Great friendships, Exploring liturgy, Short shorts

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Great friendships

Mazel tov to Cindy Rogoway, Adam Helfenbein and Julia Mandeberg, who will be honored by Friendship Circle, a Palo Alto–based group that connects children with special needs with teen buddies through meaningful Jewish activities, educational and social events. Helfbein and Mandeberg, teen volunteers for the agency, will be recognized for their leadership and commitment to both the program and their special friends.

Rogoway, associate director of Hebrew Free Loan and longtime Jewish communal leader, will be honored for her generous, behind-the-scenes guidance in Friendship Circle’s growth and development. The benefit, which includes a light dinner and entertainment by violinist Be’eri Moalem, is slated for March 27 at the Oshman Family JCC. For info and reservations visit

And more benefits … Bay Area Jewish Healing Center’s Hearts & Hands Together, chaired by Lenore Bleadon, will take place March 16. Visit for info … Yamilee Birmingham and Doug Winthrop are chairing Jewish Family and Children’s Services Annual Fammy Awards, honoring the Clebaner family, Hedy Krasnobrod, Ingrid Tauber and the JFCS Canine Corps. The event is March 26; info at


Exploring liturgy

Rabbi Yoel Kahn of Berkeley’s Congregation Beth El has published “The Three Blessings: Boundaries, Censorship & Identity in Jewish Liturgy” in which he traces the history of the daily prayer thanking God for not making him a non-Jew, a woman or a slave. (Not surprisingly, the prayer today is one of the most controversial in Jewish liturgy.)

Kahn discusses how the prayer has been understood over the years and says it can be attributed to Socrates’ expressions of gratitude for being a human instead of a brute, a Greek instead of a barbarian, and (yes) a man instead of a woman.

You can talk to Kahn about it all at the BJE Jewish Community Library in San Francisco on Thursday, March 17 at 7 p.m. P.S. Check out Rabbi Kahn’s Facebook page, where he’s looking quite spiffy with the Obamas at their Chanukah bash.


Short shorts

Tavi Nathanson of San Francisco, a board member of the Young Adult Division of the San Francisco–based Jewish Community Federation, received the Volunteer All Star 2010 Award from, his employer. The award comes with a $1,000 grant to the charity of his choice — the JCF, of course. Besides the federation, Nathanson volunteers with Congregation Emanu-El’s Young Adult Leadership Committee, the Boys and Girls Club, the San Francisco Food Bank and Playworks … Susan and Moses Libitzky hosted a private performance by Theodore Bikel in their Piedmont home to help support the actor-singer’s one-man show “Sholem Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears: A Life of Stories Through Music and Song,” which he created … The Taube Foundation reports that the Krakow JCC has been named the JCC of the Month by the European Association of Jewish Community Centers. Tad Taube, who was born in Poland, and his Taube Foundation have been instrumental in Jewish renewal in the country … Monique Arar is the new program coordinator for S.F.-based JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa). She was most recently director of Hillel in Las Vegas… Ellen Bob is the new executive director of Palo Alto Congregation Etz Chayim … Joan Ruby Bloom, professor of Public Health at U.C. Berkeley, has been honored by Kaiser Permanente Foundation with the establishment of the Joan Bloom Kaiser Permanente Endowed Chair in Health and Policy Management at the university.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].