Julian Rapaport's Bar Mitzvah

Shalom, my name is Julian Rapaport. I am a seventh grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. People describe me as an "old soul" and I guess they are right. I love playing Beatles records on my new turntable, listening to Mel Brooks2,000 Year Old Man, and following politics. I also play saxophone in the Brandeis Middle School jazz band and a rock band called Another Man Out the Window.

This Saturday, February 17, I will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. At first, I was less than enthused about this – lots of extra work learning the trope and the prayers and, besides, I really didn’t want a party. But that all changed when I started to learn Torah – both how to sing the trope and the meaning in the text. I also realized how special it is for my entire family to be here and watch me carry on the tradition of officially joining the greater Jewish community – at Beth Sholom, in San Francisco, and beyond.

I will be chanting from Parashat Terumah in the Book of Exodus. In this portion, God commands Moses to tell the Israelites to build a Sanctuary. The Sanctuary will house the Torah, as a symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites. God also gives very specific instructions for how the Sanctuary is to be assembled. But interestingly, when God tells Moses how the supplies are to be collected, it sounds pretty vague. God simply tells Moses "have them take for me an offering (a terumah)." I feel that vagueness is symbolic of the Jewish people coming together as a community, by giving whatever they could give to the common goal of building the Tabernacle to God’s specifications.

I want to thank Rabbi Glazer for inspiring me in the writing of my D’var Torah. I also want to thank my grandparents, my mom, my dad, and my brother for all the love and support in getting me to this day. But most of all, I want to thank Scott Horwitz, my bar mitzvah tutor. Scott helped me get excited for this important moment in my life, and helped me learn how to chant Torah and sing all the prayers. His calmness, humor, musical talent, and teaching skill helped guide me through this process.

A Parnas Fellowship Evening @ SFJAZZ

Facebook_Schmooze11_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017As a special thank you to members of the CBS Parnas Fellowship for their generosity and dedication to our community, this past Thursday evening Rabbi Glazer and the CBS Board of Directors hosted a special concert tribute to the songbook of the late, great Leonard Cohen (z”l) at SFJAZZ. The concert also functioned as a pre-release party for Rabbi Glazer’s new book, Tangle Of Matter & Ghost: Leonard Cohen's Post-Secular Songbook of Mysticism(s) Jewish & Beyond (Academic Studies Press, 2017).

Before the concert began, Scott Horwitz, our CBS Board President, spoke briefly, expressing how grateful he and the CBS Board are for the support provided by the Parnas Fellowship, and how proud he is when he talks to people from outside the CBS community about what’s happening on our campus today. Immediately following Scott’s remarks, a congregant stood and offered an impromptu kol hakavod to Scott, Rabbi Glazer, and the CBS Board for their leadership and hard work over the last year-and-a-half. Both Scott’s comments and those of the congregant received big rounds of applause.

Following Scott’s comments, Book of J, a side project of musicians Jeremiah Lockwood and Jewlia Eisenberg, performed four sets of Cohen songs for a capacity crowd in SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab. Each set was introduced by Rabbi Glazer, who provided illuminating, humorous, and often moving anecdotes or context gleaned from Tangle Of Matter & Ghost. Book of J was fabulous; their Cohen covers were distinctive and compelling – it was impossible not to tap your foot or sing along. The concert provided an introduction to Rabbi Glazer’s effort, in his new book, to "find Cohen," who was presented throughout the evening as something of a mystic in exile. This experience of exile is fundamental to Jewish identity – in the preface to Tangle Of Matter & Ghost, rabbi and scholar Shaul Magid writes, "Cohen writes his home where he is. And therein lies his Jewishness!" Magid also uses the term, umheimlich (uncanny), which Freud used to describe things that are familiar, yet foreign at the same time. Maybe a sensitivity to this kind of cognitive dissonance is the special province of the Jewish artist? After all, the best art and mysticism allow us to see the mundane anew – familiar, yet foreign, or even extraordinary.

Rabbi Glazer plans to have a book release party for the entire CBS community at Toy Boat Dessert Café on Clement Street in early June. Details are forthcoming. To our Parnas Fellowship members, todah rabbah (thank you very much)!

Check out some photos from the evening below and see even more on our CBS Facebook page.

Facebook_PosterAtEntry_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Schmooze2_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Schmooze5_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Schmooze10_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Scott1_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert4_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert1_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert5_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert12_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert6_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert9_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Concert10_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Signing1_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Signing3_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Facebook_Stage2_LeonardCohenParnasProgram_SFJAZZ_March2017

Introducing The Financial Four

This week, we introduce The Financial Four, an update from our volunteer Acting Director of Finance, Missy Sue Mastel. Look for these financial updates going forward, which will appear near the lead of our weekly HaLuach e-newsletter.

*****

Donation_CBSYellowDear Fellow Congregants,

Not many people get excited about doing their finances, but I do!

Many of you only know me as the wife of the Board President, Scott Horwitz, or the mother of those two weird and wonderful b’nai mitzvot, Josh and Sara Horwitz, who again read Torah this weekend in honor of their father’s 50th birthday. However, I'm also your volunteer Acting Director of Finance, a CPA and a CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant), and I have run a successful forensic auditing firm for the last 20 years — the same 20 years we have been members of Beth Sholom. I have served on your Finance Committee and been a Board Treasurer, so when I say that your synagogue is my synagogue, I mean it with all my heart.

I thought it was time to share with you some of the financial highlights of the last few months, particularly those developments that have occurred since the Town Hall, so that you can have a feel for what we have accomplished together as a organization. Let’s call it The Financial Four — four things you should know about Congregation Beth Sholom finances and "where it all goes."

1. A+ on our 2015 review. Our 2015 financials were reviewed in March by the accounting firm of Crosby and Kaneda — we passed with flying colors. We have the beginnings of a new audit committee - two external, Jewish Community Federation professionals with extensive financial experience, who also reviewed and approved the report.

2. A Happy Lender. One week after our most recent bank meeting with First Republic, a set of March 31, 2016, financial statements were produced, including a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a statement of cash flows. The bank thanked us for our super-quick and up-to-date turn around!

3. Cancel and pay off the credit cards! In January, we stopped use on all credit cards and began work to account for and reconcile credit cards and their misuse. Thanks to some great volunteers including Ruth Jaffe, Suzanne Lissak, Gail Ravitz, Sandy Goldstein, Harriet Sollod, and Willy Waks, we have been able to get the credit cards under control, and as of May 6, 2016, they are all paid off. We hope to create new expense policies and controls in the coming summer months.

4. April Fool’s - not for this synagogue! While all synagogues run at a deficit, in order to balance the losses from the first half of the current fiscal year, CBS needed to find a way to create positive months for the second half. April was the first month in the last 15 where we actually brought in more money than we spent. We could not have done this without generous donations from congregants and the Board's new fundraising objectives, which will transform and rejuvenate our synagogue.

We still have a lot of work to do to get all of our controls in line. Working together, we will do exactly that, and we will make our synagogue community more robust in the process. I look forward to keeping you informed and answering any questions you may have.

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: http://bit.ly/1SfUZNn. (If you would prefer to contribute appreciated securities, please contact Ella Smirnova at 415.940.7122, ext. 108 or esmirnova@bethsholomsf.org for assistance.)

Todah rabbah, and Happy Hanukkah!

Sincerely,
Angel Alvarez-Mapp
Executive Director