Join us for Shabbat Services: Friday at 6:00 pm, Saturday at 9:30 am
An egalitarian Conservative congregation serving the diverse Orange County Jewish Community

Shavuot 5779

Saturday, June 8
8:30-9pm: Erev Shavuot Services
9pm-12am: Tikkun Leil Shavuot and Dessert (see the Tikkun Leil Shavuot speakers below)

Sunday, June 9
9:30am: Shavuot Services followed by a Kiddush Luncheon

Monday, June 10
9:30am: Shavuot Services with Yizkor and the chanting of the Book of Ruth followed by a Kiddush luncheon

What exactly is Shavuot and why do we celebrate it?
Biblically, this holiday marks the beginning of the wheat harvest in Israel. Later, in rabbinic times, it became known as the anniversary of Revelation of Sinai. The pairing of the two is fitting: Wheat is the primary ingredient for bread, which is a life-sustaining food for our bodies. The study of Torah and all the literature that it has spawned is nourishment for our minds and souls. We need both in order to live healthy, balanced lives. Join us as we celebrate the Torah – – God’s love-letter to the Jewish people.

Speakers for Tikkun Leil Shavuot on Saturday, June 8 at 9pm


Dr. Shira Klein: “Things You Wish You Knew about the Jews of Italy”
Shira Klein dissipates a powerful myth about Italian Jews.

Shira Klein teaches History at Chapman University. Her book Italy’s Jews from Emancipation to Fascism (Cambridge University Press) was selected double-finalist for the 2018 National Jewish Book Award.


Rabbi Bob Kirzner: “From Beginnings to Retirement: How One Rabbi Led a Life of Commitment, Service, and Transformation”

Rabbi Kirzner holds a B.A. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Hebrew Letters and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH. He spent his career of 42 years serving both larger and smaller congregations across the U.S. and Canada. During that time, his passion was always teaching. He taught Jewish Studies and History at the Austin Jewish Academy in Austin, TX and currently teaches at Tarbut v’Torah day school in Irvine.


Rochelle Ambersound: Poetry readings, “The Tallitot of Auschwitz,” “the Black Hats’ Women,” “My Sister”, and “Kaddish for a Daughter”

Rochelle Ambersound was a social worker in child abuse and also did community development before her retirement.  You can now find her as a regular at LA Fitness, taking survivor witness testimony for Yad Vashem, dabbling in poetry and art endeavors, and visiting, primarily, exotic or edge-of-the-world destinations. 


Dr. Fred Reiss: “Is the Jewish Calendar Wrong?”- Distinguishing between the Jewish observational and calculated rabbinic calendar. Author of The Jewish Calendar: History and Inner Workings Second Edition (2018).

Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of “The Comprehensive Jewish and Civil Calendars: 2001 to 2240;” “The Jewish Calendar: History and Inner Workings, Second Edition;” and “Sepher Yetzirah: The Book That Started Kabbalah, Revised Edition.”


Dalia Taft. “How do I put together my family tree?”

Dalia Taft is the archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society.  She is the author of “Jewish Pioneers of Orange County: The Jewish Community of Orange County, California from the 1850s – 1970s.”


Rabbi Shalom Podwol: “Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Voice Still Speaks”
Rabbi Podwol will explore aspects of the life and legacy of Heschel, the scholar, rabbi and social activist.

Rabbi Podwol is delighted to be a member of CBI after a 46-year career as a pulpit rabbi.


Dr. Ahuva Ho: “Alfonso de Zamora – a Crypto-Jew”
Only one scholar that I know of expressed doubt, in one sentence, as to the faithful conversion of the famous Alfonso de Zamora. All other scholars, mostly Spanish Catholics, take his faithful conversion as a fait accompli without raising any questions. He was, among other famous converts, a prize to the superiority of Catholicism over Judaism.
And yet, from his own writings it is evident, above all doubt, that he was a Crypto-Jew who survived the Inquisition. In my book I harvest his evidence to upset an entire family of blind scholars.

Dr. Ahuva Ho’s PhD is in Hebrew Bible, minoring in archaeology.  She has published three books with two more on the way. In the last 15 years, she has focused on the history of the Sefaradi Jews, enabling lectures around the world.


Amy Katz:  “Songs for Our Wedding Night” – Five melodies as we prepare to meet our Beloved.

Amy Robinson Katz is a Cantorial student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and is working toward ordination as Hazzanit. An accomplished musician, songwriter and choir leader, Amy serves as Ba’alat Tefillah at Congregation B’nai Israel and is a frequent Sh’lichat Tzibbur at CBI Coastal.


Rabbi Elie Spitz: “Moses’ Private Revelation: A Reading from the Zohar.” Moses on Mount Sinai from the classic mystical commentary to the Torah.