Rabbi Jennie Chabon, seen here in 2019, celebrated 18 years of service at Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek. (Photo/file)
Rabbi Jennie Chabon, seen here in 2019, celebrated 18 years of service at Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek. (Photo/file)

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


Honors

Two Bay Area natives, both students at Stanford University are among 60 students from around the world who have been selected for the 10-week Birthright Israel Excel, a business internship in Israel this summer. They are Ari Glenn, 20, of Palo Alto and Caroline Schurz, 20, of San Francisco.


Happenings

Congregation B’nai Tikvah celebrated Rabbi Jennie Chabon’s 18th year with the Walnut Creek synagogue at its L’Chaim Gala in May. In an email to the community, executive director Keren Smith called the gala “a wonderful community-building event, a fancy evening filled with joy and friendship” and announced that, with proceeds from the event, B’nai Tikvah has exceeded its fundraising goal for the year.


Comings & Goings

Rabbi Dorothy Richman
Rabbi Dorothy Richman

Rabbi Dorothy Richman has been named rabbi emerita of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. The title rabbi emerita typically goes to a congregation’s retired rabbi, or an honorary rabbi. In this case, it goes to a rabbi who has been involved with Beth Sholom in many capacities over the years who will lend extra support — ritual, pastoral, educational — as the synagogue transitions from the leadership of Rabbi Dan Ain, who abruptly left the senior rabbi position earlier this year, to Rabbi Amanda Russell, the associate rabbi who was elevated to replace him.

Jim Heeger
Jim Heeger

Jim Heeger of Palo Alto is the new board chair of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the national organization that supports Jewish summer camps across North America. “A former Silicon Valley CEO and active Jewish community lay leader, he brings a wealth of experience in financial and administrative strategy from both the corporate and nonprofit spaces,” FJC said in a press release. As a youth, Heeger spent time at Shwayder Camp in Colorado and his sons have attended URJ Camp Eisner in Massachusetts and URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa. “Camp is the greatest vehicle for joyful engaged Judaism, and working to lead its expansion and growth is a thrill for me,” he said in the press release. “The world needs camp now more than ever, and I am confident that FJC’s strategic plan will strengthen Jewish camps to lead the way during these uncertain times.” Heeger has served on the boards of Moishe House, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, the World Union for Progressive Judaism and others.

Rabbi Cynthia Minster
Rabbi Cynthia Minster

Temple Israel of Alameda has hired Rabbi Cynthia Minster as its new spiritual leader on a three-year, part-time contract. Minster will work four days a week for the Reform synagogue. “I truly believe we have found what we, as a congregation, need in a Rabbi,” temple president Eric Strimling wrote in an email to the congregation.

Frances Dinkelspiel (Photo/Courtesy-Kelly Sullivan-Berkeleyside)
Frances Dinkelspiel (Photo/Courtesy-Kelly Sullivan-Berkeleyside)

Frances Dinkelspiel, executive editor of Cityside, has stepped down from the nonprofit media organization to focus on writing her next book. She helped found Berkeleyside in 2009, concerned with the ebbing of local news. “Berkeleyside has grown into a nationally recognized news provider with three editors and six reporters, 519,000 monthly readers, 70,000 Twitter followers and newsletters read by tens of thousands of people,” the publication wrote in an article announcing Dinkelspiel’s departure. In 2019, Dinkelspiel co-founded Cityside, which launched Oaklandside in 2020.

Sarah Cohen Domont
Sarah Cohen Domont

Sarah Cohen Domont will step down after six years as executive director of Santa Cruz Hillel at the end of June. She will be moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to be director of lifelong learning at Kehillah Synagogue. This is a return for Cohen Domont, who previously served as associate director of North Carolina Hillel. “Over the course of her tenure, Santa Cruz Hillel has become an outstanding Hillel,” board president Chuck Smith said in an email to the community. “Our Hillel has focused on engaging Jewish students wherever they are, through programming and engagement focused on Israel, Jewish life and learning, student leadership and community. As Sarah’s time with us comes to a close, we are in a place of strength.”

Rabbanit Meira Wolkenfeld (Photo/Mason Resnick Photography)
Rabbanit Meira Wolkenfeld (Photo/Mason Resnick Photography)

Rabbanit Meira Wolkenfeld is taking over the position of director of education and community engagement at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley. Wolkenfeld recently completed a Ph.D. in Talmud at Yeshiva University and is currently enrolled in an online ordination program at Yeshivat Maharat, which trains women as Orthodox clergy. Wolkenfeld will arrive in Berkeley in August with husband Ezra Wolkenfeld and their children, Shalev, 5, and Yakir, 3. She was born in Sacramento and spent her early years in Berkeley. Wolkenfeld is the granddaughter of longtime Beth Israel members. “Throughout this process, the search committee was impressed by Rabbanit Wolkenfeld’s deep thoughtfulness and attentive pastoral skills, her curiosity and incisive questions, as well as by her scholarship and insightful teachings,” leaders of the Modern Orthodox congregation wrote in an email to its community.

Wolkenfeld is taking over for Maharat Victoria Sutton, who is leaving at the end of July, it was previously announced. Her new position will be as a Jewish studies teacher at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, a nursery school–through–12th grade Jewish day school in New York City. She and her family are moving to Brooklyn.


Philanthropy

Congregation Beth David in Saratoga has been awarded a Scientists in the Synagogue grant from the organization Sinai and Synapses, which promotes connections between Judaism and science. The grant will fund a yearlong series of events called “Judaism and Science in Conversation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” “Together we will explore the history of the relationship between Judaism and science and dive deeply into what Judaism and science have to say about some current issues like lab grown meat and kashrut, and what we pass on to our children biologically, socially, and spiritually,” Rabbi Nathan Roller told the community in an email.

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].