Volunteer at BE

As in most families, there are usually one or two members who do everything! You know you can always count on them to be available to help when needed. But…..how about the rest of the family? They may also have much to give, yet don’t always know how to be of assistance.

volunteer.pngAs part of our new volunteer program, we have created a system to make sure that all who are able, and who want to help out, can! Please click on the link below to reach our questionnaire that asks a few basic questions regarding your interests, skills and when you may be available. Providing this information does not obligate you to volunteer in any way. You can change or remove your information by reaching out to me by phone or email. Even if you have already been volunteering, please fill out this form so that we can have all the information in one place.

Do you have young children? Please fill one out for them as well. I know that my 7 year old son LOVES to help out when I do. It is fun to do a mitzvah together!

Thank you so much for your time, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at


Thank you!
Lisa Karpanty
Volunteer Maven


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LIMMUD 2015 at Sonoma State University

Kolot Plenary 2

Plenary Session with Speakers from Jerusalem’s Kolot.

It was another excellent Limmud (Jewish Learning) conference held at Sonoma State University, Friday, June 26 – Sunday, June 28.  New this year was a full Shabbat from erev to Havdallah.

Attending from B’nai Emunah were Bonnie and Martin Lindauer and Andrew Nusbaum.  We stayed in the dorms so we could experience the full range of programming from 9:15 am through 9 to 10:00 p.m. Andrew presented two, well attended sessions:  “Messiahs and Messianism in Jewish History” and “Jewish Gangsters in Europe and the Americas.”

What makes Limmud unique is the diversity of sessions to choose from in each of the four time blocks and the Jews attending: all ages and types, with Orthodox studying alongside with non-observant as well as Reform and Conservative Jews.  Of course, there were separate services offered but everyone was welcome at any of the three.  For those not interested in attending services, one could choose a guided morning walk, a session on yoga and meditation or Andrew’s session on Messiahs.  Bonnie split her Shabbat morning between Andrew’s session and the egalitarian/Conservative davening.

Bonnie’s favorite sessions included:  “Resilience in the Face of Extremism:  Mishna, Maimonides and Heschel” (offered by Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan); “A Constitution for Israel,” “The Kotel — The Symbol of Unity or Division”? (both offered by Gilad Kariv,  rabbi, politician and head of the Reform/Progressive movement in Israel); and a Jewish yoga class.  Martin enjoyed the session on Jewish Ethics, offered by Rabbi David Kasher (one of the founders of Kevah) and “American Jewish Music in the Space Age.”

In addition to 90+ learning sessions to choose from, there were films, art activities, dance and poetry sessions, as well as three plenary sessions.  The Sunday plenary was a fascinating panel of 30-something activists in Jerusalem (organized by Kolot), who are working to “lead a social and cultural renaissance in Jerusalem and developing a new vision for the city.”  The kids had their own camp so that parents were free to fully participate, but families came together for the delicious meals catered by Dina’s Kosher Catering.

Andrew Nusbaum writes, “It was a real treat to experience the excitement, creativity and engagement during the three day Limmud Bay Area conference. Highlights for me included discussing engagement strategies (and pitfalls) with Jewish teens, studying Jewish philosophy with several notable teachers from Israel and the Bay Area, listening to a panel of speakers from Jerusalem talk about how to cultivate intra-Jewish dialogue, and of course, seeing my own two teaching sessions on Jewish messiahs and gangsters get so many attendees that we ran out of chairs!   I was particularly impressed by how hard Limmud has worked to develop a space where all Jews (and non-Jews!) can feel comfortable, regardless of their political or religious perspectives. By offering a wide range of Shabbat worship opportunities as well as volunteer-driven programming (I am living proof that all that’s required to teach a class is an idea, some nerve, and access to a copy machine), Limmud helped encourage a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere that nudged people to push their personal boundaries while also giving them autonomy to craft their own experiences.”

Limmud will most likely be in June next year and at Sonoma State University, so start planning ahead for this extremely worthwhile learning community!

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Spirituality Photo Project about Rabbi Mark

The Spirituality Photo Project produced by Drake Newkirk, with Rabbi Mark Melamut as the subject

This  photo story documents a person’s spiritual life, how it influences them, and how they share it with others in the community.

These images will be published on www.baynewsnow.com along with other photo stories capturing spirituality, religion, and faith around San Francisco.
Rabbi Mark says, it was a pleasure to work with Drake and to share his personal practice and community involvement and leadership with him through photography.
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Tikkun Olam Collaborative Making Lunches for SF Homeless


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


One of the youngest participants at the Interfaith Bike Ride event


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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