Jewish Songlines

Congregation Beth Sholom is pleased to sponsor Jewish Songlines: An Exploration of Music & Heritage, presented by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale as part of PBO’s Jews & Music Initiative.

On Thursday, February 8, at 8 p.m., at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, join Nicholas McGegan, renowned cellist Steven Isserlis, and members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for a 90-minute program featuring music from the 18th to the 20th centuries, including a Bach Prelude arranged by Ignaz (Isaac) Moscheles and Isserlis’s own arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s Deux mélodies hébraïques and Felix Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from the Octet for Strings, Op. 20.

Steven Isserlis and Nicholas McGegan will also engage in deep discussion about the impact of Jewish composers, illuminated by a multimedia presentation as well as Steven’s own Jewish heritage. This exciting program will be moderated by Francesco Spagnolo, scholar and curator of the Magnes Collection at UC Berkeley. After the concert, enjoy complimentary wine and a chance to meet the musicians.

Just 40 tickets have been reserved for Beth Sholom community members, so buy your tickets today!

Take Us Out To The Ball Game!

ChristopherOrevReigerNoahPhilippDaleKleisleyKatherineFreidmanBarboniAdinahRatner_SFGiantsJewishHeritageNight_August2016It's that time of the year again!

CBS invites you to join your fellow congregants and other members of the Bay Area Jewish community for San Francisco Giants Jewish Heritage Night on Monday, August 21.


This annual celebration of Jewish identity and heritage is always a home run of fun, and this year the fellas in black and orange need our cheers more than ever! Our beloved Giants are struggling to keep their post-season aspirations alive, and our supportive voices are needed to help Buster, Madison, and company take on a group of Midwestern beer makers (a.k.a., the Milwaukee Brewers) in what may well be an important late-season game.

We'll be sitting in Lower Box Section 135 (Left Field), with an unimpeded view of all the on-field action. This year, as last, we're offering two ticket packages.

The $36 event package includes:
- 1 seat in the CBS section (Lower Box 135 - Left Field) for the game (begins at 7:15 p.m.)
- A collector's-edition, Lou Seal bobble head with a shofar (produced by the SF Giants)
- Admission to the Jewish Heritage Night Pregame Party, 5 - 7 p.m. in Parking Lot A, just across McCovey Cove. (Live entertainment and food/drink specials will be available for purchase during the pregame party, with proceeds partially benefiting local charitable programs in the Jewish community.)

The $50 event package includes:
- All of the above, plus one of our CBS community spirit t-shirts! (See front and back of shirt below. Click on the image to see a larger view.)
Facebook_SFGiantsPromo

ORDER YOUR TICKET(S) BELOW. (Alternatively, you can drop off cash or check in the CBS office. If drop off payment, please email Beth Jones, or call 415.940.7092, to let us know what size t-shirts you would like to reserve. Sizes available are Adult M, L, and XL and Youth XS, S, M, L, and XL.)

Zoe & Hana Jaeger Skigen's B'not Mitzvah

Facebook_HanaZoeSkigenShalom. Our names are Zoe and Hana Jaeger Skigen. We are twelve-year-old twins and we just finished Grade 7 at the Synergy School in San Francisco's Mission District, where we also live.

This Shabbat, June 17, we will become b’not mitzvah. We have spent our entire lives doing meaningful things together and the process of preparing to become b’not mitzvah has been one of the highlights. We have been members of Beth Sholom since we were born; we attended "Mommy and Me" and Tot Shabbat programs in addition to the CBS Family Preschool and Shabbat School (religious school). Beth Sholom is literally a "house of peace" for us and our second Jewish home. We are still best friends with the children we met at Beth Sholom from our infancy.

In this week’s parsha, Parashat Shelach Lecha, we learn that Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan as authorized by God. When they return, they bring back incredible things, like enormous grapes, as well as seemingly bad news. Ten of the spies report that the people of the land are unconquerable – that Canaan is filled with giants. Many of the Israelite people panic and want to return to Egypt. As a havruta (learning in pairs), we had lengthy conversations about how and why such conflicting perspectives could emerge about the same land. The process has been both intellectually and spiritually moving for both of us.

I (Zoe) enjoy playing trumpet in a city-wide orchestra and school band. I like all things musical and especially like to teach myself to play new instruments. I am active member of the Gay/Straight Alliance at school and I play on the school basketball team. In my free time, I make videos, arrange music, and I am passionate about tikkun olam and activism. In the summers, I enjoy going to Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa. For my mitzvah project, I taught formerly-imprisoned, mentally ill adults cooking classes.

I (Hana) am on the student council at school, in the school choir, and play on the school futsal, basketball, and cross country teams. I am a proud feminist and activist and I am also a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance. I also have a deep affinity for animals and am an avid reader. I play ukulele and in my free time I enjoy writing songs. For my mitzvah project, I performed a concert at the Jewish Home for the Aged. This is particularly meaningful to me because this is where my great grandmother, Bea, lived and died. Camp Gilboa is a special place in the summer for me as well.

We want to thank our mother and father for supporting us and gently pushing us through the process of becoming b’not mitzvah. We also want to thank our Baba and Savta and our Bubbie, Susan Jaeger, for helping us to develop our Jewish identity. A special thank you to Noa Bar, our tutor, and to Rabbi Glazer for teaching us how to stick with such a large task and the importance of Torah. Most importantly, we would like to thank each other. Having a twin sister always makes life a little easier and we always feel a little safer in the world knowing we have each other.

We are so elated to together share this life cycle event along with our friends and family who are traveling from near and far to witness this simcha!

Introducing David Agam, CBS Youth Advisor

FacebookDavidAgamCBS is pleased to introduce our new Youth Advisor, David Agam.

David recently wrote an open letter to our USY, Kadima, and Shabbat School families. We’re sharing it here so that the CBS community at large can have an opportunity to learn a bit more about David.

+++++

Shalom, CBS community!

I am honored and privileged to begin working with your children as the Youth Group Advisor for USY and Kadima. I have been working at CBS as a teacher for years. I’ve always felt a sense of community and belonging here, and I am committed to seeing this congregation thrive. I look forward to meeting you, your children, and family, or getting to know you even better than I already do in the coming months. I am excited by the potential and opportunity our young members have to grow and learn from one another.

In this globally tumultuous time, it is especially important to remember that, particularly in the U.S., our Jewish identity persists through the generations particularly when our youth derive a sense of meaning and purpose from their Jewish experiences, when they develop a strong connection with Jewish roots, values, and ideals. I passionately urge your children to join Kadima or USY, to help see that the future of not just our congregation and the Bay Area Jewish community remains vital, but so that our Jewish practice and peoplehood remain solid and steady in the coming decades and beyond.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or ideas at cbsyouth@bethsholomsf.org.

See you soon!
David

VeZot Ha'Berachah -- Deuteronomy 33:1 – 34:12

facebook_coverdesign_vezothaberachahPlease note that Parashat VeZot Ha'Berachah is read during the Simchat Torah service, which will take place on Tuesday, October 25. This Saturday, October 22, is Shabbat Sukkot, during which we read a selection from Parashat Ki Tissa.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) once remarked: "Zion is in ruins, Jerusalem lies in the dust. All week there is only hope of redemption. But when the Sabbath is entering the world, man is touched by a moment of actual redemption; as if for a moment the spirit of the Messiah moved over the face of the earth."

How is this redemption achieved? For Heschel, redemption takes place through time, not space. "Quality time" is what matters in our lives, and it is through the Jewish calendar that we "do Jewish," embodying Jewish life and identity.

It is precisely through the appointed times (or moadim) on the Jewish calendar that we are best able to define our Jewish lives. We do so by abiding in the sukkah and taking hold of the four species, as well as by participating in the thrice annual pilgrimage festivals to the Jerusalem Temple during Passover, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and Booths (Sukkot).

And when we "Rejoice in the Torah" during Simchat Torah, we simultaneously conclude and begin anew the annual Torah-reading cycle. Firstly, we read the Torah section of Parashat VeZot Ha'Berachah, recounting the Mosaic blessing bestowed upon each of the twelve tribes of Israel before his death. Echoing Jacob's blessings to his twelve sons five generations earlier, Moses empowers each tribe with its individual role within the Israelite community.

What VeZot Ha'Berachah then relates is how Moses ascended Mount Nebo to its summit, taking a peek at the Promised Land without ever entering into it. Moses’ burial place to this day remains unknown and the Torah concludes by attesting that "never again did there arose a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom G-d knew face to face...and in all the mighty hand and the great, awesome things which Moses did before the eyes of all Israel."

As we conclude the annual reading of the Torah, it is important to remember that every moment is a sacred encounter in the making when we truly value the sacral power of time.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork includes the symbols and colors of the two tribes of Israel that we know survive today (i.e., the tribes that became Jews). The colors and symbols are drawn from Bamidbar Rabbah, part of our rabbinic literature (midrashim). The stones of the choshen, or priestly breastplate, are depicted in white, black, and red here, and represent the Tribe of Levi. The lion depicted on a sky blue ground represents the Tribe of Judah. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Meet Rebecca Goodman

CBS is pleased to introduce our new Director of Youth Education, Rebecca Goodman. Rebecca has been involved as a Jewish educator and administrator in the Bay Area for many years, most recently serving as the Director of Education overseeing the joint religious school program of Congregations Beth Israel Judea and B’nai Emunah. Her passion for Jewish learning and experience in forging connections with the communities she has served make her supremely qualified to lead our Shabbat School program – we are thrilled to welcome her to our sacred community of learning.

Today, we’re sharing an introductory note from Rebecca.

* * * * *

Goodman_PlaceHolder The Director of Youth Education may be a new position at Congregation Beth Sholom, but I have dedicated the past two decades to educating Jewish youth. After falling in love with Judaism as a child at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, I attended Jewish summer camps, traveled to Israel, was a madricha and President of my United Synagogue Youth chapter. Although I took a detour from my Jewish path to study engineering in college, I remained connected to the Jewish community by teaching religious school. After a couple years, I realized that my passion was much stronger for helping Jewish youth connect to their Jewish heritage than it was to ensuring that the next bridge or building would remain standing regardless of the pressure put upon it.

I graduated from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion with a master’s degree in Jewish Education and a master’s degree in Jewish Communal Service. I earned the title “Reform Jewish Educator” in 2007. This title is granted to those who fulfill “extremely stringent academic requirements in the areas of education, educational administration, and Judaic studies plus a supervised educational internship.” I have worked for the Bureau of Jewish Education in Los Angeles, served as Director of Contra Costa Midrasha, and as Director of Education at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo and Congregation Beth Israel Judea in San Francisco.

I am excited to become a part of the CBS community and to meet you. My hope is that everyone has a good time in Shabbat School – and that they develop a strong Jewish identity and a love of Jewish learning that they will feed throughout their lives, starting here at CBS.

I look forward to sharing with you my vision for the Shabbat School and Hebrew programs in the coming weeks and months. In my first few days, we've finalized the registration forms, the calendar, and the fees for the coming year. Next, I will reach out to last year's faculty and madrichim so that I can meet them and finalize our staff for the fall. The most important thing I need from you is your completed registration form so that we can plan accordingly and make sure we have the right number of teachers, madrichim, and supplies for our students.

I already know that the faculty is fantastic, the members that I've had the opportunity to meet are wonderful, and the staff is dedicated, warm, and helpful. I am very excited to join the team and meet you. If you find yourself near CBS on a Tuesday or Thursday, please take a moment and stop by my office to introduce yourself.

Meet Claire Ambruster, JVS Summer Intern

CBS is pleased to introduce our Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn Summer Intern, Claire Ambruster. Claire is supporting multiple departments at CBS during her internship (June 21 - August 12), including communications. Wearing her communications hat, Claire will learn about thoughtful development and management of social media strategy and also gain blogging experience. Today, we're sharing her first blog contribution.

We've been very impressed with Claire so far, and are fortunate to have her on our team, even if only for the summer!

* * * * *

My Journey to Working in the Jewish World

Facebook_ClaireAmbrusterLast week, I began my summer internship through the Kohn Summer Intern Program – a project of Jewish Vocational Service. My fellow interns and I met for the first time at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. We enjoyed a tour of the museum, schmoozed, and discussed our goals for the summer. As Kohn interns, we each work separately at different Bay Area Jewish nonprofits. On Fridays, we come together for interesting seminars, during which we discuss everything from Jewish life to job skills. I will be working with Congregation Beth Sholom (CBS) this summer, and am very excited for the opportunity to explore the inner workings of this synagogue – from drafting CBS Facebook posts to managing membership databases. I am also enjoying getting to know the Beth Sholom community. Simultaneously, I look forward to getting to know the other Kohn interns and learning about the different types of work they are doing to invest in the Jewish world.

Although I now am committed to Jewish practice, I did not always envision that for myself. I grew up in a secular home in San Francisco. Although we lit Hanukkah candles each year, we also strung colored lights around our Christmas tree. As I grew older, I wanted to learn more about my tradition, and I asked my parents to enroll me in Hebrew school. Once enrolled, I quickly became inspired by Jewish teachings. When the time came to pick a high school, I decided to further my Jewish education and enrolled in a pluralistic Jewish high school. I soon fell in love with Jewish studies – from Talmud to contemporary Jewish thought. As I grew, I developed confidence in my faith. I began to contemplate taking larger concrete steps towards Judaism, and I pondered the idea of having a bat mitzvah ceremony and eventually going through conversion, as I am not yet considered halachically Jewish.

Last summer, I was given the opportunity to have my long-anticipated bat mitzvah ceremony. I was participating in the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) summer program in Los Angeles, and had spent several weeks engaging in a whirlwind of profound learning with my peers. On the final Shabbat of the program, I stood before a crowded room, eagerly anticipating the ceremony. I read from the Torah, singing notes I had learned only weeks beforehand. Afterward, I reflected on the biblical passage, in which the daughters of Tzelafchad demanded to receive their father’s inheritance, which traditionally went to sons. In the same spirit of the daughters of Tzelafchad, I stood in front of the community to inherit and reaffirm my Jewish identity. After years of questioning my Jewish identity, it was incredibly redemptive and exhilarating to read from the Torah and feel the joy surrounding me.

It is moments like this one – where communities come together in joy and in loss – which remind me how important Judaism is in my life. I look forward to helping build the Jewish world here at Beth Sholom for the remainder of the summer!