Hardly Strictly Selichot Unplugged Recap

facebook_yehudasolomonduvidswirsky_hardlystrictlyselichotunplugged_september2016Almost two hundred people visited the CBS campus this past Saturday evening to mark our entrance into the final days of preparation for the Yamim Noraim ("the Days of Awe"). A joint production of CBS, the Mission Minyan, and The Kitchen, Hardly Strictly Selichot Unplugged made for a special night (and early morning!) – deeply affecting, joyous, and fun.

The centerpiece of the night was a communal singalong featuring Yehuda Solomon and Duvid Swirsky of the Israeli-American folk-rock band, Moshav. Yehuda and Duvid were joined by prayer leaders and hazzanim from CBS, the Mission Minyan, and the Kitchen – together, they led the crowd in giving voice to Selichot, our tradition’s beautiful and penitential piyyutim (liturgical poems). According to Ashkenazi tradition, the recitation of Selichot begins after midnight on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah (or the Sunday prior, if Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday or Tuesday, as it does this year) and, although our service didn't wind down until 2 a.m., there was no shortage of energy and ruach in the CBS Sanctuary! Attendees danced, stomped, and swayed with the music and singing, awakening to the urgency of this moment and our need for teshuvah.

Speaking of teshuvah and the related seasonal demand for chesbon hanefesh (a rigorous "accounting of the soul"), Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan shared some moving words during the film panel that occurred earlier in the evening. Following a screening of Fire On The Water, a short film dealing with the Akedah (the binding of Isaac) that Rabbi Aubrey Glazer made during his days as a student filmmaker, Rabbi Wolf-Prusan spoke earnestly of his anxiety about the lack of communal sacrifice experienced by Jewish Americans in the last 50+ years. What loss has our society felt, he asked, as we wage an ongoing war in Afghanistan? Too many families lose their sons and daughters, of course, and our federal coffers are steadily drained, but the majority of Americans are insulated from the war – it remains a background abstraction, and there is little to no sense of communal commitment, contribution, or sacrifice. Even during the Vietnam era, Rabbi Wolf-Prusan argued, despite the anti-war movement and the greater public awareness of the body count (on both sides of the conflict), our culture experienced the 1960s and early 1970s as a period of economic growth and general prosperity. He contrasted this with the American experience during World War II, when all citizens were required to ration foods, fuel, and many consumer goods. We haven't experienced anything like that since the 1940s. "When will the bill come due?," he asked the audience.

Rabbi Dorothy Richman responded to Rabbi Wolf-Prusan and quoted the 20th century sage, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: "Some are guilty, but all are responsible." With so much racial strife, ongoing overseas wars, ugly partisanship, and reactionary politics, she said Rabbi Wolf-Prusan's anxieties about our lack of sacrifice hit her hard. Doubtless, many people in the room were similarly stirred.

This sort of earnest, challenging soul-searching is what the High Holy Days are all about. Observant Jews devote the entire Hebrew month of Elul – which began on September 4 this year – to the spiritual heavy lifting of teshuvah. And what exactly is teshuvah? Depending on which Jew you ask, you'll get different answers. Most resources translate teshuvah as "repentance," but many rabbis scorn this translation, and instead frame teshuvah (which literally translates as "return") as the work of returning to relationship with God. Given contemporary Jews' varied conceptions of deity, that's too vague a formulation for many. However you translate or characterize it, though, teshuvah is about working to develop and improve our character – and it's meant to be hard.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, the need for a commitment to teshuvah becomes increasingly urgent, but it is likewise important to balance the moments of reckoning with moments of joy. Hardly Strictly Selichot Unplugged provided both.

Thanks to all of the panelists, performers, and prayer leaders who made the evening so moving and fun. Thanks, too, to all of the friendly folks from the Mission Minyan and The Kitchen who trekked out – in some cases, carpooling (kol hakavod!) – to the Richmond to make this memorable evening that much better. Todah rabbah, and l'shanah tovah u'metuka (for a good and sweet year)!

A selection of photographs snapped during the event are included below.

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Tai Chi Chuan For Every Day

CBS is pleased to announce that we are offering a new class this fall. Beginning in September 2016, instructor Irving (Irv) Rothstein will offer Tai Chi Chuan For Every Day in Makom Sholom. The classes will meet on select Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

Facebook_IrvRothstein_TaiChiPromo4 Chi (also written as qi) literally translates as "breath" or "life force." Like the Hebrew word ruach (meaning "wind" or "spirit"), chi is both the spiritual and physical energy of the body. Tai chi chuan, the meditative exercise form best known as tai chi, is used by an increasing number of people to develop awareness of and strengthen their mind and body. The long-term psychological and health benefits of the practice have been hailed in a great many studies. The quiet, gentle movements of tai chi increase one’s flexibility, develop strength and balance, and contribute to peace of mind.

Facebook_IrvRothstein_TaiChiPromo1 Irv Rothstein, a CBS congregant and tai chi sifu (practitioner or teacher), will instruct students in the Tai Chi Ruler, a simple and easy-to-learn Taoist approach to tai chi. This method will be supplemented by selected exercises from other meditative martial arts and adapted to everyday movements.

Irv Rothstein has been studying tai chi chuan and related chi techniques since 1976, working closely with Sifu Fong Ha, Irv’s si gung (teacher’s teacher), who serves as Director of the Integral Chuan Institute in Berkeley and also conducts workshops in the Bay Area, the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Irv has taught Tai Chi Ruler and tai chi chuan to young and old alike, working both as a substitute for Fong and with students of his own. He has led workshops in Arkansas and Massachusetts in addition to many in the Bay Area, and he has published articles about tai chi in both local and international magazines. Irv emphasizes ergonomic elements in his classes, focusing on the development of chi in our everyday movements.

As Irv observes, “To best understand chi, one must experience it.” Please join Irv this year in to do just that!

Fall 2016 dates: September 14 & 21
(No classes in October due to Jewish High Holy Days, Sukkot, & Simchat Torah)

Each class costs $10, with all proceeds supporting CBS. Drop-ins are welcome. Wear comfortable clothes and flat, comfortable shoes (or slippers) for the class.

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We're Going To The Ball Game!

Facebook_HeritageNightTShirt_FrontIt'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 Tuesday, August 30. This annual celebration of Jewish identity and heritage is always a home run of fun, but this year is going to be extra special!

Our beloved Giants will be taking on some Southwestern serpents (a.k.a., the Arizona Diamondbacks) in a divisional game. Instead of nosebleed seats, we have reserved a block of amazing, Club Level seats! What's so great about Club Level? Just behind these seats is an open area with a wide variety of restaurants, food stands, and bars. (Some of this area is enclosed; if you get chilly, you can go inside to warm up.) There's also a Giants Museum with a variety of memorabilia on display. The museum and food-bar area are only accessible from the Club, Field Club, and luxury seat areas, which reduces the likelihood of a food or beverage run mob scene.

This year, we're also offering two ticket packages.

The $65 event package includes:
- 1 seat in the CBS section (Club Level 230) for the game (begins at 7:15 p.m.)
- A collector's-edition, Jewish-themed Giants hat
- Admission to the Jewish Heritage Night Pregame Party, 5 - 7 p.m. on Terry Francois Boulevard. (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 $80 event package includes:
- All of the above, plus one of our CBS Jewish Heritage Night t-shirts! (See front and back of shirt below. You can click on the image to see a larger view.)
Facebook_FrontBackMockUp_HeritageNight_TShirt CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR TICKET(S) ONLINE. (Alternatively, you can drop off cash or check in the CBS office.)

Whether you order online or drop off payment, please email Christopher Orev Reiger, or call 415.940.7099, to let us know what size t-shirts you would like to reserve or if you have any questions. Sizes available are XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.