Shorts: Bay Area

Day school peddling annual bike-a-thon

South Peninsula Hebrew Day School’s “Foothill Century Bike Ride” — the “Only Kosher Ride in the West” — is May 18.

The Tour de South Bay raises funds for the day school and offers riders a scenic ride of either 10, 50 or 100 kilometers. Kosher food and a barbecue lunch are provided for all participants. For more information or to register, visit

Former federation boss Lurie tapped for Polish museum

Rabbi Brian Lurie, the former longtime head of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, has been named chairman of development for the forthcoming Museum of the History of Polish Jews, located in Warsaw.

Lurie will spearhead a two-year, $80 million fund-raising drive to supply the museum’s endowment and exhibitions budget.

The museum, on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto, “concentrates on life and re-affirms life. It isn’t just about the Holocaust and death,” Lurie said, adding that the museum will play a critical role in educating Jews and Israelis about the centuries of Polish Jewish history and the current state of the nation’s Jews.

For more information on the museum, visit

A.B. Yehoshua to speak in Bay Area

Internationally acclaimed Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, whose work has been published in 28 languages, will be speaking in the Bay Area this month as part of the “Israeli Pages: A Year of Hebrew Literature” Israel @ 60 lecture series.

He will appear in conversation with Vered Shemtov at Stanford University on April 27 at 8 p.m., and in conversation with Robert Alter at the JCCSF on April 28 at 8 p.m. Visit for more information.

JFCS trunk show to benefit women, children

Jewish Family and Children’s Services will hold a designer trunk show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 25 and 26 at the Palomar Hotel, 12 Fourth St., San Francisco.

A portion of all proceeds will benefit JFCS’ Dream House and Parents Place programs. Dream House is a transitional housing program serving women and children who have left domestic violence and abusive situations, are at risk of homelessness and are unemployed and in need of retraining.

Parent’s Place Family Resource Center provides counseling, classes and support for children, teens, parents, and childcare providers.

Attendees can sip champagne while shopping in the privacy of a hotel suite. Designers include Badgley Mischka Jewelry Collection, Luis Steven, Peggy Huyn Kinh Jewelry from Paris, Sergio Gutierrez Collection, Zandra Rhodes Handbag Collection and Zenobia Couture.

For more info, call (707) 483-0123.

Anti-atheist author to speak in S.F.

A bevy of authors has ridden the best-seller charts of late with titles decrying organized religion and depicting church- and temple-goers as fools.

David Berlinski has a message for all of them: Put a sock in it. The former Stanford math and philosophy professor is the author of “The Devil’s Delusion,” an attack on militant atheism. He will speak at the University of San Francisco’s Cowell Hall, room 113 at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 24. The event is free.

Berlinski, a self-described secular Jew born in New York to French-Jewish refugees, is a senior fellow at Seattle’s Discovery Center, which has pushed the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in schools.

He decries the militant atheists’ notion that no thinking person can take refuge in religion. He points out that secularism did not lead to utopian living in the 20th century, utilizing the gulag state of the Soviet Union as a prime example.

Moreover, he claims scientists have not begun to answer how and why life and the universe exists, and refers to evolution as “a poor theory, a weak theory, a flabby theory.”

East Bay cemetery set for dedication

Gan Shalom, the long-planned new Jewish cemetery in the East Bay, is finally ready to open. Located near Briones Regional Park, Gan Shalom will open its gates April 29 for a 1 p.m. dedication ceremony.

Frank Winer, a member of the cemetery’s governing board, said Gan Shalom will “meet the East Bay Jewish community’s burial needs for the next century.”

Added Susan Lefelstein, associate executive director of Sinai Memorial Chapel (which administrates Gan Shalom), “We have taken special care to be sure that Jewish families of all denominations will have their religious needs met.”

Meaning “Garden of Peace” in Hebrew, Gan Shalom Cemetery is located on Bear Creek Road, on unincorporated land equidistant from Martinez and Orinda. Landscaping was completed in March around the small office and chapel. Of the 80 acres included in the property, about seven will be used in the first phase of development. For more information, call (925) 962-3636.

‘Israelis’ updated for nation’s 60th

You think the last five years have been somewhat eventful in the Middle East? So does Donna Rosenthal.

The East Bay author penned “The Israelis” in 2003; an updated version has just been released, in time for the 60th anniversary of the nation.

Rosenthal believes she’s added 30 percent more new material, covering everything from draft-dodging Israeli youth to former President Moshe Katsav’s “zipper problems.”

She’s also highlighted the plight of Sderot, the Gaza withdrawal and the war with Hezbollah.

For more information, visit

For Sacramento teens, it’s seder or the prom

Some Jewish students in Sacramento will have to choose between attending their proms or Passover seders.

At least a half dozen schools in the state capital have scheduled proms on Saturday, April 19, the first night of Passover.

The dilemma arises every few years nationwide when the holiday’s first night falls on a Saturday in mid-April, a popular date for junior and senior proms.

A number of local teens told the Sacramento Bee they were upset by having to choose.

Jason Pemstein, 16, told his date he’d have to cancel, then explained to her about Passover. Pernstein, his mother and several other Jewish parents asked Bella Vista High School officials to reschedule, but other weekends were already filled with sports and theater events. “Now I’m missing out because the school didn’t pay attention,” Pemstein told the Bee.

Not all Sacramento Jewish students put their religious identity first. Michelle Aran, 17, of Kennedy High School is not giving up her senior prom. “It’s either go to senior ball and dance and have a great time with your friends, or sit in a two-hour service and wait to gorge yourself. The prom is more appealing, at my age anyway.”

She will, however, take part in her youth group seder later in the week. — jta