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Community History


The Mendocino County Jewish Communities, a non-profit corporation began meeting in 1982 in Ukiah.

Carol Rosenberg, Harvey Frankle, Helen Sizemore, Bill Ray were the Inland directors and Norman Rosen served as the legal counsel. Community members including Barry Vogel, Helene Epstein, Lucy Bayer, Clarrissa Shaefer, Ellen Saxe, Carol Goodman, Gary Relin, and Johanina Wikoff.

Mendocino County Jewish Communities soon realized that two separate communities were needed. Thus Mendocino Coastal and Mendocino Inland became two separate communities.

There were 75 names on the Inland mailing list and 30 families with paid memberships by 1983. Children's education was attended by over two dozen children in the bi-weekly classes.

Rabbi Hanon Sills resided in Albion and was available to us for holiday celebrations. His work was funded by the Jewish Community Endowment during the year of 1982. He served as our first High Holiday leader at Helen's home for a few participants. On that day, there was a lawnmower running across the street, disturbing the peace, so Helen walked over to advise the person of our need for quiet. The person running the machine was a Jewish man, Harvey Baumoel, who promptly join our minyan.

R. Sills is very charismatic and those who were there enjoyed a lively time of storytelling, singing and dancing. He remained available to be our High Holidays leader for many years until he moved to Eugene to run the Hillel for the University in 1989.

The Coast Community began the search for a resident Rabbi by inviting other rabbis to lead their High Holiday services. These visitors included R. David Wolfe-Blank and R.Margaret Holub.

Rabbi Holub was hired as a half-time residential Rabbi in Mendocino. She worked Inland for one weekend a month, establishing a family class for teaching our first group of B'nei Mitzvah. She lead Shabbat services and helped shape our expectations for future visiting leaders. As the Coast community grew, they increased her contracted time.

We began the years of guest Rabbi contracts - one weekend a month, shared between Ukiah and Willits, with advertised dates.  Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank and Daniel Lev, a maggid (storyteller), each served us as our leader for two years.

We also desired a resident leader, who would grow our membership and our presence in the greater community. Rabbi Shefa Gold served as our High Holiday leader for ten years. R. Shefa was a mentor to our community during those years. All of these Renewal leaders helped to grow our membership. They helped provide meaningful avenues for us to relate to our Jewish heritage in a personally and spiritual way.

It was Rabbi Shefa Gold who recommended Rabbi Shoshanah Devorah. After a few visits, R. Shoshanah moved from Seattle to serve as our leader.

 

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