After almost 100 years at 2 Lake Street, Congregation Emanu-El has launched Emanu-El Next

Since the 1800’s, Emanu-El has been where we’ve educated our children, found sense of self and fostered a community.

Emanu-El Next will transform Emanu-El’s physical infrastructure, and build our endowment and our capacity to serve our sacred Jewish community. Our home, however, is in great need of repair and renovation. Our building was not designed to meet today’s seismic or security standards, nor does it welcome intimate gatherings or allow us to provide the kind of quality education we would like. 

What This Project Will Achieve

Our building is comprised of three elements – the Main Sanctuary, the Courtyard Wing and the Temple House. Congregation Emanu-El is proposing construction of a new Courtyard Wing within the existing Lake Street and Arguello façades, along with significant upgrades to the adjacent Temple House. This project provides an opportunity to address the seismic and safety needs of the Courtyard Wing, and to expand our ability to meet the strategic goal to be a welcoming, accessible home to all Jews throughout the Bay Area.  

Our Six Strategic Initiatives

To ensure the continuity of the congregation and the building, we have identified six strategic initiatives that will be met with this campaign. 

We have to prioritize safety and security improvements – a significant investment is necessary to address existing seismic challenges in the Courtyard Wing. Additional improvements will include new areas for both large gatherings and intimate interactions, from learning classrooms to areas of play. These spaces will facilitate life-cycle events and the improvement of one’s self through enlightened exchange. It’s time to move our place of worship and community into the 21st century with a cutting edge, functional, warm and safe haven open to all those looking to enrich their lives in the Jewish faith.

What's New With Emanu-El Next

Donor Spotlight: Leela de Souza and Peter Bransten - Jan 2023

In our fifteenth donor spotlight, Leela de Souza and Peter Bransten share their story and discuss their commitment to being part of the movement to ensure that Temple Emanu-El thrives through the 21st-century and beyond.

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Donor Spotlight: Leela de Souza and Peter Bransten - Jan 2023

How does the son of a pioneering San Francisco Jewish family meet and marry a woman raised in Chicago by a Jewish mother with Eastern European ancestry, and a Catholic father from India? This remarkable shidduch was made by Peter’s first cousin, Lisa Bransten, in 2004. Leela and Peter knew soon after their first date that they could build a loving partnership rooted in shared values, common goals, a firm commitment to family, and Temple Emanu-El. They were married at the Temple and it became an important constant in their family life as they raised their daughter Arielle. She attended preschool and Hebrew school at the Temple, and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in 2019 under the guidance of Rabbi Jonathan Singer.

But let’s start at the beginning. In 1850, Joseph Brandenstein, Peter’s great-great-grandfather, emigrated to the United States from Germany during the Gold Rush, determined to build a new life and a family amidst the promise of America. Joseph was one of the founders of Temple Emanu-El and served on the Board of Directors. He was the third President of Mt. Zion Hospital and a member of the board of the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum, which eventually became Jewish Family and Children’s Services. With his large family—11 children—Joseph participated in the business, political, and arts communities of San Francisco and was proud of his Jewish heritage. He thrived in the City by the Bay and devoted much of his life to philanthropic causes. Three of Joseph’s sons founded the MJB Company, which they built into a major coffee company in the United States.

Peter’s grandfather, Joseph M. Bransten, who served as President and Chairman of MJB, amassed an important collection of rare books about coffee and tea, which he donated to the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley. When he died in 1980, Rabbi Joseph Asher spoke of his limitless pride in his family and his mastery of the “Art of Living.” Peter’s late father, John, was also Chairman of MJB, a former President of the Board of the Berkeley Art Museum, and a trustee of SFMOMA. He went on to become a passionate collector of contemporary art and developed a deep appreciation for Irish poetry. John’s funeral, like his father’s, was held in the main sanctuary at Temple Emanu-El. Peter’s mother, Rena Bransten, is the founder of one of San Francisco’s most prominent art galleries. She was also a founding board member of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and continues to be a vital figure in the San Francisco arts scene.

Peter grew up within walking distance of the Temple, attended Town School, Lowell High School, and U.C. Berkeley. He is now an attorney at the Los Angeles-based firm Glaser Weil. He inherited his family’s passion for the arts, and over the course of his annual trips to India with Leela and Arielle, he developed a keen interest in collecting contemporary Indian art. Reflecting on his childhood in San Francisco, Peter relates that his family identified as Jews but did not practice Jewish rituals and rarely attended services or events at Temple Emanu-El. What did anchor his experience of Jewish life, however, was a community of like-minded people with a shared sense of values, humor, and empathy.

Leela’s journey as a Jew was strongly influenced by her maternal grandmother, Augusta Tannenbaum, the principal of a Hebrew school in Chicago. Growing up in a conservative congregation, Leela went to Hebrew school three times a week and had her first of two Bat Mitzvahs at Anshe Emet Synagogue. While she strongly identified as Jewish, she didn’t really feel a deep connection to Judaism. Leela attributes this disconnect to being instructed to read, write, and pray in Hebrew without understanding the meaning of what she was learning. In addition, the clergy in Leela’s Chicago synagogue was dominated by men, which prompted her to question the lack of leadership roles for women in Jewish communities.

After retiring from her career as a principal contemporary ballet dancer, Leela attended the University of Chicago and moved to the Bay Area to earn her MBA at Stanford University. Upon graduation, she joined the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Company, as a management consultant, where she met long-time congregant Jennifer Futernick. In 1996, Jennifer invited Leela to join her for High Holy Days. To this day Leela remembers her first service in the main sanctuary: the stunning architecture of the sanctuary, Rabbi Helen Cohn’s inspirational sermon on choosing one’s unique path in life—professionally and religiously—and Cantor Roslyn Barak’s transcendent rendition of Kol Nidre. Particularly meaningful was the fact that much of the service was in English. Almost instantly, Leela knew she’d found the Jewish home she’d been looking for, with two women clergy leading more than 500 congregants that night in song and prayer—and also feeling intellectually challenged by the many questions posed throughout the service. She began attending Shabbat services every Friday evening, became a member of the Temple, joined several committees, and had an adult Bat Mitzvah guided by Cantor Barak. This second time around Leela had the desire to more fully embrace the richness of her Jewish heritage and its traditions. Today her professional journey is guided by the principle of tikkun olam. As Chief Development & Marketing Officer for College Track for the past ten years, Leela is dedicated to increasing access to higher education for students from low-income communities.

Falling in love with Peter, whose family is connected to the history of Temple Emanu-El, and being married by Rabbi Cohn and Cantor Barak in Martin Meyer sanctuary gave Leela the opportunity to further anchor her sense of a “home” in San Francisco. After nearly twenty years of marriage, Leela and Peter are deeply appreciative of the kindness and guidance they have received from the Temple’s clergy as well as other congregants. And it has been a joy for them to share their relationship to Judaism with Arielle, a sixth-generation San Franciscan, who now attends the Temple’s 11th-grade Youth & Family Education program.

From generation-to-generation, Leela and Peter are committed to being part of the movement to ensure that Temple Emanu-El thrives through the 21st-century and beyond. They strongly believe that, long-term, our building must be a place that allows the Temple to grow its membership by being a space that brings Jews, young and old alike, together in new and inspiring ways that reflect the needs of our community. That is why they have pledged to the Emanu-El NEXT campaign. “We believe in the importance of sustaining Jewish life in the Bay Area so that generations to come are proud to be Jewish, actively participate in Jewish life, and abide by the hopeful principle of tikkun olam. For that is what Temple Emanu-El will forever foster in its congregation.”


To participate, please contact Julie Weinberg, Senior Director of Philanthropy, at: [email protected] or 415 750 7557.
Or make a generous contribution today by clicking the following link to our Donation page!
This article appeared in a January edition of The Emanu-El Chronicle.
Frequently Asked Questions - Nov 2022

Our Executive Director David Goldman has answered some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve heard from our congregants.

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Frequently Asked Questions - Nov 2022

Our Executive Director David Goldman has answered some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve heard from our congregants.


Q: How much has Congregation Emanu-El raised to-date?

A: As of November 2022, we’ve raised $100.7M thanks to the incredible generosity and wide support of our community. But we have not reached our goal yet.


Q: Did the budget of Emanu-El Next change? Why?

A: Yes. Our costs have increased from $97M to $115M due primarily to supply chain issues, inflation, and rising construction costs, like other construction projects throughout the Bay Area. We are working hard to raise those funds.


Q: Do you have a contingency plan if you don’t reach your new goal of $115M?

A: With the support of everyone in our community, we believe we can reach our revised goal. However, in the event we fall short, we can still deliver a transformative project that largely meets our goals. We have several options to do this such as either scaling back our plan or delaying the start of construction to allow us to raise more money. We believe everything in the plan for Emanu-El Next will improve our physical infrastructure and our capacity to serve the community, so if we don’t reach our revised goal then we will have to make some tough decisions. No matter what, we will be prudently responsible, and try our best to reach our goal.


Q: When will you have entitlement/city planning approval?

A: We’re on schedule for approvals at the end of this year, December 2022. A key upcoming aspect is the public comments period which will open in late September, in which community members will have the opportunity to raise any concerns or objections to the project.


Q: When is ground-breaking?

A: We’re on schedule for groundbreaking in June 2023.


Q: Will Emanu-El operate during construction?

A: Emanu-El will be open for business during construction. We anticipate offering a full range of services, education, and social justice opportunities. The main sanctuary will be open throughout. And we anticipate using other nearby locations, such as the JCC, other Shuls, and our great outdoor programming. The construction years will be a vibrant time at Emanu-El, and the different spaces will allow us to experiment with different types of programs to meet members’ needs.


Q: Where will YFE and Preschool be located?

A: We are relocating YFE and the Preschool and are finalizing details on leases and use of properties in the general neighborhood. Securing a space to relocate is a high priority for us and we are working with a group of experts to find the best space for education, preschool, and offices. Our priority is to ensure we have a safe, nearby, convenient and programmatically appropriate space for children and families. We understand the need for families and educators to know the locations for next year, and we hope to have specific locations by the year’s end and hopefully sooner. When our plans are finalized we will let the congregation know.


Q: Is Emanu-El Next the best use of money – especially during/after COVID-19?

A: We have learned many lessons from COVID-19, including ways to make our programs more accessible for those who can’t come in person. We’re carrying these lessons over into our new design, as well as incorporating improvements from a public health perspective, such as better ventilation. But most importantly, the isolation of the pandemic has only reinforced the value of coming together in community. That’s why we think our plan to build a better gathering space is more important now than ever.


Q: How will Emanu-El raise another $14.5M?

A: Although we’ve had great participation, there are still many congregants who haven’t yet given. We appreciate gifts at all levels, and we will continue to ask our congregation to support Emanu-El Next. We are also encouraging testamentary giving by including Emanu-El in people’s wills, which helps us secure the long-term stability of the synagogue.


Q: Do you need additional gifts from those of us who have already given?

A: Yes! We are grateful for the gifts we have already received, and we hope people will make contributions payable over 5 years in order to make the most generous gift possible within their means.



To participate, please contact Julie Weinberg, Senior Director of Philanthropy, at: [email protected] or 415 750 7557.
Or make a generous contribution today by clicking the following link to our Donation page!
This article appeared in a November edition of The Emanu-El Chronicle.
Donor Spotlight: The Ehrlich Family - Oct 2022

In our fourteenth donor spotlight, Chris Ehrlich shares how our clergy and congregation helped his family through devastating times, reconnected them with Jewish life, and made them proud to be Jewish.

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Donor Spotlight: The Ehrlich Family - Oct 2022

Chris and Sara Ehrlich were non-practicing Jews when they came to California from the east coast in the early 2000s. When they sent their daughter, Charlotte, to a Catholic private school, she came home one day and told them that her friends were getting confirmed – and asked – could she get confirmed, too? They wanted her to know their roots, so they enrolled her in the Youth and Family Education program at Congregation Emanu-El. As Sara said, “Charlotte, it’s time that you learned who and what you are.”

It was fortuitous timing. Just weeks later her two year old brother, Campbell, passed away unexpectedly. The family found the temple to be an indispensable guide through that unspeakable trauma. “When our son died, we realized how fleeting life is,” says Chris. “It made us think of our legacy and how we wanted to make an impact.” It was a difficult way to find religion, but since then, the Ehrlichs have recommitted to Judaism and built strong ties to our congregation.

Chris grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, where his family essentially hid the fact they were Jewish, celebrating Christmas and Easter in lieu of the High Holidays. His father, a pediatric orthopedist, helped young kids walk. Chris remembers people approaching his dad when they went out to dinner, thanking him for helping their children. “I was impressed. And my dad told me: don’t go into medicine! It’s a terrible lifestyle tradeoff!”

Despite the warnings, Chris became a biotech strategy consultant, helping firms in Boston develop their business. The end users of the drugs they produced were doctors – some of whom were friends of his father – and Chris felt comfortable gathering feedback from them to improve his clients’ products. He was a successful consultant, but the biotech industry primarily exists on the east and west coast, and over time, Chris grew tired of the cold in Boston. He found himself dreaming of a new life in California. He put some feelers out and, on Memorial Day of 2000, got an interview for a dream job at Interwest, a venture capital firm. “I had a great life on the east coast, but I never looked back.”

Over a 30 year career in biotech, Chris and Sara got more and more involved in philanthropy. Passionate about oncology, they continue to support efforts that impose a business discipline around academic research to ensure life-saving products have a chance of reaching the market. Chris remarks that one of his proudest moments as an investor was helping bring a drug to market that his father, who had cancer, was able to take to extend his life span. They also give to the Rivers School in Weston, MA, to support internships for kids who want to explore summer jobs in biotech. Furthermore, they contribute to the cancer accelerator at Dartmouth college and the Healthcare program at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, both of which Chris and Sara attended.

“I think it’s really cool to see a gift actually help people,” Chris says. “To see students develop an interest in biotech and want to go off and contribute. To see a cancer drug reach the market and impact lives. And, in Emanu-El’s case, to build our community so it’s there in perpetuity.”

The Ehrlich family see their gift to Emanu-El as a lifelong investment. “You’re at your synagogue forever,” Chris says. As an institution that celebrates birth, observes death, and gathers people together constantly, he sees no other institution with as much longevity as his temple. “Make an investment at 30, and you’ll be around to see it when you’re 70.”

They see their gift to Emanu-El Next as just one piece among the many “co-owners” of the synagogue. “This is like an equity investment. We like the experiences we have and it makes us feel great, and we get to be part of it.  Contributing to make the institution what it deserves to be is a privilege.”

Of note, Sara and Chris are grateful to Rabbi Ryan Bauer for recruiting the family to go on a trip to Israel years ago, where they had a cathartic, life changing time and made friends with whom they still keep in touch and, in fact, travel internationally every year.  They also appreciates the effort Emanu-El, particularly Julie Weinberg, have made to host events in support of Emanu-El Next. They thank our congregation for bringing the family back to Judaism. Says Chris, “Emanu-El got me through losing my son, my mother and my father. I’m eternally grateful. They make me and my family proud to be Jewish.”

Perhaps even more interesting, their kids have embraced Judaism in a way they would never have dreamed. When their son, Harrison, came back from Maccabi Camp, he told the family he wanted to wear a necklace with the Jewish star to represent his religion proudly. When his daughter, Charlotte, was bat-mitzvahed at our temple, she wanted to come back to teach in the YFE program, where she found a community of teachers, kids and their families. “As someone who went to a Catholic school where I felt like an outsider, Emanu-El was the first place I would call home,” Charlotte says. “I love it. I know some people say they don’t want to go to church, but I’m always excited to go to temple for the high holidays.”

“Emanu-El Next will make our synagogue even more interesting and relevant to people today,” Chris says. “But it’s not just about making a nice place that people want to go to. When people get in the door, it gives them the opportunity to discover the substantive meaning of Judaism on their own.”


(From left to right): Sara, Charlotte, Chris and Harrison Ehrlich.


To participate, please contact Julie Weinberg, Director of Development, at: [email protected] or 415 750 7557.
Or make a generous contribution today by clicking the following link to our Donation page!
This article appeared in an October edition of The Emanu-El Chronicle.
Show more Updates

Our Impact Over Time

  • 1906
  • 1920s
  • 1963
  • 1969 - 1989
  • 1985
  • 1995
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 1900
  • 1920
  • 1940
  • 1960
  • 1980
  • 2000

San Francisco Earthquake Recovery Efforts

Following the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger led recovery efforts through instituting an ad hoc ambulance system and spearheading hunger relief and housing programs for the homeless and others suffering due to the disaster.  

An Opportunity to Serve

Building on the history of community service, Emanu-El women volunteered to sew bandages for local hospital patients.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Addresses our Congregation

Committed to racial justice, Rabbi Alvin Fine invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to address Congregation Emanu-El as he led our nation in the struggle for civil rights. Emanu-El continues to partner with a diverse coalition of local and national organizations in the pursuit of social justice.

Soviet Jews Welcomed

Congregation Emanu-El’s members organized efforts that advocated for persecuted Soviet Jews to emigrate to the United States to find religious freedom and economic opportunity. The congregation continues to support efforts for international human rights.

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic

At a time when mainstream religious groups avoided confronting the HIV/AIDS crisis, Emanu-El clergy addressed the issue through bold sermons and activated the community to respond by raising funds for the Shanti Project. Throughout the 1980s, Emanu-El developed initiatives to respond to the AIDS crisis and combat pervasive homophobia. 

Protecting the Redwoods

Rabbi Stephen Pearce viewed halting the clear-cutting of the redwood ecosystem as our moral obligation. Here, Rabbi Pearce’s effort to protect something larger than Emanu-El is carried out by joining with interfaith leaders and environmentalists to save Northern California’s treasured forests.

Standing Up Against Hate

When white nationalist hate groups announced their intention to demonstrate in San Francisco, Emanu-El hosted the city-wide Interfaith Gathering Against Hate. Emanu-El works in coalition with local civic and religious organizations dedicated to strengthening our democracy and promoting the civil rights of all people. Photo courtesy of Laura Paull for J. The Jewish News of Northern California.

Confronting the San Francisco Housing Crisis

Congregants conduct food, supply and clothing drives to benefit homeless youth at Larkin Street Youth Services. In 2018, Emanu-El partnered with city and business leaders to launch Heading Home, a $30 million initiative to transition 800 homeless families into permanent housing. 

Driven by the core Jewish belief of tikkun olam, to make the world a better place, Emanu-El has a long history of deep involvement in the local community. 

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

After almost 100 years at 2 Lake Street, Congregation Emanu-El is proposing construction of a new Courtyard Wing within the existing Lake Street and Arguello façades, along with significant upgrades to the adjacent Temple House. This project provides an opportunity to address seismic and safety needs of the Courtyard Wing and to expand the ability to meet the strategic goal to be a welcoming, accessible home to all Jews throughout the Bay Area.

To ensure the continuity of the congregation and the building we have identified six strategic initiatives that will be met with this campaign:

  1. Safe, Secure and Sustainable
  2. Welcoming
  3. Small Gatherings and Intimate Spaces
  4. Joyous Celebrations
  5. State-of-the-Art Education
  6. Financial Accessibility

The project will add approximately 20,000 square feet of usable space, predominantly in the Courtyard Wing, with approximately 2,400 square feet (of the 20,000 square feet) added to the Temple House.  

In order to achieve its six strategic initiatives, Emanu-El is undertaking the Emanu-El Next project. The various components of Emanu-El Next include construction of a new Courtyard Wing within the existing Lake Street and Arguello façade, significant upgrades to the Temple House, and a campaign to fund both the hard and soft costs of this construction and increase the size of the endowment.

This investment will transform Emanu-El both with respect to its physical infrastructure and its capacity to serve the community. Guiding these efforts are six initiatives that capture our vision for Emanu-El Next:

Safe, Secure and Sustainable: Emanu-El Next will invest in modernizing and upgrading the Courtyard Wing to today’s seismic standards. The temple will also be redesigned to incorporate best practices in security, with one entrance with multiple layers of security, the perimeter of the building entirely secured, and the children’s play area relocated to the top floor. The original building was designed to be open and accessible in a period very unlike today, when security practices are absolutely necessary.

Warm and Welcoming: Emanu-El Next will restore the original entrance from Lake Street with an inviting welcome center that leads into a light-filled courtyard that draws focus toward the Main Sanctuary. The Courtyard Wing will be bustling with people making friends, taking classes and engaging with the community. This welcoming ethos will be incorporated into the entire building, with a design focused on fostering engagement and accessibility to meet the needs of all community members.

Small Gatherings and Intimate Spaces: Emanu-El’s current building is packed beyond capacity, with more than 1,100 programs taking place annually, students studying in stairwells, and adult education courses being held in classrooms designed for children. With this transformation, Emanu-El will become the perfect destination to enjoy small, intimate gatherings through the creation of new, flexible spaces such as a lounge, the Jewish Experience Lab, classrooms with modern technology, and small conference rooms.

Joyous Celebrations: Emanu-El Next will focus on renovating and updating Guild Hall to serve as its premier event location. While Guild Hall has many built-in advantages, it is not currently set up to meet the needs of congregants who want to celebrate milestones and simchas surrounded by family and friends. We will update the space to bring in more natural light, provide a more central entrance, add modern amenities and create greater flexibility to allow for multiple events at the same time. The space will pay tribute to our beloved building’s history and be available year-round for B’nei Mitzvah, parties, weddings, and other life-affirming events. The renovated space will also allow Emanu-El to make more room available for our community partners, such as those working in the social justice sector.

State-of-the-Art Education: Education is central to Jewish practice and a core value for Emanu-El. Yet our classrooms are undersized, outdated, and without modern technology. In Emanu-El Next, classrooms will be designed to correspond with best practices in modern educational approaches – larger rooms with more open space that allow for collaborative activities and experiential learning, outside environments for learning and play (such as gardens), and integrated technological infrastructure.

Financial Accessibility: A crucial part of the Emanu-El Next project is to make a significant investment in our reserves and endowment. The future of Emanu-El is dependent on our ability to welcome all Jews looking to practice and explore Judaism regardless of their economic circumstances. We currently offer membership to anyone who would like to join, and we need additional resources to sustain this model. Simply raising our dues and fees to match rising expenses would make it too difficult for many of our members to actively participate in Jewish life. The increase in our endowment will help secure a future with a vibrant membership from diverse backgrounds and ensure there are sufficient resources to maintain our beautiful new home and provide a wide range of high-quality programs and services.

Construction will start depending on approvals from the City and funding for the project. Given the necessary City approvals, we anticipate construction to start sometime in 2023. 

Our intention is to carry out the proposed improvements as one project. We are seeking approvals that would give us flexibility to build the project as one phase, or should it become necessary, two. If it were to become a two-phase project, the Courtyard Wing would likely precede the Temple House changes, although the order could be reversed. 

While existing programs will likely continue, we do anticipate the new spaces will allow new programming as a result of the enhancements created by improved facilities and finances. Some examples include:

  • The Jewish Experience Lab – an innovation lab to allow for Jewish experiential learning through creation and collaboration
  • Community Empowerment Zone – new and updated Emanu-El Next space allows for more collaboration with community organizations
  • New Welcome Center – provides interactive information about what’s going on at Emanu-El
  • Café Emanu-El – a place to relax, gather and look at the latest in Jewish media
  • The Jewish Meditation Place – for meditation, Yiddish yoga, etc.
  • Small Gathering Spaces – will allow us to focus on learning groups, providing engagement for adults without children
  • Emanu-El Next Beit Midrash – the library reimagined, with texts available in book form and tablets

We are designing and budgeting for enhanced security measures at the entry and throughout the building, and to maintain on-going staff.

Security is a top priority, although it needs to be balanced against our desire to welcome our congregants. The renovation plans have been reviewed with a security firm, and we will continue consulting with them on an ongoing basis.

We do not believe it is in our community’s best interest to specify the security improvements, except to say that our protocols have been adjusted in light of recent events and will continue to be reviewed and reconsidered as additional information becomes available. We ask for our congregants’ understanding and patience in the event they are inconvenienced as a result of our enhanced security protocols.

During construction, the contractor will have a site safety plan in place to address access as well as the impact from construction. There will be a designated site safety contact who can be reached at any time.

The project will include renovation or new construction of approximately 72,000 sq.ft. total within the new Courtyard Wing and renovated Temple House.

After construction, the net increase in square feet is only about 20,000 square feet more than the total amount of square feet that exists today. The net increase in space is located predominantly in the Courtyard Wing, but about 2,400 (of the 20,000) square feet is new space added to the Temple House by way of a new dormer. 

The Temple was built before the existing 40 ft. height limit was put in place and you can see that the dome and the Temple House exceed the 40 ft. limit. The additional floor and rooftop play yard on top of the new Courtyard Wing will be higher than the existing Courtyard structure, but it will still be significantly lower than the top of the Temple House. The new dormer on the Temple House will also exceed 40 ft. but it, too, will be lower than the existing highest points of the Temple House.

The exterior footprint is not increasing.

Gould Evans is the master plan architect and completed the master plan in 2017. Mark Cavagnero Associates is the design architect.

We are relocating the preschool play area to the rooftop to achieve a higher degree of safety and security.

There will be some additional minimal programming on the rooftop, mostly during the daytime, such as the annual Sukkot celebration.

We are not anticipating increased enrollment above the 123 we are currently licensed for, but as we have in the past, we will continue to experience annual enrollment fluctuations. 

We will be working with a transportation consultant and civil engineer to create a new drop-off location along the reinstated original entry on Lake Street.

Bollards will be added along Lake Street for safety.

Efforts will be made to leave existing vegetation along Lake Street and Arguello. 

While there may be less expensive approaches to address only seismic and security needs, this is an opportunity to reposition Congregation Emanu-El with a safe and welcoming facility that meets its programmatic needs of the next century. Addressing the seismic and security needs does affect significant portions of the building, so this would be the most efficient time to also make other improvements that meet Emanu-El’s strategic goals, such as creating welcoming space for large and small gatherings and ensuring long-term financial accessibility.

Youth and Family Education will benefit from upgraded facilities throughout the Temple House and new facilities surrounding the Courtyard Wing. All classrooms will receive technology upgrades. The modernized spaces, along with innovations in curriculum, will improve the overall YFE experience.

The projected cost of the project is $79M all-in with an $18M endowment campaign (for a total of $97M). This includes hard construction costs, design costs (architects, engineers), project management, permits, fundraising and financing, relocation, contingency and an endowment. 

The primary cost of the project will be covered by broad support from the Emanu-El community, but we are also looking to several foundations. We are relying on contributions to the Emanu-El Next campaign, not increased dues.

The Board approves all investment-related policies. The Investment Subcommittee of the Finance Committee is charged with oversight of the management of the endowment and for directing the CFAO (Chief Financial and Administrative Officer) relative to investment activity.

We are relying on donor contributions to the Emanu-El Next campaign, not increased dues, to pay for the project.

The only planned increase to membership dues is the annual increase we would have anticipated independent of the building project. Membership dues typically increase annually to cover increases in operating costs (staff, utilities, program innovation). The increased endowment will help us keep dues increases to a customary level, which have been under 3% over the past several years.  

We are increasing the endowment by $18 million, and the resulting increased interest from the endowment, together with our on-going annual revenues, will more than meet the need for any increased maintenance costs. We have already received contributions that can be used for this purpose only.

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted Emanu-El’s normal income stream in dues, giving, and fees, particularly school fees, and will likely do so even more over the next fiscal year. Emanu-El made the decision to keep our team, including our full clergy team, administrators, our incredible pre-school and YFE teachers and the maintenance staff who has served us so well over the decades. In order to do so, we applied for and were approved for an SBA Payroll Protection Program loan. We likely would have been forced into other decisions without the PPP loan.

Our PPP loan was approved by the bank and the SBA, and will be carefully used according to the program’s guidelines. We are grateful we were able to secure approval due to the incredible efforts of several senior staff and volunteers on our finance committee. Our approval also took a little luck, as funds were claimed quickly and not all who were eligible were able to secure funding. This left many worthy non-profits in a situation where they did not receive funding through no fault of their own. We asked our congressional representatives to pass additional funding measures and are encouraged that Congress has done so.

As always, we have been a community partner and continue to focus our efforts on serving our congregation and the broader community by ensuring other worthy non-profits obtain the help they need.

Emanu-El will go through a qualification and proposal process to select a general contractor with experience building projects of similar scope and scale.

We anticipate construction to last approximately 22 months. But we believe that work in the Temple House, which includes the Martin Meyer Sanctuary, will be completed in 12-15 months (one school year) allowing that building to come back on line more quickly. 

We are working very hard to minimize disruption from construction.

Based on the experience of other synagogues during construction, we do not anticipate that members will leave as a result of the project, though our membership is constantly fluctuating due to people moving in and out of the area and changing family needs.

There will not be any pile driving. There will be other noise generated from construction activities such as noise from demolition, excavation, concrete, steel, and building enclosure work. The contractor will be required to follow City regulations regarding any noise-generating activity.

The City of San Francisco allows construction from 7 am – 8 pm seven days a week, including holidays.

We do not anticipate regular weekend construction, although there may be certain activities that occasionally need to be scheduled on the weekend. These will be coordinated in advance with Emanu-El staff, and notice will be provided to congregants and neighbors of any disruption to regular activities. Typically construction will occur on weekdays between 7 am – 4 pm. 

The contractor will be required to follow City-mandated protocols for noise, dust and vibration – all of which will be monitored during construction through a construction management plan, the details of which will be provided closer to construction.

We will conduct an extensive outreach process, will designate a single point of contact for neighbors to contact, and provide updates on our website.

We will not be shutting down the preschool.

We anticipate needing to move the preschool to an alternate location for one year.

We have a team, including the preschool director, which is working on identifying potential locations for the preschool during construction.

We will minimize the impact to Bar and Bat Mitzvah scheduling to the extent possible by scheduling as much work as possible in the summertime. The Main Sanctuary will remain available for B’nei Mitzvah throughout construction.

The contractor will likely need to use the parking lane along Arguello and/or Lake Street for work in the sidewalk/street and for deliveries. They will coordinate safe drop-off access to the Main Sanctuary as needed for on-going programming and events, to be more fully described in the construction management plan. 

Congregation Emanu-El will require its contractor to provide off-site parking for its workers and to encourage them to use public transportation to reach the site, the details of which will be more fully developed in the construction management plan. All-day paid parking is available in the Presidio.

The contractor will follow City requirements to minimizethe impact to neighborhood parking and will use traffic controllers when there are large deliveries. 

Emanu-El Next Supporters

We would like to thank our generous donors for making Emanu-El Next a reality. We have always been a place for people who are not afraid to dream and build for the future of San Francisco, and we are proud to see how our community has embraced this bold new vision. Thank you for your generosity to our campaign, your dedication to our congregation and your strong belief in its future!
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