later than Wednesday the 25th – earlier, if possible – so that we can plan adequately!
4. Congregation Shomrei Torah is hosting a day camp while schools are out. They are in need of adults who have experience and love working with children (and don’t mind a degree of pandemonium!) to assist them. The camp runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you in a position to serve as a volunteer, simply stop by Shomrei Torah a little before 9:00 a.m. to sign up.
5. The Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Sonoma County is doing an amazing job in tending to all the needs that have arisen as a result of the fires.
However, please feel free to contact me directly 360-3004, email@example.com, if you wish. We have received many gracious offers for help – especially with regards to housing and I would be happy to assist you in any way I can.
Important: For those who wish to offer assistance with housing, please indicate how long you feel you can accommodate; how many individuals, and if you are able to accommodate children and/or pets. Having more detailed information will assist us in trying to match a family that requires housing.
6. Finally, I invite you to join me for minyan any regular Monday through Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. for about 45 minutes of prayer and thoughtful meditation. Evenings are at 6:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday last about 15 minutes. All these sessions take place in our chapel located in the Friedman Center apartment.
Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.
I’m honored to serve this wonderful synagogue and community.
May we be worthy of many days of safety, prosperity and joy in the months and years ahead.
Rabbi Congregation Beth Ami
It’s Shevat, 5778, and time for us to renew our Rosh Chodesh gatherings once again. Here’s what on tap …
Rosh Chodesh women invite you to mark the new month of Shevat on Wednesday, January 17 with a guided imagery by Michele Baime @ 7pm at Beth Ami.
And mark your calendar for our leading a Friday night service (Friday, February 16) guided by Hannah Carattti. (Stay tuned for the time, please)
October 28, during and following services
Voices of Israel:
Hear from two inspiring young Israeli share their experiences and hopes
Ask Udi and Shir tough questions about their struggles on Saturday, October 28.
A video message of hope for the new year… I also want to thank Rick Concoff for suggesting that I send out a video message. Shana tovah umtukah!
Dear Rosh Chodesh Women, We are sorry to say that the Rosh Chodesh brunch at Michelle Baime’s scheduled for Sunday November 19th will be canceled due to a number of conflicts. Please put our next Rosh Chodesh gathering (Tevet) at Judy Gunnar’s home on your calendar. It will be Monday December 18 at 7pm: White Elephants and Desserts. Bring desserts, 8 candles, and your Chanukiah.
More information to follow.
To add more sweetness to our celebration of the High Holy Days, once again we are requesting Honey cakes.
Honey cake is one of our special traditions for Rosh Hashanah and we want to have plenty at Beth Ami for the holiday season, from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot. You can make them at your convenience, bring them to the synagogue, and we will put them in the freezer.
We are requesting that that your recipe be pareve and that you follow the Food and Pot-luck guidelines. No serving plates are necessary and please, do not cut your cake, we will do it for you. Just wrap the cake and label it; “Honey cake for HHD” and whether it has any nut and/or nut by-products or is nut and/or nut-product free. If your recipe is gluten-free, mark that as well.
If you want to help supply, you just need to contact the CBA Office by phone or email firstname.lastname@example.org; to give our organizers an idea of how many loaves you wish to bake. Then, please, bring the cakes to the synagogue by no later than Monday morning on September 18th. If there is no one in the kitchen, you may bring it to Elizabeth or Judy who has a key to the kitchen. Thank you, we have had some fabulous honey cakes over the years!