Video Seminar: Roots of Secular Humanistic Judaism

We will be watching a video on the Roots of Secular Humanistic Judaism and having a discussion. This is part of a seminar that Jamie is taking as her last class to become a Madrikha (leader in our movement). The speaker on the video is Rabbi Adam Chalom who is the Dean and professor of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism.
Who- members(free) or non-members($6)
When- Sunday, July 9,  10-1
Where- Jamie’s house 19663 Fremery Ct. Castro Valley 94546
What- video, discussion and bagels
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TVCJ Fourth Annual Book Review

Everybody loves some nice, relaxing summer reading… Here are recommendations from some of our members. You’ll find a book for just about every reading preference out there.

You can click on any title to be taken to an Amazon page to order that book.

Younger Readers
Robert – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Robert liked that [redacted – spoiler!] and that people die when you least expect it. He would recommend the whole series.

Evie – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
She liked that it was full of mystery and magic. She would recommend the whole series.

Joey – Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
This original play is a sequel story to the Harry Potter series. It tells the story of one of Harry’s children. It has some of the same qualities as the series. Joey and Colin both recommend it.

Colin -Rick Riordan, Blood of Olympus
This was a good finish to the Heroes of Olympus series. He recommends reading the whole series. Riordan creates fictional modern story around Greek mythology. It would be good for upper elementary to adult.

Alex – Chris D’Lacy, The Dark Wyng
This is the second book in the Erth Dragons series. Similar to Tolkien’s world, the setting has a history and the characters are very well-written. It is a good sequel to the first book. It would be good for middle-schoolers.

Isaac – Art Spiegelman, Maus
This is a graphic novel that tells the story of the Holocaust with cats and mice. It is a very good book.

Adult Readers
Emma – Lara Vapnyar, Still Here
This story is about four Russian immigrants who move to New York City. One of the characters creates an app that allows people to talk to their dead relatives. The app creates a debate about how to handle death and about online presence. Another theme of the book is being an immigrant.

Derek – David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
Trained under Alice Waters, Lebovitz moved to Paris 10 years ago and writes this book about his culture shock when his American food training clashes with his experiences in Paris.

Amy – John Lewis, March
This three book graphic novel tells Congressman John Lewis’s experience of the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in the inauguration of Barack Obama. It is a good reminder that changing laws isn’t enough to change society.

Jane – Frederik Bachman, A Man Called Ove
This story is about an older man whose wife passes away. The themes are people’s need to be connected to other people in their communities and finding one’s purpose in life.

Jane and Mitch –
Edward Rutherfurd, New York: The Novel; Paris: The Novel; London: The Novel
Each novel covers the story of the city, and then finds an early family to follow through the development of the town. For example, New York starts with the native peoples. Mitch enjoyed getting into the history of how the city developed.

Leah – Uval Noah Herari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
The book goes back to Neanderthals and other early human species. It adds human sociology and psychology to show the nuances of how we developed our social structures. For example, it discusses the changes that agriculture made for human life. It also goes into the roles of mythology, gossip, and government as a way to bring people together.

David – James Joyce, Ulysses
This challenging novel about a day in Dublin works on a lot of different levels. It is written in stream of consciousness, but then one chapter reads like an 1860s newspaper while other chapters are lyrical. Each chapter is written in a different style. It is a challenging but rewarding read.

Bret – Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
In this fictional novel, which is a bit like Groundhog Day, a character restarts his life each time he dies. He encounters people who are like him and discovers that the world is ending because of the actions of another like him.

Kelly – Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
This true story is written by an accomplished young neurosurgeon who finds out he has terminal lung cancer.  He describes the early part of his life and career and what it is like to be a neurosurgeon, and then finally deals with his cancer, coming to terms with how to handle the time he has left and how to make peace with his own death.

Scott – Gary Keller, The One Thing
This non-fiction book talks about prioritization, cutting through the clutter, and asking the right questions so we can focus what matters. A good quick read that helps for both work and home.

Judy – Claire North, Touch
This intriguing novels is narrated by a mysterious individual who body-hops.

Judy – Lorna Landvik, The Tall Pine Polka
This delightful story about small town people taught Judy the important lesson not to “write off” (so to speak) an author just because you don’t like his/her other works. A different book by that same author might be a great read!


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Art in Culture School

This Sunday our culture school students created art in the style of Marc Chagall. They learned about the Jewish folklore in his images.

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Lag B’Omer Picnic


Tri-Valley Cultural Jews will be hosting our annual Lag B’Omer picnic potluck on Saturday, May 13 from 10:30 – 12:30.  This event will take place at Athan Downs Park, which is at  2975 Montevideo Dr. in San Ramon.  Please bring:  a picnic dish to share, an outdoor toy (frisbee, ball, etc.), and be ready to participate in our fun and hilarious annual watermelon toss.

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Passover Seder


Tri-Valley Cultural Jews will hold our annual Community Potluck Seder on Saturday April 15, from 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm. The seder will take place at the Bothwell Arts Center, which is located at 2466 8th St. in Livermore. Our kid-friendly (but not kid-centered) haggadah is secular and progressive with lots of singing. After the hour-long ceremony, we will share a potluck dinner. Please call Leah at 650-223-9073 to let us know you are coming and what you’d like to bring for the potluck. Vegetarian dishes are encouraged but not required. Invite a friend, too! We need to hear from you by April 11 so we can be sure to have enough eggs, charoset, celery, and wine. The suggested donation for non-member adults is $20 (and you can apply this towards membership). Kids and members are free. We are participating in a book drive to benefit the Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Please bring new or gently used books for ages 4-9 to donate if you are able. Thank you!

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Tri-Valley Cultural Jews Purim Celebration


Tri-Valley Cultural Jews will be holding a secular Purim celebration on Sunday, March 12 from 10:30 – 12:30 at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore.  We will make hamantaschen, have crafts, games, and fun for all ages, and present our annual Purim skit.   Attendees are welcome to come dressed as their favorite Purim character.  This event is free for TVCJ members, and costs $10 for non-members (which can be applied to a membership if someone wishes to join).  The Bothwell Arts center is located at 2466 8th St. in Livermore.

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Our official statement on Syrian refugees

As Jews, we know all too well the suffering of war, oppression and hatred.  Our people have been refugees over and over, in every time and place.  We know what happens when refugees are refused admittance to safe countries, as happened to our people in the 1930s and 1940s, when xenophobia, fear and hatred denied European Jews safe haven.

Today’s refugees are Syrians, almost half a million of whom are displaced from their homes, terrorized by their own government, and victims of internecine hatred.  Thousands have been waiting in miserable refugee camps while they have been vetted for up to two years by the American government.  Those refugees have already been deemed safe to admit to America.

We call on the American government to admit Syrian refugees.  We call on the American people to welcome them.

Tri-Valley Cultural Jews.  Member community of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations.

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