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.

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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.

 

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Sulam for Emerging Leaders — our Dream Team Graduates

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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!

 

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The Limmud Experience

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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 ( http://www.limmudbayarea.org). 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: http://sched2014.limmudbayarea.org.   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.

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Sunrise, Sunset – A Culturally Jewish Start-Up

Sunrise Sunset Cafe

Sunrise Sunset Cafe

As the song goes, “Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the days, seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as we gaze.” When we hear it we may even find ourselves asking the next question, “I don’t remember growing older. When did they?” Last Friday evening, about 100 of us gathered at B’nai Emunah and witnessed the blossoming of a new, cultural flower, as “Sunrise, Sunset” opened with its first Shabbat Café. As I wrote for our BE blog, “The fresh coffee flowed, the community baked and variety of nosh was tasty, and the music was uplifting and transporting. From “Fiddler” to “Shalom Aleichem” and from Yiddish to Hebrew to English, Ben Brussell (mandolin, vocals) and Fred Lifsitz (violin), had us smiling, laughing, and clapping and singing along. It was an evening that deeply satisfied our senses, our spirits, and our souls. Can’t wait for the next cup!”
This new community building project is as I see it, a new Jewish “start-up,” and is more satisfying than even a full cup of my favorite coffee! Over the last year, the idea has been brewing and now the cup is half full with wonderful potential. One of the most common responses I hear as a Rabbi when I meet someone new, is, “Rabbi, nice to meet you, but I’m not religious. I like Jewish culture but the rest of it doesn’t work for me.” The Sunrise, Sunset Café is an innovative response not only to those who just treasure Jewish culture, music, food, literature and art, but it is a warm, welcoming, and friendly place for anyone seeking cultural connections.
The mission of Sunrise, Sunset is to be a new and relaxed gathering space for coffee, culture and community. The vision is to build community one cup at a time, to cultivate connections, and to give back. Among other functions, synagogues have always served in the following three arenas: as a beit t’fillah (“house of prayer”), as a beit midrash (“house of learning”), and as a beit k’nesset (“house of gathering.”) This latest project, which takes its name not only from the song in “Fiddler on the Roof,” but from our pristine location three blocks up from Ocean Beach in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, is a pivot towards creating an authentic and contemporary gathering place for Jewish culture.

Here are 4 ways that you can participate in this new cultural experience:

  1. “Make Minyan” – Collect a card each time you visit and after five cards you will receive a complimentary and commemorative “Sunrise, Sunset” coffee cup.
  2. Join the team of volunteer “mavens” – Bake a nosh. Staff the café. Create social action opportunities. Help build our social media. Share your cultural talent (art, literature and music). Cultivate partners and co-sponsors.
  3. Visit our blog and share it with friends – http://bejewish.wordpress.com/
  4. Find the “coffee basket” to support us with your “beans.”

With a full cup in hand, “L’chayim/To Life!”

Sunsrise, Sunset next opens on SATURDAY EVENING, JUNE 14, 7:30-9:30 pm, featuring LIVE JEWISH BLUES MUSIC WITH SAUL KAYE. Fresh roasted coffee, tea and hot cocoa will be served. Please bring a potluck dessert to share. We will do a short Havdallah at “3 Stars,” and Rabbi Meirah Iliinsky’s artwork will be on exhibit.

Open on the 2nd Saturdays of each month:

  • July 12 – Anne Seeman and Charley Hagan, steel and rhythm guitar
  • August 9 – Zeke Kossover, Science & Magic
  • September 13 – Ralph Sinick, guitar/vocals, and Bonnie Lindauer, cello/vocals

 

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Sunrise Sunset Opening is grand success

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Sunrise Sunset Shabbat Cafe – Coffee Culture and Community at Congregation B’nai Emunah, San Francisco

 

Building community one cup at a time, 85-100 people gathered for coffee, culture and community at Friday evening’s opening of Sunrise, Sunset. The fresh coffee flowed, the community baked and variety of nosh was tasty, and the music was uplifting and transporting. From “Fiddler on the roof” to “Shalom Aleichem”, and from Yiddish to Hebrew to English, Ben Brussell (mandolin, vocals) and Fred Lifsitz (violin), had us smiling, laughing, clapping and singing along. It was an evening that deeply satisfied our senses, our spirits, and our souls. Can’t wait for the next cup!

Next Sunrise, Sunset Cafe is SATURDAY EVENING, June 14, 7.30-9.30pm.
Saul Kaye plays the blues and the Jewish blues too!
Free and fresh roasted coffee served. Donations welcome for this new, cultural, and community project.
ALL ARE WELCOME.

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Camping Shabbaton 2014

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By Sharon Bleviss

Another wonderful camping Shabbaton is in the bag! Adults and children gathered at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore May 2-4, 2014 to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Shabbat and the great outdoors together. The group campsite, situated by the lake, provided seclusion and opportunities to view deer, wild turkeys, water fowl and more. The kids spent time fishing while all took in great food, conversation, Torah study, hiking, a little swimming and contemplation.

Camping Shabbaton to the Del Valle Campground in the East Bay

Camping Shabbaton to the Del Valle Campground in the East Bay

All gathered for a communal barbecue on Friday night, supported by the Jewish Federation in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, and bedded down for a good night’s rest–until the turkeys ran by at 6 a.m.! Informal Shabbat services on Saturday morning were followed by an afternoon of fun. A fabulous dinner of chili and Havdallah with light sticks couldn’t compete with the long-awaited campfire and s’mores. The turkeys were quiet on Sunday morning and the group took a lovely walk along the lake to a feeder stream. The campers reluctantly packed up and said farewell after a closing circle. Can’t wait until next year!

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