Rosh Chodesh women go out to lunch

Instead of the previously listed Thursday night meeting, I am glad to organize a conversation on how we all are doing with our changing world. Let’s meet for an lunch at Dierk’s Parkside Cafe (404 Santa Rosa Ave. tel 573-5955) at 12:45 pm on Friday August 5th. They do not take reservations. Please RSVP to me by THURSDAY 8/4 NOON or call 707-479-2980

No more Friedman Center

Dancers, the Friedman Center has let me know that they want to charge us $50 an hour. Our small numbers which have allowed us to be flexible and work around Friedman Center events and setups makes it hard to afford this fee of $100 for each dance session.

We can use the social hall as much as we want.

I have reserved the social hall for August 10 and 24, September 7 and 21, and we can dance and discuss what people want to do.
We can have vegetarian snacks in the social hall.

Some possibilities are:
continuing in the social hall
carpooling to other classes in Marin or Kensington
finding another place with a wood floor that we can afford or that will host us for free.

Obviously, these decisions have to be based on the people who come to the dance, and our numbers will have a major bearing on what solution is open to us.
We can collect ideas and possibilities and discuss them at our sessions…

L’hitraot (see you later)

What’s happening to our world?

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says, “The world rests on three things: on Justice and on Truth and Peace. As it says ‘Judge in your gates with Truth, Justice and Peace.'” (Zecharaiah 8:16)

As summer rolls by it appears that we are living in a world where these foundations are crumbling. In their place we see emotionality, injustice, and violence. It seems as if there is little that we can do as we watch the disrespect for human life continue week by week and day by day.

I believe that somewhere, at the basis of it all, is a sense of fear and hopelessness on the part of a growing number of people. This inevitably leads to anger and desperation. When a person despairs, they are capable of anything, just as a drowning man clutches at a straw! They may believe anything or follow any person – if they think that this will solve their immediate situation.

Trying to take on all the problems in our society may be beyond our own abilities. At the same time, in recognizing the fact that, compared to the vast majority of the world’s population, most of us live lives of privilege, we have a moral responsibility to do what we can to gain understanding and seek ways to begin to seriously address the issues which have led to our current such situation. How do we find ways to stand by our brothers and sisters with black and brown skin who feel that their lives and livelihood are in danger? How can we stand by our law enforcement officials who have chosen a career of service, and a dangerous one at that? How can we bridge the widening gaps between us and start to really support one another?

Can we stop talking over each other’s pain and start listening? Can we stop standing by and start standing up?

How do we begin to address this problem?

I have to thank Jenny Levine-Smith for calling me to a meeting with our executive director, Leah Frost, to share her concerns and to call for action. We contacted Lyla Nathan, chair of our Social Action Committee, who eagerly gave her full support; all with the blessing of our synagogue president Laura Alexander.

Obviously, as a small synagogue community we have to start with baby steps. First we need to gather together to listen to one another; in some cases, hear the pain of those among us and begin to define what are some of the most significant points of disfunction that exist in our Santa Rosa community.

To begin this process for Beth Ami, we are calling on anyone who wishes to consider taking an active role, to a meeting in our Sanctuary, Wednesday evening, July 20th at 7:00 p.m.

RSVP to the synagogue office (707) 360-3000 and let us know if you plan to attend.

I still believe Amor vincit omnia – Love conquers all, and that we can start to rebuild the pillars of Justice, Truth and Peace.


Mordecai Miller,

Summer dancing

I’ll be back leading dancing July 13 and 27. August 10 and 24 will be in the social hall.

Zy Gesundt,

The school year has come to an end

It is hard to believe this school year has come to an end. We had an incredibly full calendar with Rockin’ Shabbats, a fieldtrip to Howarth Park with services and dinner by the lake, Judaic pottery painting (twice!), Tzedakah day, Tikkun Olam day and lots of wonderful holiday celebrations. We enjoyed coming together every Friday for learning through doing, and celebrating Shabbat. Our monthly family potluck dinners gave us an opportunity to continue our Shabbat time together and allowed us to build a beautiful community within a community.

I wish you all a lovely summer full of a good balance of rest and adventure, and longs days filled with joy and well-being!
Fall will bring us new opportunities to make friends, learn about and love Judaism, as well as deepen our engagement with Shabbat. We will enjoy together Junior Congregation (called the Musaf-kateers!) and Tot Shabbat! Our Family Potlucks will grow into a monthly young family dinner club. Our teen class will continue to learn about and discuss Israel and Jewish communities today, both in Israel and the diaspora.

Our first day of school for the 2016–2017 school year is Tuesday September 13th (for 5-7th graders) and Friday September 16th (for PK-7th graders). I look forward to greeting the children again with freckles on their noses and roses in their cheeks after a lot of good outdoor play and free time, ready to learn and support each other in the classroom.

Miriam will enter her second year as Youth Advisor for our USY teens, and she has a lot of great retreats, events and fundraising projects planned. Judy will continue to bring us amazing programs and the rest of our great faculty will be back as well!

On a personal note, I am very grateful to call Beth Ami my home and for the privilege of teaching the children of our community. Thank you all for a great year!

Another busy year

This has been another busy year for the Social Action Committee. We had many successful events and ongoing projects.
We started off the New Year with conversations at both Rosh Ha Shana services and on the break at Yom Kippur services. These always see to be meaningful and a way for members to get to know each other better and reconnect ..
During Succot we had ” The Succah of Shalom” where we celebrated our LGBTQI community and heard the moving stories from various members and people in our community . As a result of the event, we have formed the Keshet Committee, co-chaired by Henry Cohn and Arnold Drake. On Sunday June 5th many members and friends marched in the Gay Pride parade in Guernville.

During the winter we took on the project of preparing bags of food and hygiene items to hand out to the homeless. The congregation really helped by bringing their sample size products like shampoo, toothpaste,socks etc. We also filled womens’ purses with needed items. We received some very positive feedback from members about the response they received from people. This was a very successful mitzvah project and I am sure that we will do it again next year.
We also had our winter clothing drive which is a joint event with Congregation Shomrei Torah. Thanks to everyone who brought lightly used blanket, jackets sweaters. Start saving for next year .

In February, our SAC was recognized and honored for our work at the Jewish Family and Childrens Services Gala, the”Fammy Awards”. We were recognized along with the other food pantries in the Bay Area that provide healthy food to their clients. Susan Miller, Lyla Nathan and Lenore Holloway represented our committee at the grand event. We go monthly and get food at the food bank and stock it at the JFCS pantry.
We continue to collect food for the JFCS pantry. The bins in the foyer are filled throughout the year , not just during the High Holiday Drive. Thanks once more for everyone at Beth Ami who contribute to this worthy endeavor frequently. As we say, hunger is not seasonal.
We also continue to volunteer at the Redwood Empire Food Bank monthly. The first Wed. of every month we go and either work in the kitchen or help bag fruit and veggies. We would love for anyone to join us. It is a great way to help and also become better friends. The next volunteer day Wed. is July 6th. We often have our young members join us in the summer. Looking forward to seeing you again this year.

The Soup Sisters didn’t make too much soup this year but this month we are transforming into “the Kugel Sisters” and will be making kugel for those in Beth Ami Community who need a little TLC.

We are always welcoming to those who want to join our committee. We have a lot of fun and we do a lot of good. Any questions, please contact Lyla Nathan: 526-7438. Hope to hear from you.

The committee members include: Susan Miller, Ellen Mundell, Judi Hyman, Tish Levy, Lenore Holloway, Bobbie Rosenthal, Lyla Nathan, Cheryle Miller, Karen Herskovic, Roz Edelson, Leah Frost and Rabbi Miller.

Rosh Chodesh Tammuz July 5 at 7 pm

Tuesday, July 5 Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 7pm American Jewish Women of Note meeting at Beth Beth Ami
Rosh Chodesh Sivan was a very beautiful walk around the Lake at
Riverfront Regional Park 7821 Eastside Road, Windsor (website has maps and directions)
home slideshow Riverfront regional park
It is a very nice park that not everybody knows about. The distance is the same as walking around Spring Lake, but you should wear walking shoes or sneakers, not sandals, and if you use hiking poles you can bring them for one short stretch crossing a rocky area. Though you’ve missed our Rosh Chodesh meeting there, you might want to check it out this summer. 

“Rockin’ Yom Haatzamut” report

The May 13 “Rockin’ Yom Haatzamut” was a stunning achievement for Congregation Beth Ami with well over 100 congregants and friends gathering to celebrate the anniversary of Israel’s independence.  The celebration was made possible through support from the Jewish Federation, the volunteer efforts of perhaps two dozen congregants, and cooperative planning by the Israel Committee, the Religious School, the Religious Practices Committee, and the office of the Executive Director.  The event was co-sponsored by Stand With Us.

The event started at 4:00 on the lawn with free Israeli wine (plus cheese) for the adults and arts and games for kids.  At 5:00 professional musicians Melita Silberstein and Isaac Zones put on a special concert for kids.  From 5:30-6:30 we all enjoyed special Israel-inspired cuisine at a subsidized price that all families could afford. Our musicians then played a special Yom Haatzmaut performance from 6:30-7:30 that morphed seamlessly into their leading a truly special Rockin’ Shabbat.

Special thanks are due to Eric Singer, who served as master chef.

Celebrate with Pride

Last Sukkot, the Congregation celebrated an evening devoted to making Beth Ami more welcoming to the LGBT Community, called “Sukkah of Shalom.” I was one of several individuals who spoke about various aspects of growing up being gay or lesbian and what makes a community welcoming. The most memorable comments came from Arnold Drake, our Past President, who spoke about his son coming out gay. Arnold said that at the time that his son came out gay: “. . . . His son was considered sick by the medical profession, a criminal according to the law, and sinner according to most religious institutions.” Much has changed in the our great country and the world since that time and most educated people know that those old pre-conceptions that Arnold mentioned are untrue, hurtful and isolate wonderful people.

Arnold stated that his son is a patient man and over the years Arnold and his late wife learned much from their son. The Conservative movement within Judaism likewise, over the years, has learned much and today and is fully accepting of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender individuals. Beth Ami, for the more than 20 years that I have been a member has always been accepting of the LGBT community and I have always felt comfortable as a proud gay man here at Beth Ami. Yet, there is more that we can do to make Beth Ami more welcoming to the LGBT individuals and for that fact, welcoming to everyone.

Since the “Sukkah of Shalom,” we have formed a Keshet (meaning Rainbow) Committee co-chaired by Arnold and me. We are planning various events and the first one is to participate in the Sonoma County Pride Parade in Guerneville on Sunday, June 5th. We welcome everyone to join us on this day of Pride and Celebration for the LGBT Community. The parade is an easy walk and commences at a relaxing pace. We plan to arrange carpools since parking is a challenge in Guerneville on a busy day. I hope that many members will join the Keshet Committee for the parade to physically demonstrate that Beth Ami is egalitarian and celebrates diversity.

If you are interested in celebrating with the LGBT Community, please contact me at or at 415.497.2723.

—Henry Cohn

Shabbat Salads

What can I bring to the Shabbat morning potluck even if I don’t keep Kosher?
Those who come to the Shabbat lunches after morning services know what a special time this is. We have a chance to relax and chat with visitors, old and new friends, or anyone else we want to get to know better. The most important thing you can bring is yourself; by just being there you contribute to the building of our community.

Because we want to honor those who keep Kosher, our kitchen is Kosher for dairy. All of the equipment and serving utensils are kosher. Some of you, like me, do not keep Kosher but want to bring food for the potlucks, so what can we bring? To answer this we have created some guidelines (
Of course, the simplest it just to bring something labeled as Kosher, but I like to make salads. Here are some things I have found to make this easy.

Salads made of just fresh fruit and/or vegetables are always welcome. Even though I do not keep strict Kosher, because I want to honor the guidelines as best I can, I bought at the dollar store a cutting board and knife that I use only for preparing Shabbat salads. I also use my glass bowls and a special spoon that are never used for anything with meat.

In the booklet prepared by Mieneke Drake ( and on the Internet you can find a number of recipes for fruits and vegetables with dressings of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and/or fresh herbs. You can also use your own imagination.

Because we need to keep the kitchen Kosher, we cannot wash in the kitchen serving bowls, trays, or other items brought from homes. We do our best to wipe these off and put them aside for you to take home and wash.
You can bring whole fruits and vegetables. Each week there are a few people who volunteer to be in the kitchen on Saturday morning to get the food ready for the lunch. They will add what you bring to the lunch and also welcome your help in getting it ready to serve.

If you wish to bring food from an outside source it needs to be in it’s unopened (sealed) original container. The best is to bring something marked Kosher. Rabbi also accepts baked dessert goods made by COSTCO and Safeway in their original sealed containers. Items that can be kept for a few or more weeks may not be served that day but will be kept for future lunches. Please note, because there is no way of knowing what is in “natural” ingredients or flavors, we cannot accept items with these unless they are certified as Kosher.

We have been blessed with the willingness of Ahuva Simon-Sa’ar and, more recently, Nancy Tisman to volunteer to come into the synagogue each week to cook and prepare soups and other special treats for the lunches. Donations you make to the synagogue, especially those you designate for the Shabbat lunches, provide the funds for the ingredients.