MORE interested in spirituality / LESS interested in organizations and institutions. LESS willing to follow instruction from rabbis and other authorities / MORE inclined to construct their own Jewish meaning, experiences, connections. 

(description of American Jews in the ground-breaking book, The Jew Within, and in subsequent studies)


The challenge for 21st century educators is to create authentic and high quality Jewish learning that accommodates the needs of the post-modern American Jew. It is a primary task for us here at Jewish LearningWorks.


Three years ago, we began to sow the seeds of educational practice to respond to that challenge.  We are seeing the fruits of that labor in a number of successful new educational ventures and partnerships:

  • Read last month's J Weekly cover story on how we partner with synagogues and schools to reach young families through new programs like Kesher and Shalom Explorers...
  • Our Special Needs program has evolved into a full-blown campaign to make our community more welcoming and inclusive for all learners - as Proverbs says, "teach each child according to their way..." click here for a window into this work...
  • Our Embodied Jewish Learning & Jewish Wellness initiative are helping educators and JCCs connect a new generation to Jewish learning using Yoga, dance and other non-traditional pedagogies. Read more here...
  • Through One Bay One Book, which involved more than 1,000 readers discussing the same book, and other outreach, the Jewish Community Library is connecting "the People of the Book" to Jewish literacy outside its walls...
  • Last month, in collaboration with the Oshman Family JCC, we hosted a re-imagined Feast of Jewish Learning. Formerly an adult learning event, Feast 2.0 added family components in addition to the incredible adult learning our community has come to know and love and I'm delighted to say, the day was enriched.  There were classes on Talmud, and classes on Jewish ethics. There were art exhibits and crafts projects. We had Yoga and Yiddish dancing. And for the kids, a puppet show, mime... we even had a bounce house. We also had sessions on fair access to food, gender identity and helping interfaith families thrive.
  • More families are taking advantage of our ever-growing Do-it-Yourself resources to "do Jewish" at home or with friends.

One size does not fit all, when it comes to Jewish life and learning; it never did. As J Weekly captured it - We Jews come in many shapes and sizes. "Do we say, 'Here's the square hole you have to fit into? Or do we want to create as many different shapes as there are pegs, so there's a place for everyone?"  


If you are reading this letter, it may mean that you've found your place. Or perhaps you feel that you are on the fringe and you seek a way in (Don't fret, even those who appear to be "in the center" often feel themselves on the fringe in some way. Spoiler alert: there is no "center" - rather, a network of individuals, families, groups, and institutions that comprise a diverse and evolving "Jewish people." The "center" can be wherever you happen to find yourself in that beautiful tapestry).


Through film, lecture, yoga, art, text study, literature, or a conversation over a cup of coffee, we hope one of our offerings strikes your fancy. And we remain hopeful that the work we do behind the scenes in schools and with institutions helps you and others connect to what you are looking for.


If it doesn't - please let us know. We're all ears.


David Waksberg

CEO, Jewish LearningWorks


When it came to creating a Jewish life for herself and her young daughter, Stephanie Bloom knew what she wanted. She just didn't know how to get there.
That's when she made a coffee date with Sarith Honigstein, family concierge for Kesher, a year-old program of S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks. It turned out to be the most significant nonfat decaf latté Bloom had ever ordered. 
  and contact: to get connected

All event held at the Library: 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco 
on the campus of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay

Rita Jahan Foruz

A documentary film by Ayal Goldberg
Discussion facilitated by Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar
Thursday, June 26, 7:00 P.M.

Israeli pop megastar Rita Jahan Foruz, known simply as Rita, immigrated to Israel from Iran when she was eight years old. In 2001 she records her first album in Farsi. 

2013, 75 minutes, in Hebrew, Farsi, and English with English subtitles


Co-presented by JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa)


What Animal Are You?

Tuesday, June 10, 7:00 P.M.
A documentary portrait of Etgar Keret by Gur Bentwich

Discussion facilitated by Donny Inbar


Etgar Keret is one of Israel's foremost contemporary writers. For this intimate documentary portrait, filmmaker Gur Bentwich accompanies his longtime friend on a whirlwind book tour to the Big Apple.


2013, 58 minutes, DVD, In English and Hebrew with English subtitles


Co-presented by Hadassah San Francisco Chapter and the Jewish Community High School of the Bay


All events at the Library are Free


Pictures from recent events at the Library

For more events, visit The Jewish Community Library
Shalom Explorer

For families looking for a new way to "do Jewish".

 Get your kids out and about while making new friends 

and learning values and traditions!  


Register Now for Fall


 For more info contact Aliya Fastman 

 or 510 292 9562 


Shalom Explorers is provided by Jewish LearningWorks, the Osher Marin JCC, Congregation Kol Shofar and Congregation Rodef Sholom and funded in part by the Covenant Foundation 

and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

June 2014 /



From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace

Thursday June 12
7:00PM - 8:30PM
Jewish Community Library
Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Using beautiful and complex Jewish texts on peacemaking, Rabbi Eilberg demonstrates how this Jewish wisdom applies to inter-religious, intra-communal and international conflict, as well as to conflict in our own lives.


When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa 
by Peter Godwin
Sunday June 15
2:00PM - 3:00PM
Jewish Community Library

As journalist Godwin records the collapse of his native Zimbabwe, he is confronted with his father's deathbed confession. The elder Godwin, who had always claimed to have been British, reveals himself to be a Polish Jew whose mother and sister were killed in Treblinka.


Jews, Food, and Family in Twentieth-Century San Francisco

Thursday June 19

7:00PM - 8:30PM

Jewish Community Library

Erica J. Peters

Prominent Jewish families known for their entertaining also contributed to the culinary history of the city. Peters has researched the local cookbooks of the twentieth century and will share some of her favorite recipes.  

with Jonathan Bayer
Sunday June 22, 2014 10:30AM - 12:00PM
Jewish Community Library

Get ready to sing loudly, dance uninhibitedly, and participate in interactive storytelling.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:00PM - 8:30PM
Jewish Community Library
A documentary film by Ayal Goldberg. Discussion facilitated by Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar, Professor of Persian Studies at UC Berkeley 
July 13 - July 14
Sonoma State University

From early morning till late each night, choose from 8-10 simultaneous sessions in any given hour-on topics ranging from Talmud to psychology, from film to Bible, from "Food, Wine and other Sensual Delights" to Peoplehood and Israeli politics.  Plus Camp Limmud for Children and Young Teens.

July 28 - August 03
Isabella Freedman 
Retreat Center
Engage in a weekend of physical practice and experiential learning. 
Torah study, Iyengar yoga, movement and community. 

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We engage a new generation in Jewish learning by understanding the unique needs of families, meeting them where they are, and offering diverse paths to community.



Rabbi Nathaniel Ezray has served at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City since 1995. Since that time, he has worked hard to create a community where an individual's personal story is honored, where their diversity is celebrated and where deep intergenerational connections are created. Always open to innovation, Rabbi Ezray was thrilled when he first learned about Kesher, a program from Jewish LearningWorks focussed on helping families connect to meaningful Jewish life in the Peninsula.


"There are a number of reasons that Kesher is important...people are so busy. For those who don't have backgrounds that connect them, or those who had experiences which disconnected them, [Kesher] helps by connecting families both to each other and to existing community."  


Read more in our Annual Report   

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