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Petaluma's Inclusive Center for Jewish Life

This Shabbat is an opportunity

An Opportunity to Strengthen Our Community

This Shabbat, January 19, 2019, our Shabbat morning services will be held in abbreviated fashion at Walnut Park, corner of D Street and Petaluma Blvd, at 9:30 a.m. This unusual setting was chosen so we can be there to support the Petaluma Women's March, which begins at 11:00 a.m.

Back in the mid-1980's, I led the congregation I was serving at that time to begin offering women aliyot to the Torah, the honor of coming up to the open scroll and recite the blessings. It was controversial at the time, but we moved ahead with it in spite of the opposition from some segments of the congregation., It was the first step to fully integrating women into the ritual life of the congregation.

One Shabbat morning, shortly after women had been called up, a young man came in to services and began chatting with me. He knew we included women in the Torah reading and commented, "I don't understand why women should be called to the Torah, people should be called." "People"? Needless to say I was taken aback at that comment.

For me it has been an evolutionary process to be part of the changes the have happened, at least in my segment of the Jewish community. The struggle for women's rights in the synagogue ran parallel, in many ways, to what was occurring in our country. Here at BIJC, I am proud of our inclusiveness recognizing that we can always do more and do it in a different way.

Our participation on Saturday morning is part of a natural progression for our community to continue to be socially conscious and striving together for a setting in which all are respected for who they are. This Women's March portends to be reflective of the diversity that is Petaluma. The March's leaders includes Jews, Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ among the minorities representative. The March is meant to bring our community together to support women's rights and confront the chaos around these issues that runs rampant in our nation.

And, please note, that this March is not affiliated or identified with the national leaders who brought on the controversies of anti-Semitism during the original March in 2017.

I hope you will join us for services at 9:30 and for the activities that will begin at 11:00.


Rabbi Ted Feldman

Tue, July 23 2019 20 Tammuz 5779