Commitment to Our Community
A History of Tzedakah
Sinai Memorial Chapel blends the traditions of honoring those who have died with a commitment to charitable giving—tzedakah—that supports and preserves Judaism's precious values from one generation to the next.
As a result, when you make final arrangements for your loved ones, you are simultaneously performing a service to the community by enabling Sinai to play an active role in the local Jewish community.
Sinai expresses this tradition of tzedakah in several ways:
- We ensure the dignified burial of all Jews in the Bay Area, regardless of their financial means. In addition, Sinai Memorial Chapel arranges infant burials at no charge to the grieving parents.
- We make Community Services Support Grants to local organizations whose work focuses on the continuum of community services, such as issues of death, dying, and bereavement counseling.
- We practice the ancient tradition known as Ma’ot Chitim (“wheat money”), which ensures that all people can partake of a traditional Passover meal. To make this possible, Sinai makes grants to local senior living centers; congregational food programs for elderly Jews; Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which provides food baskets to those in need; and Northern California Board of Rabbis, which provides Passover food to imprisoned Jews.
You can learn more about this tradition here.
- We created and sponsor the annual Émigré Seder, held since 1980 to help Russian Jewish immigrants—who identified as Jews but did not have a chance to practice Jewish traditions—experience a traditional Passover seder. The event, which now includes the children and grandchildren of the first wave of immigrants, celebrates the exodus of Russian Jews, just as Passover celebrates the ancient Jews’ exodus from Egypt. You can view a video of a recent émigré Seder.
- Sinai is also active in the Commission for the Preservation of Pioneer Jewish Cemeteries and Landmarks, created to preserve and manage
Jewish cemeteries in the Gold Rush areas of California. You can view photos of these cemeteries here.
Serving our Entire Community
Sinai serves Jews with Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and Karaite affiliations as well as those with no formal affiliation. We have a long tradition of serving inter-faith families as well as members of the Bay Area’s LGBTQ community. No Jewish family is turned away.
Sinai values its long-standing relationships with the Bay Area’s rabbis and cantors. We are grateful for the many key roles they play in the lives of the families that we serve during their time of need, including officiating at services, providing emotional support, and offering religious counsel.
Sinai Memorial Chapel sponsors or co-sponsors several annual Jewish events in the Bay Area and hosts an Annual Meeting for the community.
Kever Avot: Kever Avot is a tradition that goes back to the 14th century. This is the practice of visiting the graves of departed loved ones before the High Holy Days—before Rosh Hashanah and during the 10 Days of Repentance culminating in Yom Kippur. These visits take on a high level of significance because they come at a time of spiritual soul-searching and renewal.
Israel in the Gardens: Every year, Sinai joins other Jews and Israelis in the Bay Area to celebrate the birthday of Israel. This annual event, called Israel in the Gardens, takes place in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco and features live performances, booths from community organizations, art vendors, and activities for kids, teens, and young adults.
Mo(u)rning Conference: This annual gathering provides continuing education and support to professionals in the grief care field, including counselors, therapists, social workers, chaplains, rabbis/clergy members, funeral directors, human resource workers, and others. The conference is a collaboration of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, Northern California Board of Rabbis, and Sinai Memorial Chapel.
Grief and Growing Weekend: This is an annual camp coordinated by the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center to help individuals and families, including children, deal with their losses and identify tools to help them with their mourning. This event is co-sponsored by Sinai and Jewish LearningWorks.
Sinai Annual Meeting: At this annual gathering, Sinai reports to the community on its accomplishments and its financial and organizational strength; elects directors; provides an opportunity for members to ask questions about Sinai; and provides an opportunity for those who have benefited from the services and activities of Sinai to express their appreciation.