Ben Stern of Berkeley, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor who marched with Bay Area rabbis at the front of a counterprotest to a planned white supremacist rally in his hometown in late August, received the James Joyce Award in Dublin, Ireland, on Oct. 26. “Near Normal Man,” a documentary about Stern directed and produced by his daughter, Charlene, was screened prior to his acceptance speech at University College Dublin, which also honored him with membership in its Literary and Historical Society. As noted at the ceremony, the award was given to Stern “in recognition of his life of inspiration, courage [and] hope that elevates the humanity of all who learn from his example.”
San Francisco State University history major Zachary Kopowski is the winner of the 2017-18 University Fellows award presented by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center. The award includes a $5,000 stipend that will enable Kopowski to train in archival research and work with Holocaust Center staff on Holocaust education in secondary school classrooms.
Two local Hillel chapters won awards at the Hillel International Global Assembly this week in Denver. Berkeley Hillel won the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Award, SF Hillel took home the Great Place to Work Award. Those chapters, as well as those in Davis, Chico, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Stanford and Silicon Valley collectively won the Award for Strengthening the Global Hillel Movement.
The Berkeley-based Jewish Circle Theatre’s “Love Sick” shared selection as outstanding ensemble of a musical at the 2017 Theatre Bay Area awards, and Christopher Renshaw won for outstanding direction of a musical for the show. Ofra Daniel, founder and artistic director of the Jewish Circle Theatre, wrote and starred in “Love Sick,” which is based on the biblical book “Song of Songs” and is described on its website as going “from ancient feminist eroticism to the sounds of European flamenco melding with Middle Eastern klezmer and American musical theatre.”
Rabbi Alissa Forrest Miller of Temple Isaiah in Lafayette is one of five Jewish educators nationally to win the 2017 Pomegranate Prize from the Covenant Foundation. The award recognizes emerging leaders in Jewish education who have been in the field for up to 10 years. Miller’s work focuses on teens, youth and young families, in addition to her other pulpit responsibilities.
Lena McDonnell of Nicasio, who went to Brandeis Marin Jewish day school in San Rafael, leads a development team from Lehigh University that is one of 21 finalists for the $1 million Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE, an international technology contest aimed at increasing women’s safety by pushing back against violence and sexual harassment. The winner of the competition will be announced in June. McDonnell, 21, a senior at Lehigh and the niece of Nora Contini, former J. publisher, leads Team Soterra, whose network uses global positioning services, cellular data and Bluetooth to connect women to emergency support systems with or without internet access. Soterra is the only college-based team to make the finals. “That means we’re the only team starting from scratch,” McDonnell said. “The rest are existing companies, some that have had a product in development already.”
Alix Wall, a contributing editor at J., won an award last month from the San Francisco Press Club for her story for Berkeleyside about Rubicon Bakery in Richmond. She won in the digital media category for features of a light nature. The press club held its 40th annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards on Nov. 16.
Arthur Weil of Piedmont attended the Survivors’ Conference in Jerusalem with his two children, Judy and Jeffrey, in early November. It was the fourth such conference Weil had attended, with the others being in Las Vegas, Berlin and Los Angeles. A retired public school teacher and published poet, Weil gives talks to high school students and other groups about his World War II experiences, including escaping Germany via the Kindertransport and serving with the U.S. Army in Europe, where much of his family died in the Holocaust.
Jamie Ireland of Castro Valley is one of three new leaders to graduate from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She joined more than 60 leaders certified since the founding of the IISHJ in 1985 who are responsible for shepherding the movement into the future. A graduation party for Ireland was held in Pleasanton in mid-November.
Zelig Golden, founding director of Berkeley-based Wilderness Torah, will be ordained as a rabbi and Jessica Leash, a soprano soloist who helps run Silicon Valley Jewish Meetup in Los Gatos, will be ordained as a cantor, both by Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal on Jan. 7 in Broomfield, Colorado.
Sylvie Knepler was one of the featured speakers at the recent Marin Equity Summit. Sylvie, the daughter of David Knepler and Karen Koenig of Woodacre, recounted what it was like growing up in Marin as the adopted child of Jewish parents. Sylvie’s birth parents are Chinese, and she said she was repeatedly asked: “So, where are you from?” More than 200 people attended the summit, part of an effort to create a 10-year plan for addressing racial and economic inequality in Marin County.
Comings & Goings
Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont honored Rabbi Dev Noily as the congregation’s new senior rabbi in a “Brit Kehilla” (community covenant) ceremony on in mid-November. The two-day event marked the completion of a two-year rabbinic transition, with Noily officially taking over as senior rabbi, and Rabbi David Cooper moving into an emeritus role. Noily has been at Kehilla since 2010 as school director, associate rabbi and co-rabbi before becoming senior rabbi in July.
Victoria Buder, who has nearly a quarter-century of nonprofit fundraising experience in the Bay Area, has joined the American Technion Society to lead its local development efforts on behalf of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. As the ATS Bay Area director, she will cover San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Marin County and the East Bay. Buder, who lives in Mill Valley, most recently served as chief development officer at the Agricultural Institute of Marin and previously worked at Marin Academy and other private day schools in the area.