Joe Eskenazi has been selected as the 2019 Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. Eskenazi is the managing editor of the online news site Mission Local and a 20-year veteran of the local news beat in the Bay Area. He used to be at San Francisco Magazine, and before that SF Weekly. But before all that, he was one of our colleagues here at J., where he won numerous Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association. In recent years, he has written the occasional freelance piece for us. So let us say to Joe: Mazel tov!
Natan Kuchar, director of Edah in Berkeley, has been honored with a 2019 Pomegranate Prize from the Covenant Foundation. Kuchar is one of five “emerging Jewish educators” who received this year’s award at a Nov. 6 ceremony in New York. The Pomegranate award recognizes educators who have “trailblazed a path toward the most dynamic, responsive, inclusive and creative ideas in Jewish education.” Edah is an afterschool Jewish education program for East Bay K-5 kids with an emphasis on learning spoken and written Hebrew language skills.
Contra Costa Jewish Day School in Lafayette has opened its new Outdoor Recreation and Community Area, which they are calling ORCA (“a whale of an idea!”). The new area provides a facility for physical education, play and community gatherings. There is an adjustable sport court that can be used for basketball, volleyball, soccer and street hockey. The whole thing is surrounded by “naturalistic stadium seating” and picnic tables that can be used for events or student lunch. “The best part is hearing from the students how much they love it,” Head of School Dean Goldfein said in a release. “This project was several years in the making and the students were so patient waiting for it to be completed [so] to see them running down the path to the ORCA with excitement means a lot.”
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann was inaugurated last month as president of the Graduate Theological Union, a position he assumed in August. Lehmann is the first non-Christian leader of GTU, a diverse collection of religious studies and seminary programs in Berkeley. The Oct. 24 inauguration event featured live music and a greeting from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. In his address, Lehmann said, “To many, religious difference contributes to what divides us. Yet what I have learned through my work at the GTU is that religion, and specifically interreligious study in the context of a pluralistic community, can also provide a pathway that navigates through the treacherous landscape of our factious society.”
After a spectacular season that included a perfect 10-0 record in league play, the girls’ volleyball team at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto lost to Thomas More High of San Jose on Nov. 2 in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division V playoffs. The Lady Rams finished their season with a 15-3 record, which included a 14-match win streak and a first-place finish in the Private Schools Athletic League North. Go Rams!
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces has reported that it raised $1.5 million from 500 attendees at its Night of Heroes galas Nov. 2 in San Francisco and Nov. 3 in Menlo Park. The funds go toward the organization’s general operating costs and education programs for Israeli soldiers. The events honored Taube Philanthropies, headed by Tad and Diane Taube. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., delivered the keynote address at both events. “Our annual San Francisco and Silicon Valley galas are a wonderful opportunity for members of the community to come together, meet, and support active-duty IDF soldiers of different backgrounds, all with the same goal of protecting Israel,” Jonathan Bernstein, FIDF Bay Area’s executive director, said in a release.
The Korean War Memorial Foundation honored veterans of America’s wars on Monday Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Rabbi Danny Gottlieb of Congregation Beth Israel-Judea in San Francisco gave the opening invocation, followed by a moment of silence, at the ceremony held at the Korean War Memorial at the Presidio of San Francisco. Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.), president and chair of the Foundation, delivered remarks on behalf of the organization, followed by remarks from Park Joon-Yong, the Republic of Korea’s Consul General in S.F. In closing the ceremony, Rabbi Gottlieb ended the day with this benediction: “May it be Your will, that our land should be a blessing to all the inhabitants of the world. Immerse us in friendship and freedom, and foster among us true peace, that we might bring about the words written by the hand of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Comings & goings
Ronit Sharir is joining American Friends of Tel Aviv University as national director of alumni affairs and will be based in the Bay Area. Most recently, she created and ran the StartUp 360 program for Hebrew University of Jerusalem graduates in the Bay Area. She was previous program director at S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks. Sharir is also on the board of Maagalim ICC, a program for the Israeli community, at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.
Rachel Darling has been appointed interim executive director of Hillel at Davis and Sacramento, replacing outgoing longtime director Chani Oppenheim. A graduate of UC Davis, where she was a Hillel Koret fellow, Darling had formerly served as the Hillel program director. Most recently she served as a manager at the California State Reacher’s Retirement System.