Howard Freedman chooses some of his favorite Jewish books of 2018

The best Jewish books of 2018: feminism, seltzer, race and beyond - J.

This has been a great year for Jewish books, and I'm thrilled to share some of my favorites of 2018 in several areas of interest, helping to shine much-deserved light on books that haven't always received the attention they deserve. Among religiously oriented titles, I am drawn to two, partially for their potential to break ...

off the shelf | Sci-fi visions of future and alternate Israels

Sci-fi visions of future and alternate Israels - J.

The quest for Jewish nationhood is entwined with the exercise of imagination. Theodor Herzl's best-known words, "If you will it, it is no dream" (or, translated more accurately from the original German, "it is no fairy tale") attest to the nature of Zionism as the fulfillment of a fantasy.

Ilan Vitemberg speaks at the Library about Israel and Eurovision

Deep dive into Israel's Eurovision history a real ear-opener - J.

"This is one of the most horrible songs you'll ever hear," Ilan Vitemberg said with a grin as he cued up Israel's Eurovision submission for 2000. "Sameyakh," by Ping Pong, is truly terrible, but that's not why Vitemberg was playing it for his audience at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco on Nov.

The Jewish Community Library celebrates Rabbi Ed Zerin

Ed Zerin, the 98-year-old who wrote the book on "Jewish San Francisco" - J.

Ten books, three languages, two bar mitzvahs - Rabbi Edward Zerin has seen a lot in his 98 years. Now people are gathering to celebrate his erudite life and long career with an event at the Jewish Community Library on Oct. 25. "It was completely unexpected," Zerin said of the celebration in San Francisco.

The Chosen: Is the classic book frozen in time, or still relevant? (features Howard Freedman)

'The Chosen' onstage: Is the classic book frozen in time, or still relevant? - J.

When playwright Aaron Posner was seeking a Jewish-themed book to adapt for the stage in the late 1990s, he went to the author Chaim Potok for advice. To prepare for the meeting, he read some of Potok's works - and quickly found the one he wanted to adapt: "The Chosen."

off the shelf | Two books explain how Israel became what it is

Two 2018 books explain how Israel became what it is - J.

When faced with a vexing situation, I tend to think that part of the answer lies in finding out how we got there. And this is particularly so in the case of Israel, whose history is complicated and contested. The title of Michael Brenner's "In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea" is fitting.

Dutch and French ‘underground railroad’ in WWII: presentation at Jewish Community Library

Dutch and French 'underground railroad' in WWII at Jewish Community Library- J.

Historian Megan Koreman's book on the Dutch Resistance network that saved hundreds of lives during World War II has been a long time coming. In a way, it started when she was just 5 and visiting her uncle in Holland. "He told me how he had been in the resistance," she said.

"Born Under Fire" at Jewish Community Library

'Born Under Fire': Her mother's life in pre-state Israel - J.

It was inevitable that Rina Neiman would be imprinted by the dramatic story of her mother, Shula, a sabra and aspiring concert pianist who lived through the founding days of the State of Israel. Shulamit Dubno Neiman, whose parents were Polish Jews who immigrated to British Mandate Palestine, grew up with both the terror of ...

off the shelf | Three books to put you through (Jewish) law school

Three books to put you through (Jewish) law school - J.

Many Bay Area Jews engage in spiritual exploration and Torah study, but my impression is that there tends to be far less interest in studying Jewish law. This is likely because our Bay Area community is generally less observant than other large American Jewish communities, ...

A Message from Our CEO

A Message from Our CEO

Soon I’ll be in my backyard, building my rickety old sukkah, laying palm fronds on its roof, trying not to kill myself with a falling beam, cursing out my clumsiness and the thorns or splinters that come my way. My sukkah-building has been the butt of family jokes for decades. But no one complains as they dine among the decorations on a beautiful autumn evening. I love Sukkot’s earthiness, the glow of Hanukkah’s candles piercing winter’s darkness, and singing until our voices give out at our Passover Seder. Each festival brings unbridled joy, celebrated in the warm company of family, friends, and community. 

Jewish Values in Action: How Youth Professionals Help Teens Thrive

Jewish Values in Action:  How Youth Professionals Help Teens Thrive

As my daughter struggled with her male peer’s aggressive and inappropriate behavior, the Jewish community publicly wrestled with the implications of women speaking up about ongoing gender-based abuse of power in organizational life. 

Opportunities for Teen Educators Abound through the Teen Initiative

Last Friday, 20 youth professionals met at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay for our Youth Mental Health First Aid training. This training filled up within hours of registration opening - proving that there is, indeed a demand for this critically important work.

Reading 'The Plot Against America' across the Bay - J.

Reading 'The Plot Against America' across the Bay - J.

The surprising success of Donald Trump's candidacy in 2016 brought a number of literary works out of the woodwork, but none so much as Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America." Roth's work of counterfactual historical fiction (sometimes known as the "What if?" genre) explores the imagined impact of aviator Charles Lindbergh's defeat of incumbent Franklin ...

High Holy Days Resources

Printable Activity Pages for Kids

Kids fidget. 
Adults fidget.
Everyone has a little trouble focusing sometimes.

Keep little hands/minds engaged with activity pages created for kids of all abilities and appropriate for all types of observance. Use at home, in the car, on an airplane or during services.  Share it. Print it. Pass it on!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Check out whats inside:

High Holy Days Opportunities for Families from Kesher

off the shelf | Three solid additions to your end-of-summer reading list

Three solid additions to your end-of-summer reading list - J.

With school about to begin and only six weeks left until the official start of autumn, it's time to get that summer reading done! Here are three new novels, each with a pronounced Jewish dimension, to consider.

off the shelf | Three connections to secret Jewish pasts

Three books about characters connecting to secret Jewish pasts - J.

For some, summer reading represents the prospect of an escapist treat to help free the mind from worries. And for others, it means finally having the time to take on a challenging book otherwise pushed aside by the demands of everyday life.

An Introduction from our CEO

An Introduction from our CEO

This time last year, we’d just concluded a strategic plan in response to an existential crisis: would we survive? And, should we?

As it turned out, our attention shifted to a different question: what matters most?  What work, outcomes, and impact, were calling us?

I reflected on how Jewish learning has affected my life.  It’s helped me to be a better husband, better father, better son, better brother, better friend, better neighbor, better citizen. It informed my life with joy and purpose.  It helped me understand my place in the world and with whom I belong.  It provided tools with which I could discern what success and happiness mean.  It opened my eyes to the many blessings life has provided me.  It deepened my connections with and obligations to my family, community, and the world. It helped me understand what and whose story I am a part of.

In short, Jewish learning helped me understand how to live. 

The report that follows showcases our impact and explores who we are, what we do, who we serve, and who supports our work. Every section, including this one, offers an overview and an opportunity to click to dive in where your interest or curiosity is piqued.

If you find information that intrigues you, or puzzles you, or concerns you – please reach out to me by responding to this email or by phone - 415.529.3204.  We are a learning organization.  Jewish learning involves conversation.

off the shelf | Why audiences plotzed over these forgotten performers

Why audiences plotzed over these forgotten performers - J.

The passage of time is not particularly kind to performers of bygone eras, with few of us able to expound on the singers and musicians that thrilled our grandparents. Two new books profile entertainers who commanded exalted positions in the first half of ...