Shorts: Bay Area

ADL pleased with response to anti-Semitic graffiti

The Anti-Defamation League is satisfied with the manner in which Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto handled a recent incident of anti-Semitic graffiti on school grounds. Five eighth-graders were suspended after defacing school buildings with a swastika and the word “Columbine” (the seventh anniversary of the Columbine school massacre in Littleton, Colo., fell on April 20).

“The school handed it quite well,” says ADL regional director Jonathan Bernstein. “They sent out letters letting parents know what happened, and they are working with police, which is very much in line with what we tell all schools to do.”

Bernstein says his organization will likely seek to launch an anti-prejudice educational program on the campus for the weeks and months ahead.

“We have seen an overall increase of incidents at schools,” he said. “It’s odd how many cases we’re working on. We’re looking forward to summer vacation.”

Sephardic minyan celebrating Lag B’Omer

Bar Yohai Sefardic Minyan in Sunnyvale will hold a community-wide Lag B’Omer hiloula at South Peninsula Hebrew Day School. The event takes place 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 16.

In the Sephardic tradition, the hiloula (or celebration) of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai has evolved into a commemoration of the great Jewish sages. This year’s event features a program of traditional music, kosher Moroccan food, cultural enrichment, a Moroccan crafts market and traditional hiloula auction.

All are welcome to attend the community-wide celebration at the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, 1030 Astoria Drive, Sunnyvale. Advance tickets only: $50 per person (no children under 10, please). Send checks to BYSM, c/o One World Travel, 1111 W. El Camino Real, Suite 109, PMB-256, Sunnyvale, CA 94087-1056.

Information: Annie Braun at (408) 746-0614 or BYSM at (408) 720-8728. More information on the community can be found at

Bay Area native saves Passover for Tokyo Jews

For the Jewish community living in Tokyo, the grinch nearly stole Passover this year. But thanks to the efforts of a Bay Area native serving at the U.S. Embassy, there was plenty of matzah to go around.

Dan Berman, a South Bay native and currently minister for agricultural affairs at the U.S. Embassy, learned that Japanese authorities had cracked down on food imports this year, including shipments of matzah for Passover.

With the first seder looming, Berman wrote a letter to Japanese customs authorities on embassy letterhead asking for special consideration.

Said Dan Turk, a leader of the Tokyo Jewish community, “The authorities seemed to be sympathetic and responsive — measurably more after Dan contacted them than before — and that made all the difference.”

Still, for many Jews the matzah arrived just under the wire. Added Turk, “One family received their Passover shipment 20 minutes into their seder. The deliveryman was very surprised to have a whole roomful of people sitting down at a dinner table, applauding him when he handed over the package.”

JCF selects Peninsula regional director

Bruce Landgarten has been selected as the new regional director of the South Peninsula office of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

Landgarten, who began April 1, was most recently executive director of the Levine Jewish Community Center in Charlotte, N.C. Before that, he worked with JCCs in Contra Costa County, Chicago and Detroit.