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TIKKUN LEYL SHAVUOT 5780 | 2020 - Sparks of Light

A night of luminous learning on our holiday of revelation, sponsored by Congregation Ner Shalom and Congregation Shomrei Torah!

Thursday, May 28, 6:30 PM–12:30 AM

These evening classes will be held on Zoom.  There will be 2 separate links for the Ner Shalom Zoom Room and the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room which will be provided in your weekly chai-lites or by email request:

6:00 PM

Opening Ritual, Singing and Welcome

In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

6:30 PM


Dr. Shoshana Fershtman
On Erev Shavuot, the studying of the mystical texts is known as adorning the Shekhinah. What better way to adorn Her than to explore mystical texts about the immanent aspect of God, the Shekhinah? The workshop will include guided meditation and active imagination with the Indwelling Presence. In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

Dr. Shoshana Fershtman is a Jungian analyst and psychologist and serves on the spiritual leadership team at Ner Shalom. Her forthcoming book, Jungian and Jewish Mystical Perspectives on the Healing Journey, will be published next spring.

7:30 PM


Rabbi Stephanie Kramer
Midrash teaches us that Miriam packed faith with her when she left Egypt. Ruth changed her life (and the future of the Jewish community’s) by taking risks and making bold choices. For centuries Jewish women found strength and joy in the most challenging times of their lives. By reading their stories and exploring midrash, ancient and modern commentaries we will honor their legacy while being inspired by our female biblical ancestors.  In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.

Rabbi Stephanie Kramer is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shomrei Torah where she has served since July 2011. Rabbi Kramer was ordained from LA campus of Hebrew Union College in 2011. Rabbi Kramer is also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the prestigious Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem . Rabbi Kramer is passionate about Jewish continuity, building community, and creative worship. She particularly enjoys teaching people of all ages, both inside and outside the synagogue walls.


Dr. Rachel Friedman
While it may feel like we are living in unprecedented times, we know that humans have experienced significant infectious threats before, from Bubonic Plague to the 1918 flu epidemic. Using rabbinic sources and historical accounts, we will discuss how our rabbis and ancestors have attempted to answer questions that continue to be salient: what role should governments and religious institutions play in dictating behavior, and who can we turn to for trustworthy information? How far can and should individuals, and even physicians, go to save another’s life, when doing so may threaten their own? In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

Dr. Rachel Summer Claire Friedman is a family physician with Kaiser Permanente. She studied History of Medicine at Harvard and medicine at Yale, before moving to Santa Rosa in 2008. Rachel did a fellowship in Integrative Medicine, focusing on Food as Medicine, Ayurveda, and Mind-Body Medicine. Rachel is also a singer, and has directed Jewish a cappella groups and choirs across the country, most recently the Ner Shalom Singers. She tweets at @serendipidoc.

8:30 PM


Rinat Abastado
Psalm 67 is often used for counting the Omer since it has 49 words. It opens with a prayer that we might experience God’s grace and blessing and the light of God’s face – all words that bring to mind the priestly blessing of Torah. We will work together and in chevruta (study pairs) to look at these texts and dive into Torah’s waters, asking what are the light, blessing and grace that I need right now, and what gets in the way of my receiving them. In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

Rinat Abastado was born in Israel, where she earned a degree in physics and philosophy, and did political work. She then encountered Mizrahi feminism and moved to San Francisco to pursue a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies focusing on race and colonialism. She has a certificate in Waldorf education, works in high tech, and is the mother of two.


Rabbi George Gittleman
Fear is part of the human condition. For most of us the question is not “can I be free from fear” but rather “can I learn not to be overwhelmed by fear.” To that end we will explore two distinct approaches to fear through the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.

Rabbi George Gittleman has been the Spiritual leader of Congregation Shomrei Torah since 1996. Ordained from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi George is also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the prestigious Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and a graduate of the Rabbinic Leadership Program and Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Certification program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

9:30 PM


Rabbi Meredith Cahn
We are living in a time that fills us with uncertainty: who will live and who will die? Are we safe? Can we go out? What do we risk? When will it end? We will read from Jewish texts and teachers about Jewish approaches to dealing with uncertainty. Wandering in the wilderness, missing Moses, the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, and other texts may illuminate some of our tradition’s tools for dealing with our time. In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.

Rabbi Meredith Cahn spends most of her time as a chaplain serving interfaith senior communities at St. Paul’s Towers, a senior community in Oakland, and as rabbi/chaplain at Spring Lake Village. She has just joined  Congregation Kol HaEmek in Ukiah as its rabbi. You may have seen her as the former director of J School, and former intern at Congregation Shomrei Torah. Rabbi Cahn trained with the Mussar Institute in Mussar, and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in Wise Aging. She lives in Petaluma with her husband Sam, daughter Olya, two cats, and a dog, and is soon to be a grandmother.


Barbara Lesch McCaffry
The biblical figures of Miriam, Naomi and Ruth circle around issues of survival – their own and that of their people. For us now, issues of survival may also resonate. We will explore poems by Marge Piercy, Alicia Ostriker, Muriel Rukeyser, and others that bring these ancient stories into contemporary focus, and look at what guidance they may offer us in this time of pandemic. There will be space for our own creative responses to percolate and illuminate. People of all genders invited! In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

Barbara Lesch McCaffry, Ph.D, has been exploring and untangling the work of contemporary feminist writers and poets since her days as an undergraduate student and it remains a passion. She taught in Sonoma State's interdisciplinary program, the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, as well as in the Departments of English, American Multicultural Studies, Global Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Since 2000, she has also been actively involved in Holocaust and genocide education. She is currently the convener of Ner Shalom’s Beit Midrash: Lifelong Jewish Learning.

10:30 PM


Rabbi Cheryl Rosenstein
According to rabbinic tradition, the festival of Shavuot marks the anniversary of the Revelation at Mount Sinai – the moment in which we as a people affirmed our portion in the Divine Covenant through our acceptance of the Torah. But what is the significance of “revelation,” really?  Was it a onetime experience, or does “revelation” refer to other encounters with the Divine? In our exploration of Chapters 19 and 20 of the book of Exodus, we will examine the difference between the experience of the collective versus that of the individual, with an eye toward reflecting on our own recollections of – and connection to – Sinai. In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.

Rabbi Cheryl Rosenstein is Rabbi Emerita of Temple Beth El in Bakersfield. A product of Long Beach, California, she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received her ordination at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1990. Rabbi Rosenstein is a lifelong Reform Jew, a mother of two 20-something children, a lover of yoga, Mussar and dark chocolate, and the immediate past president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. After many years of service on the faculty of Camp Newman, she and her husband, Rick, relocated to her “happy place” in Santa Rosa in July of 2019, and are now members of Congregation Shomrei Torah.


Reb Irwin Keller
The Jewish mystics of medieval Germany, known as Chasidei Ashkenaz, used what is called Kavod Mysticism to hold the tension of God’s inherent unknowability and our instinctive yearning to see God’s face. The hymn called Shir HaKavod – “Song of Glory” – arising out of that community, slyly walks that line. In this session we will learn about Chasidei Ashkenaz and explore this rather glorious prayer-poem, or piyyut, still in use on Shabbat morning in synagogues around the world. And together we’ll let our own imaginings of the Divine run wild. In the Ner Shalom Zoom Room.

Reb Irwin Keller is the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Ner Shalom since 2008. His collected sermons and essays – including an ongoing weekly COVID journal – can be explored on his blog, "Itzik's Well," found at

11:30 PM

Harvesting the sparks, and closing ritual

In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.



Led by Rabbi George Gittleman
According to Jewish Tradition, we once knew how to pronounce God’s most personal name, YHWH, the Shem Hameforash, but lost this knowledge when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Over the centuries, our Sages developed a powerful mantra meditation with the letters YHWH, which we will explore as a close to our Tikkun. No previous knowledge or experience is necessary. In the Shomrei Torah Zoom Room.

Wed, May 12 2021 1 Sivan 5781