Letter To Our SFUSY & Kadima Teens

SFUSY_May16Shalom, SFUSY and Kadima!

Welcome back! I hope you all had great summers, and I can’t wait to hear all about them. Whether you were at Camps Ramah, Newman, or Tawonga, on USY on Wheels or USY Pilgrimage, or hanging out in San Francisco, the fun doesn’t end when school starts again!

My name is David Herrera; I am the Youth Advisor for San Francisco USY and Kadima at Congregation Beth Sholom. During the year ahead, we have a number of incredible opportunities for you to continue the camp and summer program fun by connecting with other Jewish teens concerned with social action, Israel awareness, leadership skills, religious education, or simply watching a sports game. Whatever your passion, we have something for you.

The SFUSY Chapter Board has worked hard this summer to create a great year of really fun events for SFUSY. Likewise, our Kadima Vice President, Eli Ganz, has worked to plan some awesome events for the Kadima-niks this year.

Our events start up in September, but be sure to save all of the dates below! SFUSY events are for teens in Grades 9 – 12; Kadima is for kids in Grades 6 – 8. Check out our calendar below, save the dates, and drop in on an event!

For more information about SFUSY and Kadima send me an email, give me a call, visit the New Frontier USY Region’s website, or join our Facebook group.

It’s going to be a great year, everyone!

B’Shalom,
David Herrera
Youth Director, SFUSY and Kadima


SFUSY & Kadima Chapter Calendar

September 2016:

  • 9/18: SFUSY Goes to Urban Putt! (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)
  • 9/25: New Frontier Regional Kadima Day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, 11:30am-5:30pm, $45 per child (Kadima, Grades 6 – 8)

  • October 2016:

  • 10/3, 4, 12: Launch Kadima 5777; High Holy Day youth programming at CBS on Rosh Hashanah Days 1 & 2 and Yom Kippur, $50 per child includes cost of one year Kadima membership (Kadima, Grades 6 – 8)
  • 10/24: Simchat Torah Celebration with CBS (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • November 2016:

  • 11/6: Peninsula Kadima @ Dave and Busters; an inter-chapter event with Kadima chapters from San Francisco, San Jose, Saratoga, Palo Alto, Foster City, and Redwood City at Dave and Busters in San Jose. 3pm-5pm, Congregation Sinai, San Jose (Grade 8 ONLY)
  • 11/18-20: New Frontier Regional Fall Kinnus; the first regional convention of the year for USY hosted at Camp Newman (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • December 2016:

  • 12/4: SFUSY Event ( Grades 9 – 12)
  • 12/11: Kadima Event (Grades 6 – 8)
  • 12/25-29: USY International Convention; five days of programs and events for one thousand Jewish teens from all over the US and Canada, and parts of South America, Europe, and Israel aimed at building connections to Judaism, social action/justice, global Jewry, and new friends. Hosted in Dallas, TX. (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • January 2017:

  • 1/15: New Frontier Regional Mini-Mission Mitzvah; a Regional USY day spent volunteering in one city in our beautiful New Frontier Region. Projects change every year, but past days have been spent sorting food at a food bank, building bikes and games for under-privileged youth, planting trees and picking up trash in local parks, and so much more! (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • February 2017:

  • 2/5: SFUSY Israel Celebration (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 2/10-12: New Frontier Regional Winter Shabbaton; a regional convention hosted by Sacramento USY at Mosaic Law Congregation (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12, Grade 8 also invited)
  • 2/26: Kadima Event (Grades 6 – 7, Grade 5 also invited)

  • March 2017:

  • 3/5: SFUSY Day of (Social) Action (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 3/31-4/2: New Frontier Regional Kadima Konvention; a regional convention for Kadima! CBS will be hosting middle schoolers from all over Northern California and Reno, NV in this weekend long Kadima event!
    (Grades 6 – 7)

  • April 2017:

  • 4/23: SFUSY Event (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 4/30: Final Kadima Event of the Year (Grades 5 – 7)

  • May 2017:

  • 5/19-21: New Frontier Regional May Convention; the final convention of the year for USY. Hosted in Santa Rosa at the Flamingo Resort. (SFUSY, Grades 8 – 12)
  • Camp Ramah Galim

    Riding Your Wave In the Sea of Judaism: The Start-up Camp Ramah Galim

    imgresThere is nothing quite like the oceanic rhythm of Camp Ramah campers and staff surrounding you from dawn till dusk. In those eternal moments, you begin to feel the pulse of this camp’s namesake — Galim. Singing, dancing, exploring, studying, rock climbing, scuba diving — an immersive summer at Camp Ramah in Northern California transforms hearts and minds to live Jewish lives.

    Along with Elyssa and Talya, I have been blessed to visit, teach, and support our brand new Camp Ramah NorCal, known in Hebrew as Ramah Galim, or "Ramah of the Waves." Clearly, if we can create the ruach of Ramah amidst the strawberry fields of Watsonville, then we can do anything! Thanks to the devoted leadership of many, including CBS members Craig Miller and Alex Bernstein, Ramah Galim has been overwhelmed by the response of parents looking for a meaningful, authentic Jewish camping experience. Registration was expected at 100 and is now over 250! Who could resist such a panoply of ways to live your Judaism? Outdoor adventures, ocean explorations, and performing arts – each track of this new camp meets each child right where they are, lifting their souls ever higher.

    Facebook_JoshHorwitz---AaronMiller---------RabbiGlazer_CampRamahNorcal_July2016 I've been part of Ramah since my second year as a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Traveling to and teaching at almost every Ramah in the Northeast, it has become clear to me that the many unique Ramah traditions mark a transformational camping movement born from the vision of Conservative/Masorti Judaism; the movement continues to inspire and renew one generation to the next, producing Jewish leaders and families unlike any other!

    And so this summer I brought deep expectations – along with my family (who joined many other rabbinic families from near and far) – to Ramah NorCal, the new jewel in the Bay Area Jewish community. As rabbi of CBS, along with our amazing Youth Advisor, David Herrera, we look forward to our ongoing partnership with Ramah Galim and its leadership (headed by Rabbi Sarah Shulman) Facebook_SarahShulmanLielRabbiGlazer_CampRamahNorcal_July2016with the goal of ensuring more and more Jewish campers feel their unique pulse as part of the waves of this oceanic blessing of Ramah Galim, and that this summer magic washes back through our communal family in the coming years.

    While Elyssa was facilitating Jewish art and spiritual direction workshops for all ages, I was blessed to teach the staff and campers about some of the layers of meaning within the name Ramah Galim. This culminated with our dedication of the Aron HaKodesh during the camp's Founder’s Day, when I shared two "take-aways" from the Zohar on the mystery of galim, or waves. Firstly, to be children of galim is to be riding the waves of our ancestors, as the children of Abraham and Sarah who enacted mitzvot as innumerable as galei yam, the waves of the sea. Secondly, to download the taste of the world that is coming – that is, Shabbat — we must be as galim, for all exists within these waves, intermingled, heaps upon heaps, reaching out to all!

    I am grateful for the ability to support and partner with Ramah Galim, and I know that the camp is so appreciative of the unconditional support provided by CBS. The pulsing rhythm of our CBS spiritual life will only be enhanced by continuing to support Jewish camping experiences and making spaces for informal, experiential Judaism to come alive in our community! As we welcome Rebecca Goodman to our team as Director of Youth Education,Facebook_RabbiGlazerArkDedication2_CampRamahNorcal_July2016 along with David Herrera who is been blessed to spend all summer with our campers at Ramah Galim, we have great things to look forward to together! May we continue to be and become children of galim! That is the secret of Ramah Galim and it is the secret of CBS. Let us continue to reach out to all, making new friends and deepening old friendships so that we continue building and nurturing our Jewish lives with love as deep as the ocean. May this summer immerse our children in the waves of inspiration that make up the oceanic blessing of Judaism. From these children inherit a better world, thanks to the actions we commit to take.

    - Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

    Photo captions:
    - Josh Horwitz, Sam Toeman, Aaron Miller, Raquel Sweet, Nathan Fell, Adina Sweet, and Rabbi Glazer at Camp Ramah NorCal
    - Rabbi Sarah Shulman, Liel Shulman, & Rabbi Glazer at Camp Ramah NorCal
    - Rabbi Glazer speaking at the dedication of the Ramah Galim ark during Founder's Day

    Kezayit (An Olive's Worth): What's In A Name? (Or What's With Orev?)

    CoverDesign2_RavenNow and again, someone asks me why I sign my CBS emails with a two-part first name: Christopher Orev. Fair question.

    In day-to-day life, I prioritize my given, secular name, Christopher. In this respect, I'm like most Jewish Americans. My patronymic Hebrew name, Orev ben Avraham Avinu v' Sarah Imanu, is known by very few people and used by fewer still, generally reserved for use in a ritual context.

    So why, then, do I insist on writing Christopher Orev? Because my Hebrew name is very important to me, and I feel it should appear in formal correspondence, especially in a Jewish context. Because the name itself is unusual, however, I'm often asked what it means. Not long ago, Rabbi Glazer suggested that I share the origin of the name on the CBS blog in the hopes that a handful of readers might find my explanation of interest.

    +++++

    Those well-versed in Tanakh might worry that I've chosen Orev in some misguided tribute to one of the two Midianite chieftains killed in Shoftim 7:25. But, no, the ill-fated Midianite is not my namesake.

    Because Orev means 'raven,' some friends of mine have assumed that my choice stems from my fondness for natural history and especially for reviled and misunderstood species. I am fascinated and excited by ravens, but that partiality isn't my principal motivation, either. Instead, I chose Orev because of the raven's mysterious role in the story of Noah.

    "And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. He sent out the raven, and it kept going and returning until the drying of the waters from upon the earth. And he sent out the dove from him to see whether the water had subsided from the face of the ground." (Bereshit 8:6-8).

    Where did the raven go?

    Contemporary biblical critics contend that the raven's disappearance is evidence of the biblical narrative's many sources. According to these scholars, when the stories of Torah were first edited and assembled, scribes often included details from differing accounts (rather than choosing between them). By this reckoning, one of the ancient riffs on the flood story had it that a raven was released while another, slightly different version of the tale assigned the recon flight to a dove. The two versions were simply spliced together so that Noah released the raven and then the dove.

    The literary, analytical, and rational inclinations of this particular Torah reader make me appreciative of such striking examples of narrative juxtaposition and mythmaking. But while I appreciate our sacred text through a decidedly non-supernatural lens, I also invest Torah with much social and mystical power. These two, very different approaches to Torah — one universalist and secular, the other specific and traditional — place me in a grey zone of contemporary Jewish identity, but I consider this balancing act (this push-pull or hybrid position) to be the very essence of the Conservative movement’s philosophy.

    But what does this have to do with my name? Back to Noah’s raven; what became of it? There are a number of traditional drashs that explain the raven's disappearance, but I view the stray bird as an analog of my Jewish neshamah (soul). This particular orev "flew the coop," so to speak, for a few generations, but has at last come back to the ark (through the covenant of conversion).

    I find a satisfying etymological riff on this interpretation in the Hebrew name itself, עורב. Ayin means "eye," Vav means "and," Resh means "beginning" or "head," and Beit means "house" or "home." Orev, therefore, can be read as "eye and head home," an oblique reference to the raven's "seeing" his way home. Likewise, my neshamah has turned anew (or returned) to Judaism and Jewish peoplehood.

    Another gratifying etymological connection has been made between orev and erev, meaning 'evening' or 'dusk.' Both words are comprised of the same letters, and Hebrew linguists believe that the word orev was derived from erev, a reference to the raven's dark plumage. If so, the raven’s name is born of the gloaming, my favorite time of day, one electric with magic and possibility, and ideal for sustained rumination.

    But the etymology can be (and is) taken one step further. Ervuv is the Hebrew word for 'mixture' and, just as day mixes with night at erev, some rabbis point out that, although it is officially deemed treif, the raven is the only bird species to split the difference on the Mishnah's four kashrut qualities; it possesses two kosher attributes and two treif attributes, and is therefore a "mixed" creature.

    This mixture angle is also important to me. When I emerged from the mikveh, I was a new Jew. If you had asked me then if I stood at Sinai, I would have confidently replied, ‘Yes.' Yes, at least, with respect to metaphysics and psychology...but my personal history is not that of Hebrew school, kugel, or Camp Ramah. My Gentile past informs my Jewish identity in unexpected, generally positive ways, but the individual ger, like the individual shul, will never please klal Yisrael. Because I am actively engaged in the Jewish community (across the denominational, political, and theological spectrums), my very "Jewishness" is sometimes challenged. Some fellow Jews review my attributes and deem me kosher; others say I'm treif. I'd be fibbing were I to claim that this limbo doesn't trouble me, but I also recognize that it provides me with a special opportunity to examine questions of identity. I will be wholly Jewish and yet I will be "the stranger that sojourns among" my fellow Jews. The name I have chosen embodies two themes that are important to me: my (re)turn to Jewish peoplehood and also the peculiar/particular Jewish identity of the ger.

    So Excited About Camp Ramah In NorCal!

    imgresSarah Shulman is the Director of Camp Ramah in Northern California. She is also a rabbi-in-training at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, slated to obtain smicha in May of 2016. According to the inspiring note she shared with the Camp Ramah in Northern California mailing list this week, she was called to the rabbinate during a visit to CBS.

    "This past Shabbat I visited Congregation Beth Sholom, the special place where seven years ago I decided to become a rabbi. During a vibrant public dialogue with Rabbi Aubrey Glazer about the power of camp to inspire and transform youth and communities, I pointed to the purple seat where I made the decision to go to rabbinical school. As we read that same morning in the Torah about Abraham and Sarah leaving their home to embark on a momentous spiritual journey, I reflected on my own path and the incredible opportunities, lessons, and mentors it has brought into my life.

    But I also could not help but feel that Lech Lecha, God’s call to Abraham to “Go for yourself,” speaks to the experience of venturing from your home for a few weeks in the summer to go to Jewish camp. This summer, the shores of Monterey Bay will be home to seekers whom have left what is comfortable and familiar behind in order to experience true friendship and adventure, joy and reflection, Jewish living and leadership. As I travel from community to community, synagogue to synagogue, and school to school sharing the vision of Camp Ramah in Northern California, I see my own excitement for the possibilities that await reflected in the eyes and ideas of partners in this important journey of creation."


    Well said, Sarah, and kol hakavod on leading the establishment and growth of a Ramah in our neck of the woods! The CBS family -- and all of our families! -- are very excited!
    Musical entertainment
    And for all those excited prospective families, a reminder to take advantage of the opportunity to meet Sarah, get a taste of Camp Ramah in Northern California, and learn more about the camp's amazing specialty programs in ocean exploration, performing arts, and adventure sports. Kids and adults are welcome. Bring your friends! Light snacks provided. Details below.

    Date: Thursday, November 5th
    Time: 6:30 p.m.
    Location: Private home, San Francisco, CA. Address provided upon RSVP.
    Questions/RSVP: Contact Daniele Hurwitz, Program Director of Camp Ramah in Northern California.