Shabbat Shalom: A Visit to Kehilla

Today was an especially sweet Shabbat, exactly when I needed it.

My dear friend Rabbi Robin Podolsky is visiting town, and we joined up to attend services at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Oakland this morning. Their website proclaims:

Kehilla is a community of social progressives and spiritual seekers:a  participatory, musical, celebratory and democratic congregation of all ages, identities and family constellations.

I have experienced them as a Renewal community that is serious about both social action and spiritual growth, and it was a treat to daven with them this morning. We didn’t quite have a minyan (a lot of the regulars were away at an event) but the prayer was nevertheless sweet and the Torah study led by Rabbi David Cooper was inspiring. Our welcome from all attendees was warm and very personal.

It was a particular pleasure to learn with Rabbi Cooper, since he was one of my first teachers of Torah, back when he was the proprietor of Afikomen bookstore in Berkeley. I was exploring Judaism, not yet ready to talk to a rabbi. He was just a bookstore guy, as far as I knew, and he had a knack for picking out good reading for me. Those books are still in my library; many of them have been lent again and again to other explorers.

At the simple kiddush meal following the service we chatted about lots of things, then Rabbi Cooper gave us a tour of the newly-decorated sanctuary and we chatted for a bit about the Pope’s new encyclical Laudato Si. Then I returned Robin to the home where she is staying and I returned home to a nice Shabbat shluff [nap.]

So, nu, how was your Shabbos?

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

11 thoughts on “Shabbat Shalom: A Visit to Kehilla”

  1. A post genuinely in the spirit of Shabbat! Thanks, Rabbi Ruth! My Shabbat started with service at Temple Emanu-El, in San Diego, conducted by our Rabbi Devorah, I continued to observe Shabbat with my family here, and through calls to my family in Sao Paulo. I spent part of this sunny day in contact with nature. I am feeling energized and ready to start the coming week. Thank you!

    1. Fabio, I had no idea that you are a member at Temple Emanu-El! Rabbi Devorah and I were ordained together. Please give her my best the next time you see her!

      I’m glad you had a great Shabbat too!

      1. The world is really small … 🙂 I will have a meeting with Rabbi Devorah this Wednesday and I will pass your wishes. Thanks so much!

        1. The Jewish world is very small indeed! I have learned that pretty nearly anywhere I go, I’m going to run into someone connected to someone I already know.

  2. Also a Shabbat shluff, for me….alas due to stress induced flare of diverticulitis(a difficult week….neighbour problems. One very disruptive one, who had visitors who decided to kick the door down….police, noise, me and cats scared silly…the letting agency puts one after another antisocial tenant there, in what is a block of older/family people, and it is difficult, to say the least) …vent over: I would love to know the names of the books Rabbi Cooper suggested – Im always on the lookout for good reads 🙂
    Morning sunshine from the Scottish east coast
    Alex, Spock and Data

  3. We haven’t quite gotten the hang of not doing any work on Shabbos–I’m a single parent who works full-time, so we kind of need a laundry day lol! But, I don’t schedule anything for Saturday so we do have the down-time, and the afternoon nap is wonderful for everyone. We usually go to services Friday night and our synagogue also has a Saturday night service, which is great.

    1. Anne, you are doing well with it, then! So many people take an “all or nothing” attitude about Shabbat, which all too often winds up being “nothing.” We do what we can at each stage of life. Is the Saturday night service at your synagogue a Havdalah service?

      1. Thank for the good words, Rabbi, it is a journey! ;^ Re Saturday, it is even better than that–we start with a study class with the rabbi that lasts about 45 mins; she usually has an excerpt from the Talmud that we read and discuss. Then maariv then mincha which ends with havdalah. Betw Rosh Hashannah and Passover, we add a seudah shlishit betw the services. It is really wonderful.

  4. Rabbi, on a different note: If you were not a minyan at the Shabbat service you mentioned, could you still get the Torah out? Is that because it’s a reform synagogue? If it were conservative, would that have been different? Thank you.

    1. We did not read from the Torah, nor did we say the Barechu blessings. Fortunately by the time we got to Kaddish, there were ten of us, so the people who came to say Kaddish were not disappointed.

      There are some congregations where they are a bit more lenient on the matter of a minyan. I cannot say from experience whether there are Conservative or Orthodox synagogues where they are lenient. However, in my experience very few communities advertise it.

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