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Exploring the World of Judaism Speaker Series

Join us on Sunday mornings - while our kids are in class - for an exciting mix of speakers and topics that span the range of the Jewish experience.  Attend all or "pick and choose."
No fee, no reservations, and plenty of bagels. Stop by for a nosh and knowledge!

Exploring the World of Judaism is a program of Temple Sinai and Jewish LearningWorks (formerly the Bureau of Jewish Education) and is supported in part by the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust in partnership with Jewish LearningWorks.  If you would like to receive weekly email reminders and descriptions of each talk, please send your name and email address to and specify TS/EWJ.    

All programs will take place on Sunday Mornings with refreshments at 9:15am, followed by sessions at 9:30 - 11:30am in Temple Sinai's Albers Chapel.


Rabbi Mates-MuchinShmita (Rest) and Me
with Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin 

Sunday, September 21

5775 is a sh'mita year. Sh'mita is the practice of allowing the land to lie fallow every seventh year as commanded in the Torah. As 21st century urbanites, we might wonder, "what does shmita have to do with me?" Explore shmita in our own lives and context and prepare for some soul searching and reflection...just in time for the High Holy Day season.

Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin is in her tenth year at Temple Sinai and is now the Acting Senior Rabbi. She takes particular pride in Sinai's dedication to learning, inclusivity, and social justice and feels blessed to be a part of such a dynamic and warm community. Rabbi Mates-Muchin has been active in the leadership of the East Bay Jewish life, currently serving as the president of the East Bay Council of Rabbis. She strongly believes in the importance of supporting and serving our greater community as well, and works with the Oakland Fire Department as a volunteer chaplain amongst other civic and interfaith involvement.

/uploadedImages/site/About_Us/Staff/Rabbi Yoni Regev TS.jpgShmita (Rest) and Social Justice: Community Obligations in a Shmita year
with Rabbi Yoni Regev

Sunday, September 28

In a shmita year, when the land was left to lay fallow, the small amount of food produced was reserved to feed the weak and the poor. On the seventh shmita year, the Jubilee marked the forgiveness of all debts and freedom for all indentured servants. Join Rabbi Regev to explore how we make shmita and social justice real in our own time.

Rabbi Yoni Regev was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He is a native Israeli who served in the IDF and moved to the US to pursue his undergraduate and professional education. Rabbi Regev has developed programs and worked on the staff of URJ camps Newman, Kutz, and OSRUI, and previously served communities in Ogden, Utah, and La Mirada, California. Rabbi Regev joined the clergy at Temple Sinai in Oakland in July, 2014.

Rabbi Kennard LipmanShmita as the heart of Torah
with Rabbi Kennard Lipman

Sunday, October 12

After eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam is told, ‘accursed is the soil because of you - you will eat from it painfully all the days of your life… you will eat bread by the sweat of your face’.  Why should expulsion from the Garden of Eden be accompanied by this curse? Dive into the heart of the Torah (literally, the middle – parshat Shemini) to explore the ultimate means of creating a sustainable and just society. 

Ordained in 2002 by HUC in LA, Rabbi Kennard Lipman, Ph.D., served in several pulpits before becoming the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Santa Maria, CA. He is a lecturer in the Dept. of Humanities at San Jose State University, having earned his Ph.D. in Far Eastern Studies. Ken taught in, and was Program Director of, the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.  He is the author of Kingdoms of Experience: The Four Worlds of Kabbalah as Prayer and Meditation, as well as many books and articles on Tibetan Buddhism.


Rabbi Andrea BerlinWisdom and Ritual in Aging
Connecting Jewish Teachings to Milestones with Rabbi Andrea Berlin

Sunday, November 2

Early in life, we have the opportunity to move from one Jewish ritual to another.  We are named, become Bar or Bat Mitzvah, get confirmed, graduate religious school.  Perhaps we then have a wedding, start a family and go through the naming of our children.  And then?  We certainly experience milestones.  But are they marked?  The Reform and Reconstructionist movements, drawing on text and traditional ritual liturgy, have gifted us with ways to highlight the Divine in these moments – ways to connect to the universal experience of aging . Join Rabbi Berlin for a conversation about what our scriptures and rabbinic sources teach us about aging, and how we can incorporate this wisdom into modern ritual.

Rabbi Andrea (Andi) Berlin is principal at Berlin Consulting, LLC, which specializes in negotiation, high stakes decision-making, conflict facilitation and transition management.  She served Temple Sinai in Oakland as a pulpit rabbi for 13 years where she remains a committed member.  She continues to lecture around the SF Bay Area on topics including conflict as a source of growth, the history of the Reform movement, Jewish gratitude, Shabbat, Jewish liturgy, and the Jewish response to special needs.  She also serves as a scholar-in-residence across North America.

Ayelet WaldmanFinding the Gold Train
The startling historical discoveries that inspired her new novel Love and Treasure 
with author, Ayelet Waldman

Sunday, November 9

Love and Treasure
, Ayelet Waldman’s new novel, chronicles the true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in World War II.  Lost love, stolen jewelry and intertwined lives merge in this gripping novel.  Join Ayelet for a riveting account of the spark that inspired her exploration of the Gold Train and what she discovered once she began her research.  

Ayelet Waldman is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was adapted into a film called The Other Woman starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on All Things Considered and The California Report.