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Shanah Tovah! Welcome to a brand New Year!

I hope I will see you on Yom Kippur this Friday and Saturday, September 29th and 30th. In the meantime, during these Days of Awe, I hope that you will take me up on my challenge from Rosh Hashanah to raise some sparks.

Here again is the challenge: In the coming week, stretch yourself to take action for good in some way. Raise a new spark each day. Document it (words, photo, etc.) and send it to us to post
HERE . We will gather and share all of these Or Shalom “sparks” in the coming week (you can ask that we post it without your name if you prefer) and hope that some of these actions become habits and regular practice beyond this season of transformation.

Some suggestions:

  • Give tzedakah
  • Call an elected official about an issue you care about
  • Have a caring conversation with someone you have grown apart from in the past year
  • Exercise or engage in a spiritual practice beyond your ordinary habits

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah – Blessings for a Sweet and Good New Year!
Rabbi Katie

Bonus Recommendation - raise a spark by attempting a constructive conversation with someone you disagree with politically! A wonderful model for how to do it well: Dylan Marron takes hateful conversations online and turns them into productive conversations offline in his podcast “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.” Here’s my favorite episode:

This past weekend, Eric and I rode in the Bike MS Waves to Wine ride to support Multiple Sclerosis research. Over two days, we rode 131 miles and our legs climbed more than 7,400 feet in elevation.
It was my fourth year and Eric's fifth. The ride was exhilarating, hard, gorgeous and fun. We pushed our bodies, but our training did pay off.
However, every year, we forget how emotional the ride can be. We support our dear friend who has MS and this time of year is always hard for her -- when her MS becomes front and center. There were lots of tears...
And then, there's the ask...asking friends and family for donations, which is a little awkward given the recent devastating natural disasters and tenuous political climate. (Actually, it's awkward every year)...
But, we humbly ask for support, and our friends and family donate. We are so blessed and very lucky.
Liz & Eric Isaacs

I made a donation to Heart to Heart International for Hurricane Maria relief in Puerto Rico. This is a new organization for me, which I researched on Charity Navigator.

I also donated to International Rescue Committee, which is working with the Rohingya in Bangladesh.

I sent in a commendation for an outstanding Muni operator - something I have never done in over four decades living in San Francisco!

Deborah Gavrin Frangquist

On Saturday Sept. 23, I attended and volunteered at the CALIFORNIA RENTER POWER 2017 Statewide Assembly. 400 people from around the state attended. I was inspired, mobilized, impressed by the thoughtful and militant organizing going on. They are engaged in a long struggle for HOUSING JUSTICE, which we in OS can learn about, support and participate in.

- Deborah Gerson


  • I walked by the ocean twice this week, and rode the bike twice.
  • I packed up a bag of non-perishable food with my children to give to the Or Shalom food drive.
  • I tore myself away from my work to read bedtime stories to my kids and walk with my husband
  • I wrote a letter to my city council members urging them to vote to make Pacifica a Sanctuary City.
  • I coordinated a million pieces for Yom Kippur services on behalf of my community
  • I contacted several people who have had recent losses
  • I had a friendly conversation with someone who has been making me very angry
  • I wrote and wrote and wrote words that I hope will inspire our community to have hope, try harder, and be better
  • I gave tzedakah

- Rabbi Katie Mizrahi

This past week I sang with the choir Singers of the Street (for homeless and previously homeless and their advocates), as I do each week; did my weekly shift at Project Open Hand; sent money to my prison pen pal after he was moved to a new prison; did a run for Foodrunners (we pick up leftover food and deliver to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters); wrote my MOCs asking that they keep fighting repeal and replace; and donated money to the SF-Marin Foodbank and the American Association of Kidney Patients.

Jody Reiss

I sent a thank you note to Senator John McCain on his website for committing to vote against the gutting of Obamacare.












- Margo Freistadt

My brother stopped communicating with me more than two years ago, ignoring my efforts to reach him (this had happened before, but never for so long). After months of feeling hurt, I’d erected my own wall, but had nevertheless been contemplating reaching out to him again for months, especially recently, as I read Alan Lew’s book about the High Holidays, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared. After listening to R. Katie on Rosh Hashanah, I knew I had to now, and later that day I wrote him a letter, which concluded with my telling him that I hoped to hear from him, but no matter what I wanted him to know that I loved him.

- Anonymous

Believing in the unparalleled power of breaking bread together to discover the magic and love in people I started a campaign #SAVEOURingAMERICA where I deliberately choose to eat at family-owned restaurants in neighborhoods that I have been blind to, specifically to open my eyes and ears to the people around me and share food with them. To post photos and stories and experiences we share using the #SAVEOURingAMERICA to increase patronage with the hope, when possible, to leave a tip equal to the cost of the meal that will then create a fund that will allow all people of the neighborhood to enjoy such a loving meal. I see this as a way of re-establishing the art and practice of true hospitality. It is one small way I see I can save our humanity while savoring some of that which makes us uniquely human.

This is one example from a lunch in the Tenderloin at Tadu Ethiopian Resturaunt with chef, server and hostess, Lily, from Mexico, who began working here 3 years ago when her friend taught her to cook this incredible food!


- Dawn Gross

After Rosh Hashanah services, I found myself thinking how strong and deep the Or Shalom community has grown in the past few years. I realized that another community I'm part of was not as strong or deep as I'd like it to be. So I emailed a friend, and suggested we set up informal conversations that could begin that process.

- Anonymous

I gave money through Global Giving to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico City, reconnected with a friend from college with whom I had been out of touch for two years, and reconnected with a young woman for whom I had been a mentor 25 years ago.

- Susan Levine

I got over my shock/anger at a new neighbor who wrote that my car would be towed if I didn't move it (from several inches into the red zone) and was able to write her a sincere apology which held out the possibility of our getting to know one another. 

- Laura Bresler

I faxed Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris urging them to allocate funds toward assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane.

- Wendy Thurm

I gave our extra fan to our elderly neighbors as the temperature heated up dangerously this afternoon. Apparently they didn't have one in the house.

- Margo Freistadt

A 98 year old man was standing outside his car waiting for AAA to come jump his car. I got it going for him instead.

- Aaron Roland

  • My parents are both aging and having a hard time - physically & emotionally. They have both been having an especially hard time over these past 2 weeks. My step father had been in & out of the hospital twice. He's weak and I can tell he's scared, though he'd never cop to it. My mother gets more frightened and more confused every day. It's so hard to witness and to be the sounding board for their rants and their raging against the inevitable. I love them both, dearly. I moved in with them two weeks ago. It's a temporary measure, a temporary fix; there are a million places I'd rather be and a million things I'd rather be doing (and should be doing, like working). But I know they need me and really there's no where else I could be.
  • I donated to hurricane relief funds in Texas & Puerto Rico.
  • I organized a lunch to raise money in support of the United Nations Relief Works agency's mental health programs for children in Gaza. We raised over $1500.

- Eliot Helman

Sun, November 18 2018 10 Kislev 5779