An ‘incomparable’ pope

John Rothmann

John Rothmann has authored a 10,000-word article on Pope John XXIII that will be printed in the April edition of Inside the Vatican, the major English-language publication about Vatican affairs and the Catholic Church. “I’m told it’s the first time an original article written by a Jew has appeared,” Rothmann says. The magazine has a circulation of 17,000 and is read by top clergy — including Pope Francis, according to Rothmann. A San Francisco political analyst and radio personality, Rothmann has long admired, written and spoken about Pope John XXIII and the work he did to heal the relationship between Catholics and Jews. The former Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was pope from 1959 to 1963. He called the Second Vatican Council, which repudiated the deicide charge against Jews. During the Holocaust, as papal representative for Bulgaria and Turkey, he issued bogus passports to enable Jews to escape. He will be canonized as a saint on April 27, which also happens to be Yom HaShoah — a fitting coincidence for an incomparable pope, Rothmann notes. His article will appear on the magazine’s website in late March. He will speak on “The Second Miracle: John XXIII and the Jews” at a free event at the Fromm Institute at 10 a.m. on April 23.


Happy anniversaries

Evelyn Gurevitch

Santa Rosa’s Congregation Beth Ami celebrated its 70th anniversary last month. Among the guests were 15 people who were members during the synagogue’s first 20 years, including Evelyn Gurevitch, unofficial archivist of Beth Ami since the synagogue’s founding. Her “treasure trove of materials and photos … made this event possible,” said congregant Trish Levee.

Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy’s 45th anniversary gala on March 2 was a reunion, too. Some 200 graduates and supporters gathered for a kosher dinner, piano concert and a performance by the school’s drama club. Former student Leo Grzhonko, now living in New York City, chaired the event; Kira Makagon, a Silicon Valley executive, and Igor Khait, who produces animated films, addressed the group.


Short shorts

Janice Lehrer-Stein

Janice Lehrer-Stein of San Francisco was presented with the Anita Perlman Distinguished Alumna Award by BBYO at the group’s 90th international convention in February. The award is presented annually to a B’nai B’rith Girls alumna for her commitment to the organization. …Holiday Dinner Drive co-chair Richard Hart, of Oakland’s Temple Sinai, writes that 22 Bay Area congregations teamed up to raise a record $113,000 for food banks in seven counties. In the 14 years since its inception, the seasonal Holiday Dinner Drive has raised $969,750 … Happy 90th birthday both to Temple Sinai Rabbi Emeritus Samuel Broude and Judith Broude. They are being celebrated at 7:30 tonight, Friday, March 21, with a special mizmor shir at Shabbat services … After 33 years with Berkeley’s Midrasha, Diane Bernbaum is retiring. She will be honored on Sunday, March 23 at Midrashabang 2014 … A heads-up from Lisa Gurwitch, formerly of Tiburon, who now lives in Washington, D.C.: Her sister Annabelle Gurwitch will read from her new book, “I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50” on March 27 at Book Passage in San Francisco … Mazel tov to Hebrew Free Loan associate director Cindy Rogoway, who has been named the agency’s executive director, succeeding the retiring Ed Cushman. Before joining HFLA 11 years ago, she served 14 years with the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

by Suzan Berns

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

Suzan Berns