Sam Lauter shaking Cissy Swig's hand at A Wider Bridge Cocktail Party Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo/Katie Ravas For DREW ALTIZER PHOTOGRAPHY)
Sam Lauter shaking Cissy Swig's hand at A Wider Bridge Cocktail Party Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo/Katie Ravas For DREW ALTIZER PHOTOGRAPHY)

Happenings, honors, comings & goings, opportunities — Feb. 2023

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Happenings

For the first time in history, a Druze soldier has been honored at Ammunition Hill — the site of a legendary battle during the 1967 Six-Day War — and it’s thanks to the efforts of Dick Berman of Alameda. Plaques recognizing Druze soldier Amir Sheikh and Jewish soldier Hai Kolomiti were unveiled on the Wall of Honor last month, 30 years after both died in combat. The wall is sponsored and maintained by Jewish National Fund–USA and serves as a tribute to the heroism and courage of Jewish soldiers who have fought in defense of their countries throughout history.

Munir Sheikh, Amir Sheikh's brother, with child and Dick Berman.
Amir Sheikh’s brother Munir with Dick Berman.

“A few weeks ago at our Jewish National Fund–USA conference in Boston, I had a thought that it would be great to put up plaques for the two young soldiers, especially Amir who was Druze. The Druze serve and die for the State of Israel and it is important that their names be on this wall,” Berman said in a press release.

Chabad of SF hosted a “Super Soul” Super Bowl party for their homeless neighbors, inviting folks into the SOMA Shul on Sixth Street to watch the big game Feb. 12. About 50 people came in to eat hot wings, hamburgers and fries, get free haircuts and receive donated clothing, and about a dozen stayed to watch the game. “The goal was to humanize people living on the streets,” said Rabbi Moshe Langer, who hosted the event with his father, Rabbi Yosef Langer. “Give them a gift. Make them feel good. You never know what a kind gesture can accomplish and change someone’s life for the better.” Begun in 2017 in Brooklyn, Super Soul parties have spread nationwide.

Melissa Chapman, the CEO of the Berkeley-based JCC East Bay, is one of 17 Jewish community executives and senior professionals who have been accepted into Spertus Institute’s inaugural cohort of the Leadership Certificate in Combating Antisemitism. The cohort aims to equip Jewish communal leaders with the ability to respond to antisemitic incidents with knowledge, strength and skill.

Congregation Am Tikvah in San Francisco has loaned a Torah to its Brotherhood Way neighbor — the Brandeis School of S.F. — after learning the school had only one scroll to serve its large community of children and families. The 2-year-old synagogue, which formed via a Beth Israel Judea and Congregation B’nai Emunah merger, presented the Torah in a short ceremony during a weekly Tefillah service, with Am Tikvah Cantor Barry Reich and interim executive director Talya K. Brass (a Brandeis alumna) doing much of the organizing.

Alex Reibman of San Francisco was one of 40 young American, Israeli and U.A.E. executives selected for the T3 Leadership Program in January. The T3 Leadership Program is an initiative of Birthright Israel Excel and aims to foster strong personal and professional ties for young leaders in the Middle East, leading to hoped-for future collaboration. Reibman is a data scientist and technical founder of speedify.ai. He previously worked in Tel Aviv’s hi-tech sector as a cybersecurity research data scientist and as a machine learning engineering team lead for tier-1 financial institutions including Goldman Sachs, American Express and Westpac.


Honors

Anne Germanacos
Anne Germanacos

Fifth-generation San Franciscan Anne Germanacos will receive the Kemach Torah Award for her commitment to the Jewish movement for justice as a philanthropic leader at T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

She will be honored at  T’ruah’s 2023 gala on May 10. T’ruah’s mission is to bring the Torah’s ideals of human dignity, equality and justice to life by empowering rabbis and cantors to be moral voices and to lead Jewish communities in advancing democracy and human rights for all people. Germanacos is president of the Germanacos Foundation, which supports organizations and individuals locally and internationally, including Jewish LearningWorks in San Francisco and the Jerusalem Youth Chorus in Israel.

Roselyne “Cissie” Swig was honored by A Wider Bridge at a Feb. 8 cocktail party at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Swig is a community leader, philanthropist and longtime supporter of AWB, a S.F.-based nonprofit that focuses on LGBTQ

Jenniek
Jennieke Cohen (left) and Marissa Moss (right)

inclusion in Israel and support for Israel within LGBTQ communities. Swig is the founder and president of ComCon International, director of the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program, founder of Partners Ending Domestic Abuse and Bayview Alliance.

Two local authors have won 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Awards from the Association of Jewish Libraries. Jennieke Cohen of Sacramento won Young Adult Honors for “My Fine Fellow: A Delicious Entanglement,” a gender-bent take on “My Fair Lady,” and Marissa Moss of Berkeley won Middle Grade Notables for “The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner.”


Comings & Goings

Rabbi Chayva Lehrman
Rabbi Chayva Lehrman

Rabbi Chayva Lehrman will become the full-time rabbi at Congregation Am Tikvah in San Francisco in July. She is a recent rabbinical school graduate from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and is currently interning in Los Angeles. Lehrman will be the first settled rabbi for Am Tikvah, a new synagogue that combined members from Beth Israel Judea and B’nai Emunah in 2021.

Greg Cohen is JCC East Bay’s new director of development. Greg’s first job out of college was at the Berkeley-based JCC as an after-school teacher. He then became the Maccabi Games delegation head and camp assistant director. He also worked in tech sales and for other nonprofits.

Pati Ortiz has taken over as the interim executive director at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, serving under the auspices of Mountain View–based Venture Leadership Collective (where she is a community impact strategist). Ortiz, who grew up in Venezuela, is a member of Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, where her young children are enrolled in education programs. She has more than two decades of experience with community-based organizations in the U.S. and Latin America.

Rabbi Jason Rodich
Rabbi Jason Rodich

Roger Feigelson is the new executive director of San Francisco Hillel, which oversees Hillel chapters at eight schools

including S.F. State University and USF. A past president of the board at both Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo and Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City, the Saratoga-raised Feigelson is a Stanford graduate who served in a senior role at Oracle. He has been active in the Jewish Community Federation, notably in the Young Adults Division.

There are several clergy changes at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. After eight years, Rabbi Jason Rodich will leave his post in June and move to Minnesota. After Rabbi Leo Fuchs is ordained in May, he will become the congregation’s full-time rabbi-educator and youth and family education head of school starting in July. Also, Rabbi Noah Westreich will join the clergy team as assistant rabbi.


Opportunities

Applications are open for the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games — with one competition to be held July 5 to 25 in Israel and another Aug. 6 to 11 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jewish teens can apply for a three-week immersive, Olympic-style sports competition with options such as baseball, basketball, ice hockey, volleyball, flag football, soccer, tennis, swimming, and sports journalism/social media. For the games in Israel, which are for ages 14-17, the experience will include cultural and social events, volunteer projects, tours of significant sites, and talks by speakers, coaches and pro athletes. The age range for Fort Lauderdale is 12-16. For more details, visit jccmaccabi.org.

The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California — self-described as “the voice of California’s Jewish community to the State Capitol” —  is accepting applications for the JPAC Outreach and Communications Student Fellow program, sponsored by the Koret Foundation. Open to college students, the paid fellowship is a remote, part-time, five-month position designed to provide hands-on experience and training in outreach and communication. Responsibilities include recruiting students to the JPAC Capitol Summit, on-campus outreach, attending board meetings, and creating social media content and communications materials. For more details, visit tinyurl.com/jpac-fellow23.

Urban Adamah is accepting applications until March 31 for a four-month residential fellowship program from Aug. 14 to Dec. 15 that integrates urban organic farming, Jewish learning, communal living, mindfulness and food justice. The fellows, ages 21 to 30, will live, learn, farm, cook, celebrate Shabbat and build community together on the farm. For details, visit urbanadamah.org/fellowship.

Lea Loeb
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.