Hazzan Sandy Bernstein sings at her installation concert at Congregation B'nai Shalom in Walnut Creek. (Photo/Rina Kirsch)
Hazzan Sandy Bernstein sings at her installation concert at Congregation B'nai Shalom in Walnut Creek. (Photo/Rina Kirsch)

Honors, happenings, comings & goings, philanthropy — May 2022


Honors

Jenessa Schwartz
Jenessa Schwartz

Jenessa Schwartz, a middle-school language arts teacher at Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos, has been given the 2022 Ruby Award by Jewish LearningWorks. Said Schwartz’s colleagues about nominating her, “At Yavneh, Jenessa brings her full self to her work and in so doing engages students’ hearts and minds as Jews and as human beings, as they are beginning to figure out their place in the world. The connection she creates with these young teens lasts long after they leave, as many students will return to seek advice as they navigate high school and college.” The Ruby Award, which comes with an $1,800 honorarium, is named for Robert Ruby, who passed away in 2016 and was a longtime leader in the East Bay Jewish community. The award was given out April 26 at the Jewish LearningWorks’ event “Building with Intention.”

Lynn Bunim
Lynn Bunim

The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California’s Earl Raab Award was given to Lynn Bunim, JPAC’s 2019-2020 board chair, who returned as an interim board chair during part of 2021. The award is given annually to a community member or lay leader “who best exemplifies Mr. Raab’s high standard of communal activism and advocacy.” (Raab was one of the co-founders of JPAC and a longtime columnist for this publication.) “Bunim guided JPAC through the tumultuous time of the pandemic and fought for an appropriate Ethnic Studies curriculum,” the organization said in a statement.

Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez
Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez

Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez was honored with JPAC’s Barbara Yaroslavsky Award for a woman leading in Jewish civic engagement. She worked in the Clinton administration and the Newsom mayoral administration and has served on the boards of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council and the National Council of Jewish Women. The awards were presented May 10 at the JPAC Advocacy Day conference in Sacramento.

California College of the Arts honored philanthropist Roselyne “Cissie” Swig at its annual gala on May 19. Helmed by co-chairs and CCA trustees Stanlee Gatti and Kimberlee Swig, the evening highlighted the honoree’s long and generous commitment to CCA students over the past 30 years, as well as to institutions across the Bay Area.

an old woman with short dark hair stands next to a piano with a floral vase on it
Roselyne “Cissie” Swig at home (Photo/Norm Levin)
Cindy Rogoway
Cindy Rogoway

Cindy Rogoway, executive director of Hebrew Free Loan, has been honored with the Inspiring Leadership Award by the National Council of Jewish Women San Francisco. The award was presented May 22 during a luncheon and benefit at the Presidio Golf & Concordia Club. Congressional Rep. Jackie Speier and Teddi Silverman, vice president of NCJWSF, were also honored with awards.

Rabbi Sydney Mintz
Rabbi Sydney Mintz
Cantor Jaime Shpall
Cantor Jaime Shpall

Rabbi Sydney Mintz of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco and Cantor Jaime Shpall of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills have received honorary degrees from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary where they were ordained in 1997. It is an HUC tradition to award rabbinical school alumni a Doctor of Divinity degree after 25 years in the rabbinate, and cantorial school alumni a Doctor of Music degree after 25 years in the cantorate.


Happenings

Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek has officially installed Hazzan Sandy Bernstein. She arrived last year, but a proper installation was delayed by the pandemic. The weekend of May 13-15 was marked by a musical Kabbalat Shabbat service; a Shabbat morning installation ceremony that included Hazzan David Silverstein of San Antonio, B’nai Shalom’s Rabbi Daniel Stein and Hazzan Emeritus Marc Dinkin; and a concert that featured several Bay Area cantors, including Marsha Attie, Jennie Chabon, Leigh Korn and David Silverstein.


Comings & Goings

Rabbi Greg Wolfe
Rabbi Greg Wolfe

Rabbi Greg Wolfe is retiring as senior rabbi of Congregation Bet Haverim, effective June 30. After 27 years in the post, Wolfe is becoming the Davis synagogue’s first rabbi emeritus. “I joined the congregation as the rabbi in July of 1995, when we had about 100 families, and we now have around 275 families,” he wrote to J. in an email. Taking over for Wolfe will be Rabbi Bess Wohlner and Rabbi Jeremy Simons, who currently serve Temple Israel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Asher Shasho Levy will be the new hazzan at The Kitchen in San Francisco, starting July 22.  “Drawing from his Syrian background, Asher brings a huge wealth of Sephardi prayers, melodies, and traditions, helping us to explore new possibilities,” Rabbi Noa Kushner, The Kitchen’s founding rabbi, said in an email to the community. “He is an accomplished oud player and multi-instrumentalist, and is ecstatic about working with our davening team and community.”

Asher Shasho Levy
Asher Shasho Levy

Departing The Kitchen are Chelsea Mandell, rabbinic student in residence, and Jacob Blumberg, artist in residence.

Sam Lauter
Sam Lauter

Sam Lauter has been sworn in as a trustee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., a position to which he was appointed by President Joe Biden earlier this year. Lauter is a fifth-generation San Franciscan who manages public affairs and lobbying for Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners. He’s served in a number of positions in Democratic politics, including personal assistant to Biden when he was a senator.

Rabbi P.J. Schwartz has been promoted from rabbi educator to associate rabbi educator at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos. “Rabbi Schwartz has been with Shir Hadash for nearly five years,” said synagogue president Andy Altman in an email to the congregation. “During that time his impact on youth and family education as well as engagement programs has been extensive. … Rabbi Schwartz has been an integral part of our clergy team, bridging youth and family initiatives with wider congregational ritual, lifecycle, and cultural events.”

Rabbi Lisa Kingston
Rabbi Lisa Kingston

Rabbi Lisa Kingston will succeed Rabbi Dennis Eisner as senior rabbi of Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, effective July 1. Kingston first came to PTBE in 2013 as rabbi/educator “and has taken on increased responsibilities and leadership with grace and humility, including guiding the congregation through major transitions and the COVID pandemic,” according to PTBE synagogue incoming president Roxanne Cohen.

Rabbi Rebecca Hecht
Rabbi Rebecca Hecht
Rabbi Genevieve Greinetz
Rabbi Genevieve Greinetz

Joining PTBE in July will be Rabbi Rebecca Hecht and Rabbi Genevieve Greinetz, both recent rabbinical school graduates. Hecht, who studied at Hebrew Union College in New York, will serve as assistant rabbi. A graduate of Stanford University, she directed its Challah for Hunger program as a student and later worked full time as a research assistant in Stanford’s Center of International Security and Cooperation. Greinetz, who studied at Hebrew College in Boston, will be assistant rabbi/educator. She grew up at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette and has a master’s degree in Jewish studies from Union Theological Seminary.

Amy Mallor
Amy Mallor

Amy Mallor has joined Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco as executive director. She has returned to the Bay Area after stints at synagogues in Baltimore and Glencoe, Illinois. Previously she served as executive director of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco and Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame.

Carolyn Mulcahy
Carolyn Mulcahy

Carolyn Mulcahy has joined Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco as director of the congregation’s soon-to-be-named preschool. She lives in Brisbane and was previously director of the Little Urbanites preschool while completing a master’s degree in early childhood education at San Francisco State University.

Jonathan Emanuel
Jonathan Emanuel

Joining Sherith Israel in July is Jonathan Emanuel, the congregation’s new director of education. He lives in San Anselmo with his family and has served as director of teen services for the Jewish Federation of the East Bay and director of youth and family education at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon. He has a master’s degree in Jewish education from Gratz College in the Philadelphia area and once upon a time studied Jewish mysticism in Tzfat, Israel.


Philanthropy

Rabbi Zac Kamenetz
Rabbi Zac Kamenetz

Shefa, the Jewish psychedelic organization started during the pandemic by Berkeley’s Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, has been accepted into the next UpStart Venture Accelerator cohort. UpStart is an organization that helps new and entrepreneurial Jewish organizations grow and become sustainable through a 12-month program. Shefa is one of 10 participating organizations. Though not based in the Bay Area, another organization in the cohort, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, has active local chapters.

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].