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

Categories: Local News
17186638_4f14dcbaa4.jpgIn 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

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