The president’s bidding

Congregation Rodef Sholom member Mark Robbins, with the help of his wife, Valerie Robbins, heeded President Barack Obama’s call for service on Day 1 of the new administration. The couple was looking for a project to raise money for the synagogue’s campaign to build a clinic for Darfur refugees. Mark Robbins called Mark Fishkin, executive director of the California Film Institute, and convinced him to stream the inauguration live, for free, at the CFI’s theater in San Rafael, the Smith Rafael Film Center.

The congregation’s Darfur team could request donations for the clinic from attendees. Fishkin announced the event to the CFI’s e-mail list — and there were lines around the block at 7:45 a.m. Now the clinic project is $3,322 closer to its goal of $36,000.

Next up: On Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m., trivia maven Howard Rachelson (also a congregant) will host Trivia Café at the synagogue. And on Feb. 18, you can belt out your favorite ABBA songs at a “Mamma Mia!” sing-along at the Osher Marin JCC. For information, contact Fanny Rifkin at [email protected].

Terribly clever

Aaron Wasserman and Joe Bernstein of Marin, and friends, launched a start-up which they call TerriblyClever, and “built an application for the iPhone that has the academic world buzzing,” according to Time magazine. The application, called iStanford, allows students to access a variety of info about Stanford, where Wasserman is a student,  via their iPhones, including dropping and registering for classes and locating the exact whereabouts of campus shuttles. Do a search on “TerriblyClever” at www.time.com.

LGBT study

Lisa Finkelstein and Samuel Strauss of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s LGBT group are calling for folks who identify as Jewish and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to participate in a needs assessment study, which will help federations learn how they can better serve this population. To take part, contact [email protected].

Short shorts …

Rabbi Josh Zweiback of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills has been named director of the Year-in-Israel program at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. The position will take Zweiback and his wife, Jacqueline Hantgan, and their three children to Jerusalem, where the couple met in 1992 … Susan Kolb of Marin and her family received a special presentation in honor of her late husband, Felix Kolb, at the Osher Marin JCC’s “Exploring Opera” celebration, a benefit for the JCC’s music programs … The Peninsula’s Carol Saal, national president of the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was honored at the group’s “Healing Our Bodies; Healing Our World” symposium at Stanford on Jan. 11 … Hagar Ben-Eliezer of San Francisco is the new director of programming and community outreach at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon … Dina J. Artzt of Belmont has been named one of the nation’s top 250 wealth advisers for 2008 by Worth Magazine.

A personal note

Like the rest of the community, I mourn the premature loss of Rabbi Alan Lew. We worked together for many years on the TV show “Mosaic.” He was the host — or what those in TV-land call “the talent.” I never ceased to be amazed at the breadth of his knowledge and his ability to talk in depth with any guest on any subject that came up on the show.

One short memory: When the show aired on Purim, Rabbi Lew dressed as Elvis and we served hamantaschen to the crew. May his memory be a blessing.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].