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 rs@bethamisr.org 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.

Happy New Year to all

As we begin the new year, I want to wish everyone a healthy and sweet one. Rosh HaShana is always a time of reflection and hope. The social action committee continues to have a vision to make a better world where we are kind to each other and help our friends and neighbors in their times of need.
We will continue to prepare soups and kugels for our kehilla
We will continue our monthly volunteering at the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
We will continue to support the food pantry at JFCS.
We will participate in the warm clothing drive this winter with sister synagogue Shomrei Torah.
We will once again make and distribute bags for the homeless and needy people in our community.
We will, along with the keshet committee, do all we can to make Beth Ami a welcoming community for the LBGTQA community.
We will support the Interfaith Council of Sonoma County as well as Of One Soul in their activities to bring greater understanding and friendship to the many people of different faiths in our community.
We also have begun a sub committee called Racial Justice. We are looking for ways to support the minority communities in Sonoma County. We are trying to build bridges and reach out in a constructive and helpful way with activities that build community.
As always, during the holidays, we will have a food drive to fill up the pantry at Jewish Family and Children Services. Thanks to all in advance for everyone’s continued support and generosity.
We will also have community conversations during the High Holidays.
Shana Tova to all, Lyla Nathan

Dancing in February and March

We’re dancing February 22 in the social hall. I’ve had to schedule irregular dance dates in March because of rehearsing and performing the Purim spiel 

We are dancing this Wednesday, Feb. 22,
THEN SKIP TWO WEEKS, next dance March 22

April continues regularly: April 5 and 19.

All these are in the social hall at Beth Ami. I’ll look into transferring classes to the Finley Senior Center since they have actual dance studios…

Holiday Programming for Kids

Beth Ami and You presents My First Jewish Class! Starts Friday September 23 at 1:00 p.m. with Anya.

Holiday Programming for Kids: High Holiday songs, themed stories, games, food, discussion and guided play. Check-in and drop off your children with Miriam and go enjoy services for 2 uninterrupted hours! Children ages 2–3 are welcome with an adult. Kosher snacks will be provided.
Free with RSVP by September 27th  rs@bethamisr.org.

Rosh Hashanah, Monday, October 3rd

Yom Kippur, Wednesday October 12th
Youth Schedule—10 a.m. check-in– 10 a.m.–noon—Programs:
Toddlers—pre-readers (parents join with children ages 2-3)
Elementary kids
Middle school kids through high school
Noon–1 p.m.—Playground open with parents’ supervision

Sukkot Family Celebration/Fundraiser
for Youth Programs
Sunday, October 16th
Come to the service and join us for Pizza in the Hut, a fundraiser for Youth Programs. Serving kosher pizza, green salad and drinks.
6–6:30 p.m. Sukkot Services
6:30–7:30 p.m. Pizza in the Hut fund raiser Youth Programs
7:30–8:30 p.m. Spooky Stories
Tickets for Pizza:
$10 for adults
$8 for youth
Kids 4 and under are free.
All are welcome. Please RSVP by September 27th to office@bethamisr.org

Shanah Tovah

With the school year in full swing and the High Holidays on the horizon, I am feeling reflective on CBA’s accomplishments of the past year. The work of the Board, committees and numerous volunteers, along with Rabbi Miller and ED Leah Frost, have all contributed and continue to contribute to the success, the sense of community and well being of Beth Ami. Here are some of the highlights:
Hiring of Leah Frost as Executive Director.
Updating of the Employee Handbook.
Repair and restoration of the Library – still in progress, but nearing completion.
Installation of the Security Gate and update to make it rain proof — paid for by anonymous donors.
Purim Spiel written by our very own talented Leanne Schy.
Increased enrollment in the Nursery School, the Religious School, and USY.
Nursery and Religious Schools collaboration on many events.
Our USY chapter grew from 1 to 10 and was awarded Chapter of the Year for growth.
Josh Simkovitz is on the Regional USY Board and Daniel Sherman was recognized as USY Board member of the year.
Yom HaAtzmaut celebration that brought in 100 people from the Sonoma County Jewish community and was supported by a $2000 grant from the Jewish Community Federation.
New Member dinner honoring members who have joined within the past year.
Remodeling of the Friedman Center and collaboration between Beth Ami and FC to alleviate parking challenges during major events.
Creation and expansion of the Sustainers’ Circle, thanks to the work of Barbara Tomin and Carolyn Metz.
Revision of the By-Laws by Alan Krubiner, Myrna Morse, and Anne Brown.
I hope that you’ll take a moment to thank a volunteer and think about stepping up to become an active part of our community.
G’mar Hatimah Tovah—May You Be Sealed for a Good Year in the Book of Life.