JCC Newsletter – Beha’alotcha

Long before Larry Ellison founded Oracle, Steve Ballmer took over as CEO of Microsoft, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page created a little search engine called Google, a very different Member of the Tribe was making her imprint on the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest writ large. Closer to when German-Jewish émigré Levi Strauss started making his fortune in the schmata business during California’s Gold Rush, Ray Frank, the ‘Girl Rabbi of the Golden West’ began wowing crowds in B’nai Briths, Reform and Orthodox synagogues with her impressive oratory skills.

Although historians point to Hebrew Union College’s 1972 ordination of Sally Priesand as the watershed moment for women who sought to serve as spiritual leaders, the October 19, 1898 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle begs to differ with the headline “First Woman Rabbi – A California Girl to Be So Ordained”. This ‘latter day Deborah’ delivered the opening prayer and final benediction at the 1893 Jewish Women’s Congress, forerunner to today’s 180,000 strong National Council of Jewish Women.

Set in a similar time period and location, the 1979 classic ‘The Frisco Kid’, shares the story of Rabbi Avram Belinski, played by the inimitable Gene Wilder, who traverses the globe from Poland to the Pacific Ocean with his American cowboy companion, in the form of a young Harrison Ford. Avram’s journey was a familiar one for many Eastern European yeshiva students as late 19th century American Jews followed Horace Greeley’s advice to “go west and grow up with the country”, building up their fortunes and eventually synagogues. Finding nary a rabbi in sight, they sent to the old country for help.

The home of Rice-a-Roni has served as a gateway for more than just those seeking a pulpit. Today’s San Francisco Giants, who notably once played in the very Jewish sounding Candlestick Park, are led by Congregation Emanu-El’s Larry Baer in the front office and former Team Israel coach Gabe Kapler in the manager’s seat. Just a 15-minute walk from the Giants’ Oracle Park, you will find the home of the Golden State ‘Worriers’, to quote a 60 Minutes interview featuring the stereotypically neurotic owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob.

This Shabbat’s Bat Mitzvah of Emma Brownstein, whose NorCal* family have flown in for the occasion, represents a moment on which her spiritual forebear Ray Frank would doubtless shep naches. The native Seattleite, Chilean and sometimes Singaporean Bat Mitzvah is a proud daughter of Meguro-ku’s Higashigaoka who when asked to define her varying identities proudly stated instinctively 100% Jewish 100% Japanese 100% American. May I go a bit further to add 100% Gymnast and 100% Swallows Fan. Come join us to kvell this Shabbos. Mazal Tov!

*And Montanan, Floridian, Massachussetsian and New Yorker…


Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, June 9th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by Reservation: 7:00pm

Shabbat Parashat Beha’alotcha
Bat Mitzvah of Emma Brownstein
Saturday, June 10th
Services: 10:00am
Kiddush: 12:15pm

Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, June 16th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by Reservation: 7:00pm

Shabbat Parshat Shlach
Bar Mitzvah of Theo Daquin
Saturday, June 17th
Services: 10:00am
Kiddush: 12:15pm


JCJ Night at the Ballpark
Yakult Swallows vs Hanshin Tigers
Sunday, September 3rd 6:00pm
Jingu Stadium
Registration Details Forthcoming

If you have an idea for an event or a topic you would like to share with others, please visit our website. https://jccjapan.jp/event-committee-inquiry/


The JCC expresses our deepest condolences to Jenny Andreu on the loss of stepbrother Ryan Hitchcock in the Davenport, Iowa apartment building collapse. May the family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Wednesday night’s BBYO Planning Session sparked serious interest in connecting Japan’s Jewish teens with those across APAC including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Taipei. Do you have a teen who would like to participate? Send them our way! With some luck and planning, we hope to travel to an East Asian convocation in November.

The JCC (and newsletter) will be on summer intersession beginning June 19th.

Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Monthly meetings have been taking place for quite some time in-person at the JCJ. Please contact Jack at jack@cjki.org if you are interested. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club enjoys exploring Yiddish culture as well.

Shabbat Parshat Behaalotcha
Candle Lighting: 6:37pm
Havdala: 7:41pm