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B'nai Emunah's History
Congregation B’nai Emunah, Hebrew for The Children of Faith, was formally established during Hanukkah in 1949. Most of the founding members were refugees from nazism and survivors of the Holocaust. In particular, many of the founding members had spent the war years in Shanghai and had arrived in San Francisco as their port of entry into the United States. The founding rabbi of the Congregation was Dr. George Kantorowsky.
During the ensuing two decades the members of the Congregation reestablished their lives as Americans and raised their children as American Jews. The Synagogue occupied rented quarters in several locations in San Francisco until the mid-1960s, when the Congregation acquired a small storefront on Taraval Street in San Francisco’s Sunset District.
The retirement of Rabbi Kantorowsky and the appointment of Rabbi Alexander in 1968 marked a major transition from a refugee congregation to an American synagogue. New members joined the Congregation from backgrounds different from the founders. The use of German was replaced with English, and the synagogue affiliated with the Conservative movement in 1971. The synagogue was relocated to its present quarters at 3595 Taraval Street in 1975.
Today the Congregation consists of approximately 100 membership units who represent the full diversity of the San Francisco Jewish community. We are proud to be affiliated and fully active in the Conservative Movement and to be an important landmark in the Jewish life of our city. Of the several hundred synagogues established in the U.S. immediately after World War II similar to ours, fewer than a half-dozen are in existence today. Our mission is to preserve the special heritage of our founders while at the same time growing and developing in the best traditions of American Jewry. Our members come from all age groups, national backgrounds, lifestyles, and socioeconomic circumstances. Our goal is simple: to nurture an AUTHENTIC Jewish community in which we function as an extended family and strengthen our ties to one another as we gain Jewish knowledge, observance, and identity.