How’s my backstroke, rabbi?

There’s lots of hidden talent behind the rabbinic exteriors of our local clergy, and they’re putting that talent up for bid to raise money for the Board of Rabbis of Northern California. A cute silent auction program that accompanied the invitation to the group’s annual Rabbi Malcolm Sparer Jerusalem Day Luncheon on Tuesday, June 8, includes these exciting possibilities: Fitness swimming lessons (plus towels) from Rabbi Jay Hartman — who “almost swam the English Channel”; challah-baking in your home with Rabbi Helen Cohn, using her secret recipe; an analysis of Mark Twain’s opinions about Jews gleaned from two decades of study by Rabbi Jay Miller; and a tour of the Stanford Linear accelerator with Rabbi Melanie Aron and “rabbinic spouse,” Professor Michael Dine.

Rabbi Brian Lurie will emcee the event, which will honor Adele Corvin, Rabbi Michael Barenbaum and Sinai Memorial Chapel.

$1 million discretionary grants

Robert Dynes, president of the University of California, and John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, both received the Koret Prize for distinguished contributions to education at the Koret Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebration earlier this month. The prizes carried $1 million discretionary grants to their institutions. Among the 430 people at the event were Susan Koret, who addressed the gathering; Tad Taube, foundation president, who emceed; Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose; television reporter Emerald Yeh; and S.F. Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik. The grant given to Stanford University will fund two projects that involve collaboration among Israeli, Jordanian and Stanford scientists.

BART to the ballpark

East Bay federation volunteer Susan Libitzky and exec Loren Basch are encouraging their constituents to BART across the bay on Sunday, June 6, and join the 56th birthday bash for Israel at SBC Park, the home of the S.F. Giants. The biggest-ever Israel independence festival, “Israel in the Ballpark” is presented by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation in collaboration with a number of groups including the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay and the Jewish Federation of Greater San Jose.

Klezmer, anyone?

Julie Egger wants to be sure that tuition costs don’t dissuade anyone from participating in KlezCalifornia, a week of workshops on klezmer and Yiddishkeit, which will take place from June 20-25, at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. Scholarships are available, says Egger, who is director of the event. The day camp is for people of all ages, including kids. And you don’t have to be a musician — or even Jewish — to get a kick out of klezmer. You can get details at www.klezcalifornia.org.

Egger, who’s a violinist and the founder of the Red Hot Chachkes, and accordionist and klezmer scholar Joshua Horowitz provide info on KlezCalifornia along with a taste of music and what’s behind it to Rabbi Yoel Kahn on “Mosaic,” at 5 a.m. Sunday, May 23, on KCBS Channel 5.

Get a (volunteer) job

In the Peninsula … the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center is looking for volunteers to share Jewish songs, prayers and traditions or lead Shabbat programs for Jewish elders in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities, contact the JCF’s Volunteer Placement Project at (415) 777-4545.

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Suzan Berns, a freelance writer, was associate director of communications for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.