A most generous welcome

Rabbi Menachem Landa

Rabbi Menachem Landa moved to Marin a year ago to launch Chabad of Novato and says he’s been warmly welcomed by the entire community. For example, he told an audience at the Marin JCC, he was standing in line at Costco with a bunch of folding chairs he was purchasing for a program at a senior center and began chatting with the guy behind him. When the gentleman — who was not Jewish — learned who he was and what he was doing, he was so moved that he paid for the chairs. And, to boot, he sent 80 flowers to the senior center so each guest would have one. Landa was among a number of speakers discussing the way they practice Judaism at “Free Ranging Communities: Jewish Life in Marin and Hollywood,” a program last month co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica and the Marin JCC and featuring actress Mayim Bialik of “The Big Bang Theory.”


Blogging in Jerusalem

Oakland Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin is on sabbatical in Jerusalem until July and is blogging about her experiences under the heading “Pita and Prayer” (www.rabbimatesmuchin.blogspot.com). Recent postings include one about praying with Women of the Wall and another on the new Knesset. While

Mates-Muchin is gone, Rabbi Ruth Adar, the “Coffee Shop Rabbi” (she meets people in cafés to help with their questions about Judaism) is filling in.


Healing and survival

Rabbi Eric Weiss, executive director of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, is the editor of “Mishkan R’Fuah/Where Healing Resides,” a book of prayers for a wide range of needs. Among the topics are anxiety, pregnancy/birth, trauma and end of life. Weiss will discuss the book on April 18 at the Jewish Community Library … Pamela Fender of Sonoma County has published her memoir “Beside Myself: Recovery from My Family Betrayal and Estrangement” … “Memories from Cherry Harvest” is Ukiah author Amy Wachspress’ new book, which she says is “rooted in Jewish culture and my family’s own stories of survival” … “The Power House Wives” by Fredrica Greene of Tiburon focuses on four women whose lives are suddenly turned upside down when they are downsized out of their jobs.


Short shorts

Joyce Steinfeld

Palo Alto High School English teacher Esther Wojcicki and her husband, Stanley Wojcicki, professor emeritus of physics at Stanford University, will receive the Commonwealth Club’s William K. Bowes Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award at the group’s 25th annual Distinguished Citizen Award dinner on April 10. The couple’s daughters, Susan Wojcicki, Janet Wojcicki and Anne Wojcicki, also will be honored with Distinguished Citizen Awards … Alameda’s Temple Israel celebrated the 90th birthday of its former rebbetzin Gretel Gates at services in March. Her late husband, Rabbi Gunther Gates, served for 34 years … Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos will dedicate its Alef Sculpture by congregant and sculptor Joyce Steinfeld on Friday, April 5. She was inspired to produce the 6-foot piece by Lawrence Kushner’s “The Book of Letters, A Mystical Alef-Bait” …  Comedian Lisa Geduldig’s film “Esther and Me,” about Jewish Home resident and octogenarian comic Esther Weintraub, will screen at the Santa Cruz Jewish Film Festival on April 21 … Nina Fendel, Oakland Temple Sinai member, received the Labor Arts Award from the Western Workers Labor Heri-tage Festival in honor of her outstanding contributions to workers’ culture.

This columnist can be reached at faces@jweekly.com.

Suzan Berns