From the Presidents – February 1, 2024

Shalom Everyone!

We are now well into winter and the Bay will soon be drenched with back to back atmospheric rivers.  Considering how many years of drought we have had recently, it is truly remarkable and a relief how much rain California is receiving right now.  This is also the time of year when we can imagine an end to the cold and rain and a transition to sunshine and warmth.  This upcoming Shabbat represents a distinctly American version of this wish with the fun holiday of Groundhog Day.  Borrowed from German folklore, the story of a groundhog emerging from the ground to check his shadow for an early spring symbolizes a desire to get through hard times as quickly as possible.  In Jewish tradition, the exact opposite often occurs, including the story in Exodus when the Israelites waited centuries to be freed from bondage only to wander for decades before entering the promised land.  Rather than seek shortcuts, Jewish communities tell stories of prolonged challenges that still fulfil their promises in the end.  In our case, then, we would all be hoping the groundhog does not see his shadow and continue the six more weeks of winter so that spring will feel that much sweeter when it finally arrives.  As the famous saying goes, “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait”.

We are also pleased to announce that Rabbi Dean will be continuing as our rabbi until the summer of 2025.  The Rabbi Search Committee will therefore spend the next few months discussing the survey you all filled out and start submitting announcements later this year.  The Board now plans to have a new rabbi selected by the spring of 2025, just before Rabbi Dean’s retirement.  We will provide more updates in the coming weeks.

This is also the time of year to start thinking about the next few major holidays, especially Purim and Passover.  We will also be hosting a special Shabbat Service for the new members of our community next month on Friday, February 16.  We encourage all of our new families to attend and be honored as the future of our congregation.  You can also help make a difference by volunteering to help with the upcoming Purim Carnival, which will take place on March 24.  We will send out sign-up sheets shortly.  Assisting with these events allows us to connect with the community, perform a mitzvah, and make the Temple Beth Hillel experience even better.  And for those who wish to make a difference in our community, we highly encourage you to consider joining the Temple Beth Hillel Board of Directors next year. Our Board is always on the lookout for members who have ideas for the future of the temple and the ability to carry out that vision. Serving on the Board makes us appreciate how much Temple Beth Hillel means to us and our children. 

We also have the exciting news that one of our B’nai Mitzvah students, Scarlet, will be having her Bat Mitzvah next month on February 24.  It will be a special afternoon service and we encourage our congregation to come show their support for our newest B’nai Mitzvah.  Further details will be sent out shortly.

Finally, our next regular Shabbat Service will take place on Friday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m.  Torah Study will take place Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. on Zoom, and the next Adult Education class will be hosted by Rabbi Dean on Sunday, February 4.  And of course, we encourage everyone to come to our wonderful Tefillah services at Religious School each Sunday at 9:30 a.m.  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