Gill and Berman stand before a classroom of kids
Jordan Gill and Sarah Lefton of BimBam meet the students of Oakland Hebrew Day School (Photo/Courtesy of Phillipa Lichterman)

Our Crowd: Spotlight on the community, April 2017

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Adam Naftalin-Kelman
Adam Naftalin-Kelman
Ilana Kaufman
Ilana Kaufman

Two Bay Area community leaders — Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, Berkeley Hillel executive director, and Ilana Kaufman, the East Bay public affairs and civic engagement director for the Jewish Community Relations Council — are among 30 Jewish professional and volunteer leaders from around the world chosen by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation for the third cohort of the Schusterman Fellowship, an executive-level leadership program.

Three Northern California educators will be honored on Sunday, April 23, as winners of the annual Morris Weiss Award for Outstanding Holocaust Education. Iris Bendahan of Saratoga’s Congregation Beth David, Frank Perez of San Benito High School in Hollister and Tara Asciutto of Oakland High School will receive their awards from the Holocaust Center of Jewish Family and Children’s Services during the Yom HaShoah ceremony at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.


“The Intersection of Technology, Education and Ethics” is the theme for the annual gala at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. The event takes place April 27 at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, also in Palo Alto. A panel of experts will include David Fischer, vice president of business and marketing partnerships at Facebook. Funds raised will support the Alison Ruebusch Scholarship Fund at Kehillah.

kids sitting around a table
Teens make blankets as part of Mitzvah Day 2016 at San Jose’s Temple Emanu-El (Photo/Courtesy of Megan Parkins-Temple Emanu-El)

On the heels of Earth Day, the annual Mitzvah Day at San Jose’s Temple Emanu-El is Sunday, April 23. Religious school students will participate in the family-friendly day of service and community volunteer activities, including a neighborhood cleanup.

Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco hosted the Kadima Konvention, a regional convention for sixth- and seventh-graders, on the first weekend in April. Several dozen kids attended the event. Kadima, an international youth organization for Jewish preteens, is sponsored by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

teens put out a havdalah candle
Teens participate in Kadima Konvention at San Francisoc’s Congregation Beth Sholom (Photo/Courtesy of Christopher Orev Reiger-Congregation Beth Sholom)

A celebratory Shabbat service, an evening gala and an afternoon picnic were among the events as San Rafael’s Congregation Rodef Sholom marked its 60th anniversary in early April. Rodef Sholom was the first Jewish congregation established in Marin County.

Students at Oakland Hebrew Day School got a visit earlier this month from Sarah Lefton and Jordan Gill of BimBam Productions, a local film studio that produces videos to help families connect with Jewish traditions, values and holidays. The students watched BimBam videos about Passover during the visit. 

Comings & Goings

Rabbi Serena Eisenberg
Rabbi Serena Eisenberg

Rabbi Serena Eisenberg will be leaving Hillel at Stanford after six years as executive director. Eisenberg announced in March that she’d be departing at the end of the academic year in June.

Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller will be leaving after 13 years at San Francisco’s Congregation Sherith Israel. Her farewell Shabbat will be May 12, with special guests Susan Lubeck, the national field director of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Jennifer Martinez, executive director of Faith in Action.

Carey Perloff
Carey Perloff

Rabbi P.J. Schwartz is the new rabbi educator for Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos. Sianya Espinoza becomes the new synagogue and school administrator, while Melissa Sunberg has taken over as events manager. Schwartz spent the last four years as assistant rabbi at Temple Israel in Westport, Connecticut.

Carey Perloff will be leaving her post as artistic director at American Conservatory Theater following the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. Perloff has been A.C.T.’s artistic director since 1992.

To suggest something for next month’s Our Crowd, contact Rob Gloster.

Rob Gloster

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