Finding Shabbat When It Feels Like Shabbat is Nowhere to be Found

In a class I teach to engaged and recently married young couples, I talk about the importance of finding time to recharge, refresh and reconnect with one another. We discuss this not in the context of “date night,” but rather in the context of Shabbat. I like to point out that Shabbat is a state […]

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Two Faiths and Powerful Women

My daughter, Helen Rose Castaneda, wakes up one day at 10-and-a-half months old, pulls herself up in her crib and says “hola!” at the top of her lungs. “Hola, hola, hola!” This makes sense because Adrian and I speak to Helen mainly in Spanish at home. She says “hola” for an entire day and then […]

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Surviving Our First High Holy Days as Brand New Parents

I have always loved Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. They were among the few Jewish holidays I remember celebrating as a child, and I can still picture the Post-It notes my mom would put in the various dishes as she was setting up for Rosh Hashanah dinner to help her remember which kugel would go […]

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Dad hugging child

An Apology to My Child

Do we owe our kids an apology?

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The quiet of summer

Services and the Summertime Quiet

This past week, my family stumbled late into the pizza dinner before one of our local congregation’s children’s Shabbats. It was a rainy, surprisingly chilly Friday in June, and after a week of no school and being relatively cooped up at home, both children felt more than ready to get out of the house and […]

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Judaism and Shabbat: Discover and Return

You may have heard about a new program that we are starting up at InterfaithFamily/Bay Area called Meet Us at Synagogue (Shul)! The idea came from my experience with returning to Judaism after being disengaged for forty years. It was my chapter of wandering in the desert. One grand life experience pushed me to think […]

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The Real Menshes on Benches

I met two menshes on benches the Friday of Thanksgiving. You may now have the image of the Mensch on the Bench Hanukkah toy, but unlike this stuffed elf counterpart, these were true mensches. One of the rules for this toy is that a “true mensch is one who puts smiles on other peoples’ faces.” […]

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Creating Positive Community Memories

This year on Rosh Hashanah, our synagogue tried something new. All of the kids were invited onto the bima to witness the blowing of the shofar. It was amazing to watch the kids’ faces while the shofar sounded. My daughter even jumped back a little at the sound initially. It was a sight to behold […]

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Ask the Big Questions

When I was young, my sister taught me one of the most important things I needed to know about the High Holy Days: Always ask the big questions. As kids, we attended services with the adults since child-friendly services hadn’t been invented yet. It was long. Really long. Now I lead services and understand why […]

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Shabbat and Havdalah

Everything you wanted to know about the weekly celebration of Shabbat (and Havdalah) in one place.

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