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A window into the work of Chabad of SF that is sometimes 'under the radar'

I am certainly ‘known’ in the Bay Area. Doris Ward, former city Assessor, once called me Rabbi Chanukah. To some I’m the morotcycle rabbi, or the Rally Rabbi for Jewish Heritage night at the Giants and Warriors. To some,I'm the ‘bobblehead” Rabbi thanks to a collectible giveaway from the San Francisco Giants team. To some I’m just Yosef. To Bill Graham I was always Joseph. I’m the downtown Mitzvah Cable Car Minyan Rabbi to others along with my son Rabbi Moshe Langer!

I’m proud to present some of our programs which we have planned, pioneered and executed successfuly for the last 40 years in SF Bay area:

  1. Bill Graham Menorah Project (1975-Present) ­
    Partnering with legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, we enabled the first public Menorah candle lighting in the world (outside of the Land of Israel) for 8 consecutive blessed nights back in 1975.​ This is now the largest Jewish identity public program in SF, set on the very public ‘main stage’ of the city in Union Square! Now a beloved San Francisco tradition, the lighting of the multi-story Menorah is​ covered by all ​local ​media and ​adds blessed light throughout ​the city. ​Its reach is always way beyond ​in​to the greater Bay Area​, with more than 5,000 people participating the event over ​the ​8 days. Due to extensive media coverage ​all Jews celebrates Chanukah​, with Menorah lightings ​now in almost every country ​lit by thousands of Chabad ​emissaries and other ​Jewish organizations.

  2. Holidays: (1975-Present)
    Chabad pioneered opening free holiday services​ in the Bay Area - first​ in Berkeley​ and then in 1985 host​ing free downtown SF services for the unaffiliated.
  3. Hundreds of Jewish singles and families are hosted at no charge for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover seders totaling thousands of participants. We choose venues where the unaffiliated feel comfortable, having a long-term favorable relationship with the Fairmont and other downtown hotels. ​

  4. Jewish Education: (1997-Present)
    For more than 19 years, Chabad has provided a welcoming source of Jewish learning for San Franciscans, starting from a young age at our Shalom Preschool and Bais Menachem Yeshiva Day School (K­8). Year after year, we continue to have five-star feedback from our parents. Today the school educates more than 90 children and keeps on growing.

There is no better way to make sure the Jewish community continues to remain engaged than to host ongoing events across a range of ages and interests. Some of these events include:

  1. Purim Palooza: (2001-Present)
    Megillah reading followed by an authentic holiday celebration with live local music ­- 200 plus in attendance annually.

  2. Shabbat Happy Hour: (2012-Present)
    Once a month, we host a “Young Adults Blue Angel Vodka Bar Happy Hour” in SoMa at 5th and Mission. Shabbat prayer services follow with traditional kiddish followed by a challah motzi and homemade, delicious kosher food from chicken soup through to dessert. This event has become so popular than nearly 125 local young professionals are attending on a regular basis and we no longer have enough space in the donated venue. These young people are marrying and having children and asking for weekly Shabbat happenings. The new 6th Street facility is the new venue for all those that attended the happy hour and Shabbat services and so many more to come.

  3. Jewish Heritage Night at AT&T Park: (2006-Present)
    We were on the ground floor of creating a Jewish music/deli/beer tailgate meet up in the parking lot on "Jewish Heritage Night” at AT&T Park for the Giants. Creating the “Rally Rabbi” bobblehead and bringing G­-D into the sports world has given high visibility to Chabad of SF in general and the Jewish community in particular.

  4. Jewish Heritage Night at Oracle Arena:
    The Warriors invited us to be the organizers of their own newly-established Jewish Heritage Night, where we have kosher tailgate parties and live music. Jews of all ages and affiliations join our community for a night of basketball, fandom and Yiddishkeit - for example, it has included Chanukah menorah lighting at past events.

  5. Shabbat Dinners: (1975-Present)
    Over 40 years during EVERY SHABBAT we have had open house for a traditional Shabbat meal. From 1975 ­to 1985, our Berkeley Chabad House next to the campus pioneered free Friday Night Live. Our large fraternity house, with 17 dorm rooms was a Jewish overnight youth hostel that became a legendary place of retreat for college Jews. Jewish travelers that were kosher and keeping Shabbat also found it a welcome respite. It was a place of joy, singing and dancing for more than 100-150 celebrants every Friday night. The door was never closed and thousands of Jewish people from all backgrounds came for an authentic Chassidic Jewish experience. All descriptions of Jews flocked to this icon that opened up Shabbos (no strings attached) to the Bay Area.

I, along with my beloved wife Hinda, took over the leadership of Chabad in the Bay Area in 1979 - we were the only Chabad couple north of Los Angeles. The large converted fraternity house in Berkeley was only the second Chabad House of its kind in the world!

Thousands of Jewish people from all backgrounds, besides students and professors, came for an authentic Chassidic Jewish experience. Jewish groups from Reform and Conservative synagogues, backpackers and Israeli soldiers touring America, Jews from Marin, SF and Contra Costa came who wanted a Shabbat experience with no synagogue affiliation or dues.

Jews who missed ‘the old country’, all descriptions of Jews flocked to this icon that opened up Shabbat with no strings attached to the Bay Area. Many of those people, and their children are now heads of large families and leaders all over the world bringing Jewish life to others.

We are looking forward to your partnership in this continuing saga of successful Jewish outreach. Please - we ask for your support in taking Jewish community in SF to its next level! Positively 6th Street is the vision Chabad has to transform a neighborhood with positive energy, breathing new life into the area and partnering with the local residents to achieve our shared vision.

Reach out, give what you can and help us in achieving our goal for 6th Street!

Respectfully, Rabbi Yosef Langer