Home July 2020 Jlife Extra: Remotely Yours

Jlife Extra: Remotely Yours

JLife ExtraSynagogues and Organizations Keep Congregants Connected

By Ilene Schneider

While some congregations are opening their facilities to limited live services, they and others are maintaining an online presence for classes and some services. Here are online offerings for July, including a new congregation.


Every soul is precious and every soul matters. HaNefesh is a new Orange County Jewish community in which one does not belong, rather one is a part of, supports, and is supported by in order to do and be Jewish. HaNefesh, meaning the soul, is a radically inclusive Jewish community welcoming all to develop and nurture their Jewish spiritual self. People come from many backgrounds with varied beliefs and Jewish practices.

What connects them is a deep love for Jewish community, life and learning.

According to Rabbi Heidi Cohen, “HaNefesh is without walls, so we are mobile and without boundaries. In today’s world where we gather virtually, HaNefesh comes together for Shabbat, learning and social gatherings online. We look forward to being in person when it is safe, and even then, we will continue a virtual presence where individuals and families can join us from any distance.”

HaNefesh is led by Rabbi Heidi Cohen (ravheidi@gmail.com), with a 22-year history here in Orange County. She is joined by Jewish Life Educator, Jodi Kaufman (jodi@jewbyyou.com), and a team of volunteers who share the same vision of ensuring that HaNefesh is a safe and open community.

Rabbi Cohen added, “HaNefesh has a vibrant learning community for youth and adults called, Jew By You. We understand that everyone has busy lives and numerous commitments. Jew By You allows individuals and families to experience Jewish learning in a setting that is flexible in time and location. It is by you, which means each person is a partner in creating the Jewish learning experience that meets their needs and goals.”

Together, HaNefesh and Jew By You partners with individuals and families to create a meaningful Jewish life that is as unique as each person. We are families with kids, couples and single people, queer and trans people, interfaith families (Jewish adjacent), Jews of color, Jews from many religious and secular backgrounds, and anyone interested in exploring and experiencing Jewish life.

Shabbat services are at 6 pm every Friday evening. Login information can be found at www.hanefeshoc.org.

Torah study is Saturday, July 4, 9 am led by Rabbi Heidi.

Jew By You Classes: (registration found at www.jewbyyou.com)

Lunch and Learn with Jodi Kaufman, Tuesday, July 14, at noon

Text Messages: Torah, Talmud and Our Favorite Authors with Jodi Kaufman and Alissa Acklin-Ackerman, July 9 and 23 at 3 pm

Understanding Pirkei Avot in Today’s World with Rabbi Heidi July 13 and 27 at 7 pm

We welcome you to learn more about HaNefesh and Jew By You at:



Together, we are breathing new life into Judaism.

The Jewish Collaborative of Orange County

The Jewish Collaborative of Orange County will offer “Pathways into Judaism,” a comprehensive 20-week survey course covering a broad range of topics including Jewish theology, the art of Jewish learning, Israel, the time-line of Jewish history and more. This course is designed for people looking to explore and/or enrich their knowledge about what Judaism has to offer as a spiritual path, evolving culture and sacred way of life. The class is said to be Ideal for people considering conversion to Judaism.

Sessions will be taught by Rabbis Marcia Tilchin and Noam Raucher. The course is structured so that it can be completed in 10 or 20 weeks. Cohort I begins on Wednesday, July 8. Cohort II begins on Wednesday, October 7. Classes are offered twice a week: Wednesday nights from 7 to 8:30 pm and Sunday mornings from 10 to -11:30 am.

Sample class topics include:

  • Who wrote the Torah? Differing views on Divine Authorship
  • American Judaism: What Was, What Is, What Will Be
  • From Cradle to Grave: The Cycles of Jewish Life

For further information, please write to Rabbi Tilchin at RabbiMarcia@JewishCollaborativeOC.org.

Community Scholar Program (CSP)

CSP presents Prof. Joshua Garroway, live from Los Angeles, on “The Development of Jewish Views on Jesus and Christianity,” on Wednesday July 1, at 11:30 am. From the Talmud, to medieval polemics, to modern scholarship, Jewish assessments of Jesus and Christianity have changed considerably over the years. This presentation examines how and why. Rabbi Joshua Garroway, Ph.D., serves as the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professor of Judaeo-Christian Studies and Professor of Early Christianity and Second Commonwealth at HUC-JIR’s Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. Rabbi Garroway earned his doctorate from the Religious Studies Department at Yale University and was ordained at the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR in 2003. His first book, Paul’s Gentile-Jews: Neither Jew nor Gentile, but Both (2012), explores the ways in which Paul’s epistle to the Romans constructs Jewish identity, and the role played by this construction in the ensuing emergence of Christianity. His second book, The Beginning of the Gospel: Paul, Philippi, and the Origins of Christianity (2018), offers a revisionist understanding of the origins of the Greek term euaggelion, usually translated “gospel,” in earliest Christianity. He is currently working on a book-length project about antinomianism in Jewish history.

Prof. Daniel Matt, will be live from Berkeley, presenting “GEMS of the Zohar (Part 1 of 3) on Thursday July 2, at 7:30 pm. The program is free to CSP and CBI Members, $36 for the series per household for general public. The Zohar is the masterpiece of Kabbalah, a vast mystical commentary on the Torah, composed in 13th-century Spain. This 3-part series will explore some of the Zohar’s striking ideas, including Ein Sof (God as Infinity), the ten sefirot (aspects of God’s personality), Ayin (mystical nothingness, or no-thingness), Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of God), the mystical meaning of Torah, and God’s need for us. Daniel C. Matt is a teacher of Jewish spirituality and one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah and the Zohar. He has been featured in Time and Newsweek and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah, Zohar: Annotated and Explained, and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality. Several years ago, he completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar. In 2016, Stanford University Press published his ninth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, concluding the Zohar’s main commentary on the Torah. Daniel received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and for twenty years served as professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently he is writing a biography of Elijah the Prophet for the Yale Jewish Lives series. He also teaches Zohar online. For information about this ongoing Zohar course, see the website of Stanford University Press: https://www.sup.org/zohar/course.

CSP presents the Great Contemporary Composer Event on Friday, July 3, from noon to 1 pm. The Independence Day weekend discussion with composer Peter Boyer focuses on his Grammy-nominated contemporary classical work “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” to be broadcast nationally on Friday, July 3, at 9 pm PDT on PBS SoCal. The discussion features Peter Boyer, live from the San Gabriel Foothills.

Commissioned by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate the inaugural season of its Belding Theater, “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” celebrates the historic American immigrant experience and the American dream. Innovative in its format, the work brings elements of the theater and multimedia into the concert hall, employing actors and projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives. The spoken texts for the work come from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, an historic collection of interviews with actual immigrants about their experiences emigrating to America. After extensive research in this archive, Boyer chose the stories of seven immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island from disparate nations between 1910-1940. He fashioned short monologues from the actual words of these immigrants and wove them into an orchestral tapestry which frames and comments on their stories—by turns poignant, humorous, moving, and inspiring.

The work concludes with a reading of the Emma Lazarus poem The New Colossus (“Give me your tired, your poor…”), providing an emotionally powerful ending to this celebration of our nation of immigrants. Since its 2002 premiere, Ellis Island has gone on to enjoy tremendous success, becoming one of the most performed American orchestral works of the last 15 years. The work has received over 200 live performances by more than 100 different orchestras, an exceptionally rare milestone for a contemporary orchestral work. More than 300,000 people have experienced the work live, and its performances regularly have been met with standing ovations.

As part of the CSP Distance Learning Program, a Zoom class with Dr. Joe Uziel, live from Jerusalem, will offer “New Insights on the Archaeology of Jerusalem: Based on Recent Excavations,” on Tuesday, July 7 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

For over 150 years, archaeologists have been working in Jerusalem’s ancient core, trying to piece together the puzzle of its past. With an array of historical sources mentioning and describing Jerusalem, and the archaeological data uncovered by past scholars and explorers, it would seem that the chronicles of Jerusalem have been set in stone. Yet, the opposite is true – there are still so many questions, gaps in understanding and debates regarding the history and its people. Recent discoveries from excavations in ancient Jerusalem — the City of David and the area of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount — will be presented, focusing on what these remains contribute to the questions still left open and how we now see Jerusalem’s millennia-long history.

Dr. Joe Uziel is an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem District, where he has excavated in the City of David, Davidson Center and Western Wall Tunnels. He completed his PhD at Bar Ilan University on the Middle Bronze Age in the southern Coastal Plain, and now focuses his research on the history and archaeology of Jerusalem, from its earliest urban establishment some 4000 years ago, and until late antiquity. Joe has advanced methods applied in the field, using new technologies in order to learn about Jerusalem’s ancient population through the application of new tools.

Recent discoveries made by Joe and his teams in the field include buildings dating from the First Temple Period, the main street of Second Temple Jerusalem and a Roman theater-like structure, the first such building to be discovered in Jerusalem. Recently, Joe has taken the position of the head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Unit at the IAA.

For more information, contact CSP on the web at www.occsp.org and by phone at (949) 682-4040.

Another CSP Distance Learning Series is a three-part “Master Zoom Class” with Prof. Paul Liptz, live from Israel. Entitled “Creating a Nation II,” it will talk about the immigration of various populations to Israel, from noon to 1 pm on three consecutive Sundays: Sunday July 5 – French Jews; Sunday July 12 – Latin American Jews; and Sunday July 19 – Indian Jews.


In the 1870s Algerian Jews immigrated to France, followed by Moroccans and Tunisians in the 1950s, thereby changing the nature of the wider community which, until then, had been Ashkenazi. The Vichy period and numerous anti-Jewish events over the years made Aliyah increasingly attractive for traditional Jews people who had earlier regarded Israel as an appealing holiday destination, while others moved to Britain and other western countries. For many, anti-Semitism was not the reason for them settling in Israel but rather the desire to be in an appealing Mediterranean country with Shabbat observance, kosher food and a vibrant culture.


In Israel, those Jews making Aliyah are often placed in a broad category of “Latin Americans” but this presentation will concentrate on Argentinians as well as relating to Brazilians and Mexicans. The Jews in all three case studies suffered due to serious political and economic situations but, by and large, developed vibrant community structures where the day schools and youth movements enabled a relatively easy integration into Israeli society. In the initial stages, kibbutzim absorbed many of them but this well-educated population soon moved to other parts of the country and have been positively identified by most Israelis for their vibrancy and initiatives.


While many Jewish communities are complex, it seems that Indian Jewry gets the prize. Made up of several different groups, the session will concentrate on the 3 that immigrated to Israel, the Baghdadis, Bnei Israel and Bnei Menashe. India was tolerant towards the tiny Jewish communities, but tensions existed between the factions themselves and the question of “Who is a Jew” extended to struggles in Israel until 1964 for the Bnei Israel and much later for the Bnei Menashe if they converted.

Paul Liptz, a social historian and CSP’s recent 19th Annual One Month Scholar in Residence, was on the Tel Aviv University faculty for 40 years, teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Middle East and African History and the International School, where he dealt with a wide range of topics. His main interests are History of the Yishuv [Pre-State], the Modern State of Israel and Arab Women and Nationalism in the Middle East.

For more information, contact CSP at www.occsp.org or (949) 682-4040.

Merage JCC

The Merage JCC will present “Let’s Talk History with Dr. Don Schwartz: The Expansion of Presidential Powers from Washington to Trump” online from Monday, July 6, to Thursday, July 9, from 11 am to 12:15 pm.

The powers of the president are explicitly listed in U.S. Constitution, yet every chief executive since George Washington has tried to expand presidential powers. This lecture series will examine how presidents have tried to increase their authority beyond what the framers of the Constitution intended.

Tickets are $50 for members and $60 for others. For more information, call Geri Dorman at (949) 435-3400, ext. 303, or e-mail her at gerid@jccoc.org. Register on the JCC website and receive the Zoom link for entry to the series.

Congregation B’nai Israel

Join Congregation B’nai Israel for a Virtual Gala on Sunday, July 12, at 5 pm. The celebration will recognize honorees Arie Katz, Sandy Klein, and Heather Katz. The congregation will also be having an online auction opening up on Monday, July 6 at 8 am. Click here for more information about Gala.

The celebration will be held as a virtual webinar via Zoom, and the link will be available to all congregants within the next couple of weeks. Just click on the link a few minutes before the event. Congregants who responded that they were attending the March event will receive a special gift prior to the virtual celebration.

For more information, contact CBI at (714) 730-9693 or cbi18@cbi18.org.



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