Thursday, May 17, 2012 | return to: columns, faces



by suzan berns

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Once a paratrooper

Matan Vilnai
Matan Vilnai
The Israeli Consulate in San Francisco threw a festive 64th birthday party for Israel at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and used the occasion to say goodbye to outgoing Consul General Akiva Tor, whose term concludes at the end of July, reports j. editor Sue Fishkoff. During an onstage interview between Tor and his wife, Naomi Tor, he recalled last month’s visit by Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, in town to cement ties with the Marin-based Roots of Peace, a nonprofit that works to remove land mines in war-torn regions.

Tor took Vilnai to see the new Bay Bridge, and as they headed to the elevator to take them up to the North Tower, Vilnai spied the swinging walkway set up for construction workers. “Come on, we’re both paratroopers,” he said, before charging up the walkway at top speed. “I had no choice, I had to follow him,” Tor said, laughing. “And Gidi [Deputy Consul Gideon Lustig] was right behind me.” The couple and their four children will return to their home in Beit Shemesh while awaiting word on Tor’s next assignment.


Feeling good about Israel

At the Marin Interfaith Council annual prayer breakfast last week, the Rev. Doug Huneke waxed optimistically about Israel. The recently retired pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon had just returned from a trip there, a gift from the Jewish community in appreciation of his years of strong support for the community and Israel. Huneke said he was pleased to observe very little tension in the air and in the words of the many people with whom he spoke. Huneke and San Rafael Congregation Rodef Sholom’s emeritus Rabbi Michael Barenbaum were founders of MIC in the 1980s.


Musical dedications

Cantor David Margules
Cantor David Margules
Speaking of Rodef Sholom, the congregation honored its cantor, David Margules, on the 25th anniversary of his investiture as a cantor at services on April 27. Barenbaum, now rabbi emeritus, recalled his first meeting with Margules — a singing message on the cantor-to-be’s answering machine. Not one to let an opportunity go by, Margules jumped in, singing that phone message to the tune of “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Joining the festivities with a musical tribute were cantorial colleagues Lauren Bandman and Kay Greenwald of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills and Roslyn Barak of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. You can see and hear the threesome — and more — at

And speaking of Cantor Ros Barak, Rita Semel of San Francisco writes that at a Catholic Charities dinner honoring San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, Barak sang a German folk song and “I’ll Be Seeing You” with special lyrics that “brought the house down.”


Short shorts

The Jewish Community Relations Council’s East Bay region honored chair Lenny Kristal of Berkeley on April 30 at the home of Gary and Lois Marcus. John Rothmann, Israeli Consul General Tor and Kristal’s wife, Denise Resnikoff, were among the 80 people acknowledging him for his passionate Israel advocacy, reports Myrna David, JCRC East Bay regional director … The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s CEO Jennifer Gorovitz was named one of the Bay Area’s most influential women by the San Francisco Business Times on April 27 … Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League were among the groups honoring S.F. State President Robert Corrigan as he retires. “I don’t think people realize how much he did for Jewish students behind the scenes,” writes Jonathan Bernstein, who was formerly ADL’s regional director.


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