Three Bay Area educators are the winners of this year’s Morris Weiss Awards for teachers who continue the advancement of Holocaust and genocide education. The awards are presented by S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and each winner will receive $1,000 for professional development and an additional grant of $1,500 to their schools.
The winners are professor Kitty Millet, who teaches Jewish studies at San Francisco State University; Jennifer Banaszek, who teaches English at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco; and Jenna Goodman, who teaches middle- and upper-school English at the French American International School in San Francisco. The awards given by the JFCS Holocaust Center honor the late Morris Weiss, a founder of the center, a Holocaust survivor who testified at Nazi war crimes trials, and a dedicated activist who fought discrimination and anti-Semitism.
The 2018 Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education have been given to four Bay Area educators. The winners are Abra Greenspan of Congregation Etz Chayim (Palo Alto); Adam Eilath of Jewish Community High School of the Bay (San Francisco); Emma Schnur of Gan Avraham Preschool at Temple Beth Abraham (Oakland); and Carol Booth of the Jewish Baby Network (San Francisco and the Peninsula). The awards, established in 2001, recognize educators offering pre-collegiate programs in Jewish education and include a prize of $10,000 as well as $2,500 to each winner’s institution. The honorees will receive their awards June 5 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
Mariko Kawaguchi, who as an employee of Highcom Security Services provided security for more than a decade at Bay Area synagogues and JCCs, as well as events sponsored by the S.F.-based Israeli consulate, has received an award from FBI Director Christopher Wray. Kawaguchi converted to Judaism last year at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, where she worked for several years as a security officer. The award was for her work with the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association and Association of Former Intelligence Officers — she serves on the board of both — as well as for counter-terrorism work she has done with companies.
Ari’el Stachel, who grew up in Berkeley dreaming of becoming a pro basketball player, is making news for another kind of public performance. Stachel, making his Broadway debut, was nominated for a Tony award as lead supporting actor in “The Band’s Visit.” In the show, based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, Stachel plays an Egyptian jazz musician who — with the rest of his band — ends up spending a night in a small Israeli desert town after going there by mistake.
Adar Darnov, a student at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, was honored as a winner in the Illustrators of the Future contest on April 8 at the annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement awards in Los Angeles. Darnov was one of 12 illustrator winners out of several thousand who entered the international contest. His art appears in “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 34,” marking the first time Darnov’s fantasy or science fiction art has been published.
Holocaust survivors, descendants of survivors and World War II liberators throughout California were honored during the state’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony on April 16 at the state Capitol. Assembly member Marc Levine, who represents Marin and Sonoma counties and is chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, honored survivor Andre Gabany of San Rafael as the Legislature honored 39 survivors, liberators and children of survivors in the Assembly chamber.
The Contra Costa Jewish Day School’s Tree of Life Gala on May 6 raised about $300,000 and was attended by 280 people. The fundraising event at the Temple Isaiah social hall included musical entertainment by Jordan Lee Dong, who graduated from CCJDS in 2009 and is now an actor and director in Washington, D.C.
Alisa Fineman was formally installed as cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel-by-the-Sea on May 11 after being ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Fineman has been a cantorial soloist at the congregation for nearly two decades.
Tamid, a student-led nonprofit that hooks up U.S. students with companies in Israel, held its West Coast regional at Stanford University last month. More than 60 students from seven universities listened to presentations on topics ranging from consulting and investment to event planning. Among the speakers were Dan Feld, vice president of startups and venture capital for Google Launchpad, and Shuly Galili, a co-founding partner of UpWest Labs. Founded in 2008, Tamid Group has more than 2,200 members on 46 U.S. college campuses.
Chabad of the Tri-Valley now has a second Torah scroll, thanks to a donation from the mother of Rabbi Raleigh Resnick. The Torah was donated in memory of the rabbi’s father. More than 400 community members, 20 rabbis from Northern California and the mayors of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton gathered to complete the Torah and march it through Pleasanton and into the Chabad center that opened six months ago.
Congregation Sherith Israel hosted the first San Francisco showing of the exhibit “Shoah: How Was it Humanly Possible?” last month. Presented by the American Society for Yad Vashem, the exhibit was accompanied by presentations of survivor testimony. Originally displayed at the United Nations to mark 2015 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the exhibit covers the history of the Holocaust — from pre-war life for European Jews to liberation of the concentration camps in 1945.
Comings & Goings
Naomi Seidman, who has served as director of the Graduate Theological Union’s Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies since 1995, is leaving the Berkeley-based institution to become a professor at the University of Toronto. Seidman, a Torah columnist for J. six years ago, was honored May 9 at a reception for this year’s GTU graduates. In Toronto, she will split her time between the university’s department of religious studies and its Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies.
Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto has hired Kerin Nash as director of development. A holder of degrees in biology and Hebrew from UCLA, she spent the past three years as associate area director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and before that was a development manager for the Women’s International Zionist Organization.
Rabbi Abby Phelps has been hired as an educator at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and will begin her new job on July 1. She will replace Nancy Sheftel-Gomes, who is retiring.
Charna Schakow is retiring after 17 years of teaching religious school students at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. A 2011 winner of a Helen Diller Family Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, Schakow was honored with a commemorative book at a May 6 ceremony at the synagogue.
Robert Wise is the new chief development officer at the JCC of San Francisco. After a 25-year career in fundraising and nonprofit management that included positions at the Jewish National Fund and American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Wise will lead the JCC’s strategy for attracting current and next-generation donors. Wise most recently has been a nonprofit management and fundraising consultant based in Southern California.