Our Leaders


Rabbi

Rabbi Pamela Frydman

Photo by Ellen Shireman

Rabbi Pam Frydman has been serving Congregation B’nai Emunah since August 2018.

She was the founding Rabbi of Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco. She also served Congregation P’nai Tikvah in Las Vegas. She has begun a book on the Holocaust for which she interviewed B’nai Emunah’s Rabbi Emeritus Ted Alexander of blessed memory, Gertrude Alexander and Ruth Callman of blessed memory.

Rabbi Pam earned a 2016 Global Citizen Award Humanitarian Award from the United Nations Association, East Bay Chapter, for her leadership in the Beyond Genocide Campaign, helping to raise consciousness about the Yazidi People and Assyrian Christians who have faced genocide in Iraq. She shares the award with the Board of Rabbis of Northern California, the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, the Marin Interfaith Council, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio.

She was founding Co-Chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall. She Chaired Ruach Hiddush, Rabbis and Cantors for Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel. She served on the Organizing Committee of the Beyond Silence Campaign raising awareness about the prevention and reporting of child abuse in the Bay Area Jewish Community. She also served as founding Chair of the Rabbinic Advisory Council of Shalom Bayit, working to end domestic violence in Jewish homes.

She is author of Calling on God, Sacred Jewish Teachings for Seekers of All Faiths. Her essay, “Unseemly, Very Unseemly”  is included in The Minyan, A Tapestry of Jewish Life by Patti Moskovitz. Her essay “Practical Spirituality: Judaic and Multi-faith Practices of Transformation” is included in Practical Spirituality and Human Development, Edited by Ananta Kumar Giri.

She is also a co-author of “The Bible and The Quran, Revelations, Commonalities and Differences” with Despina Namwembe of Uganda and Dr. Ejaz Naqvi and Ifthekar Hai of the Bay.

Rabbi Pam earned her BA in Psychology and Linguistics from Tel Aviv University. She was ordained as a rabbi by B’nai Or Rabbinic Fellowship, now the Aleph Ordination Program. After ordination, she served on the Rabbinic Cabinet for academic oversight of her alma mater. 

Rabbi Emeritus

shofar-e1456774329845Former Rabbi Mark Melamut

Rabbi Mark Melamut served as Rabbi and Educator at Congregation B’nai Emunah from August 2008 to July 2018. During that time, he also founded B’nai Emunah’s Judaism University for adult education. Presently, Rabbi Mark serves the Upper Valley Jewish Community in Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

ted1Rabbi Emeritus Ted R. Alexander z”l

Rabbi Ted Alexander was a beloved teacher and spiritual leader in Northern California for over five decades. He served Congregation B’nai Emunah from 1968 to 2006.

Rabbi Ted, as he was affectionately called by congregants and students, was instrumental in creating an atmosphere of inclusiveness at the Congregation, where people from all backgrounds, experiences, and lifestyles continue to interact as one large family in pursuit of Jewish knowledge, observance, and identity.

Rabbi Ted took pride in being highly approachable by everyone, in good times or bad. His warmth and good common sense became very much part of the sense of caring that pervades the life of our Congregation. His approach to Judaism was to teach and maintain the traditions that are of value, to encourage free expression and inquiry into any aspect of Jewish life that people wish to explore and discuss, and to support innovation and creativity that will bring Jews closer together and increase the level and quality of their Jewish knowledge.

Rabbi Ted died in his home in Danville at the age of 95 on October 4, 2016.


jweekly remembers Rabbi Ted Alexander
, our beloved rabbi from 1968-2005.

Cantor Emeritus

linda-s

Cantor Linda R. Semi

Cantor Linda serves as our Cantor Emeritus.  She co-leads High Holy Day services with our rabbi, she directs our High Holy Day Choir and she occasionally joins in leading worship on special Shabbatot.

Cantor Linda began serving Congregation B’nai Emunah in June 1991.  Prior to joining Congregation B’nai Emunah, Cantor Linda served congregations throughout southern California, including in Palm Springs, Whittier, and Thousand Oaks. Cantor Linda received her Bachelor of Music Education at Syracuse University and her Certificate of Completion in Cantorial Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, now known as the American Jewish University.  In 1997, she was inducted into the Cantors’ Assembly, the professional association of Conservative cantors affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Cantor Linda continues to enjoy tutoring b’nai mitzvah students and is available for life cycle events.

Staff

Rabbi Elisheva Salamo

Rabbi Elisheva Salamo, Director of the B3 School

shared with Congregations B’nai Emunah and Beth Israel-Judea

Rabbi Elisheva is the Director of our B3 School which is shared by Congregations B’nai Emunah and Beth Israel Judea. She is also Director of Education at Congregation Beth Israel Judea.

Rabbi Elisheva is a San Francisco native. She has served as Rabbi of four Northern California communities. She also served as Head of the Religious School at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville. She has extensive teaching experience with elementary and middle school students at both religious schools and Jewish day schools.

She also served as a Program Manager at both the Oshman Family JCC and the JCC of San Francisco and as a co-facilitator for battered women’s support groups at Shalom Bayit. She also served on the SiliconValley Interreligious Council and was a presenter at the 2018 Parliament of World Religions held in Toronto.

Barry Reich

Cantor Barry Reich, Director of Hebrew School

Cantor Barry Reich, Director of our Hebrew School, is a fifth generation Cantor who served Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame as Cantor, Educator and Choral Director for over five decades. As of July 1, 2018, he is Cantor Emeritus.

Cantor Barry is known for his approachable style, sense of humor and comforting voice and starting in August 2018, he is the Director of Congregation B’nai Emunah’s Hebrew Hangout in San Francisco.

Cantor Barry was educated at The Breed Yeshiva in Los Angeles, the Ross McKee Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, receiving a Bachelor of Music. At age 21, he was selected and mentored by Edgar Braun, Director and Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Orchestra, to be the soloist in the Chamber Orchestra’s west coast premiere performance of Ernst Bloch’s Israel Symphony. He received his Hazzan (Cantor) ordination from the Cantors Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary and is a member of the Cantors Assembly.

He also served as Music/Band Director of the United States Navy on Treasure Island.

Cantor Barry has educated scores of young people as well as adults. He produced and recorded two Cantorial CDs and a third cd of his 4 part choral settings. He has two daughters Rona Rachel Reich and Bonnie Shaina Reich.

Shana Pava, Synagogue Office Manager

My name is Shana Pava and I’m extremely thrilled and thankful to start my next professional chapter at B’nai Emunah!

While I grew up in Santa Fe, NM I attended college at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where I majored in Jewish Studies and graduated magna cum laude last June! While in college I had the unique opportunity to work with the Southside Jewish Collaborative, and spent a summer serving as the rabbinic intern at Or Shalom. After college I moved back to Santa Fe to save up some money and pay down some of my student loans!

I’ve spent the past year working as the temple administrator of a small Reform congregation in Santa Fe of roughly 100 member families. However, it was during my summer at Or Shalom that I first fully realized I wanted to pursue a professional trajectory in the Jewish congregational world. I love working in the congregational setting, as the sanctity of the sanctuary and the sacredness of the greater community permeates into all the work that I find myself doing. I especially enjoy getting to cultivate meaningful connections with congregants and hearing their incredible life stories! I also find it immensely gratifying to play such a pivotal role (behind the scenes) helping to shape, create, and ensure numerous opportunities for congregants to engage, explore and authentically connect to their Judaism.

I look forward to meeting and getting to know each of you over the next several months; please swing by the office to say Shalom! The office is open from 10-3 Monday to Friday, and my door is always open. I’d love to put your names to faces and warm smiles! I’m so excited to begin my next spiritual and professional chapter with B’nai Emunah and look forward to working with and for all of you!

Robin Tauber

Robin Tauber, Food Designer

Robin is working in the kitchen to set up and break down for events. She is a San Francisco native, and I has been with B’nai Emunah all her life.

She went through Religious School and Hebrew School, and I became a Bat Mitzvah in summer of 1990.  She went to SOTA (School of the Arts) and achieved a B.A. In Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in Studio Arts from California State University Hayward.

She volunteered at the ARC In The SF Zoo From 1991 – 2010 where Robin educated the public about animals (Up Close And Personal) and took care of many different animals from ferrets and toads to porcupines and owls. Her family owned and operated Glen Park Hardware (it closed in 2016), a small, old-fashioned hardware store. She likes to correspond with friends through letters, and I likes nearly all kinds of music.

Robin spent 5 years as a convention temp worker in and around Moscone Convention Center where she learned lots of patience with Event Organizers!

Her role in the services is to set up the Onegs. She sees herself as a Food Designer, just for the shul!

Officers & Directors

Ken Mitchell, President

Quizmaster, Wine and Cheese Master

ken@bnaiemunahsf.org

Ken grew up in Washington, DC. He is multilingual, has lived abroad and traveled to dozens of countries, and taught English and Spanish as Second Languages for several years before switching to his current career field, technology.He joined B’nai Emunah shortly after moving to San Francisco in 2005, and he celebrated his adult bar mitzvah at the shul in 2007. He has previously served as Board Secretary, Vice President, and webmaster. He chants Torah and haftarah regularly, frequently leads some Shabbat morning services, curates the wine, cheese and crudités for the monthly Cab Shabbat event, and serves as the question master for the shul’s Tribe Trivia! games.

Andrew Nusbaum,  First Vice President

Finance Committee Chair, Service Leader, Shabbat Symposium Leader

andrew@bnaiemunahsf.org

Andrew Nusbaum was born and raised in San Francisco. He attended Reed College in Portland, OR where he graduated with a BA in English and met his wife, Amanda.

 Andrew taught in elementary schools for five years and is presently teaching Middle School English and Writing. In his free time he enjoys tracing his family tree, watching movies, reading graphic novels, and studying Jewish history and folklore.

Andrew and Amanda began visiting B’nai Emunah back in 2007 and finally joined in 2012. They primarily attend Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday nights and Andrew helps lead the Carlebach-style service on Cab Shabbat.

Lisa Karpanty, Second Vice President

Melissa Tauber, Secretary

Co-chair of Education Committee and Co-chair of Building Committee

melissa

Melissa has been a part of the B’nai Emunah community since she was born. While growing up, she attended both religious and Hebrew school and celebrated her bat mitzvah at B’nai Emunah.

Melissa returned to San Francisco after graduating with highest honors from UC Davis in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, with an emphasis in Animal Behavior. She participated in a Birthright trip to Israel after graduation. Melissa is currently the youngest member on the Board.

Elena Ingerman, Co-Treasurer

Kiddush Committee Chair, Education Committee Member

val@bnaiemunahsf.orgplaceholder

Val Langmuir, Co-Treasurer

IT Guru

val@bnaiemunahsf.orgeileen

Val was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, and raised by adoptive parents as a secular Jew in an interfaith home. Val moved to the UK as a child, and lived there for many years, earning a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, and beginning a career in information technology.

Val returned to the Bay Area in 1996, and has lived in Oakland, Berkeley, Millbrae, and now the Sunset. Val was introduced to Congregation B’nai Emunah by George Wertheim z’’l, her birth father, when they met in 2012. Val is a regular attendee and occasional service leader and Torah reader at Shabbat morning services, and is a member of the ritual committee. Val is also a member of Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame.

Val currently works as the IT Manager for a housing nonprofit in San Francisco. Outside of work and congregational life, Val’s interests include world travel, photography, geocaching, and LGBTQ activism.

Directors

Patricia Avery

Volunteer Coordinator

Jacob Barlev

Director at Large

Talya Brass

Director at Large

Sharon Bleviss *

Education and Youth Committee Co-Chair, Building Committee Co-Chair, Ritual Committee member, Sisterhood Leader, Folk Dance Teacher, Glass Artist, B’nai Mitzvah teacher, On My Grid learning specialist

Learn More about Sharon . . .

Sharon BlevissSharon was born and raised in Los Angeles in a large Jewish family, and graduated
from UCLA Summa Cum Laude with a degree in psychology. She relocated to San
Francisco for graduate school and has been a special education teacher for 38 years.
She currently heads the Special Education Department at Burlingame High School.
In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Education at NDNU.Sharon and her husband, Kirk Whitlatch, have 5 children, including two sets of twin
boys. They live in San Francisco with a variety of rescue pets. Sharon enjoys
gardening, creating fused glass art/jewelry and stained glass, crossword puzzles,
photography, camping and home improvement projects in her spare time.Sharon joined B’nai Emunah in 1997 and was president from 2006-2012, during
which time she secured the employment of Rabbi Mark Melamut after the
retirement of Rabbi Ted Alexander. She has held a variety of roles over the last 21
years, including preparing students with special needs for their B’nai Mitzvot.

Maritza Calderon

Director at Large

Jeff Dielle *

Chair of Marketing Committee

Learn More about Jeff . . .

Jeff Dielle was born and grew up in Palo Alto, where his family were members of Congregation Kol Emeth. Jeff attended Camp Ramah and participated in USY.

Wanting to “see the world,” Jeff headed to New England for college where he studied mathematics. After four years of snow, he came back to California, where he studied computer programming at a local community college. He then got a job in Hewlett-Packard’s Corporate Data Center, where he ended up working for about 20 years.

Since retiring, Jeff has devoted considerable time and energy to B’nai Emunah, serving as vice-president and president. He also enjoys surfing the Internet, studying Jewish texts, and playing duplicate bridge.

Frank Kurtz *

Ritual Committee Chair, USCJ Pacific Northern Pacific Region President, Chef

Rabbi David Lavine

Director at Large

Bonnie Lindauer *

Membership Committee Chair, Social Action Chair, Sisterhood Leader, Assistant Choir Director, Book Club Chair

Marsha Rethers

Director at Large

* Past presidents currently sitting on the Board