The millionth mensch mark, Best in show, Personal touch, Short shorts

by Suzan Berns

The millionth mensch mark

Just as the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival was kicking off its 31st season this week, word came that its online short film showcase had received its 1 millionth hit. According to the festival, the “One Million Mensch” milestone occurred at 11:30 a.m. on June 16, when viewer number 205,721 clicked to watch “The Tailor,” a six-minute comedic piece. (Yes, many viewers come back more than once.)

Festival marketing manager Shira Zucker credited a tweet from British tycoon Alan Sugar to his 700,000-plus Twitter followers for helping the festival reaching the 1 million mark in June instead of September this year, as they expected.

“That is the wonderful thing about social media,” Zucker noted. “The viewer base can jump exponentially within a very short time span.” The short film program is hosted on the film festival’s website ( and on Youtube. Currently playing is Tiffany Shlain’s “Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl.’ ”

And another milestone: Jewish Vocational Service helped place clients in 1,000-plus jobs during the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to JVS executive director Abby Snay. That’s a 15 percent increase over 2009-10, she says, adding that they’re seeing postings for more jobs from more sectors, and a “beginning of a shift in the job market.”


Best in show

A map of Israel, titled “Israel Speaks to Our Heart,” that colorfully designates the country’s varying terrain, won “best in show” in the Junior Arts and Crafts category at the Marin County Fair. It was created by “Ms. Rosenthal’s second grade” — that would be Ruth Rosenthal at Brandeis Hillel Day School’s Marin campus.

The map is surrounded by the students’ small illustrations of historic and modern sites in Israel, and an accompanying sign tells viewers to “enjoy the postcards we created of these awesome Israeli sites. You too will discover how Israel speaks to your heart.”

Faith Meltzer of El Cerrito, who let me know about the award after she attended the fair, wrote, “I was delighted to see something so unabashedly pro-Israel that was being honored.”


Personal touch

There was no run-of-the-mill swearing-in for Natalie Berg to her new post on the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is a friend, did the honors, stopping by Berg’s San Francisco home for the “ceremony.” Berg, who has been involved with the community college system in varying capacities for 40 years, was one of two new trustees appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.


Short shorts …

Alisa Fineman, cantorial soloist at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, performed at the Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival in Israel’s Galilee in May with her musical partner Kimball Hurd … Alex Katz was the winner of the $1,000 Gary A. Tobin Award for college student journalism on anti-Semitism for his piece in the Stanford Review titled “Anti-Semitism Thrives in Academia.” … Ann Bear of Burlingame writes that Maayan Ravid is a co-writer of a piece in Sh’ma magazine called “Giving up on peace is not an option.” Maayan was a young teen when her father, Shlomi Ravid, came to the Bay Area from Israel to launch the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Israel Center … Matt Farberov of Fremont and Oz Fishman of Sunnyvale are among a group of teens from the U.S., Canada and Bulgaria gathering in Washington, D.C., for a Human Rights and Genocide summit sponsored by the PANIM Institute of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization … Karen Kushner of San Francisco is the chief education officer of the online newsletter

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].