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Rabbi's Notes

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“Boredom is the voice of God.…” I think I made up that line a long time ago, though I may have borrowed it from someone wiser than I. I don’t get bored very often; usually I have projects and capers and work and worries and home stuff to keep me plenty busy. But lately, when it gets dark at 4:00 in the afternoon, and I haven’t been out of the house in days, and I’m not going to be out of the house for days more because of COVID, and I’ve finished what I have to do and I’ve read the news crawl a hundred times already and we’ve already had dinner and it’s only 5:00 PM, sometimes I feel that wild feeling in my chest. I’m BORED! I want to DO SOMETHING. Something new. Something exciting. But WHAT?

I remember that feeling from childhood weekends. I don’t know what it was like for you, but when I was a kid, it wasn’t an endless cycle of music lessons and soccer practice and special tutors and volunteering at the soup kitchen. I took a year of ballet lessons when I was little, and when I was older I would sometimes go ice skating with other kids on Saturday morning. Other times I was in Girl Scouts, and still others I was in Sunday School. But there was a lot of time with nothing to do. I had things I liked to do then, just like I do now. For years I was very into making troll houses and outfits. I liked to roller skate. I liked to read. But occasionally I had run out of diversions by the middle of the afternoon. And I would feel that slightly anxious, slightly desperate feeling: what do I WANT? I would think”I’ve got art inside me, poems inside me, recipes inside me. I just can’t find them!” I took guitar lessons in seventh-grade summer school, and after that I would compose sad little middle-school songs and sing them to myself.

Then I grew up, and for many decades, up to just about the present moment, I was chronically busy, going to school, trying to make a living and a rabbinate and homes and relationships, trying to be politically active and intellectually alive and a decent friend and family member, trying to have an inner life and grow morally and spiritually by taking classes and reading books and going to conferences and taking trips and doing projects and all those purposeful things one does. But with COVID now, and with the High Holy Days well behind me, and being in heightened lockdown, I’ve had some of those wall-crawly moments when the day gets long before it’s half-over. Yes, I could certainly do something nice for someone or clean up my office or study Torah, for heaven’s sake! But today, after reading the Sunday Times from cover to cover and doing all the puzzles, and tucking a couple of good deeds in there too, I found myself thinking that Boredom is the voice of God.

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It’s the low-rent version of Mary Oliver’s famous line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / With your one wild and precious life?” There is something a little bit profound in that inner itch to find the task that is absolutely one’s own to do—whether for the next hour or the next decades. When boredom speaks, it says, “Don’t waste your life (or even an afternoon of it). Find your way to re-engage with life meaningfully.”

 

I can only imagine how much someone reading this is rolling her, or his, or their eyes while they are managing their children’s home schooling, their high-stress job, and their leaking roof. I also know that all of us sometimes get tired, which is by no means the same thing as bored, or we’ve had a full day and it’s time to kick back and watch some TV, and that is exactly what needs to be done with that interval in one’s wild and precious life. Of course, some people are in the hospital, or in jail, or otherwise prevented from doing what they want to do. In these cases, boredom is not a sweet whisper from the Beyond, but a form of sheer misery.

 

However, I am writing this in the month of Kislev, soon to flow into Tevet, the darkest month of the year, the month of the Winter Solstice, the hibernating month. I’m writing it when COVID has reached a renewed level of threat, and we are adjured not to do the things that many of us would usually do to fill these dark weeks and months. We’re not to travel or go to parties or even have guests at our dinner table. We’re not getting together at the shul and frying 600 latkes, and we’re not having a huge party at the Caspar Community Center with the Klezmishpoche Band. If we make a batch of soufganiyot, we’ll end up eating them all ourselves. Maybe this year we won’t even do that.

Perhaps there is some space here and there in our days and long evenings. Maybe it’s just a sweet hour to read a novel or call a friend we don’t usually have time to talk with. If you’ve already done that, and are wondering “What next?” and are thinking, “I don’t want to just wish this time away or waste it doing something I don’t even enjoy (like those headlines again…). This is, after all, my LIFE.” If you feel restless and unfulfilled and becalmed, I certainly don’t have an answer for you, or even for myself, except to say that there is something wonderful about that feeling inside us that makes us crave to engage with life, to do what is ours to do with devotion. Boredom asks us, “What is yours to do, or reflect on, or explore, or create, or just be with that you’re not pursuing? What will you do with your one wild and precious afternoon?”

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The name Hanukkah comes from the word for “rededication.” The holiday was originally about restoring and repurposing the defunct sanctuary and relighting the eternal flame on the sacred altar. Allow me to wish you some boredom this Hanukkah season—a little moment here and there to sense your desire to rekindle your inner flame, and hearken to that slightly desperate, childlike yearning to DO SOMETHING that is particularly yours in life, or in Kislev and Tevet, to do. Happy Hanukkah, my dear community!

Don't Let The Light Go Out

Margaret invites you to join her each night of Hanukkah at 5:30 PM to Zoom-light our menorahs. Each evening, we’ll have a short reading or song or meditation and then light the candles; it should take about 15 minutes. The first night of Hanukkah is Thursday, December 10th, and the last is Thursday, December 17th. On Friday night, December 11th, we will light our menorahs along with our Shabbat candles. On Sunday, December 13th, our menorah lighting will be part of our Hanukkah Party. We’ll share menorah light with each other every night of the holiday.

Editors note: For those without candles or who cannot light a flame. There is a virtual menorah at  http://www.virtualmenorah.com/vm/. The number of candles for each night can be found on the online calendar.

 

Please note that the Justice Group will meet at 6:00 PM on December 10th so that we can light the first Hanukkah candle at 5:30 PM.

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Your Annual Contribution

Even in a good year, December is often a time that our little shul finds it challenging to make ends meet. If you have not yet made your annual contribution, have not fulfilled your pledge, or can afford to increase your donation, it would be great to do it now. Don’t forget that the 2020 CARES Act relief initiative allows taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in cash donations to qualifying organizations without itemizing deductions. MCJC definitely qualifies! Checks may be sent to MCJC, PO Box 291, Little River, CA 95456. If you would like more information, please contact Donna Montag, Treasurer, 877-3243 or montag@mcn.org.

Looking Ahead To Tu B'Shevat

Tu B’shevat falls this year on Thursday, January 28th. This is our beloved New Year of the Trees, when we pray that the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden—meaning all life on our earth—is granted a new year of flourishing. Most traditionally, it is celebrated with a beautiful seder of fruits and wines/juices. As with our whole cycle of holidays and festivals this year, COVID invites us to re-imagine Tu B’Shevat in a way that is new, safe, and holy. If you would like to help create Tu B’shevat 5781, please contact Rabbi Holub at mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673.

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ZOOMing Along

We will continue to have MCJC gatherings on Zoom. In addition to Shabbat morning services at 10:30 AM, meetings and classes, and Chai on The Coast activities, the Wednesday morning Cup of Coffee and the Friday evening candle-lighting and Kiddush go on. Zoom invitations to these gatherings are sent by e-mail and posted on the MCJC web page. To get the invitations, let Margaret know at mholub@mcn.orgor 937-5673.

Cup of Coffee—every Wednesday at 10:30 AM we pour ourselves a steaming cup and join together for a freewheeling conversation about whatever is on our minds. It continues to be surprising, inspiring, generative and fun. All are welcome.

 

Candle-Lighting—Since COVID began, we’ve been getting together every Friday night on Zoom to light Shabbat candles and spend a little bit of schmooze-time together, as though we were sitting together at a Shabbat dinner table. We meet up at 5:30 PM and light the candles and make Kiddush at around 6:00 PM.

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Earlier Start For Shabbat Candle Lighting

Beginning on Friday, December 4th, we will Zoom-light our Shabbat candles a little closer to sundown, at 5:30 PM on Friday evenings. We’ll still have some schmooze-time and then sing, light, and make Kiddush together at around 6:00 PM.

Shabbat Morning Services

It’s a full Shabbat Shacharit service led by Rabbi Holub, with much singing, chanting and silence, Torah teaching and reading, blessings for healing and peace, and time for mourners to say Kaddish. You are welcome to join in on Zoom for any or all of the service from 10:30 AM until about 12:30 PM. The rabbi and members of the community will offer Divrei Torah.

Elder's Conversation

We continue to get older together with our twice-monthly Elders’ Conversation on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from 3:00-4:30 PM. This month’s conversations will be on December 8thand 22nd. We pick a topic at the end of the prior meeting and have rich, personal, probing conversations about all manner of things having to do with experiencing the world as we age. People of all ages are most welcome.

 

Zoom invitations to these gatherings are sent by e-mail. If somehow you missed the email, let Margaret know at mholub@mcn.orgor 937-5673.

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MCJC Justice Group

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The Justices meet on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting, on Thursday, December 10th, is the first night of Hanukkah, so we will meet from 6:00 to 8:00 PMin order to join Rabbi Holub in lighting the first candle on ZOOM at 5:30 PM. December 10th is also International Human Rights Day, a great night to meet! If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list or attend meetings, please contact Margaret at mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 

At the meeting on Thursday, November 12th, the group set goals for two time periods: from now through the inauguration of the new President and Vice President on January 20th, 2021; and after the inauguration.

The JG’s short-term goalsare highly focused:

  • To concentrate and work on the senate races in Georgia. Some members are sending donations and/or hoping to help organizations in Georgia such as https://fairfight.com/ or blockpower.us, non-partisan groups that work to register new voters;

  • To stay focused on the transition of power to President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris;

  • To participate in Shoeboxes of Warmth for Children

Organized by Dr. Melba Salazar Lucio, a professor at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas, Shoeboxes of Warmth helps children seeking asylum who are living in tents at the Matamoros Encampment, across the Rio Grande River from Brownsville. There are close to 300 children at the encampment. Shoeboxes asks individuals or groups to fill shoeboxes (or zip-lock bags) with new,warm children's pajamas, socks, underwear, gloves and hats, and mail them to Dr. Lucio.

 

Two members of the JG have purchased enough clothing for 12 two-year-old children. If you want to help cover the costs of that clothing and the mailing,send a check with Shoeboxes in the memo to MCJC, PO Box 291, Little River, CA 95456. If you would like to put your own shoebox together,

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Long-term goals for the Justice Group are wide-ranging:

 

  • Take on more projects on immigration equality

  • Determine whether to continue the Citizen Scholarship Project

  • Work to limit climate change/climate crisis

  • Fight systemic racism, white supremacy, and anti-racism

  • Help organize a Police Advisory Board in Fort Bragg

  • Increase voter turn-out in Mendocino County/collaborate with League of Women Voters

  • Protect the community throughout the COVID 19 pandemic

  • Encourage cooperation between and among red and blue voters and politicians

MCJC Board Meetings

The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:00 PM, these days on ZOOM. The Decembermeeting will be onTuesday, the22nd.If you wish to attendpart of the meeting, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at 962-0565, or susan.tubbesing@gmail.com, and efforts will be made to patch you in.

Book Group

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We will meet on Zoom Monday December 21 at 2 pm to discuss Stubborn Twig by Lauren Kessler. Kessler’s award-winning book is a classic story of immigrants making their way in a new land.Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the other Oregon Trail—the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean—in1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets.Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the area’s most successful orchardists. As Masuo broke the race barrier in the local business community, his American-born children broke it in school,scouts and sports, excelling in most everything they tried.

For the Yasuis’ first-born son, the constraints and contradictionsof being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters prevailed, becomingdoctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a classic tale of the American dream come true—until December 7, 1941,changed their lives forever.The Yasuiswereamong the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry along the West Coast forced from theirhomes and sent to vast inland internments camps. Masuo was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of thewar; his family was shamed and broken. Yet the Yasuis endured, as succeeding generations took up thechallengeof finding their identity as Americans.We chose Stubborn Twigbecause the Yasuis’ journey closely mirrors the experience of many Jewish immigrants to America.

 

Order a copy of the book from Gallery Bookshop and request a 10% discount as a book club member.Please contact Fran at franbschwartz@gmail.com for a Zoom invitation.

Lending Their Hands

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Thanks very much toMyra Beals and Renate Eberlfor preparing the NovemberMegillah for mailing. 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. If you want to do this mitzvah, please contact Sarahat 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

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Yarrow Rubin & Miles Clark; Nancy Harris; Harvey Hoechstetter & Lari Shea; Zo Abell;

John Allison & Rebecca Picard; Sandy Glickfeld; Pamelyn Close & Barry Baylen; Josh & Carolyn Latkin; Rachel Binah; Deborah Karish; Jane Corey; Claire Zwerling; Sandy Oppenheimer; Roberta Belson; Susan Hofberg; Rio Russell; Arlene Elster; Donna Feiner; Susan Miller; Susan Tubbesing & Sarah Nathe; Marinela Miclea; Rabbi Eric Weiss & Dan Alpert; Linda Shear & Windflower Townley; Myra Beals;

Sharon Shapiro; Ayn Ruymen & Bob Ross; Tanya McCurry; Bonnie Saland; Dorothy & Robert Asbury; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Yael Raff Peskin; Leslie Gates; Elaine Tavelli; Margaret Kane; Mike Kim & Susann Flowers;Tracy Salkowitz & Rick Edwards; Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg; Ronnie James; Dr Jeff Berenson & Mina Cohen; Danny Mandelbaum & Benna Kolinsky; Jeanette Rasker & Robert Cutler.

In honor of Alicia, Peter, Toby and Ben Kafin from Bob & Carol Kafin;

In honor of Eli Bye’s 50thbirthday by Larry Sawyer & Harriet Bye;

In honor of Dr Jeff Berenson’s 70thbirthday by Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg.

 

In memory of Jason Christopher McCurry by Tanya McCurry;

In memory of Gerry Davis, father of Shelley Martin,by Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg;

In memory of Lilian Davis, mother of Shelley Martin,by Sallie McConnell Costello.

 

In memory and in honor of Judith Meisel, Mina Cohen’s mother, by Sally & Lee Welty; Mark & Deena Zarlin; Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg; Irv & Rosalie Winesuff.

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 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

 

Soft and Tumbled: Shamelessly second-hand apparel for conscious clothing enthusiasts. Get $5 off your first purchase when you use the password SOFTANDTUMBLED. Sign up at www.poshmark.com/closet/softandtumbled 

 

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

(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, except when they are not.)