Kurdish Israeli folk dance

For our October 16 class we will learn Debka Kurdit. Kurdish Jewish Israelis have a special festival called Saharane held during Sukkot in Jerusalem. 13,000 people have attended in past years; the Kurdish community in Israel numbers approximately 200,000. Most came to Israel in the general expulsion of Jews from Islamic and Arab countries after 1948.

Here is a nice video of Kurdish jewish Israelis doing a traditional dance:

And here is the dance choreographed by famed choreographer Moshiko:

Coming dance dates are October 16 and 30, November 20, December 4 and 18

Cheshvan and beyond

We’ll celebrate Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5780 with a lunch and a movie! Slice of Life (6970 McKinley Street, Sebastopol) is a vegetarian restaurant near the Rialto Theater where “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” is playing at 1pm on Tuesday, October 29. Go to the JCC website to buy tickets, then join us at Slice of Life at 11:30am to start the festivities. Need a ride or want to carpool? Contact Patty Bernstein at basberyl@sonic.net.

Mark your calendars for November 11 at 11am to plan the November 29th Friday night service which the Moon Mavens will help lead.

Our Rosh Chodesh Tebet celebration will be on December 26 during Chanukah at 7pm at Judy Gunnar’s home … bring Chanukiah and candles and a parve/dairy snack to share. We’ll send you Judy address when you RSVP.

The theme of our Rosh Chodesh Shevat gathering on Monday, January 27th at 7pm will be “Recycling: What the Heck Do I Do With All This Stuff?” Can you recycle your receipts from CVS? How about receipts from Safeway? What do you do with the bubble wrap from Amazon Prime? Come find out tonight!

Questions … call 546-6043 or email Patty Bernstein at basberyl@sonic.net

Rosh Hashanah 5780

Dear Friends, At this time when our Divine Creator examines the world and the deeds of humanity, we gather to examine our lives and our unique personal histories. All of this in the hope that we can gain wisdom from the past and look forward and work towards a brighter future.

Our prayers in our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Machzor (Prayer book) reflect this joyous-somber time. They provide us a way to focus our own thoughts in seeking T’shuvah (repentance) and reconciliation.

Our Beth Ami President Carolyn Metz, Administrator Judy Gunnar, Office Manager Elizabeth Jarlsberg and I, along with our Board and Lay Leadership wish you much health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. May we all continue to merit and perceive the blessings that we sometimes overlook and come closer to a time when compassion and kindness will motivate the hearts of people throughout the word.

With warmest wishes,
Mordecai Miller
Rabbi, Congregation Beth Ami,
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

A New Year begins

The Nursery School has just wrapped up Summer Camp and will begin readying the rooms for the Fall School Year which begins Monday, August 19th.  This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the the Nursery School and we are excited to ring in this special year with some more good news, as our school has expanded! We have opened a second 2’s classroom and will welcome students into the new space Sunday, August 18th when the children and families come for a community picnic and a special mezuzah hanging for the new room.

There are a few spaces left for the coming school year, call the Nursery School office at 707-360-3030 for more information on current class availability and set up a tour!

A Time of Reflection

I’m looking forward to our time together during the upcoming Holy Days: A time of reflection, wonder, prayer, support, making things right where one can do so; I’m looking forward to greeting you and sharing our grief and joy, our hopes and yes, our fears, and our prayers for renewal.

When you come to the CBA campus now, notice the new fence that has been installed around the Nursery School play yard and along the west entrance. Thank the California Office of Emergency Services (Homeland Security money) and Henry Cohn for writing the grant which paid for the fence. You’ll be hearing about additional security endeavors in the coming months—stay tuned. Russ Gurevitch is Chair of Security at CBA.

The Nursery begins its classes for the year today, August 19, as I write this. The new classroom is beautiful! Poke your head into rooms 12/13 and see how they have transformed the environment to accommodate eight 2-year-olds every day. Very sweet. The cost of making the transformation came from an allocation of the Sustainers’ Circle (Beth Ami members.)

What’s next? Many of you have asked about results of the Strategic Planning Focus Groups, which have been on-going since March of this year. I expect to have analysis and options for your consideration this Fall. It’s been an interesting journey of discovery, and we’re not quite finished yet. Stay tuned.

Be well my friends. Hold those you love near in body, heart, mind and soul.

Jewish National Fund at Beth Ami November 1

The Israel Committee is co-sponsor for the November 1 dinner. We are so pleased that the Adult Education Committee has invited Don Schlesinger, Executive Director of the Jewish National Fund to share with us how JNF works for us.

One activity JNF does is plant trees and Don’s talk will be the kickoff for the planting of a Beth Ami grove of trees in Israel.

JNF also builds communities, especially in the north and south. They work with water management, and they support those with special needs.  They do all this for both Arabs and Jews. 

JNF also is strong in building Jewish identity.  In particular, they provide a life-changing experience for high school students to study in Israel for 6 or 8 weeks. 

Social Action in the New Year

The social action committee wishes everyone a sweet and happy New Year.  As we prepare for the holy days we want to thank everyone in the kehilla who helps support our  mission of Tikun Olam.(fixing the world) Your continued support of the Redwood Empire Food Bank and supplying toiletries and winter clothes for the needy is much appreciated.  The bins in the foyer of the shul are always full. Thanks so much
As you all know the need for healthy food is a year round concern.  As the holy days approach,please consider  collecting food now. Then when the food drive is held at Rosh Ha Shana and Yom Kippur you can easily fill a bag and bring it to services.  Extra grocery bags are always available at the services.

The committee will continue to have a monthly event to serve the community alternating between volunteering  at the food bank and serving a hot meal at The Palms.  The volunteer opportunities for the next few months are:
Wednesday, September 18 , at The Palms.  4:15-6:15 Wednesday, October 16, 500-7:00 at The Redwood Empire Food Bank with dinner to follow. Wednesday,  November 20, at The Palms.  4:15-6:15 Wednesday,  December 18, at The Redwood Empire Food Bank 4:15-6:15 dinner to follow Consider joining us or helping in any way.  We always need food for the Palms,
We have also committed to bringing two speakers to the monthly Friday Night Shabbat Dinners. We are hoping to bring speakers who will speak on the social issues of today. The speakers will be informational. Details to follow.

 For many of us, these are very difficult times that we face in our country.  We hope that kindness and forgiveness will be in  our thoughts as we enter the holy days.   Let us remember that  once our people were strangers in a strange land and that we are all made in God’s image.  A peaceful year to all,   Lyla Nathan

Rosh Chodesh Moon Mavens

We’ll celebrate Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5780 with a lunch and a movie! Slice of Life (6970 McKinley Street, Sebastopol) is a vegetarian restaurant near the Rialto Theater where “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas” is playing at 1pm on Tuesday, October 29. Go to the JCC website to buy tickets, then join us at Slice of Life at 11:30am to start the festivities. Need a ride or want to carpool? Contact Patty Bernstein at basberyl@sonic.net.
Female-centered Rosh Chodesh observances vary from group to group, but many, like ours at Beth Ami, are centered on gatherings of women like our own Moon Mavens Rosh Chodesh group. All Jewish women are welcome regardless of affiliation (or lack thereof). We meet as close to the actual day of Rosh Chodesh as possible each new Jewish month, sometimes having a Sunday brunch, a potluck, a picnic and walk around a park, enjoying a speaker, cooking, or engaging in activities that relate to the facts, characters, and holidays associated with the new month. Some background: The Holy One gave Jewish women their reward for not contributing to the Golden Calf. In this world, they are rewarded with a more stringent observation of the new moons than men. They are forbidden to engage in work (spinning, weaving, and sewing: the skills that women contributed to the building of the Mishkan) on Rosh Chodesh. Instead, they celebrate a minor holiday like the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot. In the world to come, they are destined to be renewed like the new moons. The first of each Jewish month, the celebration of tthe new moon, its slender crescent barely visible in the night sky, is a day historically associated with women’s renewal and celebration. In recent decades, Rosh Chodesh has become an occasion for Jewish women to gather for learning, ritual, and spiritual exploration, and to mark life passages. Rosh Chodesh groups, meeting monthly, offer a women’s space in time. The Passover Seder addition of Miriam’sCup (for the prophet Miriam) originated in the 1980s in a Boston Rosh Chodesh group. Our own Rosh Chodesh group pulled off a spectacular Chai Tea in 2008, honoring 28 women over 88­ — our Matriarchs at Congregation Beth Ami! Patty Bernstein, basberyl@sonic.net

The Value of a Human Life

If we take a few minutes to meditate on all the things it takes to describe a human being, we would realize, very quickly, how overwhelming such a task would be. First consider the complexity of all our physical attributes: veins, bones, sinews, skin, vital organs, and our circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Next think about the brain, our rational-emotional intelligence, and the very state of being conscious. Trying to come to grips with it all is practically super-human.

No wonder, in describing the Creation of the World, the Book of Genesis describes the Divine creation of the human being as “in the image of God He created them…” (b’tzelem Elokim)

Apart from finding a metaphor to describe the amazing potential within every human life, the Bible is also suggesting that we treat human life as sacred. Essentially, destroying a single life is, in fact, desecrating the Divine Image.

The Rabbis also point out that God created a Adam and Eve to originate the human race in order to teach us, “One who destroys a single life destroys an entire world; and one who saves a single life has saved an entire world!” We could also add that, ultimately, we are all a great human family – no matter our culture, the color of our skin, and social origins.

With all this in mind, we are stricken by the current spate of mass shootings which have become all too common. At this point in time, there are individuals who have had to survive more than one of these incidents. Who can begin to imagine the sheer horror of having oneself or ones family face such unspeakable danger?

As you may be aware, the Fast of Av occurs this coming Saturday night and extends through Sunday. While the immediate reason for this observance may link to the Destruction of the Two Temples (the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in the year 70), they allow us to give expression to acknowledge the hatred and violence perpetrated against many vulnerable individuals today. In mourning the destruction of these “Houses of the Divine,” we can link in solidarity to all those who have suffered persecution in the past and today.

We are all familiar with the tremendous challenges faced by today’s immigrant community: the unspeakable methods used to incarcerate human beings under subhuman conditions and to separate young children from their families, many without hope of being reunited! As part of this Saturday evening’s commemoration, we are fortunate to have Beth Aldridge, who is connected to the North Bay Organizing Project, join us. Beth will share her experiences in helping host a refugee family from Nicaragua. She will be able to detail for us the kind of experiences this and other families have had to endure in seeking asylum in the United States. She will be able to answer questions and make suggestions as to how we might respond in various ways to help relieve such human suffering.

I hope you will join us this coming Saturday evening, August 10th in our sanctuary to learn first-hand about this current situation. Following Beth’s presentation we will have the opportunity to join in the traditional observance of Tish’a b’Av, our Jewish National Day of Mourning. We will chant and read from the Book of Lamentations and recite a few of the special laments (Kinot) that were composed by poets (paytanim) to commemorate the destruction of “God’s House” and other moments of persecution in Jewish History.

While there’s no doubt that this is a sad time, our observance underscores the belief we have, in the infinite worth of every individual and our commitment never to forget this basic principle.

Yours in consolation and blessing,


How You Can Help Bay Area Immigration Organizations

  1. Join NBOP Rapid Response Network

***Accompaniment Team
***Know Your Rights Team
***Legal Observer Team
***Host Family and Team (new team being formed now)
***Donate $ (memo line for specific team)
***Donate items to a garage sale 707-225-1302

  1. Legal Defense
    Donate time or $
  2. Bay Area Border Relief
    Trip to Texas Oct 19-25
    Knitting Project
    Pizza Delivery
  3. Catholic Charities
    Citizenship and ESL Classes