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Comings and goings


Barbara Nelson

After 23 years working with Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay and helping thousands of individuals to resettle in the United States, Barbara Nelson, director of refugee and immigrant services, is retiring. Besides helping some 1,500 Jews from the former Soviet Union resettle in the East Bay, “Barbara Nelson provided visionary leadership in developing a strikingly multicultural program serving refugees and immigrants from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran and other countries, rebuilding their lives here after suffering war, persecution and the trauma of relocation. We are all indebted to Barbara for her remarkable service to our community,” said Avi Rose, the agency’s executive director. More than 130 community members honored and thanked Nelson at a Dec. 4 community celebration at Heather Farm Community Center in Walnut Creek.



Like Tarantino

At the JCC of San Francisco on Nov. 26, Dror Moreh, the director and producer of the Academy Award–nominated “The Gatekeepers,” quipped that his dream was to walk to the stage to accept his award at the 2013 ceremonies last February wearing a black suit, with the stars of the film following behind, “like Tarantino.” “The Gatekeepers,” which featured six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet (secret service agency) reflecting on their actions and decisions, was a nominee for best documentary feature. Unfortunately, Moreh didn’t win, nor could the Shin Bet heads join him at the event, though, he noted, they were pleased with the nomination.


Still Berkeley

David Witt

He’s lived in Los Angeles for 20 years, but David Witt, who grew up in Berkeley and went to Tehiyah Day School and Congregation Beth Israel, “remains Berkeley at heart,” writes his mom, Ruth Witt. As DJ Dave, he argues this point with LaeCharles (a Berkeley rapper) in a YouTube video, with lines like, “I might live in L.A. but I can still wear a Cal hat.” Witt makes his living writing background music for commercials. He recently remixed “Whatever Lola Wants” for the Pepsi commercial featuring “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara. You can find “Berkeley Enough” on YouTube, along with his video taking jabs at Whole Foods shoppers.




Short shorts

“The Wanting,” San Francisco author Michael Lavigne’s latest novel, is Philadelphia’s Jewish Learning Ventures’ selection for its “One Book, One Jewish Community” program. The novel looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the points of view of Palestinian and Russian immigrant families … Angel Alvarez-Mapp is the new executive director of S.F. Congregation Beth Sholom. He is a longtime congregant who studied for conversion with the late  Rabbi Alan Lew and Rabbi  Dorothy RichmanRita Semel reports that Cantor David Frommer, who was a chaplain in Afghanistan, gave the opening prayer at the San Francisco Interfaith Council’s annual interfaith Thanksgiving breakfast honoring veterans. Frommer is married to Rabbi Carla Fenves of Congregation Emanu-El … Susan Schwartz of San Rafael was presented with a community service award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin for her work with Zero Breast Cancer’s Latina Adolescent Outreach Project … Dr. Jay Levy has been elected chair of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. He is a member of the group’s President’s Circle and was Bay Area regional chair for 10 years. Levy has dedicated his professional efforts to biologic, immunologic and molecular studies of the AIDS virus. He is a professor of medicine at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco.

by Suzan Berns

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].