Dr. Laura Stachel, founder of We Care Solar.
Dr. Laura Stachel, founder of We Care Solar.

Honors, happenings, comings & goings — June 2021


Honors & Awards

Rabbi Camille Angel, the rabbi-in-residence at the University of San Francisco, has received the Excellence in Advising award from Student Leadership and Engagement, an umbrella organization for student groups at USF. The award recognizes her work with QMmunity, “a student organization that actively affirms the LGBTQ+ community and religious and spiritual identities at USF,” according to a community email from USF’s Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice.

Rabbi Camille Shira Angel has been a presence at USF for years. (Photo/Courtesy Angel)
Rabbi Camille Shira Angel has been a presence at USF for years. (Photo/Courtesy Angel)
Eva Hecht
Eva Hecht
Yossi Moff
Yossi Moff
Ephraim Shalunov
Ephraim Shalunov

Among the 26 teens chosen for the 35th annual prestigious Bronfman Fellowship are three from Northern California. Eva Hecht of Redding is a member of the board of Temple Beth Israel in that city, and she volunteers in the rebuilding of a school that was damaged by the Carr Fire in 2018. Yossi Moff of Foster City is a member of Peninsula Sinai Congregation, spends his summers at Camp Ramah in Northern California, attended Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School and is involved with his local United Synagogue Youth chapter. Ephraim Shalunov of Lafayette founded his own organization, AKIN, which builds the U.S.-Israel bipartisan relationship by lobbying Congress and building a national network of student advocates. The Bronfman Fellowship is a year-long program of study and conversation about pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts. Normally, the fellowship begins with a summer spent in Israel; this year, due to Covid-19, the summer program will take place at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in northwest Connecticut.

Dr. Laura Stachel, a member of Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley who was profiled in J. in 2013, has been selected for Forbes’ “50 Over 50” list. The magazine’s profile of her is headlined “The Giver Of Light: How Dr. Laura Stachel Is Fighting To Ensure No Mother Gives Birth In The Dark.” Stachel’s clinical career as an OB-GYN came to a premature end after a devastating back injury. But, writes Forbes, she “reconfigured herself as a social entrepreneur — one whose nonprofit, We Care Solar, is using solar electricity to make births safer around the world.”

Shai Fichtelberg
Shai Fichtelberg

Sonoma County teen Shai Fichtelberg has been included on the Chabad Teen Network (CTeen) “8 Teens Under 18” list, which recognizes those making a difference in their communities. Fichtelberg is very involved in student life at Santa Rosa High School as captain of the debate team, treasurer of the math club — and founder of the Jewish Heritage Club. The club meets monthly during lunch and draws a mix of Jewish and non-Jewish students. One presentation on the Holocaust led to a non-Jewish student apologizing for sharing Holocaust jokes on social media. Fichtelberg has also led her CTeen chapter’s wildfire relief efforts. She will attend UC Berkeley in the fall.


Happenings

Rabbi Jamie Hyams
Rabbi Jamie Hyams

Jamie Hyams, development director at Hebrew Free Loan in San Francisco, is now Rabbi Jamie Hyams. She received her rabbinic ordination last month from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Hyams has worked at many Jewish institutions, including Hillel at Stanford, the Contra Costa JCC and the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She will continue in her role at Hebrew Free Loan, but she will also serve as part-time rabbi of Congregation P’nai Tikvah in Las Vegas.

The Jeff Astor Foundation is holding a 30 anniversary fundraising campaign to benefit the Israel Tennis and Education Centers, a social service agency that helps underprivileged children at 14 facilities across Israel. The foundation was founded in memory of Jeff Astor, who grew up in Los Altos and died in a plane crash in 1991 at the age of 24. He was involved in a number of Jewish organizations, completed a 10-week training program with the Israel Defense Forces and was an avid athlete. The campaign, which is spearheaded by Jeff’s parents, Merry and Steve Astor, has a goal of $100,000. For more information about the foundation or contribute to the campaign, go to jeffastorfoundation.org.


Comings & Goings

Jessica Rosenberg is the new director of the Taube Center for Jewish Peoplehood at the Osher Marin JCC. Most recently, she served as director of the Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network, which works to make the ritual of mikvah immersion accessible to Jews around the world. Rosenberg has also worked at the Koret International School for Jewish Peoplehood at the ANU Museum in Tel Aviv and as director of external relations at the Krakow JCC. Rosenberg recently completed a master’s of divinity at Harvard Divinity School. She lives in Inverness with her partner and two dogs.

After 14 years at the JCC Sonoma County, executive director Ellen Blustein is retiring at the end of the month. She was honored at the JCC’s annual meeting, held virtually on June 16.

A woman triumphantly gestures at a very large pile of coats
Ellen Blustein, executive director of the JCC of Sonoma County, with piles of coats donated to survivors of the Butte County fire, December 2018. (Photo/Sonya Garzouzi)
Cantor Sandy Bernstein
Cantor Sandy Bernstein

Cantor Sandy Bernstein is joining the team at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek starting July 1. The native Californian most recently served at Temple Sholom in Greenwich, Connecticut. Bernstein has collaborated with popular Jewish musicians Craig Taubman and Neshama Carlebach and served as a regional officer of the Cantors Assembly, an association of Conservative cantors. She was ordained in 2013 at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, where she received a master’s degree in Jewish sacred music with a specialization in Jewish education. Bernstein is married to percussionist Gaston Bernstein; they have four children. “We are so very delighted that Hazzan Bernstein will be joining our community,” B’nai Shalom president Michael Bloom said on the synagogue’s website. “Her warmth, musicality and ability to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds truly set her apart from a very qualified pool of applicants.”

David A.M. Wilensky
David A.M. Wilensky

David A.M. Wilensky is the digital editor of J. He can be reached at [email protected].