Member Profile : Mark & Jenny Bernstein

Today, we invite you to meet (or reconnect) with congregants Mark & Jenny Bernstein.


How long have you been members of Beth Sholom?
Mark: Approximately 18 years.

Jenny: About 40 years.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
Mark: Since 1989.

Jenny: I'm a San Francisco native.

Mark, where are you from originally?
Mark: New York.

What kind of work do you do?
Mark: I'm a technical writer and manager at Apple.

Jenny: I'm a graduate student at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in Special Education.

Do you have any hobbies or other pursuits that are important to you? If so, what?
Mark & Jenny: Reading, watching movies, hiking, exploring San Francisco museums and playgrounds with our three-year-old son, Dylan, going to Warriors' and A's games, and taking road trips.

What’s your favorite movie, book, or album? Why?
Mark & Jenny: Our favorite movie is Young Frankenstein. It's hilarious and witty, and brings tremendous joy and endless laughter – never gets old.

Jenny: For books, anything by Joyce Carol Oates. I especially enjoyed Them. I love getting lost in the worlds she creates.

Mark: My book pick is Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez. Amazing writing and a beautiful story.

For album, it's just so hard to choose, but let's go with a three-way tie between Joni Mitchell's Blue, Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town. Oh, and, The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. Okay. So, four. I'll stop now!

Jenny: I'll go with Florence and the Machine's Lungs.

Mark & Jenny: And we'll both add Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Classic!

What’s your most meaningful Jewish memory?
Mark & Jenny: There are so many! Our top two are:
1. Watching our older children, Anastasia, Daniel, Alexander, and Emma grow up at Beth Sholom and become b'nai mitzvah.
2. Our marriage under the chupah in the sanctuary!

What, if anything, makes Beth Sholom special for you?
Mark & Jenny: The sense of community and the great friends we've made over the years. Also, Rabbi Glazer. His sermons are always inspiring and are profoundly meaningful to us. His spirituality connects us to our Jewish identities and the Beth Sholom community – plus he's nurtured our appreciation for Leonard Cohen!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community?
We feel grateful to have been part of the wonderful Beth Sholom community for so many years. It is truly our second home – a place where we always feel comfortable, spiritually nurtured, and connected, and a place that has given our family so many special moments and memories over the years.

Staff Member Profile : Beth Jones

Sometimes it feels like Congregation Beth Sholom is always changing or trying out new things. We realize there can be mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, the idea that our community has been recognized for having some of the Bay Area's most innovative Jewish programming and interesting speakers is exciting, but we know that people also like consistency.

With that in mind, we want to take a minute to appreciate those elements of Beth Sholom that represent our strongest links to the past – and those, of course, are our people!

Today, we invite you to meet (or reconnect) with Beth Jones, a member of our staff for 13 years who now serves as our Director of Membership & Development.


How long have you been working at Beth Sholom?
My first day of work here was December 20, 2004. It was originally a three-month, part-time job supporting the Gesher Campaign, a major fundraising initiative. Since then I have worked in multiple facets at the synagogue including membership, facility rentals, managing events, and as database administrator.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
I moved here with my husband, KC, in 1981, and have been happily ensconced in our Bernal Heights home since 1988, where we raised our daughter and son.

Where are you from originally?
Born in Forest Hills, Queens, in New York, although I grew up mostly in West Hartford, Connecticut.

What kind of work do you do?
I know most of the Beth Sholom members, and I’m here to handle or redirect their questions, needs, and concerns. Welcoming new and prospective members is part of my job, and I oversee the annual membership renewal and High Holy Days ticket sales. I support the fundraising efforts of the Development Committee, maintain the membership database, and work with financials and reporting. I work closely with the rest of the wonderful Beth Sholom staff to plan events and be in touch with the community.

Do you have any hobbies or other pursuits that are important to you? If so, what?
Dancing at Rhythm & Motion has been an important part of my life since 1982. It’s a great place and I love the community.

I’m in a new book group which met last night to discuss Little Nothing, by Marisa Silver. The author is a friend of a book group member, so the evening included a phone call discussion with the author. Very exciting!

As a longtime fan of the Golden State Warriors, it used to be a shock when they won a game, now it’s the reverse!

What’s your favorite movie, book, or album? Why?
My favorite movie is Some Like It Hot. I love Jack Lemmon in that film. My favorite book is Atonement, by Ian McEwan; it’s beautifully written and heartbreaking. My current favorite album is side one of Hunky Dory, by David Bowie – it’s just so much fun.

What’s your most meaningful Jewish memory?
The bar mitzvah of our dear family friend, Russell Angelico, who is now 29. We have known him his entire life and he has always been very bright and has a beautiful voice. He did a wonderful job, and it goes down in Jones family lore as the best bar mitzvah ever!

What, if anything, makes Beth Sholom special for you?
It’s a wonderful community filled with a diverse group of interesting and intelligent people. I feel appreciated and very much at home here. The Beth Sholom staff is amazing: a cohesive, talented, and hard-working group who I enjoy spending my days with.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community?
I’d like to thank the many congregants and all of my colleagues for the warmth, kindness, and support they have shown me as I deal with my very painful loss.

Aliyah Baruch's Bat Mitzvah

AliyahBaruchMy name is Aliyah Baruch. I attend Aptos Middle School and I am in the seventh grade. I like playing soccer, hanging out with my friends and family, taking care of animals, and traveling.

On April 22, I will have my bat mitzvah. It is a big milestone in my life that I will be sharing with people from many parts of the world, including San Francisco, Israel, Las Vegas, and New York. No matter how near or far away my guests travel from, I am so thankful that they will share this important day with me.

I think that your bat mitzvah will stay with you for your whole life; it won’t just be forgotten the day after you’re called to the Torah. My parsha talks about how Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, set an alien fire and got struck down because G-d did not instruct them to make the fire. Some rabbis have other opinions about why G-d struck them down; perhaps "they wanted to rise within the priestly rankings and overthrow Moses and Aaron." But I don’t think that is the case. I think the story of Nadav and Avihu is an example of good intentions that backfired because they wanted to be more involved but went about it in the wrong way.

I want to thank my mom and my dad, my brother Myles, my grandparents, and all my cousins, aunts, and uncles for all the love and support they have shown me. I also want to give a special thanks to Rabbi Aubrey Glazer for his help and Noa Bar for giving me the gift of Torah and teaching me how it relates to everyday life. Finally, I want to thank Congregation Beth Sholom for teaching me Hebrew and Jewish learning as well as being the place where I made so many great friendships.

Tetzaveh -- Exodus 27:20–30:10

Facebook_CoverDesign_TetzavehKenneth Cole, celebrated fashion designer and former congregant of mine in New York, once remarked: "Look good, for good."

To outfit spiritual change, all priests or kohanim wear: (1) a full- length linen tunic [ketonet]; (2) linen breeches [michnasayim]; (3) a linen headdress, or turban [mitznefet]; and (4) a long, waist sash [avnet]. To manifest his spiritual shift, the High Priest also wears: (5) an apron of blue-, purple-, and red-dyed wool, with linen and gold thread [efod]; (6) a breastplate composed of 12 precious stones inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes [hoshen]; (7) a cloak of blue wool, adorned with gold bells and pomegranates on its hem [me’il]; and (8) a golden plate upon the forehead with the inscription, “Holy to God” [tzitz].

Initiation into the priesthood takes seven days for Aaron, Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar, and Itamar. Mirroring the seven day cycle of creation, here Torah is teaching us that every creative choice we make, even the most mundane, outfits us with the possibility of spiritual transformation.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration depicts the mysterious Urim and Thummim. "You shall place the Urim and the Thummim into the hoshen of judgment so that they will be over Aaron's heart when he comes before the Lord." (Exodus 28:30) Scholars and rabbis have never agreed on what these special objects of judgment or divination are. Were they made of wood, bone, or stone, and how exactly did they work? Were they physical objects at all? Some rabbis suggest they were instead words inscribed on the hoshen or rays of light which radiated from the breastplate when the High Priest was asked a question. Here, they are two stones marked with the letters alef, for Urim, and tav, for Thummin. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Sabina Lyon-Freedman's Bat Mitzvah

facebook_sabinalyonfreedmanMy name is Sabina Lyon-Freedman, and I’m in the 7th grade at Roosevelt Middle School. I enjoy playing violin, baking, acting, reading, watching movies, writing novels and poems, spending time with friends (including some of my best friends at Beth Sholom), and petting my cat, Buster.

For my bat mitzvah this coming Shabbat, I will be chanting part of Parashat Vayeira. It is a very busy and important parsha. Abraham and Sarah are told that Sarah will bear a son. Abraham challenges God's plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaac is born, and, in response to Sarah's demand, Abraham banishes Hagar and Ishmael. God then tests Abraham's devotion by commanding him to sacrifice his beloved Isaac. I will be focusing in my d’var Torah on the section where Lot makes the problematic decision to offer his daughters to the men of Sodom in order to save his guests.

For my mitzvah project, I am playing violin for residents of the Rhoda Goldman Plaza, where my grandpa lives.

I am grateful to my family and friends. And I’m especially happy that members of my family will be coming from Maine, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Canada, Peru, Israel, and many other places to share this special moment with me. I would like to thank my tutor, Marilyn Heiss, for teaching me how to chant Torah and lead the service. I’ll miss the fun times with her. I want to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me write my d’var Torah. And I want to thank my cat Buster for being soft and cuddly.

Mystics of Mile End Book Talk

Sigal headshot (1)On Monday, April 25, author Sigal Samuel will present a book talk about her acclaimed debut novel, The Mystics of Mile End, which tells the story of a dysfunctional Jewish family obsessed with climbing the Kabbalah's Tree of Life.

Brother and sister Lev and Samara Meyer live in Montreal's Mile End — a mashup of hipsters and Hasidic Jews. They have a fairly typical childhood, other than that their father is distracted, their mother is dead, and down the street Mr. Katz is trying to recreate the biblical Tree of Knowledge out of plucked leaves, toilet paper rolls, and dental floss. When their father, David, an atheist professor of Jewish mysticism, is diagnosed with an unusual heart murmur, he becomes convinced that his heart is whispering divine secrets. But as David's frenzied attempts to ascend the Tree of Life lead to tragedy, Samara and Lev set out — in separate and divisive ways — to finish what he's started. It falls to next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor Chaim Glassman to shatter the silence that divides the members of the Meyer family. But can he break through to them in time?Mystics of Mile End book cover

Sigal Samuel is an award-winning fiction writer, journalist, essayist, and playwright. Currently opinion editor at the Forward, she has also published work in the Daily Beast, the Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and Electric Literature. She has appeared on NPR, BBC, and Huffington Post Live. Her six plays have been produced in theaters from Vancouver to New York. Originally from Montreal, Sigal now lives in Brooklyn. The Mystics of Mile End is her first novel.

The cost of attendance is $18 and includes a copy of the novel. Given that the book retails for $16 on Amazon, this is a wonderful deal! RSVP early as we are limited to 30 books. Refreshments will be provided.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.

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THIS BOOK TALK WAS RECORDED. LISTEN TO AUTHOR SIGAL SAMUEL IN CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST ELYSSA WORTZMAN BY CLICKING THE "PLAY" BUTTON BELOW. [audio mp3="http://bethsholomsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MyticsOfMileEndBooktalk_April2016.mp3"][/audio]