The Northern California Board of Rabbis is probably the oldest Jewish organization in Northern California, founded at the time of the Gold Rush. It was originally called “the Jewish Board of Ministers”. The office of the Board of Rabbis rotated to the synagogue of the President.
In the late sixties and seventies, the Board of Rabbis responded to the needs of those in cults, Moonies, the Flower Children and other young people who were not affiliated by or served by synagogues or other existing Jewish organizations in the area. As a result of the success in this area, it was felt that a formal address and office would be an appropriate move for the Board.
On January 23, 1978, the first office was dedicated in a non-profit building at 944 Market Street, and subsequently at the Flood Building. In 1984, The Board of Rabbis moved to its present headquarters in the Jewish Community Federation Building.
The Board of Rabbis includes rabbis from all branches of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal. The Board is an exemplar of pluralism and sets a climate where cooperation, respect and collegiality prevail. The Board is a very important resource for both the individual rabbi and the Jewish community.
The Board serves as a Jewish religious voice in the Jewish and general communities. The Board of Rabbis also serves as the endorsing agency for chaplains in State prisons and institutions for the developmentally disabled to which it provides rabbis. Its information and referral service answers inquiries regarding Judaism and refers callers to rabbis for synagogue memberships, lifecycle observances and other needs.
The Board of Rabbis sponsors/co-sponsors community-wide events such as a TISHA B’AV observance and a YOM YERUSHALAYIM celebration. Through Board resolutions, it has been established that all Jewish community-wide meals be kosher. Awareness has been raised of the need to make Jewish facilities more accessible to the disabled. The Board has urged the abolition of the death penalty. A recent project was to increase the number of organ donations within the Jewish community, on the basis of the MITZVAH of PIKUACH NEFESH.
Rabbis, strengthened by community support and working together, can be a bridge to all segments within our society, fostering better understanding and compassion for all peoples.