Michael Tilson Thomas, the famed music director of the San Francisco Symphony, has been named one of five Kennedy Center honorees for 2019. “Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a press release. “He has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.” Other recipients for 2019 are actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, “Sesame Street” and the band Earth, Wind & Fire. The medallions will be presented at a State Department dinner on Dec. 7, and the honorees will be recognized and celebrated through performances and tributes at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8 (it will be recorded for a two-hour broadcast on CBS on Dec. 15).
Travel agent Sandra G. Lipkowitz will speak on a panel on social media at Virtuoso Travel Week, Aug. 10-16 in Las Vegas. The event is one of the biggest in the travel industry. Lipkowitz’s business, We Make Travel Easy, offers “bespoke” vacation planning. She has been voted best travel adviser by J.’s readers for four years.
Leonard Williams, 84, of Sunnyvale received the title of Honorary Fire Chief last month from the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs Association. Fifty years ago, Williams founded the Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley, “a group of fire buffs who serve the nine fire departments in Santa Clara County by providing canteen service 24/7 at the scenes of fires and other emergencies of extended duration, without charge,” he told J. in an email. The award plaque reads: “In honor and with deep appreciation for your distinguished and unselfish service in support of our Fire Service emergency responders. As a charter member of the Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley, you have provided a lasting example of what it means to live a life in the service of others.”
Susan Duhan Felix — ceramicist, poet and host of “East Bay Art Beat” on Berkeley public access TV — received a lifetime achievement award from the Berkeley City Council on July 23.
Kitty Millet, chair of the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, has been named the editor of “Comparative Jewish Literatures,” a new academic book series from Bloomsbury. “We are interested in analyses that frame Jewish texts in relation to other national traditions, extending the notion of a Jewish literary tradition to encompass writers in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Israel and the Middle East, Australia [and] Asia,” reads the call for book proposals.
URJ Camp Newman’s Avodah unit came in fourth place for amount of money raised in the AIDS Walk San Francisco in July. With $31,684 raised, they beat out Macy’s, Levi-Strauss and UCSF. The Avodah kids were bettered only by the National AIDS Memorial, Castro Country Club and Williams-Sonoma.
In 2015, Berkeley resident and Holocaust survivor Helena Foster donated 18 trees to the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove at Sonoma State University to honor her family members who were killed in Poland. Last month, she visited the trees for the first time. “It reminds me of my childhood,” she said. “We used to play in the garden. It brings back memories of my brother, who did not make it, because they got him. I’m the only one who survived.” Foster, 88, hid for the duration of the war, then immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Berkeley. The lakeside memorial in Rohnert Park “is designed to honor survivors and victims of the genocides committed throughout the world, including the Native American Genocide, the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide and the current-day genocide in Darfur,” according to the memorial’s website.
With pitcher Gabriel Cramer of Santa Rosa on its side, Israel’s national baseball team went posted an undefeated 6-0 record in the opening round of qualifications for the 2020 Olympics. Cramer also played for Team Israel during its sensational run in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Cantor David Frommer of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco will sing the national anthem at the Giants’ Jewish Heritage Night game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 27. Frommer, who has served Sherith since 2016, served in the Israel Defense Forces from 2004 to 2006. He is now a chaplain in the Army National Guard. After leading seders in Kabul, singing one little song in Oracle Park should be a piece of cake.
Comings & goings
Cantor Jennie Chabon of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek is now Rabbi Jennie Chabon of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek. Chabon was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, a non-denominational institution that ordains rabbis, cantors and chaplains. “We have some great, creative programming planned for this year,” she told J. in an email.
Ruben Arquilevich, who served for more than 25 years as director of URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa and more recently as director of URJ Camping and Youth, has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president of URJ Camps, NFTY and Immersive Experiences. The Union for Reform Judaism’s youth programs touch 20,000 North American Jewish teens annually, according to a press release. “Based on his demonstrated success in California, Ruben will continue to increase his impact and deepen relationships with families across the spectrum of Reform Jewish programming,” URJ President Rick Jacobs said in the press release.
Melissa Chapman has been named the new CEO of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, beginning Sept. 3. “We are thrilled to bring Melissa into our organization at this important moment in our development,” Steven Douglas, JCC board chairman, said in a release. “As a lifelong East Bay resident, I have seen the changes in our community and I know Melissa is the perfect person to take us to the next level in terms of growth, reach and quality.” Her previous positions include CEO of the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region and, most recently, chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. She steps into the role left open by the departure of Amy Tobin last winter after 4½ years. Samantha Kelman, the JCC’s chief operating officer, has served as interim CEO during the search.
Adam Eilath is the new head of school at Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City. “I am so thrilled to join the Wornick community,” he said in a release. “Although I have known the school for many years, over the past few months I have had the opportunity to visit the school on numerous occasions and witness the tight-knit and warm community firsthand.” Eilath’s previous position was dean of Jewish studies and director of strategic initiatives at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. He recently completed the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Day School Leadership Training Institute, a national program for heads of Jewish day schools.