A very campy affair

They skipped the rousing rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” but the 60 years of presidents of Camp Tawonga’s board of directors did join together in an “appreciation circle” in which some lovely words were exchanged, reports Ken Kramarz, executive director. The group gathered for lunch at Tawonga’s Steuart Street office in San Francisco, where they shared presidential wisdom plus stories about their years with Tawonga — as campers and officers — which ranged from the early ’30s to today. Jane Kahn, immediate past president, organized the gathering and Robert Heller, Ken Colvin, Tom Frankel, John Sampson, Herb Goodman, Howard Miller, Judy Stern, Renee Rothmann, David Arrick and current President Steve Smith rounded out the group.

The camp staffers were so inspired by the gathering that they’re planning a film about the founding of Camp Tawonga and the people who made it possible. Shall we look for it at next year’s Jewish film festival?

Speaking of film festivals

Peninsula Temple Sholom’s annual Documentary Film Festival will screen the four Mondays in November, at 7:30 p.m. at the Burlingame synagogue. Films are free and are followed by a discussion with the filmmaker… The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival has announced its 2005 festival dates: July 21 to Aug. 8. The SFJFF, the mother of all others, will celebrate its 25th anniversary next summer too.

Kudos and congratulations

Philanthropist Helen Diller was honored at the dedication of the UCSF Cancer Research Center at Mission Bay last week. The new Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building was made possible by a $35 million grant from the Helen Diller Family Supporting Foundation of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Jewish Community Endowment Fund. It is the single cancer research facility in California to be designated as “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

Mazel tov

Congrats to Jennifer Miller of Walnut Creek and Congregation B’nai Sholom who recently received a National Community Leadership Award from the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism in New York City. Jennifer, who has been active locally and nationally with Conservative Judaism’s sisterhood for more than 20 years, describes herself as a “professional volunteer or sometimes as a juggler.” Other balls in the air for Jennifer include chairing the Center for Jewish Living and Learning for the East Bay Jewish Community Federation and serving on the board of the Contra Costa Midrasha and Diablo Valley chapter of Hadassah.

Dynamic discovery

David Marash-Whitman, a ninth-grader at Kehillah Jewish High School in San Jose, is one of 40 national finalists — out of 7,500 — in the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. His prize-winning project, which looks at the harmful effects of commonly used household pollutants on organisms in water, has already won a number of local and state awards. David will travel to Washington, D.C., to present his project and compete in additional science challenges.

Short short

Rabbi Beth Janus of Temple Beth El in Aptos is one of 19 rabbis to complete the Professional Education for Excellence in Rabbis (PEER) program of STAR, an acronym standing for Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal.

Columnist 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] .