Our Transition from Rabbi Pam to Rabbi Sami


Letters to the CBE Community from Rabbi Pam, Rabbi Sami, and the Board President Ken Mitchell

Rabbi Pam

Rabbi Pamela Frydman

Photo by Ellen Shireman

Dear B’nai Emunah Family,

I am writing to say farewell and to wish each and every one safety, health and good times ahead.

It has been an honor and treasure to serve as Interim Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Emunah in the footsteps of Rabbi George Kantorowsky z”l, Rabbi Ted Alexander z”l, Rabbi Mark Melamut and the evolving traditions of Cantor Emeritus Linda Semi and our dynamic and capable lay leaders.

Getting to know so many of you, developing friendships, sharing diverse ideas and interests, learning together; breaking bread together and celebrating, mourning, hoping, praying, enjoying children, teens and elders, and helping the poor and disenfranchised – these are some of the many treasures we have shared. I will miss you, and at the same time, I am excited for you as you welcome my dear friend and colleague Rabbi Sami Barth to serve as Transitional Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Emunah with Congregation Beth Israel Judea at its side.

Rabbi Sami was educated at the same rabbinic school as Rabbi Danny Gottlieb. He has served as a mentor and guide in the rabbinic program where I received my training, and he is a prominent educator in the Conservative Movement which is central to us both. Rabbi Sami and I also served together as leaders in the Renewal Movement and we have supported many of the same causes, including human rights, women’s rights and the rights of LGBTQ people. I know Rabbi Sami to be a sure-footed guide and a good listener and I hope you will enjoy and benefit from his leadership.

During the coming weeks, I plan to relocate from San Francisco to be near Stanford as I prepare to serve as a Chaplain-in-Residence for the coming year. My cell phone and email will remain the same: 415-261-3404, rabbipam.be@gmail.com – and I am happy to hear from you as a friend. However, for congregational matters, as of August 2nd, please be sure to contact Rabbi Sami and our other congregational leaders.

In closing, I want to invite you to please join us this Friday at 5 pm for candle lighting and a service of less than an hour that I will lead and in which Rabbi Sami will participate; and to also join us on Shabbat morning from 10:15 am to 12:15 pm when Rabbi Sami will lead the service and I will participate.

I also hope to see you this evening on Zoom as Congregation B’nai Emunah joins with Congregation Ner Tamid to begin the observance of Tisha B’Av, one of the saddest days on the Jewish calendar when we mourn the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem, the Spanish Inquisition and other Jewish tragedies.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Rabbi during these past two years.

With loving prayers and blessings that the pandemic be equalized with vaccinations, treatments and cures, and that our collective future in our nation, in Israel and in the entire human family be filled with hope and possibility.

Rabbi Pam Frydman

Rabbi Sami

Dear Members of the B’nai Emunah Community,

This letter allows me to reflect with a part of the inner life of Congregation B’nai Emunah, this kehillah kedoshah (sacred community) born from the convictions and determination of nitsulei shoah (survivors of the Shoah). The kehillah has been nurtured into Jewish modernity by Rabbi George Kantorowsky, Rabbi Ted Alexander, and their vision, wisdom and kindness were embraced and developed by Rabbi Mark Melamut and then by Rabbi Pam Frydman. It is my honor in this new role to accept the role of Rabbi to this congregation, along with a slower transition within Beth Israel Judea, along with vision for an evolving partnership.

This coming Shabbat, it is time to celebrate the unique gifts that Rabbi Pam has brought to the B’nai Emunah congregation – embedded in Jewish and wider communities of faith. Rabbi Pam has been a personal friend for several decades; we have worked together in the circles of Jewish Renewal and mentoring new generations of rabbis. I have seen her emerge as a strong and visionary leader in the national Jewish world, bringing people, communities, rabbis and cantors together even across denominational and political differences. I know that her heart carries and cares for the wellbeing of our People as a whole, and for individual souls and families. And… she has been a true friend crossing the USA to spend a week with my family when we prepared to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of our son Meir Yishai, who recalls her presence still (now in grad. school) with a sparkle in his eyes.

I can see her kindness and concern in the way she leads tefillah and blessings for the congregation, and in the details she has prepared for me to guide and support my work. The blessings of her role as Interim Rabbi will remain within the community for a long time, and I believe she will carry away the unique blessings and warmth of the congregation. Coming together this Shabbat, closely in heart even by Zoom, allows us by our presence, our eyes and words to say “rav todot” (Many thanks to a Rav/Rabbi).

While much of my role as Transitional Rabbi is equal in the service of Beth Israel Judea and B’nai Emunah, for this initial period I hold also the traditional role of Mara d’Atra (Rabbinic Guide) to B’nai Emunah, and some greater focus on the davvening (prayer) life of this congregation. Even as I develop a partnership and joint programs with Rabbi Danny Gottlieb for the coming months, I share with the chevreh of B’nai Emunah this moment of formal leave taking with Rabbi Pam.

May we all be blessed in the holy work we undertake, within B’nai Emunah and in the wider world, wherever our paths take us. I look forward to sharing with many of you our gatherings this coming shabbat and then many more into the future.

This shabbat we emerge from the destruction of Tisha B’Av, hopefully encountering tanchumim (consolations) on Shabbat Nachamu, The Shabbat of Consolation.

Rabbi Sami Barth

Board President Ken Mitchell

Friends,

The time has come to bid farewell to Rabbi Pam and welcome Rabbi Sami. I’m sure that Rabbi Pam will excel at her chaplaincy at Stanford Medical; such a position requires attentive pastoral care and genuine concern, among other skills, and those are definitely strengths of hers. To you Rabbi Pam, and on behalf of the Congregation, I say thank you for your two years of service as our Interim Rabbi and we look forward to maintaining all the connections you’ve made here. You’ll always be a part of the B’nai Emunah community.

Likewise, I am equally as optimistic that Rabbi Sami will effectively lead us as we continue to explore the possibility of joining the CBE and BIJ communities. Many of us have taken advantage of the opportunities to virtually meet Rabbi Sami – whether at ‘meet and greet’ events or teachings/study – and we look forward to his thoughtfulness, warmth, and other aspects of the skill set he possesses as he guides us through this period of transition and discovery. To you Rabbi Sami, and again on behalf of the Congregation, I now extend an official Welcome.

We move from strength to strength – and there are a couple of opportunities to observe our community doing precisely that. As mentioned above, the worship services this coming Shabbat will be the time for all of us to have the chance to be together for the ‘passing of the mantle/torch,’ as it were. I encourage everyone to come and be a part of these occasions, which perhaps will be bittersweet, and/or exciting, and/or anything and everything in between.

Warmly,

Ken Mitchell, President