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Words, Power and Choices

06/20/2017 02:34:36 PM


June 20, 2017
by Cantor David Frommer

We’ve all heard the famous maxim that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” and while we don’t know who actually wrote it, it doesn’t seem like the kind of saying that would come from Jewish tradition. That’s because Judaism has consistently taught, from its earliest days and constructs, that words do have power—both to create and to destroy....Read more...

Questions and Farewell

06/14/2017 06:59:40 AM


June 14, 2017
by Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller

The biblical God has a habit of asking rhetorical questions.  Often the questions point us toward self-reflection, such as when God asks Adam, “Where are you?” “Who told you that you were naked?” And, “Did you eat of the tree from which I had forbidden you to eat?” Surely God isn’t really asking these questions in order to gain information. Similarly, God surely knows the...Read more...


06/06/2017 09:43:27 AM


June 6, 2017
by Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf

Hear ye, hear ye:  Our seismic retrofit work is complete!  In this week’s Torah portion, B’haalotcha, we are instructed, “On the days of your rejoicing… you shall blow on the trumpets…and it shall be a remembrance before your God; I am the Lord your God.”  (Numbers 10:10) This is certainly a time of great rejoicing in our community. Friday night, we will...Read more...

Rediscovering Shavuot in the Desert

05/30/2017 07:17:07 PM


May 30, 2017
by Cantor David Frommer

When I was in high school, late May and early June always marked an important occasion for prayer. This was a time when a year’s worth of hard labor could be disastrously impacted by forces beyond the realm of human control, and Divine favor was fervently sought during a few precarious days of uncertainty. I’m talking, of course, about final exams—that annual exploration into the...Read more...

Counting Because Everyone Counts

05/23/2017 12:27:00 PM


May 23, 2017
by Julie Saxe-Taller

The Book of Numbers, which we begin reading this week, opens with a census. And while the idea of counting people can feel impersonal, it can be the very opposite of that. On Friday evening just over a week ago, as I reflected on these thirteen years, I looked out at many of you and felt that not only have I come to know, love and admire so many of you, but that many of you also know me. I do not...Read more...

Saying chazak chazak v’nitchzek

05/16/2017 10:37:56 AM


May 16, 2017
by Nancy Sheftel-Gomes

And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them to destroy them utterly and to break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. (Vayikra 26:44)

Ashkenazi and Sefardi customs (Minhagim) are often different, but when it comes to the saying of “chazak” in the context of Keriot...Read more...

Seeing Beyond False Choices

05/09/2017 05:23:52 PM


May 9, 2017
by Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller

I had three grandfathers. My father’s father Jules Saxe died before I was born and, along with my brother and two cousins, I am named after him. He was known among other things for his integrity, and I have always stood prouder thinking of him. My mother’s father, Paul Stuehler, fled Nazi Germany along with my grandmother, Greta, to make a new life here in San Francisco. His yartzheit is...Read more...

Love Your Neighbor

05/02/2017 11:04:18 AM


May 2, 2017
by Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf

This past Sunday was an extraordinary day at Congregation Sherith Israel. Every inch of our building was in use. Half of our space was rented by a church group. As I walked up California Street, I encountered friendly greeters and a smiling minister, welcoming me into our synagogue! 

Meanwhile, our school building was vibrant and filled with Jewish study. Our dynamic...Read more...

The Future of Our Past

04/25/2017 10:10:30 AM


April 25, 2017
by Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf

Monday was Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Sunday, I participated in the San Francisco Jewish community observance of this important day. People gathered at the SFJCC to remember and honor those who were murdered in the Shoah. This year’s program was titled “The Future of Our Past.”

The theme was woven throughout the program. Each of the six candles was lit...Read more...

Yom HaShoah in Afghanistan

04/18/2017 04:30:02 PM


April 18, 2017
by Cantor David Frommer

This-coming Sunday evening, the Jewish community will begin its observance of Yom HaShoah, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. I had attended such observances in college and cantorial school, but I had never experienced one within the U.S. military until last year, when I was deployed to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. I was glad to participate, of course,...Read more...

Mon, June 26 2017 2 Tammuz 5777