Tikkun olam … with humor

What’s Melissa Parker, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, doing as a “jester of music and mirth”? She’s participating in a Healing through the Arts program at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, which was started by Josh Sickel, a nice Jewish doctor from Bethesda, Md. Melissa learned about his program when she decided to volunteer at the hospital, but she “wanted to mingle and talk with patients, not fold sheets.” The program to entertain patients includes humor, music, pets, art and massage. “It’s just been glorious,” Melissa says of the two years she’s been involved. Melissa, now of Cupertino, learned that she and Josh, of Saratoga, come by this gig naturally: They both did stand-up comedy in Los Angeles before settling into their grownup lives in Northern California.

That’s my uncle!

The Aug. 27 j. had a special surprise for Allen Haim of San Rafael: a photo of Great-Uncle Masla. The portrait, in Janet Silver Ghent’s review of “The Cultural Guide to Jewish Europe,” was the same one that he and other family members have displayed in their homes. It was called “Jewish couple in Smyrna, Turkey.” “My dad always talked about him,” Allen said. “Uncle Masla was a very big guy, a character and a champion wrestler in Turkey.” The family doesn’t know what happened to their dynamic ancestor, but with the photo now in a book, Allen is trying to find out.

Sailing across the bay

After nine years at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, Lisa Tabak has crossed the bay to direct the annual campaign of the sister federation in the East Bay. Loren Basch, East Bay federation executive vice president, who was campaign director of the S.F. federation in the 1980s, called it a “win-win” situation for both the East Bay federation and Lisa’s career. “We’re all a big family in the Bay Area, and she’s going to find herself working with sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts of folks she knows from across the bay.”

Breaking the silence

San Rafael resident Paul Schwartzbart has put his memories of being a child during the Holocaust together in a book he calls “Breaking the Silence … Reminiscences of a Hidden Child.” In 1943, 10-year-old Paul was secreted in Ardennes under the name of Paul Exsteen by the Jewish underground at a Catholic boys school near Luxembourg. He was an altar boy and was baptized. A retired teacher, Paul has told his story to children in many schools and was the subject of a documentary by KRON-TV producer Ken Swartz. For information on Paul’s book, contact [email protected].

Kudos for Lauder

Laura Lauder of Atherton has been named one of 10 “Jewish Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International. Laura was recognized for founding DeLeT, a transdenominational teacher-training program. The initials, which stand for Day School Leadership through Teaching, is the Hebrew word for “door.” Laura will receive the award at a special recognition event in Washington, D.C., and will be profiled in the fall issue of Jewish Women magazine.

Jan Peerce redux

Harry Gluckman says that every Yom Kippur when he hears Kol Nidre, he recalls Metropolitan Opera star Jan Peerce davening it at San Francisco Congregation Beth Israel 60 years ago — a memory he “will cherish as long as I live.”

Shanah tovah! Warm wishes for an easy and peaceful fast.

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].