Before Sukkot started, on the full moon of Tishrei, I had already had some Sukkot (mis)adventures. Mickey and I love building a sukkah. We always use the same highly sophisticated technology: bamboo poles and duct tape. But the structure itself comes out different every year. Sort of like tinker toys. This year, Mick leapt up last Friday morning, seemingly just minutes after we had broken the fast at the end of Yom Kippur and fallen deliriously into bed. Good morning! Time to build our sukkah! So we did. It was seven-sided, oval-ish, not our biggest ever, but pretty good-sized, kinda weirdly shaped. Very much our style.
The next day, Shabbat, there was that glorious rainfall. And, speaking of “fall,” our sukkah collapsed. I laughed when I saw it. It pancaked!
Mick was gone the next couple of days, so clearly, if we wanted a sukkah by the beginning of the festival, today was the day. He woke up talking about it: “Let’s skip it this year.” “Let’s make a really tiny one, just a teepee.” I said, Okay, sure, how about a circle of rope on the ground (our retreat sukkah invention one year, not quite kosher but surprisingly powerful). He went off to work today and while he was gone, I went out and built us another big oval, weirdly shaped, bamboo and duct tape sukkah. I just couldn’t let it be simple. So now I’m cooling off and thinking about simple.
We are in the shmita year—that beautiful, challenging every-seventh-year time when we let things just be. There is a technical shmita, which pertains to farmers in Israel and has many specifics as to how it’s carried out. Torah commands farmers to stop plowing, sowing and harvesting, to let the land rest. They are to open the gates of their field and allow both hungry people and animals to graze freely. Creditors are commanded to forgive debt.
There is also a shmita of the spirit, the time to cease cultivating and growing and building, to let oneself and the world rest from our enterprises. The shmita gave rise to the concept of sabbatical, the seventh year to rest and restore, a topic of much interest to me just now, as I am days from beginning my own sabbatical.
Our Women’s Retreat this past summer was centered around the theme of the shmita: ease, simplicity, rest, fallowness, letting things be. Ronite Gluck, Ellen Robin and I—the program planning troika—tried to keep things spacious, simple, easy. But, you know, easy is not so easy. Back to my sukkah-building enterprises: “What will people think if we don’t build a real sukkah? If we don’t even make a sukkah, no one here ever will. It will make the holiday sad, and it’s supposed to be the Season of our Joy. If we just do something really modest, we will never go back to building more elaborate and exciting structures. Does this mean we’re getting lazy? OLD?”
I had a beautiful friend, Steve Doll, who died of AIDS back in 1993. Before he died, Steve wrote a little chapbook with his “rules of life” to leave with his friends. I just took out my copy and refreshed myself with his words:
Easy is high on my list. I think I always believed that life could be easy, all the time. Now I’m trying it out. (Initial test results are positive.) So, I “take it easy.” I don’t work hard, I work easy, cause when I’m relaxed, my brain works more easily. I don’t have to think hard anymore. Or make hard decisions. Things are no longer hard to come by — they come easy. I think easy. Easy come, easy go.
Believe that though life is inevitably an effort, annoying, a struggle, challenging, complicated, confusing, demanding, distracting, dreary, full of surprises, overwhelming, MESSY, painful, resistant, stressful, tough and troubling, it doesn’t have to be HARD. And life can be less of all these things, and more fun and rewarding depending on how you play it. And the more I work at and practice “easy,” the easier things get.
Heaven knows the earth could use our easing up a little bit. So could our own health and peace of mind. I am thankful and happy about my upcoming sabbatical. I can hardly wait! I am “planning” (i.e., not planning) a true sabbatical, a true shmita, a time of release, of fallowing, of resting hand and heart, of “practicing easy.” I have no plans, no goals other than being in the time with a whole heart. I will let what pops up in the little field of my life during this time be what sustains me. Whatever that turns out to be.
I wish everyone could have a shmita, a sabbatical. I feel privileged in both the healthy and the unhealthy way: deeply grateful for what I have, and simultaneously pained that only a very lucky few receive this gift. I hope that all of you will find ways this shmita year to move toward ease a bit now and then, to throw a rope on the ground every once in a while and call it good enough.
Even as I prepare to fallow myself, I feel that scramble inside: “I should… I could… I have to… Who will if I don’t? How can I not?” Easy isn’t always easy.
During the six months of my sabbatical I will keep you posted via the Rabbi’s Notes on my practice of easy. I hope you will be practicing right along with me. I love you all. I thank you all. Be well, my dear community.
While The Rabbi Is Away
Regular reminders, announcements and updates: Susan Tubbesing will take over the helm of my e-mail list and keep folks up-to-date with MCJC goings-on.
Queries by e-mail: Marnie Press (email@example.com) will be available to answer any questions (or find you someone who can) and generally be the voice of MCJC for your inquiries.
Queries by telephone: Callers to the rabbi’s number (707-937-5673) will be referred to Nancy Harris (707-964-4824).
Zoom: The MCJC events which have been hosted on the rabbi’s Zoom account will be moved to MCJC’s Zoom link.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 707 183 6183
You’ll get the link with announcements of the events. A few ongoing gatherings—the Mussar class, the writing group, the scribble group, and maybe one or two more—will continue to be hosted on their leaders’ Zoom links. Please be extra-aware of Zoom addresses until you get used to the changes.
We hope very much, COVID-willing, to be soon able to meet in-person more, while maintaining Zoom for those who can’t come to the shul. Info will come when such gatherings begin to be planned. If you have questions at any time, contact any of MCJC’s Board members. Their contact information is available at https://www.mcjc.org/board-and-contacts.
Friday night candle-lighting will continue weekly with community members hosting. 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.
Shabbat morning services will continue weekly at 10:30 AM with community members leading, teaching and reading Torah.
Weekly Torah study is discontinued for now.
The Elders’ Conversation will continue on its regular second and fourth Tuesday schedule, with meetings October 12th and 26th beginning at 3:00 PM. Linda Jupiter, Joy Lancaster and Adrienne Ross will host. They will send out topics and questions in advance. If you have questions, contact Linda Jupiter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Cup of Coffee will continue every Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 AM. Leslie Krongold will host.
The Justice Group will continue to meet on the second Thursday of the month at 5:30 PM under the leadership of Judy Stavely, Nancy Harris and Zo Abell.
There will continue to be occasional Chai on the Coast events, dreamed up and centered by Harriet Bye and Susan Tubbesing.
Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat and Purim celebrations will be planned when they get closer.
To get the support you need, please contact the people below directly, or e-mail Marnie Press at email@example.com, or phone Nancy Harris at 707-964-4824.
If someone is ill or in need of community support: MCJC’s Bikkur Cholim (Visiting the Sick) group (Fran Schwartz, Karen Rakofsky, Mina Cohen) will organize assistance. Rabbi Sandra Wortzel is also available for pastoral care.
[Sandra Wortzel: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Fran Schwartz: email@example.com;
Karen Rakofsky: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Mina Cohen: email@example.com]
Hospital visits: Rabbi Sandra Wortzel will be available as needed.
If there is a death in the community: Rabbi Sandra Wortzel will be available for pastoral care and funerals. MCJC’S Chevra Kadisha will be available for all ritual support.
The one thing we can’t assign in advance is people checking in on each other. Rabbi Holub urges that, if you find yourself wondering how so and so is, please give them a call or drop a note: “It would be wonderful if every one of us would be up for checking in on three people that we know and care about over the period of my sabbatical.”
Rabbi Holub wishes to thank MCJC’s Board for stepping up with great energy to make sure that everything is in good order; all who have offered to center events and gatherings, send and answer messages and catch what falls between the cracks; Rabbi Sandra Wortzel, who has made herself available for pastoral emergencies that may arise; Ali(x) Sabin, who has done much to make sure that Shabbat services will continue in an organized way; and Andrea Luna, who is on stand-by for questions about leading services. It’s a cliche to say “it takes a village,” but blessed is a rabbi who has such a village as this!
New Zoom Address
MCJC continues to hold most of its gatherings on Zoom, but there is a new address while the rabbi is on sabbatical. Please note: you may or may not be asked to type in a password, which is shalom. Disregard the numeric passcode at the bottom of the invitation unless you’re dialing in on a landline.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 707 183 6183
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,7071836183#,,,,*776001# US (San Jose)
+13462487799,,7071836183#,,,,*776001# US (Houston)
Dial by your location
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
Meeting ID: 707 183 6183
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kd4ljIwm4
The Zoom link information can always be found on the MCJC online calendar: https://www.mcjc.org/calendar
United We Can
MCJC’s own Adina Merenlender, an internationally known conservation biologist, has just published a book of interest to all of us. Climate Stewardship: Taking Collective Action to Protect California, co-written with Brendan Buhler, shows how Californians are working together across a diversity of communities and landscapes to improve resilience and address climate justice. The shared experiences of California climate stewards featured in the book—including youth corps members, community volunteers, and BIPOC leaders—reveal that connecting with others to prevent climate disruption provides a path to joy and hope for a better future. Here are a few answers to the persistent question, “What can a small community like ours do about climate change?”
Climate Stewardship: Taking Collective Action to Protect California can be ordered from your local book store, or use promo code 20W8895 for a 30% discount from University of California Press (https://www.ucpress.edu/books). Get more information at http://calnat.ucanr.edu/cs/climate_stewardship/
Shabbat Morning Services
A Shabbat Shacharit service in help on Shabbat morning with much singing, chanting and silence, Torah teaching and reading, blessings for healing and peace, and an opportunity for mourners to say the Mourner's 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. In Rabbi Holub's abcense for Sabbatical members of the community will lead the service. A member of the community will offer a Dvar Torah. The Zoom link has changed. Please check the calendar for the latest information https://www.mcjc.org/calendar.
Members of the community are invited to give a Torah teaching (drash) during a Shabbat service. If you have an interest in performing this mitzvah, or would like more information about what’s involved, please contact Raven Deerwater at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-1099.
MCJC Justice Group
The Justices meet on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting is on Thursday, October 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Zoom. If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list or attend meetings, please contact Judy Stavely at email@example.com or Nancy Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Judy Stavely and Nancy Harris are the new co-chairs for the group and Zo Abell is the scribe. The new leaders set some new goals for the group:
To keep our principles in mind when contemplating projects;
To encourage those interested in projects to work with the Passion to Project guidelines;
To differentiate facts, opinions, hearsay and speculation in group discussions.
At the September meeting, members reviewed the original Statement of Principles, enumerated below for readers of the Megillah, with hopes that some of you will join us in working to make our community an even better place to live.
Statement of Principles
As a Jewish Community, we have a deep commitment to tikkun olam, repair of the world through action. Based on our traditional Jewish values of compassion, justice, respect, and caring, we pledge to ensure that the Mendocino community is a place of welcome and safety for all by working with other groups and individuals who share these values. We commit to the following:
Celebrate ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual differences.
Defend civil rights, the rights of women, immigrants, racial and religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community.
Safeguard programs for the elderly, people with physical and mental disabilities, and youth.
Support access to a free and fair public education system and health care for all.
Protect the health of our environment.
Speak out against hate speech, bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Work for election integrity.
Promote social and economic justice and criminal justice reform.
Participate in the sanctuary movement.
Take action when support is requested.
We will meet Monday, October 18th at 2:00 PM on Zoom to discuss The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. A Jewish-Chinese Londoner named Alex-Li Tandem buys and sells autographs for a living and is obsessed with celebrities. He hunts for names on paper, collects them, sells them, and occasionally fakes them—all to give his customers a little piece of Fame. But what does Alex want? The return of his father, the end of religion, something for his headache, infinite grace, and the rare autograph of Golden Age movie actress Kitty Alexander. The Autograph Man is a funny existential tour around the hollow trappings of modernity: celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience.
Order copies of the books from Gallery Bookshop and request a 10% discount as a book club member. Please contact Fran at email@example.com for Zoom invitations and/or directions to the meeting.
MCJC Still Needs Your Contribution
Because we have not been able to schedule our usual fun fundraisers during COVID, our bank account is not as robust as we would like it to be. PLEASE SEND IN YOUR MEMBERSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS SOON. We have memberships at four levels: Regular, Limited Income, Fair Share, and Family. More information can be found in the annual letter on the MCJC website at https://www.mcjc.org/membership-and-donations.
You can 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 and inform Donna Montag at firstname.lastname@example.org
MCJC Board Meeting
The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:00 PM, these days on ZOOM. The October meeting will take place on Wednesday, the 13th. If you wish to attend part of the meetings, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at 962-0565, or email@example.com, and efforts will be made to patch you in.
Newsletter Thank You
We are very grateful to dobby sommer for preparing the September Megillah for mailing. She does it happily every time she is asked, but she’d graciously let YOU volunteer for a future folding, stamping, and mailing project. Do it at your desk or dining room table, or another spot of your choosing, in about two hours. 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
Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Donna Feiner; Marinela Miclea; Linda Jupiter; Robin Briskin; Phoebe Graubard; Myra Beals; Lorry Lepaule; Bob Evans; Kath Disney Nilson; Rachele Huennekens; Lew Mermelstain; Leslie Krongold; Donna Medley; Clare Bercot Zwerling; Madeline Lansky; Paige Lincenberg; Nina Ravitz & Terry Clark; Josh Latkin & Carolyn Latkin; Susan Hofberg; Cecile Cutler.
Diane Millen in memory of Elve Pollina, mother of Stacy Pollina Millen; dobby sommer in honor of Hallie; Marinela Miclea in honor of Mina Cohen’s support of Colin Miclea; the Martin Gould families and Shelley Martin in memory of Lillian & Jerry Davis; Mark & Deena Zarlin in honor of Rabbi Holub, the MCJC board, and all others who made the High Holy Days observance so meaningful.
To the Adele Saxe Tzedekah Fund from Sandra & Kenny Wortzel.
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.)