2007 Readers Choice Awards:

It’s Readers’ Choice time, and once again the people have spoken. Um, make that, the people have clicked.

With the switch to all-online balloting this year, the 2007 Readers’ Choice was a model of digital efficiency. But ever the tweakers, we continue to refine and improve this very, very unscientific poll.

Say hello to new categories like Favorite College Prep High School, Favorite Pet Store and Favorite Collaborative Synagogue Program (a category suggested by rabbis). Also say hey to Favorite Italian Food and Pizza (we combined the two into one cheesy, saucy category).

As for the finalists, as usual you, the voters, made some fascinating choices.

We have a few three-peats, with eateries like Holy Land Restaurant, Shangri-La Chinese Vegetarian, Saul’s Deli and Barney’s Hamburgers all winning in various categories in each of the three years we’ve done Readers’ Choice.

But unlike 2006 when, for example, Congregation Emanu-El dominated with 10 Readers’ Choice awards, this year’s voting was much more even-handed, with winners in dozens of Community categories spanning the breadth of Bay Area synagogues, agencies and programs. Way to spread the love, folks!

This year we have our first husband-and-wife winners: Challah maven Irving Greisman won for Favorite Bakery in S.F., while Mimi Greisman took the gold in the category of Favorite Early Childhood Program for her playgroups at Congregation Adath Israel.

Former Congregation B’Nai Shalom spiritual leader Gordon Freeman has certainly made the most of an active retirement. The rabbi came in first place in the category of Favorite Ketubah Maker.

In a nice score, the Red Hot Chachkas won in the Bay Area-wide categories of Favorite Klezmer Band and Favorite Dance Band. Mazel tov to Julie Egger and her band mates.

As for a sweep, give it up for JDate, which was named Favorite Place to Meet a Date in all four voting regions (S.F., East Bay, South Bay and Marin). In second place: Late Shabbat at S.F.’s Congregation Emanu-El, making for one sexy Shehechiyanu.

Of course, not every Readers’ Choice category requires a Jewish winner, but it’s nice when it happens. Favorite California winery? Hagafen. Favorite venue for live music in Marin? The Osher Marin JCC. Favorite hamburger in San Francisco? Mel’s Drive-In (a chain co-founded by the late Bay Area Jewish community leader Harold Dobbs).

And if anyone doubts the Bay Area Jewish community’s dedication to repairing the world, this year’s winners in the category of Favorite Synagogue Social Action Program run the gamut from Congregation Emanu-El’s Darfur advocacy to Congregation Rodef Sholom’s Mitzvah Kitchen.

As always, j. readers, it’s been swell hearing from you and gauging your tastes. Our best advice: keep it all in the family, and check out the finalists for yourselves. You just may end up pleasantly surprised with the best slice of pizza or the best root canal you ever had.

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Cover Illustration by Cathleen Maclearie.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.