Shorts: Bay Area

‘Safari in Napa’ with the Historical Society

The Jewish Historical Society is inviting the community to a “Safari in Napa” with naturalist Milton Rieback at Connolly Ranch on June 1 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Rieback is the director of education at Safari West Wildlife Preserve, an African wildlife park in Sonoma county, and was born and raised in South Africa.

Rieback will talk about the Jews of South Africa and will bring some animals for an “up-close-and-personal” experience. He will also read and sign his book, “The Adventures of Web Ellis.”

Rieback will be joined by South African singer and drummer Gideon Bendile, who now makes his home at Safari West. The duo will perform African folk songs, traditional acoustic music with deep social and historical significance. The Yachadniks from Congregation Beth Sholom of Napa will be assisting at this program.

Refreshments and special tours of Connolly Ranch will be available after the program, held at Connolly Ranch, 2141 Browns Valley Road, Napa. Parking is free. There is no charge for members of the Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley. For others, it is $10 for adults, $20 per family. To RSVP call (707) 253-7305 or [email protected].

Beth Ami thrilled with ‘chi-chi’ synagogue

After years of grumbling about a less than stylish (or functional) sanctuary and social hall, congregants of Santa Rosa’s Congregation Beth Ami are enjoying a beautiful new renovation — with no leaky roof and definitely no malodorous gold curtain.

“Everyone loves it. We have a very open social hall and multi-purpose room. It’s a very welcoming, beautiful space,” said Melissa Bloom, the synagogue’s executive director. “We have no leakage and everything looks great. It’s very up-to-date and ‘chi-chi.'”

Yavneh announces new pre-K program

In response to local demand, Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos has just announced a new junior kindergarten program, set to begin in the 2008-09 school year.

The program will emphasize a developmental approach to learning and conduct hands-on activities intended to fully prepare children for kindergarten. This full day program will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In order to be eligible, children must be 5 years old before Dec. 1, 2008. For more information, call Dana Lowy, director of admissions, at (408) 984-6700.

Wine weekend fetes Jewish vintners

Join nearly 40 Jewish vintners June 20 to 22 for fine wine and dining in the Wine Country.

Winemakers from Napa Valley, Sonoma and elsewhere in California — as well as from Israel — will get together for the third annual “Jewish Vintners Celebration: Connecting with Our Roots.” Proceeds will benefit Jewish nonprofits in the Napa area.

The event kicks off June 19 with an Israeli vintners dinner at Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena (space is limited; $100 per person). An evening wine reception at a private St. Helena country estate follows June 20.

The next day features exclusive winery open houses, capped off by lavish dinner at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, with a walk-around wine-tasting, vintner-hosted tables and silent and live auctions. In addition, the second annual Al Brounstein Meritorious Service Award will be presented to Ernie Weir, founder of Hagafen Cellars.

A farewell brunch June 22 at the Napa Valley Museum will feature guest speaker Scott Turow, bestselling author of “Presumed Innocent” and “Limitations.”

Tickets are $650 per person for the entire weekend package (an “early bird” discount at $600 is available until May 31, and a limited number of “Saturday only” tickets will be offered at $350 per person). Sponsorships for tables at the gala range from $2,500 to $10,000. Special hotel rates are available at the Harvest Inn in St. Helena, Villagio and Vintage Inn in Yountville and Napa Valley Lodge in Napa.

For more information, call (707) 968-9944 or visit

Israeli Consulate, JNF host tree-planting

The Consulate General of Israel and the Jewish National Fund invite the public to participate in a revegetation effort June 5 for the Angora burn area near South Lake Tahoe. The event will also celebrate environmental advances achieved by Israel in its 60 years of statehood.

Sixty volunteers will plant 60 Jeffrey Pine seedlings to begin the regreening of the area on four land parcels owned by El Dorado County near Elk Point Drive and Lookout Point Circle. The revegetation will serve as a demonstration area for property owners planning to replant their own parcels. The 2007 fire scorched 3,100 acres near South Lake Tahoe and destroyed 254 homes.

The event takes places from noon to 2 p.m., and will include refreshments, music and the presentation of plaques. Speakers will include Israeli Deputy Consul General Ismail Khaldi and Special Emissary Amir Halevi from JNF.

For more information, contact Eytan Elterman, director of community affairs at the Consulate General of Israel, at (415) 844-7504.