Values

In the secular world when one is asked about values one might think of American, family or religious values. As President, I am guided by our Beth Ami values to help make decisions and help guide our Board. I often hear the words “Jewish values” tossed around but what do they really mean? I turned to our by-laws, which are based on the Torah for perspective. Our by-laws list our values as:
Teshuvah (return): We value the opportunity, through careful attention to our lives, to make every moment meaningful and to increasingly avoid harmful acts.

Tzedakah (generosity): We value the opportunity to use our wealth and resources to benefit other people.
Gemilut Chesed (acts of loving kindness): We value the opportunity to perform acts of loving kindness through speech and deed.
Talmud Torah (prayer and learning): We value the insight and inspiration we get through the study of our sacred texts and our people’s culture.
Mishpacha (family and community): We value the strength that our congregants derive from forming relationships with each other and sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows.

Hagim & Simchot (celebration): We value the opportunities to mark together the passage of time, the changes of seasons, the continuing story of our people and the cycles of our own lives.

Tikkun Olam (repairing the world): We rejoice in the role we play in helping to make the world an ever better place.
K’vod Habriyot (care for the earth): We value our responsibility as God’s stewards to protect and preserve all life on Earth.
Eretz & Am Yisrael (the people and land of Israel): We value our participation in the unfolding history of our people, rich in culture, diverse in practice and bound through time by the Hebrew language. We are inspired by the challenge of creating a Jewish state that strives to express the truest values of our people and provides refuge for all Jews.

Kehillah Kadosha (holy community): We are humbled and heartened that through the concrete expression of all our values we can indeed create a community in which holiness can be expressed and brought into the world.
Beth Ami’s stated values touch on the overarching Jewish values that guide us as a community and in particular as a Board to perform mitzvot. In a world where we’re surrounded by “the important thing is to feel good about what you’re doing.” Judaism says, “the important thing is to do good, regardless of what you feel.” Judaism expects us to perform mitzvot even we’re not feeling it, even if our heart isn’t into it. Our values guide us and are expressed through our purpose to foster the growth and fuller expression of Jewish life. By joining as a community to provide a spiritual, nurturing, stimulating and social place of worship, we all benefit from a richer, fuller, religious life and our Jewish values grow. Judaism focuses on relationships and the Torah is the instruction manual of how to have good relationships with others and to be moral and kind people and create a more harmonious society.

As my term as President winds down, I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate I feel to serve our community in this capacity. I am also grateful to our hard working, dedicated and generous Board members who have gone above and beyond to care for our “house of my people.” I have learned so much about myself and our community. The relationships and bonds that I have formed over the years are irreplaceable and have brought a deeper meaning and understanding of Jewish values and purpose on a personal level. Despite the many challenges of the last three years, I am grateful to all of you for trusting me to be your fearless leader and for giving me the opportunity to learn about myself, to grow as a leader and most importantly to give back to our community. For all the challenges and missteps, I have gained so much more and have a better understanding of the true meaning of performing mitzvot. In other words, actions are far more important and speak louder than words.

Synagogue as Sanctuary

While there may be great disagreement regarding the direction in which our country is heading, I suspect that we would all agree that we live in “interesting times”. By and large, higher numbers of individuals are sensing anxiety; some are palpably fearful. “Fear” is a powerful motivator. However it often blocks out “mindful” behavior. It’s easy to forget our ability to express our disagreements with civility and allow ourselves to slip into emotionally couched comments which leave our “opponent” feeling insulted. On an extreme level, this can lead to public expressions of Xenophobia and specifically, anti-Semitism.

There’s good reason to feel strongly about our current political climate and to have a need to share our thoughts and feelings. While our synagogue is subject to sanctions if we officially engage in party politics, the fact that we function as a sanctuary means that we owe it to our members and even those beyond our walls to serve in this capacity. We also have a responsibility to express our religious beliefs and values that are the bedrock of civilization.

Like so many others – including members of our Social Action Committtee – I’ve been motivated to become much more active in serving those in our general community who may be under potential censure and verbal or physical attack. Some months ago I agreed to serve on the “Of One Soul” Committee (referred to as “O1S”). This is a sub-committee of the Sonoma County Interfaith Council which draws together both clergy and lay members from a large spectrum of different religious denominations. “Of One Soul” was formed to combat discrimination against members of our Moslem Community. It aims primarily to educate the general community about Moslems; their beliefs and practices and the degree to which Moslems, like many other minority groups that comprise our country’s population are “humans” like us and that the vast majority – like any other immigrant population – simply want to serve as loyal and productive citizens of our country.

We have formed a sub-committee from this group under the (current) name “Safety Pin Subcommittee” of which I currently serve as chair. Given the heightened sense of division and emotionality in the United States, our essential mission is to develop non-violent ways to prevent bullying in a variety of social settings, regardless of the particular ideology, dress, race or religion of the one under attack. In other words it would include coming to the aid of someone who is being bullied for their support of our current administration. While there is still much work to be done, our committee has provided three workshops to provide training in non-violent intervention. Our hope is to schedule future trainings as long as the need persists.

On a personal note. I want you to know that if you would like to discuss the religious or spiritual dimensions of our current situation to give me a call (707) 889-6905 to set up a time to share and examine the broader issues. In some ways I believe that as human beings, God has tested us from the very creation of humans to see if, despite our differences, we can learn to bear compassionate hearts for one another: to see ourselves as members of a great family.

Shalom,

Rabbi Mordecai Miller

Rosh Chodesh Adar

Rosh Chodesh Adar: Sunday, February 26 ~ Pizza and a Movie. Our original plan was to have lunch at Mary’s Pizza and see a movie at Summerfield Theaters. In an effort to find a good time, I’m presenting movie times for Sunday …

La La Land 10:30-12:30; 1:30-3:38
Lion 10:45 – 12:45
Hidden Figures 11:00-1:07
I Am Not Your Negro 10:15 – 11:50

Do you think that 1-ish might be a good time to meet for lunch? Any other ideas?

Hope to see you to welcome the new month of Adar … and all that goes with it!
PattyB

Shalom from Social Action

The Social Action Committee recently met and prepared bags for the homeless and those in need. We have been doing this project for over a year and have found it to be a very worthwhile and satisfying experience. People on the receiving end have been very thankful and most responses have been positive. I want to thank the congregation for participating by bringing hygiene items and by taking some bags and distributing them. I also want to thank the members of SAC for donating so many wonderful items. The members are: Susan Miller, Cheryl Miller, Lenore Holloway, Judi Hyman, Tish Levy, Bobbie Rosenthal, Ellen Mundell, Karen Herskovic, and Lyla Nathan.social action making bags

The bags have a new and very necessary item this time, they are very sturdy ponchos, so important this year. These ponchos were personally given to us by Billy Friedman. A warm thank you to you and your family for your continued generosity
helping those less fortunate in our community.

As always we continue to provide food for the pantry at JFCS. Thanks to the whole congregation for keeping the bin in the foyer full of healthy food products. They always need low sodium and non gluten foods. Peanut butter, tuna , non refrigerated milk are always needed. Please keep up the great work you do.

We will have our next volunteering at the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Wednesday, March 1, at 10:00-12:00, Hope you can make it.
Once again, thanks to everyone for making Beth Ami a giving and caring community.
Lyla Nathan

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

Rosh Chodesh Shevat falls on Saturday, January 28! We’ll celebrate with havdallah (we’ll supply) and desserts (you bring, please) as well as our regular rituals for welcoming the new moon. It will all begin at 6:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Ami.

All Jewish women are welcome … no matter whether you’re affiliated with a congregation or not! We’d love to have you join us. No RSVP needed … but if you need a ride, let me know and we’ll try to put you in touch with someone nearby.

Save the Dates: 
Rosh Chodesh Adar: Sunday, February 26 @ 11:30am
Pizza and a Movie … we’ll lunch at Mary’s Pizza Shack and select a movie to watch at Summerfield Cinemas
flexible timing depending on the movies showing, etc.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan: Monday, March 27 at 7pm @ Congregation Beth Ami
Passover foods and recipes
Discussion of narrow places and what to leave behind
Favorite Passover readings
Meaning of the Omer
Looking forward to sharing the joy of Rosh Chodesh with you all in 2017.
Patty Bernstein

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 RS@bethamisr.org 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 IsrActionDay@standwithus.com

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