Book Club, 2016

The WRS Book Club meets monthly the third Wednesday of each month from 7:15-8:15 in the JCC Library.

January 20
Who Do You Love, by Jennifer Weiner

February 17
The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel Brown

March 16
The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi (One Bay One Book selection)

April 20
Euphoria, by Lily King

May 18
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

June 15
Bloodlines, by Neville Frankel

~~No meetings July and August~~

September 21
The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

October 19
The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende

November 16
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

December 21
The Ladies Auxiliary, by Tova Mirvis


RSVP/questions below.

Women of Rodef Sholom Win Or Ami

Women of Rodef Sholom Win Or Ami Award at the WRJ/URJ Biennial
WRS delegation to the WRJ/URJ Biennial in Orlando receive the 2015 GOLD OR AMI Award from the President, 1st VP and Executive Director of the WRJ (Women of Reform Judaism).  WRS won the award for our program: “Crossing the Street: Mother’s Day Surprise” a program that provided students from Venetia Valley School with gifts they chose to present their mothers on Mother’s Day.

A Jewish Framework for WRS Social Justice

The goal of WRS is to create a strategic plan that is based upon Torah values and concentric circles of need. This will be a 3 year plan targeting different organizations that we will support, advocate for and educate ourselves and others about.
Based upon the article “Rabbinic Law on Tzedakah Priorities” by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, tzedakah means righteousness, not charity. At its core is the concept of restorative justice, privacy and dignity for every human being. Tzedakah is a test of the values of our Torah.
  1. Who gives? Everyone, even the poorest person who depends on tzedakah is required to give a ½ schekel, so that he too is a contributor.
  2. How much should we give? The richest can give up to 20% of their income, but no more. More would get that person too much honor and power for the community’s good. Less is ok. The normal amount is 10%.
  3. How do we choose among a wide range of needs? Anyone who asks for food should receive it at once. Hunger is a powerful emergency. Strangers with less urgent needs should be queried. The community is responsible to give what they need based upon the results of the perceived need. Those known to the community should not have to wait for tzedakah.
  4. Giving is extended in a series of concentric circles. Ones own needs come first. The next priority goes to parents. Children come next, then relatives, immediate neighbors, then the needs of the town in which one lives. After that a person needs to be concerned with their country and finally the world.
  5. Jews & Non-Jews For the sake of peace, give to both. The highest communal good is a joy to help all beings.
  6. Moses Maimonides – 12th century scholar and author of the Mishnah Torah illiterated 8 steps of tzedakah. All 8 steps are built upon restoring a person’s dignity, privacy and anonymity of the giver and the receiver.
  7. We can raise a person’s dignity in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the prosperous by involving them in the process and in the work. The highest form of tzedakah is enabling every person to be economically self-sufficient.
  8. There is a difference between acts of loving kindness and tzedakah. One is direct service and the other is capacity building which enables people to stand on their own independent of a need for tzedakah.

~Claire Mikowski

November 2015, from the clergy

Dear Women of Rodef Sholom,

As I prepare for my sabbatical leave it is with a twinge of sadness that I face being away from Congregation Rodef Sholom for an extended period of time. Yet there is much joy and wonder at getting up each day without the responsibilities of Cantor.

So many questions cross my mind:

  • How will all my b’nei mitzvah students manage without my guidance and support?
  • Who will chant the prayers at services?
  • How will the Shabbat musicians find the music they need?
  • Who among us in need of healing?

But the biggest questions I have are:

  • Who am I when my job isn’t defining me?
  • Will I be happy when I’m taking a break from doing what I love?

It is those questions that I most want to answer, and work through because discovering that will guide me when I return to be an even better human being, father, husband, and Cantor.

Thank you all for your patience and love and support as I take this time away from all my duties.

May we all go from strength to strength.

~Cantor David Margules

November 2015, from our president

Dear Sisters,

Here we are. We have a choice. We can go out, have fun buying jewelry and accessories for amazing bargain prices to raise much needed funds for our special school across the street, Venetia Valley. Or, we can stay home, and do what? Laundry? Paperwork? Return phone calls?

Join us at the JCC November 17, 7-9pm. We will schmooze, eat, drink and get very excited about fabulous earrings that cost so little and yet have so much BLING!  I’m definitely going out and I hope to see all of you at the Fundraiser. We owe it to ourselves to have a blast! And in case you haven’t heard, WRS won the WRJ Or Ami Award for this community service project and will be recognized this month at the Women of Reform Judaism Assembly.

Then, in May 2016, using your contributions of jewelry, we will be setting up our third annual Boutique at the Parent Center at Venetia Valley School. This allows every first grader to choose a beautiful Mother’s Day gift! So come out and have fun while doing good for our community.

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

Hanukkah’s first candle 2015

Like most Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is about family and food! Beginning with food….

the Food

I love Hanukkah, usually squeezed in between Thanksgiving and Santa Claus, followed by New Year’s whoop-dee-doo, the promise of lots of rain and a few extra pounds to work off at the JCC. Think sufganiyot, latkes, kugel, cake, chocolate. I’ve pulled together a few ideas to make your culinary holiday special….beginning with this video that turns sufganiyot into mere child’s play. Before you begin, visit The Gift Shop for your star shaped cake pans, dreidel shaped ice cube molds, and of course lots of fair trade gelt to get this holiday rolling! Now go get your kids, or your grand-kids, and get cooking!

the Light

One of my family’s favorite Hanukkah traditions is to attend the lighting of the Mama Menorah in San Francisco’s Union Square. Watch here for a schedule of this year’s candle lightings as well as when SF Chabad will plan their yearly party with music, dancing and crafts for the children. For your celebrations at home, The Gift Shop will carry over 70 different styles of menorahs as well as beautiful candles direct from Safed, Israel.


the Gifts!

This Hanukkah, we’ve brought you Jewish gifts not found anywhere else in Marin County…I’ve checked and no, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, even Macy’s don’t carry most of the selection that The Gift Shop offers! Tops on my list is a series of Jewish adult, meditative coloring books and I admit when first introduced to this item, I reverted back to my childhood and know you will, too. Imagine:  stormy day, hot cup of coffee, sharpened colored pencils, soft music and your coloring book. We’re also carrying the most fun your feet have had since you were a kid: adult women’s Hanukkah socks. Cute, no?

The shop will be ready on Sunday, November 8th. We’re clearing the shelves and stuffing everything you need for Hanukkah into our little shop: wrapping paper, ribbons, gift tags, menorahs, candles, gelt, dreidels, plushy Hanukkah bear, miniature snow globes and more. Hanukkah’s only five weeks away and The Gift Shop will sell out. I’m happy to reorder but, well honestly, you will have to wait and pray there’s no behemoth snow storm between here and wherever the goodies are shipped from.

and Finally

One last thought to share with you – we will not be carrying Hanukkah tree toppers nor Hanukkah fire place stockings. And this is based on the wisdom gleaned from one very wise rabbi.

A menorah should be honored for what it is and a Christmas tree likewise.  If you’re celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas in your home, let each symbol be itself – just like each of us. ~Rabbi Stacy

~Ronna Voorsanger
The Gift Shop manager




Accessory Sale, November 17

Jewelry, Purse and Scarf Benefit Sale

The Women of Rodef Sholom will be hosting a Jewelry, Purse and Scarf sale (all gently used) to raise funds for the Venetia Valley School in San Rafael. It’s a great place to get some fabulous deals for the upcoming holidays and feel good knowing the proceeds will help students here in Marin County.

The Sale will take place on Tuesday, November 17th, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the Jewish Community Center in the Hoytt Theater, 170 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.  We look forward to seeing you there.

For questions, please contact Fanny Stein ( or Nancy Symonds (

Sisterhood Hike, December 4th

Join the women of WRS and CRS as well as Rabbi Stacy on Friday, December 4th.  Meet at Blackie’s Pasture in Tiburon at 8:30 for a spectacular walk along the water. The path is flat, dogs on leashes are welcome. It’s a wonderful opportunity to communicate with nature while enjoying our community of women.

RSVP below.

October 2015, from the clergy


Dear Women of Rodef Sholom,

Shabbat is coming in and, as I sit writing this last communication before evening falls I feel full of gratitude and joy. The turn-around between Yom Kippur and Sukkot has always felt crazy to me and most years I’ve wondered: “Couldn’t Sukkot just be a few days later!” But this year, my first year building a real sukkah in my own backyard, I recognized the spiritual aliveness of this rushed turnaround. From the deep personal introspection of Yom Kippur to the joy of eating a meal with our community in the Sukkah-the contrast is palpable. And that is the whole point-for us to experience the full range of human emotion in the short span of these holidays. And so we build our Sukkot, no matter how tired we may still be from fasting. And how sweet it is!

It’s nearly impossible to have a Sukkah in New York City when you’re living there as a student. During my years in cantorial and rabbinical school living in Brooklyn I celebrated sukkot with my synagogue and fulfilled the mitzvah of eating meals in a sukkah on my graduate school’s rooftop where we would build a communal sukkah each year. It was very rare for any one of my friends to have a sukkah of their own because space was so limited. This year, it feels like an incredible privilege to be able to host people in my own sukkah that members of Rodef Sholom helped to build. It’s a new year, and this festival of joy and gratitude is a beautiful way for our tradition to celebrate.

Just like in secular time, the new year in Jewish time is a wonderful opportunity to take on a new practice. One practice that I will be exploring this year is a return to jogging/walking as a regular morning gratitude practice after years away. The purpose of my return to jogging is not about fitness or pushing myself in any competitive way. Rather, it is entirely about getting up in the morning, greeting the day with gratitude, being outside, and feeling appreciation for movement and for the body that keeps me going each day. If you are interested in joining me in this new practice please e-mail me at  Together we’ll form a supportive group of joggers/walkers and choose a 5K we would like to participate in together!

Wishing you a Happy New Year and Chag Sukkot Sameach!

Rabbi Elana

October 2015, from our president


Hello Ladies,

This is the time of year that we look ahead, wondering  what 5776 will bring. We are busily planning meetings, writing school obligations into the calendar, trying to balance exercise, coffee, errands, volunteer activities, taking care of homes, relationships, children. And for those who have jobs outside the home, we factor that in along with everything else. It is a dizzy, hectic vortex. As women, multitasking seems to be our constant companion.

Squeezing in one more thing, I recklessly registered for an entire weekend away from home and adult responsibility. In between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur I was fortunate enough to attend a retreat at Camp Newman for women over 45 years old, called The Next Tent.  Over 80 women from the Bay Area, southern California and even outside of California gathered together. We were excited but also a little apprehensive, as none of us knew what to expect. It turned out to be an incredible experience, filled with small group sessions exploring our life journeys, hiking, swimming, singing, dance partying, doing yoga, Torah Study, eating s’mores around the campfire, and making new friends. Doesn’t this sound like fun? No wonder kids love camp.

At 7:30am on Sunday morning some of us met for a hike. First, we were asked to pick a word from a bag (called angel cards) and privately reflect upon it. After hearing a gorgeous Mary Oliver poem about nature, we hiked up a steep hill in silence. Ordinarily being silent would be extremely hard but it was a very steep hill. When we got to the top, we were treated to a magnificent view of distant ridges, farms, and rolling hills. Each woman then had a chance to share her word. Mine was Love.  At first when I had read my word, I wondered what I would say. While schlepping up that hill, it became so clear.

How about we stop and feel the love that is in our lives right now? What might it feel like to stop planning and scheduling for a moment, and just completely allow ourselves to take it in. Not past loves gone imperfect, not hopes for future love, not seeking to enhance current love, but just appreciating the love that is with us at this exact moment.

I returned home holding onto that thought. I hope that no matter how busy life can be, we can remember to feel the love from family and friends, pets (OK, I don’t have any but you may), spouses, significant others, your fellow congregants, and of course, your sisters at Rodef Sholom.

L’Shana Tova,

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

Pool Party, August 2015

pool party 2015

WRS Annual Pool Party, August 9

The pool party was a smashing success. About 30 women gathered at our president’s (Susan Goldwasser) house for an afternoon of delicious food and spirited conversations. New friendships were forged and long standing ones reinforced. We are all looking forward to our next event, the paid up membership tea. The tea is free to members in good standing. And for those of you who haven’t paid your membership at that date, please come and you can pay at the door. It will be an afternoon to remember!