Thursday, August 16, 2012 | return to: columns, faces



by suzan berns

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Candidates on Jewish front

Nell Mahgel-Friedman
Nell Mahgel-Friedman
Nell Mahgel-Friedman, owner of Afikomen Judaica in Berkeley, didn’t miss a beat when a customer mentioned that President Barack Obama would be speaking at a private home in her Piedmont neighborhood later that evening. “I quickly grabbed one of our ‘Obamulkes,’ a white leather yarmulke that says ‘Obama 2012’ with his logo. I wrote a note, attached it with a kippah clip and beseeched Melanie Marcus of Piedmont to make the delivery,” she reports. Marcus, in turn, handed off the kippah to an amused Obama security guard. No word yet about whether the prez will be wearing it.

For equal time … while in Poland, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, visited the site of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, scheduled to open next year, and met with museum leaders, including representatives from the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture Jonathan Ornstein, Helise Lieberman and Yale Reisner. The foundations have contributed some $16 million to the museum.


The whole mishpocha in Israel

Hugh and Marion Schrager
Hugh and Marion Schrager
Marion and Hugh Schrager of Hillsborough took the whole mishpocha — 16 family members and four generations — to Israel for two-plus weeks earlier this summer. The group, ranging from great-grandson Noah Silverstein, 4, to Hugh, who just celebrated his 84th birthday, started out with five days in Haifa with family, who then boarded their rented bus to tour throughout the Jewish state. Noah and his sister, Hannah Silverstein, 6, happily took in everything, reports Marion, except for Yad Vashem, when their mom, Rebecca Silverstein, opted for a zoo date with them instead. “We wanted to leave our family with memories,” Marion explained about why the couple planned the trip. And, she added, she wants to encourage people to go to Israel. “People should not be alarmed. There were no problems. … It was perfect!”


Short shorts

Swim coach Marcia Benjamin of San Leandro writes that Craig Coombs and Danielle Ruymaker of Oakland swam the Strait of Gibraltar, from Spain to Morocco, in early July. The adventure, which Ruymaker quipped was “harder than childbirth,” took six hours and 40 minutes. Benjamin, who teaches at Laney College, has been named assistant coach for the 2013 USA junior swim team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel next summer ... Mazel tov and happy belated birthday to Lena Levinson, who turned 100 earlier this summer. She was celebrated at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills and at Sunrise of Palo Alto, where she lives, with a concert by the South Bay–based Jewish choral group HaShirim, dedicated to her … Jonathan Bernstein is the new executive director of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ in the Bay Area. Prior positions include 20 years with the Anti-Defamation League, including serving as the regional director in San Francisco … Cantor Stephen Abelson has joined Santa Rosa’s Congregation Shomrei Torah as its first cantor. He last worked as assistant cantor at Minneapolis’ largest Reform congregation, Temple Israel … Woody Allen was in Marin last week to shoot scenes from his upcoming movie, which is set in San Francisco and New York. Crowds gathered in Belvedere Aug. 6 and Tiburon Aug. 7 hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous director, according to the Marin Independent Journal. Allen headed to Larkspur Aug. 8 for a day of filming at Escalle Winery.

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