The emperor was Jewish, Honoring social justice, After the earthquake, Short shorts

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

The emperor was Jewish

Joseph Amster of San Francisco has created a walking tour of the city “with a twist,” he writes. A “displaced journalist” with an acting background, he launched “Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine” last spring, promising to provide “a lively, informative and entertaining walking tour of historic San Francisco.” Amster portrays the self-appointed emperor, whom he believes was one of the most fascinating figures in the history of San Francisco — and he was Jewish.

joseph amster

Joshua Abraham Norton was born in London to Jewish parents, Amster reports. Amster, aka Emperor Norton, points out several Jewish places of note on the tour, including the site of the first Jewish service (Yom Kippur 1849, at 735 Montgomery St.); the location of the Temple Emanu-El, on Sutter Street near Powell, which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake; and an apartment rented by Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, whom, he says, was half-Jewish. Plus “I let people know that there’s a glatt kosher restaurant just down the street — Sabra Grill.” You can find Amster’s tour at


Honoring social justice

Rabbi Amy Eilberg and Professor Louis Newman will be the honorees at New Israel Fund’s annual Guardian of Democracy dinner slated Sept. 21 at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. In a nice bit of Jewish continuity in passing on a passion for social justice, Penina Eilberg-Schwartz, Eilberg’s daughter, is a new development associate at NIF. Co-director Becky Buckwald explains: “Right after we asked Amy and Louis if we could honor them at the dinner, the development associate position opened up at our office. Penina applied and was by far the top candidate, so we hired her. So now we’re honoring the mother, and employing the daughter.” Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Lee Labé Pollak and Diane Jordan Wexler are event chairs. For information, visit


After the earthquake

The East Coast one, that is … Marc Klein, editor of this newspaper, writes that his Washington, D.C.–based daughter Suzy Klein’s matzah platter was an unfortunate victim of the shaking.

And San Francisco–based comic Lisa Geduldig posted this on Facebook, which she found on the Jewish Daily Forward’s Facebook page: “Jews in Washington D.C. and Richmond, Va., were forced out of shuls and community centers. There were no reports of injuries. Luckily, one bris did not start until later in the day.”


Short shorts

Women’s Philanthropy of the S.F.–based Jewish Community Federation 2011-12 leadership includes Jan Reicher, president; Jen Liebhaber and Deborah Stadtner, vice presidents and campaign co-chairs; Tracy Williams Stettner, outreach; Mara Berns Langer, education; Susie Sorkin, Israel engagement; Debbie Toizer, strategic planning; Lily Robinson, chair, Lion of Judah; and Mimi Gauss, Marlyn McClaskey and Carol Weitz, Lion of Judah Endowment … Gerri and Larry Miller of Tiburon celebrated 180 years in August — a 70th birthday for each plus 40 years of wedded bliss …

Zvi Weiss

Rabbi David A. Katz has joined Pleasanton’s Congregation Beth Emek as interim rabbi. He served at congregations in San Diego, New York and Virginia and is a past president of an assocation of New York–area Reform rabbis … Zvi Weiss has returned to the Peninsula as director of the Oshman Family JCC’s T’enna Preschool. He formerly served as director of Early Childhood and Family Education at the Albert L. Schultz JCC, the OFJCC’s predecessor, along with a two-year stint as associate director of the Bureau of Jewish Education.