From the Presidents – August 31, 2023

Shalom Everyone!

First of all, we would like to thank everyone who attended the “Faeries of the Moonlight” play in Berkeley to show support for Mercedes Cohen.  It always feels so uplifting when a Temple member has a special event and everyone comes out to celebrate!  There will be more such events in the future so stay tuned!

And as we bid farewell to August and look forward to September, along with the High Holidays we will soon be celebrating the secular holiday of Labor Day.  Although we often just think of this holiday as a great excuse to have a three day weekend, it in fact symbolizes a critical milestone for ordinary workers across the world.  Back in the nineteenth century, when businessmen became ever more wealthy and powerful, workers were able to express themselves and call for change through the formation of labor unions.  In those early days, unions insisted on changes to the workplace that we often take for granted today, including a 2 day weekend, an 8 hour work day, the elimination of child labor, safety conditions in the workplace, workers compensation, pensions, and many other benefits.  They did not always succeed (in fact they rarely did before the 1930s) but union organizers and members kept up the fight through thick and thin to provide safer and better lives for hundreds of thousands of workers.  Jewish workers especially played a prominent role in this struggle, including such luminaries as cigar-maker Samuel Gompers, who helped form the American Federation of Labor, along with thousands of Jewish men and women who assisted in strikes, gave speeches, and looked out not only for their own communities but for the wider class of industrial workers.  This Labor Day, let us all be grateful for the benefits we enjoy in the workplace (and those that still need to be enacted) and the sacrifices made by Jewish and non-Jewish workers alike in bringing about those needed changes.   

In other news, on September 9th there will be a Slichot Potluck at the Temple starting at 7:00 p.m.  The following day, September 10th, Temple Beth Hillel will be hosting a booth at the Solano Stroll in Albany and Berkeley.  We and the rest of the Board will be volunteering to help spread the word about our wonderful community, and we encourage all members who are able to do so as well.  Larry will be sending out sign-up sheets shortly and we hope to see everyone there.  Also, High Holiday services will be taking place between September 15 and September 25.  Erev Rosh Hashanah Services will begin on Friday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. and Rosh Hashanah Morning Services will be on Saturday, September 16, at 10:00 a.m.  The following week, Kol Nidre services will be on Sunday, September 24, at 7:00 p.m. and Yom Kippur morning services will occur on Monday, September 25 at 10:00 a.m., with afternoon services beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Finally, the next Shabbat Service will be held this Friday, September 1, at 7:30 p.m., hosted by our own Rabbi Dean and Cantor Marney.  We hope to see y’all there.  Thank you everyone!


If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am not for others, what am I?

And if not now, when? -Rabbi Hillel

~ Anna B Stein and David Zimring, Co-Presidents, Temple Beth Hillel