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New to Judaism

Introduction to Judaism Class

Interested in learning more about many facets of Judaism? Engaged or married to someone who is Jewish and want to learn more? This year-long course is weekly beginning in October each year!

Join our local rabbis for a year-long overview of the Jewish life-cycle, holidays, rituals, belief, history, calendar, and instruction in Hebrew reading. You will gain exposure to important Jewish books including the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. Each session includes thirty minutes of Hebrew instruction. Session are held via zoom.

Instructors include: Rabbi Berkenwald of Congregation Sinai, Rabbi Schwartz of Congregation Shir Hadash, Rabbi Alpert of Congregation Beth David, Rabbi Magat of Temple Emanu-El, and Rabbi Seid-Valencia of the APJCC.

To join this class click here. Fee is $180 per person and includes a basic Jewish library. Loaner books are available to help defray costs if needed.

Jewish Holiday Basics


  • Rosh HaShanah - Jewish New Year
  • Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement
  • Sukkot - Harvest Celebration


  • Hanukkah - Festival of Lights, celebrated with eating fried foods and lighting candles on a hanukkiah menorah
  • Tu B'Shevat - Birthday of Trees


  • Purim - Retelling of the Megillah (the story of Esther), celebrated with costumes, theater, and fun.
  • Passover - Retelling of the Exodus story with special foods such as matzah, songs, and traditions at seder dinners.


  • Tisha B'Av - a day of mourning and fasting for some observers, this day commemorates various tragedies such as the destruction of two temples.


Sometimes people ask "what should I wear?" when they are new to coming to a synagogue. In general on the West Coast people are much less likely to wear a suit to services and women do wear slacks. There is no formal dress code but people tend to avoid t-shirts and jeans. When people attend our events specifically aimed at families with young children their attire leans towards the more casual side of the spectrum. If you have an honor on the bimah it is considered respectful to have your shoulders fully covered.

For High Holy Day services such as Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, most people choose to "dress up" in clothing that they feel is nicer for these special festive services. This may mean a suit or nice slacks with formal shirt, or a formal dress with nice shoes. White is the traditional color for the holy days and on Yom Kippur it is traditional to avoid wearing leather. 

Helpful Resources

We encourage those interested in learning more about Judaism to consider taking our Intro to Judaism year-long course which is offered periodically and taught collaboratively with clergy from bay area synagogues.

Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyar 5784