LOCATED IN THE BEAUTIFUL SIERRA FOOTHILLS, midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, we are a diverse, warm and welcoming community; a place where our members can develop close and lasting friendships. We embrace traditional and non-traditional families, singles, and both partners of interfaith marriages. While we are a Reform congregation, as the only Jewish place of worship in the region, our religious services reflect both traditional and contemporary modes of worship.
Our congregation is a place to pray and learn and draw close to God. It is a loving environment for celebrating and commemorating life’s special occasions. It is a place to call home. Please explore our website, and should you have any questions, feel free to call our office or send us an e-mail at email@example.com
FOR GENERATIONS JUDAISM has survived and thrived by way of individuals and families joining together in community. In the shtetles of Eastern Europe, in villages and cities across Northern Africa and Asia, on kibbutzim in Israel, and here, in the Foothills of the Sierra Mountains, the aromas, tunes, and traditions vary from place to place, yet there has always been a symbiotic relationship between Judaism and the local Jewish community. There is no Judaism without a community living it out; there is no Jewish community without Judaism providing focus, purpose, and meaning.
That meaning, of course, varies widely between different members of the same community. This is part of what makes community so interesting, so vibrant, and so frustrating. As the adage goes: Ask two Jews, you get three opinions!
While there is little or no dogma in Judaism, being Jewish comes with much responsibility, for oneself, one’s community, and the entire world. As it says in the Talmud, “All Jews are responsible, one for another.” Indeed, we are inter‐connected and inter‐dependent. In today’s global society, I would hope we would expand this realization to include a responsibility for all beings.
As the one synagogue in the area, B’nai Harim is built as a broad tent. We aspire for all to feel welcomed as they enter to learn and pray and nourished as they leave to serve and help heal this broken world. You do not need to know why you are coming, nor need to completely understand why you are resistant. However it may be that you define your Judaism right now—whether you are seeking the religious, the spiritual, the cultural, or the communal—we hope to be a home for you while creating a community with you.
It is a humbling task to serve as the rabbi for a congregation. I cannot promise to be everything to everybody, yet I am committed to being here for you and your family to the best of my ability, as a teacher, a guide, a spiritual friend. I could think of not greater honor than this.
RABBI SETH CASTLEMAN is the spiritual leader of our community. In addition to pulpit work, he has worked extensively as a chaplain and consultant in hospices, in prisons, and with communities recovering from disaster. Castleman was part of the recover efforts at Ground Zero of The World Trade Center beginning on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. Rabbi Castleman has published in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, primarily about the intersection of spiritual practice and social change. A long-time student of meditation, he has taught meditation retreats and classes in the US, Israel, and South Asia. Formerly the rabbi of Congregations Beth El and Ahavat Shalom, both in Traverse City, MI, he remains the Rabbi Emeritus of Ahavat Shalom. Rabbi Castleman’s other passions include storytelling and hiking. Castleman is married to Rev. Elizabeth Griswold, a UCC minister, making them perhaps the only rabbi-minister couple in the US. They live in Davis with their daughter, Lilah, whom they are raising Jewish.