Beyt Tikkun, the Jewish Renewal congregation started in 1996 by Rabbi Michael Lerner, has moved from its rented San Francisco site to Berkeley.
The final San Francisco Shabbat service was June 4. Since then, Shabbat evening and morning services have met in Lerner’s Berkeley home, though that arrangement is temporary until he can secure another East Bay location.
The change was made in part because the Noe Valley Ministry, which Beyt Tikkun rented for Shabbat and High Holy Days, is beginning a retrofitting project and will be closed for the coming year.
But the primary reason for the move is because Lerner, 67, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and “there are still signs of a lingering cancer inside my body.”
Consequently, the rabbi’s doctors told him he had to reduce stress in his life, and one way to do that would be to commute less often, Lerner said.
“A lot of stress is generated by commuting over the bridge and particularly on Friday nights, when it’s ex-tremely crowded going into the city,” he said. “I announced the move a few weeks ago and many people understood and were very sympathetic.”
So far, the absence of a commute has been good for his health, he said.
“It’s wonderful — it’s a mechiah, as they say in Hebrew, which means a revival of energy,” Lerner said.
In San Francisco, Beyt Tikkun drew 60 to 80 people every Friday night and Saturday morning. The rabbi said he “expects we will be a much smaller operation in the East Bay than in San Francisco.”
Lerner plans to hold High Holy Day services at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Until he finds another site for Shabbat services, his home will serve as a sanctuary. Lerner also hosts Torah study Saturday mornings.
The change will allow Lerner to observe Shabbat the old-fashioned way.
“My observance always was to walk and not ride on Shabbat, but once I determined I’d do Beyt Tikkun in San Francisco, I had no option but to drive,” Lerner said. “This makes it possible for me to return to a Sabbath observance more consistent with my own religious views.”
For a complete schedule of services and Torah study, check www.beyttikkun.org.