Thursday, January 14, 2010 | return to: columns, faces


Noah, Noah & Noah, Shortz happenings, Have a piece of fruit, and Shorts shorts ...

by suzan berns

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Noah, Noah & Noah

When she was pregnant with her first son (after three daughters), Sharon Lebell of Marin stopped by Noah’s Bagels for a nosh and saw a tzedakah box on the counter. What a menschy guy, she thought about Noah Alper, founder and then-owner. She decided then and there that she’d name her son Noah, and “his namesake will be a store that sells really good whitefish bagel sandwiches and gives back to the community as a matter of course.”

Fast-forward 13 years. It’s Noah Lebell Loudon’s bar mitzvah at Congregation Rodef Sholom and he’s talking about his Torah portion, which happens to be Noach — or the story of Noah. “Noah … does the right thing when everyone else around him is acting like a jerk … I think that Noah was the first official mensch,” he comments. Reinforcing the connection, Noah L.L. sent a copy of his drash to Noah A. and the two met Jan. 14 when the older Noah spoke about his new book, “Business Mensch,” at the Osher Marin JCC.

P.S. Thanks for the tip to Joanne Greene of the OMJCC, who sponsored the “meet.” By the way, Noah Alper will talk about being a mensch on “Mosaic” on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 5 a.m. on KPIX channel 5.


Shortz happenings

Josh Miller, 35, of Berkeley was a contestant on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” feature with New York Times puzzle guy Will Shortz on Dec. 20. Miller had to guess a bunch of two-word combinations in which the first word began with “sh” and the second with “h” — like short hair, Shaker Heights or shaved head. “It was surreal, but fun,” he said, noting that he did pretty well, but got stumped when some of the questions “involved answers that I’m not old enough to know” — for example, Sherman Hemsley from the TV show “The Jeffersons.” Miller was selected at random from about 3,600 people who submitted answers to the show’s weekly question. He actually taped the piece on a Friday morning from his office at the S.F.-based Jim Joseph Foundation where he’s a program officer. You can hear the show online at


Have a piece of fruit

Recently I mentioned that Judy Konofsky of KlezCalifornia, a Bay Area group that celebrates Yiddish culture and klezmer music, wanted to know the source of the lyric: “Be nice, don’t fight, have a piece of fruit.”

Reader Millie Goltz of Mountain View responded that she thought it was sung by Rosemary Clooney, as did Sherry Bagno from Waukegan, Ill. (a long-distance reader!). But Howard Sussman of the Peninsula reported, “I heard this song at Billy Gray’s Bandbox in [the Fairfax section of] Los Angeles in the summer of 1953. It was sung by a comedian named Ben Lessy.” Any other thoughts? Write to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Short shorts …

Charles Epstein of Tiburon and Richard Rosenberg of San Francisco are the new chair and treasurer of the board of trustees of the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato … Gary S. Cohn of Oakland is the new assistant director of the North Pacific Region of the American Technion Society … For the third time, j. cartoonist Barry Hunau has his cartoons included in Pelican Press’ “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” … The first Marin screening of Michael Bedar’s film on reducing the effects of diabetes through foods is Feb. 7. for details.


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