Diamonds to scholarships

Jacqueline Hantgan of the Albert L. Schultz JCC in Palo Alto reports that the group’s annual Rambam’s Ladder Award Dinner and Auction, honoring James Koshland, “sparkled like the live auction diamond jewelry modeled by chairperson Stephanie Oshman.” Congregation Beth Am’s Yoshi Zweiback, the auctioneer, kept the competition going at a fast and furious pace as patrons bid and outbid one another. Besides the Kurt Wayne Design House diamond necklace, valued at nearly $17,000, big winners took home trips to New York and a five-day stint at Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona.

The biggest winner was the JCC itself, which raised $100,000-plus — doubling last year’s total — in funding for camp and preschool scholarships and operating expenses.

Musical notes

Identifying himself as the “proud husband,” Ron Eisenberg of Tiburon writes that his wife, Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, released a CD on the Naxos label of the music of Ernest Bloch, for which she’s received rave reviews. It includes Bloch’s Violin Concerto, Baal Shem and Suite Hébraïque. The CD was named a “recording of the month” in December by MusicWeb International. Schiff was a protégé of Jascha Heifetz, who taught her to play the works. Bloch’s Sacred Service was commissioned by Congregation Emanu-El when the composer lived in the Bay Area.

Rita Glassman of San Rafael (and Congregation Sherith Israel, where she’s the cantor) has a song on Rhino Records’ release “The Best of the Vineyard Sound.” Her recording of Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run,” is “sandwiched between Livingston Taylor and Judi Collins,” she says. You can find it at www.petersimon.com.

Linda Hirschhorn, cantor at San Leandro’s Temple Beth Sholom and director of Vocolot, writes that the women’s a cappella group will compete for best Jewish music group at the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam in May. They are among 25 acts selected out of hundreds from 116 countries. Hirshhorn adds that “the charming duo of Julia and Ira Levin,” from El Cerrito, is also competing.

Book bag

Berkeley authors (and husband and wife) Robert Alter and Carol Cosman have been nominated for awards in the same category in the 27th edition of the Annual Northern California Book Awards. Both are translators of literature: Alter translates Hebrew and Cosman translates French. He was nominated for his translation of “The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary” and she for “Exile and the Kingdom” by Albert Camus.

Michael Lipsey of San Rafael has published “I Thought So — A Book of Epigrams.” Among his words of wisdom, “If you would just reverse that opinion slightly I would be in complete agreement with you.” He’ll be reading at the Tiburon Library at 7 p.m. May 1.

Short shorts …

Susan Koret, Koret Foundation chair, is among six people to be honored by the Commonwealth Club at the 20th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner on Monday, April 14 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The award recognizes individuals who have achieved success at living the “American dream” as immigrants to the United States. Koret was born in Seoul, South Korea … Rabbi Alan Berg, formerly of Peninsula Beth El in San Mateo and now living in Portland, Ore., was a speaker at the public memorial service for Congressman Tom LantosBethany Hornthal is the interim senior marketing director at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.