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December 2023


Whoa….hold your reindeer….!  Did I just write DECEMBER?  Already?

I want to start this monthly newsletter off with words of appreciation & a heavy heart:  To those in Israel holding their loved ones close and remembering those who have perished because of the war with Hamas.  Always on my mind and in my heart.

With that said, Rick and I have returned from our voyage to the Mediterranean where we had originally had plans to start in Italy for five days and then embark on a cruise that would take us to Greece, Cypress, Turkey and finally Israel where we had plans to be for several days.  Naturally, given the incident on October 7th in Israel, our plans changed and we spent the last 5 days of our experience in the north of Greece.  We were in tune with the daily news and because of that, our visits to the temples and museums of Florence, Rome, Istanbul and Thessaloniki were so much more powerful, and yes, a bit intense.  We learned so much about the history of the Jews in the region, and even how they/WE are looked at in today’s world.  There wasn’t a time when we were on land that I felt threatened in any way; as a matter of fact, I felt just the opposite!  This was truly a great learning experience for me.

As I was checking around the helm of JCO (yes, it does take a shipfull of people to make our temple function), I started feeling like Fred Flintstone a bit.  Remember when Fred got in his car and his feet were running in place until the car took off and we heard the familiar words…’yabba dabba do!!”? 


Well continue reading and see what I mean:

Our Red Tent ladies are coming together on December 3rd with some precious jewelry…precious because the pieces have a story behind them.  This should be a wonderful event and so thankful that Barbara Hirsch is bringing us together to share these intimate thoughts. Here's the link to register, ladies, if you haven’t already done so.

We are putting a suggestion box both in the lobby of the Sanctuary and in the Social Hall.  We want to know what’s on your mind that will help JCO grow.  Don’t be shy; you don’t need to put your name on the slip of paper unless you want to. But we do want to hear from you.

At our next Speaker Series event we will be guided by Lesley Letofsky on how to Dress for our Bodies.  This event is for men and women:  7pm on December 6th.  (Just in time for Hanukah, too!).  Don’t be shy; sign up for this now!

I’m sure you saw the photo of the gorgeous menorah that longtime member Michael Swimmer created for an auction item for JCO.  He titled it Women:  giving life and light to the world.  What I see is that the shape of the hannukiah resembles a woman’s figure so I can see where his dedication to women came from.  It’s just lovely.  Thank you Michael:  for your gift to JCO and your acknowledgement to women.  The auction will close on December 6th so the first candle can burn in the menorah’s new home.

Our new member, artist Logan Hagege, has a couple pieces showing as part of the Ojai Mystique show at the Ojai Valley Museum.  I hope you get a chance to go and see Logan’s work, along with the other 20 nationally renowned artists.  (By the way, Logan will be doing one of our Speaker Series events…stay tuned!)

Our Hanukah Party is coming up on December 10th!!  We’re going to have games, and crafts, and a magician, and gelt, and lots of latkes…Lots of latkes because (drumroll please), it’s a Latke Off!! Yes, a contest for the best tasting latke in the Ojai Valley will be happening at our JCO!  So get your potatoes grated and your spatulas ready and let’s see who will take home the prize this year!!  More details are in the eNewsletter….and please, bring your littles, your own or your grands.  We’d love to have them with us!  Here’s the place to register for our Chanukah party:

Our January Speaker Series is on the 3rd with our Rabbi Lisa guiding us thru Inside Out, a Pixar film.  Rabbi will show us the Jewish themes and values that are laced through the movie….Who knew??  Put this on your calendar now and be sure to register for it when it’s announced in the eNewsletter later this month.

We have developed a new fund for you to make donations to…in honor of someone; in memory of someone; or just because.  It is our Safety Fund, which honestly, needs your support.  With this fund, we will be able to continue a new expense that we deem important: Having a guard routinely at JCO for Shabbat services.  Every donation, no matter what size, will help.  Please go to our website,






and give what you can and as often as you possibly can.  Safety for our congregants is on top of our list.

I want to give Alan Greenberg a note of thanks for taking the time to put our temple’s history into writing.  Alan worked on this project for quite a while, as you can imagine, because of the years of growth JCO has had.  It’s wonderful that he has given acknowledgment to those who have helped JCO become the thriving community it is today.  I hope you enjoy reading the chapters of the life of JCO.  Toda Rabah, Alan.

As we end this secular year and begin the next, JCO is gearing up for another great year.  But we need you to help us; we need your engagement in our activities to make things ‘go’.  Please talk to a Board member and let them know that you have some time to help us---and what you’d like to do.  We need people to help with administrative work; phone calling; our special events.  We have some committees that need help stat! (Safety, Membership, Fundraising, Facilities).  We sure could use your help.  If you have any time and you want to be among those to help us grow, please send me an email and let me know.




And with that, a hearty, Yabba, Dabba, Do….Let’s Grow JCO…Let’s Do this together!!




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