Resilience, Hope and Recovery: Extraordinary Contributions and the People who Create Them

Sabbath Dinner Series at Congregation Beth Ami, 2018-2019

In the past year our community experienced a trauma unlike anything many of us had ever imagined: the loss of more than 5000 homes and 24 lives on the night of October 8 & 9, as fires ravaged the hillsides.

Recovery, on many levels, will take years. How do we move from the trauma to a glimmer of hope to a full recovery? How do the values of our faith and community provide shelter, offer hope, and sustain the long steps toward recovery? The devastating fires have opened our eyes to the work being done every day by members of our community who save lives, feed the hungry, protect the vulnerable, as well as bring laughter and beauty to lighten the load.

In this series, created by Congregation Beth Ami (CBA) members in collaboration with Adult Education at CBA, we explore how members of our community and the values that motivate them, have demonstrated resiliency, created hope and moved not only members of CBA, but the greater community, toward recovery. Are there ways in which Jewish values and experience bring compassion and leadership in recovery? Several of the Friday evening programs will consider how other communities at other times, have coped with disaster.

Join us the first Friday of every month, starting in August 2018, for Shabbat service, community dinner
(no charge) and a program featuring extraordinary contributions to resilience, hope and recovery and the
people in our community who make them. Shabbat is a time to be with family and friends, and this year we particularly are mindful of how the presence of a strong community offers survivors of any disasters stepping stones on the path to normalcy.

Join us for services (6:00pm) and dinner (6:30pm) with program to follow; invite your family and friends. There is no charge for dinner, but you must make a reservation.

October 5: Paul Lowenthal, Assistant Fire Marshall, Santa Rosa Fire Department

Join us on October 5 to honor Paul Lowenthal, Assistant Fire Marshall with Santa Rosa Fire Department. In the early morning hours of October 9, Paul was instrumental initiating evacuations in the Larkfield, Mark West and Fountaingrove areas, alerting the Chief Fire Marshall that the Tubbs Fire was here, in Santa Rosa, likely saving 100’s of lives. Paul’s focus was on getting others to safety, even as he knew his own home was lost in the fire. 

We’ll honor Paul for what he did that night, and what he does every day. Paul’s family and parents, Ira & Marlene Lowenthal, will join us, as will his sister (current Beth Ami Community Nursery School Director) Priscilla Lowell and her family. We’ll hear from members of Beth Ami whose homes were lost in the Tubbs Fire. Experience firsthand the value of community in creating hope and sustaining recovery. Introductions by Jerry Newman & Carol Swanson

This program is generously underwritten by a grant from the Jewish Community Federation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. 

October 05, 2018
6:00 PM
Congregation Beth Ami
4676 Mayette Avenue
Santa Rosa


Organized By: 
Congregation Beth Ami
Event Contact Person: 
Elizabeth Jarlsberg - Make sure to RSVP by Wednesday before.
September 7: Susan Cooper, Executive Director: Community Action Partnership
October 5: Paul Lowenthal, Assistant Fire Marshall, Santa Rosa Fire Department
November 2: Vanessa Johns, Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB)
The Redwood Empire Food Bank, Sonoma County’s largest hunger-relief organization, serves 82,000 individuals and families. Learn how the fires have affected REFB and about “Station 3990 emergency food distribution to all of our neighbors directly impacted by the fires” at mobile drive-through distribution sites throughout Sonoma County each week. Distributions are free and open to anyone affected by the Sonoma Complex Fire, including those who lost homes, employment or wages, access to previous food assistance, those who are sheltering others who lost homes, and those who experienced financial hardship following the fires due to loss of power and gas, access to work, or increased expenses as a result of the fires. No proof of income or identification needed.

Members of Congregation Beth Ami’s Social Action Committee volunteer regularly at Redwood Empire Food Bank. Jewish values at work in our community. Introduction by Lyla Nathan.
December 7: Roy Zajac, Concert with Principal Clarinetist of the Santa Rosa Symphony
The fires of last October raised many different emotions in our hearts. Music has always served as a means of expressing thoughts and feelings where words alone fail. The flames associated with the Chanukah menorah may well conjure up new associations for us, not least of which: the inner strength of our community. As part of our celebration of the Shabbat of Chanukah Roy Zajac will feature a piece by the composer Felix Mendelssohn, grandson of the once well-known Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. We hope you find comfort and inspiration in the experience. Introduction by Rabbi Miller
January 4: Jon Batzdorff: CPO, Founder & President of ProsthetiKa
ProsthetiKa helps improve the lives of physically disabled people who require artificial limbs and orthopedic braces. ProsthetiKa’s mission is to provide appropriate and sustainable assistance to disables people in developing countries. Jon regularly witnesses resiliency of people/communities in places like Haiti, Ukraine, Bolivia, Columbia and others around the world; Jon’s work provides individuals with the hope and the experience that he/she will again be an able and contributing member of community life. Introduction by Jerry Newman
February 1: Phyllis Rosenfield - Listening for a Change Oral History Projects of Fire Survivors
Following the devastating fires of October 2017, Listening for a Change was invited by the Museums of Sonoma County and the Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County (with funds from San Francisco Jewish Federation) to conduct video recorded oral history interviews of fire survivors. This is a logical project for Listening for a Change to undertake as the organization has been taking and teaching oral history interviewing since the original Sonoma County Survivor Project in 1991. Phyllis will share some of the most poignant stories and elucidate how telling one’s story is a vital component in the healing process. Introduction by Ellen Mundell.
March 1: Christyne Davidian: Armenian Genocide
Christyne Davidian is a third generation Armenian Genocide survivor. Her story describes how her relatives escaped death, how they managed to recover, and restart their lives in the United States. Introduction by Carol Swanson, Board member of the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Congregation Beth Ami.
April 5: Donna Waldman, Executive Director, Jewish Community Free Clinic
Drawing on Jewish traditions of Tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) we offer free health care services to anyone in need, without regard to religion. We offer an atmosphere of respect, empowerment and partnership with our patients, and strive to assist them in attaining full health and well-being. Introduction by Carolyn Metz.
May 3: Sarith Honigstein, Senior Director of Operations, IsraAID (US) Global Humanitarian Assistance, Inc.
IsraAID is a leading humanitarian non-governmental organization, committed to providing life-saving emergency relief and durable solutions for populations affected by natural disasters, epidemics and post-conflict situations. Since its inception in 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. Its medical teams, search & rescue units, trauma experts, community specialists and other professionals have led international responses in natural disasters and civil strife around the world. After the initial emergency period, IsraAID shifts to long-term programs, all to accompany communities and governments as they strive to build a better tomorrow. As of 2017, IsraAID has responded to crises in 42 countries and has on-going programs in 17 countries. IsraAID was here, working in Sonoma County on October 9. Introduction by Bob Raful.