Faces

Hip-hopping at the JCC

Minna Lezak

Oakland native and superstar Daveed Diggs, of Broadway’s hip-hop musical “Hamilton,” took center stage before a packed audience on Sept. 10 at the JCC of San Francisco’s Arts & Ideas. Among the rapturous fans was 10-year-old San Anselmo resident Minna Lezak, who had her 15-minutes-of-fame moment when her picture appeared in a Sept. 14 San Francisco Chronicle story about the program. Minna, the daughter of Rabbi Michael Lezak (Congregation Rodef Sholom) and Rabbi Noa Kushner (The Kitchen), and her sisters Zella, 15, and Bluma, 13, were among 80 young people who hung out with Diggs during a poetry slam before the main event. “He was such a mensch with all the kids,” said Michael Lezak, who accompanied his daughters. Diggs is the son of a “white Jewish lady” and a black dad, according to Broadway.com. He played Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton” and won a Tony, and appears in several episodes of this season’s ABC comedy “Black-ish.”

 

A better Israel

At the New Israel Fund dinner Sept. 19 in San Francisco, Galanter Prize recipient Mutasim Ali said he was never taught anything positive about Israel when he was growing up in the Muslim nation of Sudan. Now a law student in Israel, he is the first Sudanese refugee to be granted asylum status there — for which he thanks the Jewish community. “When the genocide began in Darfur, no one advocated for us,” he told the crowd. “The only voice we heard was from American Jews.” Helping people like Ali in the name of Jewish values is one of the reasons local honoree Orlee Rabin joined NIF, where she formerly directed its New Generations program. “We all need an Israel we can believe in,” she said as she accepted the group’s New Generations award.

 

A bigger Kitchen

Rabbi Jonathan Bubis

Rabbi Jonathan Bubis, formerly of Los Angeles, is the new second rabbi at The Kitchen, joining Rabbi Noa Kushner. He was hired with funding from a Jim Joseph Foundation grant for the Jewish Emergent Network, groups that deliver Jewish content to individuals who are not engaged with traditional synagogues. Bubis is a Jewish educator and performing artist with a passion for music, theater and Jewish text. At Camp Ramah (Wisconsin), he directed Broadway musicals in Hebrew and created original Jewish theater pieces. P.S. Bubis is the son of David Bubis, who some may remember from his stint at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, and the grandson of the late Jewish communal service leader Gerald Bubis.

 

 

 

Short shorts

Tali Siegal

Ariana Garfinkel of Berkeley and Cynthia Pepper of San Rafael have each produced a movie showing at the Mill Valley Film Festival, which runs Oct. 6-16. Garfinkel’s “Best and Most Beautiful Things” is a documentary that follows a precocious young blind woman and her quirky obsessions. Pepper is creator of “Polka Dott,” a short film for kids, featuring Talya Sol Satkin, 10, of Novato. Eli Adler of San Rafael is director of photography. Visit www.mvff.com for information … Jordan Gill of Berkeley is the new managing director of BimBam (formerly G-dcast), a new-media studio that makes Jewish videos, apps and animated series about Jewish ideas and life … Tali Siegal of Berkeley is the new executive director of the Pacific Northwest office of American Friends of the Hebrew University. She was formerly affiliated with the American Technion Society.

 

And finally — warmest wishes to you for a happy new year.

 

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