I saw my first trillium yesterday! It was poking up right next to a little woodpile on the side of our house. When I saw it, I stopped and said shehechiyanu: “Blessed is the Source of Life, Who has kept us and sustained us and brought us to this moment!” We say shehechiyanu when something new and good comes our way, or something we haven’t been able to enjoy for a long time. Trilliums are harbingers of spring. Amen!
Spring this year, and March specifically, also marks a year since the COVID lockdown began in the USA. I remember my own utter shock and confusion a year ago when, over what seemed like the course of a weekend, regular life ceased. At first I thought it might be for as long as two weeks. Two whole weeks! Without shopping, visiting, hugging, popping in for a coffee at the Good Life? Two weeks without the shul??? Impossible for me to imagine!
Last week, at what was probably about our 48th Shabbat morning service on Zoom, someone suggested that we say shehechiyanu for the impending reopening of life. And this led to a quick discussion: is it time to say shehechiyanu YET? Have we really been brought to a new moment? Or are we in something more like the season of “not yet, but we can sort of see a glimmer of hope ahead”? We decided we would save our shehechiyanu for something more definitive.
For me, COVID awareness began last year in the second week in March, when I started checking the UC Berkeley Theater listings to see if my long-anticipated Pussy Riot concert was still going to happen on March 14. Each day it was still on the schedule, still on. And then, just a couple days before the 14th, poof! It was canceled. So that date in March is my personal COVID anniversary.
Now I am thinking both backward and forward from this anniversary. Forward is easier: we have no idea. Though there is much speculation about what post-pandemic life will be like, so much is unknown. One practical note: like the rest of the Jewish world (and all other faith groups as well), MCJC’s board and I are busy thinking about how to return to in-person gatherings. It won’t be very soon; there is plenty of time for us all to discuss and imagine and plan. I just want you to know that the conversation has begun.
Looking backward, it feels a little like Elul, that month of account-taking before Rosh Hashana. We’ve lived through a very strange, challenging, powerful, and in some ways transformative year. I want to share a bit of what I am thinking about as Rosh Hashana l’COVID rolls around:
First, I am deeply grateful that here on the Coast our most dire speculations have not come to pass. People in our community certainly have gotten sick, and COVID may have contributed to the deaths of people we have known and loved, but our hospital was never overloaded to catastrophic levels. The people I know who have had COVID seem for the most part to have recovered well (keinehora! may it continue). Even as I write these words, I am aware that some of you know people who have died, or who are terribly ill with the virus or its aftereffects. Since we are all connected, it is not more easeful here than anywhere.
I am grateful that so many people around me are masking and distancing. I am grateful for all the precautions taken by local businesses to keep customers safe. I am grateful to our local public health folks, who seem, to my untrained eye, to be making sane and clear decisions amid great confusion. I’m grateful to everyone who cares for people who are sick. I’m grateful to the Food Bank, to Safe Passage, to Project Sanctuary, the Children’s Fund, FLOCKworks, and everyone who has stepped up to try to keep the bottom from completely falling out, even as COVID falls most heavily on the poorest people in our community.
I think of our friends at Sherwood Oaks, our local skilled nursing facility, who have pretty much been confined to their rooms, without visitors or recreation, for the past year. How utterly unbearable. I think of the brilliance and heroism of our community’s teachers, figuring out how to teach without a school or a classroom or a lab or a gym. But still, for many students the school year has been pretty much a wasteland. Or worse: a lonely, lost time to struggle with depression and anxiety.
I think of the economic blows to local businesses, whether or not they have managed to stay open in some way. And the bigger blows to their employees, especially at the lower end of the wage scale, who have had to struggle for the basics. I think of our neighbors without documents, who can’t benefit from what public relief there has been.
And there’s the world. I can’t possibly make a list here, but I think of my beloved South Africa, struggling with a new and apparently more deadly variant of the virus. I think of Israel, boldly exporting vaccines to allies around the world while failing to share them with the people they occupy in the West Bank and Gaza. On the other hand, I think of the vastly reduced driving and flying that may be reducing carbon in the air and helping us imagine transitioning away from petrochemicals in the long term.
There are many softer and more personal effects of the COVID year. Take fashion, for example: I am sitting here right now at my computer in my old patched sweater and sweatpants, my hair in an elastic, barefoot—pretty much my uniform this past year. Time feels so different, a bit like shiva, mournful but sweet in its way, in time but outside it too, in the presence of death but alive.
Time also feels different because I hardly ever drive. I’ve even been able to share my car a bit, because I use it so little. I’ve read some long books. I haven’t had nearly as much time with friends as I’d like. But I’ve had more, and sweeter, time with Mickey than ever before. I feel like I’ve had time to think differently—more slowly, more broadly, more wonderingly.
I’ve had the Torah in my house all year. I’m sitting three feet away from her right now. I don’t even know the full impact of that yet, but it’s demystifying and intimate. I’ll miss her when she returns home to the shul.
What would we have done without Zoom? It’s both my new best friend and biggest taskmaster. This year would have been inestimably different without Zoom. Zoom has both saved and stunted our Jewish communal life this year. It has made possible so much contact, so much prayer and study and conversation and business, and even a certain amount of fun. Unfortunately, it’s not designed to allow us to sing together. Nor can it help us touch each other or eat together: I miss the great food you all cook! It’s enabled many of us to stay connected in ways both familiar and new, and has made it possible for wonderful and beloved people who don’t live nearby to be a regular part of MCJC’s goings-on. But it also hasn’t worked for some people and they have been cut off from their Jewish community just when they most wish for it.
This year has been like tectonic plates scraping slowly past each other, like every other year of life, only more so. I wish there would be no more illness, and no more brokenness or broke-ness, but I am also appreciating a journey I never imagined a year ago. I hope we can return to whatever was best about pre-COVID life, and that we can hold on to whatever is best about the possibilities we didn’t know about a year ago. Mostly, I hope that you stay well and safe. And smell the triliium!
Passover begins this year at sundown on Saturday, March 27th and concludes at sundown on Sunday, April 4th. As with all other holidays this past year, we are envisioning a Pesach that enables us to enjoy as much depth and connection as possible even as we are not able to gather together around seder tables. Plans are underway to celebrate Pesach safely, and you’ll be getting information soon.
MCJC Board Meetings
The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:00 PM, these days on ZOOM. The March meeting will take place on
Thursday the 18th. If you wish to attend part of the meeting, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at 962-0565, or email@example.com, and efforts will be made to patch you in.
In January, we began the book of Exodus; in March, we go to its finale. 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 March, 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. Then we will discuss the portion together. Join Zoom meeting at address in item above.
All are welcome. No knowledge of Torah or Hebrew is necessary.
Do You Want To Zoom?
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 calendar. To get the invitations, let Margaret know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5673.
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.
03/06/21 - Ki Tisa - Bob Evans
03/13/21 - Vayakhel-Pekudeh - Lew Mermelstein
03/20/21 - Vakikra - Raven Deerwater
03/27/21 - Tzav - Bob Evans
We’re getting 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 we’ll chat on March 9th and 23rd, on Zoom. 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 current 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 email@example.com or 937-5673.
MCJC Justice Group
The Justices meet on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting is on Thursday, March 11th, from 5:30 to 7:30. If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list or attend meetings, please contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5673. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Thank you to the following for their generous donations to the Justice Group and its ongoing projects: Raven & Becky Deerwater, Donna & Bruce Beyer,
Amy Lederman, Evan Mendelson, Larry & Gayle Heiss.
Citizen Scholarship Project and Immigration Updates
According to Anne Thomas, instructor of the Citizenship class, four scholarship students passed their exams and took their oaths between February 17th and 25th. There are now four new citizens in Fort Bragg! Five more students in the class are in the process of submitting their applications to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and, if the applications are accepted, will apply for scholarships.
The Biden administration is rolling back the controversial December, 2020 citizenship exam, reverting to the 2008 version. USCIS received over 2500 negative comments on the longer, more demanding 2020 exam, saying it would slow down the already backlogged testing process and discourage immigrants from becoming citizens. In addition, the Biden Administration will not raise the application fee from $725 to $1,170, as the previous administration intended.
Below is a report from Coast Climate Crew member Jeannette Rasker.
Since recycling services here on the coast are minimal, I have started using Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes. I can pack many one-time use plastic gloves, take-out containers, and clam-shell containers for berries into Terracycle’s boxes or pouches. I buy them online and UPS both delivers the containers and picks them up when they are full. Terracycle then sends all the items to be repurposed into something new and useful; nothing ends up in a landfill. Check out Terracycle’s website to see all their recycling solutions: www.terracycle.com.
The CCC may work in support of the efforts of the Mendocino Trail Stewards to create the Mendocino Coast Redwood Forest Reserve in portions of the Jackson State Demonstration Forest. This movement did not appear out of nowhere; it builds on the Campaign to Restore Jackson State of 20 years ago, which shut down logging entirely in the JDSF from 2001 to 2008. The Stewards are preparing a bill to place on the California Legislature’s 2021 docket to continue CalFire’s management of JSDF, but with a different set of priorities: climate change mitigation; carbon sequestration; recreation; education; ecosystem restoration; public enjoyment; spiritual health; and forest resource management.
Timber production would continue in over half of the current acreage, but with little to no harvest allowed in the watersheds of Big River and a number of creeks: Russian Gulch, Caspar, Jughandle, Mitchell, and Hare. Neither will it permit harvest in the 459 acres of true old growth in the central and eastern portion of the forest. Learn more about the Stewards’ plans at www.mendocinotrailstrwards.com
The Constant Readers will meet on Zoom, Monday March 15th at 2:00 PM to discuss House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon. At the behest of his agent, Israeli author Yoel Blum reluctantly agrees to visit his birthplace of Amsterdam to promote his books, despite promising his late mother that he would never return to that city. While touring the Jewish Historical Museum, Yoel stumbles upon footage portraying prewar Dutch Jewry and is astonished to see the youthful face of his beloved mother staring back at him, posing with his father, his older sister…and an infant he doesn’t recognize. This unsettling discovery launches him into a search for the truth, shining a light on Amsterdam’s dark wartime history. The deeper into the past Yoel digs, the better he understands his mother’s silence, and the more urgent becomes the question that has unconsciously haunted him for a lifetime—Who am I?. Emuna Elon is a best-selling, critically acclaimed novelist, journalist and women’s rights activist. Born to a family of prominent rabbis and scholars, she was raised in Jerusalem and New York. Her first novel translated into English, If You Awaken Love, was a National Jewish Book Award finalist.
Order a copy of the book from Gallery Bookshop and request a 10% discount as a book club member.
Please contact Fran at email@example.com for a Zoom invitation.
Corrections To The New Directory
Though the dedicated workers in the MCJC publishing arm strive for perfection, they don’t always reach that goal, as witnessed by at least one error in the new MCJC directory. We note it here so you can correct it in your copy: Leslie Gates’ correct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all who have responded to the annual appeal letter! We appreciate your support, at every level. We will soon begin to contact those from whom we have not yet heard. Through the past year, MCJC has been present in your life through online Shabbat candle lightings and Torah services, meetings, classes, afternoon chats, and Chai on The Coast activities. We have provided 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 2021, let us know and we will remind you then. If you have questions or concerns, please email Donna Montag at email@example.com or call her at 877-3243.
Megillah Mailers Rock
Thanks very much to Lorry Lepaule for preparing the February Megillah for mailing. If you volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project—and why wouldn’t you, still stuck at home—you can do it at your kitchen table, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. If you want to do this mitzvah, please contact Sarah at 962-0565 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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
Mark Gardner; Nona Smith & Art Weininger; Roberta & David Belson; Diana Corbin;
Carolyn Glubock Wojack; Eric Labowitz & Kathy Bailey; Fran Schwartz; Reba Simon;
Susan & Gary Levinson-Palmer; Susan Miller; Linda James & Richard Sacks-Wilner; Shelley Martin; Cecile Cutler; Pamela & Dr Benjamin Graham; Arleen Weisman; Leonardo & Karen Bowers; Marinela Miclea; Margaret Donelan; Shelly Garrison; Suzanne Lampert; Susan Juster; Alena Deerwater & Jon Goodstein; Esther Faber;
Sandy Glickfeld; Norm & Karen Rosen; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy;
Carolyn & Josh Latkin; Joy Lancaster & Marty Friedman; Bob Scholosser & Dawn Hofberg; Rachel Binah;
Kath Disney Nilson; Evely Shlensky; Maggie Norton; Donna Feiner; Susan Tubbesing & Sarah Nathe;
Irv & Rosalie Winesuff; Irene Malone; Dr Jennifer Kreger & Dr Wade Grey; Helen Jacobs; Judy Stavely;
Karen Rakofsky; Theresa Glasner Morales; Julie & Bob Melendi; Lew Mermelstein; Sydelle Lapidus;
Roz Keller; Henrietta Bensussen; Marilyn Rose & James Blackstock; Linda Jupiter; Sandy Oppenheimer;
Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer; Frieda Feen; Adina Merenlender & Kerry Heise; Deborah Karish; Leslie Gates;
Dr Jeff Berenson & Mina Cohen; Ruth Rosenblum & SA Ephraim; Karen Novak & Daniel Dickson.
To the Adele Saxe Tzedekah Fund: Becky and Raven Deerwater in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of Tracy Salkowitz; Ruth Rosenblum & SA Ephraim.
In honor of Tracy Salkowitz’ Bat Mitzvah by Claire Ellis & Chuck Greenberg.
In memory of her mother, Leah Lahn’s yahrtzeit, by Rachel Lahn.
In memory of Jerry Kreger by Irv & Rosalie Winesuff.
In memory of Tal Sizemore and Peryl Post, and in honor of George Montag by Helen Sizemore.
To welcome Sadie Heller Mandelbaum by Danny Mandelbaum & Benna Kolinsky.
In celebration of the Bat Mitzvah of Tracy Salkowitz by Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer.
In honor of the continuing work of Donna Montag by Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com)
MCJC Board and Contacts
(* identifies the MCJC Board members. All phone numbers are in the 707 Area Code, except when they are not.)