Art in congregations

Martin Katz

At its 60th annual meeting on April 12, Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills dedicated a sculpture designed by member and artist Martin Katz in memory of his wife, Lee Katz, and other beloved family members. The work, “Kaddish: From Grief to Solace,” was produced by Katz’s nephew Charles Citron, who lives in Amsterdam and whose work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and synagogues around the world. The sculpture “depicts the mourner’s passage from deep sorrows through a nebulous transitional period, and finally to solace, a permanent acceptance and adjustment,” notes the Beth Am newsletter.

In Piedmont, the five artists whose work is included in the redesign of Kehilla Community Synagogue’s sanctuary were celebrated at a reception last month. The artists and their contributions are Reni Aniela, interior paint scheme; Nechama Shaina Langer, illuminated Hebrew text; Leah Korican, art on the bimah; and Ed Kirshner and Pamina Traylor, the ner tamid, or eternal flame.


Sharing the warmth

First- and second-graders at San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El collected 298 coats to be distributed through One Warm Coat, a national nonprofit that works with local agencies. First-grade teacher Susan Aronow coordinated the effort. According to Heather Erez, the temple’s director of youth and family education, “We felt the One Warm Coat project was a great Jewish service-learning project for our students. Being cold was something they could relate to, and they were able to think with gratitude about the gifts they had in their lives, shelter, food on the table and warm clothes, and responded in an exceptionally generous way for the community. We are so proud of our students.”


Inspiring rabbis

Rabbi Yehuda Ferris

One local rabbi, another who grew up here and a third who served at two Bay Area synagogues are on the Forward’s list of the nation’s 33 “most inspiring rabbis.” The winners were nominated by readers. Mazel tov to Rabbi Yehuda Ferris of Chabad of the East Bay, who was nominated by congregant Sarah Lin. She noted that when her family was considering converting, Ferris “welcomed us with open arms and allowed us to spend as much time with him and his family as possible, which enabled us to see what Judaism stands for through his own behavior and that of his community.” Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn (whose proud parents Len and Robbie Cohn alerted J. to their son’s honor) grew up in Moraga and has been at Temple Emanuel Winston-Salem (North Carolina) since 2001. “He has not only led the congregation, but has also worked tirelessly to reach out to the larger community,” said his nominee. After stints at both Emanu-Els — San Francisco and San Jose — Rabbi Mark Schiftan is senior rabbi at Ohabai Sholom in Nashville.



Short shorts

Irene Resnikoff

Irene Resnikoff will be honored for her many years of teaching and leadership at San Rafael’s Congregation Rodef Sholom at May 1 Shabbat services as she retires from her longtime post as the director of education. If you have a story or good wishes for a scrapbook, email [email protected] by April 26 … Philanthropist Tad Taube donated $35,000 to install the lighted numerals “1915” on the San Francisco Ferry Building clock tower in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition … So you think you ate a lot: President Obama’s White House seder had 16 dishes! Among them were Moroccan haroset balls; chicken, brisket and salmon main dishes; and  triple-layer chocolate macaroon cake.


This columnist can be reached at [email protected].