Rabbi's Notes

The other day I met Mickey at the Good Life for a quick cuppa, and he had a story to tell from his morning. He went to town to get the oil in his car changed, dropped off the car, and gave the mechanic his cell phone number to call him when the car was done. Then Mickey went out walking. An hour passed, an hour-and-a-half, and Mick was starting to get annoyed. He went back to the shop. The mechanic was washing Mickey’s car, just because he had a little time to do so. When he was done he said, smiling, “Public relations day—free oil change!”

A friend had joined us at the table as Mickey was recounting his adventure, and this led to a bunch of little stories: our friend had once put a nice ceramic coffee cup on the roof of his car and driven home from Tahoe. When he arrived home, the cup was still there. Mickey had also left something or other on his car roof and arrived far from where he started out to find the item waiting for him. Long ago I lost my wallet on an LA city bus with five dollars in it. Some days later the wallet was returned to me, with the five dollars still inside.


Then there are plenty of days when things go the other direction, like a couple months ago when I met Mickey again for a little midday visit. I took a step from my car and my knee went “pop.” I spent the next two weeks on my back and am still in the middle of months of rehab.

As I write, National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill is testifying before Congress. I’ve been flicking on the radio on and off throughout the day and catching bits of her testimony in her charming British accent. It’s been quite a week for anxious conversations: What will happen? Will they impeach? Will they convict? How will this affect the 2020 election? Everyone I talk to has answers. I do too. But of course I have no idea what will actually happen. As Rachel Maddow is fond of saying, “Neither do you.” The wonderful Rebecca Solnit says, “Politics is more like the weather than it is like checkers.” I’ve been thinking lately about the compulsion to try to predict the future and how hard it is to exist in a space of not-knowing.

I recently was introduced to the concept of “useful disequilibrium.” When things don’t make sense—when something goes very differently from what we expect, or when we are introduced to a piece of information that upends our settled ideas about something or someone--it disturbs our equilibrium. Disequilibrium is terribly uncomfortable, especially when it is about something (or someone) important to us. It is natural to struggle to reconcile information so that we are no longer in that uncomfortable state. So we make excuses. We minimize. We discount the source. We overlook what may be staring at us. One reason disequilibrium is so uncomfortable is that it makes us lose confidence in our picture of the future. If the facts line up in a way we didn’t expect, we can’t predict what will happen next. And that is an unnerving place to be.

This concept, which I encountered in a course I am taking on “Movement Chaplaincy” (ask me sometime!), suggests that it may be useful sometimes to stay in disequilibrium for a while, no matter how uncomfortable it is, to live with the contradictions, to allow oneself to not know or prognosticate. If the cause of disequilibrium is extreme, it may be too distressing to stay in that space for very long, but generally it is useful to resist the impulse to line things back up as quickly as possible. With more time and consideration, it may be possible to understand what is going on more deeply and act more wisely.


The future is by definition not fully knowable, and I am noticing the sense of desperation I feel, and that I hear around me, to KNOW what will happen in the political landscape. As I read op-eds and listen to people talk, there is often a veneer of certainty—“They will never…” “She just needs to...”—and underneath that thin veneer I sense such anxiety, such disequilibrium. I am experimenting with not predicting the future and a voiding other people’s prognostications. I just don’t know. And neither do you.

In her book Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit talks about not knowing as a form of hope. Change is so complicated, especially large-scale social and political change, so difficult to predict. Sometimes the cup doesn’t fall off the roof of the moving car and shatter. Sometimes the wallet gets returned with the money still in it. Sometimes people act with integrity, even when we don’t expect they will. And sometimes the opposite.

Hope In The Dark.jpg

The Hanukkah story is about an improbable outcome— a little band of local rebels going up against the mighty Assyrian army and beating them back. No pundit worth her salt would have called that one for the Maccabees. We celebrate Hanukkah every year because the improbably good sometimes happens, despite all the obvious indicators to the contrary. This winter, while politics all around me will continue to ramp up to greater and greater intensity (I predict!), I am going to try to disavow predictions and to stay in the space of useful disequilibrium as much as I can, not prognosticating (if I can help it), not scrying, not declaiming about inevitable doom, but watching and waiting, alive to the mystery of it all.


Klezmer music, dancing, singing

latke fresserei, raffle drawings *

(Bring your Chanukiah (Hanukkah Menorah))

Sunday, December 22nd

First Night

Dancing with the Klezmishpoche Band at 4:30 PM

Candle lighting at 6:00 pm


Dinner immediately following


Caspar Community Center

* list of prizes on MCJC website

Volunteers Sought

The Hanukkah celebration will need six folks to help decorate and set up the room at 10:00 AM, ten people who will bake two dozen of any type of cookies at home, eight servers arriving at 4:00 PM (includes time for eating latkes, prepping salad, and training), four bussers to help with cleanup as soon as diners finish eating, and a clean-up coordinator who will stay until the end.  If you would like to volunteer for any of the above, please contact Susan Levenson-Palmer at slevensonpalmer@gmail.com. If you’d like to be a latke-maker, get in touch with Marnie Press at mpress50@icloud.com

Hanukkah Party at Sherwood Oaks

MCJC will be bringing Hanukkah joy to Sherwood Oaks, our local nursing home, on Thursday, December 26th at 2:30 PM.  We did it last year and it was joyful fun for residents, staff, and all of us who gathered to make the party.  There are several ways you can help spread the light: get some gifts together and wrap them beforehand (fuzzy socks and warm hats are popular); help Margaret make latkes at the shul in the morning; or play or sing some music at the party. Anyone who wishes to help host at Sherwood Oaks is most welcome.  Please contact Margaret at mholub@mcn.org or 937-563 if you can help with any of the festivities.

Santa Rosa Weekend

Our friends at Santa Rosa’s Congregation Beth Ami have invited us to join them from December 5th - 8th, when Beth Hamon will serve as their "Scholar-in-Residence." Beth is familiar to many in our congregation since she has sung and taught at the Women’s Retreat and is married to Liz Schwartz, the daughter of Fran and Roger Schwartz. There will be a workshop for musicians, a Kabbalat Shabbat, and the Havdalah Cafe on Saturday night (co-sponsored with Congregation Ner Shalom). Complete information is available on the Beth Ami

web page: http://bethamisr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Beth-Hamon-weekend-flyer.pdf

Shabbat Morning Services

Shabbat morning services are held every Saturday morning of the year from 10:30 AM until about 12:30 PM. People are welcome to come for any part of the service. Members of the community often give the Davar Torah (“word of Torah”), a teaching about the weekly Torah portion (drash). The services are led each week by Rabbi Holub, except when she is out of town. The Parshat for Decemember is below:

  • 12/07/19 - Vayetzei - Andrea Luna

  • 12/14/19 - Vayishlach - Margaret Holub

  • 12/21/19 - Vayeshev - Sandra Wortzel

  • 12/28/19 - Miketz - Fran Schwartz

Kabbalat Shabbat

O n December 27th, we’ll meet at 6:00 PM at Harriet Bye and Larry Sawyer’s home in Albion. Please contact them at 937-0078 or bysawyer@mcn.org to RSVP and get directions. The short service will be followed by a vegetarian potluck dinner.


The joyful get-togethers take place on the fourth Friday of each month. We are looking for hosts starting in April, 2020. If you would like to have a Shabbat gathering in your home, please contact Mina Cohen at 937-1319 or mcohen@mcn.org.

Intro To Judaism

The Introduction to Judaism class will meet on Thursday, December 5th, 5:30-7:30 PM at the shul. We have a large and lively group which will meet for six sessions. The first one already happened. After the December meeting, the remaining meetings will be January 2nd and 16th, February 6th and 20th. If you would like to join the class, please contact Rabbi Holub at mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673.

Mussar Class

A new Mussar group will begin in January, 2020.  Mussar is the time-honored practice of refining our individual character traits. Beginning January 21st, the class will meet on Tuesday evenings twice a month from 5:30-7:00 PM at the shul. The eight-week class will end April 28th. It is hoped that students will be able to attend all the classes since each class builds on the others. The text will be Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis. There will be a course fee of $36 for MCJC contributing members and $54 for non-members.  No one will be excluded for lack of funds. If you have questions, or wish to sign up, please contact Sandra Wortzel at artsplay@mac.com or 520-591-7176.

Elder's Conversation

The Elders’ Conversation meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the shul. Our winter hours are 2:30 to 4:30 PM. Our December meetings will be December 10th and 24th (the jury is still out on whether we will meet on the 24th, so look for an update before you come to the shul that day). The group picks a different topic for each conversation; the discussion is always lively and probing, and often deep and surprising. People of all ages are most welcome.

MCJC Justice Group

The Justice Group meets at the Shul on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:30 pm. The next meeting is on Thursday, December 12th. A detailed agenda will be sent to everyone on the Justice Group mailing list. If you’re not on that list and would like to be, please contact Margaret at mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673.


The Enchilada Dinner benefiting the Citizen Scholarship Project on November 10th was a resounding success. Generous donations, in addition to the contributions of the well-over 200 diners, have boosted the project’s fund to such an extent that the Justice Group will be able to provide scholarships to all successful applicants in the 2019/20 Citizenship class.

A huge volunteer force contributed to the success of the dinner. Thanks to the following people (in no particular order) for their hard work and generosity: Carla Jupiter, Ruby Gold, Kenny Wortzel, Helen Jacobs, Marnie Press, Theresa Morales, Ellen Saxe, Carole Ray, Annie Lee, Donna Feiner, SA Ephraim, Steve Antler, Carol Wilder, Deena Zarlin, Lisa Weg, Fanshen Faber, JoAnna Wigginton, Rachel Lahn, LuAnn Sullenberger, Robert Cutler, Cathie Mellon & Friends, Foxy Dale, Jamie, Judy Stavely, Karen Bowers, Bertha Callaja, Mickey Chalfin, Leonardo Bowers, Joy Gertler, Rick Childs, Jane Corey, Merry Winslow, Aracely Perdomo, Maria Elena Alvarado, Rodrigo Perez, Nancy Perez, Aria Millen, Athena Anderson, Clay Anderson, Albert Morales, Jessica Morton, Cecilia Roy, Cecilia Cuellaz, Claire Ellis, Rena Blauner, Carolyn Latkin, Sydelle Lapidus, Dawn Hofberg, Nancy Harris, Linda Jupiter, Zo Abel, Julie Rumble, Irene Malone, Susan Tubbesing, Alicia McKeever-Kafin, Sarah Nathe, Juliet Anderson, Judith Bayer, Nancy Nelson, Isabel Martinez.


Special thanks to Queenie and the staff at Queenie’s; to Anne Thomas, teacher extraordinaire of the Citizenship Class; and to Jeannette Rasker and our very own Rabbi Margaret Holub, who organized and orchestrated the dinner with grace, humor, and enthusiasm!


Another round of thanks to the following generous donors: Susan Larkin & Jim Ehlers, Sarah Nathe & Susan Tubbesing, Rachel Lahn & Jim Young, Rachel Binah, Jeannette Rasker & Robert Cutler, Bibi Sillem, Candy Lodge, Kendall Smith, Sue McNeill, Nona Smith & Art Weininger, Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg, Barry Baylen & Pamelyn Close, Joyce & Doug Waterman, Lynn Butler, Susan Waterfall & Allan Pollack, Deborah & Steven Wolfe, Karen & Michael Moreland, Julie Rumble, Jim Havlena & Mary Rogers, Lillian Cartwright, Suzanne & Stephen Whitaker, Jeanne & Richard Jackson, anonymous donors at Zo Abel’s 80th Birthday Party, and the Klein Family Fund for South Coast Opportunities of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.

All About Tzedakah

This article--the first in a year-long series—was penned by Raven Deerwater, Secretary of the MCJC board.


Last Saturday at Shabbat services, we talked at length about the Hebrew word tzadik, righteousness. Related to this word is tzedakah, which can mean righteousness, fairness, or justice, but is more commonly thought of as charity. In a poem in the back of the prayer book the poet remembered learning when she was a child about to tell the truth, have compassion, and give tzedakah.


The MCJC Board is always delighted when a member contributes to the Adele Saxe Tzedakah Fund, but for us--and hopefully for you--tzedakah encompasses so much more. Throughout this year, we will present here some thoughts relating to tzedakah.

For Jews, tzedakah is a requirement of being Jewish, regardless of how much money you have. For me, tzedakah is one of the many ways that we can show gratitude to God and to each other. I have always been impressed by my parent’s generosity toward others and the causes they believe in. Charitable giving was a part of my growing up, and so was learning about others and, in some sense, being charitable toward them no matter their situation, gender, race, or social status. I am sure the lessons given to me originated in my parents’ families and in their Judaism. Tzedakah was not just carrying an orange box on Halloween; it was an attitude of appreciation for God’s gifts and for all the people we encountered in our lives.

In the current climate, we may all feel a very strong impulse to promulgate the traditional Jewish values of righteousness, fairness, and justice. Tzedakah is a strong vehicle to facilitate their spread throughout society.


The board of directors encourages everyone to help sustain our Jewish community. If you would like to do so right now, please contact Donna Montag, Treasurer, 877-3243 or montag@mcn.org.

Book Group

We will gather next on December 9th at 2:00 PM to discuss The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. Wealthy Jewish car manufacturer Viktor Landauer and his gentile wife Liesel commission German architect Rainer von Abt to build a modern house in Brno (Czechoslovakia). The Landauer House becomes a minimalist masterpiece, with a transparent glass room as its center. Viktor is a great believer in inovace and pokrok-- innovation and progress. "The world of commerce is leading us into a world of peace and trade, where the only battles fought are battles for market share," he proclaims.


It's the late 1930s. When World War II arrives, the Landauers must flee the country, with their happiness and idealism in tatters. As the Landauers struggle abroad, their home passes through several new owners: the Glass Room is taken over by the Nazis for scientific experiments, and then claimed by the communists, before becoming a museum,


Please call Fran Schwartz at 937-1352 for information on location. Gallery Bookstore offers 10% off purchases to MCJC book club members.

MCJC Board Meetings

The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:30 PM at the shul. The December meeting will be on the 3rd. If you would like to attend the meeting, please leave a message on the phone at the shul: 964-6146

Thanks For Mailing The Newsletter

Having polished her skills by helping prepare the September Megillah for mailing, Susan Tubbesing answered “Hineni” when she was called on to help again with the November issue. Thank you, Susan! If you volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project, you can do it at home, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. Please contact Sarah at 962-0565 or sarah.nathe@gmail.com.

 Online Megillah

The MCJC Megillah is available in a format suitable for online viewing. The format will adapt itself to any screen size, including smartphones. It is posted on the MCJC website on the newsletter page https://www.mcjc.org/newsletter.

Megillah Subscriptions

The Mendocino Megillah is published in three formats: hardcopy, emailed PDF, and online web page. You can subscribe to the hardcopy version and have it mailed to you, you can subscribe to the email PDF/ online version, or you can receive both. The Megillah is posted on the MCJC website www.mcjc.org/newsletter.


Any information on changes in mailing address, changes in email address, and changes in email notifications should be sent to Sarah Nathe at sarah.nathe@gmail.com. If you choose not to be a contributing member of MCJC, we request a $25 annual fee for the Megillah hardcopy or email.

Great Thanks To The Following Donors

Joan & Paul Katzeff; Andrea Luna; Dr. Benjamin and Pamela Graham; Donna Feiner; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Jeanette Rasker & Robert Cutler; Marinela Miclea; Dan & Rachel Plotinsky; Cecile Cutler; Josh & Carolyn Latkin; Henrietta Steiniger; Linda Jupiter; Lorry Lepaule: Ceril Lisbon; Sam & Theresa Waldman; Lew Mermelstein; Roberta & David Belson; Linda Rosengarten.

To the Adele Saxe Tzedekah Fund: Sandy Berrigan in memory of Sara Kreger.


To the Building Fund: Bonnie Saland; Eric Labowitz & Kathy Bailey.

Contributing Membership In MCJC

Everyone who lives on the Mendocino Coast, and desires to be a member of MCJC, is one. The MCJC Board had a goal of having every household become CONTRIBUTING members in 2019. We have memberships at Regular, Limited Income, and Family levels, as well as any level possible for you. Please mail your donations to MCJC, Box 291, Little River, CA 95456, or use PayPal on the MCJC website.


When you contribute in memory or honor of someone, an acknowledgment card will be sent to the individual or family. Please include their name and mailing address. Contact Donna Montag at montag@mcn.org

Editorial Policy

The Mendocino Megillah is published monthly. The deadline for article submission is the 15th of the month before publication.  The editor will include all appropriate material, space permitting, with the exception of copyrighted material lacking the permission of the author.  Divergent opinions are welcome. Material printed in the Megillah does not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the MCJC Board of Directors.

Please Support Our Underwriters

Albion Doors and Windows:  1000s of recycled windows, French doors, thermal windows, entry doors, new & used. Leaded glass, arches & unique styles. Liquidation prices at 937-0078 in Albion. www.knobsession.com


Karen Bowers Studio: Painting workshops and studio gallery. Website: karenbowersstudio.com  

Email: highpt@mcn.org  Tel: 707 937-3163.


Frankie's Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor: Homemade pizzas, Cowlick's ice cream, and other yummy things to nosh on.  Beer and wine available. Live music weekly; all ages welcome.  Open daily from 11:00 am - 9:00 pm at 44951 Ukiah Street, Mendocino, 937-2436. www.frankiesmendocino.com


Out of this World: Telescopes, binoculars, & science toys. 45100 Main Street, Box 1010, Mendocino. 937-3335. www.OutofThisWorldShop.com. Serving all your interplanetary needs since 1988.


Phoebe Graubard: Attorney at Law. Wills, trusts, probate, conservatorships. 594 S. Franklin, Fort Bragg, 95437. 964-3525. www.phoebelaw.com Member National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Wheelchair accessible.


Rainsong & Rainsong Shoes: From head to toe in Mendocino! Contemporary clothing. Shoes & accessories for men & women. Two locations: Mendocino and Healdsburg. 937-4165 (clothing), 937-1710 (shoes), 433-8058 (Healdsburg). www.rainsongshoes.com/


Raven Deerwater, EA, PhD: Tax practitioner. Specializing in families, home-based & small businesses, & non-profit organizations. 45121 Ukiah Street, Box 1786, Mendocino. Tel: 937-1099. Email: raven@taxpractitioner.com Website: www.taxpractitioner.com


Rhoda Teplow Designs: Original jewelry created with beads from around the world, specializing in brass from Ghana, silver from Israel, and lapis, turquoise and coral from Tibet/Nepal. POB 453, Mendocino CA 95460. Tel: 964-2787. Email: rteplow@mcn.org


Silver & Stone: 45050 Main Street, Mendocino. Contemporary sterling silver & gemstone jewelry for women & men. Affordable to indulgent. 11:00-6:00 pm daily.  937-0257. Email: silverandstone@comcast.net


Web: www.silverandstone.net  


Thanksgiving Coffee Co: Local roasters on the Mendocino Coast for over three decades. Certified organic, shade grown coffee & Fair Trade Coffees. Box 1918, Fort Bragg, 95437. (800) 462-1999. www.thanksgivingcoffee.com


Tonk's Tree Service: Hazardous removals, spurless pruning, arborist reports, stump grinding, 60' aerial lift, view and sun improvement. Owner-operated, licensed & insured. Tatanka Russell, certified arborist WE-9236A, lic. no. 798911. 964-6209, Email: tonk@mcn.org

The Witch-n-Wardrobe: Shamelessly second-hand apparel for conscious clothing enthusiasts. $5 off your first purchase when you sign up at www.poshmark.com/closet/witchn_wardrobe using code WITCHN_WARDROBE


(MCJC underwriters increase their businesses’ visibility to over 300 subscribers and improve their presence on the web. $100/year. Contact Donna Montag  at 877-3243 or montag@mcn.org)

MCJC Board and Contacts

(* identifies the MCJC Board members. All phone numbers are in the 707 Area Code)

15071 Caspar Road, Caspar, CA   (707) 964-6146
The Caspar shul is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
Events are now taking place online
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 291, Little River, CA 95456
Email: sarah.nathe@gmail.com

© 2021 MCJC updated 01/03/2021 (rge)