Rockin Shabbat and other news

A new class has been added for 3- and 4-year–old Nursery School students AND their parents! It will be on Fridays beginning September 23rd from 1-1:45, and it is FREE! Lauren Kalmenson will be leading this class, called Beth Ami and You: My First Jewish Class. Please stop by the office (room 9) to pick up a registration form.

To get a jump on next year, register with this online form. For more information contact Judy Kupfer or call 707-360-3012.

Rockin Shabbat with Mia Cohen May 19th 2017
Mia Cohen is serving the B’nai Israel Jewish Center as the Rabbinic Associate. She grew up in Nashville, TN and did her undergraduate work in Asheville, North Carolina at Warren Wilson College. She has ordination as a Jewish Spiritual Director through the Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal and has been a Talmidah Chachamah, student of Jewish Wisdom for more than 15 years. Mia has led numerous retreats, kids & family programs, Shabbat & Holiday services, and interfaith events. She is a facilitator of life cycle ceremonies, a Yoga teacher, Herbalist, and a Doula.mia picture 2015
5:30 p.m – Family Kabbalat Shabbat
6:00 p.m. – Community Dinner
7:00 p.m. – Rockin Shabbat

Dinner $8.00 adults, $5.00 youth
RS/NS families free with RSVP by January 25

Save These Religious School Dates:
March 7th—next Teen Classes: free and open to community. Ira Rosenthal will be the speaker from Stand With US. 4:30–5 p.m. Teen Lounge with snacks. 5–6 p.m. Presentation
March 24th—Dinner Club; 6 p.m. following Kabbalat Shabbat 5:30 p.m.
April 11th—6:30 p.m. Beth Ami Community Seder
April 21st—Dinner Club at 6 p.m.
May 7th—Yom Hatzmaut Israeli/Jewish Variety Show (All children and adults are invited to participate)
May 19th—Last Day of Religious School. Rockin Shabbat with Mia Cohen. 5:30 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat for kids. 6 p.m. Dinner.
7 p.m. Shabbat Service with Rabbi and Mia.
May 21st—Simcha Sunday 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
A big thank you to our volunteers Esther Baruch, Debi Niestat, Francee Kaplan and Mark Rosen for making the Dinner Club happening with food and clean-up!!
With best wishes for a happy Purim and a Chag Pesach kasher v’same’ach, a joyous and kosher Pesach)

Rosh Chodesh Tevet

Save the date for our Rosh Chodesh women’s Chanukah gathering which also celebrates the new month of Tevet. We’ll gather at Judy Gunnar’s home on Thursday, December 29 at 7pm for “White Elephant” gift exchange and wine-tasting. Bring cheese, crackers, 7 candles and a chanukiah!

Social Action Committee

The Social Action Committee has a mission to help create a more peaceful, giving and welcoming community.  In past years we have facilitated many activities that have revolved  around conversation and community building. We believe that conversation leads to greater understanding  of each other and  to stronger relationships.

These have been difficult times for many in our community. The election has caused fear and nervousness among many and the turmoil with the firing of Leah has caused pain to our kehilla. We were very heartened by the general meeting led by Henry Cohn. He created a mood of warmth and openness. He made sure that no-one was hurt in the process of sharing concerns and questions.

We at SAC think this kind of conversation might be beneficial to the community to discuss our fears and concern around the new US administration. We think people are looking for a safe place to talk. We are aware that there are differences in the Jewish Community regarding the new administration, especially around perceived support of Israel. We think it is important to look at different sides and create discourse that is inclusive and safe. We talked about the possibility of monthly meetings. We are hopeful to begin these conversations in the new year.

We decided to “kick off” these  discussions  by joining the Women’s March  in Santa Rosa on Jan. 21. The following information was written by Tish.

Please read and consider joining us.  Thanks.

Shalom to all,    Lyla

The Washington Women’s March is Coming to Sonoma County

A huge march of women, men, children, and families is planned in Washington, DC, on January 21st. Satellite marches and rallies are being planned across the country—including one right here in Santa Rosa.

Beth Ami’s Social Action Committee voted at the Dec. 14th meeting to participate in this march, and to engage Jewish women of Sonoma County, and their allies to do so as well. This is an opportunity for us to come together and to support women, minorities, and immigrants. There will be opportunities to learn more about engagement and activities at a local level. Although the march takes place in downtown Santa Rosa at noon on Shabbat, we felt that the urgency of the situation requires as many of us as possible to attend. The march’s FaceBook site is Sonoma County Stands Together for Women. As of the 15th of December, over 600 people have signed up to go and 1200 have expressed an interest.

Donate Israeli Products to Food Pantry – Dec. 19 and everyday

israction-day-beth-amiDecember 19th is IsrAction Day at CBA

Buy packaged Israeli foods at your local supermarket and drop them off at Congregation Beth Ami in the Social Action barrels

We donate them to local charities and Homeless Shelters

Photograph your participation in IsrAction Day 2016 and send it with details to

Sponsored by Congregation Beth Ami Israel Committee and StandWithUs

IsrAction Day is an International grassroots campaign with three main goals: standing up for Israel, combatting BDS and supporting our local communities. This is achieved through the purchase of Israeli goods in local supermarkets and their donation to the needy in local communities around the world.

The campaign will be taking place during the Chanukah/ Christmas season, a perfect time for tzedakah, giving back to your community and outreach to those more needy in our hometowns.

The campaign is originally the brainchild of Sussex Friends of Israel and Northwest Friends of Israel, two UK-based pro-Israel groups, which quickly won the support of London’s Jewish Chronicle and Jewish communal organizations across Britain.

Congregation Beth Ami and StandWithUs is proud to be joining forces for IsrAction Day 2016!

Don’t forget to take pictures or videos purchasing your items and/or donating and sending

Israel Fire Emergency Fund

For the past several days, hundreds of fires have raged across Israel’s north and in the Jerusalem hills. Damage has been widespread and some 180 people are reported injured, mainly due to smoke inhalation. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, and many hundreds have been left homeless.

In Haifa, Israel’s third largest city and San Francisco’s sister city, at least 60,000 residents have been evacuated and 2,000 buildings have been damaged, with a large number of those rendered uninhabitable. There are an estimated 1,600 Haifa residents now homeless.

Additionally, Israel’s Parks Authority reports that about 32,000 acres of natural forest land have burned. Overall, close to 2,500 firefighters have fought an unprecedented 480 blazes across Israel over a 5-day period.

Our Federation is working with our partners on the ground in Israel to assess and begin to meet urgent and emerging needs. If you would like to donate to the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Fire Emergency Fund, you can do so here.

If there is a silver lining to this tragedy, it is that all Israelis —- Jews and Arabs alike —- have come together to combat the fires and provide assistance to those affected (which includes Israelis of all backgrounds). The outpouring of solidarity and help for Israelis has crossed every category of ethnicity and religion. This is the Israel we know and love, and the one that we work every day to strengthen.

In solidarity,
Danny Grossman
Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

On Thursday, December 1, we’ll celebrate the new month of Kislev by attending the Jewish Music Series at SSU’s Schroeder Hall. The program begins at  6:30pm … free admission and the parking fee is waived! 6:30pm

                                    “Convergence: Spirituals From The Shtel. Davening From The Delta.”


Be sure to reserve your seats now!  You may reserve up to 4 seats.
and scroll down to the December 1st performance.


Let me know if you want to car-pool … we’ll see what we can arrange.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
        Patty Bernstein


PS … Save the date for our Rosh Chodesh women’s Chanukah gathering which also celebrates the new month of Tevet. We’ll gather at Judy Gunnar’s home on Thursday, December 29 at 7pm for “White Elephant” gift exchange and wine-tasting. Bring cheese, crackers, 7 candles and a chanukiah!

Rainbow Shabbat

Almost one year ago, during Sukkot, the Congregation celebrated the Sukkah of Shalom. It was an evening devoted to outreach to the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) Community; the Gay Community for simplicity purposes. It was an opportunity for members like myself who is Gay and members with Lesbian or Gay children to share experiences about growing up Gay in the Jewish Community. The discussion that followed was meaningful and the follow-up questions were thoughtful.
An outgrowth of the Sukkah of Shalom was the formation of the Keshet (Rainbow) Committee. Arnold Drake and I co-chair the committee. The first event the committee organized is participation in the Sonoma County Gay Pride Parade in Guerneville. About 25 Beth Ami Members and Friends joined in the festivities.

At the Sukkah of Shalom, I spoke about the need for Beth Ami to Come Out. Our community is accepting, open and welcoming to members of the Gay community. However, a newcomer, especially someone who is Gay or Lesbian would not know that. There is nothing overt to make a newcomer aware of that.

Coming Out for an individual or for an organization is an evolutionary process. I can speak from first-hand experience. It doesn’t generally happen overnight and is something that occurs deliberately and with much thought.

The next event in Beth Ami’s evolution is that we will be celebrating a Rainbow Shabbat on Saturday, December 3. We remain committed to a conservative service with some modifications. We will supplement the traditional service with readings that are gender neutral and speak more to the Gay and Lesbian Community. We plan to introduce some contemporary songs.

I am pleased to announce that Reb Irwin Keller from Congregation Ner Shalom has agreed to deliver the Devar Torah. Reb Irwin authored Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Ordinance which was passed into law in 1989; he later served as staff attorney and executive director of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014 he retired after 21 years as a comedian-actor-singer-writer with the acclaimed Kinsey Sicks, known as America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet. His interest in making Jewish experience welcoming for everyone (including himself) has at times resulted in his wearing a skirt to shul.

Following services, we will have our usual potluck lunch including some Rainbow Sherbet for dessert. There will be more singing and the opportunity to continue any discussions of interest.

The Rainbow Shabbat is directed towards to the Gay Community, but ultimately the desire is for Beth Ami to be open to everyone who walks through our doors and make them feel welcome. Our diversity makes us a stronger community.
I hope that you will join us for all or part of this Rainbow Shabbat.

-Henry Cohn, Past President of Congregtion Beth Ami

Try a One Month Trial.

Do you know a Jewish family who recently moved into Sonoma County? Perhaps they may be interested in checking out our small yet amazing Hebrew school on Tuesday and Friday afternoons 4–6 p.m.
We are always happy to let them experience it first hand with a one month trial. Contact Judy at Office hours are Tuesday through Friday. Feel free to stop by.

Our New Pre-K Class
on Friday Afternoons at 1 p.m.
Our new class started in September and there are five students enrolled!
Anya Concoff is teaching the class. Students are learning Hebrew words, Jewish holidays, singing songs and most of all having fun! Anyone interested in being a substitute should contact Judy Kupfer
Chanukah Celebration!
The plans are underway for an inclusive party for children, youth and adults! The date and time is TBA!

Congratulations to Miriam and the fabulous USY High School Group who successfully put together Rosh Hashanah Challah Bags for those members who requested a Challah Bag!!

An Appeal for the New Year

If you missed my Kol Nidre High Holiday Appeal, then look no further and read below!
I stand here today because I love Beth Ami. It might seem trite but I truly love all that Beth Ami brings to me and my family’s lives. I stepped up to be President just over 2 years ago not knowing what was in store for me as a new leader. I will admit it isn’t always an easy job, and I often have to make difficult and unpopular decisions, but this is what I agreed to do. Despite all the challenges I have and continue to face as a leader of this community, I am even more committed and dedicated to Beth Ami’s present and future. As I sat on the beach with my family enjoying the warmth of the sun on my birthday this past weekend, I observed the waves and how they remind me of our relationships we all share here at Beth Ami. Sometimes the waves come crashing in hard and fast and sometimes they come in slow and steady creating swirls and flows, but ultimately all melding together as one force and one enormous body of water. I picture all of us as one, flowing together as a united community today and in our future.
We all know that despite our love for and commitment to Beth Ami, it takes appeals and fundraising to keep Beth Ami’s future strong and bright. Without today’s High Holiday Appeal, Beth Ami’s future would be precarious. I wish I could say that our dues and the generous Sustainer donations were enough to cover all of our expenses but it unfortunately, it is not. After years of deferred building maintenance, increased operating expenses and unforeseen emergencies, such as dry rot damage to the support beams in the Social Hall that has been infested with termites and needing to repave the Nursery School playground in order to comply with State licensing. We’re asking for everyone’s financial contribution. I’m here to ask each and everyone of us to open our wallets or in other words fold a tab to support the needs of Beth Ami. No amount is too small, and of course, no amount is too large.
I am appealing to each and every one of you in our community to donate and contribute to Beth Ami’s continued financial stability by giving generously to our 2016 High Holiday Appeal. Your donation helps ensure that Beth Ami remains sustainable and flourishing. Thank you!
Together as a united body, we have an opportunity to provide our community, to provide our children, with a place to call home, a place to worship, a place to learn, a place to build relationships and a place to come together as Jews to share the cycle of life.
I am blessed to have a wonderful family who continuously supports me in my journey as President of Beth Ami and I could not stand here today without their love and support and I am eternally indebted and grateful to my loving husband, Abe and sons, Nick and Ben. Todah rabah for sharing in my journey as President and by osmosis helping me to lead our community. I would also like to take a moment to thank Rabbi Miller for his guidance and wisdom. I would also like to thank all of the members of the Board and the many volunteers who dedicate their time and know how to love and care for Beth Ami.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Likkutei Sichot, vol. 17, p. 187: “When do you know that you have truly returned and changed your past?”
As long as that past keeps pulling you down, it remains what it always was.
When that past drives you higher and yet higher each day, then you know that past has been transformed.
Let’s drive Beth Ami’s future higher and yet higher! Todah rabah!

The Sound of Rain

It was fashionable, some generations ago, to teach children proverbs. Through these easily memorized sayings, something would stick in their minds and give them a jump-start on experience. I still remember a number of these sayings that my mother taught me. A couple were in French! “L’appétit vient en mangent.” (The appetite comes when you eat.) she would say, when I told her that I wasn’t that hungry, or didn’t feel like eating the rhubarb dessert, or “Que la femme veut, Dieu le-veut!” (What woman wants, God wants!) when…well, I must confess, I don’t remember the circumstances. Could it have been when I was stubbornly refusing to straighten up my room? However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize the profound truth of these words.

Another proverb I remember was in Yiddish! “Ven iz der Kabtzen fraylich? Ven er gefint vos er hot ferloren.” (When is the beggar happy? When he finds the thing he lost.)
I’m pretty sure that, as a child, the point of this proverb eluded me. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that it’s talking about how we so totally take for granted a whole bunch of things, and don’t appreciate them until we no longer have them. In this sense we are all the “beggar” of the proverb.

As we enter our rainy season, we can see the significant change that takes place in the countryside all around us. Fields that turned brown over the course of the summer turn various shades of green. (Who ever could have imagined how beautiful green could be?!)
My point, however, is that until the last four years, I’ve never lived in a Mediterranean climate. Growing up in the sub-tropical city of Durban, we had an average rainfall of 80 inches per year. Living over forty years in various cities in the Midwest, precipitation could happen at any time. Four years ago we moved to California and, in the winter of 2013–2014, we experienced a severe decrease in rainfall.

I can honestly tell you that the sound of rain falling at its proper time has never sounded so musical to me in my life. Seeing the normally dry streams and creeks filled with water flowing by makes my heart beat a little faster for joy.
The “beggar” is, indeed, happy!

Wishing you a wet winter, free of floods and filled with the prospect of bountiful harvests.