Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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Torah Study with Ruth Calderon (Chapel) 9:15 am
Torah Study with Ruth Calderon (Chapel)
Apr 1 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
Torah Study with Ruth Calderon (Chapel)
Spring Scholar-in-Residence: Ruth CalderonFamous Talmudist and founder of a secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv.She served as a member of Knesset for Yesh Atid between 2013 and 2015.
Shabbat Morning Service Bar Mitzvah of Joshua Mayer 10:30 am
Shabbat Morning Service Including Bar Mitzvah of Josh Mayer (Main) 10:30 am
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Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017 12:00 pm
Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017
Apr 2 @ 12:00 pm – Apr 12 @ 9:00 am
Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017
The Economic Justice group is partnering with Meals on Wheels and bringing them to Temple Emanu-El. Congregant groups will deliver Disaster Preparedness Kits to home-bound seniors around the City. The kits are to be used … Continued
Ruth Calderon Sunday Lecture 9:30 am
Ruth Calderon Sunday Lecture
Apr 2 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
Special Sunday Morning lecture with Ruth Calderon: Spiritual legacy- and Doubt, What did Yochanan Ben Zakai leave his students and how is it relevant for us todayPlease register to attend. Thank you.Event Signup
THE Book Club: Brunch with Ruth Calderon – April 2017 12:00 pm
THE Book Club: Brunch with Ruth Calderon – April 2017
Apr 2 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Join with THE Book Club for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn with Ruth Calderon, famous Talmudist and founder of a secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv. She served as a member of Knesset for Yesh Atid … Continued
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Brown Bag April 12:00 pm
Brown Bag April
Apr 5 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Join Congregation Emanu-El clergy for Brown Bag Wednesdays. On the first Wednesday of each month, bring your brown bag lunch to the temple library for engaging spiritual and cultural discussions.  Noon – 1:00 pm.Event Signup
Limonata and Learning, April 5, 2017 4:00 pm
Limonata and Learning, April 5, 2017
Apr 5 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Join a member of our clergy for a special learning opportunity, Limonata and Learning, offered exclusively for our congregants in Marin. We will meet for happy hour at Book Passage in Corte Madera while discussing … Continued
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Cooking for Congregants – April 6 2017 9:00 am
Cooking for Congregants – April 6 2017
Apr 6 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Do you enjoy cooking? Participate in this mitzvah led by congregant and former restaurant owner Gail Laghi. Together, up to five volunteers make meals for congregants in need. All congregants are welcome to join. Please … Continued
Why Jews Love the Moon 7:00 pm
Why Jews Love the Moon
Apr 6 @ 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm
Why Jews Love the Moon @ Jewish Community Library | San Francisco | California | United States
Presented by Rabbi Sydney Mintz Thursday, April 6, 7 p.m. Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St. Free admission with free garage parking on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy streets. The Jewish connection to the … Continued
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Bagels and Babies (MMR) 9:30 am
Bagels and Babies (MMR)
Apr 7 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
 
First Friday Under Five Shabbat Service (MMS) 5:30 pm
First Friday Under Five Shabbat Service (MMS)
Apr 7 @ 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
 
Pre-Oneg (MMR) 5:30 pm
Pre-Oneg (MMR)
Apr 7 @ 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
 
Classic Shabbat Service (Main) 6:00 pm
Classic Shabbat Service (Main)
Apr 7 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
 
Simchat Shabbat Dinner 04-07-2017 6:15 pm
Simchat Shabbat Dinner 04-07-2017
Apr 7 @ 6:15 pm – 8:00 pm
Monthly festive community Shabbat Dinner with children.First Friday of the month,6:15 p.m in Guild Hall. Thai Food will be provided.Adult Member-$ 18.00, Child ages 3-10-$ 7.50, Non-member Adult-$ 22.00.Event Signup
One Shabbat Service (MMS) 7:30 pm
One Shabbat Service (MMS)
Apr 7 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
 
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Torah Study (Library) 9:15 am
Torah Study (Library)
Apr 8 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55) 9:15 am
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55)
Apr 8 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Got Shabbat? (Chapel) 10:15 am
Got Shabbat? (Chapel)
Apr 8 @ 10:15 am – 11:30 am
 
Shabbat Morning Service Bat Mitzvah of Alexandra Rose (MMS) 10:30 am
Blessing of the Animals & Hike – April 2017 1:30 pm
Blessing of the Animals & Hike – April 2017
Apr 8 @ 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Blessing of the Animals & Hike - April 2017
Location: Emanu-El Courtyard and Hike in the Presidio Gather in our courtyard and bring along your furry or fluffy friends! The blessing of the animals is popular in many religions, so make sure you don't … Continued
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Men’s Group – April 2017 9:30 am
Men’s Group – April 2017
Apr 9 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Men of Congregation Emanu-El have a monthly opportunity to socialize and study with a member of the clergy at a private home. This cross-generational group provides a small group experience so important to building community. … Continued
10
Office is closed 8:30 am
Office is closed
Apr 10 @ 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
 
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Office is closed 8:30 am
Office is closed
Apr 11 @ 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
 
Passover Breakfast and Service 8:30 am
Passover Breakfast and Service
Apr 11 @ 8:30 am – 11:00 am
Join us for breakfast and services on the first day of Passover.Breakfast:  8:30 amService      9:15 amNo registration needed and the community is welcome to attend.
Family Passover Seder 2017 5:30 pm
Family Passover Seder 2017
Apr 11 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
This seder is designed to engage families with children. Led by Rabbi Beth Singer, Rabbi Carla Fenves, Cantor Arik Luck and Jonathan Bayer, the seder will be musical, participatory and fast-paced with a delicious dinner. … Continued
Adult Passover Seder 04-11-2017 6:00 pm
Adult Passover Seder 04-11-2017
Apr 11 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Adult Passover Seder 04-11-2017
For those want a chance of join in a Seder of discussion, songs and engagement.  This Seder is welcoming to adults and youth who want a full Seder experience and will be led by Clergy … Continued
Young Adult Passover Seder – April 2017 6:30 pm
Young Adult Passover Seder – April 2017
Apr 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Young Adult Passover Seder - April 2017
Main Sanctuary Foyer6:30 pmJoin other Jews in their 20’s and 30’s for our annual Young Adult Passover Seder! Nosh on gefilte fish and horseradish! Sing dayeinu! Find an Afikoman and make a new friend! This … Continued
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Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017 9:00 am
Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017
Apr 12 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Deliver Disaster Kits to Homebound Seniors with Meals on Wheels April 12 2017
The Economic Justice group is partnering with Meals on Wheels and bringing them to Temple Emanu-El. Congregant groups will deliver Disaster Preparedness Kits to home-bound seniors around the City. The kits are to be used … Continued
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Torah Study (Library) 9:15 am
Torah Study (Library)
Apr 15 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Shabbat Morning Service Bar Mitzvah Noah-Mays Smith (MMS) 10:30 am
Shabbat Morning Service Including Bat Mitzvah of Hannah Urisman (Main) 10:30 am
Park Playdates! – Passover Edition – 2017 4:00 pm
Park Playdates! – Passover Edition – 2017
Apr 15 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
YOUNG FAMILIESPark Playdates! – Passover EditionTouch, Taste, & Smell Passover A special Passover-themed day! Please join us in the afternoon on Saturday, April 15, for Touch, Taste, & Smell Passover: A Passover Experience for Families with … Continued
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Office is closed 8:30 am
Office is closed
Apr 17 @ 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
 
Passover Breakfast & Yizkor Service 8:30 am
Passover Breakfast & Yizkor Service
Apr 17 @ 8:30 am – 10:15 am
Join us for breakfast and services on the first day of Passover.Breakfast:  8:30 amService      9:15 amNo registration needed and the community is welcome to attend.
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Side by Side April 2017 Session 9:30 am
Side by Side April 2017 Session
Apr 18 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Side by Side April 2017 Session
When registering below, please indicate that you will  not  be attending and register your child as your guest. Emanu-El’s Side by Side program introduces our youngest children (18 months to 2.5 years) to a preschool … Continued
The Tribe for Men: Brewery Tour & Pizza – April 2017 6:00 pm
The Tribe for Men: Brewery Tour & Pizza – April 2017
Apr 18 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Tribe for Men: Brewery Tour & Pizza - April 2017
Registration is now closed. To be added to the waitlist, email Rebecca Reiner.THE TRIBE FOR MEN AND THE TRIBE 2.0: Ft. Point Brewery Tour & Pizza at Paxti’s After a week of no bread or beer, join … Continued
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Annual Community Passover Seder – April 2017 11:30 am
Annual Community Passover Seder – April 2017
Apr 19 @ 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
The Economic Justice Working Group is partnering with Jewish Family and Children's Services, to provide the opportunity for isolated seniors of San Francisco to experience their very important connection to the Jewish community. We are … Continued
At the Rabbi’s Table – April 2017 12:00 pm
At the Rabbi’s Table – April 2017
Apr 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
We're continuing a monthly learning session with Senior Rabbi Jonathan Singer during your lunch break in downtown San Francisco. Bring your own lunch, and our rabbi will bring the Torah to you! This week's topic … Continued
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Bagels and Babies (MMR) 9:30 am
Bagels and Babies (MMR)
Apr 21 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
 
Pre-Oneg (MMR) 5:30 pm
Pre-Oneg (MMR)
Apr 21 @ 5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
 
One Shabbat Service with guest speaker Stephen Smith (MMS) 6:00 pm
One Shabbat Service with guest speaker Stephen Smith (MMS)
Apr 21 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
One Shabbat Service with guest speaker Stephen Smith (MMS)
We are very honored to have Dr. Stephen D. Smith speak at this evening's One Shabbat service. Dr. Stephen D. Smith is the Andrew J. and Erna Finci Viterbi Endowed Executive Director of the USC ShoahFoundation … Continued
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Torah Study (Library) 9:15 am
Torah Study (Library)
Apr 22 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55) 9:15 am
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55)
Apr 22 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Shabbat Morning Service Bar Mitzvah of Aidan Dowling (MMS) 10:30 am
Shabbat Morning Service Including Bar Mitzvah of Elijah Hollander (Main) 10:30 am
Young Couples Shabbat Hike – April 2017 1:00 pm
Young Couples Shabbat Hike – April 2017
Apr 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Young Couples Shabbat Hike - April 2017
Young Couples Shabbat HikeNo charge to attend! Open to members. Please register for location and more details.Join us for a 2.5 mile hike, picnic (bring your own!), and meditative Shabbat experience.Pack a water bottle, picnic blanket, … Continued
Earth Day Festival with Emanu-El 2:00 pm
Earth Day Festival with Emanu-El
Apr 22 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Environmental Working Group of the Tzedek Council is asking you to express your support for policies that protect the Earth this Earth Day, April 22nd at the San Francisco Earth Day Festival to be held at … Continued
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Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day 5:00 pm
Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day
Apr 23 @ 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm
Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day @ Jewish Community Center of San Francisco | San Francisco | California | United States
YOM HASHOAH – HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO Location: Jewish Community Center of San Francisco   5:00 pm Dr. Stephen D. Smith, from the USC Shoah Foundation, will present The Future of Our Past, a … Continued
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Mazel Tots! (MMR) 9:30 am
Mazel Tots! (MMR)
Apr 24 @ 9:30 am – 11:00 am
 
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Germans and Jews – Film 7:00 pm
Germans and Jews – Film
Apr 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Germans and Jews - Film
Film Screening of Germans and Jews: history is the memory of a people Followed by Q&A with the filmmaker, Janina Quint. Tuesday, April 25 – 7:00 – 9:00pm Today, Europe’s fastest growing Jewish population is … Continued
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Cooking for Congregants – April 27 2017 9:00 am
Cooking for Congregants – April 27 2017
Apr 27 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Do you enjoy cooking? Participate in this mitzvah led by congregant and former restaurant owner Gail Laghi, and congregant and chef Sari Swig. Together, up to five volunteers make meals for congregants in need. All … Continued
Jewish Meditation – April 2017 6:15 pm
Jewish Meditation – April 2017
Apr 27 @ 6:15 pm – 7:30 pm
Jewish Meditation - April 2017
Please join us for one hour after work as we practice opening our minds and souls for a special sitting meditation session that will alter your perception and enhance your Jewish Spiritual practice, led by … Continued
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Torah Study (Library) 9:15 am
Torah Study (Library)
Apr 29 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55) 9:15 am
Torah Study with Rabbi Kushner (R55)
Apr 29 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am
 
Shabbat Morning Service Bar Mitzvah Zachary Breitbard (MMS) 10:30 am
Shabbat Morning Service Including Bar Mitzvah of Eli Fastiff (Main) 10:30 am
Women in Technology – April 2017 5:30 pm
Women in Technology – April 2017
Apr 29 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Women in Technology - April 2017 @ Private congregant home in Pacific Heights
Please join us in getting to know women in your community who work in the technology field. You're invited to a private home in Pacific Heights for light bites and an informal evening to meet … Continued
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B’nei Mitzvah – Date Setting Meeting – Test1 11:47 am
B’nei Mitzvah – Date Setting Meeting – Test1
Apr 30 @ 11:47 am – 11:47 am
This is a testWe are inviting you to begin the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process with your family.   When: Tuesday, September 6th 2016Place & Time: Guild Hall from 5:00pm – 6:00pmWho: You and your child are invited … Continued
Volunteer for Larkin Street – Young Adults, April 2017 5:00 pm
Volunteer for Larkin Street – Young Adults, April 2017
Apr 30 @ 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Volunteer for Larkin Street - Young Adults, April 2017
Volunteer for Larkin Street Youth Services at their Geary House. Join with a small group of young adults to cook dinner for their clients. Meet up at 5:00 pm to cook; dinner is served around … Continued
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Congregant Spotlight

Congregant Spotlight

Lori Campbell

Lori-CampbellIn Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag writes, “Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” I have come to know that kingdom of the sick, that night side of life, through the portals of mental illness. And I have come to understand this condition, this medical condition, is chronic —not curable—but treatable.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control noted that one family in four has at least one family member diagnosed with a serious mental illness. As with most sickness, when mental illness strikes, the whole family is affected. The symptoms displayed by a loved one—erratic behavior, disordered thinking, impaired judgment, disruptive moods— can be confusing and even frightening. Through education, compassion and understanding, family members can move from fear and anxiety to acceptance and participation in their loved one’s recovery.

NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, has been at the forefront of research and education, championing the role of families in the recovery process. It was through NAMI that I was able to move from crisis to advocacy. Through NAMI’s Family-to-Family education program I learned about the biological basis of brain disorders, the current research on effective treatment, and strategies for managing symptoms and improving outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, I became a member of a community linked through hope, committed to combating the stigma of mental illness and providing support for each other and our loved ones as we move towards the kingdom of the well.

In keeping with our Jewish values of tikkun olam and in an effort to give back to our community, I participated in the NAMI instructor training program and am now a certified Family-to-Family instructor. With the support of Emanu-El clergy and staff, I am honored to offer the Family-to-Family program to our congregants. If you have a family member diagnosed with a serious mental illness, I invite you to join us at our open house on January 27 to learn more about NAMI and our upcoming 12-week Family-to-Family program.


Mark Sugarman

msugarmanMark Sugarman has been an Emanu-El congregant since 2000. Ever since he moved from Boston, what upset him the most about San Francisco was the many homeless people trying to survive on the streets. Walking by people who were either panhandling or having untreated episodes of mental illness went against the Jewish value of helping the stranger, and Mark wanted to do something about it.

When he had a chance to be a participant in Jewish Volunteer Day at Project Homeless Connect (PHC), Mark eagerly signed up. The success of Project Homeless Connect is due to the ongoing dedication of volunteers. At each event more than 1,000 individuals from every sector of the Bay Area work together to provide efficient and compassionate service to those in need. Volunteers lead and manage most service areas. The common goal is to provide relevant and easily accessible onsite services for clients while creating a valuable experience for all volunteers. At the most recent PHC event, 1,749 clients were served.

With Project Homeless Connect, a homeless person is able to obtain as many services in one day rather than over the course of several months. During each event, corporations, nonprofits and government agencies provide PHC and its participants with services such as dental care, eyeglasses, HIV testing, housing, food, hygiene products, medical care, mental health services, SSI benefits, legal advice, California identification cards, voicemail accounts, employment counseling/job placement, wheelchair repair, addiction services, and more. This is usually a quarterly event at the Bill Graham Center. There are a number of different volunteer opportunities. Mark chose “check-in” and is now a Lead Volunteer in this area. The check-in volunteer helps the homeless person determine the services needed. This few minutes of interaction gives the volunteer an opportunity to learn about the client. The stranger becomes a person.

Mark feels it has been one of his most rewarding volunteer experiences. To quote Kara Zordel, executive director of PHC, “What we do together is far greater than providing essential services. We give support and love to those in our community who often feel invisible, unvalued and rejected. By showing up and serving, we are clasping our hands together in unity. Together, we show that every person has value, even if they don’t have a home.”


Elyse Blatt

elyseblatt-resizedElyse Blatt initially began volunteering at G-House over five years ago with her children Zak (22) and Zoe (20). The three of them really enjoyed sharing this experience together. It certainly made her kids realize how blessed they are when seeing and hearing some of the challenges the residents experience. Each Sunday they left feeling like they did something nice for someone else and that felt great. Her son and the other kids discussed their mutual love of skateboarding and drawing, and her daughter Zoe talked to the other girls about their jobs and school. The kids also would bring out board games on occasion to play with them. Elyse looks forward to continuing to prepare Sunday night dinners at G-House and hopes that others will do the same. “Even though we all lead busy lives, taking the time out to give back, in such a hands-on way, to such a worthy group of kids, is indeed gratifying.”


Danny Grossman

Danny-Noah-Jonah-Grossman-resizedDanny Grossman and his wife Linda have always wanted to model community service for and with their two children. Finding a direct service opportunity for an 11 and 9 year old, which would enable engagement with clients, was very challenging. “We have all been transformed by the experience over the years. We feel so fortunate that the youth there welcome and engage us in the way that they do; we have learned so much from them over the years.”


Laura Saunders

RESIZEDlaurasaundersrightrachelsteinfeldleftLaura Saunders has been cooking Sunday night dinner once a month at G-House for over six years. This opportunity allowed her to share her love for cooking and healthy eating with young adults, many of whom had been living on the street and have dealt with food insecurity.It has been inspiring to sit down for dinner with them every month, hear their stories and watch their transformation over the years.

Rachel Steinfeld and her new husband Scott Burger started leading a group of volunteers on their own Sunday. They invited fellow Chuppah and Beyond classmates to join them at G-House. These young couples, who are very busy planning weddings and starting their lives together, have continued to volunteer monthly at G-House.


Jack Merk

14-1Jack Merk, along with his wife Shelley, has been a congregant at Emanu-El for approximately four years. Jack is a staunch believer in the great Jewish teaching of tikkun olam, and considers it an honorable privilege to be considered among the ranks of “world healers.” Jack’s most fulfilling service activity is with the Back on Track Tutoring and Mentorship program. For two evening hours each week, plus the occasional field trip, Jack spends time working with a middle school-aged student who has academic dilemmas that are not fully addressed by the conventional San Francisco city school system.
Thanks to his involvement with the Back on Track initiative, Jack finds great satisfaction in contributing to the enhancement of students’ academic progress and empowering young individuals to become lifelong learners. Jack feels strongly that this academic resource plays a pivotal role in helping to foster a nurturing, learning and positive-socializing environment for the next generation of San Francisco citizens.
“Plus,” adds Jack, “I get the extra-special bonus of seeing the look of joy on my young student’s face when I take him to his first pro baseball, football or basketball game!”


Philip Auerbach

14-2Philip Auerbach heard about Back On Track at Emanu-El about eight years ago and has been tutoring with them ever since. It’s a commitment of only one evening a week. Most important is the fulfillment he receives from tutoring and the deep appreciation of the students, all of whom will be first-generation college attendees, and their families. At the start of the school year, new students often have a huge deficit in reading, vocabulary, spelling, writing and cultural knowledge (“What’s a log cabin?”). But after a year of reading newspaper articles and textbooks, and learning new words with lots of practice, the transformation is a light year’s improvement.
Philip’s students have been American, Ethiopian, and Chinese. His current student is Palestinian/Jordanian. While tutors can choose any grade level K-12, Philip prefers working with high school juniors and seniors. Philip has previously taught English (reading, writing and poetry), Social Studies and French. Two years ago, he spent half the year helping his student craft his college-application essays. While Philip knows that he can’t change the entire world, he feels content knowing that his students will do so one at a time through their future engineering inventions, their social motivations and their broadened perspectives.


Sarah Imber Safdar

imbarspotlightCongregant Sarah Imber Safdar became familiar with WildCare (www.wildcarebayarea.org) through her husband Shabbir, who does fundraising work for them. Knowing her love of knitting, Shabbir informed Sarah that WildCare uses handmade wool nests to take care of baby birds during baby bird season, but they don’t have enough. Sarah combined her love of knitting, her passion for social justice and her extraordinary networking abilities to see if she could make a difference in this area of need in our community.

Sarah met with the head of the Bird Room at WildCare in San Rafael, which cares for over 1,000 birds annually, and helped diagnose some problems in the knitted nest pattern that was previously being used. Sarah created a new pattern and brought it to the crafting community on www.ravelry.com. Once the community got involved, they started making a crochet pattern as well. Sarah spent so much time on this project that Shabbir started calling her WildCare’s Knitter-In-Residence, and the title has stuck.

But that was just the beginning of her cycle of giving back. Sarah read on the Emanu-El website that her Temple was in partnership with Star Community Home. The Star Community Home is an 18-month project addressing critical community needs by providing housing and services to homeless single mothers with children at the former convent at Star of The Sea Parish in the Richmond District of San Francisco.

The project was made possible by a generous grant to Catholic Charities CYO by Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Salesforce.com Foundation. Knowing that her fellow congregants were already contributing to this project cinched it for Sarah. She went to the Star Community and start teaching the residents how to knit. Sarah now runs a monthly knitting class for mothers and children at Star Community and has offered those in a difficult situation not only a new skill, but a sense of purpose with the ability to give back.


Sanchez/Bornstein family

Sanchez2Ten years ago, the Sanchez/Bornstein family, started Nicaraguan Children’s Friendship Committee (NCFC) to help abandoned children at Casa Jacinta, a shelter for in Leon, Veronica’s birthplace. They celebrated Christmas Holidays with Casa Jacinta’s children, accompanied with family and friends from their son’s school, Brandeis Hillel Day School.

During her visits to Casa Jacinta, Veronica Sanchez observed young mothers abandoning children because they could not care for them financially or emotionally. Children were also dropped off by child protective services in abuse or neglect cases.

On Veronica’s recommendation, NCFC’s Board started a proactive approach of tackling the root causes of child abandonment: teen pregnancy and poverty. Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the hemisphere after Haiti. Teen girls account for 27% of births in public health institutions and 47% of these youngsters are between the ages of 10 and 14.

In 2010, Las Esperanzas (“the hopes’) was created to educate and empower high-risk adolescent girls. Serving 18 girls, the program has transformed the lives of girls to fulltime students. Previously, they working as food vendors, garbage recyclers or babysitting siblings and dropped out of elementary school.

NCFC’s mission is to make a lasting difference in the lives of Nicaraguan youth. In addition to operating Las Esperanzas it also runs Los Caminantes carpentry program for high risk boys. Additionally, NCFC provides 21 Nicaraguan students with scholarships to complete elementary, high school and vocational schools. Students originate from Las Esperanzas and the carpentry program. Some of the students lived at Casa Jacinta during their childhood.

Sanchez1Without NCFC’s support, none of these students could continue their studies because they are so poor they can’t afford to even buy uniforms, backpacks and school supplies. Their mothers are maids, food vendors or unemployed. In December 2014, 13 students will finish high school and vocational courses, including electricians, veterinary and farm technicians, and a beautician.

For more info please visit www.ncfckids.org or contact Veronica Sanchez, President, NCFC.


Susan Rothstein and John Koeppel

parttwoSusan Rothstein and John Koeppel, members of Emanu-El since 2011, spent the first three months of 2013 in Ahmedabad, India as volunteers with American Jewish World Service. They worked for Navsarjan, a grassroots NGO that fights caste-based discrimination by raising awareness and by representing Dalits (the untouchable caste) in the Indian legal system. Susan, a nonprofit executive, worked with Navsarjan’s Executive Director on fundraising initiatives while John, a trial lawyer, helped prosecute cases pending before the Indian National Human Rights Commission.

The caste system, a strict hierarchy based on the family into which one is born, has 3,000 years of religious, political and social history and although it is illegal to discriminate based on caste, such discrimination is still pervasive – especially in the villages. Much of Navsarjan’s work follows the strategies of our civil rights struggle, which serves as a model for them. For example, it is traditional for an Indian groom to ride a white horse to the home of his bride on his wedding day. In a village Susan and John visited, a Dalit groom had been pulled from his horse and beaten by upper caste villagers who objected to his “uppity manner”. Navsarjan is representing the groom in court, and the next time a Dalit groom in the village rode a white horse to his bride’s house, he had police protection due to the publicity resulting from the pending lawsuit.

partoneThe experience of living and working in India was life-changing for Susan and John. They quickly bonded with their co-workers, who were welcoming and appreciative. And despite the challenges (overpopulation, extreme poverty, mountains of trash, pervasive air and water pollution, insane traffic), the commitment of their Navsarjan colleagues to basic human rights for all people – regardless of caste – was an inspiration that stays with Susan and John.

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