Shorts: Bay Area

Oakland synagogues team for tashlich

During the High Holy Days this year, three Oakland synagogues will team up for a community tashlich ceremony. Members of Beth Jacob Congregation, Temple Beth Abraham and Temple Sinai invite one and all to join them at the creek in Oakland’s Dimond Park, 3860 Hanly Road, at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, for the ceremony.

Tashlich means “you will cast away,” referring to a custom dating from at least as early as the 14th century but probably much earlier. Jews gather on the first day of Rosh Hashanah at bodies of water to recite prayers and shake breadcrumbs, representing sins, out into the water.

This is the first time all three Oakland synagogues, representing the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform streams, have teamed up for the tashlich ceremony. Said Beth Jacob Rabbi Judah Dardik, “It’s absolutely the best way to start the new year.”

Screening urged for 4th Jewish disease

The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians’ Committee on Genetics handed a victory last week to families living with Jewish genetic diseases.

In the latest issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the committee recommended that people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent be offered carrier screening for familial dysautonomia. This brings to four the number of Jewish genetic diseases the commitee urges for screening as part of routine obstetric care. Others include Tay-Sachs, Canavan’s disease and cystic fibrosis. 

Familial dysautonomia is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily causes dysfunction of the autonomic and sensory nervous systems. One in 30 people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent is a carrier of the gene that causes the disease; if both parents are carriers, there is a 25 percent chance with each pregnancy that a child will have the disease.

For further information, contact the Dysautonomia Foundation at (212) 949-6644 or

Hadassah teaches Shabbat for kids

A new Hadassah Action Program, “Al Galgalim: Training Wheels,” introduces celebrating Shabbat and the Jewish holidays to families with children between the ages of 2 and 5. The program will be held in a hands-on and friendly environment. Each unit contains arts and crafts, music, a parenting discussion and Hadassah-related information.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, the class meets once a month for 10 months in the Palo Alto area and is for Hadassah members only. The cost is $100 a child.

For more information, contact Melinda at [email protected].

New E.B. cantor

Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek has hired a new cantor, Jennie Chabon, who officially joined the staff this summer. She comes to the Reform congregation after serving for two years as cantor of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, N.J.

Chabon replaces B’nai Tikvah’s long-serving cantor (now emeritus) Stephen Richards, who will join her on the bimah for High Holy Day services this year.

A Berkeley native who attended Congregation Beth El growing up, Chabon was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Columbia University and then spent two years studying in Israel. She has also worked as a counselor and program director at Berkeley’s Camp Kee Tov, where she met her husband, Steve.

Quartet takes first

Quartet San Francisco won first prize in the International Tango Competition sponsored by the Argentine Embassy in New York, American Airlines and El Presidente Hotel in Buenos Aires. The quartet was selected from more than 140 applications.

Quartet San Francisco just wrapped up a performance in a tango competition in Buenos Aires. It had been invited to perform after taking first place in New York.

Jeremy Cohen, a Jewish musician who created Quartet San Francisco four years ago, lives in the East Bay as do violinist Kayo Miki and violist Emily Onderdonk. The group’s cellist, Joel Cohen, Jeremy Cohen’s brother, lives in Framingham, Mass. The Cohens’ father was a cantor in the East Bay.

Chorus recruiting

HaShirim, a South Bay Jewish community chorale, seeks singers for the 2004-2005 season, which begins Monday, Sept. 13.

The group meets 7:30 p.m. Mondays at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

HaShirim (Hebrew for “the songs”), sings primarily Jewish music by contemporary composers in English and Hebrew, as well as Ladino and Yiddish. Participants need not audition, read music or belong to a synagogue.

For information, go to or call Harve Citrin, (650) 327-0829.