Beth Israel Congregation

10.01 review
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Pleasant Hill, California, USA
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"Coincidence is God's Way of Remaining Anonymous" - Albert Einstein

My recent visits to the old Jewish Communities in Belmonte and Tomar Portugal has gotten me thinking lately about my own religious observance. I've fallen off the grid over the last few years, mostly due to the negligence (in my opinion) of a few East Bay synagogues regarding my son's Jewish education. I figured that if he wasn't welcome there, I wasn't going to walk through their doors either.

But I really miss the Ruach Elohim (God's Spirit), and sensing that, Gayle has suggested that we try out a few places closer to our home in Pleasant Hill. And since my son now spends most of his time in Portland, it might be the right time for T'shuvah (repentance and return).

I was pondering all this last Sunday as I was on my walk from the Pearl District towards Nob Hill (via the Alphabet District). At one point, I noticed this stunning Byzantine-style building and decided to come over, take a look, and wander around the associated campus. I also paused to sit and have a good think. As it turns out I had arrived at Beth Israel, a Reform Synagogue founded in 1858, and before Oregon became a State.

My thoughts went all the way back to January 1979, when I first converted to Judaism in Houston Texas ( while I was a student at Texas A&M). The Conservative ceremony (including Mikvah and Bet Din) was held at United Orthodox Synagogue, but under sponsorship of Congregation Beth Yeshurun. Even 30 years later, I still remember that day and the mensch that made it all possible - Rabbi Moshe Cahana (Z"L). I still have the conversion papers with his signature, and fondly remember the classes, my conversations with him, and of course my "efforts" to extract that ritual drop of blood. And in the present day, maybe I've disappointed him.

And once home, I looked up Beth Israel on their website and paused when I noticed the name of the Senior Rabbi....Michael Cahana, his son.

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