300th anniversary of Baal Shem Tov to be celebrated

The Shabbaton begins at 7 p.m. Friday evening with a Kabbalat Shabbat at St. John's, 2727 College Ave. between Forest and Garber in Berkeley. Shabbat morning service begins at 10 a.m., Sept. 5, preceded by a half hour of silent meditation from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. at the Berkeley Hillel Foundation, 2736 Bancroft Way; a vegetarian lunch follows at 1 p.m. Admission is by donation, prior to Shabbat, of $36 to 50 (sliding scale) for non-members or $30 for members. U.C. Berkeley students and children accompanied by paying adults are admitted free. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Intrator will conduct a traditional havdallah service at 8 p.m. Saturday Sept. 5, kicking off an evening of Chassidic music, dancing and storytelling. Admission for this event only is $15 for the public, $10 for members, $5 for students and seniors.

A group of Chassidic and Orthodox rabbis, academics, radicals and mavericks will come together at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6 to reflect on the achievements and significance of the Ba'al Shem Tov.

Scholars and rabbis include:

*Matt Hoffman, a doctoral candidate at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, who specializes in Eastern European history and will comment on the social and political background of the Ba'al Shem Tov's era.

*Rabbi Yehuda Ferris of Berkeley Chabad.

*Rabbi Eliahu Klein, editor and translator of "Meetings with Remarkable Souls," a collection of stories in Yiddish about the Ba'al Shem Tov. Klein will speak on "The Path of Transformation."

*Rabbi Leah Novick, who has been developing stories about the saintly Jewish women. Novick will describe the lives of women who have been prominent in the Chassidic movement.

*Rabbi Burt Jacobson, founder of Kehilla Community Synagogue, will address "Abraham Joshua Heschel's Image of the Ba'al Shem Tov."

*Intrator will respond to comments, Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman of Congregation Beth Israel will host and Reuven Goldfarb of the Aquarian Minyan will be the moderator.

Sunday's event will take place at Beth Israel, 1630 Bancroft Way at the corner of Jefferson in Berkeley. Admission for this event only is by donation: $10 for the public and $5 for Beth Israel and Aquarian Minyan members.

For information, call Shari Kulanu at (510) 655-8530, or the event hotline at (510) 869-3510.