Feast of Education offers full plate of Jewish learning

It begins with havdallah ceremonies to be held throughout the four counties of the Jewish Community Federation on Saturday, Feb. 10, and will culminate in a communitywide havdallah — the ceremony making the end of shabbat — to be held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Fourteen Lunch-and-Learn sessions with Bay Area Jewish scholars will take place in offices, synagogues and Jewish community centers. Five of these sessions are designated specifically for Jewish communal workers and are open to the public.

Participating scholars will be: David Biale, William Brinner, Rabbi Robert Daum, Stephen Dobbs, Rabbi Lavey Derby, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman, Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Rabbi Alan Lew, Rabbi Rona Shapiro, Sidney Mintz, Rabbi Stephen Pearce, Henry Schreibman, and Rabbi Martin Weiner.

The Bureau's Jewish Community Library is also offering "How Books Get Made: A Demonstration for Children and their Families" by author-illustrator Jane Breskin Zalben on Sunday, Feb. 11, as well as an evening for adults, "Mount Sinai to Zion: The Spiritual Heights of Judaism," a slide show and talk by Edwin Bernbaum, mountain climber and photographer.

The feast will culminate with a community-wide havdallah ceremony to be held at the band shell in Golden Gate Park at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17.

That will be followed by a sky show at the Morrison Planetarium. Local Jewish song leaders Gail Foorman, Ira Levy, and Jonathan Ferris will lead havdallah, and havdallah kits, created by the BJE staff, will be distributed at the end of the evening.

The kits will enable families to celebrate havdallah in their homes, and each will include a braided candle, spice box, an educational guide, and an audio cassette intended to help teach the blessings and songs.

Coordinated by Kerin Lieberman, the guide and cassette were produced by BJE staffers Howard Freedman, Vicky Kelman, Jonathan Schwartz and Brad Lakritz.

Funded by the Milton and Sophie Meyer Fund, this first-time San Francisco event is free. This family event requires reservations at (415) 751-6983, ext. 143, due to limited Planetarium seating.

The first feast, held in January of 1995, drew an enthusiastic response. According to Sandra Kurland, BJE president, this year's feast will reach out to an even larger audience.

"What I like most about this kind of event is that it allows all parts of the community to have fun together and at the same time have an educational experience," said Bob Sherman, BJE executive director.

"I believe that the community would benefit from more innovative opportunities of this kind."