On April 29, 2007 we dedicated our new synagogue on a hilltop overlooking Santa Rosa, California. Building our new home was truly a community effort. Members and friends contributed hundreds of hours of volunteer labor in planning, planting, building fences, cleaning, and moving.
In August, 2017 our dream of a new playground became a reality. Thanks to many generous donations, our children now have a safe, fun place to play.
Congregants occasionally enjoy a small gathering under the majestic oak in our Outdoor Chapel.
Shalom Hall Windows
“These are the obligations without measure, who’s reward, too, is without measure.”
WINDOW 1: HONOR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER
A father, a mother, and a child are a family, which looks at the world in a Jewish way. In a global age, we live in the whole world. We see the world for what it is and we honor our parents by honoring the traditions which sustained them.
WINDOW 2: PERFORM DEEDS OF LOVE AND KINDNESS
According to the Rabbis, the pomegranate contains 613 seeds. For this reason, it has become a symbol of Torah, which contains 613 laws. God gave us the Torah, but it takes our hands to shake out the mitzvot and to give them life and action in the world. This is the essence of the holy collaboration, which defines the relationship of the Jewish people to God.
WINDOW 3: ATTEND THE HOUSE OF STUDY DAILY
In the Yeshiva, it is traditional for the Rabbis who are in training there to engage in a type of head-to-head study, called pil pul, in which they sit across the table from each other trading interpretations of the same text. This process of imagination, introspection, confrontation and investigation is at the base of all Jewish learning. Note that the text on the page lists the ten obligations without measure.
WINDOW 4: WELCOME THE STRANGER
Welcoming the stranger is an action. It’s about grasping the idea of equality. It’s about touching other people; it’s about pulling people up. It’s about holding on to your own humanity by reaching out to those whose humanity is under assault.
WINDOW 5: VISIT THE SICK
There is hardly anything simpler than a flower, or anything more infinitely complex and beautiful. People need simple things, especially when they are feeling low and vulnerable, because people are also infinitely complex and beautiful.
WINDOW 6: REJOICE WITH THE BRIDE AND GROOM
God gives us the grape and we make the wine. With this wine we bless every occasion of our lives. With the bride and groom, we are commanded to raise our cups of wine and to tip them back.
WINDOW 7: CONSOLE THE BEREAVED
The ragged edge of torn cloth is a symbol of Jewish mourning; it depicts a distinct and razor sharp edge between life and the unknown.
WINDOW 8: PRAY WITH SINCERITY
Some things, which initially appear to be separated, might actually be connected, once you can see the entire picture. This tallit (prayer shawl) symbolizes Jewish worship, through which we, with kavanah (intention), seek to connect to the maker of the entire picture.
WINDOW 9: MAKE PEACE WHERE THERE IS STRIFE
The olive branch, heavy with fruit, symbolizes peace and plenty.
WINDOW 10: THE STUDY OF TORAH IS EQUAL TO THEM ALL
In this image, the viewer is looking up at the Torah, which is very clear and simple, compared with the delicately carved tool, which we use to read it with, the yad (which means “hand”). This yad points to us.
The upward-lifting sidelights to the Aron Hakodesh (the ark that holds the Torahs) depict the theme “It is a tree of life.”
The random array of Hebrew letters or Tohu V’vohu (primoridal chaos), represent the raw material of the universe billowing outward on the winds of creation.
On the left side, the Tohu V’vohu spell out the passage from Genesis 28:16; saying “…Surely the Lord is present, and I did not know it…”, from Jacob’s dream. The letters highlighted in gold leaf read “Tzeddek,” which means righteousness. On the right side, the Tohu V’vohu spell out part of Bereshit, the creation story. The Hebrew word “Ahava,” highlighted in gold leaf, means love.
Also in these sidelights are depicted Biblical fruits. Grapes and figs are a symbol of redemption, as it is said, “For they shall sit everyone under their grapevine or their fig, with no one to disturb their peace.” The almond tree, the first tree to flower in the spring here in Sonoma County, is the traditional symbol of the Tabernacle. These windows also depict native Sonoma County plants including the California poppy, the California live oak and native wild strawberries.
A pomegranate tree bearing eighteen pomegranates decorates the Aron Hakodesh doors in a setting of the Biblical Garden. Over the Aron Hakodesh, the stars align to spell the word Echad, meaning one, and reminding us of the oneness of God. The twelve “jewels” on either side of the ark represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
A Labor of Love, CST’s New Tzedakah Box Combines Art, Beauty and Charity
More than a year in the making, Shomrei Torah’s newly installed Tzedakah box is now accepting donations. The box was designed by CST member Linda Weiss in collaboration with Rabbi George Gittleman and Ben Benson. It was handcrafted by Weiss, a noted silversmith, and by cabinetmaker Greg Zall. The colored glasswork is by Dr. Charlie Catlett.
Our new Tzedakah box was conceived as a gift from the congregation to Rabbi George on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of his rabbinate–his “chai” year. The 18-inch tall box is made of natural cherry wood and depicts an olive branch on each side made of inlaid argentium sterling silver. In addition to symbolizing peace, the olive branches are a visual link to the nearby Heritage Cabinet, the bima furniture, and the signature olive tree on the patio just outside the building entrance. The colored glass panels on either side of the box, illuminated by interior LED bulbs, correlate to the twelve tribes of Israel. For more information about the box’s design, construction, and significance, click here. Next time you enter Shomrei Torah, please take a moment to admire this work of art, and consider making a donation, 100% of which will directly benefit those in need.
The Making of our Torah Mantles
AED (Automatic Emergency Defibrillator)
Located above the drinking fountain near the temple bathrooms. If someone is unconscious, having a heart attack or another medical emergency, call 911 first! But don’t be afraid to get the AED. It is simple to use: JUST TURN IT ON! It will tell you what to do. It literally can save a life, though we hope it never needs to be used.