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Rabbi's Notes

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The first—and undoubtedly most difficult—step in thinking about any political struggle is to remember that every person involved feels pain, feels fear, loves whom and what they love, and longs for safety. As well, every plant and animal in every place wants to go on living. To start here, before story, before analysis, before blame, seems essential. Maybe getting to this first step is accomplishment enough for a moment. I made a partial list of the parties to destruction in the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

Israelis

Palestinians

residents of the West Bank

residents of Gaza

settlers

Jewish citizens of Israel

Palestinian citizens of Israel

residents of East Jerusalem

refugees seeking sanctuary in Israel

refugees fleeing Israeli violence

soldiers

militants

children

teachers

doctors

political leaders

vegetable gardens

citrus orchards

birds

bees

house plants

goats

sheep

olive trees

wheat fields

rivers

aquifers

Maybe it’s hard enough to think of each of these beings and to remember that they feel in common with all that feels. Maybe it’s hard enough to imagine the terror that each experiences when facing harm. Maybe it is hard enough to remember that each being has had a life before being under threat. They have memories, preferences, personalities, relationships. (A stalk of wheat, maybe, but all the rest for sure.)

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Maybe it’s too hard to contemplate the beings on this list, and all the others who should be on it as well, without leaping immediately to who is innocent and who is guilty, to who deserves respite and who deserves destruction. I think it is probably important to get to that place of analysis and opinion in order to plan and strategize and form alliances and endeavor to minimize further destruction and to repair what has already been damaged or destroyed.

 

But before we make this leap, I hope we can stop a moment to just remember that whoever is still alive is still alive, that they are breathing and reacting and feeling and thinking.

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As I was making this list, I spent a weirdly long time thinking about house plants. People across all kinds of divisions like to put a plant near them, indoors or out. Even homeless people sometimes keep house plants near their tent or cardboard box. When I think of those apartment buildings that have been demolished in the 11 days previous to my writing these notes, I imagine that inside a lot of them there must have been pots of herbs or spring bulbs. This saddens me very much.

Maybe that’s enough to say here. This is a starting place and not a conclusion. I have much more to say, and many of you must as well. I don’t even know if we need to say everything we think to each other, all our story and analysis and blame. But whether we do or don’t, I believe that it is important that we move in whatever way we move, with regard to Israel and Palestine and any other place of conflict and division, by reckoning that we share existence with all of these beings, and we have things in common. May we formulate our opinions and take our actions from that beginning place. May the world move towards peace.

Online Chevra Kadisha Conference 6/13 - 6/16

The Chevra Kadisha (Holy Society) conference will beheld Sunday June 13th through Wednesday June 16th it is a fabulous learning opportunity and, dare I say it, fun.

It is held every year in a different North American city. Last year because of the pandemic, it had to be rather hurriedly moved online. This year it is also virtual, but with more time to plan, it has been greatly expanded and improved.

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The conference was created primarily for members of Chevrot Kadisha, but the scope has expanded to be far wider than just Tahara, Shmira, and matters of interest to the traditional Jewish "burial society".

The conference website is much improved and is now compatible with mobile devices. It is continually being enhanced. 60 second video introductions from the speakers are being added. The variety of topics is staggering. There are presentations on basic Tahara and Chevra practices, deep textual and liturgical study, women's Torah, grief counseling, end of life preperation and much more. All of the sessions are being recorded and will be made available to people who register, so they can be viewed later.

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The conference website is at: https://www.eventsquid.com/event.cfm?event_id=11981

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(mobile device view)

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There are three options for registration:

1) Full registration - Attend as many sessions as you want

2) Come-N-Go - Attend up to 5 sessions

3) Single session registration (This is only shown when you register and is $36 for one or two sessions)

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I know many of the speakers and quite a few have become friends. I wish I could attend all of the sessions, but I can only be in one Zoom room at a time. I will probably watch most of the recordings after the conference. Attending the live sessions is better than a recording, because there is a chance to interact with the speaker and other participants. It is difficult to find just a few sessions to recommend, but some that might be of particular interest to MCJCniks because of the speaker or the subject are the 12 following ones:

San Francisco Rabbi Me'irah Iliinsky - Death: What Jews Do

 

Using my painting: Mapping the Journey: The Mourner & the Soul, we will trace the steps of Jewish rituals and traditions regarding death.

***

 

Long Island Art Therapist - Vivian Abrams -  Brief History of Jewish Cemeteries in North America

 

This presentation will include a brief history of Jewish cemeteries in North America along with photographs and headstone rubbings. The presentation will also incorporate how gravestone symbols have changed over time and have been influenced by different cultures.

***

 

Santa Fe Instructor and Author Rick Light - Taharah: Introduction and Overview

The taharah ritual, the time-honored preparation of the body for burial, is central to the purpose and focus of the Chevrah Kadisha and is one of the ways Jews show honor to our dead. In this workshop, we’ll explore what’s involved in the taharah ritual, the procedures and the liturgy that give it power and beauty, and touch on some of the tips to make this ritual easier as well as more profound for those who do it. This is an introduction for those who have never encountered this sacred ritual as well as an overview and summary for those who have.

***

Santa Monica Rabbi T'mimah Ickovits - Text Study: Ma'avar Yabok -- Taharah and the Divine Body

 

Every physical action is accompanied by an action in the spiritual realm. 

Maavar Yabbok describes, in the section called Siftei Tzedek (Righteous Lips), physical actions, such as washing, pouring, dressing…. that are done during Taharah. Yet, few of us are privileged to study the connections between those physical actions and the spiritual resonance described in a different section of Maavar Yabbok called Siftei Ranenut (Rejoicing Lips).

Washing the body is more than a physical action, it invokes connection to the Tree of Life by highlighting specific parts of the body and their connection to the Divine body and Attributes. For example, washing the hair invokes an aspect of Keter (Crown), the interface between the Infinite and Finite in Kabbalah.

This session is designed for anyone who has done a Taharah or is considering it.

***

Santa Monica Rabbi Janet Madden - What Gets Brought Up? The Woman of En-Dor As A Model for End of Life Care

 

This session will focus on a close reading/analysis and interactive discussion of an intriguing episode. It’s the powerful story of a desperate king (Saul), a dead prophet (Samuel) and an outlawed outlier (the Woman of En-Dor).

While this episode of the First Samuel is usually understood as a condemnation of witchcraft, there is much more to this very human story—yearning, anguish, grief and deep wisdom around what we most need when we are in crisis and when we face end of life.

***

 

San Francisco Theater Director Kenny Yun - The Theater of Story Telling (Kavod v'Nichum Misaperei Sipurim)

***

Santa Monica Rabbi T'mimah Ickovits - Women’s Prayer – can we be Faithful? Considerations in Adapting Sefer Maavar Yabbok’s Liturgy

Would a Hebrew speaker use proper Hebrew when speaking to a human friend, family, colleague, boss, yet knowingly use incorrect grammar to address The Creator of All?

Until about sixty years ago Jewish liturgy was written in language meant to be used by men. This creates, not only discomfort because of incorrect grammar, but also disempowers women and demeans the integrity their prayer. A critical need exists to empower women with appropriate prayer language to invite presence and honor participation. We need to make liturgy appropriate and available for all genders and non binary people.

We will examine passages from Maavar Yabbok that highlight considerations to be used in adapting liturgy for use by women:

What is the criteria for adapting language for use by women? What stays the same? What changes?

How is faithfulness to referenced source text retained?

Does combining the previous two considerations achieve a desired result?

***

Santa Fe Rabbi Zoe Van Raan - Da Lifnay Mi Atem: Know Before Whom You Stand - Genderless Taharah

We will look at illuminating perspectives about gender as illustrated through ancient and traditional Jewish texts, and their implications for the taharah team. We will see how the act of “gendering” others goes against several facets of Talmudic instruction, Biblical precepts, and modern commentary.

One such feature woven throughout these sources is kavod (honor). Honor is a basic theme within Chevrah Kadisha service. In order to treat others with kavod, however, we must progress beyond the societally-imposed concept of gender, and the notion that there is an inherent binary nature to human beings. For a Chevrah Kadisha, this effort to move beyond a gendered worldview should inform both the taharah team’s emotional and psychological preparatory rituals outside of the taharah room and the individual team member’s impressions of the met/metah/metx inside the room. If we pay attention we
can break free from presuppositions about gender and, as such, begin to have a deeper level of kavod for the whole met/metah/metx. Come join this unique, expansive conversation!

While we will consider texts in English and discuss the Hebrew, this class is thoroughly accessible to those who do not have experience with text study and/or Hebrew.

***

 

Philadelphia Rabbi Simcha Raphael - The History and Mystery of Yizkor: Wisdom from Our Ancestors

 

Saying Yizkor—the prayer traditionally called Hazkarat Neshamot—provides people with a chance to remember and honor deceased loved ones. This presentation shall explore the background and historical development of Yizkor, and the ways in which our tradition has traditionally seen this prayer as a way of connecting with ancestors in the world beyond. We shall discover new ways of thinking about Yizkor, and the tradition of the memorializing of family members.

***

 

Berkeley Rabbi Stuart Kelman & Professor Dan Fendel - Chesed Shel Emet: Taharah Liturgy Part 1&2

We will examine this traditional liturgy, looking at who is speaking to whom and why, and at some of the main themes.

***

San Francisco Palliative Care Physician Dawn Gross & St Louis Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael - Identity, Dignity, and Personal Wishes Around Death

Discussing personal wishes around death can be a deeply vulnerable and sacred task. These conversations, whether held one-on-one or in community, have tremendous potential. And for many members of our community who hold historically marginalized identities, particularly those of us who are LGBTQ, these conversations also hold risk, and can be alienating or un-affirming. All are welcome from our diverse community to join this conversation-style workshop where we will practice making room for all perspectives and personal wishes as we explore how to engage in end-of-life discussions.

***

Berkeley Artist Karen Friedman - Depicting the Work of the Chevrah Kadisha: Paintings, Prints & Drawings

A slide show of my current body of work that is about Chevrah Kadisha. I will show sketches, drawings, monotypes and etchings, portraits and paintings in order to illustrate the many aspects of CK work, as well as some illumination of liturgical passages (primarily from Chamol). In addition, I will show a little of my painting process through a series of images taken at different stages of one image's development.

***

 

There are many more fabulous presentations, 56 in all, not just the 12 I mentioned, look at the website for details  The ones I listed just scratch the surface and are not even a representative sample.

I encourage you to take advantage of this awesome opportunity. The 2022 conference looks like it will by hybrid online/in-person and will probably be held at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

If you have any questions, you can contact Bob Evans bobevans@boborama.net

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Update On Reopening

The process of figuring out a safe reopening continues. Many thanks to everyone who participated in our online meeting last month or who sent in responses to questions about your hopes and concerns. We have a lot of helpful feedback to consider.

 

We are excited that the Jewish Women’s Retreat will again be held in-person at River’s Bend Retreat Center in Philo. River’s Bend requires that every person attending be fully vaccinated.

MCJC’s Board is exploring possibilities for in-person High Holy Days if a spacious, well-ventilated location can be found. Work continues on setting up communication equipment and adopting practices for hybrid meetings, so that people can meet in the shul and remotely at the same time.

 

 

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As you undoubtedly know, public health regulations and recommendations are changing often. We will continue to follow the best medical information and to explore the options for reopening. We look forward very much to being together when it is safe to do so.

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Torah Study

Rabbi Holub is offering weekly Torah study on the parshah for that week, the section of Torah read and studied each week. Join her on Thursdays in June, from noon to 1:00 PM on Zoom. Each time she will introduce a section of the parshah for the following Shabbat and pose a couple of questions, and then we will discuss the portion together. In June, we will journey deeper into Numbers.

 

Join Zoom meeting at address in item blow. All are welcome. You don’t have to know anything about Hebrew or Torah, and the text will be available.

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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 mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673. If would like to receive the emails announcing Chai on The Coast activities, contact Susan Tubbesing at susan.tubbesing@gmail.com.

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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 6:30 PM with a bit of schmooze, share news of our weeks, and wish each other Good Shabbos. We light at about 6:45 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.

Elder's Conversation

The Elders meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. This month we will meet on Zoom on June 8th and 22nd. 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 mholub@mcn.org or 937-5673.

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MCJC Justice Group

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The Justices meet on the second Thursday of each month on Zoom. The next meeting is on Thursday, June 10th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. If the weather is friendly, we’ll meet for a walk on Big River at 3:30 PM. This will give us a chance to see each other in person and spend some social time and still get to wherever we’d like to be to zoom in for our 5:30 meeting. Look for a confirming e-mail that morning. 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.

The JG is now supporting the work of two groups on the coast that share many of our core values, SCORE (South Coast Organizing for Radical Equity) and the Grassroots Institute.

 

Eight members of the JG met with members of SCORE on Monday, May 10th for an in depth look at SCORE’s campaign to convince the Board of Supervisors to have an independent, third party audit of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. The group began in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. SCORE members investigated public protection in Mendocino County, looking into publicly available County Budget information, particularly Public Protection spending. They found a lack of available data, communications and transparency on the spending and activities of the Sheriff’s Office, as well as of the demographics and management of the County Jail. Despite this lack of data, the Sheriff continues to request increased funding, and Public Protection spending continues to increase every year.

 

The JG group has endorsed the work of SCORE and members of the JG have written letters, emails and made phone calls to their supervisors in support of the audit. The JG is now part of the campaign, following the lead of SCORE. For more information about advocating for an audit of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department go to https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Er3EykxWbtQrMzhGhAXm6MGVG3OkmfN6?usp=sharing

 

On Thursday, May 10th, at the regular monthly JG meeting, guests Miquette and James Thompson of SCORE spoke about their group. We first asked them to tell us a little about themselves. Miquette is a non-profit fundraiser, grant writer and board trainer. James is employed by a consulting company that works with big companies to make web sites accessible to handicapped people. Both are highly skilled, motivated and passionate about their political work.

 

In addition to their campaign for an audit, members of SCORE are interested in projects addressing the following:

  • educational opportunities associated with racial justice

  • recognizing unconscious bias when engaging with youth

  • housing insecurity

  • food justice

Carrie Durkee and Linda Jupiter also spoke at the May 10th meeting about their project, a way of addressing climate change, as representatives of the Grassroots Institute (http://www.grassroots-institute.org), a local organization seeking “progressive solutions for the common good.” As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, signed by the president in March, the City of Fort Bragg will receive $1.5 million and Mendocino County will receive $17 million. The GRI is asking the city to set aside $100,000 and the county to set aside $2 million for the following:

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  • Installation of solar panels on municipal buildings

  • Installation of additional electric charging stations for cars

  • Transition to electric vehicles for public transportation in collaboration with the MTA

 

Durkee asked the Justice Group for an endorsement and asked individual members to support their work by writing to city council members and members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to support their proposal. The Justice Group has endorsed the GRI initiative. To sign the petition in support of GRI’s recommendations, go to https://forms.gle/oxXuRpyMgfFpVGCXA

Book Group

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W e meet Monday June 21st at 2:00 PM on Zoom to discuss The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. The unlikely romantic hero is a middle-aged man living alone after the death of his wife, his independent bookstore is failing, and now his prized possession—a rare collection of Poe poems—has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island, a summer retreat off the coast of Massachusetts, and even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see the book trade as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives sets off a series of encounters and events that helps the grumpy widower rediscover the joy in personal connections. Zevin's book is a love letter to the joys of reading, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

 

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.

MCJC Board Meeting

The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:30 PM, these days on ZOOM. The June meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 23rd. If you wish to attend part 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.

Newsletter Thank You

Big thanks to dobby sommer for preparing the May Megillah for mailing. If you volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project, you can do it at your kitchen table, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. This mitzvah imparts such a sense of accomplishment that you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before. 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

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S andra & Kenny Wortzel; Roberta & David Belson; Myra Beals; Marinela Miclea; Michelle Lucafo; Nancy Harris; Donna Feiner; Ronnie James; Rebecca Yaffe;

Bob Schlosser & Dawn Hofberg; Dr Jeff Berenson & Mina Cohen; Carol Maxon

Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Sally & Lee Welty; Linda Jupiter;

Lew Mermelstein.

In memory of Frances Lehan by Jonathan & Annette Lehan; In memory of Albie Sommer by dobby sommer.

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 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.

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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

 

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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.

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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

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MCJC Board and Contacts

(* identifies the MCJC Board members. All phone numbers are in the 707 Area Code, except when they are not.)