Dear Members, Nursery and Religious School Families and Friends,

Chanukah is upon us–the first candle will be lit on Sunday,
December 2nd. Chanukah is one of the best known Jewish holiday, but it is often considered a less important holiday because it was instituted by our sages, rather than an ordained Biblical holiday.

Most of us are familiar with the Chanukah story. The Maccabees defeated the Greeks who destroyed the temple and defiled all the oils. Upon re-entering the Temple, the Maccabees found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the Kohen Gadol. There was enough oil to light the great Menorah for one day. A miracle happened and it sufficed for eight days–enough time to process the olives needed for the purest oil.

We kindle the Chanukah lights to celebrate the miracle and publicize it. Yet, even if one questions whether the miracle occurred, Chanukah is infused with Jewish and human values that are admired. Chanukah is about Tikkun Olam–perfecting the world, bravery, and commitment to these values.

There are endless opportunities to perform acts of Tikkun Olam–feeding the hungry, protecting the environment, and as fires rage at both ends of California sending assistance to the afflicted communities despite that Sonoma County is still recovering from last year’s fires. In today’s charged political environment it takes bravery to stand and speak up against anti-Semitism, racism, gender bias against the LGBTQ community and all forms of intolerance.

Perhaps, the miracle we hope for in our time is the end to all forms of hatred.

This year, Beth Ami’s Chanukah Party will occur on December 9th–the eighth night of Chanukah. Bring your Chanukiot and nine candles. The party is sponsored by the Board of Directors and will be a joint celebration with the Nursery and Religious Schools. Afterall, there is no greater miracle than our children.

Highlights of the Celebration

4:00 PM Children and Family Activities
Photo Booth
Chanukah Slime
Candle Rolling
Cookie Decorating
Dreidel Games

5:00 PM Lighting of Candles and Singing with Lisa Iskin
5:30 PM Time to Eat (all food provided)
Latkes, of course, with trimmings
Assorted Salads
Dessert

The event is free to Members and Nursery and Religious School families.
Reservations are required. Because of the expected number of people and space capacity, we may not be able to accept walk-ins at the door.

Please contact the office at 707-360-3000 as early as possible to make your reservations.

May the flames of the Chanukiah candles bring light and happiness into your homes.

Henry S. Cohn
President

Social Action News

It is the holiday season and for many there is considerable need. We at SAC will have a few opportunities for us to make for a better world. Our Kehilla is know for its generosity. Thanks to everyone in advance for doing what you can ,whether it’s bringing food for the JFCS pantry or volunteering at the food bank.

The SAC will be volunteering at the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Wednesday, December 12 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.. This is a new date, we will not be going in November. Please call the office or contact Lyla Nathan at lylanathan5@gmail.com or 526-7438 for more info. Teens 13 or over are encouraged to attend.

We will be serving dinner at Palms on Wednesday, November 28th. The dinner will be catered by Bernard and Maria Soltes with the help of the SAC.

We are going to participate with the nursery school, in collecting and assembling toiletries for those in need: travel size shampoo, conditioner, soap, tampons and pads, new underwear for men and women, socks, bandaids, hand wipes and lotion. Please continue to bring your items to the foyer of the Synagogue. The exciting part about this joint venture is that the Nursery School parents and children will be preparing the bags along with the Social Action Committee.

For the winter clothing drive we will be collecting items for The Living Room this year. The Living Room is a day shelter for homeless women and their children. They do good work and they always have need for clothes, bedding etc. Please refer to the flyer.
If possible please drop off items at their facility. However if you can’t, we will deliver. Toda Raba to all

Nursery school in the Summer

The end of the school year is right around the corner and Summer Camp is on the horizon! How did that happen so fast?! We have begun registration for next school year and we are already full. However, there are still spots available for our Summer program. Summer is a fun-filled, water-filled and science-filled extravaganza, anyone interested can call the Nursery School office for more information on Summer sessions and enrollment.

A Thanksgiving Message from Rabbi Miller

Dear Members and Friends,At this particular time it feels as if I should be placing “Thanksgiving” in quotation marks – for more than one reason! As we go back over the events of the past year there are so many reasons to feel anxious: the divisiveness of our national political discourse; what appears to be the increased number of mass shootings (two, within this past week), the rise of anti-semitism and white-supremacy, not to speak of natural disasters involving wind, water and fire which result in the catastrophic loss of life and property and add to the present crisis of the lack of food and housing. I’m sure that the list is far from exhaustive!

In fact, more than one person has mentioned to me that “It feels like Armageddon!”

More than ever, I realize the place of privilege that I occupy, coupled with a sense of frustration at the overwhelming needs of our times. Yet I’m deeply grateful to live in what I consider to be a community that values compassion and the obligation to help those who are underprivileged. I will never forget the outpouring of community support at the gathering held at Shomrei Torah to honor the victims of the tragic attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Our Torah attempts to provide us with realistic expectations regarding the life that confronts us: to realize that this world is far from – and has never been – a Garden of Eden. If we happen to be living in blessed circumstances regarding livelihood, health, honor, family etc., our faith challenges us to share our blessings with those whose lives may be deprived of blessing.

Every human alive faces challenges of some sort, However, recognizing, or “counting” our own blessings can give us the encouragement we need to use these very blessings to serve our families and communities. At a time such as this, every little act of compassion and support counts. In communities coming together to the aid of those distressed, individual acts add up to something significant.

With warm Thanksgiving greetings to you and your family from the entire Miller clan,

b’Shalom,

Mordecai.

Rosh Chodesh Gatherings for 5779

Please RSVP to Patty Bernstein if you’d like to join the Moon Mavens on Tuesday, February 5 @ 5:30pm at Hannah Caratti’s yoga studio. A $5 contribution is requested (but no one will be turned away) for this Rosh Chodesh I Adar event.

She’ll send Hannah’s address when she gets your RSVP.  (basberyl@sonic.net)
Mark your calendars for the following Rosh Chodesh gatherings:
 
Thurs, November 8 at 7pm … baking Mandel Brot … we’ll have all the supplies and request your RSVP and a $5 donation for Rosh Chodesh Kislev.
 
Sun, December 2 at 11am … Potluck diary/parve brunch at Judy Gunnar’s home … Spice exchange for Chanukah … jumping the gun for Rosh Chodesh Tevet.
 
Mon, January 7 at 7pm … Guest speaker regarding fire restoration and trees that benefit from fire … celebrating Rosh Chodesh Shevat.
 
Tues, February 5  Yoga at Hannah Caratti’s studio. We will meet at Hannah’s home studio 5:30-6:30 pm for yoga and Hebrew chanting followed by snacks till 7 pm… a $5 contribution is requested (but no one will be turned away) for this Rosh Chodesh I Adar event.
 
Thurs, March 7 at 7pm … Making masks for Purim … bring glitter, beads, decoration for this Rosh Chodesh II Adar event.
 
Sun, April 7 at 11am … Passover treats and recipes demonstrated in the Beth Ami kitchen … Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
 
Sun, May 5 … Lunch at Kosher Chinese Shangri-la and time at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco … carpooling from Beth Ami at 10:30am … Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Iyar.
 
Tues, June 4 at 7pm … Guest speaker (TBA) and guided meditation … Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Sivan.
 
Wed, July 3 at 5pm … Parve or dairy potluck picnic at Spring Lake … Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz.
 
Fri, August 2 … Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Av as Rosh Chodesh women participate in the Friday night Kabbalah Shabbat service (7:30pm). Family Dinner at 6:30pm … reservations required … call Elizabeth in the Beth Ami office (360-3000).
 
Sun, September 1 at 11am … Planning meeting for Rosh Chodesh Gatherings 5780 … Potluck dairy or parve brunch
 
Looking forward to seeing everyone!
     PattyB

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand

The High Holy Days will be upon us within a few weeks. The month preceding Rosh Hashanah – Elul, the sixth month of the Jewish year – has no special importance in the Bible or in early rabbinic writing. Various customs arose sometime during the first millennium that designated Elul as the time to prepare for the High Holy Days. Because these days are filled with so much meaning and potency, they require a special measure of readiness. We are called upon to enter them thoughtfully and to consider what they mean. As the Maharal of Prague said, “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, look into your souls and search your deeds, that you may make confession.”

Over the next few weeks, I will share some vignettes that may help us all better prepare for these holiest of days. This week’s story is by Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills CA.

Shalom,

Henry S. Cohn
President
presidentbethami@gmail.com

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand

The instructor filled an empty jar with rocks. “Is it full?” Then he poured a pitcher of pebbles into the jar. “Full now?” Next, he poured sand. “Full?” Finally, he poured water. “Now it’s full.” “What do you learn from this?” One student answered, “That no matter how busy you are, you can always fit it one more thing?” “No, the important thing is: you have to put the rocks in first. If you fill your jar first with the pebbles, sand or water, there will be no room for the rocks.”

Put the rocks in first, those important things that keep you grounded and centered.

I’m the one who thought that you could always fit in one more call, one more meeting. Yet when I fill my jar with what seems urgent but not important, there isn’t room for what I really need: time for my inner life – prayer, study, reflection; and time for my family.

A New Year approaches: it is an empty jar. How I fill it up is up to me. Elul is the deep breath I need to get clear about what my rocks are, and to promise myself to put them in first.

Discovering a blessing in “Adversity”

My Jewish education never included attending a Yeshivah. As a result, I never had the chance to learn how to study Talmud in my younger years. In fact, while my father had introduced me to the tractate “Ta’anit” when I was in my teens, it didn’t include studying Rashi’s commentary. Additionally, the content consisted mainly of “Midrashic” interpretations (Agadetha) as opposed to “Halachic” or legal analysis (Hil’cheta).
(In all honesty, I probably was too immature at the time to appreciate any of this material – even if I’d had the opportunity.)

This all changed when I attended HUC-JIR in Cincinnati to pursue a career as a rabbi. I was in my mid twenties and became fascinated with the smattering of Talmud that we were exposed to. As a result, I decided to pursue learning Talmud myself upon graduation. I came across the Steinsaltz edition of tractate “Brachot” and found myself able to follow the discussions in Aramaic, with the help of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Hebrew translation and annotations.

Years later, I discovered “Talmud tapes” and just a few years ago, “Podcasts” led by various scholars who would give a lesson on each page of Talmud.

What an amazing convenient resource and blessing! I would download the podcasts onto my iPhone and use the “Bluetooth” in my car to listen to the lesson while driving. Whenever I would walk the dog, I would take advantage of the opportunity to listen on my iPhone.
It’s amazing how the hours accumulate and how many pages of Talmud you can cover! (I’m pretty sure I’m on my “second tour” at this point!) Of course, I’ve forgotten more than I remember, but that’s why one reads the material over and over!

More recently, I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a thumb drive with the entire series of lessons on the Talmud included. I have a port on my car that accommodates the thumb drive. To this point I had never taken advantage of it; preferring to rely on my iPhone.

One day, much to my chagrin, I discovered that I’d omitted to download a podcast page to my phone. Attempting to download the podcast, hook the iPhone to my computer and sync it so as to include the page didn’t seem worth the time it would take experimenting. Then it occurred to me, “Use the Thumb Drive in the car!”

I hooked it up to the car and in 20 seconds I found the page I needed and began listening to the lesson.

Of course, it turned out that this was a much better system than the one I was using to this point!

To me it felt as if HaShem had engineered the whole episode, using the initial challenge and “adversity” to assist me in coming up with a beautiful result! It feels like a sweet and elegant example of chasdei haShem (God’s love)

My heart is elated!

Rosh Chodesh Elul

Hello Moon Mavens! The month of Elul begins Saturday and Sunday (August 11 and 12) … just in time for us to celebrate the ending of one year and prepare ourselves to enter a new year.

This is a good time for us to plan our Rosh Chodesh gatherings for 5779. So, let’s bring a “lunchy” kind of treat, our calendars, and ideas for activities.
Join me on Sunday, August 12 at Congregation Beth Ami at 11:30 a.m. to eat, to plan, and to prepare ourselves for the coming High Holy Days.
All Jewish women are welcome, regardless of affiliation (or not).
Questions? Contact Patty Bernstein (basberyl@sonic.net or 953-4385)

Fight EcoTerrorists! Help Israeli Victims of Hamas Arson

Hamas mobilizes Arabs of Gaza to reject peace and burn nature sanctuaries and farms in the Jewish homeland.

Donate at my.israelgives.org/en/campaign/IsraelFires2018

Our Community knows the harm of Fires.  Hamas terrorists are starting fires in Israel to destroy nature preserves and farms. For over 130 days, Israelis in southern Israel have faced not only massive rocket barrages from Gaza, but now also thousands of kites and balloons laden with explosives to start fires. Hamas states “Our goal is to burn Jews and the land of Israel.”  Please help.

So far, over 1,000 separate fires have scorched over 30,000 dunams (7,400 acres), destroying huge portions of nature reservations, killing animals and wildlife in the area, and decimating the farming crops of Israelis throughout the south.

You can help the Israeli farmers who have lost their land and their crops!  The fires greatly impacted their livelihood.

Help us support the families of southern Israel as they seek to rebuild their communities and repair their land. Join us in making the desert bloom again! 100% of your donation will be divided among the farmers and families most impacted by this form of terrorism. Thank you in advance for your urgently needed help!

Fight EcoTerrorists! Help Jewish Victims of Hamas Arson  

Donate at my.israelgives.org/en/campaign/IsraelFires2018