Reich holds a drink and a plaque, flanked by several others
Robert Reich (center) receives the Intelligence and Courage Award from the Frances Perkins Center.

Honors, happenings, comings & goings — Oct. 2018


Jhos Singer
Maggid Jhos Singer
Dev Noily
Rabbi Dev Noily

Three East Bay religious leaders are among the eight people chosen to be teaching fellows at SVARA, a Chicago-based yeshiva that bills itself as “traditionally radical” and “dedicated to the serious study of Talmud through a queer lens.” The Transformative Talmud Teaching Fellowship is a nine-month education program for queer and trans teachers and leaders that launched this fall. Rabbi Dev Noily of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont; Rabbi Gray Myrseth, director of Kehilla’s school; and Maggid Jhos Singer of Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley were the fellows chosen from the Bay Area.

Six students at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto have received recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program based on their scores on the PSAT. Seniors Sai Gopinath, Alex Leiman, Lexi Tuch, Ezra Mowbray and Paul Treitel were honored as “commended students” after scoring in the top 50,000 among 1.6 million test takers nationwide. And senior Joy Cheskin qualified as a National Merit semifinalist, an honor given to the top 16,000 students annually in the nation who take the test.

Robert Reich, secretary of labor for four years under President Clinton and a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, has received the Intelligence and Courage Award from the Frances Perkins Center, named for the first woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet position. Perkins served as secretary of labor under President Franklin Roosevelt. Reich was honored during a conference Oct. 5-6 at UC Berkeley on “Women and the Spirit of the New Deal.”

The American Jewish Committee’s San Francisco chapter honored attorney Arturo Gonzalez with the Judge Learned Hand Award and also presented an award to retired federal Judge D. Lowell Jensen at its awards dinner earlier this month. The keynote speech at the event was by Ming Chin, an associate justice on the California Supreme Court.

man in academic regalia holding up a plaque
Yuval Yaari accepts Maimonides Award

Yuval Yaari, who grew up in Palo Alto, was one of nine students to receive a Maimonides Award at the annual Touro College School of Health Sciences commencement ceremony in September. Yaari, a former first aid responder for Magen David Adom in Israel, is a student in Touro’s physical therapy program in New York. He is a 2007 graduate of Gunn High School in Palo Alto. Touro has 30 campuses internationally, including one in Vallejo.

The San Francisco chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic organization of leading women in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality, awarded its 2018 Karola Saekel Craib Excellence in Food Journalism Fellowship to freelance journalist Rachel Levin. She received the $2,500 award at the chapter’s annual meeting in September. Levin currently is writing “Eat Something,” a pop-culture look at Jews and food co-authored by Wise Sons Deli. The Craib fellowship is given annually to a promising Bay Area female food journalist who is not a Les Dames member.

Mara Kahn
Mara Kahn

Mara Kahn, an agent with the wine country division of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, has been chosen by the New Jersey-based company to receive its 2018 national Community Involvement Award. Kahn, a former member of the board of directors at Congregation Shir Shalom in Sonoma, helped assemble and distribute more than 200 “Kitchens in a Box” to victims of last fall’s wildfires. Each kit included kitchen supplies worth about $750. Read about her many community-based achievements at

Comings & Goings

Renny Pritkin
Renny Pritkin

Renny Pritikin, chief curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco since 2014, has announced he will retire at the end of December. During his time at the CJM, Pritikin worked with artists to consider intriguing aspects of Jewish thought and to create more than a dozen original exhibitions and installations. He worked from 2004 to 2012 as director of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery and the fine arts collection at UC Davis.

Sharon Vanek is the new executive director of the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, replacing Talia Cohen, who is stepping down after six years in the position. The nonprofit CICC is based in Sunnyvale.

Jerilyn Gelt
Jerilyn Gelt

Jerilyn Gelt is the new advisory board chair at Shalom Bayit, a Bay Area organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in Jewish homes. She replaces Linda Kalinowski, who has been chair since 2015. Gelt is governance co-chair of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council and was a Jewish Coalition for Literacy tutor for 15 years. She is retired from the California Public Employment Relations Board, where she worked as a labor relations specialist and administrative hearing officer.


Two old men stand with a large framed degree
Technion President Peretz Lavie (left) presents an honorary degree to Nahum Guzik

The president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was in the Bay Area this month to celebrate the awarding of an honorary degree to Nahum Guzik, an inventor and entrepreneur who lives in Palo Alto. Technion President Peretz Lavie made the Oct. 14 visit to host a presidential forum and to honor Guzik, who actually received the degree in April, for his work in the tech industry and his philanthropic support of the Technion and the State of Israel. In 1984, he founded Mountain View-based Guzik Technical Enterprises, which provides test solutions to the disk drive industry and makes waveform acquisition tools. Guzik also received an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2014.

Rob Gloster

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