Bible by the Bay adds kids menu to program

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At this year’s Bible by the Bay, even the kids will be hitting the books.

Well, at least those old enough to read. 

For the first time, Bible by the Bay, presented by Berkeley-based Lehrhaus Judaica and the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, will offer a free children’s program for ages 4 to 10 that coincides with the adult sessions, which run from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Nov. 8.

The children’s program will include age-appropriate activities with biblical themes, such as an alef-bet nature walk, an “archaeological dig” in the JCC’s sandlot coupled with a discussion about history and Judaism, and a slew of art projects.

Kids can attend part of or the entire program. Parents and adult chaperones are invited to join for the afternoon or pop in at their convenience.

“We’re acknowledging how smart children are and how much they can accomplish,” said Debbie Tuttle, youth and family director for the JCC. “We recognized there was a growing desire for parents to parallel their learning with their kids.”

This year’s Bible by the Bay boasts two sessions — one replete with workshops that address modern interpretations of well-known biblical passages, and a second featuring a panel discussion, “From the Bible to Buddha: How Jews Have Fused the Teachings of the Bible With the Practices of Meditation.”

The discussion is presented in memory of Rabbi Alan Lew, the retired spiritual leader of San Francisco’s Congregation Beth Sholom who died unexpectedly this past January. Rabbi Dorothy Richman of Berkeley Hillel will serve as moderator.

Panel participants include: Rabbi Lavey Derby of Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon; Norman Fischer, poet, writer and Zen Buddhist priest and teacher; and Sheila Katz, professor of Middle East history and gender studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  

Slated to deliver the keynote speech is Maggie Anton, author of “Rashi’s Daughters,” a series of historical novels set in the household of the great medieval Jewish scholar Rashi. His daughters studied Talmud in a time when sacred texts were forbidden to women.

Anton also will lead a workshop on how to write a modern midrash using tips from writing “Rashi’s Daughters.”

Other workshops include Rachel Brodie’s “Just Food? The Route From Eden to Postville.” Brodie, the co-founder and executive director of Jewish Milestones, will focus on uses and implications of the term “kosher” and its contradictory impulses at the heart of the current debate about what is “fit” for a Jew to eat.

“The Torah of Reggae: The Intersection of Reggae Music and Judaism” will explore the biblical roots of Rastafarianism and how they are reflected in the lyrics of many reggae songs, especially those of Bob Marley. Rabbi George Gittleman from Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa will lead the workshop.

Bible by the Bay is supported by gifts and grants from Eda and Joseph Pell, the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, Inc., the Koret Foundation, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

Bible by the Bay will take place 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road in San Rafael. Cost is $15 for pre-registration, or $20 at the door. Pre-registration is encouraged and available online at www.lehrhaus.org. For more information, call (510) 845-6420.