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Federation’s pre-festival plan: awards and one-liners

by emma silvers, j. staff

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It’s not quite “The Tonight Show,” but on Sunday, June 10, those being recognized by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation for their outstanding work in Jewish education and leadership will be getting some serious star treatment.

The JCF’s annual meeting — set to hit the stage at the AMC Metreon 16 cinema in downtown San Francisco the morning of Israel in the Gardens — will shake things up with a new, comedy-infused, talk show-style format for its award ceremony and speeches. The year’s theme is “The Power of Community.”

Fred Raker, the event emcee, is a writer and comedian who came up in New York City’s standup scene, sometimes sharing billing with Jerry Seinfeld or Paul Reiser. After moving to Los Angeles, he wrote for the ABC late-night series “Fridays,” which featured Michael Richards and Larry David “before they were mega big-time,” Raker said with a laugh.

The winners of this year’s Helen Diller  Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education are (clockwise from top left) Hadara Graubart, Ariana Estoque, Jaclyn Guzman and Zephira Derblich-Milea.
The winners of this year’s Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education are (clockwise from top left) Hadara Graubart, Ariana Estoque, Jaclyn Guzman and Zephira Derblich-Milea.
Life as a San Francisco resident has been a bit tamer for the former staff writer on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He performs a seasonal one-man show titled “It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life,” and he works on advertising campaigns and on scripts for corporate training videos — all very funny, of course.

At the annual meeting, Raker (who is married to Katherine Tick, the federation’s director of leadership development) will be interviewing award winners and federation officials, and throwing in a few comedy bits. A game show–style trivia contest pitting officials against teen award winners will cap off the morning.

Here are this year’s winners, starting with the four categories of Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Early Childhood Education: Hadara Graubart, who teaches the extended day program at Congregation Beth Sholom Family Preschool in San Francisco. Previously a staff writer at Tablet, the online Jewish magazine, Graubart comes from eight generations of Jewish community work.

Congregation or Community School: Ariana Estoque, director of adolescent education at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. The San Francisco native is an alumna of the Bureau of Jewish Education’s Shofar Fellowship for teen educators; the Jewish service learning manual she co-authored won an award from the Union for Reform Judaism.

Jewish Day School: Jaclyn Guzman, a history instructor at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto since 2008. The Fremont resident credits her professors of Jewish history at U.C. Santa Cruz and the Jewish community there for fostering her passion for teaching history.

Roselyne Swig
Roselyne Swig
Informal Education: Zephira Derblich-Milea, who has coordinated Love Shouldn’t Hurt, Shalom Bayit’s healthy relationships education and dating violence prevention program for Jewish youth. In 2007 she was awarded a fellowship at the BJE. She also teaches first-graders at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland.

Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education: Tamar Rabinowitz, who teaches the Tanach at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay. The South Africa native attended Hebrew University and was part of the first cohort of the Educators Program at Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. She also teaches at Emanu-El and for Kevah, a pluralistic network of self-organized Torah study groups.

Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Young Leadership Award: Tanya Kaminsky Bernstein, the president of the federation’s Young Adult Division. Born in Ukraine and raised in Pittsburgh, she previously served as the YAD campaign chair, organizing the YAD delegation to Super Sunday.

Robert Sinton Extraordinary Leader Award: Roselyne Swig, who served as president of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund from 1992 to 1994. Swig previously worked for or contributed to a wide range of organizations, including JCF, AIPAC, Jewish Vocational Service, the International Women’s Forum, United Jewish Appeal, NPR Foundation, Partners Ending Domestic Abuse, Mills College and KQED.

Israel in Our Hearts Award: Akiva Tor, the outgoing Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest region. Tor has held the post since 2008, working out of the consulate in San Francisco but showing up at myriad events all over the Bay Area. He will receive this special honor about seven weeks before his term officially ends July 31.


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