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  • Anything Is Possible

Letter to CSI Rabbi from Eric S.

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

April 16, 2019

Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman-Graf

Congregation Sherith Israel

2266 California Street

San Francisco, CA 94115

Re: Community Outreach

Dear Rabbi,

Here’s a tale of success:

While I was in the hospital in December 2016, our local AA meeting house called the NuOutlook, closed without much notice. Nu Outlook was located on Sutter Street near Scott, and we held meetings seven days per week at various times. The after work hours were my personal favorites; 5:00 p.m. or so.

Attempts were made to re-establish our community in nearby churches. It occurred to me that Sherith Israel was a perfect place for meetings. Nancy Sheftel-Gomes agreed to experiment with AA and we started to meet in our historic building on April 17, 2017. April is Alcohol Awareness Month!!

CSI graciously permitted us to meet seven days per week: weekdays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and weekends from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. We started off slowly, maybe four or five people per meeting; but once the meeting was listed in the AA schedule people from all over San Francisco started to come more often. We named the meeting “Anything is Possible”.

Mark N. (30 years in the SF AA community) says:

“That beautiful space is like no other AA meeting; a new home for the spiritual imperative of AA; My favorite meeting in San Francisco.”

Our meetings at CSI are home to many, and, hundreds come to CSI in search of spiritual progress.

Judy, over 25 years in local AA:

“…those Temple meetings saved the lives of many people; we were lost after Nu Outlook suddenly closed; such a G-dsend.”

Serena, a newcomer, says:

“The surrounding peaceful environment…manifests serenity and beauty… tranquility is attained here.”

Now, twenty to thirty people per day come to our historic landmark in search of spiritual connection. Last Sunday nearly fifty folks attended.

“Anything is Possible” has become a mainstay for the local recovery community. Local AA people are here every day and members from all over the world come at 5:00 p.m. after their busy business day here in San Francisco, to share experience strength and hope, while visiting our wonderful city.

Kurt C. (the cookie guy), more than 25 years sober, here in San Francisco:

“…these meetings give my life meaning. I am grateful to the Temple.”

John C., 4 years sober and in his 20’s says;

“I am incredibly thankful to ‘CSI’ which continues to help me and countless others. Though I am not Jewish, I feel welcome at CSI.”

Since joining CSI in the mid 80s, my pet peeve has been that the surrounding community has no idea what our building is all about. My friends and business associates from the Western Addition and Pacific Heights enjoy passing our building frequently, but very few know what happens inside. Today we have hundreds, maybe thousands, of people seeking spiritual recovery coming in and out of our home, learning about the wonderful things we do here and participating with amazement and awe from the opportunity to be exposed to our unique and beautiful surroundings.

Heidi H. over 30 years sober, born in the Bay Area, and our neighbor on Bush Street:

“…whenever I am out of sorts, lonely, restless, discontent, I know I can catch up with myself and my fellows at CSI, a towering domed icon in my neighborhood… there is deep gratitude, grace and beauty that CSI represents for me and countless others, who also have found CSI to be a safe and protected place for us all to come together and gain progress toward spiritual serenity.”

Today our Temple is vibrant and exciting; each day we have action at 5:00 p.m. and additional friends in attendance on the busy weekends. All sorts of people, from many different walks of life, come and go daily, and have developed a community feeling right here on California and Webster; do you believe it? I guess anything really is possible!

Todah Rabah…I will be forever grateful to Nancy, the board and particularly to you and the entire CSI family. Please know that this Mitzvah provides sustenance and meaningful life experience, to the spiritually compromised and often VERY sick people of our community. My dream that the San Francisco community gets to experience our sanctuary space and nurturing atmosphere, and get to know what we are all about has been realized in a manner that I never would have imagined. We are helping the truly sick and spiritually deprived come inside and heal…When I let that sink in, I feel in the presence of higher powers.

Baruch Hashem,


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