Ruby and the rabbis

Rabbi Eric Weiss

About a dozen clergy, some 50 other well-wishers and one Boston terrier named Ruby were on hand to help the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center dedicate its new San Francisco home at 2530 Taraval St. on April 10. With executive director Rabbi Eric Weiss leading the blessings, board chair Neal Tandowsky along with board members Dr. Mary DeMay, Gregg Rubenstein, Rabbi Sheldon Marder, Betsy Hausman and Nancy Boughey attached mezuzot to several doorposts. The Boston terrier, who was born deaf, is a certified therapy dog. Ruby makes rounds each day with BAJHC’s Rabbi Elliott Kukla, visiting people in hospitals, hospices, homes and residential facilities, and has been a particular hit leading programs for children with disabilities, notes the Healing Center’s Gail Kolthoff.


Comedy for scholarships

After opening for Jerry Seinfeld in Atlantic City on April 5, comedian Mark Schiff flew to the Bay Area where, the next day, he entertained at a fundraising event for Chabad Jewish Center of Novato’s youth program. “I told him that we’re pretty new, and that we are raising money to start a scholarship fund and he was inspired,” said Rabbi Menachem Landa. Some 90 people turned out to hear the comic and a klezmer band, as well as bid at a live auction. “That we got so much support was most humbling,” said Landa, who co-directs the 2-year old center with his wife, Adina.


Championing interfaith relations

Rita Semel

Rita Semel of San Francisco has been honored by Catholic Charities CYO with the 2014 Loaves & Fishes Award for Faith in Action at the group’s gala on April 12. The award recognizes exceptional leadership in charitable services and in helping CCCYO shape its work to serve the Bay Area’s neediest residents. Semel, a former associate editor of the Jewish Bulletin (J.’s predecessor), has been championing interfaith dialogue for more than half a century. She served with the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council from 1964 to 1988, as associate director and then executive director. In 1991 she co-founded the San Francisco Interfaith Council, serving as its executive vice chair from 1991 to 2011 and as chair from 2011 to 2012. She was actively involved in the development  of the United Religions Initiative and chaired the URI board from 1996-2000 and URI’s Global Council of Trustees from 2000-2005. Currently, she is a member of the city of San Francisco’s Human Services Commission and a board member of Grace Cathedral.


Noah or not

Russell Crowe was more gladiator than patriot and the movie was a little “Hollywoodie” — at least that was the consensus of some 40 Congregation Etz Chayim members on a movie outing to see the new(ish) blockbuster “Noah,” said Rabbi Ari Cartun. While most people enjoyed it, some were miffed that a big fact was totally changed, he said. For example, in the Bible story, all three sons have wives, but in the movie none are married, though one has a girlfriend. And, he added, they were wearing way too much modern leather.


Short shorts

Diane Sampson of San Francisco is the writer of “Sleeping Cutie: A Fractured Fairy Tale Musical,” about a drummer whose Madoff-like dad has signed her up with an online dating service. It’s playing until May 11 at Thick House Theater. … Rabbi Raphael Asher will be honored on Sunday, May 4, at Congregation B’nai Tikvah for his many years of service to the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.

by Suzan Berns

This columnist can be reached at [email protected]