Tag Archives: peninsula jewish community center

Exploring Questions of the Heart, Mind, & Spirit

by on January 26, 2016

When it comes to nurturing our Jewish lives, much attention and energy is focused on the communal, public business of the Jewish people. This ranges from working on behalf of Israel and fighting anti-Semitism to engaging in Jewish politics, both internal and external. While these tasks are essential for the Jewish community, at the same time it seems important, as well as prudent, not to shirk from paying attention to the spiritual and ethical sensibilities that nourish our inner Jewish lives.

Our hearts and souls have serious questions: When we are faced with the pain and anguish of life’s tragedies, how do we cope? How can we attain that elusive feeling of being “whole?” What does it really mean to “repair the world” and how do we best take up the call of our tradition to fill the earth with righteousness? What does it mean to create a sacred community? We might wonder where is God when we need God, or how can we pursue a meaningful relationship with God? What Jewish wisdom can help heal our befuddled souls?

So many questions.

The answers may lie in taking that first step toward a Jewish spiritual journey that is not easy but can be richly rewarding. Focusing on this journey means attending to three central and overlapping areas of life.

Establishing a Relationship with the Divine
I prefer to speak of the divine rather than use the word “God,” since that word is loaded with immense baggage, ranging from the image of a man with a long white beard to the image of an angry and aggressive deity such as we find in Torah stories. We may have long ago stopped believing in those gods, but might perhaps find resonance with a different form of divinity, such as the idea of God as the Oneness of all Being, or the energy of life.

Emphasizing and Activating a Concern for Social Justice
Jewish tradition encourages Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Gemilut Chesed (acts of loving-kindness) as pathways to achieve the well-being of others.

Finding Meaning in Life
This requires us to face the suffering that life brings and find solace when faced with life’s challenges. Diving into Jewish teachings and seeking those pearls of wisdom that make life meaningful is a path best navigated by a guide; one who is familiar with the yearning of the human heart.

Rabbi Wayne Dosick, the 2016 North Peninsula Scholar-in-Residence, is such a guide.
In his book, Dancing with God, he notes that “there has been a dramatic awakening to the knowledge that the universe is so much more than we can see, feel, hear, or experience at this moment in time…. The once comfortable world of Rabbinic Judaism is no longer enough for most of us…. Its insistence on the primacy of the law no longer speaks to our spiritually questing hearts and souls.”

Rabbi Dosick has been described as “a rational intellect with the soul of a mystic,” and Rabbi David Ellenson (former president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion) recently called him “a spiritual master for our time.” During the two weeks that Rabbi Dosick joins our community, he will take us on an exploration of the spiritual journey. He’ll address our need for solace and the Godly in our lives, as well as the Jewish ethical teachings that can help make our world one of goodness and righteousness, providing a rare opportunity to learn from a great teacher. Embrace this time to reflect upon and discuss the ethical and spiritual understandings that make our lives meaningful.

North Peninsula Jewish Community welcomes 2016 Scholar-in-Residence
Rabbi Wayne Dosick • January 28 – February 10, 2016
Don’t miss this mystical educator, writer, and spiritual guide!
To learn about Rabbi Dosick’s additional speaking engagements throughout the North Peninsula Jewish Community, please visit pjcc.org/scholar.

 

 

Eight Wise Hanukkah Insights

by on December 6, 2015

Hanukkah insights

The clock is ticking and it’s time again for those eight crazy nights of Hanukkah. So this would be an apt time for eight wise Hanukkah insights. Well, maybe not so wise but maybe interesting. Perhaps…

  1. I never really understood the fascination with latkes. Sure, because of the miracle of the oil we are supposed to eat foods fried in oil – who thought that was a good idea? – but why latkes? They always seemed like glorified hash browns to me. Well, as with everything Jewish, there’s a story behind this: Seems that the Babylonian king Nevuchadnezzer sent his general Holofernes to destroy Jerusalem, and Holofernes decided he wanted to have Judith, daughter of the High Priest, as his bed mate. She agreed and as a gift, brought him latkes for dinner. He got very thirsty and she gave him strong wine. He got good and drunk, fell asleep, and Judith cut his head off, saving her people. Take note this story has nothing to do with Hanukkah, but oh well, it’s a good story so pass the latkes! As for me, I’d prefer fried chicken. (By the way, the latkes Judith made were made of cheese, so I guess we could think of Cheez Doodles as a new Hanukkah food.)
  2. How come, Jewish composers and songwriters wrote those beautiful Christmas songs that are impossible to escape, yet we, their people, have to sing “I Have a Little Dreidel?” Couldn’t someone write a classy Hanukkah song? Adam Sandler doesn’t count, though his song, now in version 4, has done more for kids’ Jewish identity than Hebrew School.
  3. Most people know that gift-giving is not an old-time Hanukkah tradition. From the Middle Ages on parents gave their children “gelt” (not to be confused with “guilt”) – money – with which to gamble with the dreidel. But what can we do? Capitalism reigns and God forbid our kids be left out of the gift -receiving frenzy. Just remember, we have more to give than toys and as we give let’s remember the most needy among us.
  4. The story of Hanukkah centers of the Syrian Greeks who defiled the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem by putting idols in it and sacrificing pigs on the altar. When Judah and his small militia drove the enemy out of Jerusalem the first thing they did was to purify the Temple sanctuary. In that time, the Temple was thought of as the home of the Divine, so it was comparable to cleaning out the House so that God could return to dwell among the People of Israel. It’s very hard to survive as a spiritual person without having a sanctuary. What are we to do in our era? Perhaps we should take a page from our deepest mystical teaching that says that God’s sanctuary is within us; It’s in our hearts. As the gospel song goes, “O Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true…” So we need to work on purifying our hearts, polishing our souls, and lighting up the world.
  5. Here a conundrum for you: When Judah came to the Temple all he could find was a little cruse of oil with which to light the menorah, just enough oil for one day. So in an act of faith he lit the menorah and the oil lasted for eight days. That means that the miracle of the oil was only for seven days (you do the math)! So why is Hanukkah eight days? (There’s a fried latke for you if you know the answer.)
  6. Here’s one thing we can learn from the Maccabees: A small group of people can accomplish great miracles. So when we are overwhelmed with doubt and despondency, we can adopt the attitude that we can make miracles.
  7. Don’t forget to include family, friends and community in your Hanukkah celebration. The more people we include the more love and light we create. And isn’t that the idea? To make as much light as we can at the time when the days are shortest and the world is darkest?
  8. Each night when you light the Hanukkah candles, why not dedicate that evening’s candle to a hope you have for yourself, your family, for Israel or for the world? It will make the candle lighting more meaningful and will help us remember that we can make a difference in our world, even if it’s a small difference.

Continue reading

Tumeric Latkes with Cinnamon Applesauce

by on November 22, 2015

latke tumeric applesauce pjcc

TUMERIC LATKES WITH CINNAMON APPLESAUCE

Turmeric and cumin are wonderful Indian spices that aid digestion, rev up the metabolism and help break down body fat. Couple that with the addition of cinnamon to the applesauce which helps regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol, and you have an delicious potato latke brimming with super nutrition.

Preparation time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Serves: 15 latkes Continue reading

Ask The Rabbi: Are There Universal Beliefs in Judaism?

by on November 12, 2015

QUESTION: Are There Universal Beliefs in Judaism?

Submitted by Frank Jonas.

Rabbi Lavey Derby answers your questions about life, religion, Judaism, and more.

Do you have a question for the Rabbi? Send it to website@pjcc.org

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Parfait

by on November 5, 2015

pumpkin parfait recipe pjcc

Pumpkin, the quintessential fall holiday symbol is also a wonderful food full of fiber, protein, and vitamins K and A. By alternating layers of pumpkin puree with protein-packed Greek yogurt, these beautiful parfaits are easy to prepare, slimming for your waistline, and full of nutrition.

Prep time:  20 minutes | Serves: 4 Continue reading

High Protein Sweet Potato Muffins

by on October 30, 2015

sweet potato muffins recipe

HIGH PROTEIN SWEET POTATO MUFFINS 

Sweet potatoes are inexpensive, delicious, and packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Members of the Morning Glory family, sweet potatoes are really just edible roots. The red-orange sweet potatoes are slightly moister and sweeter than the tan variety, making them the best choice for this recipe.

Prep: 1 hour, 10 min. | Cook: 30 min. | Serves: 24 mini muffins Continue reading

Apple Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seed Recipe

by on October 17, 2015

pumpkin seed recipe fall

Nothing says fall like pumpkins and apples and all of the great foods you can make with them! Here is a simple recipe to make and enjoy.

Apple Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional) Continue reading

Ask The Rabbi: What Is The Hardest Part Of Being A Rabbi?

by on October 13, 2015

QUESTION: What Is The Hardest Part Of Being A Rabbi?

Rabbi Lavey Derby answers your questions about life, religion, Judaism, and more.

Do you have a question for the Rabbi? Send it to website@pjcc.org

Let It Go! The Benefit of Forgiveness

by on September 8, 2015

shofar rosh hashanah yom kippur

Central to the understanding of the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the simple yet fundamental belief that people can change. We need not be stuck in habitual conditioned behaviors. We need not repeat the same behaviors that are hurtful to ourselves or to others over and over again. We are capable of change and growth. The great mystic and sage Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught that it is incumbent upon each individual to believe that with the next breath we can become new beings. The possibility of personal renewal is the great mystery of being human.

The blowing of the shofar – the ram’s horn – is the climax of the High Holiday ritual. The sound of the shofar is meant to cut through our web of routine, rationalization and conditioning, to wake us up to our true nature, which is goodness, love and compassion, and to urge us to leave behind behaviors and actions that cause suffering to ourselves or to others.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us the personal and communal spiritual task of teshuvah – repentance. Repentance is the self-aware practice of assessing our deeds and our spiritual condition. To participate in the practice of repentance requires a willingness to engage in a courageous moral inventory, to ask for and give forgiveness and to make amends where possible. Repentance is achieved when we recognize and regret our hurtful behavior; we discontinue the behavior and determine not to repeat that behavior in the future. Repentance also requires asking forgiveness from those we have hurt. While we ask others for forgiveness, it is also important that we find a way to forgive ourselves. We are, after all, merely human.

While asking for forgiveness can be hard, offering forgiveness to others can be much more difficult. Sometimes we feel so hurt by others that the possibility of our forgiveness seems impossible. We simply can’t let go of the hurt and the anger. We hold on to our hurt as if it were a prize, a badge of honor. We have no desire to be in relationship with the person who has hurt us. Or, we feel that to forgive that person would be to condone what they did to us.

What we fail to understand is that as we hold on to our hurts and wounds for dear life, all we accomplish is to prolong the hurt. It has been said that holding on to our anger at the person who hurt us, is akin to holding on to a burning coal: the only person who gets burned is us.

Forgiveness does not require us to trust the person who hurt us or to re-establish a close relationship with her, nor does it mean we condone what was done to us. It simply means that we put down our anger and let go of it. As my teacher and friend Sylvia Boorstein likes to say, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better yesterday.” We cannot change what happened, but we can change our attitude about what happened. We don’t need to bear the painful burden of it forever.

Receiving forgiveness from others is a relief; asking forgiveness of others is an act of grace. Either way, forgiveness is a miraculous experience. Without the possibility of forgiveness we would live with constant despair. The promise of the High Holidays is that we can live instead with profound hope.

May this New Year bring us all health, happiness and abundant hope.

 

 

Is Pilates The Secret To Youth?

by on June 29, 2015

Audrey / Pilates

PJCC MEMBER PROFILE: AUDREY GUERIN 

I usually don’t ask people their age, especially if it is a woman. When I met Audrey Guerin I was surprised when her age came up; she is 81. She has such a youthful appearance. I told her I needed to know her secret–and we’re sharing it here with you!

Q:  Audrey, I was surprised to learn your age after seeing your picture and then meeting you in person. What is the secret for how you stay so young?

A:  Age just seems like a number and that number does not define me. I listen to my body to Continue reading

Beware Of Ants In Your Toilet!

by on May 5, 2015

A patient left a message for me which caught my attention. He wanted a blood sugar test for diabetes because there were ants in his toilet. When I spoke to him, he denied having some of the more typical signs of diabetes. His only concern was that there were ants in his toilet. I decided to order the test.

According to the CDC, 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and at least one-quarter of them don’t know it. An additional 86 million people (1 in 3 adults) have pre-diabetes. Without change in lifestyle, 15-30% of pre-diabetics will develop type 2 diabetes in five years.

Diabetes Basics
There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type (90-95% of diabetics), and this is when your body does not use insulin properly. Gestational diabetes occurs in 4% of pregnancies, and these women are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Symptoms
The typical symptoms of diabetes include feeling thirsty, frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that heal slowly, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. Many people with diabetes have no symptoms or mild ones that go unnoticed. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not list ants in the toilet as a warning sign.

Complications of Diabetes
The biggest risks of having diabetes are strokes and heart attacks, which with proper medication can be prevented. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage of many organs in the body, particularly the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Last year I saw a young man for a check-up because his dentist noticed a severe gum problem which was going to require extraction of most of his teeth. I ordered a blood test which revealed he had diabetes. He had not realized that diabetes was the root cause of his dental woes.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, specifically cancer of liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, breast, and bladder. The explanation for this is unclear. It could be due to shared risk factors such as obesity, diet, and inactivity, or because of something intrinsic about diabetes such as elevated insulin or blood sugar levels.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes are risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia and other types of dementia.

The Numbers
The normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL. Pre-diabetes is defined by fasting sugar between 100-125 mg/dL. Diabetes is defined by fasting sugars of 126 mg/dL measured on two different days. Another way of diagnosing diabetes is the A1C test which measures the average glucose in your body over the past 2-3 months. A1C of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes. Normal A1C is usually less than 5.7%, and 5.7 – 6.4 is considered pre-diabetes depending on the lab reference range.

Treatment
The mainstays of most type 2 diabetics are diet and exercise, but because it is so hard to change one’s habits, pharmaceutical companies are reaping enormous profits from a multitude of diabetic drugs. There are medicines which work on the pancreas, liver, gut hormones, and kidneys to lower sugar, and there is even inhaled insulin now. It takes more effort for people to make personal changes, but an Asian diabetic patient of mine was especially determined to rid herself of diabetes. Her blood sugar was so high when she was diagnosed that she needed to take insulin at least twice a day to keep her diabetes controlled. She decided to give up her routine of eating rice at every meal, the main staple of her diet. She went from minimal exercise to exercising three hours a day. When I saw her back in clinic two months later, she had been successfully able to discontinue her insulin entirely. (Warning: don’t attempt to stop your diabetic meds on your own without doctor’s supervision.) Most people cannot make these dramatic life style changes, but she serves as an example of what healthy lifestyle change can achieve.

Screening for Diabetes
The ADA recommends adults get screened for diabetes every three years. You should get tested more often if you are overweight and have other risks such as family history of diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, history of gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, or a racial background of African-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Conclusion
My patient who I mentioned in the beginning did not have any particular risk factor for diabetes, but I tested him anyway because normally there should not be any urinary sugar in the toilet to attract ants. The bad news was that his blood test did reveal he had diabetes. The good news was that he did not have to hire an exterminator since once his diabetes was controlled the ants had to find a different location to host their picnic. Hopefully early detection will prevent him from having any future complications or further ant invasions.

For further information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

Book Review – Jerusalem: A Cookbook

by on April 30, 2015

Food in Israel is unique and full of exciting flavors that have come together into a melting pot of centuries of influence from surrounding lands. Bringing the complexity of Jerusalem life to the dinner table, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook is as much a social studies lesson as it is a culinary delight.

Though both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year, they come from opposite sides of the city. Tamimi is from the Muslim East Jerusalem and Ottolenghi from Jewish West Jerusalem. Both independently moved to London years ago and that’s where they met, working in the Continue reading

Your New Workout: Interval Training

by on April 23, 2015

interval training pjcc

by Torre Pusey, PJCC Personal Trainer

Ready to take your workout to the next level? Want to burn more calories, burn more fat, see faster results, and be constantly challenged? Consider Interval Training.
Often referred to as HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training has become a powerful tool for the everyday gym user. HIIT workouts evolve around a simple concept: alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter training, such as taking a brisk walk injected with quick jogs.
HIIT workouts can be done anywhere and at any time. It isn’t necessarily about the exercise, the equipment, or the location. Just like the name suggests, the intensity must be high to receive Continue reading

Breakthroughs In Molecular Imaging

by on March 5, 2015

The de la Zerda Group at the Stanford University School of Medicine is making strides in being able to idenify and characterize tumors in clinical settings. Adam de la Zerda
visited the PJCC to describe the revolutionary molecular imaging technique his team pioneered.

Adam was chosen as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science in 2012 and 2014.

Functional Training: Taking Your Workouts To The Next Level

by on February 24, 2015

Chris-Nash-625

By Chris Nash, PJCC Personal Trainer

As a fitness professional for more than 15 years, I’ve witnessed many changes in the fitness industry. It used to be that gyms were limited to traditional equipment, such as bench and leg presses, that worked just one or two muscles at a time.

But in recent years, a growing trend is functional training. This is a classification of exercise that Continue reading

Video: How We Think About Israel

by on February 13, 2015

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, spoke at the PJCC recently. He gave us some wonderful insight into the thinking of both Israeli and American Jews. He provided us with a new way for the Jewish Community to think and talk about Israel. Get ready to be inspired!

Cultivating Good Health

by on October 10, 2014

man-water-workout-625

Any time is a good time to cultivate good health by developing a wellness plan that will help you flourish. Don’t know where to begin? Draw inspiration from your garden and apply the same concepts to your health.

Preparation
Planning your garden is the first step to its success and the same holds true for your health. Buy a notebook and name it your health journal. Begin by writing down two goals that are attainable and aren’t overwhelming. For example, start preparing your afternoon snacks to bring to work instead of buying from the vending machine. This action alone can save you 200 Continue reading