Shorts: Bay Area

Swastikas discovered at burned S.J. school

A San Jose elementary school gutted in a four-alarm blaze on Saturday, Nov. 15 was festooned with swastikas, which were scattered throughout its interior.

The fire destroyed the Gardner Academy, which received a $4.5 million renovation only last year. Investigators from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to investigate the suspicious blaze, which displaced 460 students and about 30 staff. In addition to structural damage, the fire destroyed seven classrooms, a library and three workstations containing more than 100 computers.

Jonathan Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the vandalism “warrants further investigation.” He is unsure if the swastikas were drawn to send a message or simply draw attention.

Maureen Hansen, a teacher at Gardner for a dozen years, said the school receives its fair share of graffiti from the local XIII and XIV gangs, but she has never seen swastikas on school walls before.

Contra Costa school gets education prize

The 2-year-old Contra Costa Jewish Day School has been honored for its efforts to welcome all streams of Judaism.

The Lafayette-based school received an award for “Excellence in Making the School a Strong Communal Environment” from the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education at a conference earlier this month in Boston.

With a current enrollment of 49 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, the school has an advisory council that includes rabbis from all major congregations in the county.

All six rabbis participate in some activities at the school, ranging from offering Torah commentaries at board meetings to student instruction during Jewish holidays.

S.F. Masons honor man for 75 years of membership

Irving Wendroff, a 98-year-old resident of the Jewish Home of San Francisco, was honored Friday, Nov. 21 for his 75 years of membership with the Masons.

Wendroff, a member of the fraternal organization’s Lebanon-Pacific Lodge No. 136, received a special pin from Howard D. Kirkpatrick, California’s grand master of Masons, at a special reception at the Home.

Third Jewish book award for David Biale

David Biale’s anthology “Cultures of the Jews: A New History” (Schocken) recently won a National Jewish Book Award.

This is the third National Jewish Book Award for Biale, a Berkeley resident who is Emanuel Ringelblum professor of Jewish history and director of Jewish studies at U.C. Davis.

The other two National Jewish Book Award winners were “Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History (Harvard University Press) and “Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History” (Schocken).

S.F. Israel Center hires N. Calif. campus emissary

A new emissary has arrived at the S.F.-based federation’s Israel Center, hired specifically to work with Jewish students on college campuses.

Boaz Nol, 26, is a native of Herzliya, Israel. Although he studied government and law, he needs to fulfill an internship before being awarded a law degree.

At 16, Nol was the first chairman of the youth movement of the Labor Party, working closely with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. After his army service, Nol worked on the campaign of Ehud Barak, and then served as the personal advisor for Efraim Sneh, deputy minister of defense.

At 23, Nol established a nonpolitical movement for young Israelis called Awakening, demanding such things as more aid for the poor, and an end to the special treatment given to the fervently religious in their deferring army service.

Nol will be spending time with the Jewish students of the campuses from U.C. Santa Cruz up to U.C. Davis and Chico State. To reach him, call (415) 512-6207 or e-mail [email protected]

JCF leader named UJC vice president

Harold Zlot has just been elected national vice president of the United Jewish Communities.

Zlot, who lives in Ross, is a native of Vallejo and has been involved with the S.F.-based federation for more than 35 years. As a young adult, he helped found the Young Adults Division. He served as federation president from 1998 to 2000.

Zlot has also been active on the national level, visiting Jewish communities around the world on behalf of both the Council of Jewish Federations and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.