Thursday, August 2, 2012 | return to: columns, faces



by suzan berns

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Sunday night live

At the Castro Theatre on July 22, actor Elliott Gould reached out to fellow New Yorkers, telling the audience he was conceived in Far Rockaway (Queens), grew up in Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) and went to P.S. 247. The actor was in town to receive the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s 2012 Freedom of Expression Award.

Gould began acting when he was quite young, he said, and producers of his very first show changed his last name from Goldstein to the less obviously Jewish (really?) Gould. That show took place at the same theater where, having achieved fame for his roles in movies including “M*A*S*H” and “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice,” he hosted “Saturday Night Live” numerous times.

Among his latest films are “Dorfman,” a romantic comedy (shown at the festival), in which Gould plays a recently widowed father, and short videos made for Aish HaTorah in which he plays a grandpa meeting his 31-year-old Chinese-American grandson for the first time.


Funny. Poignant. Life in six words.

Alia Volz
Alia Volz
Comics and writers presented personal “Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum July 12 at an evening hosted by Larry Smith, creator of the Six-Word Memoir Project. Economist and pundit Russ Roberts offered up “My career as mohel. Cut short,” about his experience performing that delicate operation on his first-born son. “Of all the commandments for the non-Jewish world to adopt, why this one?” he wondered, to great laughter. Literary Death Match host Alia Volz came up with “Warning: chicken soup older than Moses.” The source? Her memory of a vial of chicken soup, allegedly with magic properties, that her mother hauled around for years. Writer Amy Keyishian eschewed comedy for the poignant: “Half Jewish. Half Armenian. All survivor.”



Washington wedding

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan conducted the wedding ceremony for Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s son in Washington, D.C., reports Rita Semel of San Francisco. Semel, her daughter Elisabeth Semel of Berkeley and Vivian Solomon of San Francisco were among the guests of the San Francisco–connected family. Oren’s wife, the former Sally Edelstein, is a native San Franciscan, as are her parents, Burt and the late Betty Edelstein. And on another Rita Semel–related topic … she will be honored by the San Francisco Foundation with the 2012 Community Leadership Award on Oct. 2 at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre.


Short shorts

Susan Wolfe
Susan Wolfe
Susan Wolfe of Palo Alto says you can go home again. She is back at the Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto where she began her career 24 years ago. She’s the new director of agency advancement at what is now the Oshman Family JCC. Back then, it was the Albert L. Schultz JCC … Harry Leibowitz of Lake Tahoe and San Diego received the 2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his work to preserve his heritage. Leibowitz and his wife, Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, co-founded the nonprofit World of Children Award, which identifies and helps support individuals who advocate for children … Santa Rosa artist Nina Bonos writes that her “Seven Sacred Species Torah Mantle” design was chosen for the American Guild of Judaic Art’s 2012 online exhibition. A portion of another piece was selected for the exhibition banner … Yasmine Eichbaum of Santa Rosa is one of 26 North American teenagers studying in Israel as a Bronfman Youth Fellow. Among the fellowship alums are authors Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) of San Francisco and Jonathan Safran Foer.

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