God. HASHEM. The Unnameable. The Blessed Holy One. Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu. Shechinah. Breath of Life. Life. Source of the Universe. Love. Mystery.
I forget sometimes. In the helter-skelter of daily life—even a daily life that includes some prayer and mitzvot—I forget the amazing, mysterious Universe in which I and all of us reside. Right now I am jamming away getting ready for Pesach. I’m putting together a menu for our tiny Seder and the details of various Zoom gatherings we will share over the week. I’m planning to clean at least some of the crumbs out of the house—at least to swab out the cabinet that is dusted with flour from a year of sourdough obsession. Oh, and the sourdough itself. I’m deciding whether to make “real” boiled gefilte fish, since my oven blew up and I have only a stovetop this week. I’m “doing the do,” as I often say, mostly happily, with pleasure and anticipation. And I forget God.
At least I would if it weren’t for the occasional sighting of a trillium. I am the last person to wax lyrical about spring flowers, but I can’t help noticing that winter has ended. All those things that happen— sprouts, buds, birdsong, weeds, wind, asparagus, pollen—signal irrepressible change. And a blessed consistency.
I spend a lot of time ruing the damage to our world, the damage I do as a consumer, a driver, a white citizen of a developed nation, all that. In my urgency not to be heedlessly happy about life, I sometimes forget that I am alive and that life is a blessing. Not just because I am not dead, but for the opportunity to breathe, eat, move, smell the flowers, love. Even as I write this I am pounding myself from inside: what about those people who live with dreadful air pollution and can barely breathe? What about the many people who have too little to eat? Those who are confined in jails and can’t move about? Plants and animals brought to extinction? And my part in creating and perpetuating all of it??
But I rue the negation of life because life matters, all of it. Failing, forgetting, not always showing up―that too. I yearn for justice because I want every person to be able to experience this universe with all its grandeur, mystery, and possibility. I yearn for the well-being of our natural world for the same reason, because I want every living thing to have its blessed existence.
I tend to use words like God and life sort of interchangeably. Earlier today, after I had written the above paragraphs, I had to run to town for a bit. I was driving down Albion Ridge thinking about God and life. The air around me was interesting, sunny but blustery, with a little bit of fog mixed in. I had this feeling of life blowing and billowing around me, of the air being filled with life. I felt this not in a technical way, not in a way of bugs and seeds and living stuff blowing around, but more like the intensely living quality of just being on the road in my car on the way to town and thinking about God. Feeling life pressing in all around me. Feeling God, or something Goddish.
The kabbalists teach that, through attention and devotion, we can draw God down into the world. This is part of our human capacity. (I don’t doubt for a moment that plants and animals and landscapes also draw God down into the world, all of us creatures in our own ways.) I can’t explain what it means to draw God down into the world, even though I know we can all do it. “Down,” “God” and “world” are all slippery terms. But we can feel their meanings even if we can’t quite pin them down.
Our mystic predecessors taught practices that help us to engage this capacity. Counting the omer can be one such practice. Beginning the second night of Pesach, and for the next 49 days, we “count the omer,” marking off seven weeks of seven days. On the fiftieth day, we celebrate Shavuot. This counting is commanded twice in Torah (Deuteronomy 16:9-12 and Leviticus 23:10-16) without a lot of explanation. The kabbalists took hold of this commandment and devised a tool, as it were, to draw God’s essence down to earth via the counting. Each week of the omer is associated with a Divine attribute. Each day within the week is also connected with an attribute. By contemplating these pairs of Divine attributes we can—I don’t know exactly how to put it―channel, inhale and exhale, and be in the presence of God.
There are many omer calendars, including the little one I devise every year for our community. Each one helps us connect with the attributes of each day of the omer. I’ve learned so much from our beautiful friend Yael Raff Peskin, who holds this practice close to her heart and shares it in such delightful and interesting ways each year.
For myself, I love counting the omer. (Truth: I love it on the days when I remember to do it!) I love that there is such a beautiful and mysterious ladder between the most elevated aspects of the Universe and the workaday one I usually occupy. I love feeling my own capacity to draw God down to earth through these contemplations. I love being with other people who also explore and engage that capacity.
And it reminds me of much simpler things: remembering God when I’m driving down the road, feeling Godness in the air, feeling the mystery of being in life, of life being in me as well.
Right now the wind is crazy outside. It’s rattling the window and sending a freezing draft through the room. Wind and rattling windows are natural phenomena, but a wind that shakes the room is also exciting and inspiring. It wakes me up to the late-afternoon sunlight, to the cobwebs, to my delicious glass of water. Yes, yes, I so wish that everyone had a house with windows to rattle, and delicious clean water to drink. And that we’d had enough rain this past year that I wouldn’t have to worry about our own well. That place of wishing and ruing is so easy for me to visit. But right now, since I’m thinking about God, a moment of awe drops down upon me. Wind and water are life. And they are a little, inexactly but evocatively, like God.
On the last day of Pesach, April 4th, the Torah Mobile will be repurposed, and joined by a companion vehicle, to bring Pesadiche sweets and fun to our community. You are invited to welcome the Seder Mobiles when they arrive in your area: have an outdoor and socially distanced nosh, see some friends, sing, have a cup of coffee or tea. As is the way with our mobiles, they will roll over, under, around and through Philo, Elk, Albion, Mendocino and Fort Bragg.
Many thanks to the irrepressible Robin Briskin for inspiring and helping to implement this caper! A few more details will be fleshed out soon, and you will hear about them in emails, but here is the tentative schedule (a bit different from mobile tours past):
Philo at Lemon’s Market at 1:00 PM
Greenwood Ridge Road at Ellen Saxe and Ronnie Karish’s driveway at 1:45
Elk Store at 2:30
Albion Grocery at 3:15
Mendo Post Office at 4:00
Fort Bragg Veterans’ Park (across from the library) at 4:30
We look forward to seeing you on Sunday afternoon, April 4th, at one of our stops!
The annual day of remembrance of the holocaust falls this year on Wednesday evening, April 7th. We will gather on Zoom at 7:00 PM for a time of reflection and memorial prayer, including the reading of our list of names of family members and others close to our community who perished in the holocaust.
This year we will remember and honor Judith Meisel, friend and teacher of our community and others around the world and mother of Mina Cohen, who passed away last November. As a teenager Judy lived through the full horror of the Nazi holocaust. Subsequently, she devoted her life to teaching people, especially young people, not only about the murder of six million Jews and five million other targeted populations, but also that “the only thing I hate is hate.” These days when hate, against Jews and many others, flows so freely, it is good to contemplate this message.
Join the Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9628821372, Passcode: 820822.
In January, we began the book of Exodus; in March, we went to its finale and started Leviticus. Rabbi Holub is offering weekly Torah study on the parshah for that week, the section of Torah read and studied each week. Join Margaret on Thursdays in April, from noon to 1:00 PM on Zoom. Each time she will introduce a section of the parsha for the following Shabbat and pose a couple of questions. Then we will discuss the portion together. In April, we will continue in Leviticus.
All are welcome. You don’t have to know anything about Hebrew or Torah, and the text will be available.
Do You Want To Zoom?
MCJC continues to hold its 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 go on. Zoom invitations to these gatherings are sent by email and posted on the MCJC web page. To get the invitations below, let Margaret know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5673. If would like to receive the emails announcing Chai on The Coast activities, contact Susan Tubbesing at email@example.com.
Cup of Coffee—every Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 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—Every Friday evening the community is invited to Margaret and Mickey’s virtual Shabbat table to light candles and make Kiddush together. We start at 5:30 PM with a bit of schmooze, share news of our weeks, and wish each other Good Shabbos. We light at about 5:45 PM. It’s a sweet way to bring in Shabbat together.
Shabbat Morning Services
A Shabbat Shacharit service led by Rabbi Holub, with much singing, chanting and silence, Torah teaching and reading, blessings for healing and peace, and an opportunity for mourners to say Kaddish. All 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 or a member of the community will offer a Dvar Torah.
The Elders meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, in April on the 13th and 27th, from 3:00 to 4:30 PM, on Zoom. (Margaret will be away on April 27th, so this meeting may be rescheduled. You’ll get an e-mail if this is the case.) Each week we take up a theme we’ve selected at the prior meeting and explore it in a personal and honest way, sharing our life experiences and our present thoughts and feelings. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5673.
MCJC Justice Group
The Justices meet on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting is on Thursday, April 8th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list or attend meetings, please contact Margaret at email@example.com or 937-5673. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Not long ago, many in our community were moved to donate to Cajitas Calientitas, a project that provides warm clothing and other necessities to very young asylum-seeking unaccompanied minors. These children were in a sprawling, squalid, crime-ridden tent camp in Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. The camp has been a symbol of the human suffering imposed by the efforts by the Trump Administration to keep migrants out of the United States.
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark.
Asylum-seekers are people who have left their country and are seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations there, but who haven’t yet been legally recognized as refugees and are waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right; everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.
no one would leave home unless home
chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.
According to Reuters, the Matamoros camp, once home to more than 3,000 children and adults seeking asylum, was the largest camp along the almost 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico, created in response to the 2019 Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), often referred to as the “Remain in Mexico Program.” In early March of 2021, the Biden Administration allowed most in the camp, including all the children, to enter the U.S. and pursue their asylum claims.
no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.
Recently, MCJC received a thank you note from Dr. Melba Salazar Lucio of Cajitas Calientitas and Team Brownsville which read, in part: “Currently we are assisting young asylum mothers with toddlers on their journey to their loved ones here in the United States. Your donation helps with food, warm clothing, toiletries and other essential items. We are waiting for asylum seekers to be released and still assisting those stuck in Mexico. We also have people being released by ICE at the local bus station that we are helping with essential items. May God continue to bless the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community.” (https://www.teambrownsville.org)
you only leave home when
home won't let you stay.
Once the government allows entry to MPP asylum seekers, nonprofit organizations along the border in ports of entry are stepping in to help. Two such examples are Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Rapid Response Network (https://rapidresponsesd.org), sheltering asylum seekers from the Chaparral Camp in Tijuana, and the Annunciation House in El Paso (https://annunciationhouse.org), caring for asylum seekers who are crossing from Ciudad Juarez.
who would choose to spend days
and nights in the stomach of a truck
unless the miles travelled
meant something more than journey? *
* (Excerpts from “Home” by Warsan Shire, a Somali poet born in Kenya now living in London)
The readers will meet on Zoom at 2:00 PM on Monday, April 19th to discuss The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector. Lispector’s final novel, published in 1977 shortly after her death, may well be her masterpiece. It deals with the problems of Brazil’s rural Northeast versus the urban Southeast, with poverty and the dream of a better life, and with an uneducated woman's struggle to survive in a sexist society. Narrated by the cosmopolitan writer, Rodrigo S.M., this haunting tale follows Macabéa, one of life’s unfortunates, who lives in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, eking out a poor living as a typist. Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Cola, and her rat of a boyfriend; she wants to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, yet he cannot avoid the realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly free. She doesn’t seem to know how unhappy she should be. Lispector contrasts her pathetic heroine with the urbane, empty narrator and she cuts away the reader’s preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love, and the art of fiction. In this novel she takes readers close to the true mystery of life, deep in Lispector territory.
Order a copy of the book from Gallery Bookshop and request a 10% discount as a book club member.
Please contact Fran at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Zoom invitation.
Corrections To The New Directory
Oh dear, a couple more errors in the new MCJC Directory have come to light. We mention them here, with a red face, so you can fix them in your copy. Please note two corrections: 1) Bea Karish’s real phone numbers are (707) 223-1222 (cell), and (707) 357-6606 (house); and 2) Diana Corbin’s actual email and phone number are email@example.com and (415) 370-5927.
MCJC Board Meeting
The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:00 PM, these days on ZOOM. The April meeting will take place on
Wednesday the 14th. If you wish to attend part of the meeting, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at 962-0565, or firstname.lastname@example.org, and efforts will be made to patch you in.
How Can We Ever Thank You
Susan Tubbesing happily assisted the MCJC publishing arm in preparing the March Megillah for mailing. What a multitasking gal! If you volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project (hint, hint), you can do it at your kitchen table, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. Go ahead, take on this mitzvah and you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment and virtue. Please contact Sarah at 962-0565 or email@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Sandy Oppenheimer; Bob Evans; Sam Markson; Mark Kalman & Marcia Steinfeld; Nancy Drooker & Alix Sabin; Ben & Susan Finkelstein; Nancy Harris; Myra Beals; Margaret Fox; Ronnie James; Alison Trick-Thornton; Joan & Paul Katzeff; Leslie Gates; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Linda Jupiter; Julie Byers; Rachel Lahn & Jim Young; Marinela Miclea; Marnie & Ron Press; Susan Hofberg; Mark & Deena Zarlin; Tatanka Russell; Beatrice Karish; Jane Corey; Brona Lessen; Linda Rosengarten; Elaine & David Tavelli; Tracy Salkowitz & Rick Edwards; Ellen Saxe & Ronnie Karish; George & Donna Montag; Lew Mermelstein; Kath Disney Nilson; Jay & Stacy Pollina Millen, Jeannette Rasker & Robert Cutler.
To the Adele Saxe Tzedekah Fund: Ellen Saxe & Ronnie Karish in honor of Susan Tubbesing & Harriet Bye for the love and dedication shown to all of us through Chai on The Coast; Karen Rakofsky; Jeanette Rasker & Robert Cutler; anonymous.
Twenty-nine anonymous donors to Rachel’s Lift.
Danny Mandelbaum & Benna Kolinsky in appreciation of our beloved and wonderful Rabbi Margaret Holub.
Dobby Sommer in memory of Great-Great-Grandpa Rabbi Lander.
Contributing Membership In MCJC
Everyone who lives on the Mendocino Coast, and desires to be one, is a member of MCJC. The MCJC Board of Directors has a goal of having every household become CONTRIBUTING members in 2021. We have contributing memberships at four levels: Regular, Limited Income, Fair Share, and Family. For more information, see the annual letter on the MCJC website at https://www.mcjc.org/membership-and-donations. Please mail your donations to MCJC, Box 291, Little River, CA 95456, or use PayPal on the MCJC website.
When you make a donation in memory or honor of someone, an acknowledgment card will be sent to the individual or family. Please include the name and mailing address. Contact Donna Montag at email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.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 Shoes: Shoes & accessories for men & women. Two locations: Mendocino and Healdsburg. , 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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org)
MCJC Board and Contacts
(* identifies the MCJC Board members. All phone numbers are in the 707 Area Code, except when they are not.)