Rabbi Pam Frydman has served Congregation B’nai Emunah since August 2018. Beginning in October 2019, she also serves as President of the Board of Rabbis of Northern California.
She was the founding Rabbi of Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco. She also served Congregation P’nai Tikvah in Las Vegas.
She is also a Holocaust researcher, she served as Director of the Holocaust Education Project for the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and she has begun a book on the Holocaust for which she interviewed Rabbi Ted Alexander, of blessed memory, Gertrude Alexander and Ruth Callman, of blessed memory.
Previously, Rabbi Pam served as Coordinator of the Beyond Genocide Project, helping raise consciousness about the Yazidi People and Assyrian Christians who faced genocide in Iraq. She and the Project earned a 2016 Global Citizen Humanitarian Hero Award from the United Nations Association, East Bay Chapter. 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 Inter-religious Council and the Interfaith Center at the Presidio.
She served on the Organizing Committee of the Beyond Silence Campaign, raising consciousness about the prevention and reporting of child abuse in the Bay Area Jewish Community. She also served as founding Co-Chair of the Rabbinic Advisory Council of Shalom Bayit, working to end domestic violence in Jewish homes. She was founding Co-Chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall. She also Chaired Ruach Hiddush, Rabbis and Cantors for Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel.
She is the author of Calling on God, Sacred Jewish Teachings for Seekers of All Faiths. Her essay, “Unseemly, Very Unseemly” appears in The Minyan, A Tapestry of Jewish Life by Patti Moskovitz. Her essay “Practical Spirituality: Judaic and Multi-faith Practices of Transformation” appears in Practical Spirituality and Human Development, edited by Ananta Kumar Giri.
She is 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.
She 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. Later, she served on the Rabbinic Cabinet for academic oversight of her alma mater.
Former 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.
Rabbi 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 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.
Rabbi Elisheva Salamo, Director of the B3 School
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.
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
Shalom! My name is Shana (Shawna) Pava and in June I became B’nai Emunah’s new synagogue office manager! While I grew up in Santa Fe NM, I actually went to school at the University of California, Santa Cruz where I majored in Jewish Studies and graduated magna cum laude. After college I moved back home to Santa Fe where I spent the past year serving as a temple administrator of a small reform congregation of comparable size to B’nai Emunah.
However, I actually got my start in the synagogue sector while I was still a Jewish Studies student at UC Santa Cruz. In 2016, I had the incredible professional opportunity to participate in the Kohn Summer Internship. A unique program administered by the JVS of San Francisco, that places high achieving Jewish Bay Area college students in summer internships at a variety of local Jewish non-profits across the Bay Area, with the mission to provide students with opportunities for both Jewish and professional growth. The agency JVS placed me with was: Or Shalom, one of our sister congregations in the Southside Jewish Collaborative.
It was during my summer at Or Shalom that I got my first taste of San Francisco’s distinctive Jewish community and character. My internship also gave me solid insights on how to build a successful and sustainable career in the Jewish non-profit world, specifically in the synagogue sector. I couldn’t be more excited to be back in San Francisco working in the Southside Jewish Collaborative again, where my Jewish professional journey began three summers ago!
I’m so thankful to start my next spiritual and professional chapter at B’nai Emunah and know that it’s truly a special and sacred community that will consistently provide me with the nourishment I need to continue to grow into my role as a passionate Jewish non-profit professional. I’m so excited to be here and I look forward to getting to meet each and every one of you over the course of the next few months! I love connecting with people, and meeting and mingling with my congregants imbues significant meaning and joy into the work I am doing here with B’nai Emunah!
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 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 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 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 Langmuir, Co-Treasurer
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.
Director at Large
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 . . . 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
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.
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
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
Director at Large
* Past presidents currently sitting on the Board