Shorts: Bay Area

JFCS goes green for awards ceremony

The 2008 Fammy Awards — Jewish Family and Children’s Services Emmy-like honor for community leaders — are getting an environmental makeover.

The March 29 event coincides with two energy campaigns, “Lights Out America” and “Earth Hour,” which are encouraging people around the nation and world to turn off their lights at 8 p.m. March 29. As such, Fammy ceremony guests will eat dinner via candlelight for part of the evening. Food runners from homeless shelters will pick up all leftover food at the end of the evening.

The 2008 Fammy Awards will begin 6:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. The evening’s silent auction ends at 11 p.m. Pamela Rose and Sidepocket will provide the evening’s entertainment.

This year’s honorees include:

• Barbara and Barry Kay, longtime community builders who helped install a solar energy system at the JFCS Marin office.

• Toby Coppel, director of Yahoo! Europe, who first worked as a volunteer mentor in JFCS’ YouthFirst program and then founded JFCS BizCamp, an entrepreneurship training initiative.

• Janet Bensu, one of the first female systems engineers at IBM and a trained volunteer in JFCS’ Palliative and End Of Life Care program.

Tickets cost $360, or $200 for guests under the age of 35. To register, call (415) 449-1256 or email [email protected].

All proceeds support victims of domestic violence, frail and isolated elderly, at-risk children and teens, families in crisis and persons with disabilities.

Hebrew Free Loan helping the unemployed

Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Francisco is seeking applicants for its loan program for the recently unemployed. Up to $15,000 is available interest-free to Jews who find themselves suddenly out of work and who need financial assistance.

Funded by Paul and Sheri Robbins, the program differs from other HFLA loans. Instead of a lump sum, the funds are disbursed monthly — up to $2,500 a month — with the first repayment due only once the borrower has returned to work or three months after the last funds are loaned.

Those interested in applying for an unemployment loan should contact the Hebrew Free Loan Association at (415) 546-9902.

Peninsula temple shooting hoops for Darfur refugees

Burlingame’s Peninsula Temple Sholom will stage a “Net-a-Thon” fundraiser to purchase special bed nets that prevent the spread of malaria. The nets will then be sent to refugees from Darfur. The event takes place April 6.

The Net-a-Thon will take place at Nothing But Hoops, a Burlingame basketball center. Participants will raise money while showing off their basketball skills, and members of the Stanford marching band will be on hand to entertain.

Admission to the event is $10. The Net-a-Thon takes place 3 p.m. April 6, at Nothing But Hoops, 1881 Rollins Road, Burlingame. For more information, call (650) 697-2544.

Grandson of Hebrew language pioneer to speak in S.F.

Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, grandson and namesake of the father of modern Hebrew, will deliver a lecture at Congregation Beth Israel-Judea in San Francisco.

Titled “The Miraculous Rebirth of the Hebrew Language,” Ben-Yehuda’s lecture will recount how Hebrew became a modern spoken language after 2,000 years, thanks in large part to the efforts of his grandfather. Ben-Yehuda will speak at 9 p.m. March 28, following Shabbat services at 7:30 p.m.

The program is an official “Israel @ 60” commemorative event sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel, the Israel Center of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Congregation Beth Israel-Judea. Admission is free. For information, contact Sonya Hicks at (415) 678-0327 or online at

Public memorial for Tom Lantos set

A public memorial for Congressman Tom Lantos will be held in the heart of the district he represented for more than 27 years. The event takes place 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the South San Francisco Conference Center, 255 South Airport Blvd., South San Francisco.

Lantos died Feb. 11 of esophageal cancer. The 79-year-old Holocaust survivor represented California’s 12th congressional district since 1980, and was known for his outspoken views on human rights and support for Israel. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Oracle chairman Larry Ellison are among the speakers. For more information, call (650) 342-0300.

Federation phone-a-thon pulls in $500,000

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation wrapped up a successful weeklong phone-a-thon fundraiser, adding more than $500,000 to its annual campaign. Held at three locations during the first week of March, the phone-a-thon events brought out 200 volunteers, who called hundreds of donors.

Phone banks were set up at the federation’s S.F. and Sonoma offices, as well as Kehillah Jewish High School, to make the calls. Donors increased their prior-year gifts by 6.5 percent.

The weeklong phone-a-thon replaced the federation’s venerable Super Sunday, which focused all fundraising energy into one day at one location.

It has not been decided if the phone-a-thon will permanently replace Super Sunday. But overall, campaign official Sarah Krumholz reported, federation leaders were “very happy with the results.”

Doctor to speak here about Israeli MIAs

Dr. Stuart Ditchek, a childhood friend of Zachary Baumel, one of the Israeli soldiers captured in 1982 by Syrian forces during the battle of Sultan Yakoub, will discuss the case at a series of Bay Area speaking engagements later this month.

Baumel, a Brooklyn native, made aliyah and served in the Israel Defense Forces until he was captured along with five other Israeli soldiers during the battle. Ditchek founded the Committee for the Release of Zachary Baumel, an advocacy group for Israeli MIAs, and has been coordinating international efforts to secure the release of the three soldiers still in captivity.

He will speak about the political implications for the MIAs and his recent lawsuit against the Syrian government, which could result in the freezing of all United States assets in Syria until the soldiers are released.

Ditchek, who will be speaking for the first time in the Bay Area, will deliver a lecture 7 p.m. March 28 at Congregation Emek Beracha in Palo Alto, 9:15 a.m. March 29 at Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, 11 a.m. March 30 at South Peninsula Hebrew Day School in Sunnyvale and 4 p.m. March 30 at Congregation Chevra Thilim in S.F.

Banquet fetes two East Bay teachers

Two Jewish educators will be honored April 6 at EDnight, an East Bay celebration of teachers at Jewish day schools, religious schools, preschools and Midrasha community high schools.

EDnight is organized by the Center for Jewish Living and Learning of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. The evening’s honorees are Elaine Bachrach and Debbie Enelow.

Bachrach has served as director of Midrasha both in Oakland and in Contra Costa, and as a religious school teacher. In addition, she is an active volunteer for Oakland’s Temple Sinai and the Center for Jewish Living and Learning.

Enelow has served as the director of education at Temple Isaiah and Congregation Beth El. She has spearheaded numerous professional development and educational initiatives. In the early 1980s, Enelow helped create the family-oriented religious school program at Kehilla Community Synagogue.

The educators will be honored at a banquet starting 6 p.m. April 6 at the Rotunda, 300 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Musician Julie Silver will perform.

A suggested gift of $72 is requested to attend. Teachers serving on faculty at East Bay Jewish preschools, day schools, religious schools and Midrasha community high schools are invited to attend EDnight as honorees and free of charge.

RSVP by March 28, online at or by calling Sam Strauss at (510) 839-2900 ext. 233.

Feast of Education geared for young adults

The Bureau of Jewish Education will hold its third annual Young Adult Feast of Jewish Learning on March 30 from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F.

The Feast of Jewish Learning is an annual communitywide outreach program for Jews of all backgrounds, religious practice and interests.

This year’s theme is “Movement of the People.” Attendants can choose from 22 workshops about Jewish texts, philosophy, spirituality, history, culture, love and yoga.

As an added bonus, Kol Creation — a Jewish reggae band — will perform, and He’Brew beer will be served.

The feast tries to provide a taste of Jewish learning, spark interest for further Jewish exploration and raise the profile of Jewish education.

To RSVP, email Mariana Roytman Schiffner at [email protected].

S.F. writer honored for lifetime achievement

Leo Litwak, a San Francisco author and professor at San Francisco State University for more than 30 years, is this year’s recipient of the Anne and Robert Cowan Writers’ award.

Sponsored by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Endowment Fund and the Bureau of Jewish Education, the award honors his lifetime of impacting the Bay Area with a uniquely Jewish perspective. Litwak’s books include “Nobody’s Baby and Other Stories” and “The Medic: Life and Death in the Last Days of WWII.”

The ceremony takes place 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27. Litwak will be interviewed by Jonathan Schwartz, director of the BJE library at 1835 Ellis St., S.F.

For more information on the event, email [email protected] or call (415) 567-3327 ext. 704.

Israeli violinist to play San Francisco

Danish-born, Polish Israeli violinist Nikolaj Znaider will perform in San Francisco, playing the music of Bach, Beethoven and Shoenberg. The concert takes place 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 at the Herbst Theatre. Accompanying him at the piano will be Robert Kulek.

An RCA recording artist, Znaider is also artistic director of the Nordic Music Academy in Denmark. Born in 1975, he won first prize at Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth Competition at age 12. He studied first at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and then at Juilliard.

Tickets to the concert are $27 and $39. For more information, call (415) 392-2545 or visit