October 2016, from the clergy

Your Password Could Change Your Life

How blessed we are to have the month of Elul and the High Holy Days as a time to grow, to reflect, and to connect more strongly with the people in our lives and the world around us.  I sometimes feel that as much as we talk about Elul, Teshuva (forgiveness), and atonement, the doing is so much more difficult, results and real change feeling elusive.

So I wanted to share one very practical way to create growth and change that I recently read about—it has to do with passwords.  Yes, a password.  Passwords are something we all have and use multiple times daily- for our ATM cards, computers, various accounts from banks to frequent flier programs.  I, like you, have an extensive list of various passwords and have lost or forgotten multiple passwords as well.

I share with you now a new take on passwords. One that is perfect for this time of year- password as intention.  What if instead of using birthdays, anniversary dates, or phone numbers as our passwords, we were to make it an intention or desire. That’s what one man did and frankly, it changed his life.  His passwords reflected the inner work he needed to do to regain control of his life.  After a difficult divorce from his wife, he changed his password to ‘Forgive@her’.  Every time he entered his password into his keyboard or screen, he took one step closer to forgiveness.  He says, “in my mind, I went with the mantra that I didn’t type a password.  In my mind, I was reminding myself to actually forgive her.”  The healing effect of this practice occurred almost immediately!

A month later, the man was asked for a new password for one of his accounts.  He searched his soul and came up with ‘Quit@smoking4ever’.  (He was asked for a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols).  The trick worked, and the next month, this new non-smoker was able to begin focusing on a trip to Thailand.

Whatever our intention, or our spiritual goals are, start with a password or two!  So, what would your passwords be this month?

With many blessings for a sweet and nurturing New Year,
Rabbi Stacy

October 2016, from our president

We are off to a wonderful year. I’m feeling good about 5777.

Our opening event was a huge success. There was a large turnout of women, many wearing festive hats. We enjoyed Jan Wahl’s presentation about Jewish Hollywood, engaged in lively discussion, ate popcorn and had a great time.

Next on our calendar is a not to be missed event. In collaboration with CRS we are showing the documentary film “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” on Oct 25 at 7:00pm at the Hoytt Theater at the JCC. It is about the history of the Women’s movement. The issues women struggled for in the sixties are still relevant today, pay equity and access to healthcare. The film is funny, touching, disturbing and fascinating. We hope to see many of our members, congregants and youth at the screening. Rabbi Stacy will lead us in discussion.

Sometimes when working hard in an all volunteer organization we become so absorbed in our work we don’t realize others see what we are doing. We know what we are trying to contribute to our community at Rodef and beyond, encouraging and supporting each other, raising funds for our religious school and camperships, raising funds for children at Venetia Valley School, Enriching Lives Through Music in the Canal district of San Rafael, the SF Marin Foodbank and so many other organizations, providing opportunities for leadership training, spiritual growth and deepening friendships. We were delighted to receive an invitation to participate at High Holiday Services on Rosh Hashanah. We are truly honored to do an Aliyah before our Congregation. Thank you to the Clergy for recognizing us.

We are blessed to be part of the Rodef Sholom Community. From all the members of the Sisterhood we wish the entire congregation a sweet and healthy New Year.

~Susan Goldwasser
President, Women

September 2016, from our president

At the CRS Elul Retreat I took a walk and looked up while in a grove of redwood trees. It cannot only be invisible roots supporting these massive redwoods. It is also the light, pulling up the crowns, sustaining upright trees with ever present hope that tomorrow can be brighter and higher.

When troubled, my inner strength sustains me. But it is the love in my life that holds me up. I am no redwood but I stand tall knowing I have roots and sky supporting me.

~Susan Goldwasser, 8/27/16

We have the privilege of voting!

Dear Sisters, We are fortunate to be members of Women of Reform Judaism. WRJ has been a champion of Pay Equity, Marriage Equality and Gun Safety. Please read what our organization is doing to convince our law makers to keep us safe. We encourage all of our members to vote so our voices can be heard.

~Susan Goldwasser
President, Women of Rodef Sholom

YOUR VOTE MATTERS
WRJ Issues 2016: Gun Violence Prevention

Gun violence has filled the news in recent weeks, sparking a national debate about the plethora of guns in our society and the ease with which people can obtain them. These are deep seated issues that impact our communities and require serious attention by our elected leaders. Yet, despite the public outcry that follows mass shootings like those in Orlando and Dallas, there has been little legislative activity to address the growing list of tragedies. Columbine, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Pulse – these names have become metaphors for the gun violence in America that seems out of control.

September 2016, from the clergy

The month of Elul begins on September 4 this year giving us a full month to prepare spiritually for the high holy days.
It is a time of introspection and searching our souls to find a goodly path.

According to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, “the urge to take a look back is prompted by a spiritual disquiet rather than a guilty feeling.
Indeed, we feel as if we are no longer the right person in the right place, we feel that we are becoming outsiders in a world whose scheme of things has escaped us.”

Consider a “return” you would make if you could to a former time or place in your life. How could you approach things differently? Are there friends or family you would like to apologize to?

Take the time before Rosh Hashanah to examine yourself and strive to make things right.

~Shana Tova,
Cantor David

August 2016, from our president

Join Us!

I invite you to become a member of our wonderful community of women here at Congregation Rodef Sholom. Together we will study, develop meaningful friendships, socialize at festive events and even travel. Our goal is to embody the promotion of loving kindness and tzedakah.  Being a part of our Sisterhood will strengthen your connection to Rodef Sholom.  Join us planning and /or participating in events such as our Women’s Seder, Sisterhod Shabbat Service, Jewelry Sale or annual Retreat to gorgeous Glen Ellen in Sonoma. You will have many opportunities to schmooze at our pool party and other membership events.

In our efforts to make a difference last year we raised funds to support our children at Rodef Sholom by contributing to Camperships and the Religious School. We supported children in our larger community with contributions to Venetia Valley School and Enriching Lives Through Music. We raised almost $9000 for the Marin-San Francisco Food Bank and also donated to Mazon, Marin Organizing Committee and Homeward Bound. We supported organizations working to end gun violence, distracted driving and anti-semitism on college campuses.

Women of Rodef Sholom is a member of the Women of Reform Judaism, an international organization of Reform Sisterhoods providing opportunities for personal growth by developing leadership skills, promoting strong relationships, the pursuit  of social justice, study and prayer.

We welcome you joining our vibrant community and supporting Congregation Rodef Sholom, Reform Judaism and each other. If you have already joined Women of Rodef Sholom Sisterhood, we thank you for your membership. If you have any questions about Sisterhood please contact me or Diane Amarillas, membership co-chair, using the ‘Join Us’ link below. And you can always email us at wrs@rodefsholom.org or reply to this newsletter.

~Susan Goldwasser

President, Women of Rodef Sholom

July 2016, from the clergy

Every evening we recite the Ma’ariv Aravim prayer: “Praised are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who speaks the evening into being…”  A few nights ago I drove home from URJ Camp Newman into the most gorgeous sunset.  The sky was filled with cloud formations of pink and red and orange, almost as if it were set on fire.  On the other side of the horizon was the incredible strawberry moon, a “once-in-a-generation” event, as one news article quoted.  As we drove through Napa Valley in this beautiful setting, I couldn’t help but think, “We are truly blessed.  Radical amazement at it’s finest.  And I’m exhausted.”

This month, our son Noah turns three months old.  Leading up to Noah’s birth, people offered their advice and time and again told me that time would fly.   Since he was born, I have found myself watching him day in and day out as he changes, grows, and turns into a charming baby boy, complete with growing finger nails, ever changing sleep patterns, and the most beautiful smile and little giggle that fills our lives with such joy and excitement.

The Ma’ariv Aravim prayer helps to remind us that everyday God renews creation, rolling light away from darkness and darkness from light.  But my darkness that was once filled with blissful sleep has now succumbed to middle-of-the-night feedings and a hope for just two more hours of shut-eye.  And that darkness, my darkness, feels safe, warm, and filled with love and light in our own home.

That same comforting darkness does not exist for many in our world today.

3 weeks ago, 49 people were killed in Orlando, FL, in a room filled with a darkness that many of us cannot ever imagine.  That week was filled with a deep sadness and anger that filled my body and wrenched my soul.  And every time I look at my innocent little boy in my arms, every time he smiles, I can’t help but feel so sad for the world in which we live, and pray for a change in the world  for the future of all of our children.

Each night when we put Noah to sleep, my husband Yoni and I sing the words of Sh’ma and Hashkiveinu to him while he lies in his cradle.  Shelter us beneath thy wings, O Adonai.  Guard us from all harmful things.  Keep us safe throughout the night ’til we wake with morning’s light.  Teach us, Eili (my God), wrong from right.

May we work together to build a world that is safe, both throughout the night and also when we wake with morning’s light.  May we provide a shelter for one another that teaches goodness, wholeness, and peace.  I hope that one day our Noah, our family, our community, and the rest of the world may only know a darkness that is safe, a country that is safe, a world that is safe and filled with peace.

Oseh shalom bimromav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael v’al kol yoshvei teivel, v’imru: Amen.  May the One who makes peace in high places make peace for us, for all of Israel and for all who inhabit the earth, and let us say: Amen.

~Rabbi Lara

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July 2016, from our president

This month I want to celebrate our wonderful Gift Shop volunteers! Thank you so much for supporting our Sisterhood. The funds raised by the gift shop support our programs, events and tikkun olam contributions. Because of your hard work and dedication we have been able to have a vibrant Sisterhood providing friendship, deep spiritual connection, enrichment and education reaching so many in our congregation and in our larger community.

Financial support from the Gift Shop, along with our other fund raising endeavors, have especially benefited Congregation Rodef Sholom’s youth. At the June 9, 2016 Congregation Rodef Sholom Board meeting, Executive Director Michael Kamler acknowledged Women of Rodef Sholom’s generous contributions toward camperships.

WRS has also made substantial donations to the CRS Religious School, Venetia Valley School, Mazon, Enriching Lives Through Music, Homeward Bound, Marin Organizing Committee, Legal Community Against Gun Violence, Jewish Community Relations Council, Women of Reform Judaism’s initiatives supporting Pay Equity and combating distracted driving,  WRJ’s YES fund and the 5 Rodef Sholom Clergy’s Discretionary Funds.

Personally I want to thank the Gift Shop as I found the perfect gift for a dear friend’s 60th Birthday! On behalf of the Sisterhood and the Congregation I want to express our gratitude to each of you. You exemplify what it means to be women and men of valor! Thank you Leslie Laskin Reese, Ruth Malkin, Alice Miller, Alissa Ralston, toni Golbus, Abra Berkson, Fanny Stein, Joni Pratt, Sharon Block, Joanna Berland, Debbie Handler, Suzanne Waterman, Dodi Friedenberg, Dorie Rosenberg, Joel Wolfson, Suzan Berns, Ingrid Tolson, Jennifer Levine, Barbara Kraus, Shalene Hersh, Carole Friedlander, Claudia Belshaw, Ilene Meyers, Leslie Shatz, Karen Steiner, Ivy Morritt, Karen Arnold, Shirley Young, Joanne Abrams and Ronna Voorsanger.

 

~Susan Goldwasser

President, Women of Rodef Sholom

June 2016, from our president’s daughter

With my daughter Sarah’s permission I would like to share her words delivered at the Yom HaShoah memorial on May 24 at Kol Shofar, sponsored by partners for Jewish life in Marin. She was honored to be asked to speak by Rabbi Michael Lezak.

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

There is a lot of anxiety about the state of young American Jews. They say we are assimilating; apathetic; growing out of touch. Soon, a new generation will grow up without any survivors of the Holocaust, which raises concerns that its memory will eventually fade.

I’m here to speak to you today to offer my perspective as a young American Jew. I’d like to talk first about the current campus climate for many Jewish students, and then explore my vision of the future through the ways we take on Jewish values in a multi-faceted, universal context.

I’m a sophomore at UC Berkeley, which probably means that some you just winced a little bit. There’s an association that’s driven home these days equating Berkeley with anti-Semitism. You hear a lot about the occasional piece of graffiti or aggressive anti-Israel protest, but rarely about the Shabbat dinners that students go to every week. I’m not trivializing how tremendously serious these aspects are, but I want to illuminate what everyday life looks like.

Under the infrastructure of organizations like Hillel and Chabad, Jewish students across the country are thriving, meeting like-minded people with whom they do community service, play music, study, discuss Israel, go to Israel, observe holidays, pray, eat, mourn, and celebrate. It’s  happening every day of every week throughout the entire year.

This semester I attended a Co-Op Shabbat, where a hundred students spent the night raucously circle dancing and chair-lifting to a live Klezmer band. We feasted on Trader Joe’s babka, vegan challah, and many bottles of wine. It wasn’t traditional, but it was an unmistakable celebration of being Jewish in 2016.

Yes, there is anti-Semitism on college campuses, but there are also Jews on college campuses who have every intention of enjoying and embracing their identities. Hatred does not, and will not, stop us from lighting candles every week. This is especially pertinent to think about on Yom Hashoah – that we as a people have faced persecution, yet survived and flourished in spite of it all.

As for my two cents on what the future holds, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I have been paying attention to what’s working well right now.

With social justice issues emerging in (of all places) pop culture, young people today possess an extraordinary fluency in the discourses of inequality. And as 21st century Jews with access to a growing global perspective, we are using the stories of our cultural past as a lens to understand the injustices of today, spanning across races, religions and boundaries.

The Jewish history is defined by its tragedies of slavery, genocide, and displacement. During Passover, it’s a commandment to remember as if we ourselves were slaves in Egypt. On Yom YaShoah, we listen to the stories of those who survived and perished, so that the atrocities are always remembered and taken upon our hearts.

The Holocaust was not a hate crime – from registration laws to the railroads, the gas chambers and crematoriums, the Shoah was a machine of violence and murder. We remember this – that discriminatory violence happened under a legitimate framework of power, unstopped for years on behalf of the ignorance and/or complacency of the rest of the world.

And so we, as young people, stand with migrant farm-workers who are trafficked, raped, and withheld basic rights in a system designed to disempower them;

We stand with the millions of women and children, from Thailand to Oakland, who are enslaved for sex and labor;

We stand with the victims of genocide in countries around the world;

And we stand against politicians who seek to bar immigration into this country against an entire religious people.

Through community organizing, fundraising, and engagement in local, state, and federal politics, I believe young Jews today are honoring their past while compassionately striving towards a righteous future.

Reuven Rivlin once said, “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.” I close today by saying with conviction that this moral fire still burns in the hearts and minds of young people today. And as we move forward in our lives, we will brandish this flame as a light against the oppressive darkness of intolerance.

Thank you,

~Sarah Goldwasser

June 2016, from the clergy

bluma

“A person should always run to do a mitzvah.” 

-Berachot 6b

I’ve always thought it would be amazing to pull together a simcha flash-mob team.  Here’s how it would work: We’d gather a team of at least 15 if not 50 individuals who love to dance.  We’d come together and dance and rehearse our moves weekly for some time.  We’d have the time of our lives.  Then, a simcha would show up on the communal radar screen, say a bar mitzvah or a wedding.  The team would ink it on its calendar.  We’d show at the bar mitzvah in the morning.  Or if there’s space at the chuppah, we’d show up to take in the holiness.  If not, no worries.  We would most assuredly show up on the dance floor at the party.  The band or the dj would lean into a fierce Hava Nagila, and our team would get the crowd moving.  We’d yank non-dancers out of the periphery and into the mayhem.  We’d shout and scream with wild abandon.  And at the right time, say after 5 or 15 minutes of some serious circling, we’d zero in on the bat mitzvah girl or the wedding couple, we’d plop their tushies in a chair, and we would hoist them toward the heavens.  Bopping up and down, they would feel like royalty, having left terra firma for some other-worldly place.  Smiles would be glued to their face.  It would be a moment that would remind them, and the rest of us gathered, how very good it is to be alive.  And what can happen when a holy community gathers to launch a couple or a family to the stratosphere.

Bluma just had her bat mitzvah.  The ritual did what it was supposed to do:  coalesce friends and family and community and launch her and us.  Mission accomplished.  In the days after the simcha, friends and family texted us photos and videos from the day.  Of course, they took us back to that festive night.  One video in particular caught my eye.  It is of Bluma rising above the fray in the chair.  It gifted us a glimpse of Olam Ha’ba / The World-to-Come.  She didn’t hold on.  She waved like a queen up there in the stratosphere.  And she pointed confidently down at her most beloved friends.  It’s an image that will never leave me.

I hope she took notice of what happened right before she went up in the chair.  A decision was made, on someone’s part, that the time had come to sit the bat mitzvah down and hoist her above the crowd.  I don’t know how that decision got made.  Whether it was a verbal, “let’s do this” or a primal sense that a mitzvah is awaiting.  But literally all at once, a group of adults literally swarmed her chair, shoulders down, paused, then bam, shot her toward the heavens.  I love that she was in the chair.  Basking in all her confident glory.  My next prayer for the bat mitzvah is that she develops that instinct to rush into the circle, to hoist celebrating brides or bat mitzvah parents heavenwards.  Because God knows that we couldn’t have soared as high as we did without that mighty simcha team.

~Rabbi Michael Lezak

May 2016, from our president

susan passover

Hello Ladies,

We have many special events happening in May!

We will be celebrating Mother’s Day at Venetia Valley School by sponsoring a Mother’s Day Boutique from your generous donations. Each first grader in the school will select a gift for their mom. The boutique has jewelry, scarves and purses. The kids make cards in their classes and then come one class at a time to the boutique. Some spend lots of time making their selection, some know right away. They also choose the color of the gift bags and tissue. The moms absolutely love the cards and gifts, the kids are thrilled. Everyone is happy. Without your donations this event would not happen. The women in our community have touched 100’s of moms in the Venetia Valley Community! Thank you.

Our Sisterhood Retreat still has room if you would like to join us for Friday May 20th 4pm- 10 pm or Saturday May 21st breakfast to 10pm. We have great programming, gourmet food and beautiful services planned.  You will strengthen friendships and make new connections. Use the RSVP link below to sign up for Friday night or Saturday all day.

Please join us at our Sisterhood Shabbat on Friday May 20th. We are so fortunate to be part of a Congregation that gives us the opportunity to lead a Friday night service. It will be musical, spiritual and very special. We hope to see you there.

P.S. Let me know if you would like my recipes for flourless chocolate cake or macaroons!

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

April 2016, from the clergy

As the Spring approaches, and the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, Jews around the world prepare for the greatest home celebration of the year: Pesach. It is a time when families come together and work as a unit to eliminate chametz from the house, gather the proper dishes, and shop for all the Passover foods necessary to truly celebrate our freedom from slavery and oppression. You can see Israeli shoppers in the shuk in Jerusalem rushing about to buy the very best in the market. Locally I’m excited to see matzah and other kosher products available at the Terra Linda Safeway.
In Exodus chapter 12 we read how the Israelites were commanded to slaughter the Pesach-Offering, dipping hyssop in the blood, spreading the blood over the lintel and doorposts of their houses thus causing the Angel of Death to pass-over their homes sparing the male first-born from death which the Egyptian children would suffer. Pharaoh, himself a first born, is spared so that he may give voice and be a witness to Hashem. Each subsequent generation that studies Torah are reminded of Hashem’s power over Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
As we sit around the seder table with our beloved family surrounding us, may we be mindful of the gift of freedom, and celebrate the awesome wonder of our exodus from Egypt.

 

~Cantor David

April 2016, from our president

Hello Ladies,

This is a moment to do something for yourself. If you have not RSVPd yet, stop everything and sign up for the Women’s Seder this Sunday, April 3rd at  4pm in the Social Hall.
For 23 years the Women of Rodef Sholom have been hosting an annual Seder. It is a chance to celebrate freedom with other women from our community. We will have delicious food, wonderful music and powerful spiritual guidance from our clergy. Our service is beautiful, inclusive and meaningful. You will meet new friends and reconnect with women you may not see very often. If you are feeling shy we will personally greet you and make you feel welcome.
If you have already signed up I look forward to seeing you there. If you are unable to attend we hope to see you next year as this is a tradition we will continue to celebrate at Congregation Rodef Sholom. Bring your daughters, mothers, neighbors and friends. All are welcome but we must know in advance as the caterer can’t accommodate walk in guests. If this is an event that is important to you join us on the committee for planning next year’s seder. We want your feedback and assistance in making these special occasions something all women in our community can appreciate together.
~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

March 2016, from our president

Hello Ladies,

March is here and thoughts turn to Purim. I am thinking of Queen Esther, courageous and clever and of my beloved grandmother Esther Birenbaum. She never knew her exact birthday but she knew she was named Esther because she was born near Purim and so she celebrated her 103 birthdays in March. Like Queen Esther she was an orphan (at least I think Queen Esther was an orphan or why would she be raised by her uncle?) and she was very brave. She left Poland alone as a young woman and arrived at Ellis Island and started a new life. She learned a trade and became a sewing machine operator in a factory, she learned English, got married and had a family. She was very wise despite never having had any formal education.  When I would visit  we would sit at her kitchen table and she would serve coffee and her homemade cookies.  She taught me so many important lessons: life is a college; home is best; never spend more than you earn; clean the house first thing in the morning, then you are free to enjoy the day; always a mother. She encouraged me to marry my husband (best advice, ever).

My grandmother lived through unimaginable hardships and life tragedies. The most devastating was the death of her daughter Lillian, when she was 44.  She could reflect on her experiences with Pogroms, anti-Semitism, homelessness, immigration, poverty and widowhood but she never recovered from my mother’s death. My grandmother Esther always encouraged and supported me. Her belief in me was something I will always have, it is my legacy from her and I am forever grateful. She really loved me. She taught me the act of loving can not only lift and sustain, it can save lives.

In the spirit of Esthers, in Persia or the Bronx, let’s give ourselves time to have coffee and a treat with each other. My grandmother never tasted a scone but here is my recipe. Give it a try.

Susan’s scones

scones

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put In food processor : 1 ½ cups flour, ½ cup cornmeal, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 TBSP baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, ¼ tsp cinnamon. Pulse to combine.

Add ½ cup(one stick) unsalted butter, pulse until sand-pea size, don’t over do it.

Add 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, ¼ cup cream or plain yogurt. Pulse just until combined.

Dump out into large bowl, and add ½ cup dried fruit (currants, dried cherries ,etc.) and ½ cup nuts (walnuts, pecans) and knead with your hands just to combine.

Put dough on baking sheet, cut into triangles or use round biscuit/cookie cutter.

Bake @ 15 minutes and enjoy!

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

January 2016, from our president

Dear Ladies,

I’m looking forward to 2016. We all have different reasons to celebrate the new calendar year. The Women of Rodef Sholom would like to know what would make you happy, something you have always wanted to try but haven’t had the opportunity, what events would get you out of your bathrobe (don’t you just love fleece?) and comfortable home on a random Tuesday night. I’m talking fun, not what we should be achieving or accomplishing. We are all really, really good at being hard working and responsible. Please join me shifting directions here. We are open to suggestions. We have some big plans for 2016 at Sisterhood.

Trivia night January 23rd is a good start. Even if you don’t think you’ll know the answers your teammates might and you will laugh, sip a beverage and nosh and have a great night out. The first Friday of the month starting up again in February we hike (ok, more like walk) with Rabbi Stacy. Join the monthly book group. Come to the monthly senior luncheons. We are already planning the women’s seder and our wonderful retreat in Sonoma. Who is in for a movie, Mom’s night out for manicures, wine, and cheese tasting? Contact me with your ideas for other informative, educational or just plain entertaining events.  Wishing all of us a healthy and happy 2016!

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

January 2016, from the clergy

Dear Women of Rodef Sholom,

A Mountain of Cookbooks and The Perfect Shabbat Afternoon

It had been another mighty Shabbat morning at Rodef Sholom: Gesher families had bonded in deep ways, Torah with Soul folks had surfaced even more connections to the weekly parsha, and 2 b’nai mitzvah families had each risen to the top of Sinai to receive Torah of awareness and awe: for the gift of their child, for their family and community, and for one of the most profoundly holy mornings of their lives.  As a rabbi, there’s nothing quite like witnessing people of all ages coming alive with gratitude for life, for community and for an appreciation of shared sacred paths.

After sharing reflections and mazal tovs with the b’nai mitzvah students, their parents and grandparents, I head home for a Shabbat afternoon with my family.  Invariably, I’m greeted with hugs or hot cookies or a dance performance that they’ve been working on over the past hours or weeks.  Needless to say, Shabbat is our most important family recharging station.

When I returned home from services three weeks ago, my girls were nowhere to be found.  After combing our first floor, I headed downstairs to find all three of them huddled up in Minna and Bluma’s bedroom.  There, smack dab in the middle of all three of my daughters, was a stack of no less than 15 cookbooks rising high above all the stuffed animals on the adjacent bed.  I soon realized that I had walked into the middle of a dialogue that had been going on for at least an hour.  Together, my three daughters had grabbed all of their favorite cookbooks off the shelves, and were in the middle of going through them, making a very long list of all of the recipes that interested them.   And now they were busy winnowingthe list from 500 recipes all the way down to the one we would work on as a family that Shabbat afternoon.

To me, this is an image of what we aim for on Shabbat: slowing way down and shutting down anything that might get in the way of laughing and bonding and dreaming together.  The rabbis talked about how Shabbat was to gift us with  “mei’ein olam ha’ba / a taste of the world-to-come.”  That cake our girls baked that shabbes afternoon was supremely tasty.  I like to think of Shabbat as the originial Slow Food or Slow Life movement.  Shabbat’s a tool that gifts us with time and space to breathe, to connect, to savor relationships and mainly, to feel wildly alive.  That image of my ladies and their cookbooks piled high reminded me of how very good life can be.

In what ways is Shabbat helping you to feel wildly alive.  Let us know how we can help you deepen your practice.

~Rabbi Michael Lezak

December 2015, from our president

Hi Ladies, I can’t believe it is almost Hanukkah. How did that happen so fast?  Come join us December 7th at our Women of Rodef Sholom Member’s Social. If you are not a member yet, come anyway.  We will visit, drink, eat, light candles and celebrate being together. Meet new friends, reconnect with old friends.

For years I was a member of Sisterhood but didn’t attend many events. I was busy working and taking care of my kids. I wasn’t sure how to get involved, I didn’t know if I had the time or energy. But then someone asked me to bring baked goods to something. I don’t really remember the occasion. The women were very organized and welcoming and there was this great energy. They were having fun. I helped out at Pizza Bingo and met a woman who taught me about the importance of creating a circle of support. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. At another event I met  two women who had gone back to school and became lawyers at a time when there were very few women in law, another woman was a lawyer who had become a yoga teacher.  There were artists, musicians, writers. Ideas about parenting, recipes, books and travel were never in short supply. I looked forward to  developing relationships with women who had diverse backgrounds, life experiences and areas of expertise.

I can relate to finding it difficult to determine when and how to participate.  Especially when you aren’t sure if you will know anyone.  It can be confusing trying to figure out how to jump in, and who to contact. Well, we would love to hear from you. Just email me. I’ll connect you to the right person. Come to one of our Board Meetings, first Wednesday of the month 7-9pm. Whatever your interest, there is a way to get involved. Perhaps you like to throw parties, we need your skills. We need assistance driving Seniors to the clergy-hosted Senior Luncheons. You might prefer to help out preparing food and serving at our homeless shelter dinners. The Women’s Seder is a fabulous event and our committee is open to more volunteers. Trivia Night is coming up in January and you might enjoy helping out with our Silent Auction. Help us plan our wonderful annual retreat in Sonoma.

I can’t call all 300+ members of the Women of Rodef Sholom, so here is my personal invitation to all of you to get involved. I look forward to lighting candles with you at the Members Social!

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President