One of the pleasures I experience in having the Jewish Community Library share its space with the Jewish Community High School of the Bay is watching as the students study biblical and Talmudic texts chevruta-style-in pairs and out loud. This is the preferred learning method in yeshivas for good reason: when we engage together to draw meaning from a text, we tend to arrive at something deeper than when we go it alone.

Jewish LearningWorks' One Bay One Book extends this embrace of collaborative learning, with its spirit of inquiry and interpretation, from sacred text to literature.

Now in its second year, the program connects readers throughout the Bay Area in conversation around a single book and its themes. Our inaugural year featured the award-winning short stories of Nathan Englander, and this year's selection is Dara Horn's suspenseful new novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, which is inspired by the biblical story of Joseph and includes subplots that feature the Cairo Genizah and Maimonides.

With more than forty organizations involved as community partners, the program has already reached hundreds of readers this year. And, regardless of whether you are affiliated with a participating institution, you can find upcoming discussions of A Guide to the Perplexed open to the public in seven Bay Area counties.

One gratifying dimension of the program is that Jewish LearningWorks provides a framework, but participants determine their own direction. For example, a book group at San Francisco's Congregation Beth Sholom decided to follow A Guide for the Perplexed with the nonfiction title Sisters of Sinai, which tells the story of the adventurous Scottish twins (featured as characters in Horn's novel) who helped lead Solomon Schechter to the riches of the Cairo Genizah. And, for its next meeting, the group will be studying portions of Maimonides' great philosophical work, A Guide to the Perplexed, which also figures prominently in Horn's novel. Engaging with literature, history, theology, and philosophy, this group is challenging most people's conception of what a book group can do.

Not that there is anything wrong with sticking to fiction. In the many years that the Jewish Community Library has run its Book Club in a Box program, which offers book groups free access to sets of a wide variety of Jewish-themed titles, I have become convinced that literary discussion can provide some of our most meaningful opportunities for Jewish engagement. And it can help us transcend barriers of ideology and religious belief that can sometimes divide us from each other, or keep us at a distance from some aspects of the Jewish experience.

One Bay One Book is one of many ways we can remain active Jewish learners as adults. This year's program will continue through May, culminating as Dara Horn joins us in Palo Alto (April 30) and San Francisco (May 1). Whether or not you have participated in a discussion of the novel, you can remain involved through related events and through our Facebook page or website, which features reflective essays from community members that we will continue to post periodically to keep the conversation going strong all year long.  

May the light of learning together brighten our winter.

Howard Freedman
Director, Jewish Community Library

  One Bay One Book
OBOB logo 13
A project of the Jewish Community Library  
Mark your calendar for  


Book discussion facilitated by Theda Firschein 
At Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto

Thursday, December 12, 10:30 am - 12 noon


A presentation by Ruth H. Sohn     

Jewish Community Library, San Francisco  

Thursday, December 12, 7:00 pm  


Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley

Book discussion with Rabbi Menachem Creditor 

Sunday, December 15, 10:30 am - 12 noon


A Guide for the Perplexed, by Dara Horn 

Sunday Morning Book Club

Congregation Beth Emek, Pleasanton

Sunday, December 15, 10:30 - 11:30 am, at Peet's Coffee in Pleasanton (5765 Valley Avenue)  

Are you in a book club? 
Consider making A Guide for the Perplexed one of your selections this year. To help, a limited number of book sets will be made available free of charge through the Jewish Community Library's Book Club in a Box lending program.For more books and for fall and winter events, visit the Library's catalog online and download the program guide.

Do the arts play a role in your classroom? Are the teachers and students in your school aware that text is not always verbal? Do the schools in our community harness the power of the arts by integrating them into their Jewish Studies curriculum and practice?

Jewish LearningWorks believes in the ability of the Arts to provide a gateway to inspired and joyful learning, a perspective for complex issues, and a pedagogical approach that fosters creative expression, critical thinking, and collaboration. In Jewish Education the arts create new ways to engage with and to understand text, values, history, culture and community.
By integrating the Arts in Jewish education, we seek to enrich and increase Jewish identity and Jewish knowledge for Bay Area learners of all ages.


The initiative is launched with a traveling exhibition, a headlining event, and needs assessment survey that will be coming to your inbox soon!


For more information, contact Arts and Culture Specialist, Vavi Toran at or 415.751.6983 x138.


Rhythms of the Jewish Calendar
Movement & Dance Workshop for Women
December 15, 2013  

Our Embodied Jewish Learning Initiative offers an innovative approach to studying Jewish wisdom, texts and practice that engages the learner with physical movement and awareness as the primary mode for entry into text study and text exploration.  


The workshop is the first in a new monthly dance workshop series presented in partnership with the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, in addition to our ongoing Yoga and Wholeness Classes, to open new doorways to connect with Jewish wisdom and practice.  


Join other women to explore Jewish mystical teachings through movement, music, free-style dance, art and writing to deepen your spiritual practice in community. The workshop opens with teachings related to the Jewish calendar, then focuses on gently guided movement and time for individual movement and dance explorations. Options for drawing, writing or resting to integrate the experience are provided. No previous experience with dance or Judaism is required. Registration strongly suggested.

To learn more and to register for this program, visit our event page.


This program is co-sponsored by Jewish LearningWorks and PJCC.


The Embodied Jewish Learning Initiative is a program of Jewish LearningWorks, with support from the Joan and Robert Sinton Philanthropic Fund, the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Barbara and Christopher Wilson, The Opaline Fund, and Paul and Sheri Robbins. 

Set your recording devices...
We're Going To Be On TV!


We're thrilled that INCLUDE will be featured on the TV show Mosaic on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 5 am on KPIX-Channel 5. Mosaic is a 30-minute program dedicated to showcasing the innovative Jewish programming happening throughout the Bay Area. Our Director of Special Needs Programs and Services, David Neufeld will be a guest on the show and will chat with the host Rabbi Eric Weiss, along with three other 2013 Slingshot awardees, about INCLUDE!


We - and the other Mosaic guests - were recognized by the Slingshot Fund as one of the 50  most inspirational and innovative nonprofits in Jewish life in North America.  

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December 2013 / Tevet 5774


Hebrew Storytelling

Sunday December 15 
11:00AM - 12:00PM

The program will include storytelling of The Heart-Shaped Leaf, fun movement activities, and an art project related to the story! 

The program is appropriate for children ages 2 - 6 and their families, and will be in the Hebrew language without translation.



 Rhythms of the Jewish Calendar

 Movement & Dance Workshop for Women

Sunday December 15 2013 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Peninsula Jewish Community Center

Join other women to explore Jewish mystical teachings through movement, music, free-style dance, art and writing to deepen your spiritual practice in community.The workshop opens with teachings related to the Jewish calendar, then focuses on gently guided movement explorations. Options for drawing, writing or resting to integrate the experience are provided.



Sunday December 15  
2:00PM - 3:30PM

Jim Van Buskirk facilitates a lively discussion at the Jewish Community Library. This season's titles relate to themes in Dara Horn's A Guide for the Perplexed, this year's One Bay One Book selection. Pick up your copy of the book at the Library or have it sent to a Pushcart branch at the Palo Alto or San Francisco JCC.


Thursday, December 19 

7:00PM - 9:00PM

Jewish Community Library

One of the few fiction films to be made by a Haredi filmmaker, director Rama Burshtein's award-winning work follows Shira, an 18-year old Hasidic woman living in Tel Aviv. Her excitement about her impending betrothal is brought to an end when Shira's sister dies unexpectedly in childbirth. When her family asks that she marry her sister's widowed husband instead, Shira is torn between her desires and her sense of duty.


Wednesday, January 15
5:00PM - 8:00PM
Peninsula Sinai Congregation

INCLUDE is partnering with  Peninsula Sinai Congregation on a sensory-friendly Tu B'Shevat Seder, which will include activities for all types of learners. A quiet room will be available for anyone who needs it, and dairy- and gluten-free options for food will be provided.


For more details, visit our 

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Is a loved one starting kindergarden, celebrating a birthday, anniversary, 

B'nai Mitzvah, graduation or other milestone? 


Honor them with a donation to Jewish LearningWorks 

in their name. 

Your donation of $36
provides a book and discussion guide for our Jewish Community Library's Book Club in a Box program.


Your donation of $50 teaches an educator how to ignite a passion for Israel in two preschoolers.


Your donation of $100 provides one hour of training for a Shalom Explorer parent leader. Our "scouting" program helps families seeking a weekend alternative to traditional Sunday school.


Your donation of $180 provides scholarship assistance for one child to attend special needs family camp.
Your donation of $500 
brings an innovative Jewish talk to parents while their children are in religious school.



Jewish learning is fundamental to Jewish life and community. Honor your friends and family simchas with a donation to Jewish LearningWorks and help us reach students of all ages and learning styles and the educators who teach them. 



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