“Faces” for June 17, 2016

The Daily Double

If you’re a fan of “Jeopardy,” you know that last month a contestant from Los Angeles named Buzzy Cohen won nine straight times for a total of $164,603. Nice.

Buzzy Cohen

What you probably don’t know is that Cohen is married to Elisha Levin, the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Levin of Congregation Ner Tamid in San Francisco. Levin said he watched every show — he had to in order to find out how his son-in-law was doing. The show is taped a couple of months in advance, but contestants are sworn to secrecy, so Levin allegedly had no clue how Cohen had fared (even though Elisha reportedly attended all the tapings).

Besides winning big bucks, Cohen became quite a social media celebrity, with some people viewing him as charismatic and others as obnoxious. Cohen traded quips with “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, playfully brushed dirt off his shoulder and smoothed his hair. The Twitterverse kept account, with some interpreting his gestures as arrogance and offering pro and con judgments.

What they didn’t know, Levin explained, was that “Buzzy had made a promise to his friends that he’d touch a different part of his body that could be seen on camera, adding a new one each night.” Thus, by his final appearance, Cohen had a series of nine gestures to cover in 30 minutes. Cohen will return to “Jeopardy” later in the year for the Tournament of Champions. “I always knew he was smart and funny, but didn’t know he was that smart and funny,” Levin mused.

Remembering Ali

Rabbi Michael Lerner, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and editor-in-chief of Tikkun magazine, spoke at the funeral of Muhammad Ali last week in Louisville, Kentucky. Lerner was invited to participate as a representative of the Jewish people, Lerner wrote in an announcement. He and “The Greatest” worked together decades ago in the peace movement challenging the Vietnam War, but they hadn’t been in touch since 1995. “I was amazed that his family remembers me two decades later,” Lerner said. “I feel deeply humbled by this honor and moved to know that my ideas touched Muhammad Ali.”

Riding for Grandma

Josh Kornbluth

Comic monologist Josh Kornbluth has been biking to raise money to fight leukemia and lymphoma with Team in Training for five years. He does it, he said, “because I am intensely motivated by the wonderful people I’ve met who have blood cancer…” He’s riding twice this summer: in early June around Lake Tahoe, and in July, when he’ll ride 200 miles in one day from Seattle to Portland. This time he’s also riding for his Grandma Dora Selden, he wrote in a letter to his supporters. She died when he was 9 and he recently learned that it was from lymphoma. If you’d like to support Kornbluth in this fight, visit www.JoshKornbluth.com.

Short shorts

Steve Zatkin

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay will honor outgoing president Steve Zatkin and welcome incoming president Steve Goldman at its 98th annual meeting on June 22 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley … More than 300 people walked and ran through the streets of Palo Alto on May 22 to raise funds for Friendship Circle, a group dedicated to creating an inclusive and supportive Jewish community for children with special needs. Supporters donated nearly $87,000, said Ezzy Schusterman, executive director. The group will move to new offices at the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life (which also houses the Oshman Family JCC) in Palo Alto in early July. For information about Friendship Circle, visit www.BayAreaFC.org.

This columnist can be reached at [email protected].