The San Francisco chapter of the New Israel Fund held its annual Guardian of Democracy gala on Sept. 10. About one-quarter of the 460 attendees were young adults, including a table of students from San Francisco Hillel. Introducing the evening, which was punctuated with numerous anti-Trump references, CEO Daniel Sokatch said, “None of us in this room has the time for the luxury of despair.” Marin philanthropist Barbara Meislin received the Guardian of Democracy Award for her many acts of generosity in Israel and the Bay Area. In accepting the New Generations Award, Elie Lauter, 29, who took Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic at UC Berkeley and was on the Hillel board, said, “On campus at the time, it felt as though you could not have both a deep connection to Israel and support Palestinian rights. The students in my Arabic class wouldn’t speak to me because I was on the Hillel board, and the Jewish students wouldn’t work with me because I took Arabic and was involved in lefty Jewish student groups.” That, she said, is when she found NIF, which states its aim as “advancing democracy and equality for all Israelis.” The gala raised more than $445,000 for the group’s work in Israel. Lauter is the interim executive director of The Kitchen.
Three Bay Area residents are among the 100 people who have contributed their visions to a soon-to-published book celebrating the centennial of the publication of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. “Genius: 100 Visions of the Future” is a collection of thoughts from top innovators, artists, scientists and others. Promoted as the world’s first 3D-printed book, it is the result of a project created by Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University. The Bay Area contributors are Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of S.F.-based Salesforce; Tiffany Shlain, a Marin County filmmaker and author who founded the Webby Awards and co-founded the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences; and Roger D. Kornberg, a Stanford professor who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2006.
Students and staff members at Palo Alto’s Kehillah Jewish High School spent an August day working on a habitat restoration project in Half Moon Bay that focused on removing invasive, non-native plants. After spending the day with rakes and shovels, they had some fun on the beach and participated in the first of their weekly Kabbalat Shabbat programs hosted by the school’s student government.
Four Sonoma County teenagers are contributing to Holocaust education in Poland. The young women’s recitations of their favorite passages from “Rywka’s Diary, the Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto” have been incorporated into an exhibit on the book at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. The readings, by Bella Clark, Sophie Zwicker, Olivia Jacobs and Talia Sherman, were coordinated through the Holocaust Center of S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which originally published the book in 2014.
Using lemonade to make a political point, four boys baked apple crisps and made lemonade to sell near the Kensington Farmers’ Market in late August, with proceeds going to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center to fight hatred. The boys, Ari Fendel, Yair Naftalin-Kelman, Zev Massey and Shai Steinman, have been friends since preschool at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley. They made about $200 while also distributing ADL “No Place for Hate” button and bracelets and speaking about the SPLC’s anti-hate campaign. They set up their booth on the same day that a right-wing group had scheduled a rally for a Berkeley park.
Comings and Goings
Morris Ratner is the new academic dean at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Ratner, who assumed his new post on Aug. 1, had been a professor at the school and recently served as associate dean for academic and professional success. A specialist in civil procedure and legal ethics, Ratner previously worked as a litigator on high-profile cases, including class-action lawsuits against Swiss, German, Austrian and French corporations that profited from Nazi atrocities by retaining dormant bank accounts of Holocaust victims and using slave labor, among other activities. The litigation resulted in $8 billion in settlements for victims of Nazi persecution.
Doron Hovav is preparing for his first Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival since becoming director of the festival and cultural events director at the JCC Sonoma County earlier this year. Hovav, 47, moved to Sonoma County with his husband, jazz saxophonist Elon Slozberg, in 2015 from Israel — where Hovav worked for two decades as a video editor. Tickets for the film festival, which begins Oct. 10 and is spaced out over two months, went on sale Sept. 15; for more information, visit jccsoco.org/2017JFF.
Marshall Langfeld and Pete Neuwirth are new members of the board at Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay. Judy David Bloomfield and Joel ben Izzy return as president and vice president of the board, respectively, with their terms running through June 2018.