J.R., I presume

The former White House press secretary with the Jewish name is now doing speaking gigs. Ari Fleisher told Stephen Dobbs, Gene Kaufman, Toni and Mickey Golbus, Ellen and Mel Rosen, Judi and Steve Zimmerman and the rest of the Marin audience that four years ago when he introduced himself to then-Gov. Bush’s colleagues at Bush’s Texas ranch, they asked, “Is that R.E.?”

His parents, he said, were staunch Democrats and have never voted Republican in their lives. He also told the mostly not-Jewish audience that he is a practicing Jew.

Piano man

Consul General David Akov, beginning a new posting at the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, was getting settled with his family long before their furniture arrived. Among the awaited items was a piano, circa 1925, that his mother had played as a child. Her family brought it to Israel from Czechoslovakia when they immigrated. David’s son plays it now. The consul general, though, is not a piano man — he plays the trumpet.

The Sephardic angle

Francesco Spagnolo recommended pizza to welcome the Jewish New Year. Not the kind Americans are used to, he told Rabbi Yoel Kahn on the TV show “Mosaic,” but pizza Sephardic-style, filled with sweet fruits. Francesco, an Italian-born radio journalist, will take over as host of the CBS-5 show this month. He moved to San Francisco when his wife, Sharon Bernstein, became cantor at Congregation Beth Sholom.

Francesco’s first show on Sunday, Oct. 17, will feature “Sephardic Horizons,” the new exhibit at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley. Magnes President Irving Rabin, along with Marc, Anita and Rachel Abramovitz, Annette Dobbs, and Professor Ze’ev and Lisa Brinner were among the celebrants who noshed on Sephardic dishes prepared by j. columnist Rebecca Ets-Hokin at the exhibit opening last month. “Sephardic Horizons,” featuring objects from the museums permanent collection, will run until July 2006.

Short shorts

An assortment of entertainers will be on stage at the kick-off to a campaign to raise funds for a sculpture at S.F. City Hall of Jewish Supervisor Harvey Milk. The first openly gay supervisor, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978. The event will take place Thursday, Oct. 14, at San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center. Visit www.milkmemorial.org for information.

Honey Meir-Levi, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, was named Fundraiser of the Year by the Silicon Valley Association of Fundraising Professionals. She led the group’s $20 million expansion campaign … Penny Sinder, executive director of the East Bay Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation, resigned her post to pursue other professional and personal opportunities. As the first full-time exec of the foundation, Penny led the foundation’s growth from $3 million to $50 million in assets and planned gifts.

The Bernard Osher Foundation granted $3.7 million to City College of San Francisco for the CCSF Bernard Osher Scholarship Endowment. Interest on the grants will provide scholarships to 900 students this year. Mary Bitterman, president of the foundation, said that Bernard and Barbro Osher consider grants to the college “a strategic investment in the community” as they help people realize their potential and become contributing members of society.

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