Faces

Adventures in traveling

Lost luggage and late flights can be a terrific bonding mechanism, learned Doug Kahn and Abby Porth, Jewish Community Relations Council executive and associate director respectively. Their July mission to Israel began with a very extended 10-hour flight from SFO to New York City. The group of non-Jewish community leaders was waylaid by a thunderstorm in the Midwest, making them miss their scheduled El Al flight to Tel Aviv. The JCRC leaders managed to squeeze the frustrated but congenial group into the last plane that would land before Shabbat. But not everyone’s luggage made it. On day five, an intense discussion at Kibbutz Kfar Blum erupted in thunderous applause when suitcases belonging to Lawrence Wong, president of the Community College Board, and Rita Semel, JCRC executive director emeritus, finally arrived. Doug and Rev. John Oda, pastor of Pine Methodist Church, the other lost luggage victims, had luckily received theirs post-Shabbat and just two days into the same outfit.

Shameless plug: Abby and trip participant Thom Lynch, executive director of SF’s GLBT Community Center, will discuss the mission with Henry Shreibman on “A Jewish Perspective” (which is produced by this columnist), at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, on KRON-TV.

More travels to Israel

Talia Leibler Gabay, shlichah (emissary) for the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, took 63 Bay Area teens to Israel for four weeks this summer. This is the first sizeable teen trip to Israel since 2000. And there’s lots more … Twenty Diller Teen Fellows (a leadership group for high school students focusing on social action and interaction with Israeli teens) met with their peers from northern Israel on their six-week trip. Among other things, they visited with the friends and family of their own program director, Ilan Vitemberg, at Kibbutz Meggido … Another trip took a large group of educators to the Jewish state. Led by Vavi Toran of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Israel Center and Nechama Tamler and Malka Scheinok of the Bureau of Jewish Education, the group joined Israeli colleagues in a workshop on teaching young people about Israel.

Keeping it in the family

Filmmakers and Jewish leaders are passing their skills to their offspring. Bonnie Burt’s film “My Sister, My Bride” appears in this year’s S.F. Jewish Film Festival, as does a preview of her son’s work-in-progress. Adam Liss, Bonnie’s son, is one of the teens participating in the New Jewish Filmmaker Project.

Max Brown led Oakland’s Beth Jacob Congregation from 1954 to 1961. His daughter Julie Ovadia begins a two-year stint as the congregation’s president this month. This is the first father/daughter presidential legacy in the synagogue’s 100-year history. Julie, formerly chair of the East Bay federation’s Israel Center, is one of several Beth Jacob leaders who also had leadership roles at the federation. Among them: Joanne Jagoda, Brian Kaye and Jeff Schachat.

Short shorts…

Dahlia Blech was awarded an honorary fellowship by the American Technion Society for her outstanding leadership of the Silicon Valley chapter at the group’s international meeting in Israel in June … Yitzhak Santis, JCRC Middle East Project director, will co-chair the Commonwealth Club’s member-led Forum on the Middle East and Africa with Iftekhar Hai of the United Muslims of America.

Suzan Berns, a freelance writer, was associate director of communications for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. She can be reached at [email protected] .