A TEMPLE AT PEACE – THE CONGREGATION EMANU-EL BOARD ELECTION

A time for silence and a time for speaking
Ecclesiastes 3, 7

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Senior Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, D.D., Ph.D., left, seen in 2009
alongside Warren Hellman and Tricia Hellman Gibbs
at their father-daughter b’nai mitzvah
Photo By Joseph Amster

By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Founder
The San Francisco Sentinel © 1997-2010

They spoke of peace within the Congregation Emanu-El community with voice and smile.

Peace, and the accustomed sense of community, returned October 12 to Emanu-El with the annual election of its Board of Directors embraced by everyone – welcomed by congregants and the passing Board alike.

The deep loss felt by congregants, apparently caused by inadequate communication rather than sinister Board motive, with 20-year veteran Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan’s contract not being renewed, evolved into forgiveness and confidence that all Emanu-El Jews look after the welfare of any Jew.

Priior to the Tuesday election, the board embraced two candidates put forward by the ad hoc group Concerned Congregants of Congregation Emanu-El, Ted Storey and Paul Zarefsky.

Both were elected overwhelmingly along with all other slate candidates.

The air of safety, peace, and closure, was palpable as Senior Rabbi Stephen Pearce invited the song Shalom to close the election meeting.

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STEPHEN PEARCE
Senior Rabbi

Stephen S. Pearce, D.D., Ph.D., is senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. For twenty years he was a faculty member in the Human Relations Department of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, and he also taught at the University of San Francisco, the University of Connecticut, and St. John’s University, where he earned his doctorate in counselor psychology. He is the past president of the Northern California Board of Rabbis and board member of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and the Graduate Theological Union. He is the former editor of the Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and was a regular contributor of “Torah Thoughts” columns that are available at JWeekly.com. He is author of Flash of Insight: Metaphor and Narrative in Therapy, and coauthor with Bishop William E. Swing, The Episcopal Bishop of California and Father John P. Schlegel, past president of the University of San Francisco, of Building Wisdom’s House: A Book of Values for our Time.

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STEVEN DINKELSPIEL
Board President

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CHARLES CHARNAS
3rd Term as Officer

Charles N. Charnas is currently Secretary of the Board of Directors of Congregation Emanu-El. He was born in Boston in 1958 and grew up in Manhattan and Menlo Park, California. He graduated from Stanford with a double major in Comparative Literature, with honors, and Economics, and the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was an editor of the California Law Review.

He was in private practice with the Pillsbury law firm in San Francisco and Cooley Godward in Palo Alto, representing technology companies and investors, before joining Hewlett-Packard Company, where he worked for 18 years, and then Apple. Since January 2010, he has been a full-time student at the Jazz School Institute in Berkeley, studying guitar and vocals. He is also Secretary of the Board of Directors of SFJAZZ. He is married to Margaret Ann Charnas, and they have two children, Nate (19) and Juliet (18), both of whom became b’nei mitzvah at Congregation Emanu-El.

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DAVID GOLDMAN
2nd Term

David N. Goldman has been a member of the Board since 2007. David has been an active member of the Temple community since becoming a member in 2000. He was the Chair of the Temple’s Social Justice Committee, a founding member of the Young Adult Leadership Committee, and served on a variety of other Temple committees including The Tauber Advisory Group and the Development Committee.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Clark University and Boston University School of Law. He is now a shareholder at Littler Mendelson where he serves as the Managing Attorney of the firm’s compliance training division. As such, he is a frequent lecturer throughout the country on topics such as diversity, promoting equal employment, and workplace ethics. He is married to Angela Lin, president of Square One Productions, an architectural rendering firm.

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MARIBELLE B. LEAVITT, RN, DNSC
1st Term

Dr. Maribelle Leavitt is a recently retired clinical faculty member in the UCSF Graduate School of Nursing, where she taught Family Nurse Practioners and earned her Doctorate in the Department of Family Health Care Nursing. Prior to this, she was a member of the faculty at the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Her early career was in acute psychiatric care at the Payne Whitney Clinic (New York Hospital), Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Hospital and family mental health at the Langely Porter Neuropsychiatric Hospital, UCSF.

She earned a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), from UCSF and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing. She also holds a Masters in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing from Boston University. She is presently serving on the Board of Overseers, UCSF Graduate School of Nursing; AIPAC, Northern California; Northern California division of the American Friends of Israel Philharmonic; Mount Zion Health Fund; Mills College; The California Historical Society (president emerita); and The Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

Previously, she served on the Board of San Francisco University High School, the Board of San Francisco Urban High School and the Board of Congregation Sherith Israel. She has resided in San Francisco for the past forty years, raised two sons, and is married to Dr Stephen Leavitt.

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PETER K. MAIER
1st Term

Peter K. Maier was born in Wurzburg Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1939, fleeing systemic Nazi anti-Semitism. He is a graduate of Claremont Men’s College, earned a law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, and a Masters of Law in Taxation at New York University.

Mr. Maier has had a varied professional life. He was a US Air Force Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s office, served in the US Department of Justice Tax Division, practiced law and for many years was Professor of Law, Hastings College of Law, U.C., as well as Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University and New York University. He began his career as a financial and real estate advisor in 1981 as a founding partner of Siebel Capital Management.

In 2004, he co-founded Private Wealth Partners, a capital management firm for high net-worth individuals, and currently serves as co-chairman. Mr. Maier has devoted significant time to community, academic, and religious institutions, including service as a member of the investment committees of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, Grace Cathedral and the Jewish Home for the Aged. He is currently a trustee of the University of San Francisco, chairman and CEO of the innovative Fromm Institute, and a member of the JCF’s investment committee.

Peter married his wife Melanie, a published poet and attorney, at Temple Emanu-El in 1963. They are the parents of two grown children and grandparents of three grandsons.

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STEVEN E. POLSKY
2nd Term

Steven E. Polsky has been a board member of Temple Emanu-El since 2007 and a member of the Finance Committee since 2006. Steven was born in Philadelphia. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Management and Technology’s dual degree program, in finance from the Wharton School, and Computer Science from the Moore School of Engineering.

Steven is currently the President and COO of Flixster, Inc. a growth stage technology company in the Internet, entertainment industry. Steve’s career has centered on founding, launching and managing successful early stage technology ventures including VoicePlex Corporation, Amber Networks and Edusoft. Between these ventures, Steve served as an Entrepreneur in Residence with Infinity Capital and Seed Capital.

Steve is a lecturer for the Wharton School of Business’s Undergraduate Course in Entrepreneurship. He has served on the boards of kTC Corporation and MarketChorus. He is also actively involved in local charitable board work in San Francisco. Steve also holds five patents in the telecommunications network architecture.

Steven is married to Kirsten Polsky, a San Francisco native, and has two young daughters, Alexa (5) and Madison (3).

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TED STOREY
1st Term

Ted Storey is a fourth generation member of Congregation Emanu-el. He graduated from Columbia University, earned an MA in Jurisprudence & Social Policy at U.C. Berkeley and his law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at U.C. Berkeley. After being in private law practice in San Francisco, Ted joined Round Table Pizza 13 years ago where he is General Counsel, Vice President of Business Development, and a member of its Board of Directors.

Ted is married to Jaimie Sanford who also grew up in San Francisco and was confirmed at Congregation Emanu-el. Jaimie and Ted have 3 children – Ella (15), Abraham (12) and Nathan (9) – each of whom attended pre-school at Congregation Emanu-El and continue to attend the Youth Education Program.

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PAUL ZAREFSKY
1st Term

Paul Zarefsky was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He attended Oberlin College, where he graduated with Highest Honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master of laws degree from Georgetown University.

For the past ten years, Paul has been a Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco. Before then, he was a law professor, teaching a wide range of courses at several law schools. Earlier in his career, Paul was an attorney in Washington, D.C. for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Small Business Administration, and worked in Houston in an employment law firm.

Paul has been a San Francisco resident for 20 years. He is married to Jacqueline Reed. They have one son, Jacob, who is 14. Paul and his family have been members of Congregation Emanu-El since 1996.

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When intrepid Jews journeyed around the Horn or overland in 1848 as part of the migration west, little did they imagine that they would be helping to found one of the most dynamic Jewish communities in America. San Francisco–the city that sparked the imagination of a nation–is the home of Northern California’s landmark temple, Congregation Emanu-El. Officially established in 1850, our congregation has over 2,400 households, many of whom have been involved with the congregation since its founding, the oldest congregation west of the Mississippi.

Dedicated in April 1926, the magnificent building at Lake Street and Arguello Boulevard is the third site of this congregation. Designed primarily by Arthur Brown, Jr. (designer of the War Memorial Opera House, the Hoover Library at Stanford and, with two others, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge) the building was influenced by the Haggia Sophia in Istanbul. From the exterior of the dome (150 feet) to the four-manual Skinner organ to the nine-foot high jewel box which is the Ark itself, the Main Sanctuary is a place of dignity, power and peace. In 1927, the American Institute of Architects selected Temple Emanu-El as the finest piece of architecture in Northern California. The Awards Committee honored it as, “a glorious building . . . beautifully planned and modeled . . . realizing to the highest degree the expression of its religious character.”

It is not only our buildings that stand as a beacon of Reform Judaism in our community. Our lay leaders, clergy and members have always been leaders in our community’s religious, civic, business and social life as well. Our congregation’s commitment to helping the secular community began as far back as 1849-1850. The Eureka Benevolent Society, which in a few years became the largest Jewish organization in the West (Jewish Family and Children’s Services), was formed by many who became active at Temple Emanu-El. The first two presidents of Emanu-El were local officeholders and Jews were part of California State government, serving in the State Assembly, on the State Supreme Court and in other key positions.

In 1859, Emanu-El congregants raised nearly $3700 on behalf of persecuted Moroccan Jews. This set a precedent for congregational involvement in support of Jews around the world that is continued to this day. Commitment to our local community is evidenced through our renewed mission statement and is exemplified by our members, our community service projects and our community partnership projects funded through the Emanu-El Community Service Fund.

One shining example of these partnership projects is the Back on Track Program, an after school tutorial project that matches volunteer tutors with inner city children. The project, co-founded in 1987 with Third Baptist Church, has been recognized nationally as a model of interfaith cooperation and excellence in helping children attain a higher degree of academic achievement.

Congregation Emanu-El serves the community in many ways. We focus on hunger/poverty, the environment and literacy, offering both direct service and advocacy on behalf of our clients. We operate two food pantries and a vegetable garden at our cemetery in Colma; tutoring programs through both Back on Track and the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, and we work on a wide range of environmental programs. We have been active in the movement to stop the violence in Darfur.

Congregation Emanu-El has been influential in other ways as well. Cantor Reuben Rinder, who served the congregation from 1913 to 1966, discovered and nurtured the talents of Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern and much later, Itzhak Perlman. He also helped initiate the Israeli Philharmonic orchestra.

International leaders including Golda Meir, Abba Eban, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have spoken in our Sanctuary. Most recently Maya Angelou, Elie Weisel, and Dr. Cornell West and have addressed large audiences at the Temple.

All of these activities–life cycle celebrations, community-based projects, acts of Mitzvot and Tzedakah, family programs, concerts, performances, youth education and activities, adult education, guest lectures, and of course, religious worship–take place within the walls of Emanu-El.

THE OTHER SYNAGOGUE

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See Related: SOCIAL DIARY


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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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