Ilan Eisenberg, who will be a junior next year at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, has won the high school English division of the Chidon HaTanach National Torah Competition, held at Yeshiva University in New York. He was one of 250 students from around the country in his division competing over their knowledge of the Bible. “I found participating in Chidon HaTanach to be a unique and rewarding experience that brought me closer to the Tanach, and on a larger scale, to the story of the Jewish people,” Eisenberg said. In 2020, he will represent the United States in the international Chidon HaTanach competition.
Laurie Earp and Rabbi Daniel Feder received honorary degrees from Hebrew Union College on May 13. Earp was awarded an honorary doctorate in Jewish nonprofit management. Her consultancy, Earp Events & Fundraising, works with nonprofits. The Oakland resident also teaches nonprofit management at S.F. State University and has served on the board of Tehiyah Day School and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, and is currently on the board of Camp Gilboa, a progressive Zionist summer camp in Southern California. Feder, rabbi at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity, customarily given to HUC-ordained rabbis after 25 years in the rabbinate.
Kehilla Community Synagogue’s immigration committee was awarded the Mildred Parish Massey Legacy Award by Rep. Barbara Lee on May 11. The award is in memory of Lee’s mother, who worked for justice and equality. Julie Litwin, a member of the committee that works to support immigrants and refugees, accepted the honor. “Our members have passionately embraced immigration justice work in a myriad of ways, including providing accompaniment, housing and sponsorship to newly arrived immigrants, coordinating members to volunteer at the border and organizing educational events and political actions,” Litwin said in her acceptance speech.
Kehilla program and communications manager Maya Joseph wrote on the synagogue’s website in praise of Litwin: “There is little doubt in my mind that the immigration support work we do at Kehilla would not be the robust program it is without Julie. Her perseverance and her unwillingness to even consider that something is not possible is remarkable. I am personally inspired, motivated, humbled, and energized by her.”
Steve Brown, director of legacy development at the Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, was honored with the Gail Littman Award on May 19 at the Life & Legacy conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. The award is given by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Jewish philanthropy that funds PJ Library and other programs, to an individual who has shown leadership and dedication to legacy giving.
Aya Baron, a Jewish studies master’s student at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, has been awarded a Wexner Graduate Fellowship to pursue rabbinical studies at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Baron’s thesis focuses on the role of women in rabbinic narrative. The fellowship is awarded by the Wexner Foundation to support rabbinical students and graduate students pursuing Jewish education programs. Baron spent six years working at Wilderness Torah.
J.’s own food columnist and contributing editor Alix Wall was covered by the Western Massachusetts Jewish Ledger on May 15 when she stopped by the Lander-Grinspoon Academy, a Jewish day school in Northampton. Wall is writing and producing the documentary “The Lonely Child,” the name of a Yiddish lullaby written about her mother while she was hiding in Vilna during the war. Wall was at the school with filmmaker Marc Smolowitz and cinematographer Aaron Fagerstrom to shoot footage of the students singing “The Lonely Child” during their Yom HaShoah assembly.
Tel Aviv University-American Friends hosted its first-ever event for TAU alumni in the Bay Area. Award-winning journalist, war correspondent and filmmaker Itai Anghel spoke in Mountain View to 100 fellow alumni about his personal encounters with ISIS fighters and showed clips from his documentaries about Iraq and Syria. “A few months ago, President Trump declared that ISIS is dead,” Anghel said. “I know from my experiences and encounters that ISIS is an idea; it is not something you can kill. And it is still very much alive and active today.” The event was organized by a group of local alumni, led by TAU-American Friends board member Shira Ronen. Proceeds from the event supported the TAU Alumni Global Scholarship Campaign.
Congregation Shir Shalom in Sonoma held a teen seder last month that began with a Passover discussion led by Rabbi Steve Finley. The teens played an interactive game on their phones called Kahoot! where they answered seder-related questions, and they also enjoyed some good old-fashioned post-seder hanging out, a photo booth and a DJ.
On May 17, students from Hillel at Stanford got together with local Holocaust survivors to bake challah and learn from each other. The event — called L’Dough V’Dough, a play on the Hebrew “l’dor v’dor,” “from generation to generation” — is part of a student project by April Ball, who has been photographing and interviewing survivors living in Europe. Some of her work is on display at Stanford’s Ziff Center for Student Life.
Brandeis Marin, the K-8 day school in San Rafael, celebrated its 40th anniversary last month. Some 350 friends and supporters attended a gala on April 14 to celebrate the school’s history and honor people who have made a significant impact. The honorees were Marty and Vanessa Friedman, the school’s first board president; Marni Shapiro, who has taught kindergarten at Brandeis for its entire history; and Mickey and Toni Golbus and Dennis and Paula Jaffe for developing the campus that houses the school.
Comings & Goings
Mollie Breger is the new campaign manager at Camp Tawonga after leaving her position as director of marketing and development at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.
Deb Fink is the new assistant director of American Jewish Committee of Northern California. “We are delighted to welcome Deb Fink, longtime friend and colleague, as assistant director of our team,” said regional director Rabbi Serena Eisenberg.
Rebecca Pierce, a Bay Area filmmaker, activist and writer, is now a contributing writer for the magazine Jewish Currents. She also writes for The Nation, +972 Magazine and others.
Barbara Lane has been named the San Francisco Chronicle’s new book columnist. Lane previously served as director of Arts & Ideas at JCCSF. According to the Chronicle, “In this new column, writer and producer Barbara Lane will explore our rich Northern California publishing scene, with its authors, personalities, controversies and more — all viewed through her lifelong love of books.”