Readers’ Choice 2020: Innovative Programming

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Congregation Emanu-El

(415) 751-2535 •

Always providing innovative programs, Congregation-Emanu-El offers adult education courses like “The Seasons of Life: Judaism’s Take on Making Existence Holy” and entertainment for your kids with “Mimi’s Music and Fun Group.” The congregation has always been involved in community outreach, both through cultural offerings and social justice. The museum in the temple has regularly featured both local and internationally known artists. The area’s largest Reform Jewish synagogue was founded during the Gold Rush.

Congregation Sherith Israel

(415) 346-1720  •

Members at Congregation Sherith Israel were clear — for this year’s High Holidays they wanted a sense of being in their gorgeous domed sanctuary. To accomplish that, the temple hired a video crew to record music and prayers in the space ahead of time. The historic Reform Congregation Sherith Israel, like Emanu-El founded during the Gold Rush, calls itself a modern congregation in a classic home. Offering a number of classes for people eager to learn about Judaism, including a model volunteer program to feed the homeless and infirm, a thriving social action program, and a spiritual home for interfaith families.



Temple Beth Abraham

(510) 832-093  •

From the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat to the Rock and Roll service, Friday nights at TBA are anything but a one-size-fits-all Conservative experience. Members have many opportunities to connect to community with mishpacha groups for families, and junior congregation for 3rd to 6th graders. A unique offering, Pardon the Interruption, is a learner’s service offering an opportunity for getting all of those nagging questions answered. Holiday celebrations, numerous educational offerings and social action groups round out the opportunities to engage with others in the community that TBA provides.

Congregation B’nai Tikvah

Walnut Creek
(925) 933-5397  •

A Walnut Creek Reform congregation, B’nai Tikvah strives to be “the most welcoming shul around,” offering opportunities to sing, play, march, chat and pray, no matter where your interests lie. Begun in 1981 with many doctors and nurses among its founding members, the congregation was affectionately referred to as B’nai Kaiser. Now members come from all walks of life, including the interfaith and LGBTQ communities. The beautiful sanctuary hosts services and speakers, as well as special events. Also a J. winner this year for its Roaring ’20s-themed virtual gala.



Congregation Etz Chayim

Palo Alto
(650) 813-9094  •

Centrally located in Palo Alto, Congregation Etz Chayim is a full-service synagogue that is unaffiliated with a particular movement, preferring fluidity in melding together interpretations of various branches of Jewish practice into their own brand. They encourage exploration in learning, social action and spiritual matters, but focus on the inner journey and community connection in all of their various offerings.

Congregation Beth Am

Los Altos Hills
(650) 493-4661  •

Ever a leader in its community, Congregation Beth Am is offering a gathering for a Mussar approach to the pandemic among its online offerings in addition to Torah study and other online classes. Their innovation helps keep them a Readers’ Choice favorite again this year. The congregation has a history of working with the Reform movement to recreate and re-envision the b’nai mitzvah process. Past year programs have included mental health and end-of-life support groups; the Equal Start initiative, supporting high-quality early learning; and interfaith outreach with other communities.



Congregation Rodef Sholom

San Rafael
(415) 479-3441  •

A repeat Readers’ Choice winner, Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael refers to its congregation as a kehilla kedosha, a sacred community that welcomes Jews and their families with open hearts, minds and arms. The congregation is affiliated with the Reform movement and traditionally has offered many opportunities to explore Judaism through creative religious services, community events like Shabbat dinners and religious school.

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