Nomi Solwren, 15, of El Sobrante, survived a rare form of leukemia after a bone marrow transplant four years ago from her sister Maya. Now healthy and active in the Jewish community, including URJ Camp Newman and Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, Nomi is also very involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She is currently running for LLS student of the year and hoping to raise $75,000 for research work by March 2, so she can “give back and help other cancer patients,” according to her mother, Deena Solwren. To contribute, go to events.lls.org.
This year’s San Francisco Hillel gala will be held Sunday, Feb. 24 at the JCC of San Francisco. Featured presenter is the JCC’s former CEO Barry Finestone, now president and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. S.F. Hillel will honor community members Deborah and Larry Stadtner and present the first Paul J. Cohen Award for Student Leadership to San Francisco State University senior Sasha Presley. As Hillel student president, Sasha advocated for Jews on campus and gave media interviews to bring greater attention to their concerns. Originally from Placerville, Sasha is a dance major and Jewish studies minor who intends to work as a Jewish communal professional upon graduating. For tickets to the gala, visit sfhillelevents.org.
Edah, an afterschool Jewish program for pre-K to grade 5, has moved into permanent quarters in Berkeley — a 5,000-square-foot warehouse-like space with a library, a maker space, art studio and immersive “restaurant” where kids can practice ordering free snacks in Hebrew, among other projects. With nearly 70 children enrolled, it is the flagship program of Studio 70, a Berkeley-based incubator for innovative Jewish programing. Director Rabbi Joshua Fenton says there’s no other afterschool program of its kind in the country, and he calls the new space “pretty awesome.”
The Brandeis School of San Francisco is a champion for the first time in girls’ varsity basketball, following a 35-20 home victory against the top-seeded Katherine Delmar Burke School in the title game of the Bay Area Interscholastic Athletic League on Feb. 6. The Lions, whose only regular-season loss this year was against Burke’s, reached the championship by winning their semifinal game 31-20 earlier in the week against the Hamlin School.
David Lipman, a 2018 graduate of Kehillah Jewish High School, interned with the SETI Institute’s Berkeley team this summer, continuing a data analysis project he began his junior year at Kehillah in Palo Alto. His paper, “The Breakthrough Listen Search for Intelligent Life: Searching Boyajian’s Star for Laser Line Emission,” was accepted for publication in a prestigious astronomy journal. Said one of Lipman’s mentors at SETI, “Most students his age working on science problems are tackling questions where the correct answer is given in the back of the textbook. In contrast, David is doing original research that is helping us to advance our capacity to answer one of the biggest questions in science: Are we alone in the universe?” Lipman is now a freshman at Princeton University. His family lives in San Carlos, and he has a sibling at Kehillah and two at Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City.
Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos has received the annual Tony Hill Memorial Award, given to bridge-builders and community organizers in the Santa Cruz area, in memory of social activist Tony Hill. Melanie Stern, Hill’s widow, called Marcus with the news. “What I’ve always respected about her is her calm presence and her real commitment, her connection between her spiritual work and her activism,” Stern said of the rabbi. “She has done this work not only as a rabbi but as a citizen of our community.” Marcus was a founding member of Out in Our Faith, a collective of local faith-based congregations that encourage others to welcome LGBTQ members, and was instrumental in the creation of Schapiro Knolls, which provides livable housing for farmworkers. She received the award on Feb. 11 during the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial convocation at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.
Rabbi Laura Rumpf of Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo is one of 11 rabbis named to the inaugural cohort of Rukin Rabbinic Fellows by InterfaithFamily, a national organization supporting interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. Over two years, the fellows learn how to work effectively with interfaith couples and families in Jewish life, and offer related programs in their communities. “I look forward to benefiting from the insights and experience of my fellow fellows, and to getting to know Bay Area couples and families of all faith backgrounds,” Rumpf said.
San Francisco native son Jacob Garchik, a trombonist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, collaborated on two 2019 Grammy-winning albums. He arranged the music performed by Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet for “Landfall,” which won for best chamber music album in a small ensemble performance. And he performed with the Dafnis Prieto Big Band on the album “Back to the Sunset,” which won the Grammy for best Latin jazz band. Garchik, 42, is the son of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik and attorney Jerry Garchik.
Comings & Goings
Randi Brenowitz has been named chair of the international board of directors for the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Brenowitz is the organization’s fourth board chair in its 30-year history. She began as a Melton student at home in Palo Alto and has been instrumental in bringing Melton learning to its current site at the Addison-Penzak JCC in Los Gatos. Brenowitz has served in leadership roles with many Jewish organizations, including Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and the Oshman Family JCC, where she held several senior staff positions.
San Francisco Hillel has promoted Rachel Nilson Ralston to associate executive director. Rachel has worked at Hillel since graduating from S.F. State in 2011. She recently won the highest individual honor from Hillel International, the Exemplar of Excellence Award. Rachel’s new role will include some fundraising responsibilities as well as overseeing student life and engagement strategies.