Sam Lauter with Joe Biden at the San Francisco home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum, Oct. 3, 2019.  Lauter was recently elected to another term on the board of the Democratic Majority for Israel. (Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Sam Lauter with Joe Biden at the San Francisco home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blum, Oct. 3, 2019. Lauter was recently elected to another term on the board of the Democratic Majority for Israel. (Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

Honors, happenings, comings & goings, opportunities, philanthropy — Nov. 2021


Honors

Ilana Kaufman
Ilana Kaufman

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will present its Tikkun Olam Award to Ilana Kaufman on Dec. 14 at its “Moving Forward” virtual benefit. Kaufman is the founder and executive director of the Bay Area–based Jews of Color Initiative. “It is with great admiration that we present the 2021 Tikkun Olam award to Ilana Kaufman for her bold and impactful leadership advocating for Jewish communal spaces, opportunities and leadership that better reflect the multiracial Jewish community that exists in our country,” JCPA chair David Bohm said in a press release. “She is creating a more inclusive, more informed and more vibrant Jewish community — and she has truly made a difference on the American Jewish landscape.”

Julie Fishbach
Julie Fishbach
Sara LeMesh
Sara LeMesh

T’ruah, the rabbinic human rights organization, has selected two students at Hebrew Union College with Bay Area ties for its year-in-Israel program. Julie Fishbach, a rabbinical student, grew up in the Bay Area, where she was active in youth groups at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette and worked as a counselor and program director at Camp Tawonga. Sara LeMesh, a cantorial student, lived in San Francisco after earning a vocal performance master’s from the Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York. While in San Francisco, she freelanced as a professional opera singer and founded a startup committed to reducing isolation among vulnerable older adults. Fishbach and LeMesh are among seven students selected for the fellowship. According to a press release, “Participants focus on the development of their moral voice as well as cohort building across Jewish denominations throughout an academic year in Israel.” Said T’ruah CEO Rabbi Jill Jacobs, “I’m so glad to have Julie Fishbach and Sara LeMesh join T’ruah’s 2022 Israel fellowship. This year’s group is a particularly special cohort because they represent a new beginning since the start of the pandemic, allowing our fellows to return to important work in person in Israel.”

Photographer Sonia Melnikova-Raich has been named to the Hot 100 of 2021 List by YourDailyPhotograph.com. She was selected from among the 4,500 photographers whose work has been featured and sold on the website over the course of the year. See more of her work at art.soniamelnikova.com.

"Ready For Season" by Sonia Melnikova-Raich
“Ready For Season” by Sonia Melnikova-Raich

Happenings

Rabbi Jeremy Morrison
Rabbi Jeremy Morrison

Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills held an installation for Rabbi Jeremy S. Morrison on Nov. 12. Morrison succeeded Rabbi Janet Marder as senior rabbi of the synagogue in July 2020, but the formal installation was delayed by the pandemic.

The Coastside Jewish Community, which serves the coast from Pacifica to Pescadero, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Hanukkah party on Dec. 4.

A Wider Bridge, America’s LGBTQ pro-Israel group, will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Dec. 8. Stay tuned to awiderbridge.org for more information.


Comings & Goings

Ellen Krause-Grosman
Ellen Krause-Grosman

The newly formed congregation now known as Am Tikvah has hired an interim executive director, Ellen Krause-Grosman. “Ellen has an extensive background in nonprofit management, setting up ‘new’ organizations, and in Jewish leadership,” according to an email from the synagogue’s co-presidents. Krause-Grosman recently visited San Francisco from Boston, where she lives with her family, and delivered the d’var Torah at services on Nov. 20.

Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman

Rabbi Jill Zimmerman is the new part-time executive director of the Northern California Board of Rabbis. While serving there, she will continue her work as a “rabbi-at-large” and leader of the organization she founded, Hineni.

Sam Lauter has been elected to another term on the board of the Democratic Majority for Israel, a national organization affiliated with pro-Israel Democratic officials. Lauter is a fifth-generation San Franciscan who manages public affairs and lobbying for Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners. Among a number of positions in Democratic politics, he once served as personal assistant to Sen. Joe Biden. “Sam’s contributions to DMFI are indispensable, and I am thrilled we’ll continue to work together to strengthen support for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the Democratic Party,” Mark Mellman, DMFI president and CEO, said in a press release. “I congratulate Sam on his reelection.”

Dorrit Geshuri
Dorrit Geshuri

Dorrit Geshuri is stepping down as executive director of Chochmat HaLev synagogue in Berkeley. “I originally signed on for a two-year term, and I was so inspired that I extended it for a third year so I could finish up some important projects to support the success of the synagogue,” she said in an email to the community. “With the help of the community’s donations and volunteer hours, I’ve been able to paint and furnish almost every room, revamp our accounting system, build a new website, implement a new database, and replace building infrastructure like faulty wiring and gutters.” She plans to remain a Chochmat member after stepping down.

Jordan Shenker
Jordan Shenker

Jordan Shenker has been announced as the new CEO of the Peninsula JCC in Foster City. He will begin his new position in February 2022 after leaving his current job as CEO of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, New Jersey. Shenker’s career has spanned more than 30 years in the JCC world. Before the Kaplen JCC, he was a senior vice president at the JCC Association of North America, where he oversaw consulting and executive placement for 175 JCCs. He previously served as CEO of the JCC in Richmond, Virginia, and in roles at JCCs in Houston and his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Shenker is also known as a speaker and educator and has taught nonprofit management, marketing and professional development as a guest lecturer at the University of Richmond.

“I am honored to join the extraordinary team of professional and lay leaders at the PJCC,” Shenker said in a press release. “The work ahead of us will be some of the most exciting of my career.” Said board chair Phil Strause: “Jordan will help us navigate through and beyond pandemic recovery – for reimagined mission expression, stronger community engagement, enhanced Jewish impact, and operational growth so that we flourish once again. We are confident that Jordan will be the inspirational leader the PJCC needs now.”

Shenker is taking over from interim CEO Fred Weiner, who has led the PJCC since the departure of Paul Geduldig in May. Geduldig is now the CEO of the JCCSF. “The board of directors is indebted to Fred for his dedication, care and guidance,” Strause noted. “He has demonstrated true career devotion to the PJCC — serving for 14 years as CFO, and then postponing retirement for almost a year to shepherd the agency after Paul’s departure and before Jordan’s arrival.”


Opportunities

Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, a national organization in the fight against climate change, is seeking 18- to 32-year-olds for Taking Down Goliath, a three-part training program on Jewish climate organizing. Nominate someone for the program or sign up for it at dayenu.org/goliath. ​​The program will teach “key tools for organizers, including how to identify talking points and tactics from the fossil fuel lobby and how to plan powerful actions that shift the narrative,” according to Dayenu. “We’ll look at the ways the climate crisis intersects with other issues of justice and develop a plan to take action as part of the growing Jewish movement for climate justice.” Participants will receive a $50 stipend.

Activists with the Jewish climate change group Dayenu at a New York City event in April. (Photo/Gili Getz)
Activists with the Jewish climate change group Dayenu at a New York City event in April. (Photo/Gili Getz)

Nominations and applications for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards are now open. The awards honor extraordinary Jewish teens from around the country who are activists or working on social initiatives. Fifteen are selected annually, and each one is awarded $36,000. To nominate someone, go to dillerteenawards.org. The awards are given by the S.F.-based Helen Diller Family Foundation.


Philanthropy

American Friends of Magen David Adom has announced a $1 million contribution from Dr. Eli Weil, 91, a retired San Francisco internist and nephrologist. Weil has previously funded two ambulances for Magen David Adom, Israeli’s paramedic and Red Cross society. The new donation will create a permanent endowment that will fund a new Weil family ambulance every seven years, the approximate lifespan of an ambulance. “When my first ambulance went into service in 2011, a woman gave birth in it on its first call,” Weil said in a press release. “Learning that was extremely gratifying.”

Dr. Eli Weil and his late wife, Croce, with Magain David Adom paramedic Tal Rabin at the dedication of his second ambulance in 2014.
Dr. Eli Weil and his late wife, Croce, with Magain David Adom paramedic Tal Rabin at the dedication of his second ambulance in 2014.

The Bay Area–based organization JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) has been given a Reset grant from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund. The grant will underwrite JIMENA’s Sephardic Jewish American Research and Leadership Initiative, including a national study that “will help correct decades of inaccurate representation of our communities in mainstream Jewish American life” and the Sephardic Leadership Institute, “an institutional hub to serve Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish communal professionals, thought leaders, emerging lay leaders and allies.”

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

David A.M. Wilensky is the digital editor of J. He can be reached at [email protected].