Special Events at Ner Shalom


Holly Near in Concert

Benefiting COngregation Ner Shalom

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 – 8PM

Holly Near brings to the stage a unique combination of highly trained vocal power, delightful humor, poetic reflection and a lifetime of fearless activism. She will be accompanied by Cotati resident Jan Martinelli on piano. We are delighted to present this wonderful program of Songs and Stories.

Image by Irene Young.


Hidden & Revealed

A Night of Shavuot Study

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 – 6:30-11 PM

A night of joyous learning to honor Shavuot, our holiday of revelation. Come for a chunk of it or all of it. Or just for the cheesecake. Study will include text, movement, music, memory and meta-siddur. Teachers include Rabbi Meredith Cahn, Gesher Calmenson, Sally Churgel, Shoshana Fershtman, Reb Judith Goleman, Barbara Lesch McCaffry, Gale Kissin, Reb Irwin Keller, and Susie Stonefield Miller.


"Hidden and Revealed" Course offerings are listed below.

Hidden & Revealed

A Night of Shavuot Study

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 – 6:30-11 PM


6:30PM – Welcome and Cheesecake

Enjoy welcoming the holiday and each other with some singing and some good dairy treats.


7:00PM – Class Session I

Deep Structure

With Gesher Calmenson. Our teachers describe a set of structural relationships expressed by such diverse forms as the architecture of the Temple and the progression of the Prayer service. We will look at this “hidden” structure through the eclectic work of Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank, z’l,  a transitional modern teacher trained in Jewish orthodoxy, Zen, somatic therapy, and New Age consciousness.

Gesher Calmenson is a Jewish educator with background as a school director, Jewish family educator, and school improvement consultant. He was a director of Esalen Institute and the founder of Remember Us—The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project.  He has chaired the county Yom Hashoah commemoration since 2006.

Jewish Wisdom of Aging Revealed!

With Rabbi Meredith Cahn. We will delve into some ancient and more modern Jewish texts to uncover Jewish wisdom on aging: do we just become wise because we’re old, or do we have to put effort into it? What’s the difference between honoring our parents and respecting them? 

Rabbi Meredith Cahn led J School for more than 2 years, works as a chaplain at Kaiser Santa Rosa and Alta Bates/Summit Medical Center, is the rabbi of Spring Lake Village and a certified Wise Aging facilitator with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

Your True Self, Hidden and Revealed

With Reb Judith Goleman. According to Jewish Mysticism, each human being has inside us our true self, sparkling with sparks of holiness, Our truest self can be hidden under less conscious aspects of ourselves, family mishegass, cultural pressures. In this workshop we'll do some exercises to invite our sparks of holiness out of hiding.

Judith Goleman, MFT, RP, has a private practice in Individual and Couple Counseling in Sebastopol. In 2011 she was also ordained as a Rabbinic Chaplain in the Jewish Renewal movement.


8:15PM – Class Session II

Explore your Body’s Torah for a Personal Revelation

With Sally Churgel. Our early Chasidic teachers considered Shavuot an important time for silence, solitude and inner reflection. Rebbe Natan of Nemirov explains that this evening is an opportunity to find our way to God. Each new revelation we have is an etzah – a word of bold advice on how to break through the obstacles that we face in our lives. Come to this class if you would like an opportunity to understand and possibly break through an obstacle personal to you. This class will be a contemplative exploration.

Sally Churgel is Ner Shalom’s poet laureate, Yom Kippur yizkor leader, and a past president. She founded Call to Joy for those who yearn to live life fully and in a continuum of joy as the base note rather than a rare and random experience. Sally’s toolbox for teaching others how to access joy moments when in overwhelm, stress and imbalance includes: 20 years as a certified teacher of Integrated Awareness® (energy/body work); advanced classes in Internal Family Systems, Emotional Brain Training, Positive Neuropsychology, as well as Heartmath, Soul Collage creation, art therapy, numerous Jewish meditation retreats and the wisdom of cats and trees.

Hiding in Plain Sight: the Sacred Feminine in Judaism

With Shoshana Fershtman. If you love Judaism but have struggled with the strongly patriarchal tones of our tradition, you may be delighted to discover how deeply the Sacred Feminine is interwoven in our collective history. This workshop will be an opportunity to become acquainted with the most ancient expression of the Hebrew Goddess, and the forms that She has taken over the years in the mystical tradition of kabbalah. We may also reflect on archetypal figures such as Serach bat Asher and Lilith, and muse on their symbolic meanings.

C. Shoshana Fershtman, JD, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa, and in the analytic training program at the CG Jung Institute of San Francisco, and a core faculty member at the Depth Psychology Masters’ program at Sonoma State University. She has spent many years studying the Jewish mystical tradition and the re-emergence of the Sacred Feminine in Judaism. She is completing a book on reconnection with Judaism in the wake of collective trauma.

Irena Klepfisz: Bearing Witness, Illuminating the Hidden

With Barbara Lesch McCaffry. Irena Klepfisz, born in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941, survived in hiding, emigrated with her mother to Sweden in 1946, and then to the US in 1949. Her very accessible poetry and prose are influenced by her parents’ socialism, her Yiddish cultural heritage, and her perspective as a lesbian feminist. Poet Adrienne Rich wrote that Klepfisz's work explores the tension among “language, speechlessness, memory, politics, irony, compassion, hunger for what is lost, [and] hunger for a justice still to be made....”  Join us as we dip into a selection of her work that bears witness and illuminates the hidden. Savor and be strengthened by words that are especially relevant and revealing in these times of renewed struggle.

Barbara Lesch McCaffry has been exploring and untangling the work of contemporary feminist writers since her days as an undergraduate student and it remains a passion. She taught in Sonoma State's interdisciplinary program, the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, as well as in the Departments of English, American Multicultural Studies, Global Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Since 2000, she has been actively involved in Holocaust and genocide education and is the President of the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide. She has been a member of Ner Shalom since 1985.

Peeling the Onion: Exploring What is Hidden through Creativity

With Susie Stonefield Miller. What does your unconscious mind have to reveal to you? Explore your intuitive creative self and all it has to say. Note: this is a double-session. This will give you a couple hours of creative studio time.

Susie Stonefield Miller is an artist, teacher and certified Person-Centered Expressive Arts facilitator. She has an inspiring and sacred art-making studio at the back of Congregation Ner Shalom where she guides shy Inner Artists out into the light with art journaling and other expressive arts. This double-session will be held in the "Unfolding Your Creative Spirit" art studio.


9:30PM – Class Session III

Answering the Angels: Needing, Demanding and Receiving Torah

With Reb Irwin Keller. In Talmud, we read that the angels are deeply unhappy that the Holy One is giving Torah to humanity after keeping it hidden for 974 generations. Talmud responds in one way to the angelic objection. And many years later, the Chasidic Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev responds another way, exploring how our bodies and human lives obscure the natural Torah that our souls already know.

Reb Irwin Keller is the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Ner Shalom since 2008. His collected sermons and teachings can be explored on his blog, Itzik's Well

Hidden and Revealed: Jewish Liturgical and Yiddish Folksong Melody as Embedded in Modern American Music

Taught by Gale Kissin. Gale’s ongoing study of “all things Yiddish” has led her to the discovery of Yiddish and Jewish liturgical melodies embedded in modern American music. Gale often observes that music is her way to prayer; in this workshop she will share the “oh wow” experience of discovering Yiddish/Jewish music in some of our best known American classics. Participants can expect biographical anecdotes, historical context, singing and translation.

Gale Kissin, aka Gishe Reyzl, has been listening to and singing Yiddish music since before she was fluent in English.


10:30PM – Closing Circle