a small young boy in a blue hoodie holds up a trophy
8-year-old Mendel Zaklos of Vacaville took home the first place trophy at the Chidon Sefer HaMitzvos in Brooklyn, a competition in which thousands of Chabad children compete answering questions about the 613 mitzvahs in the Torah.

Honors, happenings, comings & goings — April 2019


Honors

Students from Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto finished in first place in their division for the second year in a row at the annual Moot Beit Din competition, held this year in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sponsored by Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, the international competition asks teens to use sources from the Torah and other Jewish texts in answering a rabbinic court-style legal question on a current topic. Kehillah senior Joy Cheskin and sophomore Dahlia Soussan took the top prize for their arguments on this year’s question: Is a Jewish camp obligated to purchase its kosher meat from a slaughterhouse that only used pasture-raised beef, even though this would represent a significant cost increase to campers’ families? Joy was on last year’s winning team, as well.

Kehillah Jewish High School students Joy Cheskin and Dahlia Soussan with their Moot Beit Din trophy
Kehillah Jewish High School students Joy Cheskin and Dahlia Soussan with their Moot Beit Din trophy

Meanwhile, Kehillah sophomores Daniel Mendelevitch and Jasper Wood took second place, out of more than 15 teams, in a Bay Area student hackathon for their webpage and Chrome extension that detects the bias of a news source. They won $500 for the team and a summer internship with a local startup. And Kehillah senior soccer star Chad Feingold has committed to the University of Redlands, an NCAA Division III school near San Bernardino.

Mendel Zaklos, 8-year-old son of Rabbi Chaim and Aidel Zaklos of Chabad of Solano County in Vacaville, took home a first-place gold trophy at the Chidon Sefer HaMitzvos in Brooklyn, New York. With 10,000 boys and girls from more than 150 schools on hand, Mendel competed against 107 finalists in his age group, answering questions related to the 613 mitzvahs, after studying in an after-school program organized by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Chabad’s educational arm. Five trophies were awarded, one in each age group, and Mendel was the youngest winner.

Maya Arad
Maya Arad

Palo Alto resident and Israeli writer Maya Arad has received the 2018 Paper Brigade Award for new Israeli fiction. A lecturer at the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, Arad was recognized for her 2015 Hebrew-language novel “Lady of Kazan.” An excerpt from the 511-page book has been translated into English and appears in the 2019 edition of Paper Brigade, the annual literary journal of the Jewish Book Council. Arad received a BA from Tel Aviv University and a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of London, and was called “the foremost Hebrew writer working outside Israel and one of the best novelists of her generation” in an article in the Jewish Review of Books.

Rabbi Chai Levy
Rabbi Chai Levy

Rabbi Chai Levy of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley and Rabbi Stephanie Kramer of Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa have been named to the 2019-21 cohort of the Clergy Leadership Incubator. A program of Hazon, which aims to create healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world, CLI is a two-year program to support and encourage rabbis in organizational leadership, change management and institutional transformation.


Happenings

Alicia von Kugelgen, a member of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, and Dana Lewenthal Blankman, a member of Temple Sinai in Oakland, are starring in a two-person production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep.” Billed as a madcap mashup and a “penny dreadful” (a 19th-century British fiction publication with lurid and sensational subject matter), and written by the founder of the Theater of the Ridiculous, the production is at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in Danville and will be finishing up a three-weekend run on Sunday, April 28 (tinyurl.com/vep-danville).

Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos held its Spring Benefit “A Night of Magic” on April 7, honoring Rebecca and Arnnon Geshuri. The evening began with a mezuzah dedication in honor of the Wolff family in the school’s recently completed Beit Kehillah.

Installing a new mezuzah at Yavneh Day School
Installing a new mezuzah at Yavneh Day School

Members of the Silicon Valley chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir joined more than 400 teens from across the U.S. and Israel to sing at the HaZamir Gala Concert at Lincoln Center in New York on March 31. Israeli composer Nurit Hirsh, who wrote the iconic “Oseh Shalom” and more than 1600 other popular songs, received the Kinor David Award, and the HaZamir teen singers performed choral settings of two of her songs. The Zamir Choral Foundation, which sponsors HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, promotes choral music as a vehicle to inspire Jewish life, culture, and continuity across generational and denominational lines.

Members of the Silicon Valley chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir
Members of the Silicon Valley chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir

Comings & Goings

Philanthropist and Jewish community leader Douglas Goldman will be stepping down next February after 24 years as chairman and CEO of the Stern Grove Festival. He will hand the baton to his twin sons, Matthew and Jason Goldman, who are principals in G2 Insurance Services, following in the footsteps of their late grandfather, philanthropist and insurance broker Richard Goldman. Sixth-generation San Franciscans, the younger Goldmans received their BAs in interdisciplinary studies from UC Berkeley, and serve on the boards of the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund and the Stern Grove Festival Association.

The late Douglas Goldman with grandsons Matthew and Jason Goldman
The late Richard Goldman with grandsons Matthew and Jason Goldman

Rabbi Samantha Kahn, co-president of the Northern California Board of Rabbis and recently director of the Bay Area branch of InterfaithFamily.com, will move to Florida soon to become the rabbi of Temple Sinai in Sarasota. In announcing her hiring, the Reform congregation’s website said, “Rabbi Kahn won us over with her warmth, scholarship, love of Judaism [and] sense of community.” In conjunction with the move, her husband, Matt Kahn, will leave his position as San Francisco director of AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization. Rabbi Kahn will assume her new pulpit on July 1.

Matt and Rabbi Samantha Kahn at an AJC event in San Francisco (Photo/Mark Sandstorm )
Matt and Rabbi Samantha Kahn at an AJC event in San Francisco, 2017 (Photo/Mark Sandstorm)
Amanda Russell
Amanda Russell

Amanda Russell, who has served as a rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco for several years, will be ordained in May by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. After that, she, her husband, David Katz, and their daughter, Reva, will move to San Francisco, where Russell will join CBS as assistant rabbi on July 1.

Nancy Shaw is stepping down as managing director of Wilderness Torah after six years at the helm. Founding director Rabbi Zelig Golden thanked Shaw for her “incredible work” and announced hires for two new positions: Simcha Schwartz, co-founder of the Jewish Farm School in Philadelphia, will be Wilderness Torah’s first development director, and Flora Goldman has been promoted to administrative director. Now in its 13th year, the East Bay organization has been a pioneer in the field of earth-based Judaism.

Daniel R. Reinglass
Daniel R. Reinglass
Quentin Hill
Quentin Hill
Sheridan Bahar
Sheridan Bahar

A Wider Bridge, the S.F.-based organization that advocates for LGBTQ equality in Israel and supports Israel within the global LGBTQ community, is adding staff and positions. Daniel R. Reinglass has been hired as the organization’s first development director, Quentin Hill has been promoted to be the initial national outreach director, and Sheridan Bahar has been promoted to operations manager.

Jonathan Roisman
Jonathan Roisman

San Jose resident Jonathan Roisman, a former editorial assistant at J., is now the deputy city clerk for Half Moon Bay. In case you don’t know what that entails, Roisman tells us: “I assist with records management and city elections, respond to public records requests, attend council meetings, process resolutions and ordinances, and assist with updating the city’s municipal code.” A Pleasant Hill native, Roisman received a master’s of public administration from Cal State Long Beach in 2017. “I’m happy I went back to school to get my master’s and work in local government,” he said.

Sue Fishkoff

Sue Fishkoff is the editor of J. She can be reached at sue@jweekly.com.