Tikkun Olam Collaborative Making Lunches for SF Homeless

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Volunteers from Collaborative Making Lunch Bags

The Southside SF Tikkun Olam Collaborative has focused for their 2015/16 theme: Feeding the Hungry in SF.  As part of their work, synagogue members  volunteer monthly at the SF-Marin Food Bank and lunch-bag preparation activities. The lunches are distributed by the SF Homeless Outreach program.

The June lunch bag preparation team pictured to the left worked together at Congregation Beth Israel Judea.  The site rotates among the synagogues.  Beth Israel Judea is one of the four synagogues in the collaborative, which was established several years ago for selected holiday services, events, adult education, and now for tikkun olam projects.   The other synagogues are Congregation B’nai Emunah, Congregation Ner Tamid and Or Shalom

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“A Memoir and a Manifesto”: Dr. Michael Saag Discusses ‘Positive’

Dr. Michael Saag signs copies of his memoir at congregation B'nai Emunah

Dr. Michael Saag signs copies of his memoir at congregation B’nai Emunah

By Ken Mitchell
In late May, B’nai Emunah was privileged to have Dr. Michael Saag discuss his book, Positive: One Doctor’s Personal Encounters with Death, Life, and the US Healthcare System. An expert on the history on the AIDS crisis, Saag spoke poignantly on how the crisis highlighted the inadequacies of a misguided US healthcare system that is geared more toward political interests than providing rational holistic care.

Saag’s appearance at B’nai Emunah was not his first connection to our community. An entire chapter in his critically acclaimed book is dedicated to Rabbi Cyndie Culpeper – of blessed memory –whose mother, Mary, was also in attendance.

The book talk and signing attracted many shul members as well as guests; the event was co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Library and Magnet, a gay men’s health collective that is part of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Also in attendance were other medical professionals who were pioneers in AIDS treatment and research, such Lorna Forbes and Karen Schanche.

The Sisterhood Gift Shop still has copies of Positive available for sale, so be sure to get your copy now – supplies are limtied!

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Change the world one sandwich at a time

Tikkun Olam Volunteers,

Feeding the hungry is one of our tikkun olam projects at Congregation B'nai Emunah.

Feeding the hungry is one of our tikkun olam projects at Congregation B’nai Emunah.

We would like to thank you for helping us reach a tremendous milestone. Because of your help we have made food to feed 1,000 people since January. In May, we made our 1000th sandwich to be distributed to one of our three partner community agencies. Through the simple act of packing a sack lunch or making a bologna sandwich we’ve helped members of our community not only have something to eat, but connect more strongly to the social workers and volunteers who can help them find a path to other needed services, like medical care, transportation and of course, housing. Spreading peanut butter and jelly may seem like a small act but it is part of a chain reaction that creates positive change for those who receive the sandwich from a caring, compassionate professional. And your contribution towards making sandwiches, is part of that often life-changing chain reaction. We are happy to have the partnership of the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team, At the Crossroads youth services program and the San Francisco General Methadone Clinic, who make sure the food that we provide gets to those who need them.

For those of you who help at the San Francisco Food Bank, you have been also part of a chain reaction. On the Sunday work sessions, you are part of a team at the warehouse that packs thousands of pounds of food in the two short hours you are there. That food is distributed to soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters, and individual families’ empty kitchen cupboards. One in four people in the San Francisco Bay Area are food insecure, constantly having to make choices between buying food, paying rent and other necessities. The Food Bank makes a big difference for those in our community who are struggling. And your hard work makes this happen. The food would not leave the warehouse without the help of volunteers.

The chain reaction continues with the growing volunteer corps that is helping in these efforts. We have had over 60volunteers who have helped us shop, make and deliver sandwiches, and pack food at the Food Bank. The friendships, connections, and sense of community that is developing, within and between our congregations, is bringing strength and richness to our Southside Jewish Collaborative.

We will be continuing to make sandwiches the third Thursday of every month after the Lunch and Learn program. And, we will have ongoing Sunday Sandwich Making every other month, generally the first Sunday (though the Second Sunday in July – July 12th). And, the last Sunday of each month (except on Jewish holidays), we volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank. We look forward to seeing you again at these activities.

Our planning committee was charged with finding a way to help the synagogues in the Southside Jewish Collaborative develop a Tikkun Olam program to have congregation members come together to “repair the world” in some way. Our focus became feeding the hungry. Your efforts, financial support and hard work has brought this into being. Thank you.

Todah Rabah,

The Joint Tikkun Olam Planning Committee

Lori Ganz & Steve Roditti – Congregation Beth Israel Judea
Al Sion & Ruth Maginnis – Or Shalom Jewish Community
Bonnie Lindauer & Sharon Bleviss – Congregation B’nai Emunah
Gerald Spindel Congregation Ner Tamid

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Fun and Faith on a Bike

By Ralph Sinick

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One of the youngest participants at the Interfaith Bike Ride event

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Final stop in Golden Gate Park. Author Ralph Sinik from congregation B’nai Emunah is in the red t-shirt next to the bench.

May 31st was the first-ever Interfaith Bike Ride, sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

B’nai Emunah was the only synagogue participating. We were represented by me (Ralph Sinick) and by Elyse Kovalsky and her son Saul (who got a lot of attention as the youngest participant).

Eleven congregations participated in the ride, with a total of forty riders, including a large contingency from the Zen center. The ride passed by a compact group of eight congregations. At each stop, we picked up new riders and learned a bit about the history of that institution.

Our final destination was the museum concourse in Golden Gate park. At that point, since B’nai Emunah was not one of the stops, I was asked to tell the group a bit about who we are and our history. We then had a nice, brief ceremony with, blessings, and strawberries, followed by conversation.

It was fun to go off our usual paths with people who are seeking meaning in their lives in different ways. There was plenty of good conversation, and we enjoyed learning what’s behind some of the facades that we’ve passed so many times.

I realized that everyone is a little hungry to be part of a larger community — and that we have much in common with other communities.

Also, there was a genuine interest among the participants in learning about B’nai Emunah.

Hope to see more of you next year. Don’t worry about the ride being too demanding. You can start where ever you want — you can even begin at the end.

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Movie Chavurah is Back

The CBE Movie Chavurah is back! On May 14th, nine B’nai Emunahns gathered for a Lebanese feast at a nearby restaurant and then headed to the Opera Plaza Cinema to see the critically acclaimed “Felix and Meira.” The movie presented the story of a young married woman who finds freedom from the Orthodox Jewish community through a relationship with a young man mourning his father’s death. The intense film sparked plenty of discussion afterwards. If you are interested in being notified about the next movie, contact Sharon Bleviss.

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Patty Avery at Sunrise Sunset Cafe

By Sharon Bleviss

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Congregation B’nai Emunah welcomed a packed house in from the cold on May 9th’s Sunrise Sunset Cafe to hear singer Patty Avery, accompanied by Stephen Varney on piano, perform in Yiddish, Russian and English. Patty, a member of the Jewish Folk Chorus, vamped through various costume changes, telling background stories along the way. Stephen accompanied masterfully, singing a duet at one point. Highlights, among others, were songs from “Annie Get Your Gun”, as well as tidbits from Boris Thomashefsky, Michael Tilson Thomas’ grandfather. Guests were also treated to fine coffee a large array of desserts.

Sunrise Sunset Cafe is a monthly offering at B’nai Emunah. Next up is Rocky Mountain Jewgrass on June 28th.

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B3 Shabbat Celebration

By Pete Gleichenhaus
“Last week Barbara and I joined the vibrant collaborative gathering for Shabbat. (An event for Congregation B’nai Emunah”s and BIJ’s joint B3 Sunday school) The meal served seemed to be enjoyed by all. The running around prior to the service and the level of activity was truly “old synagogue”–what I remember from when I was a kid. Everyone there seemed to really want to be there, and we were caught up in the enthusiasm.

There were more than three dozen children and about 50-75 adults. The B3 school classes participated in the service and in fact were the focus for bits of the program. While the liturgy was not “the traditional” Friday night fare, much was in Hebrew and from my perspective, it was a valid celebration of the Sabbath. Three Rabbi’s were there and each had a part to play.

Barbara and I were glad to have been there, and hope the rest of our B’nai Emunah community takes advantage of future opportunities to be together.”

Shabbat shalom

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