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Petaluma's Inclusive Center for Jewish Life

Committed to our Community

Our sense of community is born of more than 155 years as a vibrant, multifaceted Jewish presence in Petaluma and its surrounding towns. Our Jewish Center at 740 Western Avenue has witnessed nearly 100 years of meetings, social gatherings, religious services and educational programs.  Meeting for religious services via Zoom for nearly two years brought our community together in new and unexpected ways. Members reached out to each other by phone to offer help and support. Our e-newsletter readership continues to grow. While we have resumed in-person services, we remain committed to offering the Zoom option to all who cannot attend or are uncomfortable attending in person. Please join our committed volunteers on the Food Pantry, Tikkun Olam Team (formerly Caring Committee), Ritual Committee and other opportunities for involvement.

Important Message from the B'nai Israel Jewish Center

The last 40 days have been some of the hardest we have ever lived through. We write to you as the leadership of the B’nai Israel Jewish Center with a message of unity at this difficult time. We all have been cycling through feelings of deep anger, sadness, fear, and confusion. Wherever we are on the political and spiritual observance spectrums, we have all been hurting. While respectful debate is a hallmark of Jewish culture, and our congregation, at this time we wish to speak with one unified voice as we speak up for:

- The immediate release of all of the hostages being held by Hamas

- Standing strongly and proudly with our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel who have endured thousands of missiles being fired from Gaza and Lebanon, in addition to the brutal massacre of 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians and including babies and the elderly, which started this war

- The removal of Hamas as a military and government power that can threaten Israelis, as well as the freeing of Palestinians from Hamas who use them as human shields

- The awareness of growing anti-Jewish hate and violence around the world

- The continued need for humanitarian aid and safety for Palestinians and Israelis impacted by this war, forced to relocate, and/or living in deep fear for their survival

At a time of darkness, we must respond with more light. As we see growing hate and fear, we need to respond with more education and outreach. At a time where it is hard to find hope, we must be the agents of “building a world of kindness” (Psalm 89:3). 

While there are no credible organized threats against Jewish organizations or individuals at this time, we remain in close contact with local and federal law enforcement, who have encouraged us to be vigilant and maintain our activities and gatherings. We continue to review our security procedures, and ensure that our members, children and guests are fully safe on our site - there is nothing more important to us. We have excellent relationships with and continue to receive support from the city council, police, local faith leaders and our neighbors. We personally feel completely safe in our building and out in the community at this time.  

There are a few things that we all can do at this difficult time:

Increase your involvement and attendance at B’nai Israel. It is so important to be together; as we face unknown waters, let us do so as an extended family. This is also a time to make sure that unaffiliated and under-involved Jews in the area know that we are here as an active Jewish Center providing cultural, educational, spiritual, and youth / family programs. I’m here as your rabbi to listen and provide emotional support at this difficult time. 

Understand that there are diverse political opinions in the community, and try to respond with curiosity to perspectives different from your own. The rabbis tell us that we were given two ears and one mouth to listen more than we speak. Perhaps this is a time for trying to understand before seeking to be understood. Where there is disagreement, let us not be disagreeable. We all are grieving, in our own ways, so let’s really lean into the human kindness that we show to each other. 

Don’t lose hope. We have survived 3,800 years as a people and there is always a way forward. Forces of terrorism want to leave us divided and scared and spark global wars between faiths and cultures. We will not let them win, and instead will respond with more dedication to peace, hope and unity. Let us draw strength from each other and never lose sight of our ultimate goals of peaceful coexistence, a better tomorrow, and a world of Oneness for all.   


Rabbi Shalom Bochner, President Jamie Bloom, and the Board of Directors of the B’nai Israel Jewish Center 

Celebrating our Community & our Center for Jewish Life


“I made a pledge on Oct. 7 to myself that I will not give up hope. I will magnify the hope. The Seder is our reminder of the potential to make it a better world.”

Published in The Press Democrat on April 22, 2024. 

To read the entire news article click the headline below.

                                                 "Passover brings renewed significance amid global turmoil, says local rabbi"




Read a heartwarming story about members Sid and Gerry Lipton who met at our Center in 1946.  Reprinted with the kind permission of Harlan Osborne of Petaluma Argus-Courier, November 10, 2022. Toolin' Around Town: Building a life together for 75 years.

Sun, June 23 2024 17 Sivan 5784