Leadership and lost luggage

Accepting the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Sinton Award for Distinguished Leader of the Year, Ron Kaufman got a chuckle from the audience as he recalled a time when he and the late Robert Sinton (for whom the award is named) attended a Jewish Agency meeting in Israel. Sinton’s suitcase didn’t arrive, prompting Kaufman to muse, “I was honored to have him borrow my underwear.”

Dawne Bear Novicoff noted she was glad that her 3 1/2-year-old son, Arlo, was in the audience to see her receive the federation’s Staff Person of the Year Award. “Each day, when I come home from work, you ask about my day,” she commented to Arlo and the audience. “I’m glad you’re here to see what I did today. This is a very special day.”

More lost luggage

South African Mama G. (a person, not a rock group) was wearing a colorful wrap skirt, a beautiful headdress — and tennies — when she appeared at a special gathering for American Jewish World Service supporters at Joni and Russ Pratt’s Tiburon home last week. Revealing khaki slacks under her “skirt,” she explained that her suitcase was lost, so she rummaged (quite successfully) through Joni Pratt’s closet to find the two wraps.

Mama G. (she goes by an initialized last name) directs an AIDS clinic in Soweto township that serves 300 people with AIDS each day and receives funding from AJWS. At the event, Rabbi Lee Bycel, newly appointed western regional executive director, said that he and Mama G., who was going to speak at an AJWS dinner honoring President Bill Clinton, had been “best friends for three days.” “She’ll dump you when she meets Bill,” quipped Rabbi Michael Barenbaum, Congregation Rodef Sholom’s rabbi emeritus. Bycel and Barenbaum are old friends — he was associate rabbi under Barenbaum at the Marin County synagogue about 25 years ago.

Poignant moment

When the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay honored longtime donors at its annual meeting, Endre Balint, who immigrated to Oakland from Hungary in the 1930s, met Lisa Tabak, the daughter of a family he had welcomed from Budapest. Tabak is the E.B. federation’s foundation director and Balint was the volunteer who helped her family resettle in 1957, before she was born.

Short shorts

Beth Goodman reports that Sonoma County’s Jewish Community Center will honor Sy Lenz, Ruth Turner and Barbara Tomin with Outstanding Community Service Awards at the group’s annual meeting June 21 at the Friedman Center. Celebrity chefs Arnie Rosenfield and Steve Turer will barbecue and Steve Minkin, will lead line dancing. Visit www.jccsoco.org for information. … Tamara Block, executive director of the Northern California chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, says the chapter will take part in the CCFA’s Team Challenge — a half-marathon — for the first time this October. Gideon Sofer, a U.C. Berkeley student and Crohn’s Disease sufferer, is an honoree for the challenge. Tryouts for the team are being held throughout June. Contact Block at [email protected].

American Jewish Committee supporter Amy Shapiro took her mom along on a trip to AJC’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C in May. She won the trip in an AJC contest … U.C. Berkeley professor Richard M. Karp received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University last month in recognition of his work on algorithmic complexity theory and his leadership as a researcher and mentor.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].