three girls with a man playing a guitar
Gideon Hausner students celebrating a musical Tu B’Shevat

Our Crowd: Spotlight on the community, Feb. 24, 2017

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goldman smiling
John Goldman

Bay Area philanthropist John Goldman is among three people who will receive honorary degrees from Swarthmore College at the Pennsylvania school’s commencement on May 21. Goldman, who graduated from Swarthmore in 1971, is co-founder and president of the San Francisco-based John and Marcia Goldman Foundation.

Rabbi Dan Goldblatt of Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville and Pastor Steve Harms of Peace Lutheran Church in Danville will receive 2017 GSA Forum Courage Awards from the All Gay Straight/Gender Sexuality Alliance at a Feb. 28 ceremony hosted by the San Ramon Valley Education Association. The event is at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon.

friedman smiling
Adam Friedman

Adam Friedman, the son of Rabbi Stacy Friedman of Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael and Frank Friedman, was elected to the board of the North American Federation of Temple Youth. The younger Friedman was elected social action vice president the day before the NFTY convention earlier this month in Chicago, and will begin his term in June. He is a two-time regional board member of NFTY, Reform Judaism’s youth movement.

Sieva Kozinsky, a Hebrew Free Loan business loan recipient in 2013, was among those selected in January for Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for his “edu-preneurial” work on StudySoup, an education startup the former San Francisco resident co-founded with the help of that loan. StudySoup is an online peer-to-peer marketplace that connects top students with those looking for extra help in the classroom.

Former state Sen. Mark Leno was honored with the JCRC Jewish-Civic Leadership Award at the Jewish Community Relations Council’s “Behind the Scenes 2017” gala in mid-February. Kentfield residents Laura Talmus and Ace Smith, co-founders of Beyond Differences, were given the JCRC Courageous Leadership Award at the event.

Anita Silvers, professor and chair of the San Francisco State University Department of Philosophy, received the Wang Family Excellence Award for 2017 in the Visual and Performing Arts and Letters category on Jan. 31, including a $20,000 award. The annual awards recognize four faculty members and one staff member who stand out among employees at the 23 CSU campuses. Silvers is a nationally recognized advocate for disability rights and began her 50th year of teaching full time at S.F. State last fall.

April Baskin, the Union for Reform Judaism’s vice president of audacious hospitality, was named by the Center for American Progress among the “12 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2017.” Baskin grew up in Sacramento.

Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman of Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, Mandy Eisner of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, Robert Langsfeld of North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista and Rabbi Laura Novak Winer of Temple Beth Israel in Fresno are among 23 members selected for the Union for Reform Judaism’s board of trustees.


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Attendees partied the night away at the Jewish Family and Children’s Services’ Émigré Community Gala on Feb. 4.

The 16th annual Émigré Community Gala on Feb. 4 hosted by S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services raised more than $650,000 to help children, families and the frail elderly.

The Petaluma and Santa Rosa chapters of Hadassah have joined to form the North Bay chapter of Hadassah, which held its first meeting Feb. 22 at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa.

Sandy and Al Sokolow will be feted at a “Decades of Devotion” benefit hosted by Hillel at Davis and Sacramento on March 5 at the organization’s home at 328 A St. in Davis. The Sokolows, who met at a Hillel event at the University of Illinois six decades ago, have been strong supporters of Davis Hillel since moving to town in the 1960s.

Tehiyah students digging space for a tree at Tu B’Shevat celebration.

Third- through fifth-graders at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito had a visit from the El Cerrito Fire Department and from Tal Shaked of the Jewish National Fund in early February to discuss trees in Israel and in California, and the need for environmental protection.

Kindergartners at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto have been showing off their City of Peace project to visitors and getting some community advice on how their cardboard model could guide a real such project in the future. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen came to Hausner in late January to discuss what it means to have a peaceful city, and architect Randy Popp spoke with the students about how to design buildings in early February.

Comings and Goings

The JCC of Sonoma County has selected Doron Hovav as the new program director of its Israeli Film Festival, which will take place on the first three Tuesdays in March. Hovav worked in the Israeli TV industry for two decades before moving to Sonoma County.

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Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster z"l was J.'s senior writer from 2016-2019.