Breaking legs, theatrically speaking

Thespians and Congregation Emanu-El members Dillian Arrick, a sophomore at University High, and Rachel Rubenstein, a junior at Lick-Wilmerding, both in San Francisco, will take center stage as the leads in the new ACT Young Conservatory production of “School Girl Figure.” A black comedy by Wendy McLeod who wrote “The House of Yes,” the play will open tomorrow for several performances at San Francisco’s Zeum Theater.

Pavel Anisimov, Dimitrii Anisimov, Alexandra Bogorat, Olga Bernstein, Olga Bolotina, Alex Gubin, Kate Kashperskaya, Tanya Kheyfets, Max Oykher, Igor Petrunya, Oleg Petrunya, Alexandr Peyko, Daniil Prigozhin, Evgenii Puchkaryov, Irina Shtemler and Valentin Tsay. They’re a troupe of 14 emigres from the former Soviet Union who are finalists in KVN, a national comedy and theater competition, which is loosely translated as Club of the Humorous and Witty. They have already ousted teams from Orange County and L.A. (in the quarter-finals) and Chicago and Philadelphia (in the semi-finals). Next month they travel to Boston for the finals — against Boston. The gang of comics got their start entertaining the Russian community at the Contra Costa JCC.

There’s no prize for the winners — just the joy of being the champs, and the pleasure of putting the name of their “little community on the map of the humongous Russian-speaking diaspora of the United States,” writes Dimitrii Anisimov.

History in a box

Isaac Negrin’s memories of a little blue box sitting by his refrigerator in his boyhood home in Moshav Tzur Moshe, Israel, are part of the story he tells when he talks to kids about Jewish National Fund. Isaac, who is currently the president of the JNF’s San Francisco region, wants people to know that JNF does more than plant trees — though he admits that’s what most people think of when they hear the organization’s name. He’s chaired a couple missions to Israel where the focus has been on the broad range of JNF’s ecological work, including reusing of water and developing safe playgrounds and recreation areas. JNF now has a local office in San Francisco.

Short shorts …

Giora and Shirley Gerzon went to Denver’s Mizel Museum last month for the premier of their film “The Olympic Doll.” The film features survivor Inge Auerbacher’s story of the doll she kept with her during her years in concentration camp. According to Giora, who directed the film, it is a fresh approach to teaching children the lessons of the Holocaust. Giora will talk about his film on “Mosaic,” CBS Channel 5, at 5 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 … Gail Zucker is leaving the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, where she served as director of the planning and agency support department, for a new job with United Jewish Communities in New York City. Sharon Fried, currently associate director, will serve as interim director of the department.


Canterbury, England, known for the bawdy tales and spectacular cathedral that was the destination of pilgrims, once had a thriving Jewish community. You can still see remains of the original synagogue and cemetery from the mid-1700s. Moses Montefiore laid the foundation stone of the King Street synagogue (the second one) in 1847, and the building along with its mikvah is still intact, though no longer used by the Jewish community. According to literature picked up by this reporter on a recent visit, the Jewish community is redeveloping, and “has gone from strength to strength.”

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].