Dear Or Shalomers,

As Or Shalom’s President, and on behalf of the Board, I wish to share with you the progress that we as a community are making to sustain and grow Or Shalom in the years to come.

First off, we have wonderful news: Faryn Borella has signed a contract this week to be Or Shalom’s next Settled Rabbi! We are delighted that Faryn will join us beginning July 1! Thank you all for attending the Special Member Meeting on March 15 and expressing your thoughts and opinions and for your participation in the vote to approve of the Board offering Faryn the position of our next Settled Rabbi. Again, I cannot thank enough the entire Rabbi Search Task Force for their unflagging determination and effort to help Or Shalom reach this essential moment for our community. 

Next, the entire Board thanks you, thanks you, thanks you, for your generous financial support in our annual Mishloach Manot Purim fundraiser! You all helped us achieve near-full participation in getting us close to our budgeted projection. We have raised approximately $24,000 with this year’s effort! We hope you enjoyed the hamentashen and sweets in your Mishloach Manot goodie bag—and have found ample opportunity to wear the beanie on the cold and windy days we have had lately! Many volunteers helped with preparing and distributing the goodie bags (thank you!), but I want to give special mention to our Pat Skala for organizing and coordinating this huge effort for yet another year. Thank you, Pat, for helping Or Shalom run another successful Mishloach Manot campaign!

In less than 12 months, we have accomplished much through the tireless efforts our leadership—including our Executive Committee and the entire Board, Executive Director Amy Mallor, Communications Specialist Naomi Rodriguez-Finer, and Interim Rabbi Chaya Gusfield—, our member leaders, many volunteers, and the generous participation and support of our membership.

Perhaps the most obviously visible is our new logo/branding, which is a component in the revitalization of our marketing and communications within the broader web of strategic efforts that include membership growth, fundraising, and outreach. Updates to our website coming soon too!

Below is a summary of some of so much that has been going on at Or Shalom: 


  • Rabbis
  • Bid a fond farewell to Rabbi Katie Mizrahi and her family
  • Hosted Rabbi Ezra Weinberg to lead and inspire us through the High Holy Days
  • Interviewed and held Shabbatons with Interim Rabbi candidates, welcoming Rabbi Chaya Gusfield as our part-time Interim Rabbi to lead us ritually, spiritually, and educationally through our transition to our next Settled Rabbi
  • Interviewed exceptional Settled Rabbi candidates, of whom our finalist, Faryn Borella, visited us for a Shabbaton on March 10–11, and will be Or Shalom’s next Settled Rabbi
  • Hired Amy Mallor as our Executive Director
  • Hired Naomi Rodriguez-Finer as our Communications Specialist and offering administrative assistance
  • Hired Nitza Agam and Orr Agam to teach our children at Bet Sefer this school year


  • Continued to hold services, rituals, Torah study, holiday events, learning opportunities, and other rabbi- and member-led programming at Brandeis and/or online, as well as a few events at the Unitarian Universalist Church and at our new home on Cortland Avenue.
  • Continued our connection with the Southside Jewish Collaborative synagogues with educational and tikkun olam opportunities and with religious events (e.g., Lunch and Learns; Chanukkah at Ner Tamid; the amazing Harry Potter Purim at Am Tikvah (formerly BIJ))  
  • Expanded our cherished and supremely gifted Musical Ensemble with new vocalists and instrumentalists
  • Added Torah Chanters—members who learned through an OS educational program—to Saturday morning services
  • Established the School of Jewish Living Arts (SJLA), envisioned and led by our own Rabbi Me’irah Illinsky
  • Initiated online adult and family learning programs
  • Convened a Re-imagining Youth Education Task Force to research and make recommendations to the Board to spur movement on revitalizing our heritage/religious/Hebrew school
  • Led and/or participated in various tikkun olam and social action events
  • Provided practical and emotional support to members via the Chesed Circle and Rabbi Chaya


  • 145 current member households
  • Rolling out Chavurah social/interest groups beginning in April
  • Started young adult (ages 24–30ish) social group as in-reach and outreach to wider SF Jewish community
  • Contracted Kesef for outsourced accounting and bookkeeping and now in full implementation after integration with previous structures
  • FY2023-24 (and beyond) budget planning and modeling underway to present a budget to membership at the June 4th Annual Members Meeting
  • Includes new approaches to fundraising, along with grant writing (e.g., for the new building, education), benefit events (e.g., member Charlie Varon’s “We Are All Storytellers” events), and philanthropic outreach
  • Financial Highlights:
  • With over $257,000 generated in Financial Commitments, we reached our budgeted goal for this FY2022-23.
  • Approximately $40,000 raised for the Annual Fund, representing 67% of our budgeted target. We intend to start this fundraiser earlier this year to meet target for FY2023-24.
  • Approximately $24,000 raised from the Purim Mishloach Manot fundraiser, 93% of our budgeted target.
  • Currently projecting a year-end deficit of approximately $69,000, 17% lower than the budget expectation. Or Shalom leadership is creating budget models so that within two years, by keeping costs constant or reducing them, while making gradual gains in membership and annual fund giving—and by sourcing grant and philanthropic funding—we will have forged a path out of deficit territory and will begin to replenish our reserves.


331–333 Cortland Avenue

  • Purchased Or Shalom’s first building on Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights!
  • Created Facilities Committee to handle property issues and planning
  • Engaged with our neighborhood merchants, residents, and activists (e.g., Bernal Business Alliance; Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center; Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office)
  • Established office space in 333 (upstairs) for OS staff and started furnishing the space
  • Utilized rear cottage for occasional use by Rabbi Chaya
  • Utilized 333 for occasional meetings and small group gatherings
  • Continued progress on the Conditional Use Authorization (CUA) process
  • Engaged legal and architectural consultants on CUA application steps to convert 333 to business occupancy and 331 (downstairs) to worship/institutional occupancy
  • Pre-application meeting with Dept. of Building Inspection and SFFD held in mid-March
  • Pre-application Community Meeting in Bernal Heights currently anticipated to occur the first week of May
  • Submit CUA application in May after the Pre-Application Community Meeting
  • Patiently wait to be added to a monthly public Planning Commission meeting agenda (hopefully by August) for approval of CUA application
  • Special note: Or Shalom is planning for a consecration of the building and the installation of a mezuzah before the next High Holy Days. Stay tuned!


  • Continued to hold services, learning, programming, and Bet Sefer at Brandeis. Thank you, Brandeis—we are so grateful for your support of Or Shalom!

What a busy and active community we are! And there is much more to come and look forward to in 2023 and beyond! Please consider joining more of our current and upcoming social and educational programs (check the weekly newsletter and our website!), as well as becoming more involved as a volunteer on a committee or for an event. Please contact Amy Mallor with any questions on how to get involved!

Thank you, dear Or Shalomers, for your continued participation at and support of Or Shalom.

Shabbat shalom!

In partnership,

Matt Rudoff

Board President