Holidays, Celebrations, and Commemorations

Holidays celebrated at Sha’ar Zahav are both the ones we may have learned about as children and those unfolding for us in our evolving world, such as LGBTQ Pride. We often create our own prayers and rituals reflecting how Judaism inspires us in our modern lives. For example, CSZ hosts an annual Transgender Remembrance Shabbat, comprised of readings from Siddur Sha’ar Zahav.

Sha’ar Zahav also celebrates the diversity of Jewish tradition by hosting Klezmer Shabbat and a Veterans Day commemoration service.

Upcoming Holiday Events

The holiday of Purim always brings us the joyful opportunity to be lighthearted (and silly), and to celebrate our ability to creatively and cunningly stomp out evil with gifts of food, charity and merriment. We are planning several events to celebrate together. No RSVPs required, just come!

Saturday, Feb. 20: Purim Maker Play for All Ages

It’s time to dress for Purim! So grab your masks and let’s get fabulous! Pick your favorite COVID mask (or maybe your least favorite) and let’s make it sparkle with Purim fun! Or collect more traditional mask making materials to make the mask of your choosing. No fun art materials at home? Bring a roll of foil for tinfoil tiaras. This is an all ages making adventure. Contact Sue Bojdak if you have any questions.

On Zoom from Noon – 1:30 PM.


Sunday, Feb. 21: Cooking (and Enjoying) a Purim Feast

The festival of Purim invites us to feast, and so we will! We are doing a cooking demo of a complete Purim dinner – including a Sephardic challah based on the Moroccan Purim bread, “boyosa,” three vegetarian entrées (chickpea stew, stuffed peppers and asparagus), and assorted savory and sweet hamantaschen.

Our hosts Ernest and Kathleen Friedlander will welcome us in costume (if they can find fun ones) for a soirée of easy and delicious cooking, and joyful conversation. Fellow Sha’ar Zahav member, Ron Lezell, who travelled to Iran in 2014, 2016 and 2019 will also join us to show images and share stories from his trips and visit to the Tomb of Esther and Mordecai in Hamadan.

Our hosts table will be set with all the recipes ready, but they will also have ingredients pre-prepared so that they can demonstrate the how-to process for us! View the recipes here.

On Zoom from 3 – 4:30 PM.


Tuesday, Feb. 23: Making and Donating Face Masks

An important part of the Purim holiday is giving gifts to those in need, in Hebrew, Matanot L’evyonim. In keeping with the theme of wearing masks for the holiday, Sha’ar Zahav is making gifts for those in our region – much needed COVID masks for the Ribbon Dream Project, who will be including them in dignity bags that are distributed to survivors of domestic violence who are being released from the SF county jail.

Dust off your sewing machine and join us for an easy mask-making tutorial, so that we can make and donate masks together. You will need materials to prepare your sewing station. If you have any questions, please contact Marla Allen.

On Zoom at 7:00 PM.


Thursday, Feb. 25: Purim Service & Megillah Reading

Join us for an eve of Purim merriment! Topsy-turvy service, silly songs, and the Purim story brought to you by the Megillah Mavens, with live commentary on the Zoom chat by Purim Pundits (including you!). Of course, all while you eat and drink joyfully at home. It’s a party!

On Zoom from 7-8 PM.


Signature Sha’ar Zahav Celebrations

Recovery Shabbat

Springtime is a period of rebirth in the natural world, and in the Jewish calendar. The holidays of Tu BiSh’vatPurim and Pesach all share motifs of redemption and rebirth. CSZ has long recognized that recovery from alcoholism and similar diseases is also a form of personal rebirth and redemption, and in recent years the congregation has developed an annual Shabbat service around this theme. Recovery Shabbat is celebrated in April, tying it both to Pesach‘s redemption theme and also to National Alcohol Awareness Month in the United States.

Yom HaShoah

On Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Commemoration Day, the 27th of Nisan), we remember the millions of Jewish and LGBTQ people and their allies who died at the hands of the Nazis. The Yizkor prayer includes memorials for Jewish martyrs and for those who perished in the Holocaust. Other appropriate readings include the “Blessing for Social Action,” Communal Prayer of Remembrance” and the memorial blessing for heroes and community activist.

Yom HaAtzma’ut

Yom HaAtzma’ut is Israel Independence Day, the fifth day of Iyar. In 1948, this was the day on which the State of Israel was born, following Britain’s withdrawal from the region and the UN’s recognition of the new country. Readings for this day may reflect the significance of Eretz Yisrael, the beauty and natural features of the land, or the political issues that continue to affect the region. Several appropriate selections are found in Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, such as Psalms of Hallel and songs in the Shirim section.

Transgender Celebration Shabbat

The third Shabbat evening in May was first celebrated as Transgender Celebration Shabbat at CSZ in San Francisco in 2006. This annual holiday is a community-wide Festival honoring the transgender and gender-queer community and the living diversity of creation. Transgender Celebration Shabbat joyously acknowledges the bravery and uniqueness of the living members of our community.

LGBTQIQ Pride Shabbat

The Shabbat preceding the last Sunday in June commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 27, 1969, when gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and other queer people rose up in an expression of bravery, freedom and pride. Today, decades later and with considerable progress made in securing equal rights for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender, LGBTQIQ community honors diversity of all forms with Pride celebrations. Appropriate readings are sprinkled throughout our siddur.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we hold a service in memory of all those who were killed because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. It has been observed at Sha’ar Zahav on the Shabbat preceding the November 20 anniversary of the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender person killed on that date in 1998.


Holiday Memories

Here’s a look at a few special moments from Hanukkah 2017.