CBS HaLuach, July 12 - 18


Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

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To read the online version of our July 12 - 18 HaLuach, please click here.

CBS HaLuach, July 5 - 11


Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

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To read the online version of our July 5 - 11 HaLuach, please click here.

Welcome Ain Family!

Rabbi Dan Ain and Alana Joblin Ain hanging a mezuzah on the doorpost of their new home in San Francisco

Rabbi Dan Ain and Alana Joblin Ain hanging a mezuzah on the doorpost of their new home in San Francisco

This week, CBS welcomes our new Rabbi and his family to San Francisco! Rabbi Dan Ain, his wife Alana, and children Autumn and Samson moved in last week!

Thanks to all of our congregants who pitched in to help the Ains during the move and transition. It's wonderful to know they are already making connections and becoming part of the CBS community as they settle in.

Rabbi Ain is looking forward to meeting all of you. Take a moment to welcome him on an upcoming Shabbat. Also, take part in the weekly morning study sessions he will lead on Mondays at 8 a.m., after morning minyan. These promise to be lively discussions, and of course, there's coffee!

Email Rabbi Ain, or schedule an appointment through executive assistant, Jennifer Gale.

CBS HaLuach, June 28 - July 4


Beth Sholom this week.

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To read the online version of our June 28 – July 4 HaLuach, please click here.

Balak -- Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

Eleanor Roosevelt (b.1884) was one of the most outspoken women on human rights and women's issues in the White House during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, her husband.

This week, in Parashat Balak from the prophet Balaam, who was commissioned to curse the people of Israel by Balak, the king of Moab and the Israelites' arch enemy. On the way to curse the Israelite encampments, Balaam is berated by his donkey, which sees an angel sent to obstruct their passage. After Balaam's eyes are opened to the angelic emissary, his attempts at cursing the Israelites are subverted into blessings:

"How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel!" (Numbers 24:5).

In marked contrast to Amalek’s violent work of chaos that "happens to attack randomly on the way" (Deuteronomy 25:18), the Jewish response of "blotting out Amalek" is actually about embracing life – it is a call to live purposefully with ethical objectives and just values in an unjust world. Thus, the commandment in Parashat Balak to conquer the seven nations, for example, is actually a commandment to spiritually control and reorient our emotions – including anger, hatred, and revenge. It is a commandment to transform these emotions with divine focus.

When we serve the divine as Jacob, we shield the Divine within our lives from the intrusion of evil or negative thoughts and from an animalistic consciousness. When we serve God as Israel, we make our lives into a "sanctuary" for God, enhancing our divine consciousness by identifying with ethical values and dreams for this world.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration depicts Balaam's faithful and unfairly castigated donkey at the moment she sees the angel. "The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord stationed on the road with his sword drawn in his hand; so the she-donkey turned aside from the road and went into a field." (Numbers 22:23) Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

CBS HaLuach, June 21 - 27


Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

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To read the online version of our June 21-27 HaLuach, please click here.

Esther Lopez's Bat Mitzvah


Shalom!  My name is Esther Lopez and I am a rising 8th grader at The Brandeis School.  My favorite things to do are sing, dance, spend time with my friends, and binge watch Netflix shows.

I am so excited to share my special day with you!  Becoming a bat mitzvah raised a lot of confusing questions for me. For example, is it more important to feel holy or to do holy things? I discuss this topic and more in my dvar torah.

My parsha is Chukat which has a lot of important events.  For example, Aaron and Miriam both die. When Miriam dies, the wandering Israelites complain about the lack of water. Moses asks G-d what to do. He tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and there will be water. Moses gets impatient and strikes the rock twice, leading to his inability to enter the Promised Land in the future.

Thank you to Noa Bar for leading me up to this day, and to Rabbi Glazer for helping me to think about what all of this means for me. The biggest thanks goes to my friends and family for giving me the courage to become a bat mitzvah.

Chukat -- Numbers 19:1 – 22:1


"The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world."

I am often struck by the prescience of 19th-century German sociologist Max Weber, author of the influential The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904-05). Notwithstanding the "disenchantment" that ensues in modernity with the need to know the "why" of everything, Judaism posits that the search for the underlying reasoning behind halacha (Jewish religious law) is possible – with limitations.

This week, we are concerned with how to contextualize statutes, specifically laws like those related to the red heifer – namely, those ordained without rationale. Over the course of centuries, this inquiry has lead to a distinct genre of Jewish literature called Ta’amei ha’Mitzvot, or Rationalization of the Commandments. If every commandment can be explained rationally, the modern mind will be satisfied. But what price will religion pay if all of its enchantment and mystery can be explained away through reason?

This is the tension that emerges in this week’s reading. Parashat Chukat describes the ritual that mixes ashes of the red heifer with living waters. While its symbolism remains a mystery to us, we know that a life committed to the spiritual practice of Torah is nourishing and life affirming! Like the living waters Miriam pointed the Israelites to throughout their desert sojourns, each of us can embrace life through sacral deeds we call mitzvot, whether we can explain them or not. The paradox of the red heifer is that the ashes of the pure render the impure pure, while the priests who are pure in preparing the ashes become defiled.

Moses also strikes the rock at this point in the journey rather than speaking to it in order to provide the thirsty Israelites with water. The Israelite’s thirst is slaked, but as a result of this burst of anger, both Moses and Aaron will not enter the Promised Land. Miriam dies in Zin, and Aaron dies at Hor Hahar, passing on the succession of the priesthood to his son, Elazar. As venomous snakes attack the Israelite camp following further discontent, Moses is commanded to place a brass serpent upon a pole to battle the plague. Those who look heavenwards will be healed. This culminates in a song sung by the Israelites to honor the miraculous well of Miriam that slaked their thirst in the desert. Moses then leads the people into battles against the Emorite kings, Sichon and Og, who appear recalcitrant in granting passage to the Israelite’s through their territories.

Amidst all these challenges, Moses remains committed to caring for and uplifting the Israelites. Against all odds, he trusts in the process that leads to the greater good – even in our own day, we still call this emunah, or faithfulness.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork features a silhouette of our tradition’s sacred cow. It is nearly impossible to locate a red heifer (parah adumah) that meets the halachic requirements for the ritual purification sacrifice described in Parashat Chukat. The heifer is so rare, in fact, that tradition tells us only eight of them were sacrificed before the destruction of the Second Temple (and none after, of course). But their extreme rarity hasn’t stopped some Jews from looking for cows that pass muster. An Israeli organization dedicated to building the Third Temple has attempted to identify red heifer candidates since 1987. Over the course of those 30 years, they located two candidates that were eventually rejected and they currently claim to have a third, kosher candidate for consideration. If that cow also proves unsatisfactory, they plan to genetically engineer a red heifer that will meet the halachic requirements. And, no, we’re not making this up. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

CBS HaLuach, June 14 – 20

Beth Sholom this week.

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To read the online version of our June 14-20 HaLuach, please click here.

Korah -- Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

DFacebook_CoverDesign_Korahuring a brief visit to Dublin, the birthplace of Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854), I was struck by the author, playwright, and poet's quick wit and keen observations about human nature. Wilde once quipped that, "Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion."

Torah, on the other hand, teaches us about respecting a diversity of opinions. Such respectful but creative tension [makhloket] comes to be understood in the aftermath of Korah.

By inciting a mutiny against Moses, Korah is justly decrying a hierarchy that he sees as unfair. He proclaims his own brand of spiritual grandeur — "We are all holy!" This is a very real, egalitarian challenge to the hegemony of Mosaic leadership and its preferential granting of the priesthood to Aaron. In the end, Korah and his mutineers are consumed by fire as the earth swallows them up. Why then does Scripture later mention (Numbers 26:11) that "the children of Korah never died?"

The sages of the Mishnah picked up on the cues from Korah and went on to teach the following in Tractate Avot 5:20: "Any dispute [machloket] for heaven’s sake will ultimately endure; while any dispute [machloket] which is not for heaven’s sake will not endure. What is a dispute for heaven’s sake? This is a debate between Hillel and Shammai. What is a dispute that is not for heaven’s sake? This is the dispute of Korah and his assembly." In other words, there is a difference between petty squabbling and good arguments that allow for growth amidst real difference. Shammai and Hillel exemplify what it means to be involved in disputes for heaven’s sake, given that before either one would launch his own argument, his first step was to cite the opposing position; only after having done so would he then make his own argument. This posture displays a deep respect for opposing points of view and the realization that truth is discovered as part of a process that emerges in civil dialogue.

The vibrancy we yearn for in our Jewish lives comes by living in that creative tension between the Mosaic path and the Korahite path. The challenge before each of us is how to create that single vessel within community – to make space to foster the creative tension to enable our moral grandeur and spiritual audacity to be fully lived.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork is an illustration of tzitzit tied with a thread of techelet, wool dyed blue with blood extracted from a sea snail. Why this image? At the end of last week’s parsha, Moses was tasked with telling the Israelites that God commanded them to "make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue on the fringe of each corner." (Numbers 15:38) Many of our traditional biblical commentators believed that this "unbearable law" (Pseudo-Philo) was the final straw for Korah and his allies, and therefore gave rise to Korah’s rebellion. But, as James Kugel points out in his How To Read The Bible (2007), "Korah was not really interested in changing the system, merely in taking it over. He was thus a dangerous demagogue." Here, we see the techelet tied to the tzitzit according to the instructions given by Rabbi Abraham ben David (c. 1125–1198), also known as the RaBad or Raavad. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Dr. Ernest M. Weitz Breakfast Club

Please join us for the upcoming Dr. Ernst M. Weitz Breakfast Club event! The speaker will be Alon Shalev, Western Regional Manager of AJWS (American Jewish World Service).

Alon will be speaking on Statelessness, Refugees & the Rohingya. This presentation is a call to action. Massive crimes against humanity are occurring against the Rohingya people of Burma, in a campaign that UN officials have deemed “a textbook example ofethnic cleansing” verging on genocide.

Learning about this and other crises of persecution taking place today is the first step to aiding those suffering these epic tragedies.

DATE: Sunday, June 24
TIME: 9–11 a.m.
WHERE: Koret Hall
COST: $15. Make checks payable to Congregation Beth Sholom (please write "Dr. Ernest M. Weitz Breakfast Club" in the note section.)

The Dr. Ernest M. Weitz Breakfast Club is a quarterly breakfast gathering featuring a thought-provoking guest speaker. The Club is dedicated to increasing knowledge of contemporary Jewish issues and ideas.

CBS HaLuach, June 7 – 13

Beth Sholom this week.

Did you miss the email version of our HaLuach newsletter? Are you not on our mailing list, but you're interested in learning more about what's happening at Beth Sholom this week?

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To read the online version of our June 7-13 HaLuach, please click here.

Wexner Heritage Program participants

Two of our congregants, Angie Dalfen and Joan Laguatan, were just selected to participate in the Wexner Heritage Program!

The mission of the Wexner Heritage Program is to expand the vision of Jewish volunteer leaders, deepen their Jewish knowledge and confidence and inspire them to exercise transformative leadership in the Jewish community. The program fulfills this mission by educating up-and-coming Jewish lay leaders in the history, thought, texts and contemporary leadership challenges of the Jewish People. Several CBS members have completed this program in the past. Join us in congratulating Angie and Joan!

Angela (Angie) Dalfen was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She completed a law degree in 2001 and has worked as an attorney and graduate school administrator in a variety of settings. She currently serves as Director of Alumni Relations at UCSF, overseeing programming and community outreach for alumni nationwide.

Angie and her partner, Liz Noteware, have a son enrolled at the Brandeis School of SF, where Angie is a volunteer on the Admissions and Marketing Committee. In 2017, Angie completed a three-year term on the CBS Board of Directors. She is active in her professional organizations, as well as a number of Bay Area Jewish organizations including Kevah, Camp Tawonga, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Honeymoon Israel, and the Diller Tikkun Olam Awards.

In 2013, she was selected as one of the inaugural JCF/Keshet Pathways to Jewish Leadership Fellows. Angie is fluent in French, semi-fluent in Hebrew, and enjoys boating, swimming, skiing, and the New Yorker.

Joan Laguatan grew up in San Francisco and has been a real estate broker since 2003, after having earned her degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco. She owns Canvass Properties and her most rewarding work has been helping numerous non-profits, foundations, religious organizations, businesses and families in the Jewish Community with their unique real estate needs.

Joan is a Filipino-American, Jew-by-choice, mother of two children, and a wife to a husband who has dedicated his life to public service. She is also an animal welfare advocate, vegan, an aspiring piano player, frustrated painter, licensed scuba diver, and expert challah and sushi maker.

Shelach Lecha -- Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

"Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded."

This remark by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities, is indeed curious – and it has theological implications. In a wired, connected world in which almost everything we do is monitored, how does the Torah’s understanding of espionage strike us?

Espionage is a form of reconnoitering and a test of emunah — of one’s steadfast trust and conviction. As the 12 spies head out on their mission, they think they know what awaits them and so do the people that sent them. 40 days later, these spies return carrying produce from the land, including a cluster of grapes, a pomegranate, and a fig along with a report of the land’s bountifulness. 10 of the spies also warn the Israelites that the giant inhabitants are overpowering. Only Joshua and Caleb dissent, claiming the land can be conquered.

As the Israelites weep, yearning to return to Egypt, the divine decree emerges that they must enter the Promised Land by way of a circuitous route — by way of a forty-year trek through the desert. This period of journeying will allow time enough for the remorseful population to die out, making space for a new generation to emerge, one that will be more open to entering into a meaningful relationship of responsibility with the land divinely granted to them.

Parashat Shelach Lecha also includes legislation regarding the offerings of meal, wine, and oil, as well as laws pertaining to challah and the ritual fringes known as tzitzit that are on any four-cornered garment.

The possibility of knowing (and appreciating) a strong sense of omnipresence of the divine in our lives – that "we are being watched and recorded" – can be constructive if we see it as a spiritual opportunity, a way for us to see our actions honestly and ensure that they have lasting meaning.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration shows forty tally (or hash) marks stylized as linen-wrapped corpses. Inspired by Numbers 14:32-34 – "But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert...According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year, you will [thus] bear your iniquities for forty years; thus you will come to know My alienation." – this is the count of an anthropomorphized, aggrieved, and estranged G-d. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Talya Sahara Glazer's Bat Mitzvah

DATE: Monday, June 4
TIME: 7-8 a.m., followed by a Kiddush breakfast sponsored by CBS.

We would love to have you join us at this family simcha. Please RSVP.

Shalom. My name is Talya Glazer and I love to dance. I take jazz funk and hip hop at Geary Dance Center. I love living in San Francisco, the American Jerusalem, and hope to live in Jerusalem itself one day.

One of the things I enjoy about the CBS community is being surrounded by the "regulars" who come to minyan and Shabbat services on a regular basis. They have embraced me and I am grateful for their presence. I am also grateful for their advice on everything from the best way to handle grape juice for kiddush at Kabbalat Shabbat services, to finding the best comics.

My kavvana for my bat mitzvah is to listen to the wise voice within and from the divine to follow the path of possibility.

Zinnia Estes' Bat Mitzvah


Shalom! My name is Zinnia Estes. I am just finishing 7th grade at Presidio Middle School. My Bat Mitzvah has been a stressful, crazy, exciting process. I can’t believe I was three when I first entered the Congregation Beth Shalom community as a preschooler. After preschool, I started going to Hebrew school every week and Kabbalat Shabbat once a month. This past year, I have been studying for my big day, aka my Bat Mitzvah.

Besides Hebrew school and Bat Mitzvah prep, I have a pretty busy life. I also enjoy surfing, skating, and playing trumpet, piano, and ukulele. Oh, let's not forget my most important hobby--playing with my puppy, Django!

At first when I started working on my Bat Mitzvah I must admit I had a bad attitude about it. However, I came to like it more and more. I started to think about how cool it was that I was learning a new language. I also thought about how lucky I am to have this experience. Many generations of women before me could not have this experience and some still can’t. As I studied and prepared I was inspired to do a good job for myself and for all those who won’t have this opportunity. I also learned that hard work pays off. I know I’m going to look back on this experience and be proud of my accomplishments.

My parsha is Beha'alotecha, which translates to "when you rise up." The parsha covers a lot of material, but in general describes the Israelites’ journey through the desert. When I step up to the Torah I will be thinking about the many journeys of Jewish people that came before me.

There are a lot of people that I would like to thank. I first want to thank Rabbi Glazer and Noa Bar for helping me learn and prepare for my Bat Mitzvah. I want to thank my family and friends who are coming to the service to support me. Thank you to my parents for helping to make my Bat Mitzvah a great day.

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.

Summer Camp!

Once again, we are offering summer camp for four weeks this summer. Summer camp will be held from Monday July 16 – August 10. Camp is flexible; you can sign up for all four weeks or only the days you need. There are two camps available.

Nature Camp
Our on site nature camp is intended for our 2 – 4 year olds. This camp is a hands on nature themed camp. The children in this camp will explore the garden, the art studio, and nature through numerous art activities. Nature Camp registration form here.

Adventure Camp
We also offer an off campus adventure camp. This camp is only available for children entering Pre-K Hey in 2018 or children graduating from Pre-K Hey in 2018. The children in Adventure Camp will spend time each day outside of the walls of CBS. They’ll explore parks, beaches, gardens, playgrounds and more. Each day, they will arrive back to campus by 1:30. They’ll spend the afternoon playing on the plaza, resting in the meditation room and they’ll have the opportunity to plan their future adventures! Adventure Camp registration form here.

Farewell Siyyum for Rabbi Glazer

Join us for a celebratory farewell to Rabbi Glazer's with a traditional siyyum (interactive communal learning) followed by Mincha service. Siyyum is a traditional service of closure to allow our congregation to bid Rabbi Glazer a fond farewell through learning and sharing, as we celebrate this milestone and next chapter as a community.

Attending a siyyum is an all-inclusive and joyful event to honor all the ways we have learned and connected to each other through Torah during Rabbi Glazer's tenure at Beth Sholom. Read Rabbi Glazer's farewell message here.

Rabbi Glazer's study will be accompanied by a traditional celebratory "third meal" that is somewhere between a cold "light meal" and a "substantial nosh." Attendees will eat while they study.

Rabbi Glazer invites everyone to bring a cue card that lists one way you have grown in your relationship to Torah at CBS under his rabbinate. On the other side, include your favorite line from the Psalms, (or, any other Jewish wisdom) we have shared formally or informally over these years together at CBS for a communal blessing.

DATE: Saturday, June 23

TIME: 4:30–6 p.m. (followed mincha 6–6:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Main Meeting Room

COST: Free, but registration is required

RSVP: Deadline to register is Monday, June 18



Gabriela Bernstein's Bat Mitzvah

Hello! My name is Gabriela (Gabi) Bernstein, and I am a seventh grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco as well as a life-long member of Congregation Beth Sholom. I enjoy reading, writing, art projects, theater stage design and listening to Broadway show tunes. I also perform with a singing group called Trebles at my school.

On Saturday May 26, I will be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. I will be chanting from Parashat Naso, in the book of Numbers. The material is a giant pile of topics, all smushed together into one monster Torah portion.

The reading starts with a Levite census and details about their Tabernacle duties. We go on to learn what to do with someone who has leprosy (simple: banish them) and then, we learn about the Nazarites and their duties and abstentions. Finally, we get to the Priestly Blessing and the offerings that Tribal leaders brought to the Tabernacle. This is a lot to cover in one Torah portion, but there was one topic that stood out to me more than the others. You’ll have to come to services this Shabbat to find out which one it was!

I have found myself enjoying this process of learning trope and studying Torah. I’m excited (and nervous) for my family and friends to see me chant from the Torah and become a Bat Mitzvah.

I realize that this process would have been impossible without the support of so many. I want to thank Rabbi Batshir Torchio for guiding me on this journey over the past year, helping me learn not only to chant Torah and Haftorah, but also to find meaning in these texts. I’m also grateful to Rebecca Goodman and all the Rabbis and educators who have taught me at the preschool and religious school through the years.  Thanks as well to the staff at Congregation Beth Sholom for making this weekend possible! Thank you to my older siblings, Rafi and Daniela, for their constant support and encouragement; it was comforting for me to know they had also been through the B’nai Mitzvah process. Last but not least, thank you to my parents for being clear about how important being Jewish (and having a Bat Mitzvah) is and not letting me forget it with (gentle) nagging and (loving) speeches.