On March 15, a dozen students from Jewish Community High School of the Bay participated in the Global Climate Strike, walking out of school as part of a larger international protest demanding action to fight climate change. Along with other Bay Area students, they marched down Market Street, rallying at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office. Though the walkout was not a school-sponsored event, a spokeswoman said the school “encouraged the students’ civic engagement.” The students returned to class in the afternoon.
Longtime talk show radio host and political pundit John Rothmann is back on the air — at KGO 810 AM, the same station where he held forth for 15 years until he was canned, along with seven other veteran talk show hosts, in December 2011. That was when Cumulus Media, the new owners, changed the format to focus less on talk and more on news.
Rothmann made no secret of his pro-Israel stance, and often brought Jewish and Israeli guests onto his show. “I think my advocacy for Israel [on the air] was not only important as an educational tool, but an important statement for me as a figure in the media who was not hesitant in expressing the fact that Israel must have friends,” he told J. at the time, adding that in the first few days after his firing, he received more than 1,500 emails and 100 phone calls from well-wishers. His show returned to the air on March 11.
Moldaw Residences kicked off its 10th year with a celebration on Jan. 27 honoring Larry Marks, who has been involved with the senior facility since before it opened and is co-chair of its board of trustees. More than 200 people attended a sold-out dinner at Moldaw, where Marks was “toasted and roasted,” according to a spokesperson. Top-tier sponsors were Phyllis, Susan and Carol Moldaw; the Roy and Lynne Frank Family Philanthropic Fund; Stephen and Nancy Grand; Neil and Nancy Davidson; Susan Neisloss of Big Bite Productions; Carol Seiler Roberts; and Ruth Seiler. The event raised more than $195,000 to support two funds: Charleston Terrace expansion project and the Moldaw Residences’ Care and Compassion Endowment.
The Gan Israel Preschool of B’nai Israel Jewish Center in Petaluma celebrated its 40th anniversary in November with a casino night gala. More than 100 turned out for the evening’s festivities, hosted by Jim Stern. Center president Stuart Nissenbaum, Rabbi Ted Feldman and preschool director Leslee Lauritzen were among the speakers. B’nai Israel Jewish Center says it is the oldest Jewish community between San Francisco and Portland, dating back to 1864.
First-time filmmaker Elizabeth Rynecki’s documentary “Chasing Portraits” is scheduled for theatrical release April 26 in New York. Years in the making, the film describes the Oakland resident’s search for the lost artworks of her great-grandfather, Polish-Jewish artist Moshe Rynecki, who perished in the Holocaust. Knowing that a roundup of Polish Jews was imminent, Rynecki hid 800 of his paintings, sketches and sculptures in caches around Warsaw before he was sent to the Warsaw Ghetto with the rest of the city’s Jewish population. Just 120 pieces were found after the war. Rynecki’s film played at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival last summer.
Two writers with Bay Area connections were among those honored at the 2018 National Jewish Book Awards ceremony, held March 5 in New York. In the fiction category, Oakland writer Michael David Lukas won for “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo.” A professor at San Francisco State, Lukas made his protagonist a literature student at UC Berkeley, the city where the author grew up. Lukas’ previous book was “The Oracle of Stamboul.” Leon Wiener Dow won in the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice category for “The Going: A Meditation on Jewish Law,” which he developed at Berkeley Law when he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and the school’s Robbins Collection in Religious and Civil Law. Dow writes that his work “began during a remarkable year that I spent at Berkeley Law” and credits the “unflagging” support of its community of scholars. Other local finalists: Fresno State professor Lillian Faderman for her biography “Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death,” and Stanford University professor Steven Zipperstein in the history category for “Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History.”
AJC San Francisco, the local branch of the global Jewish advocacy organization, will honor two Bay Area lay leaders at a gala event in May. Moses Libitzky, president and founding principal of Libitzky Property Companies and a member of AJC’s Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, will be presented with the Distinguished Civic Leadership Award, and Aaron Tartakovsky will receive the Lloyd R. Sankowich Award for Young Leadership. The event is May 21 at the City Club of San Francisco. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Peninsula Hebrew Day School in Sunnyvale honored community members Linor Eylon and Nissa Johanix at its gala fundraiser on Feb. 24. And the two got a special surprise: Israeli artist Solomon Souza, famous for painting colorful murals of Jewish heroes on the doors of Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem (with owner approval, of course), spent the previous week at the school working with students on a mural of the six days of creation. At the gala, Souza revealed that he had painted portraits of Eylon and Johanix in Jerusalem’s Gan Sachar Park, where they have become a tourist attraction. “Linor and Nissa are role models and pillars in our community,” said Rabbi Shaye Guttenberg, SPHDS head of school. “Having Solomon Souza paint a permanent portrait of them in Gan Sacher will allow others to learn about their story, and we hope it inspires others to follow in their footsteps.”
Comings & Goings
J.’s board of directors has welcomed four leading professionals to its ranks. Alexandra Corvin is a fourth-generation San Franciscan who began her career in education, working in low-income communities as a school counselor. Today she is a vice president at Koya Leadership Partners, an executive search firm focused on mission-driven organizations and higher education institutions. Fraidy Aber is the director of education and civic engagement at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and teaches the graduate-level course “Museums and Social Justice” at the University of San Francisco. Alia Gorkin most recently was major gifts officer at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, following work at nonprofits in Austin and Philadelphia. She serves on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and is president of the parent association at Congregation Emanu-El’s preschool. Sabrina Keller started her career back when magazines were just thinking about going digital. Specializing in driving traffic and increasing engagement, she leads a team at Sephora that enhances online personalization.
Angel Alvarez-Mapp is the new program manager for Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, a Bay Area-based advocacy and leadership training program headed by Ilana Kaufman. Previously he was the founder and CEO of Hello Mazel, also headquartered in San Francisco, and was also formerly executive director of Congregation Beth Sholom.