Rami's been coming to our INCLUDE Special Needs Family Camp for years.  Rami has autism and he's non-verbal.  So everyone was pleasantly surprised to see that he had learned to use a keyboard to communicate.  Typing one letter at a time with a stick, Rami let us know what he wanted:


"I want Torah study this year that is challenging," he wrote. "Having some respect for our intelligence is critical for us to live good lives."


At our Family Camp, Rami did participate in Torah study. He used his keyboard to tell us that it was "a good discussion of the parasha (Torah portion)." 

In ten days we celebrate Shavuot, and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.  In Jewish tradition, we experience Shavuot as if we were there at Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah ourselves.  The sense of solidarity and peoplehood - surrounded by Jews, all of us bound together by this shared experience - can be profound. "We were all there together," we say, and "we are all here together."

But, who is "we?"

Our community is filled with Jews from all over the world and of every orientation and background.  Last night as I ate borscht with Jews from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, we discussed the Bar Mitzvah of a boy from an interfaith family. Today, I read a demographic study of American Jews, which reports that "we're not as white as we used to be."  At least 10% of American Jews are Jews of color. We are not as homogenous as we might have thought. 

Maybe we never were.   "WE" Jews have been diverse since Moses married Tziporah the Midianite.  She was there at Sinai. 

The intervening millennia have had their challenges and our response to those challenges has often been to turn inward.  In turning inward, some of us end up feeling left out.  That's why we have Family Camp - because without it, some families have felt excluded.

If we are to thrive as a people, that must change.

As we receive the Torah at Shavuot gatherings across our community, let us be mindful that NONE of us has the right to exclude ANY OF US. I'm grateful to Rami for reminding me that our inheritance belongs to us all.  When I close my eyes next week and imagine us all there at Sinai, Rami will be standing right next to me.


Chag Sameach!

David Waksberg, CEO
Jewish LearningWorks



As a wonderful year of dialogue comes to a close, 
we invite you to join us for an evening 
with the author himself!

An evening with David Bezmozgis
Oshman Family JCC

3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
7 P.M.  

Buy Tickets Here

David Bezmozgis
in conversation with Lori Starr 


Jewish Community Library
1885 Ellis Street, San Francisco 

7 P.M.

Event is Free

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is a difficult process. During this weekend, people with similar experiences get together to learn to live with their loss in a safe, beautiful and nurturing environment.

What to expect:

- Opportunities to talk with each other, family members, and friends about loss, death and grief.

- Discussion groups and workshops facilitated by grief specialists.

- Time for yourself while counselors care for your kids.

- Shabbat under the open sky and Jewish rituals for honoring and remembering those who have died.

- Wrap-up on Sunday with a healing service at Camp Newman.

Regain your strength with the love and support
of the Jewish community.

For more information or to register, visit our website

 or call 415.750.3436

Yoga and Wholeness 
with Julie Emden
Wednesdays | 12:30PM - 1:30PM
at the Peninsula JCC

Connect all levels of being - mind, body, heart and soul - 

in this gentle, grounding Iyengar-based yoga series rooted in Jewish mystical teachings. Enhance your practices for living in balance and wellness, both on and off the mat. No previous yoga experience necessary.

For more information and a listing of other Wellness offerings, visit Jewish Wellness at PJCC
To register, email 

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



Jewish LearningWorks


We extend Jewish learning by reaching more learners. By enhancing the quality, quantity, and diversity of educational offerings, informing diverse learners about educational opportunities that meet their needs, and helping educators and learners overcome barriers, such as learning styles, to create a more inclusive and welcoming learning community.



MAY 2015 / 5775
12:30PM - 1:30PM
in partnership with the
Peninsula JCC

Connect  mind, body, heart and spirit in this gentle, Iyengar-based yoga series rooted in Jewish mystical teachings.


Sunday, May 17

4:00PM - 6:00PM 
Film screening followed by a Q+A with the film-maker. Popcorn, hot dogs, door prizes.

Thursday, May 21      
7:00PM - 8:30PM
Book discussion of The Betrayers with Theda Firschein.

Saturday, May 23 -
Sunday, May 24 
6:00PM - 7:00AM
A night of learning bringing together people of all perspectives and affiliations. We will be led in study by teachers from our diverse Bay Area Jewish community.

Saturday, May 23 -
Sunday, May 24
8:00PM - 6:00AM
An extraordinary night of Jewish learning with activities for all ages! Come for an hour or stay all night! 

Tuesday, May 26
7:00PM - 8:30PM
A presentation by Kerri Steinberg.

Sunday, May 31
2:00PM - 3:00PM
Jewish Community Library
A collection of connected stories set on a fictional agricultural kibbutz in the late 1950s, offers revelatory glimpses into the members' secrets, longings, and dissatisfactions. 
Discussion facilitated by Jim Van Buskirk.

Sunday, May 31
6:30PM - 7:30PM
Davids on David panel discussion featuring Rabbi David Booth, David Waksberg, and David Milgram

Yoga & Jewish Wisdom Teacher Training

Tuesday, June 2
Thursday, June 4
11:00AM - 8:00PM
In Partnership with
Peninsula JCC
Hosted by Julie Emden,
this closed program is for certified yoga instructors. For information on the next training, email


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