September 2015, from our president


Dear Sisters,

As summer winds down we sense a transition is upon us. Even if you are not going back to school the “getting ready to go back to school” excitement/trepidation is in the air. Inevitably we wonder about 5776 and what this year will be like for us. I’m thinking about how this year can offer new possibilities, friendships and adventures.

How do we capture that new semester thrill if we are many years away(OK decades) from being a student? Just because I’m not getting a new backpack or notebooks doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn, or feel like this semester is a fresh start.

How about making new friends and discovering the possibilities for making a difference in the world right here with the Women of Rodef Sholom? Please join us September 27 at 3pm for our opening event. It will be lots of fun, educational, and there will be delicious treats. Come on your own or bring a friend. We invite you to make this year a little different by making deeper connections with old as well as new friends.

And if you haven’t joined the back to school rush at Target the pre-sharpened pencils are divine. Go next week, it’s never too late.

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President

September 2015, from the clergy


Dear Friends,

We find ourselves in the month of Elul, the month leading up to our High Holy Days.  This month is meant to be a time of reflection, a time of preparation, and a time of Teshuvah, of repentance.  What do you do during this month to help yourself prepare for the High Holy Days? Each morning during this month we are supposed to hear the sound of the Shofar, to awaken our souls, to make us aware, perhaps even to frighten us a little bit about the approaching Day of Atonement.  Our source for the blowing of the shofar comes from a verse in Leviticus 23 that says: “God spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts.”  This celebration of Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, and begins on the evening of Sunday, September 13th.  On that day, we will gather together, we will sing and we will pray, we will atone for our sins, we will hear the familiar melodies that hearken us back to our childhood and beyond, and we will hear the blasts of the shofar. What feelings does the blast of the shofar stir up for you?  Are those feelings different year after year?

Maimonides taught the following: “Although the sounding of the shofar on the New Year is a decree of the written law, still it has a deep meaning, as if saying, ‘Awake, awake, o sleeper, from your sleep; o slumberers, arouse yourselves from your slumbers; examine your deeds, return in repentance, remember your Creator.'”

I encourage you to find a way to listen to the sound of the shofar every day during the month of Elul.  If you can’t hear it in person click this link to listen to a recording.  The link works everyday except on Shabbat.  May it awaken your soul to examine your deeds, to return in repentance, and to arrive at Rosh Hashanah ready to begin 5776 anew.  May this new year be filled with joy, with light, and with love for you and yours.

Shanah tovah u’metukah!

Rabbi Lara

Area Day, July 2015

area day 2015

Area Day Northern California, July 19th 

A day where Sisterhoods from the area gather for the purpose of connecting, learning, sharing and schmoozing.   WRS had 8 delegates in attendance: Judi Sheppard, Susan Goldwasser, Ronna Voorsanger, Rhonda Daniels, Diane Amarillas, Sheri Langer, Harriett Schneitzer and Nancy Symonds.

There were workshops on various topics, including but not limited to, Strategies for Creating a Successful Sisterhood, Programming and Fund-raising, Social Action, a Mussar teaching (with Rabbi Judy Shanks from neighboring Congregation Isaiah), Creating a Culture of Engagement, Diversity in our Sisterhoods, as well as discussions on How to Write a Drash and Creating Successful Retreats.

Temple Sinai in Oakland hosted the lovely event.  Connecting with other Sisterhoods to share effective resources is what Sisterhood is all about — after all, we are Stronger Together!

August 2015, from our president


Hi Ladies,

This has been quite an historic summer. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. #lovewins has been on my mind. I learned that the Women of Reform Judaism have been advocating for civil rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation since 1965. It took the Supreme Court 50 years to catch up to us!

I’ve been thinking about what relationships with our significant others, families, congregations, and communities might look like if we could really embrace “love wins.” I’m trying to imagine how society could be influenced if we truly made love a priority. What if the measure of success, obtaining the championship trophy, meant more love in the world? It feels really overwhelming trying to visualize love as being a commodity that could matter enough to be on the agenda. But still, if we could treat each other with respect, recognize each others’ unique qualities and embrace differences, it would improve every aspect of our lives.

Rather than taking on the universe, how about if for right now we take a breath, enjoy the Supreme Court decision and spend some time together. Make a new friend, deepen current friendships. Join us at a swim party on August 9th at my home. Join the CRS Congregational Women’s Mikvah at the JCC on August 30th.  We invite you all to feel the love that exists right here in our own community at Women of Rodef Sholom.

~Susan Goldwasser, WRS President