President's Column | Congregation Beth Am

President's Column

President Bruce Ives' February 2019 Column: Identification vs. Identity – Lessons from the DMV

Last month was my birthday, which I like because it usually lets me mark the passage of time “under the radar” in the wake of the holiday season. This year I got an early birthday card from the DMV, inviting me to renew my driver’s license in person. The problem with an in-person renewal isn’t the long wait time for an appointment; it’s the reduced room to fudge on identifying characteristics. I’ll still be an inch taller on my license than in real life, and a few pounds lighter too. But it was impossible to stick with “hair color -- red” as I have since I was 16. The only real choices in the hair category left to me were “gray” and “none.” (I went with gray.)

The trouble I had with this new reality surprised me -- I had to chuckle as I hesitated and peeked in the mirror before finally checking the box. I think it made me wonder if I have changed in other, less visible, ways, too. I know I have, but one of the things I recognize when I am at Beth Am is that I still hold the same Jewish values that I did before I was even old enough to drive. My core identity remains mostly the same and being with the community of Beth Am reassures me of that. Which is one of the many reasons I appreciate Beth Am so much, even more than the DMV.



Congregation Beth Am
  • 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
  • (650) 493-4661 Contact Us

We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to "do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).