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May/June President's Column by Jay Hirsh — Looking Ahead: Striving to Live as an Inclusive Holy Community
As my two-year term as Beth Am President comes to an end at our Annual Meeting on May 21st, this is my final President’s Column for the Builder. I could reflect on completing eight years of board service, which has had its fair share of highs and lows, expected and unexpected. As with almost everything during the pandemic, what has often popped into my mind is the witty Yiddish proverb “Der mentsh trakht un got lakht,” translated as “A person plans and God laughs.”

Crisis in Ukraine
During these trying times, our friends in Ukraine need us more than ever before. Many have had to flee their homes with nothing more than what they can carry. Others are still in Kyiv, Poltava and Odessa to fight for their freedom and  democracy. Innocent people are suffering. At this point, Beth Am is evaluating the needs of our Ukrainian friends and is providing funds for special projects. Find out how you can help.

Beth Am Gesharim (Bridges) Presents a Wise Aging Forum
How might we age with joy and resilience? Please join these monthly conversations on Zoom, in which we look for wisdom in our Jewish tradition, as well as relevant modern sources. Each time, a specific topic is briefly addressed by one of our clergy or a trained Wise Aging facilitator. After questions and comments, you are invited into break-out rooms for reflection in small groups.

Greece/Israel | Travel Dates: March 4-18, 2024
Join Orna Morad and Rabbi Sarah Weissman for an unforgettable trip to Greece and Israel on March 4-18, 2024. Come learn more about the trip during our upcoming information session on Tuesday, May 23.

Community Circles: Building community and friendships through shared interests.
Beth Am Community Circles are your place to connect more intentionally with other members around a shared interest or life stage. Community Circles are affinity groups open to members of Congregation Beth Am and coordinated by congregants. Help start the group you are looking for!

Caregivers Sh'ma Groups
Are you caring for an elder or spouse or loved one? If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. You can take part in a Sh’ma Group — not therapy, but a safe and friendly virtual space for sharing stories. This group format has proved successful here at Beth Am, helping us to start meaningful, supportive conversations. You will have guidelines for suggested topics and respectful interaction. You can easily form or join a group; the leadership duties are minimal and help from clergy is continually available. 

Chevra Kadisha Candle Project
One of the three important tasks of Congregation Beth Am’s Chevra Kadisha (Jewish burial society) is to support those in our community who are mourning the death of a loved one. Recently the Chevra Kadisha partnered with our youth programs to find a new way to reach out to those marking a first yahrzeit, a first anniversary of death.



May/June Clergy Column by Rabbi Heath Watenmaker: Confirming Our Judaism
What does it mean to confirm our Judaism? In what ways do we affirm our connection to our Jewish community and our faith, and claim ownership of our Jewish identity? For as long as I’ve been at Beth Am, I’ve had the incredible honor of working with our Confirmation students each year to craft a unique and meaningful Confirmation ceremony that explores their answers to these questions. This is the culmination of a year of study, conversation, and exploration of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. 


Counting of the Omer
The period between Passover and Shavuot is called the “Counting of the Omer” (Sefirat Ha'omer). Omer means "barley sheaf" and refers to the offering brought to the Temple on the second day of Passover. Starting from that day, the Torah also instructs that “you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week — 50 days” (Leviticus 23:15-16).


Shavuot 2023
In ancient times, Shavuot was a pilgrimage festival during which Israelites brought crop offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, it is a celebration of the giving of the Torah, education and actively choosing to participate in Jewish life. Learn more about celebrating with our community!

Outdoor Summer Services Are Coming!
As in years past, beginning in June we will celebrate Shabbat in our beautiful Outdoor Chapel all summer long. In July and August, we will welcome Beth Am members to share words of Torah during the service. A complete list of speakers will be available online.

Help Beth Am Thrive

May 2023 Fund in Focus: Israel Awareness Fund
Israel just turned 75! What better way to celebrate and honor Israel than with a gift to Beth Am’s Israel Awareness Fund? This fund supports programs that educate our community about Israel and celebrate the beauty of Israeli culture, such as our Oneg Israel series.

Builders Circle Profile: The Kaye Family
Tobye credits Beth Am with helping to shape the lives and characters of her children and grandchildren. “Beth Am is a continuation of values from me and Ron to our four sons, their spouses and their children. To see them carrying on (on their own and not just because I want them to!) makes me so proud. I know that Beth Am is part of why they are who they are — and I want to do my part to see that Beth Am continues into the future.” 



Beth Am's May Tzedakah Box supports Jordan River Village
In May the Beth Am Tzedakah Box will support Jordan River Village whose mission is to support seriously ill children of all backgrounds from Israel and surrounding areas to reach beyond their medical conditions through free camp programs designed to foster fun, independence, resilience and personal growth.  

Solar Power Could Be Coming to Beth Am
There’s exciting news from your Beth Am Dayenu Circle Sustainability@Beth Am Action Team: solar-powered electricity could be coming to Beth Am! The project would involve solar panels on carports in the lower parking lot near Arastradero Road. We conducted our Listening Sessions and received great feedback regarding Beth Am installing solar power.

You’re invited to "Facing Our Truths: Conversations on Race" – Facilitated by Beth Am Member Emily Nagaonkar Join this small group discussion series of 6 sessions about how we face our truths about race, privilege, power and the biases that we all hold.


Beth Am Youth Education Registration Is Now OPEN for the 2023-2024 School Year!
We are looking forward to welcoming our Youth Education community to another year of exciting programming! All of our programs emphasize relationship building and multiple entry points for different students and families. We offer programs for everyone, from Chavurah (our program for families with children ages 3-5) to Hagigah (our theater education program) to our teen community programming. Join us!

Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyar 5784