David Malman, Calligrapher & Mensch

Facebook_DavidMalman_SiddurMinyanBookPlate_GronowskiFamilyChapel_CBS_August2016In February 2016, our twice-daily egalitarian minyan was featured by J Weekly. The article emphasized just how important our CBS minyan is to the larger Bay Area Jewish community.

"San Francisco is home to about a dozen egalitarian congregations, yet Beth Sholom, a Conservative synagogue in the Inner Richmond, is the only one that provides the essential community service of a daily minyan. I say it’s essential because of the Jewish practice of saying Kaddish daily for 11 months after the passing of a loved one, a practice more common among liberal, egalitarian Jews than one might assume."

We’re proud of our minyan. Many members describe it as our congregation’s "beating heart." Our regular daveners (prayer participants) join the minyan because they want to be there for every person who needs to pray, recite the mourner's Kaddish, or recall the anniversary of a loved one’s passing with communal support. CBS is the minyan's home, providing space, financial support, and leadership, but the minyan is literally and figuratively "made" by those who participate – people like congregant David Malman.

Years ago, David and his wife, fellow congregant Ellen Shireman, read an issue of CJ Voices, the magazine of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), that included a feature about an East Coast minyan that presented a personalized siddur (prayer book) to individuals who came regularly to say Kaddish for a loved one. Ellen and David were inspired by the lovely tradition, and decided that CBS should and could offer the same.

Facebook_DavidMalman1_SiddurMinyanBookPlate_Boardroom_CBS_August2016Facebook_DavidMalman2_SiddurMinyanBookPlate_Boardroom_CBS_August2016"The people who come [to say Kaddish] do it to honor their parent or loved one," David told me recently, "but the rest of the minyan deeply appreciates it. It’s a kind of symbiosis – the minyan supports the mourners, but, through their regular presence for those months, the mourners support the minyan."

In 2008, David approached Rabbi Micah Hyman, then the spiritual leader of CBS, and proposed that CBS adopt the siddur gifting tradition. Once Rabbi Hyman was on board, David bought a calligraphy pen and obtained a number of siddurim and label stickers from the CBS office. The next step? Learning how to create calligraphy for the bookplates David would place in the front of each siddur.

"When we read that [CJ Voices] article, I thought about it and said to Ellen, 'I know how to do this!' I’ve been fascinated with letters since I was a kid." As a teenager, David practiced writing calligraphy in English and even dabbled with some Hebrew. Later, in his twenties, when the art career of David Moss took off, he was reminded of how moving calligraphy and Judaica can be. "I was looking at these insanely beautiful ketubot…and [the work] broke my heart." David considered picking up the practice again, but his calligraphic impulse lay dormant until he and Ellen decided to get married in 2005. "When I started thinking about our ketubah," he recalled, "I felt I should do it – create the calligraphy." And so he did. Today, the ketubah that David created, which incorporates both English and Hebrew text, hangs in their home. "I guess it worked out!," he said with a smile.

Facebook_DavidMalman3_SiddurMinyanBookPlate_Boardroom_CBS_August2016The labels David used for his first CBS siddurim bookplates were small, and fewer lines of text could fit; as a result, only English text was included. As his calligraphic confidence grew, so, too, did the label size. Today, each bookplate features an English inscription as well as the name of the memorialized individual in both English and Hebrew. The date on which the deceased passed away is also included, using both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars. David points out that the date serves a practical purpose – whenever the siddur owner wants to double check the date of their loved one’s Yahrzeit, they need only crack their prayer book.

Since 2008, David has created approximately 20 bookplates. His process and specific approach continue to evolve. Currently, David is trying to find the ideal label stock. The original, smaller labels took the ink well, with little bleeding. He hopes to find a larger label that does the same. The personalized siddur gifting practice has also spread; David and Ellen are evening minyan regulars, but the morning "minyan-aires" learned of the practice through the CBS grapevine and soon adopted it.

Facebook_DavidMalman2_SiddurMinyanBookPlate_GronowskiFamilyChapel_CBS_August2016What hasn’t changed in almost a decade is the bookplates’ purpose and the hand creating them. Each is crafted with care by David, placed in a siddur, and presented to a minyan participant who completes the 11-month period of mourning. (Occasionally, if the last day of Kaddish is missed, the presentation will occur on the first Yahrzeit of the deceased.) David describes this presentation as “a tiny ritual, maybe 20 seconds long,” but its brevity is not a reflection of its meaningfulness or sincerity.

Each bookplate is a handsome artifact. David, ever humble, attributes this to the art of calligraphy rather than his particular hand. He thinks that the Hebrew letters, in particular, are "extremely beautiful," and not just aesthetically. "We’re the People of the Book. Our letters are the atomic particles of our civilization. When you look at these pieces, you might think, 'Oh, they’re just bookplates,' but they’re not. Each one is a little brick in the greater Jewish building." This is true with respect to language – David points out that including both the English and Hebrew helps Hebrew literacy – but also klal Yisrael (all of the Jewish people). "Fundamentally, this is a community building enterprise. It enriches our community and it enriches the history of these books – it's all about continuity. When these become 'feral' siddurim, set out into the wild, someone will open these prayer books and see names and a date, and know a bit more about where this book lived and whose lives it touched. That’s important."

It is, indeed. Kol HaKavod, David! Thank you for this wonderful mitzvah!

CBS encourages all community members to sustain and strengthen our twice-daily minyan through participation. As David points out, ours is the only egalitarian minyan "between Los Angeles and Vancouver, and perhaps west of the Rockies with the exception of Phoenix [and the aforementioned cities]." Pick one day of the week (or even just one day a month), and commit to joining the minyan for davening in the morning, evening, or both. Not only will you sometimes have the privilege and honor of making minyan when a mourner from outside the community has come to CBS to say Kaddish; you might even find yourself surprised by the value of a regular commitment to Jewish prayer.

Stories A Poem From The Minyan

The beating heart of CBS is our minyan.

We are the only synagogue in the Bay Area with a twice-daily, egalitarian minyan, one in which women and men play equal roles. Morning and evening, we join as one in the intimate Gronowski Family Chapel and carry on our rich tradition of communal worship. We come together to daven (pray) for personal and collective edification, but also because it’s important to us that we are there for every person who wants to pray or mourn, recite Kaddish, or recall the anniversary of a loved one’s passing with communal support.

Ours in a large community, however, and many CBS congregants have not participated in morning or evening minyan services. As a result, not everyone knows how special an experience it is.

With that in mind, we’d like to share the following poem with you, which congregant Stuart Blecher pointed us to shortly before the High Holy Days. The poem's author is Howard Simon, a Bay Area singer-songwriter, businessman, and the Board President of Lehrhaus Judaica. Howard is a member of Congregation Ner Tamid, but he is also a regular participant in our daily morning minyan.


facebook_theark_poemillustrationThe Ark

Ezekiel saw wonders
Wheels of fire, thrones that glistened
Like a thousand suns on the water
But I see only an ark
The upturned sides of this seafaring place
Of this building strong as an ocean

And this small simple room
That sits quietly at her prow
Is a tugboat
And we are the mariners
That each day lead her safely to the sea

And like Noah, the greatest sailor of all
We know how to navigate these shoals
How to save what must be saved
How to keep alive what otherwise would die
In these rough and forgetful waters

But when we are moored
Each kaddish that flows from our mouths and our hearts
Leads the ones we loved
Another step up the ramp and into shelter
Preserving not only their memories
But all those who follow
Even to the tenth generation

And thus we sail
Each day redeeming the world
One floating soul
At a time.


We're a little biased, but we feel the poem beautifully captures the vitally of our minyanim.

Please consider joining us for minyan — and, one day, you’ll have some of your own stories (or poems) to share with the community!

Report From New Frontier USY Convention

David Herrera, our CBS Youth Advisor, sent the following report following the Annual New Frontier United Synagogue Youth Convention.

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SFUSY_May16Over Memorial Day weekend, nine San Francisco United Synagogue Youth (SFUSY) teens headed up to Santa Rosa for New Frontier USY's annual May Convention. We spent the weekend with 100 other USYers from all over Northern California and Reno, Nevada, learning with and challenging each other. From davening Shacharit to questioning the future of Jewish practice in a technology-driven world, our SFUSY teens displayed the freethinking and discipline that they have worked so hard to develop and build on this year.

The May Convention is the most important convention of the year for our chapter and the region at large. Each year, the USYers of New Frontier elect the Regional Executive Board for the coming year. This year, we are so proud to congratulate SFUSYer India Jeremy, the 2016-2017 New Frontier USY Executive/Programming Vice President! We know that India will serve the region well in her new role, continuing to display the genuine commitment that has compelled her SFUSY service of the past two years. Mazel tov, India! We also say goodbye this year to Josh Horwitz, a graduating member of SFUSY and the outgoing 2015-2016 New Frontier USY Religion/Education Vice President. Josh has made his chapter and region proud this year with his hard work and dedication. All of SFUSY wishes you well in college next year, Josh! Never forget where you've come from!

Lastly, SFUSY is incredibly proud to present Congregation Beth Sholom with the four Regional Awards won by SFUSY this year: Highest Number of Registrants for USY On Wheels 2016 Summer Program; Best Social Action/Tikkun Olam Program, 2015-2016; Best Israel Program, 2015-2016; and Chapter of Excellence, 2015-2016. Thank you to everyone who has helped SFUSY this year; we would not have these awards without you.

May Convention marks the end of the 2015-2016 year for San Francisco USY and Kadima. We will take a break for summer, and begin our 2016-2017 year in September! Be on the look out for invitations and updates following summer break!

Want more information on SFUSY and Kadima? Email our Chapter Advisor and Teen Educator, David Herrera!

Keep up with SFUSY throughout the year on Facebook and Instagram. Click the links and hit follow!

Have fun this summer, SFUSY! See you in September!

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!

Sensual Torah 5776WheatVerticalGroup_Website4

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)

*****

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*

*****

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.

Let’s (Continue) Our Spiritual Musical Journey!

cfde8820-d953-48d6-8915-d48578b87f8eOn the heels of Rabbi Aubrey Glazer’s jubilant installation as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom (CBS) in September 2014, the CBS community has gathered on the third Friday of each month to raise our voices together, welcoming the Sabbath. The spirited 3rd Friday Musical Kabbalat Shabbat service is as profound as it is joyful, providing participants with a powerful transformative experience, one that nourishes and empowers. There is no other musical service like it in the Bay Area!

If you haven't participated in the service, we invite you to get a sense of it by pressing play (just below) before you read on!

[audio mp3="http://bethsholomsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/3rdFridayMusicalKabbalatShabbat_Nov2015.mp3"][/audio]
Shabbat is a gift. At CBS, the vital passage between the rest of the week and Shabbat is accentuated by a truly talented line-up of musicians and prayer leaders that make the 3rd Friday services come alive. Led by our own Rabbi Glazer, Hazzan Richard Kaplan (piano and percussion), Lila Sklar (violin), and John Erlich (guitar and oud) awaken our neshamot, appealing to the joy that each of us can experience.

3rdFriday53rdFriday4The music and singing of the 3rd Friday series welcome Shabbat in singular fashion. When we raise our voices in song and dance, we are celebrating our community and life itself. Moving together through this musical journey, on the wings of Jewish song from around the globe, we find (and expand) our Sabbath souls!

The 3rd Friday Musical Kabbalat Shabbat series was subsidized as a pilot program that recently concluded. An anonymous donor has graciously covered the cost of 3rd Friday services through March 2016, and CBS recently launched a CrowdRise fundraiser to maintain the innovative and inspiring series through the 2016-17 season (June 2017)!

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. Your generosity will ensure that the music continues!

Stories From The Minyan

ChapelThe beating heart of CBS is our minyan.

We are the only synagogue in the Bay Area with a twice-daily, egalitarian minyan, one in which women and men play equal roles. Morning and evening, we join as one in the intimate Gronowski Family Chapel and carry on our rich tradition of communal worship.

We come together to daven (pray) for personal and collective edification, but also because it's important to us that we are there for every person who wants to pray or mourn, recite Kaddish, or recall the anniversary of a loved one’s passing with communal support.

Ours in a large community, however, and many CBS congregants have not participated in morning or evening minyan services. As a result, not everyone knows how special an experience it is. With that in mind, we’d like to share two minyan vignettes with you.

If you appreciate the anecdotes below, please consider joining us for minyan -- and, one day, you'll have some of your own stories to share with the community!

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It’s a custom in our minyan to invite those observing a yahrzeit (anniversary of a significant death in the family) to say something about their loved one. When people share, it’s always a moving experience.

An indelible yahrzeit occurred a few years ago. A woman stood and spoke of her mother:

She was in Auschwitz. From that experience, she learned hope. And she gave that hope to us.

With just a few words, this bereaved woman passed on the hope she described to all of us who were there with her - and now, we hope, to you. It seemed oxymoronic to place the words “Auschwitz” and “hope” in the same sentence. It was a gift to receive this departed mother’s phoenix spirit.

6_NathanMarks_MorningMinyan
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His hands and shoulders shook with tremors. Still, this elderly, former Refusenik came to Beth Sholom’s minyan to say Kaddish for his wife, now gone 27 years. Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh put her hand on his shoulder, closed her eyes, and soulfully chanted the El molei rachamin. Grief poured out of the man as the tune wound its way through his soul and reached ours. His mouth trembled with tears as the love he shared with his wife came to the surface.

To be witness to the innermost feelings of others is a special privilege and honor. Our lives are enriched when we feel the power of such a love connection. The minyan in Beth Sholom’s chapel is an intimate experience, both literally and figuratively -- intimate in size and intimate in terms of the personal connections between the people and our different stories.

After the El molei, we moved towards this man. We took his hand in ours. We looked him in the eye. We extended our compassion for his loss.

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You'll find details about our morning and evening minyan times on our services page. If you haven't come before, we invite you to join us! If you're an infrequent minyan participant, we look forward to seeing you again!

In the meantime, we welcome minyan stories from those of you who have participated in the CBS minyan, however infrequently. Please email Judy Einzig (or call her at 415.487.4622). You can either tell her about your experience and she’ll write it up, or you can write it up yourself and send it to her. Thank you!

Image credit: 1) photo of the Gronowski Family Chapel, where our morning and evening minyanim occur; 2) a scene from a recent morning minyan (on a Thursday, one of two weekdays that Torah is read)