| September 2010
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By Corrie M. Anders
In a concession to his health, Rabbi Michael Lerner has relocated his Jewish Renewal synagogue, Beyt Tikkun, from its longtime base at the Noe Valley Ministry to a venue that is close to his Berkeley home. Starting with High Holiday Services in September, Beyt Tikkun will worship at the Pacific School of Religion at 1798 Scenic Avenue, a block north of the U.C. Berkeley campus.
Lerner, a political firebrand who founded the synagogue as well as the magazine Tikkun, said doctors’ orders precipitated the move in the aftermath of his bout last year with lung cancer.
“The doctor told me that the stress of traveling into the city on Friday nights when we have services—often hitting one and a half hours of traffic—was not good for me, and that it might accelerate a weakening of my body,” said Lerner, 67.
A secondary reason, he said, was that Beyt Tikkun needed new quarters anyway, since the Noe Valley Ministry will be closing in January for a yearlong renovation.
Lerner started Beyt Tikkun in 1996, with about 30 families who met at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center. When the JCC closed for reconstruction in 2001, the synagogue relocated to the Ministry. There are now about 100 families among the congregants.
Lerner spoke fondly of the synagogue’s years at the Ministry, noting that the Sanchez Street center “is filled with lovely people, people with a progressive vision similar to ours. Noe Valley as a whole is a wonderful place.”
Lerner has long pushed a liberal philosophy around religious, social, and environmental issues. He has also been a vocal critic of Israel’s presence on the West Bank, urging “reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.” He also has authored nine books, including The Geneva Accord and Other Strategies for Healing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2004).
Lerner said he plans a major emphasis on the environment during the 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) to Yom Kippur, a day of atonement. “We’re repenting for America’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “We’re repenting for the way people have allowed the earth to be depleted for private profit, and the way Israel has treated the Palestinians.”
Beyt Tikkun’s High Holiday services begin with the three-day Rosh Hashanah celebration, starting Sept. 8. Lerner will host the last day’s activity at his home, 951 Cragmont Avenue, Berkeley.
Visit www.beyttikkun.org to get a complete High Holiday schedule and tickets to the events, or call 510-528-6250.