Shorts: Bay Area

Bay Area rabbis crack Newsweek lists

A handful of Bay Area rabbis have been included on a new list of the nation’s “50 most influential rabbis” on

Devised by Michael Lynton (chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment), Jay Sanderson (CEO and executive producer of JTN/JTN Productions) and Gary Ginsberg (an executive vice president for News Corp.), the rankings are based on selective and unscientific mechanisms, for example: Are they known nationally/ internationally? (20 points) Do they have a media presence? (10 points).

A blurb on the Newsweek Web site noted that two years ago, the above men, “interested in the future of American Jewry and the evolving role of the rabbi, started a conversation that eventually became ‘the list.'”

Last year, there was one list. Naturally, this year, they’ve come out with two lists.

Locals cracking the 2008 “50 most influential” list: No. 47, Rabbi Stephen Pearce of San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El; and No. 50, Rabbi Michael Lerner of San Francisco’s Beyt Tikkun.

Pearce slipped one spot from his 2007 ranking. His note this year reads: “Leader of San Francisco’s largest congregation with 2,700 families.” Lerner, who was ranked No. 28 in 2007, is described as “editor of Tikkun and a leading progressive political activist.”

On the first “Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America” list, Rabbi Janet Marder of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills got the nod at No. 18. Marder was No. 34 on last year’s top 50 list, but not mentioned this year.

At No. 14 on the pulpit list is Rabbi Mark Schiftan of Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, Tenn. Schiftan was the rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in San Jose in the mid-1990s, and before that he spent seven years at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

‘Shoe-In’ surpasses collection goal

More than 2,383 pairs of athletic shoes for needy communities in Africa were recently collected at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa.

Co-sponsored by One World Running, the donation drive surpassed its goal of collecting 1,000 pairs in one month.

Shomrei Torah will send 1,850 pairs of shoes (refurbished if necessary) to several African communities, where a pair of athletic shoes can cost as much as one year’s salary. The remaining shoes will be donated to local homeless shelters, and the non-reusable pairs will be recycled by the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program and made into playground surfaces.

Day school to break ground in Lafayette

Contra Costa Jewish Day School will celebrate the groundbreaking of its new site on May 4 with a reception, dinner and silent auction.

Festivities begin 4:30 p.m. at Temple Isaiah, 3800 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. A dinner and auction will follow from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Israeli-born Tal Franbuch, executive chef at the Hilton San Francisco’s Cityscape restaurant, will prepare the food.

The dinner is expected to help the school reach its fundraising goal of $7.5 million. The 18,000-square-foot building, on Temple Isaiah’s land, is expected to be finished for the 2009-10 school year.

CCJDS opened six years ago and has rented space from Temple Isaiah. But with more than 100 students enrolled for the 2008-09 school year, it needs more space.

JCHS wins first place in competition

The Jewish Community High School of the Bay took first place in the RAVSAK Moot Beit Din April 3 to 6 in Toronto.

Moot Beit Din is similar to a mock trial competition — students from community day schools delve into issues of Jewish law within contemporary situations.

JCHS students spent several months finding sources, comparing legal principles and writing a legal brief before traveling to Toronto to present and defend their decisions before the judges. Jewish Studies teacher Rabbi Mark Goodman served as coach and advisor to the team.

Nine schools competed against JCHS students Hannah Sosebee, Netzach Miller, Betzalel Massarano and Ethan Hall. It was JCHS’ first time entering the competition.