‘Faces’ column for the week of Aug. 14, 2015

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Teen cycling stars

Zach Gottesman

On Aug. 1, Zach Gottesman, 16, of Greenbrae, won the San Rafael Sunset Criterium bike race — just one of numerous wins for Gottesman, who celebrated his bar mitzvah at Congregation Rodef Sholom. He began cycling three years ago, when got a bike for his 13th birthday. He recently won the Colavita Gran Prix Criterium Elite 2/3 in Rohnert Park, plus two other events in May. As we go to press, he’s competing in USA Cycling and Elite Junior Track Nationals. Cycling aficionados, read more about his adventures on the Marin IJ website … In other cycling news, 14-year-old cyclist Zeke Gerwein of Berkeley is riding from Delaware to California to raise money for the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter to fight climate change. If you’d like to contribute to the campaign, visit www.sierraclub.org/san-francisco-bay/xcclimatechallenge.

JCRC news

The Jewish Community Relations Council has new officers. They are Hadara Stanton of San Francisco, president; Marty Schenker of San Francisco, vice president; Marla Sofer of Foster City, secretary; and Paul Resnick of Mountain View, treasurer. In addition, Ilana Kaufman, formerly a program officer at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, has been named to a newly developed position as director of public affairs and civic engagement (PACE). She will launch JCRC’s public education advocacy and coalition-building efforts in the East Bay. JCRC program associate Joe Goldman is the new San Francisco PACE director, while North Bay JCRC director Paula Simon will oversee PACE staff. Recruitment is underway to fill Peninsula and North Bay PACE slots. “These changes emphasize JCRC’s critically important and unique role in growing civic engagement within the broader community and in mobilizing our community at a time of growing challenges,” said Abby Porth, JCRC associate executive director.

Jews and baseball

Cantor Jennie Chabon

A day before their Jewish Heritage Night game last week, the Oakland A’s, who already had Ike Davis and Sam Fuld on the roster, claimed Danny Valencia off waivers from Toronto, giving the team three Jewish players (the most for one team since the 2006 Red Sox had four). Meanwhile, Cantor Jennie Chabon of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek sang the national anthem at the heritage game and “rocked the house,” according to one A’s official.

Short shorts

Rabbi Michael Lezak

Professor Reinhard Genzel of U.C. Berkeley is one of two recipients of the 2014 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He received the award for developing instruments that show irrefutable evidence of a massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way … Early childhood educators from three Jewish Community Centers are among 19 fellows in the first Sheva-Covenant Directors Institute. They are Karla Cianci, JCC of San Francisco; Annie Hurst, JCC of Silicon Valley; and Rachel Mylan, Peninsula JCC … There are lots of Bay Area bagel-makers cited in a July 26 New York Times story called “Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California?” However, Rabbi Michael Lezak of Congregation Rodef Sholom is the sole rabbi. Among many words of rabbinic wisdom, he says about bagel shops: “San Francisco is a radically assimilated community, so there’s something about being in an out, public Jewish space that’s rare here.” By the way, the title says “California,” but the article is really about the Bay Area. Not surprisingly, many local bagel lovers take issue with the writer’s premise.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].