The Financial Four -- January 17, 2017

Today, the latest edition of The Financial Four, an update from our Interim Director of Finance, Missy Sue Mastel.

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Happy Secular New Year!

I think we're especially fortunate to have two New Year celebrations; I use one for my spiritual health and the other for my (and incidentally, the synagogue’s) financial well-being. Some people say spirituality and financial considerations shouldn’t mix. Don’t believe that for a second; they are inextricably tied together. At the synagogue, like everywhere else, you get what you pay for – we commit to supporting our synagogue and the synagogue is there when we need and want it.

A lot has happened in a few short weeks since my last post. So, with no further ado, let's look at our recent progress.

1. Commitment to Cash Flow – While we continue our bold push to create a sustained culture of giving, we are well on our way to making our projections for the year, coming in at or below budget on our expenses. This good news is a direct result of...

2. Our Commitment to Savings – Many of our Board members and volunteers have come up with great ideas to help us save money. We are investing in programming changes for our synagogue database, our telephone systems, and our postage and copying contracts in order to create more sustainable long-term cost structures. Some of you may have noticed some of our customer relationship management (CRM) changes, and may have experienced a glitch here and there. We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we work through these systemic changes and get everything working correctly while we continue to do our job of keeping your financials accurate and up to date.

3. Commitment to Staff and the Environment – So many people came to tell us how wonderful the High Holy Days services were at CBS, and many felt this was because of the hard work of our staff. We agree, so we have reworked our staff benefits to include Commuterchecks and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) benefits for anyone who opts in. We also scheduled some lovely back massages for the hardworking CBS Family Preschool and office staff just before our wonderful Light It Up! Community Hanukkah celebration.

4. Commitment to the Community – We all know that Beth Sholom is not an island, and we have been making a lot of plans to partner and work with other synagogues. Here, in the financial office, we are forging a CRM redesign for use by other congregations in the Bay Area. We thank Congregation Emanu-El and Peninsula Temple Beth El (San Mateo) for encouraging us to "boldly go where (few) synagogues have gone before." Stay tuned for exciting updates on that front!

Finally, thanks to you, our members, who give all of our commitments – and your commitments to us – meaning and purpose.

L’shalom,
Missy Sue

5776 Shavuot Shul Crawl

CBS is delighted to again participate in the annual
SF SHAVUOT CALIFORNIA STREET SHUL CRAWL!

Wheat4_Website Join fellow members of our Bay Area Jewish community for an illuminating night (and dawn!) of learning, rejoicing, and good eats on Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12.


As in years prior, participants will start the evening at Sherith Israel, then move on to the Jewish Community Center, and Congregation Emanu-El, before settling in at CBS to participate in a Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an all-night Torah study session established by Jewish mystics. This year, in addition to those traditional stops, Richmond District staple Toy Boat Dessert Cafe is also an important way station!

Check out the full schedule below and join us for some or all of what promises to be an edifying and magical night!

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8:30 p.m. – BODY: Body and Spice, havdalah with Cantor Marsha Attie and Rabbi Julie Saxe Taller (Congregation Sherith Israel)
9:30 p.m. – depart from Sherith Israel

10 p.m. – SAVORY: Cheese tasting with the Limburger Rebbe, with Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, supported by David Green and Rabbi Batshir Torchio (JCCSF)
11:00 p.m. — depart from JCCSF

11:30 p.m. – VISUAL: Beholding Torah, with Rabbi Carla Fenves and Rabbi Jason Rodich (Congregation Emanu-El)
12:15 a.m. — depart from Emanu-El

12:30 a.m. — SWEET: On the Kabbalah of Ice Cream, with Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi & Rabbi Aubrey Glazer (Toy Boat Dessert Cafe)
1:45 a.m. — depart Toy Boat

2 a.m. — MIND: Tikkun Leil Shavuot, all-night study session with Henry Hollander, Michael Loebs, Rabbi Aubrey Glazer (Congregation Beth Sholom)
First session: Healing Secret Faces So Divine in Zohar’s Idrah Rabbah for Shavuot, Rabbi Glazer (full description here)
Second session: Night Illuminations: Light and Darkness in the Bahir, Michael Loebs (full description here)
Third session: Prayers, Personal & Prescribed, Henry Hollander (full description here)
Fourth session: Dialogue on Dawn, Henry Hollander & Rabbi Glazer (full description here)

5:45 a.m. — Shacharit davening, Gronowski Family Chapel (Congregation Beth Sholom)

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Please also join the CBS community for Shavuot services on Sunday, June 12, and Monday, June 13.

Sunday, June 12
9 a.m. — Shavuot, 1st Day service
12 p.m. — Shavuot Lunch & Learn Kiddush, Book of Ruth
1:45 p.m. — Mincha Gedolah Shavuot*

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Monday, June 13
9 a.m. — Shavuot, 2nd Day service
12 p.m. — Shavuot Lunch & Learn Kiddush, Book of Ruth
1:45 p.m. — Mincha Gedolah Shavuot*

Our normal, evening minyan service (6 p.m.) is replaced by this 1:45 p.m. service.

Enlarging the Jewberhood: The Richmond Eruv

RabbiGlazerRabbi_RabbiZarchi_RichmondDistrict_SFCA_October2015I'm a casual birdwatcher. You’ll often spot me walking along a San Francisco street with my head tilted skyward, admiring a passing hawk, a migrating warbler, or a chattering blackbird. This past Tuesday, though, I found myself looking overhead for a very different reason. Led by Rabbi Glazer, Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi of Congregation Chevra Thilim, and a visiting rabbi from Miami, I ambled up and down 14th Avenue in search of cable wires, poles, trees, and tall hedges that might be used to help us construct a virtual wall. A virtual wall? Allow me to explain.

The Richmond District is home to the largest eruv in San Francisco. An eruv is a virtual enclosure created by Jews in order to allow religiously observant members of our community to “carry” on Shabbat. “Carrying,” in this context, simply means moving any object from one “domain" to another. According to halacha (Jewish law), Jews can move a book, for example, from room to room in their “place of the residence,” but that same book could not be carried from the house to shul; doing so would necessitate a crossing of multiple domains (from house to street to shul).

Rabbi_RabbiGlazerRabbiZarchi_RichmondDistrict_SFCA_October2015Not surprisingly, strict adherence to this rule creates a lot of tsoris for observant Jews. How can you carry your tallit from home to shul, much less your house keys? As is their wont, rabbis devised a workaround. Because the walls of a home’s courtyard are, halachically-speaking, an extension of a house, Jews could carry the aforementioned book from the house into the courtyard without violating halacha. The rabbis reasoned, then, that the walls of a city — Jerusalem, for example — delineate a larger, symbolic “courtyard” or “place of residence.” Effectively, all of Jerusalem is one home, so carrying a book from your apartment to the shul is totally kosher.

But what about cities like San Francisco — or pretty much any modern municipality — that lack city walls? In those cases, halachically-observant Jews need to create their own walls. For practical reasons, these are most often virtual boundaries traced by telephone wires, existing fences, and adjoining buildings. This virtual perimeter is technically called an eruv chatzerot (“mixed courtyard/domain") but is generally referred to simply as an eruv; it serves as a symbolic "walled courtyard,” and is therefore an extension of any individual “place of the residence” located within the eruv’s borders. Voila; problem solved! Observant Jews can carry their tallit, keys, pills, a jacket, or their newborn baby on Shabbat so long as they remain within the bounds of the eruv!

FullSizeRenderA virtual wall needs virtual gates or doorways, of course. These are created by the installation of a lechi, or doorpost, that must be connected to another lechi or suitable object (e.g., a telephone pole) by a wire; this horizontal wire forms the doorway’s lintel, or korah. Although these gates, or tzurot ha'pesach, go unnoticed by most of us, they represent a profound threshold for those in the know; passing through a tzurat ha'pesach, a Jew moves from what might be thought of as trief territory into sacred space. (One of the four entry points into the Richmond eruv is located on the southeast corner of 16th Avenue and Clement Street. Next time you’re on that corner, look up for the korah extending from lechi to lechi.)

1_EruvRevealed_Lechi16thClement_RichmondDistrict_SFCA_October2015Congregation Beth Sholom is situated just two blocks outside of the Richmond District’s existing eruv, which extends east-to-west from 16th to 43rd Avenues and north-to-south from Clement to Fulton Streets. In consultation with the Miami rabbi, an eruv specialist who flies all over North America to help establish new eruvim, Rabbi Zarchi and Rabbi Glazer are working to determine how the current eruv’s reach can be expanded. When Rabbi Zarchi constructed the eruv in 2012, he established eruv borders that were practically achievable, affordable, and didn't require an onerous city permitting process.

Nevertheless, he has always aspired to create an eruv that includes CBS and Congregation Emanu-El. Although Reform Judaism doesn’t officially mandate observation of halacha, some more traditionally-minded Reform Jews would benefit from Emanu-El’s being inside the eruv. More importantly, the more Jewish communities that are included — the bigger the “Jewberhood,” if you will — the better for klal yisrael, the whole of the Jewish people.

The process is in the early stages yet -- we're just sussing out expansion options -- but CBS will keep you posted on any progress. And, going forward, if you spot me on the street gazing up, it's possible that I won't be birdwatching or daydreaming, but checking on the condition of our eruv.
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More information on the Richmond eruv can be found in this article, which appeared in the August 1, 2013, edition of J-Weekly.

Image descriptions:
1) Rabbi Glazer, the eruv consultant, and Rabbi Zarchi walk north on 14th Avenue
2) The eruv expert, Rabbi Glazer, and Rabbi Zarchi inspect potential eruv connections
3) Lechi definition from The Talmud, The Steinsaltz Edition: A Reference Guide, 1989
4) The tzurat ha'pesach at 16th Avenue and Clement Street
5) The eruv expert, Rabbi Glazer, Rabbi Zarchi, and Angel Alvarez-Mapp in conversation under the korah of the tzurat ha'pesach at 16th Avenue and Clement Street
5) Rabbi Zarchi, Angel Alvarez-Mapp, and the eruv expert talk logistics on the corner of 16th Avenue and Clement Street