SF-based philanthropist and honorary consul of Poland Tad Taube receiving an honorary degree from Jagiellonian University in Poland
SF-based philanthropist and honorary consul of Poland Tad Taube receiving an honorary degree from Jagiellonian University in Poland

Honors, happenings, comings & goings — June 2018


Honors

Tad and Dianne Taube were among the honorees at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s annual gala in Los Angeles in mid-May. The Taubes’ $15 million gift in 2016 to update, enhance and beautify the HUC campus in Jerusalem was the largest single contribution ever received by the institution. The gala was held 10 days after the death in a plane crash of Rabbi Aaron Panken, the president of HUC, and the Taube Foundation announced a $150,000 gift over three years to establish an Aaron Panken Merit Scholarship that will provide six rabbinical students the chance to study at HUC’s Los Angeles campus. And in more Tad Taube news, he received an honorary doctorate on June 12 from Jagiellonian University in Krakow for his work rebuilding Jewish life and culture in Poland.

Deborah Newbrun
Deborah Newbrun

Deborah Newbrun, the senior Jewish educator and director emeritus of Camp Tawonga, is one of three Jewish educators selected as recipients of the 2018 Covenant Award. Each of the winners of the national award will receive $36,000, and their institutions also get $5,000. The winners will be honored Nov. 13 in New York at the Covenant Foundation’s annual awards dinner. Newbrun was director at Tawonga from 1984 to 2006.

Four Bay Area residents have been selected to join the ROI Summit, a gathering of more than 150 of the Jewish world’s leading young innovators June 24-28 in Jerusalem. The four are Ilya Friedman, the founder and CEO of LumLife, a health startup in Silicon Valley; Daniel Heller, vice president of operations for Social Construct, an S.F.-based construction technology startup; Mor Sidi, head of operations at Zendrive, a startup that seeks to make roads safer; and Logan Ury, former co-head of Google’s behavioral economics lab. The summit, a networking and professional development conference drawing participants from 29 countries, is the flagship program of ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

A book first published by the Holocaust Center of S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services has received the oldest award in Poland for publications related to that country’s recent history. “Rywka’s Diary: The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto,” which was published in 2014 and has gone on to be translated and released in 15 countries, was awarded this year’s historical award by the leading Polish news magazine, Polityka. The handwritten diary, discovered by a Soviet army doctor in the rubble at Auschwitz, was written by 14-year-old Rywka Lipszyc. The book is used in classrooms around the world to address the Holocaust and patterns of genocide. The Polityka historical award began in 1959. The book was published, first in English, by JFCS in partnership with Lehrhaus Judaica after years of work by historians, archivists and translators.

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Joshua Joseph (center)

Joshua Joseph was presented with the 2018 Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Young Leadership in late May by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. Joseph received his plaque at a celebration of 50 years of the Federation’s Young Adult Division. Joseph is a member of the Federation’s board of directors and also serves on the board of the S.F.-based Jim Joseph Foundation.


Happenings

Ben Bogen
Ben Bogen

Ben Bogen, who started performing at the Contra Costa JCC at age 8 and now is a New York-based actor, singer and dancer, just completed a six-day run at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts as Frankie Valli in a national tour of “Jersey Boys.” Bogen, who grew up in Walnut Creek and had his bar mitzvah there at Congregation B’nai Tikvah, graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in musical theater in 2016.

Elizabeth Rynecki speaking at the premiere of her film "Chasing Portraits"
Elizabeth Rynecki (center) speaking at the premiere of her film “Chasing Portraits”

Chasing Portraits,” the film version of Oakland resident Elizabeth Rynecki’s story about her great-grandfather’s life as a painter in early- to mid-20th century Warsaw, premiered May 26 at the Jewish Motifs International Film Festival in the Polish capital. The 78-minute documentary is based on Rynecki’s 2016 book of the same name.

The Moldaw Residences, a senior living community in Palo Alto, hosted its inaugural First Responders Appreciation Lunch in late May to honor law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency personnel in Palo Alto and Mountain View. To accommodate the often unpredictable schedules of first responders, Moldaw workers prepared a sandwich buffet so personnel could mingle with residents and team members or grab a bite for the road if necessary.

Peter Gertler, Rambam CEO Rafi Beyar, Josh Bernstein, Eric Scheelein
Peter Gertler, Rambam CEO Rafi Beyar, Josh Bernstein, Eric Scheelein

Bay Area residents Levy Gerzberg, Josh Bernstein, Eric Schleelein and Peter Gertler traveled to Israel last month to participate in the third international Swim From the Heart meet in Haifa. The event raises funds to predict and prevent sudden cardiac death in children and young adults, and supports SCD research at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.


Comings & Goings

Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer
Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer

Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, who traded an acting career for a spot on the bimah, will move to The Kitchen this summer as a rabbi, cantor and music director. Meyer, now the co-rabbi and cantor at Romemu, a synagogue in New York City, will join Rabbi Noa Kushner at The Kitchen, an independent synagogue based in San Francisco, beginning in August. Meyer, who was ordained in 2014 by Hebrew College Rabbinical School, spent a year after college working in Israel with peace groups and began performing at a Jewish-Palestinian theater company that promotes coexistence. Later, while studying theater in London, she was cast as the lead character’s sister in “The Pianist,” a 2002 film by Roman Polanski that earned Adrien Brody a best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of a Jewish composer during the Holocaust.

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Rabbi Dorothy Richman
Tamar Zaken
Tamar Zaken

Rabbi Dorothy Richman will be the next Shamash Resident at the JCC East Bay. The residency is for a local rabbi, scholar or educator to offer Jewish learning with the JCC staff and community. Currently the rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center in San Francisco, Richman will fill the role from June through December. She replaces Tamar Zaken, who just wrapped up her tenure as the JCC’s second Shamash Resident.

And speaking of Tamar Zaken, she recently took over from May Pundak as Bay Area head of New Israel Fund’s young adult community, New Generations.

Rabbi Mark Melamut
Rabbi Mark Melamut

After a decade serving as senior rabbi at San Francisco’s Congregation B’nai Emunah, Rabbi Mark Melamut will be leaving this month to become rabbi at Upper Valley Jewish Community in Hanover, New Hampshire. He starts there July 1.

Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.