Monday, March 15, 2010

My first stop of the day was a visit to the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco that reopened during the summer of 2008. The building is quite exceptional as it was the former historic Jessie Street Gas & Electric (PG&E) Power Substation, a 1907 landmark designed by architect Willis Polk. I was greatly moved by one of the exhibits called Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf. This exhibit is a result of French painter and photographer, Linda Ellia’s, encounter with a copy of Mein Kampf in 2005. She actually tore the book apart and gave the pages to various people including strangers. Her request to them was to do anything with that page and use it as an expression of art. The exhibit showed many of these people’s artwork on their individual pages. It was powerful so if you ever have a chance to go to San Francisco anytime from now until June- you must stop at this museum and check out their exhibits.

Later that evening, I arrived at Shaar Zahav and my high school classmate, Danny Kodmur, was waiting to greet me at the door. We had not seen each other since high school! He looked wonderful and was a gracious host as I entered into the synagogue. Before the service, Rabbi Camille Angel welcomed me to her study as we had a chance to catch up. Rabbi Angel and I were classmates during rabbinical school and it was a true honor to speak on her bimah for this Shabbat evening. Somehow, word got out and there were at least 10 deaf people that came to the service because they heard that there was a deaf rabbi speaking. Most people have never met a deaf rabbi since there are only a few of us in this world. They were humbled by my presence and I enjoyed visiting with them during the Oneg. Along with them, there were several other visitors including my daughter, Rachel and her friend Alana and family from Davis, several other rabbis who belong to Shaar Zahav and wanted to be there to hear me speak and also Elyssa Match, Bobbie Match’s daughter who lives in SF. Bobbie is one of our TAE ECC teachers and I have known her children, Alyssa and Charlie, since they were children in our TAE community.

Throughout the evening, there was such warmth and a strong sense of community. Attending this particular synagogue as it is geared to the gay and lesbian community allowed me to have a better understanding as to why we must remain open minded and remember the importance of tolerance to welcome all people together as one human race. There is no one person less or more than others and that is what Shaar Zahav has done.

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