Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alan Lew, One of San Francisco's Great Rabbis, Dies at 65

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2009 at 10:40 AM

click to enlarge 17186638_4f14dcbaa4_thumb_222x322.jpg
In my old job of writing for the city's Jewish newspaper, the standard M.O. for banging out a problem story was "Call five rabbis and see what they think."

Some rabbis picked up a reputation for saying foolish things. Others could be counted on to lose their temper. Others earned reps for happily talking about subjects they knew little about. And a select cadre would always have itelligent and thoughtful things to say -- and make you feel proud that you were lucky enough to interact with such people on a day-to-day basis.

Alan Lew was one of those. The longtime former rabbi at Conservative Beth Sholom just off Park Presidio apparently collapsed and died while taking a jog yesterday at a spiritual retreat. He was only 65.

Within the religious community, Lew was best known for returning to Judaism after becoming an ordained Buddhist priest; he founded a meditation center at his synagogue that survives him. In the greater community, however, Lew was a vocal advocate for the homeless, poor, and afflicted. He routinely led vigils at the gates of San Quentin to protest the death penalty.

Lew was a fundamentally kind and decent man who spent his life making San Francisco a better place. He epitomizes the old Jewish refrain: "May his memory be a blessing."

Photo   |   Brian Geller

  • Pin It

Tags: ,

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"