With the month of October comes the annual race for the pennant. It often coincides with the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur. Through the history of baseball Jewish players who find themselves lucky enough to make it to the playoffs have had to make difficult choices between their religious values and their team. If Yom Kippur happens to fall on the day of a playoff game, it can, and has, ruffled some feathers in the baseball community. Continue reading →
Traditions of Wonder, Gratitude and Justice:
Reflections on Sukkot from the PJCC Garden Manager
‘Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder.’ – Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua Heschel
The fall is a season of abundance in the PJCC garden. Thanks to the hard work and heart of many volunteers, our garden is bursting with greens, tomatoes, squash, peppers, figs and strawberries – to name a few. Beginning my new position as Garden Manager during this rich time of year has given me a lot of joy, especially as it coincides with Sukkot. The holiday offers Continue reading →
Unlike all the other Jewish Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, is not linked to the remembrance of national liberation or to the commemoration of a national tragedy. In fact, Rosh Hashanah does not focus on the experience of the Jewish people in history at all. Rather it serves as a lens to examine central universalist themes of Jewish belief and values, such as mortality, change, and meaning, Unlike other holidays, Rosh Hashanah is associated with a mythological moment in time – the creation of the cosmos. The Machzor — prayerbook – for Rosh Hashanah returns to this image again and again with the words Hayom harat Olam – Today is the birthday of the world. This is not a story about Jews but a story about humanity. In its most salient formulation, the creation of one world, presupposes one God, and one humanity, which implies that all people are brothers and sisters. This theme of the unification Continue reading →
As the violence in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate and claims more victims, the pain I feel is palpable.
My heart aches for the IDF soldiers killed in action, and for the Israeli civilians who suffer an endless torrent of rockets fired at their homes and their children. My heart aches as well for the innocent civilians of Gaza who are killed or wounded, caught as they are in a deepening web of warfare. My guess is that many of you feel this same way. My guess is, too, that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians share the common wish that their children grow up to thrive in the sunshine, without fear of rocket and mortar fire. At the very least, I need to believe that.
And yet, I and so many others are falling into a malaise of hopelessness. In the words of Israeli Continue reading →
Are you hungry for facts and stories about Passover? Here is some interesting information you might enjoy and ponder.
The Burning Bush
We learn in the Passover story that Moses experiences a holy moment with God when he notices a burning bush in the desert. Many historians and scientists indicate that in ancient times, desert brush would catch on fire, spontaneously, quite regularly. This miracle of the burning bush was most likely not that fact that it was burning, but that it was burning without being consumed. This strikes me as a good lesson about the power of observation – sometimes things that seem quite ordinary, are in fact, anything but, and offer us extraordinary opportunities for holiness, and in Moses’ case, finding our destiny.
Like the 10 commandments, the passover seder menu can seem like it’s written in stone. Passed down through generations and laden with family tradition, it feels almost sacrilegious to deviate from what our grandparents served their guests. But it’s that very menu, with all the starch, fats and sugar coated desserts (most often eaten for two nights in a row) which can make you feel as if you actually at the stone tablets of the commandments for dinner.
Don’t let the tradition of the seder weigh on you. This year start your own traditions with a lighter and healthier version of two seder classics–Matzo Ball Soup and Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake.
This amazing dark chocolate cake has ground almonds in the batter and toasted almonds sprinkled on top, making rich in plant-based Omegas.
3 Tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder – 65% or higher
½ cup raw almonds
2 Tablespoons sugar
¾ cup date or maple crystal sugar (or regular sugar)
3 oz. dark chocolate, – 65:% or higher – coarsely chopped
½ cup Greek Yogurt
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
5 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon toasted slivered almonds (optional)
October 2013 was intense around here. Well, at least for me; and certainly for our Artist-in-Residence, Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen.
The Center was filled with excitement, anticipation and inspiration for me and the hundreds of you who participated in one of our 28 mural painting sessions.
Our community, under Jay’s guidance, took 1,560 square feet and 8 planter tops of blankness and transformed them into a work of art. A work of art that communicates social justice themes such as Environmental Stewardship, Human Rights & Dignity, Economic Justice, and Food Justice.
Do you remember eating lunch outside by the J café and seeing the steady progression over 15 packed days? Or perhaps coming back after an absence to notice the work fully realized? I remember October, but this documentary by Chip Curry brought back vivid details by capturing the communal spirit and offering candid testimonials. I’m delighted to share it with you.
The North Peninsula Jewish Community is honored to welcome Rabbi David Saperstein, a passionate spokesperson for social justice, as our 2014 Scholar in Residence. Rabbi Saperstein is Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, representing the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration. In 2009 Newseek Magazine named Rabbi Saperstein as the most influential rabbi in the country and the Washington Post described him as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill.”
Rabbi Saperstein was kind enough to give us this interview so that our community might get to know him better. Continue reading →