Member Profile : Holly Christman & Max Perr

Today, we invite you to meet (or reconnect) with congregants Holly Christman & Max Perr.

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How long have you been members of Beth Sholom?
Holly & Max: 22 years.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
Holly & Max: 37 years.

Where are you from originally?
Holly & Max: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What kind of work do you do?
Holly: I'm a dermatologist.
Max: I'm a retired corporate executive, and now I'm a private investor.

Do you have any hobbies or other pursuits that are important to you? If so, what?
Holly: I study Italian and art history, and love to travel, cook, read, hike, and exercise.
Max: Wine collecting, cooking, travel, reading, yoga, and spinning.

What’s your favorite movie, book, or album? Why?
Holly: We like too many books to single out any one. As Max is vision impaired, he "reads" his books on Audible.

What’s your most meaningful Jewish memory?
Holly & Max: We have two – when Holly did her conversion and when our children did their b’nai mitzvot!

What, if anything, makes Beth Sholom special for you?
Holly & Max: We have so many memories here:
1) Getting married in the chapel with our dog serving as an attendant, with Rabbi Lew’s permission, of course
2) Rabbi Lew coming to the hospital to bless our first-born, our daughter
3) Munchkins and Mishpacha programs with our children
4) The opening of the new synagogue building
5) Purim festivities

We love the sense of community, of knowing people over the years and watching their kids grow up.

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.

Raquel Sweet's Bat Mitzvah

My name is Raquel Sweet. I am 13 years old and attend The Brandeis School of San Francisco, where I am in seventh grade. I enjoy swimming, dancing, and playing with my dog, Teddy.

I have belonged to Beth Sholom for my entire life. I have so many memories from the synagogue, from attending PJ Shabbat to celebrating all of the holidays – and, of course, my sister’s bat mitzvah last year.

This week, it will be my bat mitzvah. I will be reading from Parashat Noah. This is the story of Noah and the flood. The parsha also includes the story of the Tower of Babel. What many people don't know about this parsha is that it talks about the first time that people ate meat. Before the time of Noah, no one ate meat - everyone was a vegetarian. I am vegetarian myself, and at my bat mitzvah, I will be talking about reasons we have for making different decisions in life including my deciding to become a vegetarian.

I am so excited to celebrate with everybody this Shabbat. I am very thankful to have all my family and friends coming from near and far to join me. I am also excited to be sharing this occasion with my Beth Sholom family. I look forward to seeing everyone this Shabbat to join me and my family at this simcha.

Meet Jordyn Halpern, JVS Summer Intern

CBS is pleased to introduce our Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn Summer Intern, Jordyn Halpern. Jordyn is supporting multiple departments at CBS during her internship (June 19 - August 8), but she is focusing on communications. Wearing her communications hat, Jordyn will learn about thoughtful marketing and website management as well as gaining blogging experience. Today, we're sharing her first blog contribution.

Jordyn has been a terrific new member of our team, and we look forward to a full and fun summer working with her!

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Facebook_JordynFrom Boston to the Bay Area

Shalom. I’m Jordyn Halpern, rising sophomore at the University of San Francisco (USF), and I’m absolutely thrilled to be your newest Kohn Intern. I am a communication studies major and social justice minor, and I’ll be working closely with CBS to deepen my skills in marketing and social media for the duration of the summer. I’m looking forward to increasing my skill set in an environment that allows me to explore not only my personal interests, but Jewish faith as well.

Currently, I’m a full-time resident of the Bay Area, but I originally hail from the East Coast – a town just south of Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish area, and my weeks consisted of going to public school during the day and heading to Hebrew school in the evening. I remember being in the 7th grade and having a b’nai mitzvah to attend every weekend (and sometimes finding a way to go to three in a day!). Moving to San Francisco was definitely a culture shock in that regard. My little town was its own Judaic bubble, especially when compared to this big city; I had never been exposed to so many cultures so fast! I did join the Jewish Student Organization at USF, and am very excited to be holding a position on its executive board in the fall. Working at CBS is certainly helping me in maintaining my Jewish identity, and I am extremely thankful to have the privilege of working with this congregation. 

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!

Samantha Friedland's Bat Mitzvah

Facebook_Samantha-FriedlandShalom. My name is Samantha Friedland, and I am a 7th grader at Creative Arts Charter School. My main hobbies are playing the flute, the guitar, and soccer. I also love being with friends and family, and just having fun.

My bat mitzvah will take place this Shabbat, May 27. It will be an exciting event for me, my friends, and my family. My Torah portion is about the census Moses took of the people in the desert on their long journey to Israel. This portion talks a lot about each of the tribes and their roles they had to play in order to survive in the desert for so long.

Thank you to Randi, my tutor, and to Rabbi Glazer, for guiding me through my studies and teaching me so much about Torah and my Torah portion. Thank you to all of my family and friends for making me laugh and for always supporting me.

Eva Leavitt's Bat Mitzvah

Facebook_EvaLeavittShalom. My name is Eva Sivan Leavitt and I’m a seventh grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. I am looking forward to my bat mitzvah, which will take place this Saturday, March 18.

I've been part of the Beth Sholom community since preschool, and now I’m entering the adult community. My portion is about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, and Aaron making the golden calf.

Some of my hobbies are art and cooking, and I also sing in a chorus. I have lived in Israel for a year, and I love traveling. Traveling gives me a chance to see the world in a different way and to learn about other people and cultures.

I think that to enter adulthood is to learn more about yourself and not so much about reaching a milestone or becoming a certain age. I think that each person has a different path to entering adulthood.

I want to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me with my drash, and to Noa Bar for teaching me my Torah portion and my haftarah.

Noah Eshaghpour-Silberman's Bar Mitzvah

Facebook_NoahEshaghpour-SilbermanHello! Salam!

My name is Noah Eshaghpour-Silberman. On March 11th, I will celebrate the milestone of becoming a bar mitzvah in front of the Beth Sholom community.

I am a 7th Grader at Presidio Middle School, and my many interests include cooking, performing, musical theater, fashion, design, and art exhibits.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Tetzaveh, God commands that a lamp called the ner tamid ("eternal light") burn all night in the Mishkan. The priests are then ordered to wear holy garments, and God provides direction for the scared preparations into priesthood and prescribes the sacrificial duties. The parsha concludes with the making of the incense-burning golden altar.

I want to thank my parents, Rabbi Glazer, my tutor, Noa Bar, and all of my teachers at Beth Sholom for helping me prepare for this day.

I hope to see you this weekend as I celebrate my bar mitzvah with friends and family!

Shana Cohen's Bat Mitzvah

Facebook_ShanaCohenHello! Hej! Jambo! Hola! שלום! Bonjour! Hallo! Helló!

My name is Shana Cohen, and I am a third generation San Franciscan and a student at Gateway Middle School. I like soccer (I play on SF Sol), reading, spending time with family and friends, animals, horseback riding, art, and being creative. I am bilingual – I speak both Swedish and English – as well as bicultural. I especially enjoy traveling, and have been fortunate to spend summers in Sweden with my family, and to travel and meet people around the globe. Wherever I go, I make friends and have experiences that I will always remember. So many people from my life have made an impact on me that has contributed to my journey towards reaching the age of mitzvot.

On February 25th, I will have my bat mitzvah, a changing point in my life. I will be sharing it with friends and family from many parts of the world including California, Sweden, Germany, and Kenya. No matter how far (or near) you came from, I am so thankful you are here to share this day with me and my family.

In this week's parsha, we learn that all Jews, rich and poor alike, were required to contribute half a shekel for the Mishkan. You will learn more about Parashat Mishpatim during the Torah service, which includes my d’var Torah.

The maftir that I will read describes a census taken of the children of Israel. Everyone over the age of 20 is required to give half a shekel to restore the Mishkan. The Mishkan was a portable structure used until the Temple was built in Jerusalem. The Israelites could bring sacrifices to redeem for sins or express thanks. Later, in the Torah portion Ki Tissa, God calls Moses to Mount Sinai to get the commandments. Meanwhile, the people became impatient and worried. As a result, they make a golden calf to have a substitute for God. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai he sees the calf and breaks the tablets. God punishes the Israelites by making them drink the gold of the golden calf. Moses is mad but tells God to give them a second chance. He then returns to Mount Sinai to receive a new set of tablets.

I want to thank my mamma and pappa, my brother Ari, all my grandparents, and the rest of my family and friends. I also want to give special thanks to Rabbi Aubrey Glazer and Noa Bar for instilling in me the gift of Torah, and connecting it to my everyday life. I also want to thank Congregation Beth Sholom for supporting my ongoing Jewish education, and the opportunity to create lifelong friendships.

It will be my pleasure to see you at CBS this Shabbat.

The Financial Four -- November 30, 2016

Today, the latest edition of The Financial Four, an update from our Interim Director of Finance, Missy Sue Mastel.

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Donation_CBSYellow
Miss me?

Well, not to worry; things have been hopping around the synagogue, so much so that I haven’t had a moment to do my favorite part of the job – updating YOU, our generous community! But there's lots of good news to share, so let's get to it.

1. Our 2015-16 financials are in the bag. – Closing out the year presented a few challenges, but we were able to get our financials done and through the audit by September; a noble timeframe. The auditors were happy, the bank was happy, and the financials are available to anyone who wants to see them.

2. An unbelievable High Holiday season. – There is very little we could do without you, but this is particularly true of the High Holy Days. The services at CBS this year – joyous, moving, meaningful – were successful because of you. Now, following the High Holiday season, I’m in the fortunate position of seeing just how much you value our services and community experiences: $748,000 in membership dues, $238,000 in Kol Nidre pledges, and more and more of you coming to events all the time! Speaking of...

3. All the ways we celebrate together. – The Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat was packed this past Friday evening with congregants and amazing performers. The upcoming Hanukkah celebration (Light It Up!, December 15), our b'nai mitzvah and birthday celebrations (mazel tov on your 85th, Norm!), the December 6 new member event, which looks like it is officially "sold out" — all of these are ways we use the synagogue to connect as a community. CBS is not just charity that its members support. CBS is a place to see and rejoice with people we love to see and rejoice with.

4. But, yes, it is ALSO a charity. – We are doing some amazing things with the money you generously donate: we are focusing on improving efficiencies and workflows; finding better ways to engage you, our prized members; and utilizing technology that is creating a better customer experience. Starting this month, a select group of you will be receiving membership statements via email. In the next few months, we will be enabling powerful systems to allow you to make donations from wherever you are. Just imagine it – you see something happening in your world, and CBS can be an instantaneous part of your reaction. You can learn more about it by registering for a class, or you can make a donation that will help combat anti-Semitism, enable a community Israel opportunity, or sponsor a child’s Jewish heritage – all of this while you're on the go, boarding at an airport, in a ride share, or between meetings. We want to be wherever you are.

So...on that note, no need to miss me too much! Stop by the synagogue any time, and let’s discuss all the ways that you and I can make this place sing!

L’shalom,
Missy Sue

New Books In Our Library Collection

Rosemary Rothstein and the rest of the CBS Rabin Family Library Committee have been quite busy this past year. New books are added to our collection all the time. We invite you to come by and take a look!

If you would like to check out a book, just take a card from the library desk, sign your name and date, and place the card in the black mesh wire box. If you have an interest in some Jewish subject and can’t find what you are looking for, email Rosemary or Henry Hollander and they will see what they can do for you.

Below, congregant and bookseller Henry Hollander provides a few short reviews of some recently-acquired titles.

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Heart of Many RoomsA Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism,
by David Hartman

The late David Hartman (z"l), founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, encouraged thoughtful re-evaluation of Jewish ideas within a traditional Jewish setting. This collection of essays includes sections on "Family and Mitzvah with an Interpretive Tradition," "Educating Towards Inclusiveness," "Celebrating Religious Diversity," and "Religious Perspectives on the Future of Israel." Hartman’s contribution to Jewish education has had an invigorating effect on the many teachers who have studied at the Hartman Institute. While his legacy continues to benefit and shape the institute, we are now deprived of Hartman’s direct teaching. A Heart of Many Rooms provides a a good introduction to this significant Jewish thinker's thought.



Survival in SarajevoSurvival in Sarajevo: How a Jewish Community Came to the Aid of its City,
by Edward Serotta

Serotta is a European journalist and photographer who reported and photographed Sarajevo during the long and brutal Bosnian siege of the city. The war that occurred in the period following the collapse of Eastern European communism pitted Muslims, Croats, and Bosnians against each other. The Jewish community was no one’s enemy. Within the besieged city, the small Jewish population very actively worked to maintain public health, find food for the population, reach out to the isolated elderly, and provide a route of escape for as many people as possible, Jew or non-Jew. Serotta tells the story of this community, nearly destroyed in the Holocaust fifty years earlier, in a moment of very bitter triumph.

Bat Mitzvah of Ana RosensteinA guide for Shabbat worshipers in attendance at the Bat Mitzvah of Ana Rosenstein, Michal Bat Leah Hannah v’Benyamin, Shabbat Shira-Parshah Beshallach, February 11, 2006, 13 Shevat, 5766,
Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, California.

At most of our b'nai mitzvot, the family provides a short brochure to help explain to the uninitiated just exactly what is going on around them and why. This deluxe version of such a production is very well done and can provide a helpful model for families preparing their own (simpler) brochures.

Schocken Guide to Jewish BooksThe Schocken Guide to Jewish Books: Where to Start Reading about Jewish History, Literature, Culture and Religion,
edited by Barry W. Holtz

Three thousand years of Jewish life is a lot to take in. It can be hard to figure out where to start. This guide is one of the best introductions to the world of Jewish books out there.





Wolloch HaggadahThe Wolloch Haggadah. Pessach Haggadah In Memory of the Holocaust,
Illustrated by David Wander with calligraphy by Yonah Weinrib

This Haggadah was originally commissioned as a one-of-a-kind, hand-written and illustrated manuscript. There was a subsequent, high-quality limited-edition portfolio produced. This edition is the first trade edition. It was dedicated to the memory of the Wolloch’s parents, both of whom perished in the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, Haggadot manuscripts were produced for surreptitious use, and they reveal much about how Jews lived and maintained their spiritual lives in the face of overwhelming adversity.

A Haggadah that is a commemoration of the Holocaust is not something I am not always comfortable with. There is an implicit and often explicit connection between the ideas "we were slaves in Egypt" and "we were victims in the Holocaust" that is too rigid for my tastes. That said, this particular rendering of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, drenched as it is in what Salo Baron referred to as "the lachrymose conception of Jewish history," is both beautiful and horrible in its telling of the tale. Come and review it and make your own conclusions!

The Financial Four -- May 31, 2016

Today, the latest edition of The Financial Four, an update from our volunteer Acting Director of Finance, Missy Sue Mastel.

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Donation_CBSYellowDear Fellow Congregants,

I don’t want to steal any thunder from this Sunday's Annual Meeting (June 5, 10 a.m., in Koret Hall), but there is plenty of financial news to share with you and not enough time to get through it all on Sunday morning (no matter how much coffee we brew)! With that in mind, I'd like to provide readers with a few highlights from the last two weeks.

1. Our very own Incredibles. Many people said we shouldn’t raise dues, but I'm humbled to say that in addition to quite a few families committing to higher-than-expected giving levels (and paying in full already!), we have our first family supporting CBS as Rosh Pina (Cornerstone) level Parnas members, an incredibly generous $36,000/year commitment! Like Dale Carnegie says, you can’t get what you don’t ask for. Lesson learned!

2. Our tiniest, freshest members are coming in droves. Although the current school year isn’t yet at a close, we have more than 60 of 71 possible slots filled for next year’s CBS Family Preschool. To say that we signed up 3 families last week and have 3 more tours scheduled for this week is a good indicator of just how well we are serving our community’s need for cost-effective, Jewish preschool. Someone should make honey cookies for the preschoolers -- surely their learning life is off to a sweet start!

3. Making our money count. Now that we have a better handle on our shul finances, our next step is to make them effective. New insurance quotes may result in $18,000 of savings, and we have already reduced facilities costs by more than $2,000/month through better maintenance and employee scheduling.

4. Who doesn’t love a good Kiddush? May marked our first month of financial profit in the kitchen. Maybe it was the brisket, but people have really stepped up to sponsor food and drink (I think I see hard liquor at our buffet tables, no?). The generosity involved in these sponsorships, for b’nai mitzvot and any other reason you can think of, is a gorgeous tribute to all the things we stand for in Conservative Judaism -- feeding the homeless, gathering as a community, and making the profane (like the aforementioned alcohol) sacred.

Keep your eyes peeled in upcoming HaLuach newsletters for more updates. I look forward to keeping you informed and answering any questions you may have.

Rabbi Glazer On Rites of Passage

RabbiGlazer_VidStillGetting married, becoming parents, and (G-d willing, many, many, many years later!) dying -- after b'nai mitzvah, these are the major rites of passage that most of us will experience over the course of our lives. Because these life cycle events -- playfully referred to as "match, hatch, and dispatch" -- are so culturally ubiquitous, we often forget that they are opportunities for profound personal transformation.

Not long ago, Rabbi Glazer sat down with a videographer to discuss the spiritual importance of life cycle events in the context of our Jewish "communal family." He emphasized just how special these moments are, and why they should not be minimized or taken for granted.

"Something significant changes in the-- on a cellular level in terms of your spirit. You are not the same person when you began and when you cross through that threshold. And that's the reason why we see it as really being-- you're kind of going through a liminal moment, you're passing through a doorway. The threshold of that doorway is the community, once you come through the community, you come through that moment of ritual belonging and ritual performance, something changes and it's as if we're going into another room in the larger spiritual house of our lives."

We invite you to watch the 6-minute video CBS produced following the conversation.