Ruth Browns Gundelfinger dances with Jim Horton.
Ruth Browns Gundelfinger dances with Jim Horton.

Dance party to celebrate Café Shalom founder’s 90th birthday

RBG is turning 90. No, not the Supreme Court Justice. This RBG is Ruth Browns Gundelfinger, the acclaimed Bay Area Israeli folk dancer.

On Saturday, May 11, Café Shalom — the center of Israeli dancing and culture that Gundelfinger started in 1969 — will host a potluck dinner and dance party to celebrate its founder’s 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the dance “nightclub.”

Gundelfinger fell in love with Israeli dancing after attending Zionist youth group parties while growing up in Montreal. She eventually moved to San Francisco to earn her B.A. in dance at S.F. State University.

Gundelfinger opened Café Shalom because she “always wanted to start a nightclub where people could dance, socialize and eat in a Jewish/Israeli atmosphere.” For years, the café held well-attended parties every Saturday night with Israeli and international folk dances, workshops and refreshments. Originally located at the JCC of San Francisco, the café still meets for dance parties the second Saturday of every month, led by Udy Gold, at a church in the Outer Avenues.

Unsurprisingly, Gundelfinger, profiled by J. in 2009, credited her life’s passion for her impressive longevity and wellness.

“Especially Israeli folk dancing is the best ‘medicine’ for health, lifelong friendships, energy and alertness,” she said.

The May 11 potluck starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by dancing from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 1399 43rd Ave., S.F. Cost is $10 plus a dish to share for dinner (dessert is provided; no shellfish, pork or alcohol). For details, email cafe_shalom_dancing@yahoo.com or call (415) 595-4492.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is a J. staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.