The Weekly Newsletter

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A Bar Mitzvah,  High Holy Days Tickets, and learn more about Alana Joblin Ain – in this week's HaLuach.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our August 16-22 HaLuach, please click here.

Henry Hollander is becoming a Rabbi - officially!

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Our beloved Henry Hollander, for whom we depend on for so much here at CBS, will be spending a little less time in San Francisco as he enters Rabbinical School at American Jewish University in Los Angeles! Read a few words from Henry as he prepares to make this transition.

Dear CBS family,

Many of you may think that I spend all my time at Beth Sholom, but starting this coming week I will be a little bit scarcer. I will be studying to be a Rabbi. I am starting a five year program of study at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles. AJU is the West Coast educational center for the Conservative Movement. Orientation starts this Sunday, so I will wait until after Shabbat and then get in the car and drive south. (This Shabbat is Lev Cohen’s Bar Mitzvah and I’ll be here for that. You should be too.)

I have been selling books as a profession since 1986, my whole adult life. Over the past ten years I have felt like the jump the shark moment had already passed. I have been trying to figure out a second act for quite a while. I considered a library degree or some other graduate degree leading into a teaching career, but these paths didn’t prove to be sufficiently enticing. In the last year of the tenure of Rabbi Hyman I accepted many rabbinic responsibilities. This January and February when I was falling into the same pattern it finally dawned on me that if I was going to act like a rabbi it might be better to have the education that goes with being one. I applied to AJU in February and I was accepted very shortly after my interview in early May.

My life at Beth Sholom has been a singular influence in my life. I joined in the early days of Rabbi Lew’s tenure and I benefited from being part of a cadre of very serious younger people who were at CBS at the time. Back in the 90s there was also a large group of older congregants from whom I learned a tremendous amount about how to live a meaningful life. The list of those people is very long. I still visit with many of them regularly, but sadly, our meetings take place in Colma. As their absence became more pronounced, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to pay it forward.

While I will be in Los Angeles between Monday and Thursday, I will be in San Francisco from Friday through Sunday each week. I will continue to administer the Bnai Mitzvah program. I will be teaching a shiur every Shabbat at 5 p.m. starting in September. My Talmud shiur will be on hiatus until I can find a new time for it. However, I hope to bring that back. I will be around on Shabbat. Hopefully you won’t even have a chance to miss me.

As I make this transition in my life I just want to take this opportunity to thank the community for all of the support that I have received and for helping to build and maintain this place that continues to be a second home to me.

 – Henry

Lev Cohen's Bar Mitzvah

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Shalom to the CBS community.

My name is Lev Cohen and I will be Bar Mitzvah'd this Saturday, August 18. I look forward to continuing the tradition of both my parents by singing in Moroccan trope, as my mom did here in this synagogue 31 years ago. While being a third generation Beth Sholom member, with a huge extended family here in SF, I am also lucky to have my family here from all over the world to celebrate with me. 

I am an entering 8th grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. I love tennis, travelling, learning languages, good food, and exploring San Francisco with my friends. 

My Parahsa is Shoftim. This portion is about the people who make rulings (Shoftim, or Judges) and the people who enforce the law, (Shotrim, or Police). The parasha focuses on the importance of impartiality for judges. In my Drash I will draw comparisons to the American justice system, explain the roles of judges and enforcers, and I will hopefully stimulate internal questions about conscience and using good judgement. 

I want to thank my parents, Cantor Alfassi, Rabbi Dan, and Scott Horowitz for teaching me. I really want to thank my classmates - we have had an incredible year of 50+ Bnei Mitzvot. You have all given me the confidence and inspiration to get through this weekend and become a Bar Mitzvah. 

Q&A with Alana Joblin Ain

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Links to Alana’s writing:
Ask the Rebbetzin
Modern Loss 

Alana Joblin Ain, wife of Rabbi Dan Ain, is a mother, writer, teacher and co-founder of Because Jewish. Take a moment to meet Beth Sholom’s new Rebbetzin.

What is the correct pronunciation of your name?

Alana rhymes with banana.

You are an accomplished writer. Tell us a little bit about your background and the subjects you like to explore in your writing.

I've been writing for as long as I can remember; I was a shy kid, but I kept diaries, journals -- When we packed for this move I realize how far back they dated -- decades.

I became interested in poetry at a young age. For my Bat Mitzvah speech I wrote a rhyming poem, and my brother helped me fashion the line-breaks so the poem was in the shape of a kiddish cup -- I should have realized then that I was destined for the role of Rebbetzin!

I studied English and Religion at Oberlin College as an undergraduate, and later earned my MFA in poetry at Hunter College in Manhattan where I taught undergrad creative writing for six years.

I write about family, faith, experiences that I'm trying to make sense of in the world - things that I struggle with, things that leave me awed.

When Dan and I were first set up on a blind date it struck me how we were exploring the same topics --  through poems and rabbinic texts.

Also, my favorite bookstore in the country is City Lights, right here in San Francisco!

You co-founded Because Jewish with Rabbi Ain. What was you role at Because Jewish?

Anything involving language -- so pretty much everything!  I worked on all of our communications and I kept a column on our site Ask the Rebbeztin -- which was born out of a role that came naturally to me. For years, friends had been approaching me for advice; I'd be the one to  pen their resignation letters or break up-scripts, and this grew organically once I married Dan -- people from our community would approach me with all sorts of questions.

I found that as a busy person, in a non-stop city with small kids and running a business, even if I didn't have time for a daily writing practice, I could always find time to answer a letter because it felt like a conversation; if I knew an actual person was at the other end, that felt important to me and I found a way to do it.

In your writing, you have embraced the title of Rebbetzin. What does the word “rebbetzin” mean to you?

I didn't grow up with this term in my Reform Jewish upbringing, but when I discovered there was a title for my role as Dan's wife - in the work that he does, and that we do as a team, I was excited to embrace it.

I recall a conversation with a prominent artist’s wife, when she told me that she wished there had been a special word for her role -- for the partnership she held with her husband in over 50 years of marriage where she supported his creative practice and raised a family and traveled with him throughout the world to show his art. That conversation helped inform my excitement around the term Rebbetzin.

I know that some people view it as old-worldly, but as someone who loves language, I find a great power in claiming this word and imbuing it with the meaning that reflects a role that Dan and I both consider vital. And I can tell that CBS is a community that values a Rebbetzin - so that’s exciting too!

Welcome Reva Eliora Katz!

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Siman Tav! Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov to Amanda Russell and David Katz on the birth of their daughter!

Reva Eliora Katz was born on July 22, 2018 (10 Av 5778) at 8:31 a.m. She weighed 8lbs. and was 21.5 inches long. Reva arrived wide eyed, healthy and ready to take on the world. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are loving every minute with her!

The congregation welcomes Reva with love.

CBS HaLuach, August 1-8

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Send us your HaRuach Tributes and go to the Giant's game!

Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our August 1-8 HaLuach, please click here.

Welcome Andrew Alan Susal!

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Siman Tav! Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov to congregants Clara Abecassis and Joel Susal on the birth of their son,
Andrew Alan Susal, on Friday, July 13 (1 Av). He weighed in at 7 lbs, 15.5 ounces. 

Andrew is welcomed by big sister, Sofia, and big brother, Isaac. Mom, baby, and the family are doing great — the dog is a little jealous of the new competition. 

The congregation welcomes Andrew with love.

CBS HaLuach, July 26 - August 1

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Jewish Heritage Night at AT&T Park and new Fall classes!

Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our July 26 - August 1 HaLuach, please click here.

CBS HaLuach, July 12 - 18

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Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our July 12 - 18 HaLuach, please click here.

CBS HaLuach, July 5 - 11

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Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our July 5 - 11 HaLuach, please click here.

Welcome Ain Family!

 Rabbi Dan Ain and Alana Joblin Ain hanging a mezuzah on the doorpost of their new home in San Francisco

Rabbi Dan Ain and Alana Joblin Ain hanging a mezuzah on the doorpost of their new home in San Francisco

This week, CBS welcomes our new Rabbi and his family to San Francisco! Rabbi Dan Ain, his wife Alana, and children Autumn and Samson moved in last week!

Thanks to all of our congregants who pitched in to help the Ains during the move and transition. It's wonderful to know they are already making connections and becoming part of the CBS community as they settle in.

Rabbi Ain is looking forward to meeting all of you. Take a moment to welcome him on an upcoming Shabbat. Also, take part in the weekly morning study sessions he will lead on Mondays at 8 a.m., after morning minyan. These promise to be lively discussions, and of course, there's coffee!

Email Rabbi Ain, or schedule an appointment through executive assistant, Jennifer Gale.

CBS HaLuach, June 28 - July 4

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Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our June 28 – July 4 HaLuach, please click here.

Balak -- Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

Eleanor Roosevelt (b.1884) was one of the most outspoken women on human rights and women's issues in the White House during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, her husband.

This week, in Parashat Balak from the prophet Balaam, who was commissioned to curse the people of Israel by Balak, the king of Moab and the Israelites' arch enemy. On the way to curse the Israelite encampments, Balaam is berated by his donkey, which sees an angel sent to obstruct their passage. After Balaam's eyes are opened to the angelic emissary, his attempts at cursing the Israelites are subverted into blessings:

"How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel!" (Numbers 24:5).

In marked contrast to Amalek’s violent work of chaos that "happens to attack randomly on the way" (Deuteronomy 25:18), the Jewish response of "blotting out Amalek" is actually about embracing life – it is a call to live purposefully with ethical objectives and just values in an unjust world. Thus, the commandment in Parashat Balak to conquer the seven nations, for example, is actually a commandment to spiritually control and reorient our emotions – including anger, hatred, and revenge. It is a commandment to transform these emotions with divine focus.

When we serve the divine as Jacob, we shield the Divine within our lives from the intrusion of evil or negative thoughts and from an animalistic consciousness. When we serve God as Israel, we make our lives into a "sanctuary" for God, enhancing our divine consciousness by identifying with ethical values and dreams for this world.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration depicts Balaam's faithful and unfairly castigated donkey at the moment she sees the angel. "The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord stationed on the road with his sword drawn in his hand; so the she-donkey turned aside from the road and went into a field." (Numbers 22:23) Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

CBS HaLuach, June 21 - 27

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Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our June 21-27 HaLuach, please click here.

Esther Lopez's Bat Mitzvah

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Shalom!  My name is Esther Lopez and I am a rising 8th grader at The Brandeis School.  My favorite things to do are sing, dance, spend time with my friends, and binge watch Netflix shows.

I am so excited to share my special day with you!  Becoming a bat mitzvah raised a lot of confusing questions for me. For example, is it more important to feel holy or to do holy things? I discuss this topic and more in my dvar torah.

My parsha is Chukat which has a lot of important events.  For example, Aaron and Miriam both die. When Miriam dies, the wandering Israelites complain about the lack of water. Moses asks G-d what to do. He tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and there will be water. Moses gets impatient and strikes the rock twice, leading to his inability to enter the Promised Land in the future.

Thank you to Noa Bar for leading me up to this day, and to Rabbi Glazer for helping me to think about what all of this means for me. The biggest thanks goes to my friends and family for giving me the courage to become a bat mitzvah.

Chukat -- Numbers 19:1 – 22:1

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"The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world."

I am often struck by the prescience of 19th-century German sociologist Max Weber, author of the influential The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-05). Notwithstanding the "disenchantment" that ensues in modernity with the need to know the "why" of everything, Judaism posits that the search for the underlying reasoning behind halacha (Jewish religious law) is possible – with limitations.

This week, we are concerned with how to contextualize statutes, specifically laws like those related to the red heifer – namely, those ordained without rationale. Over the course of centuries, this inquiry has lead to a distinct genre of Jewish literature called Ta’amei ha’Mitzvot, or Rationalization of the Commandments. If every commandment can be explained rationally, the modern mind will be satisfied. But what price will religion pay if all of its enchantment and mystery can be explained away through reason?

This is the tension that emerges in this week’s reading. Parashat Chukat describes the ritual that mixes ashes of the red heifer with living waters. While its symbolism remains a mystery to us, we know that a life committed to the spiritual practice of Torah is nourishing and life affirming! Like the living waters Miriam pointed the Israelites to throughout their desert sojourns, each of us can embrace life through sacral deeds we call mitzvot, whether we can explain them or not. The paradox of the red heifer is that the ashes of the pure render the impure pure, while the priests who are pure in preparing the ashes become defiled.

Moses also strikes the rock at this point in the journey rather than speaking to it in order to provide the thirsty Israelites with water. The Israelite’s thirst is slaked, but as a result of this burst of anger, both Moses and Aaron will not enter the Promised Land. Miriam dies in Zin, and Aaron dies at Hor Hahar, passing on the succession of the priesthood to his son, Elazar. As venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp following further discontent, Moses is commanded to place a brass serpent upon a pole to battle the plague. Those who look heavenwards will be healed. This culminates in a song sung by the Israelites to honor the miraculous well of Miriam that slaked their thirst in the desert. Moses then leads the people into battles against the Emorite kings, Sichon and Og, who appear recalcitrant in granting passage to the Israelite’s through their territories.

Amidst all these challenges, Moses remains committed to caring for and uplifting the Israelites. Against all odds, he trusts in the process that leads to the greater good – even in our own day, we still call this emunah, or faithfulness.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork features a silhouette of our tradition’s sacred cow. It is nearly impossible to locate a red heifer (parah adumah) that meets the halachic requirements for the ritual purification sacrifice described in Parashat Chukat. The heifer is so rare, in fact, that tradition tells us only eight of them were sacrificed before the destruction of the Second Temple (and none after, of course). But their extreme rarity hasn’t stopped some Jews from looking for cows that pass muster. An Israeli organization dedicated to building the Third Temple has attempted to identify red heifer candidates since 1987. Over the course of those 30 years, they located two candidates that were eventually rejected and they currently claim to have a third, kosher candidate for consideration. If that cow also proves unsatisfactory, they plan to genetically engineer a red heifer that will meet the halachic requirements. And, no, we’re not making this up. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

CBS HaLuach, June 14 – 20


Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

To get on the mailing list, just email communications@bethsholomsf.org.

To read the online version of our June 14-20 HaLuach, please click here.