Synagogue Life

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Readers’ Choice 2016

Innovative Programming

Congregation Beth Sholom, a Conservative San Francisco synagogue in the Richmond District founded in 1904, offers twice-daily egalitarian minyans, a family preschool and a meditation center. Adult programs explore such topics as Jewish mysticism and psalms, and include small-group learning opportunities in private homes.

Founded in 1850 in San Francisco, Reform Congregation Emanu-El, the Bay Area’s largest, offers courses with resident scholar and author Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, programs for interfaith families and a commitment to social justice. Its museum features exhibits by local and internationally known artists.

Lafayette’s Reform Temple Isaiah calls itself a Jewish neighborhood, with playgroups for babies and toddlers, plus day camps, family Shabbats and activities for youth, empty-nesters and seniors. It also offers a thriving mental health program, havurahs, Mussar, yoga and meditation.

Oakland’s Reform Temple Sinai, founded by immigrants in 1875, offers programs for boomers and empty-nesters, interfaith families and LGBTQ Jews as well as lifelong learning. Social action initiatives include the People of the Book Literacy Project and a commitment to green energy.

In Los Altos Hills, Congregation Beth Am is working with the Reform movement to re-envision the b’nai mitzvah process. Continuing programs include Torah study, drawing some 200 weekly; Oneg Israel, combining cultural presentations with Israeli food; and the Equal Start initiative, supporting high-quality early learning.

San Mateo’s Reform Peninsula Temple Beth El offers a family education program integrating study, Shabbat and social action, and youth programs in the evening. Its Sunday Sandwich Hevre helps feed the hungry, and its Green Team champions environmental action on the synagogue campus and the wider community.

In Tiburon, Conservative Congregation Kol Shofar offers creative worship opportunities, from traditional to contemplative, including an award-winning Center for Jewish Spirituality, a Judaism 101 series, lunch and breakfast learning sessions with the rabbis and a robust youth program.

San Francisco

Congregation Beth Sholom

(415) 221-8736


Congregation Emanu-El

(415) 751-2535

 East Bay

Temple Isaiah


(925) 283-8575


Temple Sinai


(510) 451-3263

South Bay/Peninsula

Congregation Beth Am

Los Altos Hills

(650) 493-4661


Peninsula Temple Beth El

San Mateo

(650) 341-7701

North Bay

Congregation Kol Shofar


(415) 388-1818


Readers’ Choice 2016