His son’s bequest

Wayne Feinstein

A request from his 20-year-old son, Ben, who was dying of stomach cancer, spurred San Mateo resident Wayne Feinstein to commit to whatever he could do to help find a cure for the disease. Last March, about three years after Ben’s tragic passing, Feinstein was elected chair of the board of the Gastric Cancer Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to curing stomach and esophageal cancer. Besides fulfilling his promise to Ben, Feinstein says, his dedication to the foundation is grounded in his Jewish responsibility of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, “the same kinds of things that propelled me into Jewish communal service right out of college,” he says. “It’s fundamental to who I am, and this one has a double edge.” Feinstein, 61, spent 18 years in leadership roles at Jewish federations in Detroit, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where he served as CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

“Every day I think about how I can best honor Ben and everyone who has suffered from stomach cancer. The key to finding a cure is to gain visibility for the disease and invest in research,” Feinstein says. Stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide and second leading cause of cancer deaths. Even so, it receives less than 1/2 of 1 percent (0.4 percent) of federal cancer research dollars, according to the foundation’s website. GCF’s annual fundraising gala is Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo. For information or to make a donation, visit www.gastriccancer.org.


Speaking for Women of the Wall

Shaina Zins

Shaina Zins, 13, of Danville, was one of the 20 semifinalists in “One Moon, One Wall, One People,” a national contest for teens who made video statements supporting gender equality at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. In Shaina’s video, “Wearing Only My Entire Nation on My Shoulders (Like a Tallit),” she said: “The wall of our history, the wall — like the tallit — is the Jewish people’s past, present and future.” The contest is sponsored by Moving Traditions, which provides programs for teens and advocates for a more expansive view of gender in Jewish learning and practice. Shaina attends Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton, where she had her bat mitzvah last April. You can see her video at www.movingtraditions.org.




Short shorts

Polish Minister Jacek Michalowski gives medal to Shana Penn Oct. 23 in Warsaw.

Shana Penn, executive director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, was decorated with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, an award presented to foreigners who have rendered great service to Poland. Penn was recognized on Oct. 23 in Warsaw for (among other things) her outstanding contributions to the development of the Polish-Jewish dialogue and scholarly work on the role of women in the Solidarity movement in Poland … Hazzan Marc Dinkin of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek will retire in July 2014. He has served the congregation since 1991 … Mani Feniger’s memoir, “The Woman in the Photograph,” has won best memoir 2013 from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. The memoir describes how the discovery of a surprising photo of her mother changed her life.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].