JCF presents annual awards for service, leadership

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The 40-year-old Mountain View resident received the Dinkelspiel Award at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation's 91st annual meeting, held earlier this month at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Cheskin came to the Bay Area four years ago with his wife, Judith. Since then, he has served a number of Jewish organizations, including his synagogue, Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, where he is second vice president; the JCF, serving as president of the South Peninsula Council; and the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of North American federations.

He is a member of the UJC's National Young Leadership Cabinet and the Bay Area men's chair of UJC's Young Leadership Cabinet.

He is also on the nominating committee and executive director of the search committee of the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.

Cheskin is the chief executive officer and president of RITA Medical Systems Inc., a Mountain View company that manufacturers minimally invasive surgical tools for treating cancer. The Cheskins have two daughters, Joy, 6 months old, and Lucy, 2-1/2.

The Dinkelspiel Award is given annually to an outstanding young leader, age 40 or younger, serving the JCF and its agencies. It was inaugurated in October 1959 in memory of Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel, who served as the first president of the JFC.

During the annual meeting, Donald Seiler, a former JCF president, presented Distinguished Service Awards of Excellence.

Mark Schickman was named Volunteer of the Year for his longtime commitment to the Bay Area Jewish community. He is a JCF board member, a past president of Jewish Community Relations Council and the current president of the Holocaust Center of Northern California. Schickman is also an executive committee member and incoming chair of the JCF's Israel Center.

The award for Program of the Year went to Family Education Fellows, an intensive professional development program offered by the Jewish family education project of the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education. It is funded by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Endowment Fund.

Dr. Jay Luxenberg, who has been chief of medical services at the Jewish Home in San Francisco for five years, received the Agency Staff Member of the Year award. Luxenberg, honored for significantly improving the quality of life for residents of the Home, serves as a bridge between medical professionals, residents and the community.

Nate Levine, executive director of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, was named Agency Executive of the Year for his work in building and maintaining the institution and for leading a $70 million capital campaign to construct a new facility. Levine has been the JCC's director for 3-1/2 years.

Gerson Bakar received the Sinton Award for Distinguished Leader of the Year. He is currently chair of the development committees of the JCEF. The Sinton Award was established in 1999 in memory of Robert Sinton, who served the JCF and other Bay Area organizations for more than five decades before his death in 1997.

Gila Noam, director of the JCF's Jerusalem office, was named the JCF's Staff Member of the Year. Commended for her dedication to the Bay Area community, she has been with the JCF for three years. She oversees the JCF's work in Israel, working closely with the JCF's Israel and overseas committee and its volunteer board in Israel, called the Amuta.

At the meeting, JCF board members were elected, including first-term office holders Ian Altman, Suzanne Felson, Donald Friend, Davidi Gilo, Bernard Hall, Galina Leytes, Rabbi Shimon Margolin, Marlyn McClaskey, Howard Steiermann, Keith Tandowsky, Carol Traeger and Kathy Roberts Williams. Continuing board members include Steve Kaufman, Loren Saxe and Schickman.

Outgoing board members honored at the event included Liki Abrams, Wendy Bear, Paul Cohen, Debra Trubowitch Cohn, Steward Foremen, Miriam Stern Gauss, Laura Heller Lauder, Dan Lavin, M. Laurence Popofsky, Irving Rabin, Marian Scheuer Sofaer and Marlene Stein.