Join Us To Honor Billy Kwong

Billy3After 32 years with the CBS community, Billy Kwong is retiring from our Facilities staff.

For those of you who do not know Billy, he is a mensch of the first order. Billy has provided generations of congregants and families with caring and committed service. His buoyant personality, can-do attitude, and diligence will be missed dearly, as well as the fact that, without fail, he performs above and beyond the call of duty -- truly, he is irreplaceable!

We will honor Billy during Shabbat kiddush lunch on Saturday, June 4. That afternoon, we will also present him with a retirement gift. We ran a CrowdRise community fundraiser to solicit your donations for this gift -- thank you for giving generously (donations are now closed)!

Additionally, please email us any digital photos of Billy that you have (for use in a slide show).

Let’s (Continue) Our Spiritual Musical Journey!

cfde8820-d953-48d6-8915-d48578b87f8eOn the heels of Rabbi Aubrey Glazer’s jubilant installation as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom (CBS) in September 2014, the CBS community has gathered on the third Friday of each month to raise our voices together, welcoming the Sabbath. The spirited 3rd Friday Musical Kabbalat Shabbat service is as profound as it is joyful, providing participants with a powerful transformative experience, one that nourishes and empowers. There is no other musical service like it in the Bay Area!

If you haven't participated in the service, we invite you to get a sense of it by pressing play (just below) before you read on!

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Shabbat is a gift. At CBS, the vital passage between the rest of the week and Shabbat is accentuated by a truly talented line-up of musicians and prayer leaders that make the 3rd Friday services come alive. Led by our own Rabbi Glazer, Hazzan Richard Kaplan (piano and percussion), Lila Sklar (violin), and John Erlich (guitar and oud) awaken our neshamot, appealing to the joy that each of us can experience.

3rdFriday53rdFriday4The music and singing of the 3rd Friday series welcome Shabbat in singular fashion. When we raise our voices in song and dance, we are celebrating our community and life itself. Moving together through this musical journey, on the wings of Jewish song from around the globe, we find (and expand) our Sabbath souls!

The 3rd Friday Musical Kabbalat Shabbat series was subsidized as a pilot program that recently concluded. An anonymous donor has graciously covered the cost of 3rd Friday services through March 2016, and CBS recently launched a CrowdRise fundraiser to maintain the innovative and inspiring series through the 2016-17 season (June 2017)!

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. Your generosity will ensure that the music continues!

Hanukkah 5776 -- Rededicating Ourselves

Hanukkiahgt_logo6 Next Tuesday, December 1, is #GivingTuesday.

What is this curious hashtag weekday? Created by New York City's 92nd Street Y, #GivingTuesday is a response to the consumer-oriented shopping "holidays" of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From the #GivingTuesday website:

"Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. ... Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources."

With #GivingTuesday nigh upon us, we're launching our Hanukkah 5776 Rededication fundraiser! Please read our Executive Director's letter below.


Dear Friends,

The evenings have again grown dark, and we will soon gather with friends and family to light our hanukkiot. Each year, as we draw those we care about close and recite the Hanukkah blessings, we marvel at the miracle of sustained Jewish peoplehood.

Living in the Syrian Greek Empire, our 2nd century BCE forebears confronted the threat of compulsory assimilation. You know the score: they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat (latkes and sufganiyot)! Yet that bite-size summary discounts the Hanukkah story’s complexity. It’s also a story of civil war, a conflict between strict religionists and a secular, assimilated elite. Although the Maccabees saved the day, we’re not about to say the Shehecheyanu – to thank God for sustaining Judaism and Jewish peoplehood – because of their rebellion, but because the rabbis, two hundred plus years later, embraced creative adaptation.

Little wonder that Hanukkah is so relevant to 21st century American Jews! The 2013 Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans indicates that we are in the midst of a demographic decline of what some refer to as “the Jewish middle,” Jewishly engaged/identified individuals outside of Orthodoxy. If present trends continue, demographers predict that the American Jewish future will be dominated by two groups, the ultra-Orthodox and unaffiliated Jews with attenuated Jewish identities. Sound familiar?

VolunteerAs engaged Jews and members of Beth Sholom, a community with a history of pioneering regional and national leadership in the spheres of Jewish practice, philosophy, and social action, we can not accept the decline of American Jewish institutions and identity. We must demonstrate how Jewish tradition and the values we treasure can be balanced with the evolving needs of our contemporary lives. This balancing act between the particular and the universal takes place on a high wire — the stakes are huge. So it is once again time for CBS to move boldly forward, to blaze a path and serve as a role model in the changing world of American Judaism.

Your commitment to CBS has made our survival possible and will allow us to flourish going forward. As our Board President, Scott Horwitz, wrote in his note to the congregation in the 2015 Annual Report, “Thanks to the efforts of many, we are poised to start a new chapter. We’ve restored the fields, we’ve planted the seeds, and now it’s time to grow.”

DonationsWith the end of the tax year approaching and Hanukkah’s lessons in mind, now is an opportune time to make a charitable contribution.

What will your generous donation support?

In the past year, CBS has made tremendous strides, energizing our core programs and developing exciting new ones. Our already robust ritual and Shabbat programming has been strengthened by the engagement of a rabbinic intern and the introduction of accessible and spirited alternative services. The CBS Preschool is flourishing under new leadership and, working with our new Music Director, has enhanced its musical offerings. Our Shabbat School grew by 20 percent, we fine-tuned and expanded our b’nai mitzvah program, and our USY youth group was recognized as the most improved chapter in Northern California. We expanded our Lifelong Learning focus by offering regular “mini-courses” taught by an impressive roster of scholars and authors, and we partnered with the organization Kevah to create Jewish learning circles for adults. We also hired an Executive Chef who is regularly cooking up delicious and inventive kiddush menus that receive rave reviews from congregants.

Indeed, it’s been a very successful year at CBS…but this is just the beginning.

static1.squarespaceIn 2016, we will continue to augment our existing programming and services – CBS is here for our milestone events as well as for our daily davening, for our children’s education as well as our own – but we will also launch the innovative and ambitious Center for Progressive Judaism. The Center can be thought of as “a Jewish think tank,” designed to be a vital hub of Jewish life that stands on three pillars: Scholarship, Social Action, and Culture as Practice. Our state-of-the-art campus is the perfect facility to house the Center, and with your engaged participation, CBS and the Center for Progressive Judaism will ignite the Jewish passions of future generations.

We invite you to help us fuel this fire. Together, let’s kindle the Hanukkah lights and rededicate ourselves to the future of Judaism.

Contributions can be made via personal check (and mailed to CBS using the enclosed return envelope you will receive with the paper copy of this appeal) or online: (If you would prefer to contribute appreciated securities, please contact Ella Smirnova at 415.940.7122, ext. 108 or for assistance.)

Todah rabbah, and Happy Hanukkah!

Angel Alvarez-Mapp
Executive Director