The kids got a chance to pose with Rick Recht, one of the great Jewish musical performers today.
The Beth Emek community singing along with Rick Recht!
I particularly enjoy a storyteller style of concert. Rick told some stories and enjoyed great backing percussion from Kelly.
Some of Beth Emek's budding songleaders rockin' with Rick.
Here I am backing up Rick Recht on the mandolin.
Returning from delivering meals.
There we were driving around the Pacoima area thinking we were far from civilization when I spotted a Tommy Burger. There isn't a better burger made, anywhere!
I don't know why, but I seem to have some affinity for non-human species.
A bumpy way to a wonderful view. Max shows off our ride.
Well, at least those of us who made the trip. My mom, me, Max, Laura and my dad.
Not a bad place to spend an anniversary.
Yes, I really was working. That's me in my 'looking official' pose as I officiated at a family wedding.
I love climbing the Alpine Tower. This was on the way down. I went up on the swinging logs. I always seem to forget that it's a lot harder climbing than it looks from the ground, but I succeeded climbing relatively unscathed.
A Max Sandwich!
Shabbat at camp with the family. We're just missing one, but I'm sure he's not too far away.
Here's the team taking a short break to pose for photos as they transformed the Rabbi Laura Mobile into the Shabbat Special.
I especially like Sammi's creative license plate. If you look closely, you'll see that the registration is good through 2008.
Remember our amazing bus driver in Israel?! Here's the latest from Dror and his grandchildren. Are they adorable or what?
Wow! Two black belts in the family. I have to say, that black belt looks really good in the mirror. And major thanks to Laura for having mine embroidered with my name in Japanese lettering ready for presentation at the test.
Sensei Shaun Hansen, Me!, Sensei Saul & Sensei Sean Hardy.
I guess I don't look too bad after just completing 4+ hours of an extremely rigorous workout. I haven't been this nervous in many years.
We were honored to have Sensei Morgan participate in our belt test. He died at a tragically young age not long after. We will always remember his warmth and dedication.
Here I am at the 9/11 Observance playing the Harvey Leach 9/11 guitar... Thanks to the Cohen family for providing the perfect instrument for a powerful interfaith gathering.
I have really enjoyed meeting Carolyn. If the other Wente's are as warm and friendly as she is it fully explains why the family is a Livermore institution.
Rabbi Laura and Rev. Eric Meter hold their glasses as we offer blessing to this year's harvest.
I offered to supply an interfaith team to bless the harvest this year, and the Winegrower's Association was pleased to accept.
There is a great deal I love about Livermore, but certainly one of my favorites is the time I get to spend with my colleagues. Rev. Carol Cook, Rev. Eric Meter and, of course, my wife, Rabbi Laura. We have many friends in the interfaith community, but these are special friends.
I know, I don't drink much wine, but I love to bless it. And once in a while take a few sips. I have learned to appreciate good wine, and our local growers produce some wonderful wines. I'm proud of our local industry and they're a great group of people.
After a long day of picking up our Hurricane Relief Supplies, Danny the driver likes to relax by playing the blues, and I, of course, am more than happy to oblige. While music is universal, so is the sentiment of our collections. Danny is from Mississippi and was moved by the generosity of the Bay Area Jewish community.
This is the load after Beth Emek's collection was added. We housed supplies coming from the local community, Beth Torah in Fremont and Temple Israel in Stockton.
This is a portion of the supplies collected as they piled up in our hallway.
The key to a happy staff!
These vineyards are now owned by the Wente family. Carolyn is very friendly and she and her family are a great foundation to the Livermore community.
Yeah, I know, I'm really not a wine drinker, but I'm learning to tell good wine from not-so-good wine anyway. And it's not appropriate to bless the wine without tasting it. One sip is my normal limit.
I think this was the second year I was asked to bless the grape harvest. Let's hear it for local wines!
...and what would be a blessing for grapes without the grapes. Here they are in their natural habitat. These grapes will be made into Wente's Smith Bench Reserve Zinfandel. The Wente family named these vineyards, the Smith Bench Vineyards to commemorate Julius Paul Smith, one of the Smith brothers of Twenty Mule Team Borax who founded the Olivina vineyard in 1881.
Aaron, Samantha, Michelle and Aaron: The Vishamru Crew
From their recent reunion in Atlanta.
We have an awesome staff!
On an excursion from Camp Kadima, I can only imagine he saw the most enormous fish.
Saul is reading Torah next with his grandmother, Marsha Novak looking on.
We included in the service the customary passing of the Torah. One significant difference was that Saul received the Torah scroll that his great-grandfather purchased for their synagogue in Centralia, Illinois. When the synagogue closed its doors, the Torah scroll was returned to the Novak family, and we are the current caretakers of it.
We invited up Saul's four Grandparents for the Torah Passing: Mark and Marsha Novak and Deanne and Frank Winer. It was great to have them all with us. We wish we could have had more family and friends present, but camp's facilities are limited and we did not want to disrupt the normal camp schedule.
Saul helped led the service beautifully. He had wonderful poise and did a great job!
Rabbi Laura, Rabbi Rick, Saul and Stephane (our songleader) leading the service.
We were especially proud of Saul for leading a service with very little specific preparation. Because of the nature of this particular service we were unable to plan out all the details in advance. Saul did a wonderful job of adapting to the situation and taking things as they came.
We took Saul to the studio of Nancy Katz who is not only an amazing textile artist, but is equally as talented in helping others create their own original works of art. Here Saul is painting his tallit.
Nancy made our two newest Torah covers and perhaps more to come. If you want to create a one-of-a-kind tallit with her, you'll have to work fast, she's moving to Massachusetts this summer. We'll miss her.
Skylar is surrounded by her Beit Din.
Left to Right: Rachel Sisk, Rabbi Daniel Friedlander, Rabbi David Saperstein, Shelley Schweitzer, Skylar Cohen, Rabbi Richard Winer, Rabbi Marc Israel, Rabbi Laura Novak Winer and Rabbi Rachel Rembrandt.
You may notice the artwork in the background at the Jurassic Park Café.
Rabbi Rembrandt asks thought provoking questions as we all sit listening intently to Skylar's responses. What you don't see are the hundreds of Jewish teens surrounding us as they eat and shmooze sheltered from the pouring rain.
I'm so proud of what we've created at Beth Emek... especially this beautiful ark. With special thanks to David and Michelle.