Beha'alotecha – Numbers 8:1 - 12:16

How does ritual allow for the building of community practice?

Ongoing commitment to communal ritual requires trust. Another key for community building I learned from Dr. Sarale Shadmi-Wortman (Oranim College of Education) while on the Rabin Bay Area Leadership Mission to Israel is mutual trust. It is defined as the "willingness of individuals to join and help others without deep personal familiarity nor with any expectation, just the conviction that this is what other members of a community are doing, so I will do it, too."

In Parashat Beha'alotecha, as Aaron is commanded to light the lamps of the menorah, the focus is on just how to raise the sparks to create a luminous presence. For those Israelites unable to bring the Paschal offering at the appointed time, there is another chance with the institution of a Second Passover. Also, dissatisfaction with the manna from heaven sets in as the Israelites yearn for new tastes.

Each of these scenarios involves an initial enthusiasm that fades, so that the challenge remains how to hold onto that inspiration through a daily spiritual practice. The mosaic wisdom here is instructive, specifically in imparting his (Moses') spirit to the appointed seventy elders. Spiritual practice is bolstered in a community of practice where mutual trust is a given.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork depicts "the cloud of the Lord" that leads the Israelites through their years of desert wandering. "Whether it was for two days, a month, or a year, that the cloud lingered to hover over the Mishkan, the children of Israel would encamp and not travel, and when it departed, they traveled." (Numbers 9:22) Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 37

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 2.15.31 PMCBS is delighted to announce that we are co-sponsoring four films in this year's 37th SF Jewish Film Festival!

The oldest Jewish film festival in the world is back! This highly regarded festival runs from July 20 to August 6, and we invite you to check out as many movies as you can.

If you can only catch a few of the screenings, CBS is happy to invite you to four films we are co-presenting - details below!



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.21.19 AMHarmonia
Writer/director Ori Sivan’s elegant and understated backstage musical drama is a modern adaptation of the Book of Genesis. Sarah is a talented harpist performing in the Jerusalem orchestra of her conductor and husband, Abraham (Alon Aboutboul). Into their childless marriage enters the enigmatic Hagar, a Palestinian horn player who offers to provide the Israeli couple with a child. The film’s finale is an unforgettable and emotional call for harmony between Arabs and Jews. (Israel; 2016; 98 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Castro Theatre | Friday, July 21, 8:55 p.m.
Cinearts | Saturday, July 22, 8:55 p.m.
Albany Twin | Wednesday, August 5, 2:30 p.m.
Smith Rafael | Thursday, August 6, 12:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 8.51.31 AM Rabbi Wolff: A Gentleman Before God
Willy Wolff escaped the Nazis, became a renowned British journalist, and didn’t go to rabbinical school till he was in his 50s. Now in his 80s, he leads two Jewish communities in Germany and still finds time for yoga, learning Russian, and enjoying the racetrack. We go behind the scenes to see the beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking life of a deeply religious man who is rarely seen without a twinkle in his eye. (Germany; 2016; 95 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Saturday, July 22, 11:30 a.m.
Castro Theatre | Sunday, July 23, 11:10 1.m.
Roda Theatre | Sunday, July 30, 4:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 8.44.24 AMBen Gurion: Epilogue
Featuring never-before-aired footage from a 1968 interview with Israel’s founding Prime Minister, filmmaker Yariv Mozer (Snails in the Rain, SFJFF 2014) pays homage to one of Israel’s first generation of political leaders. The resulting film begs the question, what would Ben-Gurion do given the current political climate in the Middle East? Viewers can hazard a guess when Ben-Gurion discusses trading land for an enduring peace. (Israel, 2016, 61 minutes).

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Sunday, July 23, 12:00 p.m.
Castro Theatre | Saturday, July 29, 1:45 p.m.
Albany Twin | Sunday, July 30, 12:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.54.21 AM1945
August, 1945. Two Orthodox Jews arrive at a remote Hungarian train station. When the town gets wind of their arrival, rumors and fears spread that they may be heirs of the village’s denounced and deported Jews who will want their stolen property back. Shot in elegant black and white with a minimal evocative score, 1945 is a subtle and nuanced study in collective guilt, paranoia, and anti-Semitism in a postwar Hungary. (Hungary; 2017; 91 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Castro Theatre | Wednesday, July 26, 6:20 p.m.
Roda Theatre | Saturday, July 29, 6:20 p.m.
Cinearts | Thursday, July 27, 6:10 p.m.
Smith Rafael | Sunday, August 6, 2:10 p.m.



This summer, join CBS to celebrate community and storytelling at the 37th Jewish Film Festival. For ticket information, contact the box office at 415.621.0523 or visit the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival website to learn more.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpr1T5DYXYA[/embed]

Beha'alotecha – Numbers 8:1 - 12:16

Facebook_CoverDesign_BehaAlotechaHow does ritual allow for the building of community practice?

Ongoing commitment to communal ritual requires trust. Another key for community building I learned from Dr. Sarale Shadmi-Wortman (Oranim College of Education) while on the Rabin Bay Area Leadership Mission to Israel is Mutual Trust: The "willingness of individuals to join and help others without deep personal familiarity nor with any expectation, just the conviction that this is what other members of a community are doing, so I will do it, too."

In Parashat Beha'alotecha, as Aaron is commanded to light the lamps of the menorah, the focus is on just how to raise the sparks to create a luminous presence. For those Israelites unable to bring the Paschal offering at the appointed time, there is another chance with the institution of a Second Passover. Also, dissatisfaction with the manna from heaven sets in as the Israelites yearn for new tastes.

Each of these scenarios involves an initial enthusiasm that fades, so that the challenge remains how to hold onto that inspiration through a daily spiritual practice. The mosaic wisdom here is instructive, specifically in imparting his (Moses') spirit to the appointed seventy elders. Spiritual practice is bolstered in a community of practice where mutual trust is a given.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork depicts "the cloud of the Lord" that leads the Israelites through their years of desert wandering. "Whether it was for two days, a month, or a year, that the cloud lingered to hover over the Mishkan, the children of Israel would encamp and not travel, and when it departed, they traveled." (Numbers 9:22) Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Nicholas Miller's Bar Mitzvah

Facebook_NicolasMillerHi, or שלום (Sholom)!

My name is Nicholas (Nick) Miller and I’m a 7th grader at San Francisco Friends School. I am a second generation San Franciscan and a third generation member of Beth Sholom. My favorite things are playing sports or video games, spending time outdoors or with family and friends, and making art when I have an inspiration.

On April 29, I will be called to the Torah, a huge milestone in my life. As I have spent lots of time preparing for my big day, I have come to be aware of my place in my Jewish community.

In this week’s combined parsha, Tazria-Metzora, we learn how to deal with tzara’at (skin distortion). At the time, Aaron was the priest and the one making the decision about whether someone was pure (tahor) or impure (tameh). Aaron could tell if someone was impure if the person had any skin distortion. These people were identified, in public, as being impure because they didn’t fit in with the expected norm and then were forced out of the camp. These people would then have to follow very strict rules to become pure again.

I want to thank my mom and my dad for pushing me to get my work done and helping me out when I was challenged. I want to thank my family and friends, especially my sister, for supporting me. I want to thank Rabbi Glazer for helping me choose my Hebrew name as well as teaching me how to relate to the Torah. Thank you to Noa Bar for her dedication, hard work, and teaching me how to read Torah. Lastly, I want to thank Henry Hollander, who has selflessly volunteered innumerable hours to make sure that this day happened.

Welcoming Shabbat Nachamu

Sadly, the time has come for us to bid our all-star Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn Summer Intern, Claire Ambruster, a fond adieu.

For eight weeks this summer, Claire was a welcome addition to the CBS team. Without exception, every member of the CBS staff was very impressed with her and pleased with the work she did. As Rabbi Glazer wrote, "Claire was a pleasure to work with – responsive, responsible, and Jewishly knowledgeable and curious. Her ability to juggle multiple tasks and manage her time is noteworthy as are her people skills. This bodes well for future service in the Jewish community and beyond!"

We wish Claire the very best, and hope to see more of her since she'll just be across the Bay at Mills College. Fortunately for us, she is sharing one final blog contribution, this one about Shabbat Nachamu (August 20).

* * * * *

Facebook_ModehAni_ClaireThis summer, I was very grateful to have had the opportunity to work at Congregation Beth Sholom through the Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn internship. I worked in different departments here at CBS, which allowed me to gain perspective into different types of work — from accounting to communications. I really enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and the CBS community. Thank you to everyone who helped to make my time here full of growth!

Did you know that this coming Shabbat is a special one?

Shabbat Nachamu begins this Friday evening, the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av. Just yesterday, Tisha B’Av brought a period of intense mourning for many losses, including the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. However, on Shabbat Nachamu we make a complete shift, focusing instead on hope, healing, and light. Although we fasted and had no celebrations on Tisha B’Av, we have celebrations and weddings after Shabbat Nachamu.

Shabbat Nachamu also begins the seven weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah — marking the start of a journey towards teshuvah and repentance. Despite our feelings of brokenness on Tisha B’Av, these seven weeks symbolize completeness, reminiscent of the seven days of the week or the seven days of shiva. For these next seven weeks, we read a weeky haftarah that provides comfort. On Shabbat Nachamu, we begin the haftarah with the line "Nachamu nachamu ami yomer eloheim," which means "You all comfort, comfort My people, says G-d" (Isaiah 40:1). In other words, "Come together and comfort each other and you will heal."

How does our tradition expect us to suddenly turn from complete mourning, loss, and destruction to comfort, healing, and hope — what really has changed? How many of us actually have the ability to just change our focus when we feel despair? And where does pain go?

In Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening, he relates a Hindu parable about a student who frequently complained. To teach her student a lesson, the master told her to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. It tasted bitter. Then, the master told her student to drop the salt into the lake and taste it again. Now, the salt was diluted and the water tasted fresh. At this, the master told her apprentice, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things... Stop being a glass. Become a lake" (Nepo 18). On Shabbat Nachamu, we are called to become a lake. Although pain may always exist, we expand our perspective to include infinite sorrows and joys.

No matter the roadblocks, we can possess extensive gratitude — and those "roadblocks" can become "stepping stones" to learning something new. The Hebrew expression for gratitude is "hikarat hatov," literally, "recognizing the good." Each of us has many things to be thankful for — no matter what. In Pirkei Avot, it states, "Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own lot" (Pirkei Avot 4:1). In this way, our choices are what determine our outlook — and that is the wisdom of Shabbat Nachamu.

Artwork credit & note: Claire Ambruster, Modeh Ani, Watercolor on paper, 2015; Claire wanted this piece to accompany her article because the title and first words of our morning prayer, "Modeh ani," mean "I give thanks." That sentiment (and the practice of reciting the Modeh Ani with intention) can help us "become a lake."

A Personal Reflection on Halacha

In early July, we introduced our Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn Summer Intern, Claire Ambruster, to the community with a thoughtful article she wrote for the CBS blog. Today, we're pleased to share Claire's second blog contribution, "A Personal Reflection on Halacha," which is accompanied by her lovely artwork.

Yes, indeed, Claire is one talented intern!

* * * * *

ClaireAmbruster_Artwork1Like many modern Jews, my practice requires that I embrace a quintessential Jewish struggle. I struggle to reconcile my commitment to religious observance with my commitment to egalitarian values. I also desire to practice regularly and spontaneously.

I recently learned of a Kabbalistic teaching written by Rabbi Hayyim Vital in Sha’ar HaGilgulim. He writes (11:12) that each soul is intrinsically connected to a unique mitzvah. It is the mission of each person to perfect that one act. While practicing all 613 mitzvot also engages the soul, Vital writes that we are most responsible for perfecting our individual, "root" mitzvah.

The idea that one mitzvah is uniquely connected to our soul does not mean we must ignore the other 612, but it does mean that some of the mitzvot might not come naturally, authentically, or easily for individual Jews. We can learn and grow by grappling with even the most personally-challenging mitzvot, but we learn and grow in an equally valuable manner by practicing mitzvot at our own pace, in a way that feels meaningful. Halacha is a living, individual experience.

Recently, I became inspired to expand my Shabbat observance. Although I had not developed a regular Shabbat practice, I attempted to observe one Shabbat completely according to halacha (no driving, no phone or computer, no cooking, etc.). It didn’t exactly work. While parts of the experience were meaningful – especially the break from my computer screen! – my high expectations of a "perfect" Shabbat became a little overwhelming. For me, focusing too much on the "rules" distracted me from my original kavanot (intentions). For the next Shabbat, I vowed to focus more on the basics – to light candles, spend time with family and friends, to rest, and renew.

This struggle between halacha and spontaneity, between tradition and change, is one I choose to embrace. With respect to halacha, I find a kind of magic in speaking ancient prayers and honoring words that have been spoken l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation. There is a magic in connecting to my Jewish family, bound together by the rituals we practice. Yet I sometimes find that focusing on halachic practices can distract from my true desires and kavanot. For now, my goal is to find a balance, stay true to myself, and continuously learn and discover.

Artwork credit & note: Claire Ambruster, Shiru L'Adonai, Watercolor on paper, 2015; Claire wanted this piece to accompany her article because Shiru L'Adonai, or "singing a new song," "references the theme of finding a balance between change and tradition."

Camp Ramah Galim

Riding Your Wave In the Sea of Judaism: The Start-up Camp Ramah Galim

imgresThere is nothing quite like the oceanic rhythm of Camp Ramah campers and staff surrounding you from dawn till dusk. In those eternal moments, you begin to feel the pulse of this camp’s namesake — Galim. Singing, dancing, exploring, studying, rock climbing, scuba diving — an immersive summer at Camp Ramah in Northern California transforms hearts and minds to live Jewish lives.

Along with Elyssa and Talya, I have been blessed to visit, teach, and support our brand new Camp Ramah NorCal, known in Hebrew as Ramah Galim, or "Ramah of the Waves." Clearly, if we can create the ruach of Ramah amidst the strawberry fields of Watsonville, then we can do anything! Thanks to the devoted leadership of many, including CBS members Craig Miller and Alex Bernstein, Ramah Galim has been overwhelmed by the response of parents looking for a meaningful, authentic Jewish camping experience. Registration was expected at 100 and is now over 250! Who could resist such a panoply of ways to live your Judaism? Outdoor adventures, ocean explorations, and performing arts – each track of this new camp meets each child right where they are, lifting their souls ever higher.

Facebook_JoshHorwitz---AaronMiller---------RabbiGlazer_CampRamahNorcal_July2016 I've been part of Ramah since my second year as a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Traveling to and teaching at almost every Ramah in the Northeast, it has become clear to me that the many unique Ramah traditions mark a transformational camping movement born from the vision of Conservative/Masorti Judaism; the movement continues to inspire and renew one generation to the next, producing Jewish leaders and families unlike any other!

And so this summer I brought deep expectations – along with my family (who joined many other rabbinic families from near and far) – to Ramah NorCal, the new jewel in the Bay Area Jewish community. As rabbi of CBS, along with our amazing Youth Advisor, David Herrera, we look forward to our ongoing partnership with Ramah Galim and its leadership (headed by Rabbi Sarah Shulman) Facebook_SarahShulmanLielRabbiGlazer_CampRamahNorcal_July2016with the goal of ensuring more and more Jewish campers feel their unique pulse as part of the waves of this oceanic blessing of Ramah Galim, and that this summer magic washes back through our communal family in the coming years.

While Elyssa was facilitating Jewish art and spiritual direction workshops for all ages, I was blessed to teach the staff and campers about some of the layers of meaning within the name Ramah Galim. This culminated with our dedication of the Aron HaKodesh during the camp's Founder’s Day, when I shared two "take-aways" from the Zohar on the mystery of galim, or waves. Firstly, to be children of galim is to be riding the waves of our ancestors, as the children of Abraham and Sarah who enacted mitzvot as innumerable as galei yam, the waves of the sea. Secondly, to download the taste of the world that is coming – that is, Shabbat — we must be as galim, for all exists within these waves, intermingled, heaps upon heaps, reaching out to all!

I am grateful for the ability to support and partner with Ramah Galim, and I know that the camp is so appreciative of the unconditional support provided by CBS. The pulsing rhythm of our CBS spiritual life will only be enhanced by continuing to support Jewish camping experiences and making spaces for informal, experiential Judaism to come alive in our community! As we welcome Rebecca Goodman to our team as Director of Youth Education,Facebook_RabbiGlazerArkDedication2_CampRamahNorcal_July2016 along with David Herrera who is been blessed to spend all summer with our campers at Ramah Galim, we have great things to look forward to together! May we continue to be and become children of galim! That is the secret of Ramah Galim and it is the secret of CBS. Let us continue to reach out to all, making new friends and deepening old friendships so that we continue building and nurturing our Jewish lives with love as deep as the ocean. May this summer immerse our children in the waves of inspiration that make up the oceanic blessing of Judaism. From these children inherit a better world, thanks to the actions we commit to take.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Photo captions:
- Josh Horwitz, Sam Toeman, Aaron Miller, Raquel Sweet, Nathan Fell, Adina Sweet, and Rabbi Glazer at Camp Ramah NorCal
- Rabbi Sarah Shulman, Liel Shulman, & Rabbi Glazer at Camp Ramah NorCal
- Rabbi Glazer speaking at the dedication of the Ramah Galim ark during Founder's Day

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 36

CBS is delighted to co-present three films
included in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 36!

SFJFF36-Twitter-optimized Celebrating its 36th year – chai, don't you know?! – the SFJFF is the oldest Jewish film festival in the world and among the most highly regarded, as well. This year, the festival runs July 21 – August 7, 2016, and we encourage you to check out as many of the movies as you can.

If you can only catch a few of the screenings, we recommend the three that we're co-presenting. Learn more below.



isaiah_sheffer_2_-_h_2016Art & Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer
Art & Heart, a spirited documentary film by Catherine Tambini, celebrates the life of Isaiah Sheffer, the founding artistic director of Symphony Space and host of Selected Shorts on public radio. Sheffer inspired everyone from Leonard Nimoy to Stephen Colbert. During screenings of Art & Heart, Director Catherine Tambini and producers Ethel Sheffer and Gina Leonetti will be present. (USA; 2016; 50 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Wednesday, July 27, 3:20 p.m.
Castro Theatre | Thursday, July 28, 1:30 p.m.
Roda Theatre | Friday, July 29, 1:40 p.m.

BUY TICKETS TO ART & HEART



There Are Jews HereThere Are Jews Here
This quirky and poignant documentary examines the challenges of Jewish life in small­-town America. Focusing on four tiny Jewish communities, directors Brad Lichtenstein and Morgan Elise Johnson examine in intimate detail what happens to a congregation when there are scarcely enough Jews left to form a quorum for religious activities, much less to maintain a vibrant community. The film offers an unusual and intriguing look at a segment of American Jewish life that is rarely examined. During screenings of There Are Jews Here that take place in San Francisco and Berkeley, Director Brad Lichtenstein will be present. (USA; 2016; 90 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Tuesday, July 26, 1:45 p.m.
Castro Theatre | Saturday, July 30, 2:10 p.m.
Roda Theatre | Monday, August 1, 3:40 p.m.

BUY TICKETS TO THERE ARE JEWS HERE



Shtisel Season 2Shtisel: Season 2
Shtisel is a family melodrama that looks like Modern Family put on a kippah and went to Jerusalem. This melodrama returns to SFJFF for its second season. The critical and commercial success combines Haredi traditions and popular television tropes. Season 2 again follows the Shtisel clan as they navigate adolescence, engagement, sibling ties, and death. Whether for romantic, religious, or family reasons, Shtisel appeals to fans of love across all ages. (Israel; 2015; 2 x 47 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Castro Theatre | Friday, July 22, 2:05 p.m.
Cinearts | Saturday, July 23, 2:20 p.m.
Roda Theatre | Thursday, August 4, 4:20 p.m.
Smith Rafael | Friday, August 5, 2:10 p.m.

BUY TICKETS TO SHTISEL



This summer, hop on the J Train and "celebrate the full spectrum of Jewish identity, life and thought"! For ticket information, please contact the box office at 415.621.0523 or visit the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival online.

Beha'alotecha -- Numbers 8:1 - 12:16

Facebook_CoverDesign_BehaalotechaCo-founder of Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, Sharon Salzberg (b. 1952) once remarked:

"We can learn the art of fierce compassion -- redefining strength, deconstructing isolation, and renewing a sense of community, practicing letting go of rigid us-versus-them thinking -- while cultivating power and clarity in response to difficult situations."

How does ritual allow for the building of such community practice?

Firstly, as Aaron is commanded to light the lamps of the menorah, the focus is on just how to raise the sparks to create a luminous presence. Secondly, for those Israelites unable to bring the Paschal offering at the appointed time, there is another chance with the institution of a Second Passover. Thirdly, dissatisfaction with the manna from heaven sets in as the Israelites yearn for new tastes.

Each of these scenarios involves an initial enthusiasm that fades, so that the challenge remains how to hold onto that inspiration through a daily spiritual practice. The mosaic wisdom here is instructive, specifically in imparting his spirit to the appointed seventy elders. Spiritual practice is bolstered in a community of practice.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork is an abstract depiction of Numbers 10:34: "The cloud of the Lord was above them by day, when they traveled from the camp." The "cloud" in the picture intentionally looks more like an eye or a cell, a nod to the importance of seeing/acknowledging the wondrous in the mundane. In opening ourselves to wonder, we locate G-d in a cloud (or a nucleus). Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Lola Schnaider's Bat Mitzvah

LolaShalom! My name is Lola Schnaider, and I am a 7th grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco! I enjoy dancing, playing sports, photography, and listening to lots of music. I love to travel and be out in nature with my friends and family. In a few short days, I will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah. To me, becoming a bat mitzvah means accepting my responsibilities as the newest member of the Jewish community, and figuring out my Jewish identity.

I will be reading from Parashat Naso, which is found in the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar. Several topics come up in my parsha including rules pertaining to contact with lepers, adultery, the nazarite vow, and the sacred, threefold Priestly blessing.

The topic that interests me the most is that of the sotah, which translates as "gone astray." Sotah is a ritual test that occurs when a husband suspects his wife of adultery. The wife must drink a mixture of clay and dirt from the floor of the Tabernacle, to prove her innocence or guilt. In my drash, I will offer a feminist perspective on the topic of sotah, as it relates and compares to our lives today. I am honored to be having my bat mitzvah at Congregation Beth Sholom, and I am thrilled to have my family and friends by my side.

I hope to see you all there!