Life feels so thick these days—and then it seems to get even thicker. We all know the vectors: At the largest scale, climate and then its local particulars: drought, fire, smoke, trees which could be sinking carbon and shading the ground getting logged instead. Then the whipsawing of COVID, which seemed for a minute to be getting better, then got worse, here and around the world. That has local particulars too: a stressed hospital, sick friends, schools and businesses struggling, and a million personal decisions about masking, gathering, traveling, sharing food, indoors, outdoors. There are aching spots all over the world. As I write it is about the fifth day of the horrifying struggle to get endangered people out of Afghanistan. Was Myanmar just yesterday? Syria the day before? And Gaza. As well, Black Lives Matter and the deep reckoning we are being called to undertake in order to address and repair the legacy of slavery. Parallel horrors were inflicted on indigenous people right here on Pomo land.
Many of us carry worry and anguish more personally: children and other family members not doing well, finances insecure, death of beloveds, being alone when you want to be partnered or partnered when you want to be alone. Plus that most local particular of all: getting older, injured, ill—physically and mentally—isolated, and frail, aware of the looming inevitability of death.
All this is so real, and it’s not likely to end, at least not all of it. Here we are in the midst of it, trying to help, trying to cope, trying to stay steady, trying to take care of what needs taking care of.
I think a lot these days about agency. With many of these painful realities there is very little most of us can do to make them any better. Most of us can’t do much to get women, journalists, aid workers and other people out of Afghanistan, as much as our hearts ache for their plight (though there was a moment last week when our community network was able to advocate together to make a hopeful difference for 100 women). Where do we actually have capacity to make a difference?
I think there’s one way we can make the world significantly better, for ourselves and for others: by strengthening the bonds of our community. We have deep cellular knowledge of community. Here on the Coast there is the legacy of what Ellen Saxe so beautifully described many years ago, when blessing her son Max at his bar mitzvah, as “country ways.” Whether we have lived here for many decades or have come more recently, we live in a place with an abundant history of caring for each other through all the pleasures and ordeals of life. People here have nursed each other’s babies, helped to build each other’s houses and plant their gardens, raised money and provided intimate and extended care for people when they were sick or injured. People have provided entertainment and education for each other, made art together, planned for and supported each other through natural disasters, mediated each other’s disputes, built circles of care around people who needed particular help. People have built cradles and coffins and laid their neighbors into each.
There is the even older and deeper cellular knowledge of care and community that comes from being Jewish. We are not alone in this; most traditional cultures teach their members how to care for each other, but our ancestral knowledge in this realm is long and wide. My beloved list of “deeds without measure” is more than 2000 years old and it has been realized in countless Jewish communities around the world ever since. We know how to visit the sick, welcome guests, celebrate and mourn with each other, care for our dead, learn together, pray together, and make peace with each other.
The details are homely: schedules made, food cooked, equipment lined up, funds gathered, phone calls, meetings meetings meetings, and lists lists lists.
I’ve come to think that almost any difficulty in life is bearable if we don’t have to face it alone. Still, the habits of individualism die hard. It is hard to share our burdens and admit that we need help. It’s hard to keep up relationships in between difficulties and crises, so that we know what is going on in each other’s lives. It is tiresome to go to those meetings and make those lists. It’s hard to deal with problems when they inevitably arise, especially when we’re already stretched thin and feeling fragile. Especially when, as now, we mostly see each other in little boxes on our computers or through masks for a moment at the store.
A theory about community I like very much holds that you can measure the aliveness of a community by looking at the number of interactions people have with each other. Count how many people shop in each other’s stores, eat at each other’s houses, meet in book groups or PTAs or scout groups together, go to parties with each other, or join committees and projects together. More interaction equals more community. Not every interaction has to be intense, but deep and meaningful connections only arise when you have prosaic associations in the first place. I don’t think that this quantitative measure is the end of the story, but it’s a good place to begin. Call each other more. Walk with each other more. Drink more coffee or tea together.
In this new year 5782—which is also a shmita year—when we have the opportunity to step back from enterprise and effort, I think we might give extra attention to nurturing community relationships. Obviously, I’m thinking about our beloved Jewish community, but most of us are blessed to participate in many linked circles of community. And all those circles matter.
Recently, I was mulling this in the middle of the night, when I tend to think about such things, I began to retranslate Psalm 23 like this:
EACH OTHER is my shepherd; I shall not want.
EACH OTHER makes me lie down in green pastures;
EACH OTHER restores my soul.
EACH OTHER guides me in right paths for the sake of the name of EACH OTHER.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no harm, for EACH OTHER is with me.
The rod of EACH OTHER’s correction and the staff of EACH OTHER’s support comfort me.
EACH OTHER spreads a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
EACH OTHER anoints my head with oil.
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of EACH OTHER all the days of my life.
L’shana tovah, my dear community! May it be a year of friendship and connection, among ourselves and out into the world.
Friday The Rabbi Took A Sabbatical
Margaret will be going on sabbatical on October 1st. She will return by April 1st at the latest. In the meantime, services, celebrations and cultural activities will continue, led by members of our community and occasionally by guests from elsewhere. We will also take advantage of Zoom to join at times with other congregations for Shabbat services and other occasions. Rabbi Sandra Wortzel has kindly offered to be available for pastoral emergencies should they arise while Margaret is away. Details of coverage will be available before Margaret leaves.
Margaret is deeply grateful to MCJC’s Board of Directors and to the whole community for this precious opportunity to renew and reflect. She is particularly grateful to all those MCJC members who are stepping up to facilitate prayer, study, activism, and support for each other in times of need.
HIGH HOLY DAYS SCHEDULE, 5782
Because of the COVID surge, we will again be observing the High Holy Days on Zoom (with one outdoor exception at Caspar Beach). It’s not the same as being in the shul together with each other’s radiance, but we can feel close and connected even if we’re not in the same room, and our souls will be lifted and renewed as we walk the path of the Holy Days together. Join Zoom meetings https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9628821372
Erev Rosh Hashanah—Monday night, September 6, 7:30 PM
We welcome the New Year together with prayer, song and contemplation;
Rosh Hashanah Day—Tuesday, September 7
Morning service—10:30 - 11:30 AM
Blessings, singing, reflection.
Teachings by community members and reflections—11:30 AM - 12:30 PM. Please note that this is a different time of day than our community teachings in the past;
Shofar service and tashlikh at Caspar Beach—3:30 PM; masked and distanced.
(Consider coming early and bringing a picnic lunch to Caspar Beach; we won’t be sharing food, but we can enjoy each other’s company.)
Ten Days Of Teshuvah
During this time we will have several different offerings. They are still being organized and we will let you know as soon as the schedule is finalized.
Kol Nidre—Wednesday night, September 15, 7:30 PM
Enter Yom Kippur with the Kol Nidre and mostly traditional Yom Kippur evening prayers;
Yom Kippur Day, Thursday, September 16
Yom Kippur morning service—10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Prayer, inwardness, the sacred words and song of this most holy day;
Prayers for healing and peace—1:30 - 2:30 PM; offerings shared by community members. Please see the note below about how to participate.
Yizkor—4:30 - 6:00 PM. Remembering our dead.
Mincha and Neilah—6:30 PM to sundown. Entering the Holy of Holies, completing the day, havdalah.
If you need a High Holy Day machzor (prayer book), they are available to borrow in the shed at the shul—the one nearest to the kitchen door (combo lock 1818). If you are unable to get to the shul to pick one up, please contact Kenny Wortzel (email@example.com or (520) 591-7001) and he will get one to you one way or another.
Prayers for healing and peace—If you would like to offer a prayer or a poem or a reading or an a capella song that expresses hope and yearning for healing of body, mind or spirit or for peace and justice in our world, contact Karen Rakofsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5522. Please let Karen know how long your offering will be.
Names for Yizkor—If you would like to add names of people who have died to MCJC’s yizkor list, please contact Donna Montag (email@example.com) before Yom Kippur begins. If you have submitted someone’s name in the past, you don’t need to do so again. There will also be time for people to add names verbally during the Yizkor service.
Sukkot and Simchat Torah
Plans for Sukkot (September 20-27th) and Simchat Torah (evening of September 28th) are in the making. If there was ever a year to build a sukkah and invite guests (masked, distanced, bringing their own food), this would be the one! Please let Margaret know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to invite guests to your sukkah.
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 September, 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 September we are reading Deuteronomy.
Join Zoom meeting at address in item above. All are welcome. You don’t have to know anything about Hebrew or Torah, and the text will be available.
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.
09/04/21 - Nitzavim - Raven Deerwater
09/11/21 - Vayeilech - Margaret Holub
09/18/21 - Ha’Azinu - Raven Deerwater
09/25/21 - Sukkot - Bob Evans
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 email@example.com or 937-1099.
Art From The Heart
Mina Cohen is the featured artist at Partners Gallery from September 13th - October 4th. Her show is titled “Snakes and Amulets” and features images that incorporate small charms, in the Jewish tradition. Amulets have a long history in Jewish practice and references to them are found throughout the Talmud. The gallery, in its new space in the historic Mendocino Beacon building on Ukiah Street, is open Thursday to Monday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
The Elders meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, 3:00-4:30 PM on Zoom. We will meet September 14th and 28th. 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 you don’t get the emails, 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 meetings are on Thursday, July 8th and Thursday, August 12th 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.
At the August meeting, the Justice Group discussed the upcoming recall election. According to the California Secretary of State’s website, Article II of the California Constitution, approved by California voters in 1911, allows people to recall and remove elected officials and State Supreme Court justices from office. Since 1913, there have been 179 attempts to recall elected officials. Eleven efforts collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and, of those, the elected official was recalled in six instances. No specific grounds for recall are needed. The only requirement is enough voter signatures calling for a vote. “Enough” is defined as 12% of voters in the last election for the office in at least five counties.
Is it Constitutional?
Governor Newsom must get 50% of the vote to stay in office. If he wins less than 50%, one of the other candidates on the ballot could become governor, even with a smaller percentage of votes than Newsom. This raises the question of constitutionality.
A federal lawsuit, filed by two voters in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is seeking to either halt or alter the recall election. The lawsuit argues that the structure of the election is unconstitutional because it gives unequal weight to voters who support recalling the governor, violating the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.
The current process gives two votes to voters who vote to recall the Governor, one to remove him from office and one to select a new governor. The process limits those against the recall to one vote because a vote against the recall is a vote for Newsom, but his name is not among the 46 candidates listed on the ballot. The lawsuit asks the court to call off the recall election or order Newsom’s name added to the list of candidates.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times on August 11, 2021, Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the School of Law at UC Berkeley, and Aaron S. Edlin, a professor of law and economics at the university, wrote, “The most basic principles of democracy are that the candidate who gets the most votes is elected and that every voter gets an equal say in an election’s outcome. The California system for voting in a recall election violates these principles and should be declared unconstitutional.”
Exercise your Franchise
The gubernatorial recall election will be held on September 14, 2021, at a cost of $276 million to the 58 California counties, according to the State Department of Finance. Is this recall election the best use of taxpayer money? Is this election fair, just, or equitable? The MCJC Justice Group urges you to VOTE!
We will meet on Zoom Monday September 20th at 2:00 PM to discuss The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies, by Jason Fagone. In 1916, a young Quaker schoolteacher and poetry scholar named Elizebeth Smith was hired by an eccentric tycoon to find the secret messages he believed were embedded in Shakespeare’s plays. However, the urgencies of World War I quickly transformed Elizebeth’s mission, forcing her to apply her skills to codebreaking: solving secret messages without knowing the key. Working alongside her was William Friedman, a Jewish scientist and cryptologist who would become her husband and lifelong codebreaking partner. Fagone brings to light the extraordinary life of Smith Friedman, a previously unsung heroine who used her genius to steal enemy secrets during both world wars, hunt Nazi spies, and invent intelligence capabilities that changed history.
Order copies of the books from Gallery Bookshop and request a 10% discount as a book club member. Please contact Fran at firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom invitations and/or directions to the meetings.
Still Zooming (after all these years)
MCJC continues to hold most of its gatherings on Zoom. In addition to Shabbat morning services at 10:30 AM, there are other weekly get-togethers. Zoom invitations to these gatherings are sent by email and posted on the MCJC web page. To get the invitations in your email, let Margaret know at email@example.com or 937-5673.
Torah study—Thursdays, September 9th, 23rd and 30th, noon to 1:00 PM. Exploration of the weekly Torah portion.
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.
MCJC Board Meeting
The MCJC board meets monthly at 5:00 PM, these days on ZOOM. The September meeting will take place on Tuesday, the 14th. If you wish to attend part of the meetings, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at 962-0565, or firstname.lastname@example.org, and efforts will be made to patch you in.
Newsletter Thank You
We are very grateful to Nona Smith and Art Weininger for preparing the July-August Megillah to fly through the mails to your door. 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. 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
Madeline Lansky; John Allison & Rebecca Picard; Linda Jupiter; Myra Beals:Tracy Salkowitz & Rick Edwards; Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy; Ronnie James; Cecile Cutler; Rachel Lahn & James Young; Lew Mermelstein; Bob Evans; Donna Feiner; Kath Disney Nilson; Danny Mandelbaum & Benna Kolinsky; Marinela Miclea.Mark Slafkes & Helen Gregory; Art & Rosalie Holub; Roberta & David Belson.
Andrea Luna, in loving memory of Susan Miller; dobby sommer in honor of Marie Koskela’s passing; dobby sommer in honor of Hallie; Sally & Lee Welty in honor of Lari Shea’s Birthday; Sally & Lee Welty in honor of Lari Shea & Harvey Hoechstetter’s anniversary; George & Donna Montag in honor of Ellen Saxe’s birthday; Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer in honor of Ellen Saxe’s birthday.
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.
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