Sorry, Jon Stewart, Hello, new rabbis, Page-turners, Short shorts …

Sorry, Jon Stewart

Abby Porth turned down a chance for a guest spot on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” — and probably a free trip to New York City.

Porth, the associate director of S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, recently led the campaign to get the anti-circumcision measure in San Francisco off the November ballot. Stewart, who is Jewish, promised that he was on the JCRC’s side of the issue, but just imagining the quips the comic host might make was enough to keep Porth home.

“I have no doubt that she would come out shining,” said Rabbi Doug Kahn, JCRC executive director.  “But it was probably a sober decision.”

Locally, many newspapers had a good time with the story, using words like “trimmed,” “snipped” and “cut short” in the headlines. P.S. The issue was also covered by national and international papers including the Washington Post, Jerusalem Post and Terra, a Spanish language newspaper among others, without the pun headlines.


Hello, new rabbis

A number of congregations are welcoming new rabbis this year. Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit is the new assistant rabbi at Los Altos Hills Congregation Beth Am, where he will be building connections with congregants through teaching and social justice work.

Rabbi Joel Rembaum

Rabbi Carla Fenves will focus on education and social action, as well as lifecycle events, at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El. Her husband, Cantor David Frommer, is a chaplain in the New York National Guard, where he is waiting deployment orders from the Army.

Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa has named Rabbi Stephanie Kramer to the newly created position of assistant rabbi and director of education. And at Congregation Beth Ami, also in Santa Rosa, Rabbi Joel Rembaum will serve as interim rabbi while the congregation mounts a search for a permanent rabbi. The emeritus rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, he authored the paper that served as the basis for including the biblical matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) in the Amidah prayer.



David Perlstein of San Francisco, who guides lifelong learning at Congregation Sherith Israel, has published “God’s Others” — a book that tells stories from the Hebrew Bible of “non-Israelites” encountering God. Pearlstein taught himself to read biblical Hebrew and spent 12 years researching and writing the book. For information, visit … “Making Limonada: Memories of an Andalucian Village during the Last Year of Franco’s Fascist Spain” is San Franciscan Diana Cohen Robinson’s memoir of her life as a young mother escaping to Spain in 1964 after her husband died. “What began as flight evolved into a passion for Spain, a besottment that continues to this day,” she writes. For information, visit


Short shorts …

Restaurateur Hugh Groman, who for many years ran the deli New York West in Walnut Creek, has opened Phil’s Sliders, a counter restaurant in downtown Berkeley. He named it after his dad … According to San Francisco Giants fan Gene Kaufman of San Rafael, Cantor Rita Glassman’s rendition of the national anthem at Jewish Heritage Night on Aug. 2 was among the top three he’s heard in many years of attending games.  (Sorry, I didn’t ask him who the other two were.) n