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Rabbi's Notes

This afternoon has been a double-header for me: the Elders’ Conversation followed quickly by the Die-ers’ Club. Quick, send me some Play-Doh recipes and lullabies! Actually both gatherings were beautiful, and I was grateful to be part of both. I find it ever-renewing to hear people, especially people I love and respect, reflecting on how to live good, meaningful, whole lives.


The topic today for the Elders was “living alone.” I can share that much, though not more, since the content of our conversation was intimate, revealing and, as always, confidential. I can speak for myself, though. Not everyone in the group lives alone, but I now do. It has made me more aware than ever of the small challenges of daily life. The big ones I already knew about. I know who to call if the roof leaks, if my car breaks down, if I get sick. But what about when my cat brought a living squirrel into the house, who then ran under something and disappeared? Or when I want to make a burn pile and am not quite sure how to get it ignited? Or if I’m bored and cranky and really need to take a walk, but can’t get myself out the door? Or if I need help building my sukkah? Who do I call then?

I think a lot about that question, “Who do I call then?” Not so much for myself, as I am richly blessed with beloved neighbors and close-by friends who are used to my calls and lovingly responsive to my dilemmas and crises, small and large. But I am convinced that one of the keys to having a happy and a safe life here on the coast is to have good, dependable answers to that question.


Many years ago I took a sabbatical and read books and interviewed people about community. I read a book called Counterfeit Community: The Exploitation of our Longings for Connectedness by John L. Freie, which made a huge impression on me. I keep coming back to Freie’s basic argument. In fact, I’m sure I’ve written about it now and then here in the Megillah. Freie talks about how American loneliness makes us susceptible to all kinds of things that call themselves “community.” From Applebee’s “Neighborhood Bar” to gated senior communities to drive-in mega-churches, pseudo-community gets marketed to us. (Freie published this book back in 1998, when the internet was just a glimmer of what it is now. Imagine what he could point to today!)

By contrast, he defines real community almost entirely in quantitative terms: real community is where people have many interactions with each other. He describes a neighborhood where children play on sports teams together, parents sell hot dogs at the games and volunteer in the schools; where people shop in each other’s stores and bowl in the local bowling alley, go to neighborhood places of worship and drink in neighborhood bars, employ each other, even fire each other, fight with each other, oppose each other over issues. In a real community, people know each other’s back-stories. They know each other’s sorrows and needs and peccadilloes. More interaction equals more community.

I also interviewed (or really had a long, fun dinner with) the great local visionaries Jim and Judy Tarbell, right when they and some of their neighbors were beginning to organize the Caspar Community. What I remember from that conversation was the idea that one productive habit of community building is to take your needs and interests to the community, rather than trying to manifest them privately. So if you need help with childcare or want to work on your Spanish or learn to prune your fruit trees, you put that query out to the community and connect with the experts who respond. More interaction; more conversation; more community.

For a long time I observed these habits of community enacted all around me, in the Jewish community, and in Mendocino, and Elk and Albion, where I have lived. It seemed like people gave each other rides, helped with household tasks, counseled and consoled each other, ate meals together, knew each other’s extended families, circled around in times of crisis, and came together in ways that multiply the fibers of community.


I think and hope that this is still happening. But I wonder if there are some holes in that fabric? Maybe always, but especially these days when there are greater wealth disparities than I recall from earlier days, when people have moved here from places where they’re used to more services being available, when it takes more hours to earn a living than it might have in the past, when a lot of my old friends really are old now (not to mention myself…) and can’t climb ladders and stack firewood and drive long distances? Especially now, after three years of COVID isolation, after many of us are habituated to shopping and socializing and organizing online?

Some years ago Mina introduced me to the idea of a gemach. She learned of it from her daughter Elana’s orthodox community in Jerusalem. Gemach is an acronym for gemilut hasadim, deeds of lovingkindness. (It’s one of the “deeds without measure whose reward is also without measure.” You knew that!) The gemach in Elana’s community is a kind of catalogue of items available to borrow. Need a baby swing? a FAX machine? costume jewelry? something laminated? a hot plate? Call so and so. Various people in the community have these items to loan out to others in the community.


The gemach does at least two important things: it makes it so that everyone doesn’t need to buy their own baby swing or hot plate, and it causes people to call each other, to go to each other’s homes. It’s possible that there are chats in the driveway when the costume jewelry is being dropped off, maybe a cup of tea shared while the laminating machine is warming up. In these not-very-demanding ways, it ups the count of interactions between people that, over time, strengthen community. Maybe it even leads to new friendships.

The gemach does at least two important things: it makes it so that everyone doesn’t need to buy their own baby swing or hot plate, and it causes people to call each other, to go to each other’s homes. It’s possible that there are chats in the driveway when the costume jewelry is being dropped off, maybe a cup of tea shared while the laminating machine is warming up. In these not-very-demanding ways, it ups the count of interactions between people that, over time, strengthen community. Maybe it even leads to new friendships.


Paige and I are excited about creating an MCJC gemach. She has created a simple database that allows any of us to say what we have to loan out and also what we might be looking for. Paige inaugurated it by offering the use of two kayaks. I added two pressure canners and some folding tables. We’re working on ways to make it really simple for both the tech-comfortable and the pen and paper folks in our community to be able to see what’s being offered and also to put out queries for things being sought. Look for the gemach clipboard at MCJC gatherings and add your offerings and requests. Or e-mail Paige at, and she will add them. Or do it the new-fashioned way by going to this Google doc:


We’re both looking forward to growing our MCJC gemach into something that fits and serves and weaves our community. What do you wish you could borrow from someone in the community? What might you have to offer? Who would you call?

Tu B'shevat


Tu B’Shevat falls this year at sundown on Sunday, February 5th, and we will celebrate with a beautiful, fruit-ful seder at the shul, beginning at 5:00 PM. As ever, there will be abundant fruits with and without seeds, skins, shells, pits, and four glasses of fruit of the vine in color from snow-white to rich, oxygenated red. All will be blessed and enjoyed as we ascend through the Four Worlds to pray for life in this world to continue. Tu B’Shevat is the New Year of the Trees, said by the mystics to be the day each year when the frozen sap deep underground in the root system of the Tree of Life begins to rise to nourish the tree.  

In addition to the seder, we are overjoyed to have been invited to many people’s homes to plant and bless trees! Most of the tree planting will happen on Sunday, February 5th and Monday, February 6th throughout both days. Because we’ve had so much joyful response, there may be other tree plantings throughout the week.

If you would like to help planting and blessing trees, please let Paige know at Perhaps you prefer something less taxing: to help with the mitzvah of creating a beautiful table for the seder at the shul, please contact Andrea Luna at

Paige Notes

Chodesh tov! This Hebrew month of Shevat greets us right after the majestic rainstorms that brought some of us into the liturgical state of trembling in awe. Now we get to plant that many more seeds, having that much more water to feed them. We find ourselves in this sweet season of still very much being in winter, yet with increasingly brighter days and the sap in trees beginning to rise.

In autumn, with our High Holiday insights and the leaves falling, we might feel descending energy of Divine connection coming down to us. In the month of Shevat, with sap rising, leading towards the expansion of Pesach and blooming ahead, we reach our arms up like branches, growing toward the Divine. As Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z”l) taught, “We are all theotropic beings. Just as the sunflower turns toward the sun and we call it heliotropic, I believe that all beings are theotropic: we grow naturally toward God.” Whether “God” for you means Shechinah, the Oneness, Spirit, or whatever word most authentically resonates, may we together embody trees lifting their waters and sugars from their roots up to their branches, and reach up toward these post-rain sunny skies together.

with blessings on your month of slowly rising,


Jewish Views of the Afterlife on Zoom

The Hawaii Inter-Island Chevrah Kadisha has organized a presentation on Zoom by Reb Simcha Raphael on Exploring Jewish Views of the Afterlife: Contemporary Implications, cosponsored by three Bay Area congregational Chevrah Kadishas. This is in honor of 7 Adar, Moses' Yahrzeit. Members of the MCJC have been generously invited to attend at no cost. Reb Simcha is the author of Jewish Views of the Afterlife (now in its 3rd edition). He has lectured and taught extensively on the subject.

The presentation is on Sunday, February 12th at 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM PST. The Zoom link is,  Meeting ID #852 5777 6358.

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Elder's Conversation

The Elders meet every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, 3:00-4:30 PM on Zoom. In February, they will meet on the 14th and 28th. The conversation is always provocative and enjoyable. People of all ages are most welcome. Use the MCJC Zoom below. If you need more information, please contact Linda Jupiter ( or Joy Lancaster ( and they will be happy to fill you in.


We are using the Zoom address below for MCJC events. 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 phone number.

Zoom Addr

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 707 183 6183

Passcode: shalom


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

Passcode: 776001

Find your local number:


The Zoom link information can be found on the MCJC online calendar:

If you have questions or problems, contact Susan Tubbesing at and she may be able to help you.

A Spot Of Tea

Tune in on Zoom for coffee, or the inferior beverage of your choice, every Wednesday at 10:30 AM.


Check in with community members and chat about anything and everything from the state of the  nation, to the state of the cats, to weather, to the human condition, or from latke recipes to your children, cats, grands and cats. We also talk about health and wealth, wisely; and cats..

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Leslie Krongold is your host and welcomes newcomers, your questions and comments any time at Use the Zoom address:

Cat and dog appearances are welcomed, but not absolutely required.

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Give Generously

February is a good month to support MCJC programs for the year ahead. 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 if you include their name and mailing address with your donation.

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Shabbat Morning Services

A Shabbat Shacharit service in held on Saturday 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, followed by Kiddush. Services are hybrid, so come to the shul or Zoom in from 10:30 AM until about 12:30 PM. Rabbi Holub or members of the community lead the service. Rabbi Holub or a  member of the community will offer a Dvar Torah. Please check the calendar for the latest information.

Kabbalat Shabbat


Our next Kabbalat Shabbat is February 17th with hosts Adina Merenlender and Kerry Heise in Elk. Contact them at 707-877-3333 or 707-489-4362 to let them know you will be attending and to get directions. Following a Shabbat service, a vegetarian potluck meal will be shared among us.


In March we will gather at Sarah and Susan’s in South Caspar. If you would like to host one of these gatherings in your home in April or any month after, please contact Mina at

(707) 937-1319 or

Die-ers Club Meetings

Rabbi Holub is offering a class about death that encompasses Jewish wisdom and custom, practical insight, and personal reflection. We have been exploring our own ideas and feelings about death, Jewish teachings about life and death, end-of-life issues, mourning practices, and our own concerns and wishes as we move closer to the inevitable. The “club” will meet on alternate Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:00 PM, February 7th and 21st, and March 7th and 21st. We will meet in Margaret’s Zoom room (not the shul zoom):

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Margaret Holub's Personal Meeting Room

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 962 882 1372

Passcode: 820822


Justice Group

The Justice Group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month, 5:30 to 7:30 PM on Zoom. This month we will meet on February 23rd. We have two ongoing projects: the Citizenship Scholarship project and the Indigenous relationships project, and plan to start a third ongoing project area around abortion access. In addition we do “pop-up justice” actions. If you would like to be on the Justice Group mailing list or attend meetings, please contact Donna Medley at

Book Group

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The readers will meet on Zoom at 2:00 PM on Monday, February 20th, to discuss Gateway to the Moon, a novel by Mary Morris. In 1492 two history-altering events occurred: the Jews and Muslims of Spain were expelled, and Columbus set sail for the New World. Many Spanish Jews chose not to flee and instead became Christian in name only, maintaining their religious traditions in secret. Among them was Luis de Torres, who accompanied Columbus as an interpreter. Over the centuries, de Torres’s descendants traveled across North America, finally settling in the hills of New Mexico. Now, 500 years later, in these same hills Miguel Torres, a young amateur astronomer, finds himself trying to understand the mystery that surrounds him and the town he grew up in: Entrada de la Luna, or Gateway to the Moon. Poor health and poverty are the norm in Entrada, and luck is rare.

So when Miguel sees an ad for a babysitting job in Santa Fe, he jumps at the opportunity. The family for whom he works, the Rothsteins, are Jewish, and Miguel is surprised to find many of their customs similar to those his own family kept but never understood. Braided throughout the present-day narrative are the powerful stories of the ancestors of Entrada’s residents, portraying both the horror of the Inquisition and the resilience of families. Moving and unforgettable, Gateway to the Moon beautifully weaves the journeys of the converso Jews into the larger American story.


Books are available at Gallery Bookshop. For a Zoom invitation to the next meeting, contact Mina Cohen at

Heavy Lifting

On Sunday, March 12th, from 2:00-4:00 PM, we will celebrate the publication of the limited-edition artists’ book, Heavy Lifting, the outcome of a collaboration between artist/printer Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press and poet Theresa Whitehill. The book combines poetry with images in a sculptural book that extends to 14 feet. It was printed in a small edition of 60 copies at Felicia’s new letterpress studio in Mendocino.


Felicia’s entire letterpress shop and her life’s work was destroyed in a wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains in August 2020. Rice has relocated to her family home in Mendocino and, with the help of over 800 supporters, has built a new home for Moving Parts Press here on the coast. She is following in the footsteps of her parents, artists Ray and Miriam Rice, who arrived on the coast as pioneer faculty at the Mendocino Art Center in 1960.


The afternoon will include the presentation of a short experimental art film, a brief talk by Felicia, a reading of poetry from the project by Theresa, and conversation. The artists’ book will be displayed along with a companion book that includes the full manuscript of poems and documentation of the project. Ten percent of book sales will go to support humanitarian aid in Mendocino County. For more information: visit or email Felicia at

In Her Own Image

Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation, a work of biblical interpretation in comic book form by the cartoonist and illustrator Liana Finck, presents us with a female creator who is anything but supremely perfect. Visually, she’s adorable but unawesome. She wears the kind of crown that a little birthday girl gets to wear on her special day. But on these first very special days, she’s prone to feeling bad about herself. Instead she feels disappointment and an increasingly urgent desire to hide away. The words “And God saw that it was good” never appear in this version of Genesis. In other words, Finck’s God is an artist, which is to say a being plagued with self-doubt. That she’s a female artist makes her even more inclined to self-doubt.


Five and a half days into her project, she doesn’t see herself in any of her creations. Specifically, she doesn’t see any creatures capable of seeing her. She’d like a receptive being at the other end of all her work. Out of her loneliness, she creates a man, but then Finck dips into extra-biblical sources to have her create Lilith, a woman who isn’t about to let Adam name her or tell her what to do. Things start to get real interesting. If this sounds like thought-provoking fun, it is. The New York Times called it “An irreverent yet profound retelling of Genesis.” It won a National Jewish Book Award for 2022, and The New Yorker named it one of the best books of the year.

Nu Jewish Slang Words
from Liz Helenchild

Jewbilation n.  Pride in finding out one's favorite celebrity is Jewish.

Torahfied n.  Inability to remember one's lines when called to read from the Torah at one's Bar or Bat mitzvah.

Santashmanta n.  The explanation Jewish children get for why they celebrate Hanukkah while the rest of humanity celebrates Christmas.

Mazilation v.  Smashing a piece of matzo to bits while trying to butter it.

Bubbegum n.  Candy one's mother gives to her grandchildren that she never gave to her own children.

Chutzpappa n.  A father who wakes his wife at 4:00 a.m. so she can change the baby's diaper.

Deja Nu n.  Having the feeling you've seen the same  exasperated look on your mother's face but not knowing exactly when.

Disoriyenta n.  When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation with everyone she passes.

Goyfer n.  A Gentile messenger.

Hebort vb. To forget all the Hebrew one ever learned immediately after one's Bar Mitzvah

Jewdo n.  A traditional form of self defense based on  talking one's way out of a tight spot.

Mamatzah Balls n.  Matzo balls that are as good as mother  used to make.

Meinstein slang.  "My son, the genius."

Mischpochmarks n.  The assorted lipstick and make-up stains found on one's face and collar after kissing all one's aunts and  cousins at a reception.

Re-Shtetlelement n.  Moving from Brooklyn to Miami and finding all your old neighbors live in the same condo as you.

Rosh Hashanana n.  A rock 'n roll band from Brooklyn.

Yidentify vb.  To be able to determine ethnic origins of celebrities even though their names might be St. John, Curtis, Davis, or Taylor.

Minyanastics n.  Going to incredible lengths and troubles to find a tenth person to complete a minyan.

Feelawful n.  Indigestion from eating Israeli Street food. (Editors Note: This never happens, because as Rambam (1138–1204 CE), noted "Israeli falafel are nature's most perfect food" [פלאפל ישראלי הוא האוכל המושלם ביותר של הטבע])

Diskvellified vb.  To drop out of law school, med school or business school as seen through the eyes of parents, grandparents, and Uncle Sid. In extreme cases, simply choosing to major in art history when Irv's son, David, is majoring in biology, is sufficient grounds for diskvellification)

Jews In Space

An exhibit at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (JMM) ends in February: Jews In Space: Members Of The Tribe In Orbit.


“From their earliest use of lunar cycles as a calendrical guide to the activities of astronomers and scientists today, the Jewish people have held a consistent interest in extraterrestrial matters. As Jewish innovators continue to make pioneering contributions to space exploration to benefit all mankind, that outer expanse has influenced Jewish art, literature, and comedy.”


Fortunately, Milwaukee PBS produced a short video about the exhibit, which is available at

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MCJC Board Meeting

The MCJC board meets monthly. In February the meeting will take place on Zoom on Tuesday, the 14th , at 5:30 PM. If you wish to attend part of the meeting, please contact board member Susan Tubbesing at (707) 962-0565, or, and she will give you the address.

Newsletter Thank You

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We are very grateful to Steve and Kath Disney Nilson, and their avian helpers, for preparing the January Megillah for mailing. You too could perform this mitzvah! It takes only a couple of hours, but your sense of accomplishment lingers for days. Please contact Sarah Nathe at 962-0565 or

 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 can be use with adptive technolgies for those who may have be vision impaired It is posted on the MCJC website on the newsletter page

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


Any information on changes in mailing address, changes in email address, and changes in email notifications should be sent to Sarah Nathe at If you choose not to be a contributing member of MCJC, we request a $25 annual fee for the Megillah hardcopy or email.

Contributing Memberships

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 2023. We have memberships at Regular, Limited Income, and Family levels, as well as any level possible for you. 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 their name and mailing address.

Todah Rabah (Great Thanks) To The Following Donors

Ali Sabin and Nancy Drooker, Sharon Shapiro, Susan & Gary Levenson-Palmer,

Diana Corbin, Sam Waldman, Kevin Accurso, Myra Beals, Carolyn Metz, Bob Evans, Arleen Weisman, Diane Millen, Sharman Braff, Lisa Fredrickson, Susan Archuletta, Liz Helenchild, Lew Mermelstein, Laura Goldman & Dennak Murphy, Ronnie James, Les Reichek & Rima Lieben, Cecile Cutler, Tracy Salkowitz & Rick Edwards, Benna Kolinsky & Danny Mandelbaum, Roslyn & Bruce Moore, Leslie Gates, Rebecca Yaffe, Eric Labowitz & Kathy Bailey, Michelle Lucafo, Linda Jupiter, Kath Disney Nilson.

Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer in memory of Allison Bye Coutts.


Annett & Jonathan Lehan in memory of Bert Lehan.


Andrea Luna to the Bikkur Cholim Fund in honor of the Four Matriarchs: Donna Montag, Joan Katzeff,

Harriet Bye, and Mina Cohen for all their years on the MCJC board and their continuing work to sustain

Jewish Community; Koh ha Kavod!

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.

Please Support Our Underwriters

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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.


Karen Bowers Studio: Painting workshops and studio gallery. Website:  

Email:  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.


Out of this World: Telescopes, binoculars, & science toys. 45100 Main Street, Box 1010, Mendocino. 937-3335. Serving all your interplanetary needs since 1988.


​​Rainsong Shoes:  Shoes & accessories for men & women. Two locations: Mendocino and Healdsburg. , 937-1710 (shoes), 433-8058 (Healdsburg).


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: Website:


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:


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.

(MCJC underwriters increase their businesses’ visibility to over 300 subscribers and improve their presence on the web. $100/year.

MCJC Board and Contacts

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

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