Faces

Creative tzedakah

Drew Mahlmeister

When Drew Mahlmeister of Mountain View was planning her tzedakah project for her bat mitzvah at Los Altos Hills’ Congregation Beth Am (she celebrated it on May 21), she wanted to do something that would include art — something she’s passionate about, according to her mom, Sandra Mahlmeister. So Drew sent a proposal to the supervisor of Beyond the Bell, an afterschool program at Theuerkauf Elementary School in Mountain View. “This May, I am becoming a Bat Mitzvah, in a ceremony signifying that I am a Jewish adult. At my temple, Congregation Beth Am, the tradition is to complete a mitzvah (“good deed”) project before becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Each student in the Bat Mitzvah class designs his or her own individual special project to show that he or she is responsible and committed to being a contributing member of the community,” she explained. The project, Drew decided, would be to teach the kids to make mono-prints of their own designs. She raised money to purchase supplies and enlisted the help of three friends and her 9-year-old sister, Zoe, to work with the students for four nights. The results: Some 70 children experienced a new art form and the school has a vibrant art piece composed of the students’ work. “The kids were really excited and interested,” Drew said. “It was fun for me, and fun for the kids, too.”

 

A ‘total museum’

The European Museum Academy has honored the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw with its award created to recognize “the outstanding results of organizations, researchers and cultural institutions in creating pioneering museums.” In an announcement about the winning institution, the EMA said Poland’s museum of Jewish history and culture “…is not just an excellent museum but a state-of-the-art cultural institution which reaches diverse publics all over the world. That is why it deserves the title of a ‘Total Museum.’ ” This is the second recent European award for the museum, which also was named European Museum of the Year by the European Museum Forum. The Polin Museum, which opened in 2014, was established with the help of Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube and the Belmont-based Taube Philanthropies.

 

Short shorts

Naomi Seidman

Samantha Kelman

Naomi Seidman, Koret professor of Jewish culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, is among 178 scholars, artists and scientists selected from 3,000 applicants for a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2016. Under the fellowship, granted for her work in the field of literary criticism, Seidman will continue working on her upcoming book, tentatively called “The Navel of the Dream: Freud’s Jewish Languages.” … Samantha Kelman has been named chief operating officer at the JCC of the East Bay, where she’ll oversee day-to-day operations. She served for eight years as director of youth and family at the JCC of San Francisco … Two new staff members are joining Congregation Beth Am. Rabbi Miriam Philips is the director of family learning. She served most recently as director of lifelong learning at Temple Emanuel in Andover, Massachusetts. Madeline (Maddy) Winard worked as a teacher in the Beth Am Sunday program while attending U.C. Santa Cruz, and now the recent graduate returns as the director of teen engagement … Some 1,000 attendees helped Jewish Vocational Service raise more than $1 million at the organization’s annual Strictly Business Awards luncheon on May 2.

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