Teaching, tenacity and talents, Chanukah bubbly

Teaching, tenacity and talents

The Jewish Community Relations Council’s Jackie Berman was toasted for 27 years of representing the interests of the Jewish community in education-related issues, and roasted (well, just a little) for her driving skills at a special tribute dinner on Dec. 9.

At the event, also a slightly belated 80th birthday party for Berman, friends, family and colleagues offered memories, plaudits and humor. Rabbi Doug Kahn, JCRC executive director, said that “three T’s — teaching, tenacity and talents” contribute to “Jackie’s incomparable skills at resolving issues.”

That middle characteristic — tenacity — came into play, he recalled, when at an “Israel at 60” event featuring Israeli author Amos Oz at the St. Francis Hotel, Berman slammed the door, and held it closed, on anti-Israel protesters until security guards (whom they apparently evaded) could remove them. “It was vintage Jackie,” Kahn stated.

On another topic, Eli Taub joked, “I always said she would never get a speeding ticket.” Taub often commuted with Berman to San Francisco from the Peninsula, and due to their intense conversations, they sometimes missed the exit, he added.

Susan Mogull said that Jackie’s “dream come true” was the establishment of JCRC’s Institute for Curriculum Services. The project, co-founded by Mogull, Berman and Kahn in 2005, addresses textbook inaccuracies about Jews, Judaism and Israel. Berman is continuing her work with JCRC and ICS. “Now I can sit back and kvell about how my wildest dream has become a reality,” she said. The tribute was hosted by Myrna and Hy Mitchner of Los Altos, to benefit ICS (for information, visit www.icsresources.org).

Chanukah bubbly

There were two local connections to President Barack Obama’s Chanukah bash.

Ernie Weir of Napa writes that Hagafen Winery’s 2007 Napa Valley brut cuvee, a sparkling wine, was the exclusive alcoholic beverage served at the White House Chanukah party this year. It’s a “perennial winner at Chanukah,” he notes, because its fruity flavor and acidity go well with “oil-based Chanukah culinary delights,” such as latkes. Weir adds that the Hagafen’s Prix Syrah has been the wine of choice at the last two White House seders.

And San Francisco metal artist Aimee Golant’s limited edition “Life Source Menorah” was in the running for the White House menorah. Her chanukiah, which was submitted by the National Museum of American Jewish History, was bested by a menorah found in the mud after Hurricane Katrina.

Greening of a congregation

Tiburon Congregation Kol Shofar’s president, Karen Hirsch, and members of the “green team,” led by Sarah Rose and Betsy Rosenberg, accepted an award for their remodeled synagogue from actor and eco-activist Ed Begley last month. The congregation tied for first place in the green building category in a nationwide competition hosted by the California Interfaith Power and Light and Regeneration Project, reported the congregation’s Hagar Ben-Eliezer. The synagogue also was named by California Construction magazine as the winner of a best of California 2010 remodel/restoration award in the worship category.

Raise your glass

Just in time to toast the end of 2010, Swanson Vineyards of Napa Valley has a new red wine called Mazel Tov. According to the website, “If you ordered a bottle of Bordeaux in a nice Parisian bistro, it would taste like this.” And a mazel tov to us all … See you in 2011.

This columnist can be reached at faces@jweekly.com.