Congregation Ner Shalom

services and events

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Rosh Hashanah
Click Here to Reserve Your Spot for the High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah Evening
Wednesday, September 24
Apples & Honey at 6:30 PM, Service at 7
Led by Reb Irwin Keller, with Reb Shifrah Tobacman, Shoshana Fershtman and Friends
Music by Lorenzo Valensi, Atzilah Solot and the marvelous Ner Shalom Singers.

We welcome the new year with beautiful music and celebration.

Rosh Hashanah Morning
Thursday, September 25
9:30 AM - Morning Service Begins
9:45 AM ~ Children's Service (led by Reb Irwin, Susie Miller and Dafna Simon)
1:00 PM ~ Vegetarian Potluck Lunch
Led by Reb Irwin Keller, Atzilah Solot, Shoshana Fershtman, Reb Judith Goleman and More

We move deeper into the spirit of the Holy Days, exploring how to enrich our soil. The morning includes a Shofar Service as well as this year's installment of Storahtelling, a lively, participatory, theatrical presentation of the Torah reading. The morning service will conclude by approximately 1 PM. A Children's Service will take place at 9:45 AM in another room.

Rosh Hashanah Tashlich

Thursday, September 25 ~ 3:30 PM
At the Laguna behind the Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street
Led by Reb Irwin Keller and Rabbis Josh and Daria Jacobs-Velde
Free and open to all.

We join for the fourth year with the Sebastopol Jewish Community in this very affecting ritual, in which we let go of what holds us back by tossing seeds in the water. After Tashlich, Rabbi Josh will lead a Teshuvah Trailwalk through the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

Rosh Hashanah 2.0
Friday, September 26 ~ 10 AM
Free and open to all.
Led by Shoshana Fershtman, Jeff Hoffman, Reb Judith Goleman, Yael Raff Peskin and Sally Churgel

An intimate service to welcome the new year with chant, contemplation and mindfulness.

Yom Kippur
Click Here to Reserve Your Spot for the High Holy Days

Kol Nidre - Yom Kippur Evening

Friday, October 3 ~ 7 PM
Led by Reb Irwin Keller, Shoshana Fershtman, Rabbi Meredith Cahn and More
Music by Lorenzo Valensi, Atzilah Solot and the Ner Shalom Singers.

Our solemnest night of the year where we dig into the question of how to hold back from the impulse to act that so often gets us in hot water. How can we integrate our actions with thought, restraint, deep listening and the spaciousness to allow things to unfold? A night of soul-stirring prayer and beautiful music. We will be moved by the musical gifts of Lorenzo Valensi, Atzilah Solot, the Ner Shalom Singers and many soloists. Please bring photos or memorabilia of loved ones whose loss you will reflect on in Saturday's Yizkor Service. These will go on our Memorial Table. (Be sure to mark them as yours.)

Yom Kippur Morning
Saturday, October 4
9:30 AM - Morning Service Begins
9:45 AM ~ Children's Service
Led by Reb Irwin Keller and Many Friends

We move deeper into our work of teshuvah, finding the road back to our own selves, working to repair our hearts, our relationships and the world we share. The service will include Storahtelling, a lively, participatory presentation of the Torah Service. A Children's Service will take place at 9:45 AM in another room. The morning service will conclude by approximately 1 PM.

Yom Kippur Afternoon

Saturday, October 4 ~ 3:30 PM
Led by Reb Irwin Keller and Michael "Mac" McCaffry

We come back together for one of Ner Shalom's favorite new traditions, borrowed from Berkeley's Aquarian Minyan: the People's Torah. This is a very moving ritual in which attendees have the opportunity to hold the Torah scroll in their arms and speak from their hearts about what moves them in the moment. The People's Torah will be followed by an exploration of the Book of Jonah.

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service
Saturday, October 4 ~ 5:30 PM
Led by Sally Churgel
Free and open to all.

As we take stock on Yom Kippur, we become aware of those who have gone before us whose influence we still feel in our lives. Join us for memory, story and song. Please bring photos or memorabilia of loved ones whose loss you hope to reflect on, if you did not already bring those items and place them on the Memorial Table at Kol Nidre. (Be sure to mark them as yours.)

Yom Kippur Neilah Service
Saturday, October 4 ~ 6:30 PM; Potluck Break-the-Fast Follows
Led by Reb Irwin Keller and all our rabbinic and musical leadership

In our tradition, we imagine the Gates of Heaven closing at the end of Yom Kippur. The Neilah service is the time of the closing of the gates; our last communal opportunity to make amends, to achieve new resolve, to write our own intentions in the Book of Life. The service is followed at 7:30 PM by a short havdalah and a potluck vegetarian break-the-fast.


Welcoming Sukkot
Wednesday, October 8 ~ 7:00 PM
Led by Reb Irwin Keller, Shoshana Fershtman and Reb Mia Miriam Cohen

Join us in the Ner Shalom sukkah to welcome the holiday of harvest - our time of deep spiritual fruition - with song, spirit, a full harvest moon, and the traditional waving around of vegetable matter.

Messengers of Peace Chant Circle
Thursday, October 9 ~ 7:30 PM
Led by Atzilah Solot, with Lorenzo Valensi and Jeff Hoffman
In the Sukkah!

Join our weaving of voices, sound, and breath, connecting deeply inside ourselves, with each other. Chant on behalf of those in need of healing, to honor those who have passed on, to move through a difficult time, and to celebrate our lives. Many of the chants are in Hebrew... take advantage of this opportunity to chant in this powerful, ancient language. No child care is provided, but older kids are welcome to join the chanting. Suggested donation: $5-10; no one turned away for lack of funds.

Erev Shabbat with J School
Friday, October 10 ~ 5:30 PM
In the B'nai Israel Sukkah, 740 Western Avenue in Petaluma

The 6th and 7th graders of our school lead us in welcoming Shabbat, with some additional kibbitzing from Rabbi Ted, Rabbi Meredith, Reb Judith and Reb Irwin. Join us to enjoy the gifts of tomorrow's Jewish leaders!

Harvesting our Joy: A Community Shabbaton at Shone Farm
Friday, October 10 - Sunday, October 12
At Shone Farm, near Forestville
Offered by Zmanim (Seasons), a new nature-based program, cultivating Jewish community outdoors through the seasons.
Led by Rabbis Josh and Daria Jacobs-Velde and Yael Raff Peskin
Shabbat afternoon teachers also include Reb Irwin Keller and Reb Mia Miriam Cohen

Eat, pray, camp. This is a great opportunity to celebrate our harvest festival, learning from text and from the land, and sharing in the bounty of non-metaphorical gardens and orchards. Cost is $18-54 (sliding scale) per day. Come camp out in this community sukkah for one or two nights – or just come for the evening or afternoon! To register click here. For information, contact Yael Raff Peskin by email or at (707) 829-8341.

Simchat Torah: Dance the Torah Back to the Top
Wednesday, October 15 ~ 6 PM
Held jointly with the B'nai Israel Community at Ner Shalom
Led by Rabbi Ted Feldman and Reb Irwin Keller
With Special Musical Guests

Ner Shalomers, B'nai Israelites and their friends of all ages are invited to celebrate the completion of our annual Torah-reading cycle. Short ritual, some Torah hoopla, parading, peeking in the scroll, hearing end and beginning, and dancing dancing dancing. This event is free, wildly fun and a joyous opportunity to meet and mingle with the South-of-Penngrove Jewish set.

Save the Dates: November 15-16

Special Upcoming
and Ongoing!

High Holy Days 5775

The year 5775 is a shmitah year, a kind of extended Shabbat, where our ancient law was to let our fields lie fallow. Most of us today don’t own actual fields. So what is the Soul Lesson that the idea of shmitah give us?

In a world that values doing over being, what is the value of stillness, listening, awareness, patience? How bad would it be to give up trying to control it all? If we were to just stand back and allow it, how might we all grow and bear new, creative fruit ?

Join us for our beautiful, moving, and highly musical High Holy Days at Ner Shalom. Balancing tradition and innovation, our High Holy Day experience invites you to look at what makes you tick, discover what you need, and emerge with a renewed sense of possibility.

Reb Irwin Keller will lead services, along with many musicians, singers and brilliant congregational leaders. And once again we will feature the exciting art of Storahtelling as our theatrical strategy for reading and engaging in Torah. Find out more and reserve your spot by going to

Yiddish Tish
Wednesday, August 13

Taught by Reb Irwin

This monthly workshop explores the great Yiddish writers of Europe, Israel and North America. We read, translate and discuss poetry, short stories and other texts, both serious and comic. No previous Yiddish knowledge is required. We read and translate together, and discuss the literature seriously and humorously. This month we complete a beautiful story by Nobelist Isaac Bashevis Singer - if you weren't there last time we'll catch you up in a split second in a jiffy.


Beginning Yiddish
Tuesdays at 11 AM

Led by Gesher Calmenson
and Myra Siegel

This class, an outgrowth of our monthly Yiddish Tish, will help you learn to read and speak basic Yiddish, and gain greater access to Yiddish literature. 

Ner Shalom
Book Group
The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis
Sunday, February 15
1 PM

A compact saga of love, duty, family, and sacrifice from a rising star whose fiction is ''self-assured, elegant, perceptive . . . and unflinchingly honest'' (New York Times)

These incandescent pages give us one fraught, momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the settlements in the West Bank, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior, and the besieged couple escapes to Yalta, the faded Crimean resort of Kotler's youth. There, shockingly, Kotler comes face-to-face with the former friend whose denunciation sent him to the Gulag almost forty years earlier.

Loaner copies will be available at Ner Shalom after January 5. We read this book as part of the One Bay One Book program. Find out about other programs relating to this novel by clicking here.

Rainbow over Ner Shalom. Photo by Lorenzo Valensi.

Ongoing Stuff...

AppleCommunity School for Jewish Learning
Looking for a religious school for your kids? Our dynamic "J School" is a collaboration with B'nai Israel Jewish Center. Join our vibrant school and community. Read all about it by clicking here.

Ner Shalom Singers
The Ner Shalom Singers meet periodically to prepare pieces for special services and events. Lend us your voice! Just email Choir Manager Lorenzo Valensi!

Ner Shalom Book Group
Love to read? Join us to discuss a wide range of books containing Jewish themes or points of view. See calendar above for upcoming sessions and books! For information, contact Vicki.

Find us on Facebook
Join the Ner Shalom Facebook group to stay in better touch with your Ner Shalom friends.

Chesed Team
Help Ner Shalom community members in crisis. If you might ever be available for a hospital visit, or to deliver a meal, or make a phone call, or respond to some other need, let us put you on our Chesed Alert list. Just contact Vicki.

Silver Circle
Join the elders of our community to discuss hot issues and enjoy each other's company. For information, contact Vicki.

Many Meetings

Kavanah (Ritual) Committee:
Monday, October 13 - 9:30 AM
At Marvin's Restaurant in Cotati.

Next Ner Shalom Board Meeting:
Tuesday, October 7 - 6:30 PM
If you'd like to attend, email us. Just click here.

Ner Shalom: Strictly Scent-Free

We Like You Just the Way You Smell

Congregation Ner Shalom is dedicated to creating community and ritual space that is safe and accessible to all, including people with severe environmental sensitivity. It's easy to do once you know how:
  • Please don't wear cologne, perfume, or scented hair (or other) products when you come to Ner Shalom.
  • Pomegranate
    If you smoke, please take a few minutes to let the smoke from your last cigarette dissipated before entering the building.
  • As you settle into a scent-free, chem-free way of thinking, consider buying scent-free laundry detergent and fabric softener, so that you can hug everyone at shul, and everyone can hug you.
  • Tell your guests. They might be resistant at first. Looking nice for synagogue might, for them, include smelling nice. So please explain to them that being scented may seem small to them, but not to someone who may not be able to remain in the room at services because of it. Or just tell them we're sticklers (because we are).
We thank you for making our holy space safe for everyone.

Congregation Ner Shalom
A Reconstructionist Synagogue
of Sonoma & Marin Counties

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