Archived Q&A and Reviews
Website for Netivot Shalom: http://www.netivotshalom.org/
See also: Netivot Shalom Preschool
Re: Do I need to join a temple to get into preschool?
Check out Congregation Netivot Shalom on University Ave. It's Conservative, some members are close to orthodox in practice (but need the egalitarian aspect of CNS), some are pretty secular. Lots of people in the community have converted to Judaism, which I find unusual and refreshing in a congregation that is traditional on the prayer front. Participatory, i.e., Rabbi doesn't run services, members do. VERY concentrated on adult education, lots of programs at all levels - it's one of the defining characteristics of the community. So it could be a place that your husband may feel more comfortable in than others. (We were an intermarried couple of 15 years b/4 I converted, so I've had my experiences in being welcomed or not in various communities and this is the best.)
Check out their ''Shabbat b'Yachad'' program (preschool & younger) - it meets twice a month Saturday mornings, and is a really beautiful thing. You can drop in, and it's free although I think they like you to donate if you go regularly. You can get a sense if this seems the right community for you. It's great to join when your kids are small - best way to bond with the community. Their other family programs have varied over the years, but we loved the ones we did when our kids were younger. Families who come in when their kids are older have a bit of a tougher time integrating, I think.
As kids get older, Hebrew School is twice a week (Tuesday/Thursday). Most families seem to choose a Hebrew School that meets only once a week - but with my husbands Conservative background (kosher etc) he was never comfortable either with Beth El (reform) or Kehila in Piedmont (I find it too groovy for my taste and anyway, it's really far away). Feel free to contact me if you want more info. As you can tell, I love CNS. Meghan
Netivot Shalom is a diverse, accepting, participatory community. Our community includes same sex families, inter-married families, single parent families, and singles of both young and older age brackets. Netivot has by far THE best learning opportunities and shabbat programmming for both adults and children (ages 0-13). I have been a member for 10 years. Netivot is a vibrant, diverse and truly spiritual Berkeley Jewish community. Visit us in our new building at 1316 University Ave (2 blocks below Sacramento) or on the web at http://netivotshalom.org/ We also have a new dynamic Rabbi who you will definitely want to meet! chalyn
Welcome to the East Bay! You would be and would feel very welcome at Congregation Netivot Shalom, a progressive, egalitarian, participatory, and inclusive community. It is located in central Berkeley and there is a large number of members from Oakland (as well as from San Francisco, Marin County, central Contra Costa County, and the Peninsula). I think our distinguishing characteristic is the extent of member participation in all aspects of synagogue life, from prayer services to social action to youth education and beyond. I know a number of interfaith and LGBT families at Netivot, and the congregation is actively involved in efforts to include these families. We are part of Project Welcome, an outreach program to welcome interfaith families and LGBT into synagogues. Netivot has also been a leader in the successful movement to allow ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis in the Conservative Movement, and our rabbi co-founded an association of LGBT-Friendly Rabbis.
I would venture that we hold diverse opinions on matters of belief and politics, although somewhat to the left of the national average. Netivot is affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, but you might find it closer to your expectations of a Reform synagogue than to a typical East Coast Conservative synagogue.
I hope you will visit Netivot and see if it is right for you and your family. If you have children, please check out one of our nationally recognized programs for children (call ahead for the schedule: 510-549-9447 ext. 101). I would also be happy to talk to you personally. Shana Tova! David
We have been members of Netivot Shalom in Berkeley for several years and really like the community. We are not an interfaith family, but I converted several years ago, and we also have a 2-yr-old daughter. Netivot is a Conservative congregation, but very opening and welcoming to interfaith families and families of all types. It is also egalitarian and very participatory. We have a wonderful ''tot shabbat'' the second and fourth Saturday of every month from 11am to noon. Perhaps this might be the best way for you and your daughter to check out the synagogue. We would be happy to meet you and show you around if you're interested in coming. Please feel free to contact me at kara-at-vuicich-dot-com. The synagogue is on University Ave., just west of Bonar. We also have some great adult ed classes. Kara
I'd recommend Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, at 1316 University Ave. Netivot Shalom is part of the Tiferet Project, a program which works on welcoming intermarried families into synogogues (the other synogogues in the project are all local--Beth Abraham in Oakland, Beth Shalom in San Leandro, and B'nai Shalom in Walnut Creek). There are plenty of kids activities (especially for preschoolers), and a strong adult education program.
With a 2 year old daughter, I'd recommend starting by coming to the Shabbat B'Yachad program, a Shabbat morning service for preschoolers and their parents, held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month at 11am. Elizabeth
I belong to Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. It is not a Reconstructionist congregation, but there is a strong Reconstructionist presence, and I know some members are involved in a Reconstructionist Havurah. I've also recently received an email about a new Reconstructionist Havurah in Berkeley, Or Zarua (perhaps the same group). The email said that the group ''includes 22 children - all of whom are in Jewish day schools or other supplementary schools -- and two Reconstructionist rabbis. The congregation provides monthly prayer services and other activities, and they hope to grow in the years ahead.'' The only contact information I have for them is the Director of Outreach & External Affiliations for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Rabbi Shawn Zevit. His email address is SZevit[AT]jrf.org Elizabeth
You might also want to consider Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. Although you may be somewhat intimidated by the fact that it is a Conservative (middle of the road practice-wise with the service in Hebrew) congregation, the other issues that seem to be of concern to you might be well addressed there. The dress is ''Berkeley Casual'', and it's pretty much impossible to tell who has money and who does not. The level of practice of the congregants varies widely. The congregation is medium sized, and lots of the congretants are Jews by Choice and Jews who are returning to a spiritual path or beginning to practice. A number of the congregants are academics, and although many are political, people seem to come to services more for religious observance and a sense of community, with political activities mostly addressed in seperate context (not always, though....it is Berkeley, after all.) The Rabbi, Stuart Kelman, has offered frequent ''beginners'' classes, and makes a special point of helping people get their bearings in what for many is a new environment. My husband, who speaks no Hebrew, seems to enjoy services there. It's also extremely family friendly, with ''tot Shabbat'' services for young children and their parents. It might be worth a Saturday morning.
The congregation is moving from rented space at the Berkeley JCC to a new home on University avenue. Good luck finding the right spot to join---and don't give up, sometimes it takes a while to feel ''at home'', wherever you choose to be!
This is in reply to both messages about synagogues. First, I'd suggest checking out Netivot Shalom, which meets at the Berkley Jewish Community Center. http://www.netivotshalom.org/
It's a nice congregation and definitely a place you might meet other people whose parents were hippie atheists or who have graduate degrees in philosophy, or possibly both together. It's very ''Berkeleyish'' and easy going-- not as political as Kehillah and not as upscale in the financial sense as Temple Sinai.