Women's Book Group: February Pick

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A place to meet and discuss books of Jewish and general interest. Books are generally written by Jewish authors, or are popular novels or works of nonfiction. Readings are selected based on group interest, book availability, author, and topic. Join us to discuss this month’s book:

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The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

In an astonishing feat of narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism.

For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threatens to destroy his small, safe corner of America - and with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother. Summary from Goodreads.com

DATE: Thursday, February 21
TIME: 7:30 p.m
PLACE: Rabin Family Library
FEES: No fee
CONTACT: Jean Tepper Segal

Achshav Yisrael screens film by executive producer Nancy Spielberg

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Please join us to view this incredible documentary film by Executive Producer, Nancy Spielberg (Steven Spielbergí’s younger sister.)

Above and Beyond is a feature-length documentary, created from a mix of archival footage and special effects from Industrial Light and Magic. It tells the story of WWII volunteer pilots, Jews and non-Jews alike, who risked everything to defend Israel in its War of Independence in 1948. 

Winner of Best Documentary at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and the Berkshire International Film Festival. See the movie trailer.

DATE: Sunday, February 10
TIME: 3-5 p.m.
PLACE: Koret Hall, Congregation Beth Sholom
301 - 14th Avenue (@ Clement Street), San Francisco, 94118
COST: FREE! Refreshments will be served.
RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW Pre-registration is required

Call 415-852-3095 or email Kelsey Russom with questions.

Achshav Yisraelís mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community, for all age groups, on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.

Leila Eshaghpour-Silberman's Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, January 19


Shalom! My name is Leila Eshaghpour-Silberman. I am a seventh grader at Presidio Middle School. When I am not reading, I enjoy spending time with my friends, playing soccer, piano, and saxophone, and learning character folk dance. This Shabbat I am thrilled to be called to the Torah to become a Bat Mitzvah. 

 This week’s parsha details the splitting of the Red Sea. Also, the Haftorah tells the story of Devorah and Yael, the only Jewish texts that give women the credit for a military victory. I think it is really important for young women to be acknowledged in history, and I am very proud to read both the songs of Miriam and Devorah, two powerful women, on the day of my Bat Mitzvah.

 Preparing for this weekend has been an incredible process and it took the help of many people to get ready for this occasion. I want to thank my family for their support and I am especially grateful for my amazing Bat Mitzvah tutor—Dr. Noa Bar—for helping me learn my Torah portion, always believing in my ability to chant Hebrew, and agreeing to teach me Sephardi trope, as I am half Persian Jew and half Ashkenazi Jew. Thank you to Rabbi Ain for guiding me through this process and pushing me to reach my potential. And I am grateful to my extended family, friends, and the community of Congregation Beth Sholom for instilling my Jewish faith and Jewish identity. I have attended this synagogue since birth and went to preschool here. I look forward to celebrating this momentous life occasion with you all. Thank you for joining me and my family on this special day.

Rayna Novicoff's Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, January 12


Hi. My name is Rayna Novicoff and I am a 7th grader at A.P. Giannini middle school in San Francisco. I play soccer and like to surf, swim, rock climb and spend time at the beach. I also love to hang out with my friends, my brother, Arlo, and my parents. 

I have basically grown up at Congregation Beth Sholom, from preschool to Shabbat School and now I’m days away from becoming a Bat Mitzvah. I’m excited! It has been an empowering experience and I couldn’t have made it to this day without my teachers, tutors, family, and the CBS community. 

Thank you to my tutor Marilyn Heiss for helping me learn everything in preparation for my Bat Mitzvah and to Rabbi Ain for working with me on my drash. Special thanks to Noa Bar for being a great teacher over the past few years and for stepping in to support me on my Bat Mitzvah day. (Marilyn, you will be missed!) 

This week’s torah portion, Parashat Bo, begins in the middle of the story of the ten plagues, when hail has covered the land. God has come to Egypt to do two things, first to free the Israelites from slavery and second to punish the Egyptians by gifting them 10 plagues to their people and to their land. Each plague gets harsher and harsher and they end with mass amounts of death and loss for each and every Egyptian family.

 After the 10th and final plague, the deaths of the first born, Pharaoh finally gives in and begs Moses and Aaron to take everything and everyone and leave. With unleavened bread on their backs and stolen gold and silver from the Egyptians, the Israelites leave with their entire community, including their flock. It had been 430 years of slavery…and now they are free!

I look forward to seeing you on Shabbat and sharing more thoughts about Parashat Bo. Thank you for joining me and my family on this special day. 

Baruch Dayan Emet–Jane Kahn

With heavy hearts we share the news that that Jane Kahn passed away on
Wednesday, December 26 (18 Tevet 5779). Jane was 64 years old. 

Jane is survived by her husband, Michael Bien, and her sons, Ben, Max, and
Joseph Bien-Kahn, and her daughters, Allison Jamtaas and Katy Mann.

There will be a public memorial for Jane.
DATE: Friday, December 28
TIME: 2 p.m.
PLACE: Sinai Memorial Chapel located at 1501 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

The burial and shiva will be private.

Zichrona l'vracha - may her memory be a blessing.

Baruch Dayan Emet – Dr. Richard (Dick) J. Cohen

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It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of beloved congregant and former CBS Board member, Dr. Richard (Dick) J. Cohen, who died on Tuesday, December 25 (18 Tevet 5779) at the age of 82.

Dick was a proud native of Brooklyn, New York and graduated from James Madison High School and Columbia College. He earned his medical degree from the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center in 1961. 

Following an internship at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C, Dick moved to San Francisco in 1962 for a residency in Internal Medicine and subspecialty training in both Hematology and Medical Oncology at Letterman General Hospital and at UCSF. 

Upon completion of training in 1965, Dick was sent to Vietnam where he served for 12 months as Chief of Medicine at the 17th Field Hospital in Saigon. For service against hostile forces, Dick was awarded the Bronze star and Commendation medals before returning to Walter Reed and continuing his specialty training. He became Board Certified in both Medical Specialties and Internal Medicine, becoming a Fellow of the American College of Medicine in 1965.

In 1967, Dick was invited to return to San Francisco to join a consultative practice as well as active teaching at UCSF, Children’s Hospital, Mt. Zion Medical Center, and California Pacific Medical Center, enjoying his active practice in all three medical specialties until his retirement in 2011. Dick was renowned especially as a teacher to his peers and to generations of residents and Fellows in training. A highlight of Dick's teaching was his delivery of the Sherlock Holmes lecture every December where, dressed in frock coat and deerstalker hat, he taught the art of deductive reasoning. Having received numerous awards in teaching over the years, Dick was pleased to be awarded the Charlotte Baer award in 2005, the highest honor that can be bestowed by UCSF on a member of the Clinical Faculty. 

Dick's many hobbies included collecting fountain pens (to make up for having never received one at his Bar Mitzvah), bow ties and wine. With his wife of 59 years, Dr. Sandra Cohen, he was a regular attendee at both opera and ballet.

Having grown up in Brooklyn as a devoted fan of the Dodgers, he transferred his baseball allegiance to the SF Giants and was invited to serve as a ”Balldude” in 2004, working many games a year, wearing his full uniform emblazoned with “Doctor C #18", which translates as Chai in Hebrew, the word for “Life.”  In retirement, Dick also enjoyed his courses at the Fromm Institute at USF as well as the many friendships made there.

The love of his life was his wife Sandra, whom he met during his senior year at Columbia while she was attending Barnard College. Sandra later earned her PhD degree at UC Berkeley and began her career as a practicing psychologist in San Francisco. In addition to his wife, Sandra, Dick's survivors include his son, Aaron, of Berkeley, daughter and son-in-law, Eve and Keith Cohen-Porter of Denver, Colorado, and adored granddaughters, Thea and Bailey Cohen-Porter.

DATE: Friday, December 28
TIME: 11 a.m.
PLACE: Sinai Memorial Chapel at 1501 Divisadero Street in San Francisco.
Burial will follow at Home of Peace cemetery at 1299 El Camino Real in Daly City.

Shiva lunch following the burial at 2 p.m. at 1926 8th Avenue, San Francisco.

Shiva visitors are welcome Sunday and Monday afternoons at the family home. Contact for address.

Contributions in his memory may be directed to Congregation Beth Sholom.

Zichrono l'vracha – may his memory be a blessing!

Leo Kessler's Bar Mitzvah on December 22


My name is Leo Kessler. I attend A.P Giannini Middle School, and I am in seventh grade. I like to play basketball with my friends, and to skate freestyle around the city.

This weekend I will be sharing a very special day with my family, friends and congregation when I am called to the Torah to become a Bar Mitzvah. I think becoming a Bar Mitzvah is about taking in the differences of being a kid to becoming an adult. To elaborate, it’s the understanding of the fact that you have crossed a threshold and now things will never be the same.

There is also the fact that in order to totally understand this ceremony, you literally have to take away a lesson from your speech and use it. I’ll be digging deep into the story of Joseph, to see the transitions that he made from being a scared kid in a pit to being a leader. Joseph’s life between the worlds of the Israelites and the Egyptians can be related to today’s B'nai Mitzvah.

I’d like to thank Rabbi Elisheva and Rabbi Ain, for guiding me straight to this event and never giving up on me. Thanks to my former teachers, Jacob Erez and Randy Weiss, for creating the foundations of my Hebrew learning in order to get me ready for this day.



Sunday, December 9 was the big day, and we had a great turnout! A big thank you to all of the volunteers that came and helped complete much needed repairs in the shul and stayed to celebrate Hanukkah with us! 


• Dale Kleisley for putting the Hanukkah party together.
• Debra Surkin Perloff for making the delicious food.
• Karen Benjamin for sharing a delicious champagne tequila recipe and for picking up the Tequila
• Ira Levy for helping plan the event and tending bar
• Eli Levinson & Noa Resnikoff for their Hanukkah song performance
• Adam Lowy and Jonathan Bayer for their Hip Hop Hanukkah with Assist and the Scrappy Maccabee!

The Troupe de Beth Sholom players who starred in the play How Ms. Menorah Saved Hanukkah:
• Rabbi Dan Ain
• Ben Chinn
• Beth Jones
• Dan Rubinsky
• Bat El Saad
• Vered Levinson
• Katherine Friedman Barboni
• Jonathan Bayer


Myles Baruch's Bar Mitzvah on December 15

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Shabbat Shalom,

My name is Myles Baruch and I go to school at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. Some things that I like to do are playing games with my family, playing baseball and rock climbing. I’ve been a certified scuba diver for two years. I like to scuba dive because it is a whole different world and you can see different animals that you cannot see on land.

In my parsha, Joseph is finally reunited with his family and with his brothers who sold him into slavery. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because they were jealous of how he was their father’s favorite. However, being sold into slavery ended up being a good thing because – in the end, he was able to keep his family alive by providing food, shelter, and water for his family during the seven years of famine. It was also a good thing because when the Jews became slaves, he was able to create a yeshivah for the Jews to live and study Torah.

Eventually, Joseph forgave his brothers because he understood that the experiences that he went through were from G-d, and those experiences helped him gain a better understanding of who he was. They were used to teach him about forgiveness and how to treat others, even those who had wronged him in the past.  

Joseph’s trust in G-d, and belief in what G-d wanted him to do, allowed him to forgive his brothers. When he was finally reunited with his brothers, he cried because he had missed them and was grateful to have his family back. He was able to let the past anger go. 

As a result of Joseph being sold into slavery and then subsequently placed in jail, he was able to move past his previous immaturity and anger, as well as discovering and appreciating his own personal talents.

Initially, Joseph’s dreaming had gotten him into trouble with his brothers. But, as he became wiser and experienced his own ups and downs, he learned how to better understand his gift and utilize it to accomplish things that others could not. Joseph was called upon to to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, and as a result, became a trusted person to Pharaoh.

I imagine that everyone has a unique quality that he or she brings to the world; maybe it is an experience they had or something they are good at, or the way they can see the world. What is important to remember is that our experiences help us see the world differently – which makes all our voices unique and important.

As it says in the Midrash – “There are 70 Faces to the Torah; Turn it around and around, for everything is in it.”

To me, this means that everything can be found in Torah and that it is up to us to decode the words of the Torah in our own unique ways. That, in fact, this is what is meant by Torah study.

As Rabbi Ain and I were studying Torah together, I found that I did this naturally and when we were discussing some difficult portions of the Torah – I was able to share with the Rabbi new ways of looking at it. Ones that he hadn’t considered or even seen before in the text.

I want to thank Jacob Erez for being patient and helping me learn my Haftorah. Thank you for being a great teacher and tutor. Finally, I would also like to thank Rabbi Ain for helping me understand and explore some deeper lessons of the Torah.

May we all use bad experiences as a way to learn new things.

Ella Sturm's Bat Mitzvah on December 8


Hi! I am Ella Sturm and I am in 7th Grade at San Francisco Day School. At school I enjoy art, playing trumpet and learning about history. For the past few years I have been a part of First Lego League (Robotics) and it has given me a great perspective on teamwork and competition. I like space, especially Mars, and would love to be an astronaut one day. Outside of school I enjoy hanging out with friends and watching TV, going to Giants games with my dad, traveling East with my mom, and spending time with my brother, Toby. I also like boxing and playing baseball.    

Over the last few years, I have been preparing for my Bat Mitzvah by attending Shabbat School. I have learned a lot from my preparation including time management, prioritizing things that need to get done (even if they are not what I want to do), and that Judaism and this community welcome hard questions. And I ask some hard questions. My Torah portion, Miketz, tells the story of Joseph and the highs and lows of being part of a family and community.  I drew some connections to my relationship with my brother and my family. I also related to how far Joseph came from being a slave at the bottom of a pit to being the second in command to Pharaoh.  

I want to thank Rabbi Ain, who took time to help me with my speech and pushed the boundaries of my assumptions and perceptions. I also would like to thank my tutors Noa Bar and Stuart Blecher, who, after a rough beginning, helped me to learn my Torah portion and prepare for my Bat Mitzvah. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for everything they do to support me and for giving me room to grow.  

A Mitzvah for Teens on Maccabee Mitzvah Day

Help Makeover the Youth Lounge 
(especially for teens and tweens!)

Come join SFUSY in rededicating the Youth Lounge, ensuring an inviting and welcoming space for generations of youth to come! Possibilities include: painting the walls, hanging pictures, setting up objects, decorating, and envisioning future plans. 

Please bring with you any of the following materials: paint, string/fairy lights, light bulbs, furniture (beanbags, tables, lamps, etc.), pictures, banners, posters, streamers, other decorations, or objects/fixtures symbolic of Judaism and youth. 

DATE: Sunday, December 9
TIME: 1 p.m.
PLACE: Youth Lounge