Rosh Hashana’s delicious “Triple Scoop”

From Rabbi Mark’s 5775 Family Service:

Rosh Hashana’s delicious “Triple Scoop” (3 sections of the musaf/additional service) offers each of us, no matter our age, opportunities to reflect, to remember and to hope.  And, just when you thought you’ve heard it all, check out this “jam band” version of our traditional “Avinu Malkeinu” on youtube by the band Phish:

Since this year’s Yom Kippur corresponds with Shabbat, we’ll only hear one of my holiday favorites at the very end of services on Saturday evening.  May its refrain inspire us in the new year:

“Avinu Malkeinu, Our Holy One, be gracious to us and respond to us.  What are our actions?  Treat us with charity and kindness and sustain us!”

G’mar hatima tova/a good and complete soul-sealing,

Rabbi Mark Melamut

Rosh Hashana’s Triple Scoop

Malkuyot/Ultimate Rule  

If I was king/queen for the day what rules would I make?



Playing Memory – What do we remember about this year – the good and not so good stuff?


Shofarot/Calling Out

What hopes do we want to call out for the New Year?


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

G’mar hatima tova/a good and complete soul-sealing,
Rabbi Mark Melamut

Posted in Congregation News, High Holidays, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Learning | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Savers and Musings with Morey

By Rabbi Mark Melamut

Shalom to All,

It’s that time of year again. We can begin to imagine the sounds of the shofar calling us from wherever we’ve been since last year. The sweet taste of a dollop of honey drizzled on an apple slice or on round challah is almost here. Can you see yourself changing into your sandals to make the annual pilgrimage down to Ocean Beach? Facing the Pacific Ocean, we will cast away the breadcrumbs of who we’ve been so that we can become who we want to be in the coming year. In my holiday memories, I can also picture gripping tightly in my hand a pack of life savers, carefully eating them color by color. Life Savers?

Sweet childhood memories for Rabbi Mark Melamut - life savers during the High Holy Days

Sweet childhood memories for Rabbi Mark Melamut – life savers during the High Holy Days

When I was little my Dad used to bring along life savers to keep my brother and I occupied during most religious services. Though I can also remember the shofar, the white robes, the mixture of varied perfumes, as well as apples and honey, what sticks out in my mind are the life savers. Perhaps this is because candy makes a big difference to children, especially during a seemingly endless service. I wonder if there is something else about this colorful roll. After all, they are round and sweet. Perhaps it’s not about the candy, but about the perspective that may unroll for each of us at this time of year.

Of course Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur provide us with opportunities to be introspective, but this time of year can also provide us with perspective. These “sweet moments” often unwrap themselves, as we simultaneously look back, focus on the present moment and anticipate the year ahead. Indeed, the holidays are unique in the spiritual dimensions of Jewish time, literally being “the head of the year” and “the day for atonement” (or as I prefer, “at-one-ment”). In my personal practice though, I try not to wait until the holidays in order to gain perspective. Sometimes I find a taste of it on Shabbat, in meeting with those who are ill, in everyday conversations, and when I’m alone or with my family or friends.

Sometimes it takes an effort to find perspective. Whatever happens each week, I make time to saunter or hike along the Morey Point trail near our home in Pacifica. As I climb the trail, the salty air wakes me up and often rabbits and other animals cross my path. I reach the top, and from there I can make out the dot of the Cliff House to the North and Linda Mar beach in Pacifica to the South. Below, I watch the rolling waves crash ashore and their rhythm soothes my soul. Beyond, I’m awed by the horizon, and the wide expanse of the endless blue-green waters of the Pacific Ocean. From this vantage point, I’m able to reflect and ask my questions. Where have I been? What am I experiencing now? What is on my horizon?

From the vantage point of this New Year, what are your questions?

May this New Year be as sweet as honey for each of us, our families and our community.

May it be as colorful, varied, complete and whole as a roll of life savers.

May we all grip this precious time tightly in our hands, and allow it to be a true “life saver” for us.

Rabbi Mark Melamut

Posted in Congregation News, High Holidays, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Learning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BE Summer Picnic at Stern Grove – 9/7 1-4 PM

Dear BE Community,

Please join us for our annual picnic, which will be held on Sunday September 7th, 1-4pm. We will meet at the picnic site near Pine Lake, inside Stern Grove.  This is a dog friendly site, near the Stern Grove off-leash area.

Here is a map.

The food will be a delicious potluck, catered by all of us. Please bring a vegetarian or a dairy dish for 8 to share with others in our community.

Here are some suggestions on what to bring:

  • salads
  • fruits or fruit salad
  • bread
  • cheeses
  • chips
  • dips / spreads
  • pasta
  • crackers
  • desserts
  • eggs
  • drinks
  • cut up vegetables
  • hummus

B’nai Emunah will provide plates, napkins and forks.

If you have any questions, please contact Elena Ingerman at or Keith Halperin at

Posted in Congregation News, Interfaith Event | 1 Comment

B’nai Emunah Wins THREE J. Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards

The August 22 issue of J. Weekly contained the results of the community voting for the 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.  In the “Synagogue Life” category, Congregation B’nai Emunah took home kudos in three categories:

  • Innovative Programming
  • Adult Education
  • Social Action

Here are some relevant quotes from the article:

“Congregation B’nai Emunah, a Conservative synagogue in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, was established in 1949, welcoming survivors and refugees. Continuing in that spirit, the synagogue launched the “Sunrise, Sunset Café,” a Shabbat group “where we build community, one cup at a time,” writes Jeffrey Dielle, the synagogue president. In a synagogue blog, Rabbi Mark Melamut calls it a “culturally Jewish startup,” a response to newcomers who often say, “ ‘Rabbi, nice to meet you, but I’m not religious. I like Jewish culture but the rest of it doesn’t work for me.’ ” Café programs include live music, talks and discussions accompanied by coffee and home-baked goodies. B’nai Emunah offers individualized b’nai mitzvah instruction for special learners, annual retreats and a variety of interest groups, including a technology havurah and a Havdallah happy hour.”

“Congregation B’nai Emunah offers “Judaism University” in collaboration with Congregation Beth Israel Judea, Congregation Ner Tamid and Or Shalom Jewish Community. Taught by several rabbis, classes have included lessons from the Talmud and the sages. Rabbi Mark Melamut also holds a monthly Musar group, where participants examine ethical issues, individualized spiritual direction and a “Holy Rollers” group, teaching Torah maintenance.”

“Congregation B’nai Emunah not only collects food year-round for the SF-Marin Food Bank, but a group of volunteers assists each month at the food bank’s warehouse as part of a communitywide Apple Corps Program. The Shalom Bayit Adopt-a-Family program pairs congregants with a family in need recovering from domestic violence. Through Project Homeless Connect, a communitywide project, volunteers donate food, goods and services.”

Please join us in extending congratulations to the B’nai Emunah clergy and leadership team on this impressive accomplishment.

Posted in Congregation News, Jewish Learning, Members Achievements | Leave a comment

Convulsing in Laughter! Bob Alper Returns to San Francisco

Bob Alper

Comedian Bob Alper

 Come Laugh and Enjoy the Fun with Comedian/Rabbi Bob Alper

The Southside Jewish Collaborative* is sponsoring this event at Beth Israel Judea,  Brotherhood Way

Tuesday, August 26th at 7:00 p.m.   

Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 at the door.  Phone 415-664-7373 to purchase tickets.  

There’s a reason why Sirius/XM satellite radio plays Rabbi Bob Alper’s comedy bits several times daily, often sandwiched between Bob Newhart and Bill Cosby: Bob’s unique background – he’s an ordained rabbi who served congregations for fourteen years and holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary – prepared him well for a twenty-seven year comedy career with wonderfully unique material presented in a way that’s intelligent, sophisticated, and 100% clean. 

 And so it’ll be 90 minutes of non-stop laughter on Tuesday, August 26th at Congregation Beth Israel-Judea, Brotherwood Way, San Francisco, when “the world’s only practicing clergyman doing stand-up comedy – intentionally,” returns to the Bay Area.  

The New York Times put it succinctly:  Bob “…had the audience convulsing.”   The Chicago Tribune described Bob’s act as “Hilarious. Relaxed, clean, unhurtful.  A warm type of humor.”  

*Southside Jewish Collaborative is composed of four synagogue communities in San Francisco:  B’nai Emunah, Beth Isreal Judea, Ner Tamid, and Or Shalom.


Posted in Congregation News, Interfaith Event | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sulam for Emerging Leaders — our Dream Team Graduates


Sulam (ladder)  members with Rabbi Mark and Bonnie Lindauer (missing Kristin Suson)

Last Shabbat, July 26th we honored the accomplishments of B’nai Emunah’s Dream Team, who completed in July 2014 a six-month series of workshops related to leadership development.  Each person received a framed certificate and a hammer-bottle opener as a symbol of their role as builders of community.  A delicious Israeli-Mediterrean style kiddush lunch followed.
The graduates are:  Shais St. Martin, Andrew Nusbaum, Naomi Sakamoto, Kristin Suson, Lisa Karpanty, Val Langmuir, Ken Mitchell, and Elena Ingerman.   Amazingly, nearly all of this group are already active as Board members and/or on synagogue committees.  

Rabbi Mark and Bonnie Lindauer attended a training session last November 2013 in New York at the USCJ headquarters.  They co-facilitated a six-unit curriculum which included Torah and Talmud text study, discussion items, journal reflection and activities on such topics as time allocation and prioritization, positive framing, conflict behaviors and constructive approaches to managing conflict, the role that hope, courage and conviction play in leadership, personal  values and vision statements, identification of individual strengths and understanding of Judaism’s emphasis on communal responsibility.  An important part of the experience was deepening relationships and sharing Shabbat dinner.  Rabbi Mark and Hayley hosted the first Shabbat dinner in February and then the group planned their own Shabbat dinners with two smaller groups meeting in June to share Shabbat.

Comments about the experience from this dedicated group of eight have been overwhelmingly positive:  “I feel more confident and comfortable now in the community and with my role on the Board.”  “I have applied some of what I’ve learned in the Sulam sessions at work. It’s been very useful.”  “The best part has been getting to know each other so well.”  “I really enjoy the chevruta, partner study of Torah texts. This is new for me.”  “I hope I have 
become a better listener.”  “The Talmud study was a nice addition to my basic Jewish background.”  “This provided such a great feeling of belonging!”
We are grateful to this team for their time and energy and wish them great success as they continue to climb the sulams (ladders) in their personal, professional and communal lives.  Mazel tov!


Posted in Congregation News, Jewish Learning, Members Achievements | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Limmud Experience


Rabbi Daniel Landes, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies

Bonnie and Martin Lindauer spent two learning-filled days, Sunday and Monday, July 13-14, from 9 AM to around 5 each day, on the verdant campus of Sonoma State University, just outside Rohnert Park, at a Limmud (‘learning”) conference of Jews from all denominations (or none).  Limmud is an international organization with many chapters all over the world ( The Bay Area chapter is fairly young as this is the third Limmud conference.

After a plenary session led by Lee Shulman (retired Stanford Univ. faculty), we chose, with difficulty (so much good stuff), from 7-10 simultaneous sessions in any given time slot, with topics ranging from Talmud to psychology, from film to Bible, from Jewish music to death and burial and current political issues, mussar sessions, and sacred chanting and meditation. Each session lasted 1.5 hours. (See the 2014 program at:   Sunday evening featured a fabulous concert by Neshamah Carlbach and her talented musician-husband Josh Nelson.

We started off with a provocative session titled “Abraham: A Smashing Success?” In this highly interactive session taught by Michal Morris Kamil, we read and discussed Genesis Chapter 11 and Midrash, Bereshit Rabbah 38:13 in which we learned that Abraham is not the earliest to believe in monotheism and his father Terah is really the instigator of their leaving Ur to go to Canaan. We also both attended one of the four sessions taught by Rabbi Daniel Landes of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Israel. It was a fascinating session on “Theology of a Machloket in a Post-Modern Setting.” “Macholket is argumentation and debate and of course the Talmud is well know for this. We read and argued over four Talmud sections and several other texts to look for how the macholkot might answer Rabbi Landes question: How do these texts explain the notion of what is Torah?

Bonnie attended two other of Rabbi Landes’ sessions: one titled “Men on the Mount, Women of the Wall and Muslims on Top” and the other a beautiful session title “Love God with All your Heart, With All your Soul, With all your Might.” From the “Men on the Mount….etc” session she learned that the Western wall isn’t even mentioned in the Mishneh Torah (Maimonides) where the content of what the temple in Jerusalem should contain and how to enter and who goes where are detailed. Rabbi Landes summarized by saying “Rambam doesn’t even mention the Kotel. Of course, everyone should have the right to pray at the Western Wall and maybe there should be separate spaces for men and women, but yes, it’s halachically OK for women to pray at the Kotel.” Bonnie also attended a session on Torah and Yoga, Art and Music of Exodus, and a delightful session entitled “Radical Amazement and the Art of Haiku: When Heschel Meets Basho.” The facilitator Abra Greenspan, a longtime writer of haiku and student of Japanese literature, shared a comparison between Heschel’s concept of radical amazement and some philosophy of haiku. For example:

Haiku:  “Haiku offers not the idea of an experience, but the experience itself.” (From Margaret D. McGee’s Haiku: the Sacred Art)
Heschel:  “This is one of the goals of the Jewish way of  living: to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to feel the hidden love and wisdom in all things. (God in Search of Man)

Many young people, families, and babes in arms attended;  even some dogs (alas, not ours).  There is also a Limmud camp for youngsters.   Vegetarian kosher meals were included. We stayed at a nearby motel but most attendees lodged at the college’s dorms (some with kitchens and all very modern).  Expenses were remarkably low, since Limmud is run by volunteers exclusively.

This was our  second Limmud experience (the first was at Asilomar, near Monterrey) and we plan to attend next year’s as well, also at Sonoma State. We both highly recommend the experience and will keep you posted when the next year’s date is scheduled.

Posted in Congregation News, Interfaith Event, Jewish Learning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment