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WHAT A YEAR it has been so far!

Dear friend,

Do you know what G‑d's first words were in the process of creation? Our entire raison d'etre was contained in that opening speech in the Torah. "Let there be light."

Those words are G‑d's Divine Mission statement to us.

Our purpose in this world is to bring light to others and the world, making the world a better and brighter place. Each act of goodness and kindness reveals another glimmer of that light.

Your friendship and support has brought much-needed light to a world that, at times, seems dark and confused. Thank you for bringing light and joy. You are a lamplighter.

May you and your family always experience the light of the Almighty and His blessings in all aspects of your life. Below are some individual stories that highlight our youth and the impact you make on our future generation!

Rabbi Menachem & Adina Landa


YOU welcomed me in, b y Evan Coxon

Hi, my name is Evan and I'm 11. I started Hebrew School just last November and I’ve never done this before. You have welcomed me and my sisters into the community and I am very thankful. I now love celebrating the holidays, sitting in the community sukkah, and singing Dayenu on Passover. I even got to recite the Ma Nishtana in front of 90 people at the community Seder.

What I love most about coming to Chabad of Novato is that you teach any level of Jews -those who are very educated and those who know nothing about Judaism. Before Hebrew School, I barely knew anything about Judaism, but now I’ve learned so many things, like about the Holy Temple -the Beit Hamikdash, and its importance in Judaism. I think Jewish education is important for all Jewish kids across the globe because it is important to learn and understand your heritage at a young age so you can teach your kids.



YOU  filled a void,  by German Pinkhasov

I grew up in Dagestan, along the Caspian Sea. Growing up, we knew we were Jewish, but couldn't celebrate Judaism out in the open. As a family we moved to Marin in 2003. We all know this is a beautiful place, very warm, very scenic. But we knew we were missing something. Our hearts weren’t fully filled. There was an empty spot in our hearts. And all of a sudden a magical thing happened in Marin and for our family. We got introduced to the Landa family. When their family came into our lives, we started to feel a sense of community, love, and education.

Since then, we celebrate Shabbat, we always look forward to the holidays and we even have gatherings for young dads.

My two daughters started asking questions. “Papa, are we Jewish?” “Is G‑d everywhere?” “Are all our friends Jewish?”

You can’t just answer questions like these so quickly. You have to think about it, think about your roots and explain to your kids that for thousands of years we as Jewish people were living in one place, then moved from Israel to other places until eventually we landed in Marin County. And now we get this sense of community where our hearts are filled.

Hebrew School has been the most amazing experience for my children, I know that for a fact. They look forward to Sunday because they know they’re coming to something that they don’t experience throughout the whole week.

These two hours can be replaced with so many other activities- sports, learning languages, all types of different educational experiences. BUT you cannot just buy family and community that you love spending time with where you belong.

It’s unpurchasable.

Some people live their whole life missing it. We get to live our lives having it. The home really comes from a mother and so I want to give a huge thanks to Adina, the sense of this community circle comes from her. She creates the structure so that our heritage can be passed on to the next generation. I wish this community a lot of happiness and may all of our dreams come true together.



A mother and daughter's experience by Rose Viggiano and Ori

Growing up, I was forced to go to Hebrew School because that was the only way I could have a Bat Mitzvah. I hated going. It was actual school where you sat at desks and learned with a teacher standing at the board. The other kids were already friends from school so I wasn’t included. I hung out by myself.

When I had my Bat Mitzvah, I didn’t learn anything about WHY I was having a Bat MItzvah. I wasn’t emotionally connected to it. It didn’t make sense to me.

There was no significance other than you're having a big party and this is something you had to do as a Jew. My impression of Judaism when I was done with Hebrew School is that it’s a place you feel excluded and it’s very dogmatic. It was a place to just learn prayers and Hebrew with no meaning or spiritual connection to G‑d.

When I moved to Novato in my mid 30s, with my little baby girl, Ori, I met the Landa family.

I always felt like the Landas were such wonderful people and that’s what kept me open to Ori going to Hebrew School. What I like is that she’s having fun while she’s learning in a joyous atmosphere. And there’s community and other kids. There’s a nice mixture of people across the Jewish spectrum and it’s an accepting open environment.

“That’s why I have been here for 6 years,” Ori says.

I like that she is learning how to connect to G‑d. That’s important. She is getting this foundation that G‑d is here, all the time, you’re never alone, you have access to G‑d at any moment. That’s what I was missing.

When I ask other friends of hers that go to other Hebrew Schools about their experience, their answer is, “Ugh I hate it.” It makes me sad, and I’m so thrilled for Ori that she has such a positive experience.

“You don’t just make us recite facts, you teach it in a fun way. Like when we do scavenger hunts -we learn stuff along the way but it’s fun to learn. And then the learning sticks with me more because I enjoyed it. The kids are really nice and I have friends,” says Ori.

We also LOVE the Family Shabbat events in the Landa home. It really builds community. It’s so nice for the kids to make challah, light candles, and be together in a relaxed environment, and just play. And because we’re in the Hebrew School, whenever we come to other events, we feel like we’re part of the core community which is the opposite of what I experienced growing up.

I love that it’s such an intimate connection and you get individual attention. Rabbi Landa and Adina are really accessible if I wanted to talk about something or meet up for coffee.

Sometimes synagogue memberships are $5000 and seats are $750, which would make it inaccessible for me. I never felt like Chabad was inaccessible, because you’re truly there to bring everyone in with love and attention. At Chabad of Novato, we give what we can. Some can give more, some can give less, but it comes from the heart.



YOU are educating the next generation

Now more than ever we need to empower and educate young Jewish children. The robust educational programming you provide is changing lives. Hands on learning that has impact for years to come.

Having grown up in Novato, I didn't have a Jewish community or summer camp to go to. It is especially moving to send my children to Camp Gan Israel in Novato.

My 8 and 12 year old children loved the activities, the educational fun and the experience they gained by hearing music, learning about reptiles, working on art projects while incorporating Hebrew and Judaism. The counselors were wonderful as well! - Miriam Menkin