Cantor Toby Glaser rehearses a prerecorded High Holiday service at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. (Photo/Michael Fox)
Cantor Toby Glaser rehearses a prerecorded High Holiday service at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. (Photo/Michael Fox)

Happenings, comings & goings, opportunities — December 2021


Honors

Cantor Toby Glaser, who 18 months ago joined Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, has been officially installed, finally! The ceremony took place at an in-person Shabbat service on Dec. 3 led by Rabbis Jessica Zimmerman Graf and Abby Phelps. Koleynu, the synagogue choir, performed, and members brought menorahs and joined leaders on the bimah for a group candlelighting.

Jeffrey Farber
Jeffrey Farber
Tye Gregory
Tyler Gregory
Anita Friedman
Anita Friedman

A Wider Bridge, the S.F.-based national organization working to create equality in Israel by expanding LGBTQ inclusion, will hold an online celebration for its 10th anniversary on Jan. 31. The theme is “Proud B’Yachad — Proud Together.” Two of the honorees, Jeffrey Farber and Tyler Gregory, live in the Bay Area. Farber is the CEO of the Koret Foundation, which supports philanthropic causes in the Bay Area, Israel and elsewhere. “He is a trusted mentor and friend whose business acumen and thoughtful guidance has helped A Wider Bridge become the organization it is today,” reads his bio at awiderbridge.org/our-honorees. Gregory is the CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, and before that was the executive director of A Wider Bridge for six years. He “grew A Wider Bridge from a local startup to a leading international LGBTQ organization confronting antisemitism, anti-Zionism, homophobia and transphobia,” his bio reads. Anita Friedman, executive director of the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, is the event’s honorary chair.


Comings & goings

Sam Lauter
Sam Lauter
Gabe Quinto
Gabe Quinto

A Wider Bridge has announced several new board members, including two from the Bay Area. Sam Lauter of San Francisco has been involved with the organization for years and together with his wife, Stephanie, received its 2018 Champion Ally Award. “Every day, AWB showcases the breadth and depth of support for Israel in progressive spaces,” Lauter said in a press release. “I’ve been traveling to Israel since I was little — and the AWB mission we went on was perhaps the most exciting. It’s a different lens on a country I love. And seeing the impact this group has gives me great pride.” Gabe Quinto, the mayor of El Cerrito, also has been on a mission to Israel with A Wider Bridge. “There is a lot of pressure out there to silence LGBTQ people who stand with Israel,” Quinto, the city’s first LGBTQ councilmember, said in the press release. “I won’t be silenced, nor will AWB. AWB is an important partner in fighting for what is right.”

Rabbi Susan Leider
Rabbi Susan Leider

Rabbi Susan Leider has announced that she will be leaving Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon at the end of June. She has been the senior rabbi there for 10 years. “Over the past months, I found myself at an important crossroads, discerning whether to renew my contract at Kol Shofar, or to take a much-needed break from the demands of pulpit life,” Leider wrote in a letter to her community. “After much contemplation, I have chosen the latter.” She added, “Thank you for the gifts you have given me. Thank you, too, for enriching my life as a rabbi and as a person. The Kol Shofar community will forever be part of my neshamah, my soul.”

Rose Katz is retiring after 17 years as reader services librarian at Jewish Community Library in San Francisco at the end of the year. The library, a program of Jewish LearningWorks, asks that anyone who wishes to honor her years of service make a contribution to the newly created Rose Katz Musical Enrichment Fund, which will support the library’s musical programs and ongoing acquisition of additional music-related resources for the library’s collection.

Diana Kruze
Diana Kruze

Ben Feuer, who has been president of the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco since he founded the group in 2015, is stepping down at the end of this month. His replacement will be Diana Kruze, a mediator and arbitrator at Judicate West. She was formerly a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster and a judicial officer with the California Superior Court.

Sharon Heath
Sharon Heath

Sharon Heath has retired after four years as administrator of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco’s historically LGBTQ synagogue. “We are grateful for how she has served the community so generously over her tenure as administrator,” the congregation said in an email in conjunction with her being honored at Shabbat services on Dec. 17.

Ari Yovel
Ari Yovel

Ari Yovel is the new rabbinic intern at Temple Beth Torah in Fremont. They have a BA in Jewish history from Mills College in Oakland and began their rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College in May. “Student Rabbi Ari is [our] first ever rabbinic intern  — a true Shehecheyanu opportunity,” Rabbi Zoe McCoon said in an email to the Beth Torah community. “One of the projects they will work on is helping us strengthen our Multi-Access Service experience so people can have meaningful moments from wherever they join us.”

Rabbi Abby Phelps
Rabbi Abby Phelps

Rabbi Abby Phelps is leaving Congregation Sherith Israel of San Francisco after four years as rabbi educator. “She injected innovative curricula and a lot of ruach into Studio, and shepherded Sherith Israel youth through the most difficult days of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf and Lindsay Braunig, the synagogue’s president, said in an email to the community. Phelps’ partner, Cantor Richard Newman, filled in at Sherith after Cantor David Frommer departed last year and before Cantor Toby Glaser arrived. Newman lives and works in the Milwaukee area, and Phelps will be joining him there at the end of the school year. “While we are very much looking forward to our reunion after so much time apart, I am saddened that it comes at the cost of having to depart my position in this extraordinary community,” Phelps said in the email. “I have truly loved my time at Sherith Israel.”


Opportunities

Applications are open for the Tikvah Scholars Program from the N.Y.-based Tikvah Fund. The program is an 11-day session over the summer on the campus of Yale University that brings together current 10th- and 11th-graders to study with leading scholars and others. During the two sessions, one starting June 27 and the other July 25, students are immersed in core seminars in Jewish philosophy, Western civilization, Zionism and modern politics,” according to a press release. “They also delve into a variety of electives, with topics ranging from bioethics to law, economics to Greek philosophy, and modern literature to American political thought.” Apply or nominate someone by Jan. 31 at tikvahscholars.org.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Rabbi Abby Phelps and Cantor Richard Newman are married.

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

David A.M. Wilensky is interim associate editor of J. He previously served as assistant editor and digital editor, and is a member of the board of the American Jewish Press Association. He can be reached at [email protected].