Alex Magnus, 21, and his mom, Mary Ann Malinak of Petaluma, were among some 55 people who gathered last month for the eighth annual Havdalah with Horses, an event for special-needs children and young adults and their families. It is one of a number of holiday events held under the auspices of the Celebrations program at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati. At the Renaissance Healing and Learning Center, families fed horses and made Havdalah sachets filled with cinnamon and cloves — activities focused on the senses. The congregation’s spiritual leader, Reb Irwin Keller, led the group in a cowboy and Western sing-along as well as a short Havdalah service. “So many families find us because it’s welcoming and offers a way to reconnect Jewishly,” said Malinak, who is a co-founder of the program with Leslie Gattman of Sebastopol. The Celebrations program is open to any family with special-needs children. The next events are planned around the High Holy Days: one for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on Sept. 25 and another for Sukkot and Simchat Torah on Oct. 23.
Here’s an easy way to have your everyday shopping costs yield dollars for Jewish community agencies. Amazon and Sports Basement are two commercial enterprises that give a percentage of what you spend to a charity you choose from the list of participating groups. The AmazonSmile program donates 0.5 percent of the cost of eligible purchases. “When we heard about it, it was a no-brainer,” said Mandy Eisner, development director at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, one of a number of Jewish organizations that have joined. (A few others, identified in a quick scan, are Hebrew Free Loan, the Brandeis School of San Francisco, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and the JCC of San Francisco.) “It’s a tiny bit of the synagogue’s fundraising efforts, an extra little easy thing, that will continue to gain traction,” Eisner added. To sign up, go to smile.amazon.com. The Sports Basement’s Basementeers program has a one-time sign-up fee of $25, but you’ll receive 10 percent off all of your purchases and the store will donate an additional 10 percent to charity. The Jewish Coalition for Literacy, Jewish Community Relations Council and Oshman Family JCC are among the beneficiaries of this program. Go to shop.sportsbasement.com to learn more.
New Israel Fund will honor Orlee Rabin of Mill Valley and Rachel Liel of Mevaseret Zion, Israel, at the annual Guardian of Democracy dinner at San Francisco’s Four Seasons Hotel on Sept. 19. Rabin was the director of the NIF’s New Generations program and Liel is retiring after 18 years as executive director in Israel. Linda and Sandy Gallanter of San Francisco, gala co-chairs, said the event also will honor Mutasim Ali, winner of the Gallanter Prize for Emerging Israeli Social Justice Leaders. Ali, from Sudan, was the first African asylum-seeker to be granted refugee status in Israel. Visit www.nif.org/guardian for details … The official naming ceremony for the Taube Family Music Hall and Shana Penn Lobby at the newly renovated UC Theatre in Berkeley is scheduled for Sept. 22. Tad Taube and Shana Penn are chair and executive director, respectively, of Taube Philanthropies, which contributed $1.3 million to the refurbishment. The 1,400-person-capacity auditorium (which is not associated with the university) is a project of the nonprofit Berkeley Music Group, formed to renovate and run the theater. BMG will present live performances and provide a variety of musical and educational programs for young adults ages 17 to 25.
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