Brandeis Marin’s seventh-grade math team tied for first place in the Marin County Mathletes on Nov. 12. Members of the winning team are Jaiden G., Austin P., Aviv S., Katie L. and Vivi C. It was the first of four competitions this year, and the Brandeis mathletes beat out 20 other Marin County schools. Each team received five math problems per team member. “They were so excited,” math teacher Melissa Freeman told J. in an email, “particularly because we are not a big school, with roughly 28 7th-graders competing against schools with hundreds of 7th-graders.”
Stanford University history major Anat Peled has been named a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. She will pursue a master of philosophy at the University of Oxford. Peled is from Ra’anana, Israel, and has focused her studies on intellectual history and political philosophy. “She has served in the Israel Defense Forces intelligence corps and is co-founder and president of the Stanford International Security Undergraduate Network,” according to an announcement from Stanford. “She was awarded the 2019 George and Charlotte Shultz Fellowship for Modern Israel Studies to conduct research on Syrian Jewry in Israel.” Peled has also written for the Stanford Daily and the Times of Israel.
Hillel at Stanford staff members were awarded the Israel Education and Engagement award at the Hillel International Global Assembly in Atlanta, which was attended by over 1,000 Hillel professionals and lay leaders from around the world. The award is Hillel’s highest honor for campus Israel programs. “We are led so ably in this arena by Nathalie Landesman, our amazing Program Director for Israel and Global Jewish Peoplehood, Leeya Fryder, our beloved Israel Fellow, and Rotem Saar, our dynamic Israeli@Stanford coordinator,” executive direction Rabbi Jessica Kirschner wrote in an announcement. “It feels great to be recognized for the exciting, nuanced Israel programming we do. We are inspired every day by the curiosity and commitment of our students.”
Tirtza and Barry Pearl were honored on Dec. 17 by Catherine Stefani, a member of the S.F. Board of Supervisors, for their September act of civil disobedience in the U.S. Senate Chamber protesting gun violence. Stefani, who found out about the Pearls through an article in J., said in a statement, “I am proud to be honoring them for their fearless act.”
In November, San Franciscans Mark Bernhard, Debra Bogaards, Marilyn Sarig, Linda Wegmann-Servat and Jean Luc Servat participated in the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ fifth annual Israel Bike Mission, an intense six-day bicycle ride through Israel — complete with blue FIDF jerseys. A group of wounded Israeli combat veterans who have benefited from the FIDF’s support for rehab programs and prosthetic devices joined the ride with 50 or so Americans and Israeli cycling champion Roy Goldstein.
Philanthropist and financier Sandy Weill was in conversation with Dan Safier at the annual Day of Philanthropy on Nov. 19 in San Francisco, where the 86-year-old spoke about his philosophy of giving as well as his Jewish upbringing. “Philanthropy is not just about giving money,” he told the crowd of about 500. “It’s about using your brain power, energy, emotions.” Weill is noted for giving multimillion-dollar gifts to causes he believes in, particularly in the fields of neuroscience research, education and classical music. Weill, who splits his time between Connecticut and Sonoma, also spoke about his upbringing and his rags-to-riches rise to become chairman of Citigroup, and how today’s businesspeople should use philanthropy to inspire others.
Hillel of Silicon Valley had a sandwich-making event as part of San Jose State University’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Students were encouraged to make one sandwich for themselves and one or more others to distribute to homeless people. The event resulted in more than 150 sandwiches, which were handed out in a park along with bottled water, granola bars and fruit.
URJ Camp Newman broke ground Nov. 20 on the restoration of its site in Santa Rosa, which was severely damaged in the 2017 North Bay wildfires. The damage included a newly built conference center and several other buildings. Since then, Camp Newman has held its sessions at California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo, where it will be again in summer 2020. The groundbreaking was for the 6 Points Community Center, a new facility described in a statement as “Camp Newman’s first step to being back home for year-round use.” The building is slated for completion in December 2020 and is expected to be open for retreats and events in January 2021. Assemblyman Marc Levine, whose district includes past of the North Bay, was on hand to present Camp Newman with a $10 million check for fire recovery from the state.
Naomi Tucker, co-founder and executive director of Jewish domestic violence agency Shalom Bayit, was the keynote speaker Dec. 3 at an event hosted by the Australian Jewish Care. “Family violence is a societal problem, requiring a societal response,” she said in her address at the Preventing Violence Together event, according to the Australian Jewish News. “And that’s why we need you, the individual person in our community, to know what to do when that happens. Your response matters profoundly in how we address the matter in our community.”
The Reutlinger Community in Danville held its annual fundraising event Dec. 8 at the Lafayette Park Hotel. The theme was “Chai Gala,” honoring staff Rabbi Debora Kohn for 18 years of devoted service to residents and families at the Jewish senior home. The keynote speaker was comedian Rabbi Bob Alper. Proceeds from the event went to the Residence Assistance Fund, benefiting long-term residents who need financial help. The evening was co-chaired by Robbie Cohn and Claudia Felson. Jay Zimmer, the Reutlinger president and CEO, said in a statement, “It was a pleasure to publicly recognize the wonderful work of Rabbi Debora — and see such broad Jewish community support for the Reutlinger Community.”
One-man event planning whirlwind Adam Swig, a scion of the Bay Area’s Swig family, hosted his sixth annual Hanukkah in Paris fundraiser at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco. Approximately 500 young Jews danced, ate and were entertained by burlesque dancers, a DJ and live music from California Groove. The evening benefitted the Jewish culture organization Reboot. As in previous years, attendees brought new and unwrapped presents for the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.
Comings & Goings
Susan Manheimer, longtime San Mateo police chief, is retiring at the end of the year. “I was raised in New York City in a very Jewish area, and I’ve always been a practicing Jew who is very proud of the strong Jewish tradition of advocating for civil rights, social equity and serving others,” she told J. in 2015. “I belong to Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo; both of my children were bar and bat mitzvahed. My son’s a Marine, my daughter was a district attorney. My family [growing up] marched in the civil rights marches, and I think all of that really called us to service. My dad was a city councilman in New York, and he always had a lot of officers to the house. I saw them as heroes. Who else was willing to put on a gun belt and kiss their family goodbye and put their life on the line for a community?”
Rachel Nilson Ralston has stepped in as interim executive director of San Francisco Hillel. She got the gig after Ollie Benn announced his departure to become director of philanthropy and social impact at the Jewish Community Foundation San Diego. An alum of San Francisco State University who became involved with Hillel in her senior year, Ralston has worked at S.F. Hillel for nine years and was promoted to associate executive director in the past year. “I’m grateful for the strong leadership that came before me, and the dedicated colleagues and lay leaders who built this organization to where we are today,” Ralston said in an email to the S.F. Hillel community. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue serving SF Hillel in a new way.”