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The Fight for Equality and Democracy in Israel, a virtual discussion featuring Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg

Death Cafe

Judaism and Ecology

Using the Mitzvot as Daily Reminders of Our Purpose

Marra B. Gad discusses The Color of Love

REAL presents Brian Copeland

Thursday, January 21 at 11:30am  
The Fight for Equality and Democracy in Israel, a virtual discussion featuring Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg, Associate Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel

Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link. 

Shira Ben Sasson Furstenberg is the Associate Director of NIF Israel and Director of the Development and International Relations Department. She previously served as Chief of Staff and spent ten years working as a grants and program officer at the NIF and Shatil, focusing on the issues of Jewish pluralism and religious freedom. Shira was the director of the Jewish Pluralism Watch, the Masorti (Conservative) Movement's Knesset watch. She also served as the director of iRep- Israel Religious Expression Platform, at the Jewish Federations of North America, and worked at the Knesset research and information center. Shira holds BA and MA degrees in sociology and anthropology from the Hebrew University, and lives in Jerusalem.Shira Ben Sasson Furstenberg will address how an emerging Biden presidency in the US might impact Israel as well as the fact that Israel is heading toward its 4th round of elections in March. NIF's story is about building a vibrant civil society at the forefront of social change in Israel. Over more than 40 years, NIF has led the way to achieve equality and justice in spite of the many challenges that face Israeli society, which today include a democracy under stress, a global pandemic, and the 4th round of elections in two years. Come learn more about how NIF has risen to meet these challenges and to wrestle with the big questions that Israelis—and American Jews—are grappling with today. Learn about the vital role that civil society plays in protecting democratic institutions. Discover the progressive Israeli leaders who work to protect vulnerable communities, defend civil liberties and democracy, and create the groundwork for a truly inclusive politics that represents all of Israel's citizens.

The New Israel Fund is the leading organization advancing and defending democracy in Israel. Widely credited with building Israeli progressive civil society, we have provided over $300 million to more than 900 organizations since our inception in 1979. 

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Monday, January 25
6:30 - 8:30pm Death Cafe

Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link- space is limited to 12 people.

A Death Cafe is a facilitated discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session. Our objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.' Bring a beverage and/or a snack to the virtual cafe and talk about death in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. This program will be facilitated by congregant Susan Barnes, a Gamliel Institute instructor and the head of our Chevra Kadisha program. Questions contact Susan at

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Judaism and Ecology: A Tu Bishvat mini-series with Rabbi Elana
7:00pm January 26,  February 2, and 9
Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link. 

Tu Bishvat is often lovingly dubbed “Jewish Earth Day” or “The Birthday of the Trees.” But what is the deeper meaning of Tu Bishvat and how does it amplify a Jewish ethic of sustainability and care for our earth? In this mini-series we will explore Jewish environmental ethics and earth-based Jewish spirituality through texts and readings from Torah through the modern-day Jewish environmental movement. Come for one class or all

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Using the Mitzvot As Daily Reminders of Our Purpose: A Lay-Led Musar Exploration Group
Four Consecutive Mondays at 7:00pm: February 1,  8, 15, and 22

Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link. Space limited to 6 people.

The Mitzvot can be daily reminders. Can we use those Mitzvot to answer the question of what we are doing here? Every moment is an opportunity for spiritual practice. Jay Michaelson’s book God in Your Body is a guide towards beginning to use the Mitzvot in this way. We will use this text as our guide for this  course. The group’s goal will be to provide each member with opportunities to explore some of the practices Michaelson identifies. We welcome members who already have a Musar practice as well as those for whom this encounter with Musar is their first.

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Wednesday, February 3, 7:00pm
Marra B. Gad discusses The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl.
 Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link. 
We invite you to read The Color of Love with us this January; you can purchase a copy at your local bookstore.

In 1970, three-day-old Marra B. Gad was adopted by a white Jewish family in Chicago. For her parents, it was love at first sight—but they quickly realized the world wasn’t ready for a family like theirs. Marra’s biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish, and her biological father was black. While still a child, Marra came to realize that she was “a mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” In black spaces, she was not “black enough.” In Jewish spaces, she was mistaken for the help, asked to leave, or worse.

Even in her own extended family, racism bubbled to the surface. At turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, The Color of Love is a story about what you inherit from your family—and what you choose to do with that inheritance. In her talk Marra B. Gad shares her story with honesty, insight, and warmth and will connect her story to broader themes of race and Jewish community today. 

Marra B. Gad was born in New York and raised in Chicago. She is an independent film and television producer and now calls Los Angeles home. Ms. Gad is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a master’s degree in modern Jewish history from Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.

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Wednesday, March 17, 7:00pm
REAL Presents: Brian Copeland

Click here to register and receive the ZOOM link.
Actor and author Brian Copeland will perform excerpts from his solo stage play THE WAITING PERIOD, an unrelenting look at a 10-day period in Copeland's life—the mandatory 10-day waiting period before he could lay his hands on the newly purchased gun with which he planned to take his own life. Brian Copeland is an award-winning actor, comedian, author, playwright, television and radio talk show host based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Fri, January 22 2021 9 Sh'vat 5781