We are in extraordinary times here. There isn’t much I can say that you haven’t all already thought, but I want to share some of what I have been mulling over during this time of confinement.
Videoconferencing. It makes a world of difference just to see you all on ZOOM! Those little blurry windows with your faces in the middle, a little bit of the room you’re in behind you, seeing your lips move, seeing your pets, hearing your voices, it is such a surprise and a joy every time. I’ve always been the kind of traveler who, when I’m on the road, completely forgets my home and my people. I’m just wherever I am. If I should happen to get a phone call or an e-mail, I am always surprised: oh, my home world still exists! Now we are all on the journey of sheltering in place, each in our own little enclaves. It’s not like I forget any of you, but maybe in some primitive way, like a baby, if I can’t see you, I can’t quite believe that you’re still here. There is something mystically satisfying about seeing each other all at once in our separate homes. It’s a reminder that, even when we can’t be in the same room, we all exist in the same shared moment. We’ve even had ZOOM windows open with friends who don’t live on the coast anymore, whose hearts are still connected with ours. I find this intensely reassuring.
The future, the unknown. Many who are Torah-inclined have talked lately about Noah and his family—when they entered the ark, they didn’t know if or when they would ever come out. All they knew was that they were commanded to shelter in place while God destroyed the world around them. At various times they sent a bird out the window of the ark to try to discern whether the flood had receded. Like everyone, I wonder when we will again be allowed out of our houses, allowed to embrace each other, to gather, to share a cup. I wonder how that will come about, whether there will be a treatment, a vaccine, a strategy to identify and confine the people who need to be quarantined. I wonder how we will all handle this confinement. Will there be greater and greater acts of kindness and generosity? Will there be mayhem and violence? Will there be enough food? I wonder what the world will look like after this destruction. I wonder whether and how we will be able to restore what’s lost. I wonder whether we will be able to learn from this experience for use in whatever comes next. I feel in myself, and in so much that I read and listen to, the impulse to make up answers to what we wonder about. “It will be years.” “It will be two weeks.” “There will be treatment, but only rich people will be able to afford it.” “Things will never be the same.” These pronouncements feel painful to my ears, like a sharp and discordant noise. I wish we could not-know until there is something to know.
Nothing can hurry the process of a world trying to address something very difficult, with all the complications and divergent interests and passions that rule. It is fascinating to watch our world strain to fix this crisis. Who knew how far a droplet of liquid from a cough could travel, or how long it could stay alive on metal or plastic? Who knew the antiviral workings of plain old soap? Who knew that the entire mechanism for federal pandemic preparedness had been slashed, along with so many other cuts that were more visible and painful, in the first days of the current administration? Who knew that a whole state, a whole country, multiple countries could empty their streets in a few days? Who knew where masks and sterile gowns came from, what they’re made of, or how many of them there are, or should be, in the country? Who knew that you can build a hospital on a soccer field? Who knew that an educational system, from primary grades through graduate schools, could switch to online studies in days? Who knew that, in the absence of a functional federal government, we’d look to mayors and governors for clear and powerful leadership? Who does know what unintended consequences—for good and for ill—will emerge from each of these adaptations and disruptions? I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic; I am curious.
Worries and sadness. I have ‘em, lots, like all of us. I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing most of the time. I think it helps, for me at least. “Someone else is going to have to solve that problem.” “Right now I am not going to read about this distressing situation that I can do nothing about.” “I will have to leave that for later.” I’ve always appreciated how my Shabbat practice has helped me to manage my worry life. Come Shabbat I don’t obsess about work or world problems or politics or fixing the sink. I just don’t, not until Saturday night. I’m grateful for that muscle in my brain these days. Sometimes it fails me and the worries and sadness wash up, sometimes along with anger. And then, after a while, I can usually get my head back above water for a time.
Solidarity. Like so many of us, I have longed—these past three years especially, but before that too—to feel part of a great global effort to help heal our world. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to lean in, to do something difficult that really might help, even for one crisis, even just for a moment, to do it with tens or hundreds of millions of people across the globe.
My own motivation for sheltering in place, in its myriad maddening details, is not as much to keep myself from getting sick, or even to protect our little rural corner and block the virus from getting a foothold here, as it is to join the world in solidarity. So I am grateful to be organized, to be instructed, to be challenged by wise and knowledgeable voices around me—like County Public Health Officer Noemi “Mimi” Doohan (my new personal hero!) in Ukiah and Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento, and the local healthcare providers and knowledgeable people in our own community who have been sharing best practices and possibilities for acting as strongly and clearly as we can together.
Friendship, love, community, whales, trees, the river, stars. All endless and endlessly nourishing, now more than ever. Waves of gratitude for the people I love and the world that we share. For all of you, with whom I share the challenge of living well in this place and time and, God willing, coming out together and whole.
Jews in all kinds of circumstances have managed to celebrate the exodus from Egypt and tell the story of liberation to their children, and we will too! We will celebrate our community freedom seder on Sunday, April 12th at 5:00 PM—on ZOOM, of course. Details are still shaping up. We plan to use again that fabulous, inspiring updated Freedom Haggadah which we all enjoyed so much last year. You’ll be able to pick up copies at the shul. We will suggest that each participant get together matzah, parsley, horseradish and charoset and some fruit of the vine if you can. We will bless and sing and tell and ask and be fully in the joy of Pesach.
Look for details and a ZOOM invitation in your e-mail closer to the seder. If you don’t get Margaret’s now-and-then reminder e-mails and would like to be part of our seder, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be sure to put you on her list.
How Are You Doing?
This situation is obviously trying for everyone — and it may fall especially heavily on people who are older or alone or who have chronic illnesses or who have lost employment or who have had to close businesses or who have loved ones who are vulnerable. We are in the process of trying to reach out to everyone in our community, just to check in and see how you are doing and if you need any particular kinds of support. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if there is anything that our Jewish community might be able to help you with to weather this challenging time. You can contact Margaret at email@example.com or 937-5673.
There is delicious homemade vegetarian food in the Mitzvah Freezer at the shul if that would be helpful to you these days. And there are Clorox wipes and instructions for getting food in a safe way. Please be in touch with Margaret if food would be helpful for you. We also have several generous folks who have offered to bring deliveries of groceries or other needed things, and you’re welcome to contact Margaret about these as well.
The Adele Saxe Fund
Since our beginnings, MCJC has had a tzedakah fund that enables us to offer financial support in times of need. It works like this: a request comes to Rabbi Holub, who writes a personal check and then is reimbursed by the Tzedakah Fund. This enables it to be totally confidential. Usually, tzedakah grants range from $100-$200. We wish we could pay rent or wages for people right now, but those are larger amounts than the fund can offer. We are already seeing people in our community and beyond being laid off, and we may well feel obliged to increase the amount the fund can offer. As you are thinking about how you can help others in a difficult time, a gift to the Adele Saxe Tzedakah Fund would be a wonderful contribution.
The fund is named after Adele Saxe, Ellen Saxe’s mother, who lived a life of generosity and service that was an example to many of the early MCJC community members. Whenever contributions are given to the Adele Saxe Tzedakah Fund, or disbursed from it, it is an opportunity to honor the memory of a wonderful woman who helped to shape our community’s values.
Funerals In These Times
Our Hevra Kadisha has been discussing what it will and will not be possible to offer should there be deaths in our community during the time of COVID 19. For as long as the County and State continue to mandate that we shelter in place we will not be able to offer taharah (washing of the body of a person who has died) or shemirah (sitting with the body between death and burial.) In addition to legal concerns right now, there are safety issues about members of our Hevra Kadisha having to work close to each other. Burials will need to be done very soon after death, and only a small number of immediate mourners will be permitted to attend. When the orders to shelter in place are lifted, our Hevra Kadisha will reevaluate how and to what degree we can safely offer these traditions of care at the time of death, but for now we will not be doing either taharah or shemirah.
We are exploring possibilities for creating ritual and prayer to accompany the souls of the dead, either at the time when we would usually be performing taharah and shemirah or perhaps at a later time. Jewish communities all over the country and beyond are working on how we can best honor the dead and care for loved ones during this pandemic. Of course we all hope that we will not be called upon during this time, except for the orderly and gentle passing of souls at the end of long lives.
Who's ZOOMin' Who?
Since we’ve been required to shelter in place, MCJC services, classes, and meetings have moved to ZOOM, a teleconferencing tool that allows many people to login using an Internet device with a camera (smartphone, tablet, or computer) and to see and hear each other. We’ve also been having some extra get-togethers to check in with and support each other, and these will continue. A HUGE shout-out to Bob Evans and Sandra Wortzel, who have been helping many MCJCniks get connected to ZOOM. Rabbi Holub has been announcing ZOOM meetings via the MCJC e-mail list. If you haven’t been getting these announcements and would like to, please contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5673. Editors Note: for an Introduction and Links to ZOOM info browse
Shabbat Morning Services
Shabbat morning services are held every Saturday morning of the year from 10:30 AM until about 12:30 PM. This month they will be held online via ZOOM. If you’re a ZOOM novice, see the article on p.4. The rabbi and members of the community will continue to give davar Torah (“word of Torah”), an interpretation (drash) of the weekly Torah portion (see schedule below for April). The services will be led each week by Rabbi Holub.
04/04/20 - Tsav - Margaret Holub
04/11/20 - Pesach - Margaret Holub
04/18/20 - Shimini - Raven Deerwater
04/25/20 - Tazria-Metzora - Margaret Holub
n April, we will replace the monthly Kabbalat Shabbat service in someone’s home with a virtual candle lighting on the 24th at 7:00 PM. See the article below on ZOOM for information on how to participate.
When the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we will once again gather in people’s homes on the fourth Friday of the month. When we are free at last to get together, we will post the information on the MCJC web page. If you would like to host a gathering later in the year, please contact Mina at email@example.com or 937-1319.
MCJC Online Calendar
MCJC events are listed on an online Google calendar. This calendar can be viewed through an Internet browser or app, added to your own calendar (Google, Apple iCal and others) and individual events can be added to your calendar with reminders.
Event descriptions are available through the calendar. For the Saturday morning Shacharit service, a link is provided to Divrei Torah on the Parsha. The url for the calendar is somewhat complex (https://calendar.google.com/calendar?cid=ZXFiczE1aHZnc3RkcHZyMnF1ajVsNjU2aGNAZ3JvdXAuY2FsZW5kYXIuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbQ). So if you don’t care about your carbon footprint, and are reading the paper version of the Megillah, it is easier to go to the Calendar section of the MCJC website and click on the link there.
For help on syncing to the calendar, take a look at https://support.google.com/calendar or search on “google calendar help”. As with all free online services, your data is being harvested for marketing purposes.
The Elders continue to converse about important and interesting matters every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, 3:00-5:00 PM, on ZOOM. April dates will be the 14th and 28th. Topics to be announced. It’s always interesting! People of all ages are most welcome. A silver lining of meeting by ZOOM is that we have been joined by friends of the community who have moved away, but are now able to join in the conversation virtually
MCJC Justice Group
“The Justices” meet on the second Thursday of each month, from 5:30-7:30 PM. In April, we will meet on the 9th. All meetings, at least for the foreseeable future, will be online via the ZOOM platform. If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list, please contact Margaret at or 937-5673. Margaret will send out an email invitation to join the meeting and with easy to follow steps for downloading ZOOM to your computer, pad, or smart phone. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Thanks to Lillian Cartwright for her generous gift to the Citizenship Scholarship Project.
Public Charge and COVID-19
As noted last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule took effect on February 24, 2020 after the Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction blocking the rule. The changes broaden the definition of who can be considered a public charge to include immigrants authorized to be in the USA who use one or more government safety-net programs. The changes force families to choose among nutrition, housing and health care programs, and green cards or permanent immigration status. The Trump administration justifies these changes by citing the need for immigrants to be self-sufficient.
Which prompted a strong response from Professor Wendy E. Parmet, an Associate Dean at Northeastern University School of Law and Director of the University’s Center on Health Policy and Law: “Our health is significantly affected by social and environmental factors outside our control. None of us can be self-sufficient in the face of a widespread epidemic, an environmental catastrophe, or even a motor vehicle accident. The demand that immigrants achieve self-sufficiency is implausible.”
At the very time the Supreme Court made its ruling, COVID-19 became a pandemic. The changes to the Public Charge Rule lack compassion and humanity. They also lack wisdom and foresight. Fear of becoming ineligible for green cards or citizenship keeps immigrants from applying for the safety net programs that support health care, nutrition and affordable housing. The more at-risk all people in our country are, the more at-risk the country becomes. The current administration knew that changes in the rule would increase the risk for immigrant populations; it is clearly stated in its assessment. The changes will now have even more dire consequences for immigrants and for society as a whole.
Annual Fundraising Letter
Thank you to all of those who have responded! We appreciate your support, at every level. We will soon begin to contact those from whom we have not yet heard. We all need our community, especially in these trying times, and MCJC is here for you through online Shabbat services, meetings, classes, and afternoon chats. We also provide short-term financial help through our Adele Saxe Tzedakah Fund, and food for those who need it through our Mitzvah Freezer. Please help support your Jewish community and its programs. Should you wish to pay at a future date in 2020, let us know and we will remind you then. If you have questions or concerns, please email Donna Montag at Montag@mcn.org or call her at 877-3243.
The book group will meet online via ZOOM on April 20th at 2:00 PM to discuss The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The National Jewish Book Award winner is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi just before the plague hits the city in 1660; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian in 2000 with a love of Jewish history who is challenged to determine the identity of the scribe of newly discovered 17th century Jewish documents. The Weight of Ink is a story of women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.
MCJC Board Meetings
The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:30 PM. It used to meet at our beloved shul, but now it meets via ZOOM. The April meeting will be on the 16th. If you would like to attend part of the meeting, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at susan.tubbesing @gmail.com, and efforts will be made to patch you in.
Thanks For Mailing The Newsletter
We are grateful to Mina Cohen for preparing the March Megillah for mailing. Volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project, and you can do it at home, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. If you are tired of watching Youtube videos and want to fill your time productively, please contact Sarah at 962-0565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.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
Dr Benjamin & Pamela Graham; Cayenne Harris; Roberta Belson; Carolyn Steinbuck; Susan Juster; Sam Markson; Donna Feiner; Nina Ravitz & Terry Clark; Linda Jupiter;Linda James & Richard Sacks-Wilner; Diane Baireuther; Susan Hofberg; Dr Jennifer Kreger & Dr Wade Grey; Josh & Carolyn Latkin; Kath Disney Nilson; Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer; Rabbi Stuart Kelman & Vicki Kelman; Carolyn Glubok; Marinela Miclea;
Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg; Esther Faber; Eric Labowitz & Kathy Bailey; Susan Miller; Bob Evans; Jeff Zolitar & Audrey Wells; Ruth Rosenbaum & SA Ephraim; Lew Mermelstein; Karen Rakofsky; Andrea Luna;
Raven & Becky Deerwater; Judy Stavely; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Clarke Glasow; Leslie Gates; Suzanne Lampert; Tracy Salkowitz & Rick Edwards; Bob Schlosser & Dawn Hofberg; Nicole Zimmerman; Marc & Jan Wasserman; Mina Cohen & Dr Jeff Berenson; Tara & Stuart Marcus; Irv & Rosalie Winesuff; Marty Freedman & Joy Lancaster; Nicky & Clark Fish; Helen Jacobs; Adina Merenlender & Kerry Heise;
In honor of Tu Bishvat & Mirisa Livingstar; In honor of Heather Gurewitz by Helen Sizemore.
To the Adele Saxe Tzedekah Fund by Sandra & Kenny Wortzel.
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 2020. 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
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.
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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.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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MCJC Board and Contacts
(* identifies the MCJC Board members. All phone numbers are in the 707 Area Code)