9-year-old Mendel Zaklos of Vacaville took home the first place trophy at the Chidon Sefer HaMitzvos competition for the second year in a row. Pictured: Mendel winning last year.
9-year-old Mendel Zaklos of Vacaville took home the first place trophy at the Chidon Sefer HaMitzvos competition for the second year in a row. Pictured: Mendel winning last year.

Honors & awards — April 2020

Rona Rothenberg has received the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture from the American Institute of Architecture. The award, which goes to only one individual annually, is for “architects, public officials or other individuals who design distinguished public facilities,” according to AIA. Rothenberg, who lives in San Francisco and is a member of Congregation Chevra Thilim, received her master’s in architecture from U.C. Berkeley in 1983. In 2001 she became senior capital program manager for the Judicial Council of California and has overseen “more than $10 billion worth of capital campaigns and working with architectural firms on behalf of the California judiciary system,” according to Architect Magazine. Projects completed under her direction include the San Bernardino Justice Center, the Santa Clara County Family Justice Center in San Jose and the Superior Court building Mammoth Lakes.

Mendel Zaklos, 9-year-old son of Rabbi Chaim and Aidel Zaklos of Chabad of Solano County in Vacaville, took first place at the Chidon Sefer Mitzvot for the second year in a row. The competition tests children’s knowledge of the 613 commandments in the Torah. More than 5,000 children, from 40 states and 30 countries, competed. “This is believed to be the first time any child has won the annual prize twice in a row,” according to Rabbi Zaklos. Normally held in New York in front of a live audience, the contest this year was held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mendel’s 10-year-old sister, Mussia, also competed and was “recognized for hard work and scholarship.”

S.F.-based Jewish LearningWorks has given its first Lifetime Achievement Award in Jewish Youth Education and Engagement to Rick Concoff in recognition for “for over 40 years of his work with teens.” Concoff is the director of the Chaverim teen program at the JCC of Sonoma County.

Jewish LearningWorks has given another new award, the Award for Excellence in Jewish Youth Education and Engagement, to Devra Aarons, executive director of Contra Costa Midrasha. Both awards are funded by the San Francisco Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation.

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David A.M. Wilensky
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is the digital editor of J. He can be reached at david@jweekly.com.