Shorts: Bay Area

Free clinic may close if it can’t find temporary home

Plans to give the Jewish Community Free Clinic a permanent home have fallen through, and the agency is scrambling to find a temporary space so it won’t have to eliminate services.

“Are we in jeopardy of closing if we don’t find temporary home? That’s certainly a possibility,” said Karuna Gerstein, the clinic’s administrative director. “There is optimism out there. We’re very hopeful.”

For the past five years, the clinic has provided health care and education to anyone without insurance in Sonoma and Marin counties, where an estimated 150,000 people are uninsured. The clinic is the only free clinic in the area.

It leased space in Cotati, and was intending to build a new, bigger and more comprehensive site near Congregation Ner Shalom, but the land it was going to build on is no longer available. The rent has become unaffordable in their current facility, so the agency first needs a temporary home that will provide them more time to find another place to build.

If the clinic is able to find a permanent home, it plans to expand services from just twice a week to five times a week. The free clinic already has secured funding and support from local builders and donors.

The original expansion would have allowed the clinic to serve 3,000 uninsured patients — nearly twice as many as it served last year — and offer more health care services such as in-office surgical procedures, adolescent health care and a homeless outreach clinic. The clinic also wants to develop bilingual health education programs about diabetes, nutrition and dental hygiene.

Gerstein said the clinic is open to any ideas or donations that will help them stay open in Cotati, Rohnert Park or Penngrove. Contact the Jewish Community Free Clinic at (707) 792-1932.

— stacey palevsky

Fire scare disrupts premiere of new music

“Elohim,” a new work by Bay Area Jewish composer Daniel David Feinsmith, nearly proved too hot to handle during its world premiere last week at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Appearing opening night of the Other Minds Festival of New Music, the Feinsmith Quartet was in the middle of the third movement when a fire alarm, complete with flashing lights and loud buzzers, went off. The quartet kept on playing until ordered by fire fighters to exit the building with the rest of the audience. Everyone stood in the rain for 30 minutes until fire officials issued an all clear (it was a false alarm).

Once back inside, the musicians picked up where they had left off. Composer Feinsmith took it all in stride.

Chanukah party for developmentally disabled adults

This will be a happy Chanukah for adult Jews with developmental disabilities, as Hatikvah House, a group home in Campbell, hosts a holiday party for friends across the Bay.

The Sunday, Dec. 17 event includes 20 members of Chaverim, a group of developmentally disabled adult Jews from the East Bay, who are joining the residents of Hatikvah House for the third straight year. As part of the day’s activities, Rabbi Aharon Cunin of Chabad of San Jose will give a presentation on Chanukah.

Debby Graudenz, who runs disabilities programming for Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Greater East Bay, says Chaverim members have formed real friendships at Hatikvah House. “We bring each a wrapped gift or a gift card for gift exchange,” she says. “There will be dreidel madness, singing, latkes. People can shmooze.”