Erin Handelsman, who is among the first class of female Eagle Scouts, earned her rank by building these benches at Congregation Beth David in Saratoga.
Erin Handelsman, who is among the first class of female Eagle Scouts, earned her rank by building these benches at Congregation Beth David in Saratoga.

Honors, comings & goings, philanthropy — February 2021


Honors

Temple Isaiah in Lafayette honored Cantor Leigh Korn at its Jan. 31 virtual gala, “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” which was rescheduled from last year. The event celebrated Korn’s 15 years at the temple with pop, Broadway and Jewish classics performed by 12 rabbis and cantors from across the country. “Cantor Korn joined the clergy team at Temple Isaiah in 2005 and just completed his 15th year serving our community with his talent, good humor and dedication,” synagogue president Alan Gennis said at the event. “It is a privilege to partner with Cantor Korn on the senior leadership team of Temple Isaiah, and I speak on behalf of our community that we all look forward to his being part of the Temple Isaiah family for years to come.” The “attendance” was 375 screens tuned in for the 89-minute concert, which can be seen in full here.

Jewish LearningWorks in San Francisco has announced the 12 women selected as fellows for its second Voices for Good leadership cohort: Rebecca Bigman, camp director at Oshman Family JCC; Natalie Boskin, youth programs coordinator at Kehilla Community Synagogue; Nicole Francis, preschool director at Peninsula JCC; Rachel Halevi, project director at Jewish Teen Foundation; Ashley Jerome, youth educator at Peninsula Temple Beth El; Sasha Joseph, senior regional director at BBYO; Yedida Kanfer, director of community education at JFCS Holocaust Center; Heidy Zohar Ramirez, grants operations associate at Jim Joseph Foundation; Rachel Schneider, program officer at Jim Joseph Foundation; and Molly Shapiro, development director at Berkeley Hillel. Among other things, the fellowship is designed to “amplify women’s voices by creating platforms to address issues that matter to them” and “strengthen the Jewish community’s talent pipeline by building the skills of future leaders.”

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors designated Feb. 15 as “Michael Krasny Day.” The resolution was sponsored by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Connie Chan in honor of Michael Krasny for his decades of service as host of the popular weekday current affairs program “Forum” on KQED. Krasny hosted his final show on Feb. 12.

Michael Krasny, host of the popular "Forum" show on KQED. (Photo/From file)
Michael Krasny, host of the popular “Forum” show on KQED. (Photo/From file)

Holocaust survivor Tamara Noten was on hand for the San Jose City Council’s commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The city issues a proclamation on the occasion every year “to help educate our local community,” Silicon Valley JCRC director Diane Fisher wrote on apjcc.org. Councilmember Sergio Jimenez hosted the proclamation announcement at the Jan. 26 meeting of the council. At the recommendation of JCRC, Jimenez invited the 90-year-old Noten to accept the proclamation and share some remarks. Watch her full remarks at tinyurl.com/tamara-noten.

Erin Handelsman, 13, became an Eagle Scout last month. She is “among the first class of female Eagle Scouts to be recognized nationally,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. A resident of Cupertino, Erin is a member of Congregation Beth David in Saratoga and attends Camp Ramah in the Monterey area. For her project, she built and installed four benches at Beth David.


Comings & Goings

Ellen Blustein, executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County, will retire on June 30. “The Board of Directors is grateful for her many years of service and commitment to JCC SoCo,” read an email to the community. “The Board is now engaged in a search for Ellen’s replacement.”

A woman triumphantly gestures at a very large pile of coats
Ellen Blustein, executive director of the JCC of Sonoma County, with piles of coats donated to survivors of the Butte County fire, December 2018. (Photo/Sonya Garzouzi)
Beth Cousens
Beth Cousens

Beth Cousens is the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s first-ever chief impact officer. For the past six years, Cousens has been associate vice president of the Jewish Federations of North America. She has also worked at Hillel International and Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and ran her own consulting practice. “Building Jewish community today is about helping everyone feel more rooted in the world through a sense of belonging,” Cousens said in a press release. “That’s the holy work of Jewish Federations, and my family and I have been blessed to benefit personally from it since moving to the Bay Area 10 years ago.” Added Federation CEO Danny Grossman: “Now that we have a new strategic direction to better serve our diverse, dynamic Bay Area Jewish community, we created this new Chief Impact Officer role to design and implement strategies that will help us expand our impact and facilitate even greater communal growth. We are so excited to have Beth’s expertise and leadership to oversee this work and build relationships throughout our community.”

Lisa Langer
Lisa Langer
Joan Laguatan
Joan Laguatan

The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) of Sinai Memorial Chapel added two new board members at its annual meeting on Feb. 2. Lisa Langer of Menlo Park is a member of Congregation Beth Am who has also served on the boards of Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, Association of Reform Jewish Educators and the Hebrew Union College School of Education Alumni Association. Joan Laguatan is a real estate agent and member of Chevra Thilim Congregation, AIPAC and the Filipino Women’s Network.


Philanthropy

Sam Berrin Shonkoff
Sam Berrin Shonkoff

Thanks to a $750,000 endowment from Taube Philanthropies, Sam Shonkoff will become the Taube Family Chair in Jewish Studies at the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Shonkoff’s arrival at GTU as assistant professor was noted in this column in June 2019. “The GTU fosters such a holistic approach to religious and Jewish studies in uniquely powerful ways,” he said at the time. “I am thrilled to participate in these conversations about what it means to study religions in the 21st century.”

Craig Newmark Philanthropies, founded by the Craigslist creator, has announced a $100,000 grant to the National Defense University Foundation to “accelerate NDU’s programs and prepare national security leaders to counter cyber and influence operations that threaten to destabilize domestic and international security,” according to a press release from NDU. “The latest widespread cyber intrusions into our governing infrastructure and recent violent riots in Washington, D.C., demonstrate why it is so crucial to equip leaders with the skills required to address the evolving threats of cyber-attack, disinformation and misinformation,” Newmark said in the press release.

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.