MLK Day of Service



Multi-faith coalition work day created a new garden in Redwood City.

Multi-faith coalition work day created a new garden in Redwood City.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, some members of B’nai Emunah participated in the Peninsula Multi-Faith Coalition Day of Service. Sharon Bleviss, Linda Wertheim and Bonnie Lindauer weeded and set in a garden at John Gill Elementary School in Redwood City. The raised beds had been abandoned so there was a lot of work to do. The result was a lovely garden! Join us next year for a day of service!

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B3 Update- Field Trip to CJM!

This last Sunday B3 took a trip to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in downtown San Francisco for a special exhibit exploring how three artists expressed themselves about social activist themes. Following their tours students had an opportunity to create art that reflected their reactions to what they had learned. A number of B3 parents also tagged along for the trip. Students enjoyed looking at the art, having discussions, and exploring the museum’s unique space.

Thank you to the CJM for this great chance to learn about local Jewish history!


B3 School is the collaborative Sunday school program for families of B’nai Emunah and Beth Israel Judea. Going strong since 2013, B3 is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about Jewish heritage from a variety of perspectives and teachers. Learn more at:


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Shabbat Symposium XXIII: Exploring the Global Jewish Diaspora, part 1

Save The Date: January 30 Symposium at B’nai Emunah. Presenter: Andrew Nusbaum

You may know about Jews in Poland, Spain and Israel, but what about India, Yemen and Uzbekistan? Come discover the traditions and histories of Jewish groups from around the world and how they influence Jewish life today. This first installment of “Beyond Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Exploring the Global Jewish Diaspora” will focus on Jewish communities in Middle Eastern countries and Central and South Asia.Mizrahim    Beni-israel-india-2

We will start around 1:00 pm following kiddush and go for about an hour, leaving time for any questions.

Do *you* have a topic you’d like to learn about or teach to others? Get in touch and let us know!

B’nai Emunah believes all members of the community have something to teach each other. One way of putting this into practice is through our Shabbat Symposium program, a rotating adult education opportunity happening every fourth Saturday following morning services. Each class is led by a knowledgeable community volunteer on a topic of their choice. From holidays to history to religious studies, Shabbat Symposium is a fun chance to learn something new from fellow CBE members. Join us for engaged learning and enthusiastic discussion!

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Rabbi Batshir Torchio at Sisterhood Tea

Batshir Torchio, photograph by Gabriele Lange 2011

Rabbi Batshir Torchio in a picture from 2013, by Gabriele Lange

On Sunday, January 17th, our B’nai Emunah Sisterhood held an afternoon tea for its members featuring our longtime member Rabbi Batshir Torchio, who is the Senior Educator of the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.  Rabbi Torchio gave a fascinating presentation on the Poland of today vis-a-vis the history of the Jews in that country over the last thousand years. The tea was very well attended and enjoyed by all.


Sisterhood Tea at Congregation B’nai Emunah, January 2016

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Mazatlan Cathedral Has 28 Stars of David


One of the 28 Stars of David in the Cathedral de la Immaculada Concepcion, Mazatlan

According to several sources, The Cathedral Basilica de la Immaculada Concepcion in Mazatlan, Mexico,  is the world’s only Roman Catholic Church with the Star of David displayed in each of its 28 stained-glass windows. These were installed in gratitude for the donation of construction funds by a wealthy Mazatlan Jewish family. Most Ethnic Germans arrived in Mexico during the mid-to-late 19th century, spurred by government policies of Porfirio Diaz. Although a good number of them took advantage of the liberal policies then valid in Mexico and went into merchant, industrial and educational ventures, others arrived with none or limited capital, as employees or farmers.[3]  Construction began in the late 1850’s and was completed in 1899.  

Although its architecture is eclectic, inside and out, is a well-made combination of Moorish and Gothic architectural style very similar to that was used in the Cathedrals of Bordeaux, Toledo, Siguenza and the Mosque of Cordoba.

Both towers and outer dome, are covered with yellow tiles of European manufacturing. The main façade, lies a cozy porch (which is unusual to find in the great cathedrals Mexican), of which three arches that give aristados special elegance. On its side walls and porch can admire four large sculptures representing the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. By shifting his big entrance gate, where egregious Inside are three ships that have a style that is definitely a sublime mix of Gothic architecture, Baroque and Neoclassical. (Wikipedia and other sources.  Top photo taken by author Bonnie Lindauer).


Interior of the Bascilica Cathedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion

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New Year – New Strategies

By President Jeff Dielle

Greetings. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the major initiatives the Board is undertaking for 5776. These strategic activities are largely derived from the Three Year Strategic Plan that was approved by the Board in the summer of 2014. These programs and projects are complementary to the “regular and ongoing” work of the Board, overseeing synagogue operations and programming.

Please review this list and ask yourself, “What can I do to get involved?” We are always looking for community members to join in and get involved. Please feel free to contact me ( if you are interested in learning more.
Now, the strategies:

strategyBuild and populate a central database of member information. Use this information to recruit volunteer leaders and workers.

B’nai Emunah has must rely on volunteers for almost everything we do. By inviting members to help with one-time projects or to assume specific responsibilities, we are creating the connections that build community.

Lisa Karpanty, our Volunteer Coordinator, is spearheading this initiative and is receiving technical support from Shais St. Martin.

Ensure that revenue flows regularly as a result of fund-raising activities. 

Fundraising is vital to help close the gap between our income and our expenses and for ensuring the long-term sustainability of our congregation. The fundraising focus for this year is Legacy Giving, encouraging members to include B’nai Emunah in their estate plans. Rabbi Mark Melamut, Jeff Dielle, Bonnie Lindauer, and Frank Kurtz are the project team.

Additionally, Rabbi Mark Melamut and Jeff Dielle will be facilitating training for synagogue leadership on the “Torah of Money.” This will enable us to hold deeper, more honest conversation about B’nai Emunah’s short and long term financial situation and help us generate “out of the box” solutions.

Bring expenses more closely in line with income.

 We continue to look for ways to reduce expenses and improve accountability. Shais St. Martin and Andrew Nusbaum, our Treasurer, will be implementing a new budgeting process which will decentralize responsibility for expense management. They will also be working to implement some of the recommendations that were made by the Expense Reduction Task Force in 2014.

Develop and implement a checklist for publicizing B’nai Emunah programs and events.

B’nai Emunah needs to “systematize” the use of print and online marketing and publicity materials so we can bring more people in the doors. Gabriele Lange Edwards, our Second Vice President and chair of the Marketing Committee, will lead this effort.

Act as a concierge to connect individual members to classes, spiritual guidance, social chavurot, interest groups, and social action activities. Bring community members with common interests or issues together.

 B’nai Emunah can build a tighter community by increasing member involvement. Shais St. Martin and Sharon Bleviss are heading up the effort to gather member information and to form a Concierge Team to help make connections.

Prepare for Rabbi Mark’s Sabbaticals.

 In the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018 Rabbi Mark will be taking some well-deserved time off. One of the challenges will be covering Friday evening and Saturday morning services.

 Rabbi Mark Melamut, with assistance from Rabbi David Lavine and Jeff Dielle, will host a Tefilah Training Team for people who wish to learn to lead Friday evening or Saturday morning services.

Examine site security and look for cost-effective improvements.

 B’nai Emunah needs to always look at the physical security of 3595 Taraval and evaluate possible improvements, such as having “Greeters” at services. We believe that the SF Police Department and the Jewish Community Relations Council may have other suggestions.

Ken Mitchell, our First Vice President, is taking the lead on this activity, with help from Shais St. Martin, Rabbi Mark Melamut, and Jeff Dielle.

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66th Anniversary Celebration

By Rabbi Mark Melamut

It was a fun filled 66th Anniversary weekend for B’nai Emunah.  Friday evening potluck dinner kicked off the weekend, followed by Saturday morning services led by some of the students of our adult B’nai Mitzvah class.  Sisterhood presented the congregation with a generous donation in honor of the anniversary and we celebrated with Hanukkah jelly-filled sufganiyot.  The Sunrise, Sunset cafe concluded the celebration, as we lit candles to celebrate the 7th night and had a Hanukkah sing-a-long with Rabbi Gottlieb and Ricki Weintraub.

Here’s a taste of the Anniversary history along with Rabbi Mark’s benediction in honor of the day.

Dr. Kantorowksy arrived in Shanghai China in 1940 after fleeing Nazi persecution in Berlin.  From Shanghai he then landed in San Francisco with other Jewish refugees, where he and a small group of 23 were the founders of B’nai Emunah.  During Hanukkah 1949, the congregation was founded and included songs and prayers in Hebrew, English and German.  The congregation was housed in various locations in the city until it landed in its current location on 3595 Taraval.  Of note is that this location was formerly known as a night club called The Sand Dunes, where it was said to have visits from the then young musician, Jerry Garcia.  Rabbi Ted Alexander took over in 1968 and helped usher in the formal transition from German to English.  Upon his retirement, Rabbi Mark Melamut became the spiritual leader in 2008 and presently serves the congregation as Rabbi and Education Director.

“In many cultures miracles signify strange and mysterious events.  In Hebrew the word is “nes”.  It means “sign” from whose root the term “significance” is derived.  To witness the miraculous is to observe in an ordinary event extraordinary significance, an event so important that it cries to be raised up and celebrated… Miracles are experienced through the capacity of human beings to turn the real into the ideal.  Miracles create something out of something, something transcendent out of something ordinary…The sense of sign significance applies to our daily lives.  We cannot often create or alter the given, change the diseases, accidents, misfortunes dealt out to us.  We can, more often than we expect, make something out of something. Negative experiences can be converted into affirmations of life.  Adversity may be used to refine the human spirit, to bring forth courage and compassion never suspected…The Hanukkah lights remind us that miracles are as real as the transforming power of ideals.” (excerpt of article from R. Harold Schulweis)

It’s in this use of miracle that I like to think of the founding and celebration of the anniversary of our beloved community, Congregation B’nai Emunah. Here, we affirm life, refine the spirit and cultivate courage, compassion and care for all.  It is up to us to continue the miracle.  Perhaps with a little help from that which is greater than us all, but ultimately, it is up to us to help perpetuate this miracle of a sacred community into the future.  Standing in the footsteps of those who came before us, it is up to each of us to ensure a sustainable congregation into perpetuity.

To fulfill this is to give a real  Hanukkah present to the congregation and can be miracle enough.  As we conclude with sim shalom at the end of our service, let’s sing it with gusto, praying for peace with the power of community and emphasizing it’s message “Barcheinu avinu culanu k’eachad b’or panecha, ki b’or panecha natata lanu – Bless us all with Your Light, for by this light have You given us all a life filled with torah, kindness, well being, peace and the capacity to care for each other as a community.     

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Hanukkah and Happy 66th Anniversary!

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