Readers’ Choice 2021

Readers’ choice winners

If the word of the year in 2020 was “pandemic,” then this year’s might well be “hybrid.” It’s a word that once brought to mind the environmentally friendly style of car that combines gasoline and electric power. Now “hybrid” is about something else entirely: how we have come to live in a Covid-safe way. Online get-togethers alternate with in-person gatherings, adapted for the times. Hybrid forms of connecting have allowed many organizations not only to survive, but to thrive. You’ll read about them in this edition of our annual Readers’ Choice where you, our readers, tell us what you love about our diverse and always creative community.

Necessity spawns invention, and the virtual fundraising event was one oft-seen development that came out of sheltering in place during the pandemic’s 2020 apex; the virtual gala replaced traditional in-person fundraisers for many local nonprofits. The virtual gala award for J. readers continues for a second year as a Readers’ Choice category, as the desire to stay safe reigned supreme in everyone’s minds.

Shalom Bayit’s “Creating Hope” fundraiser recognized eight local women who are leaders in the Jewish community; their forum We Commit focuses awareness on sexual harassment in the workplace. The organization did its own version of hybrid, with small groups (once known as pods) gathering to watch the livestreaming event together. Also in the virtual event category are two other luminaries: Jewish Family and Children’s Services for its four-part online series “All Together Now” and the Oshman Family JCC’s April gala, which raised $295,000.

In our more traditional Readers’ Choice categories, check out brand new deli winner Grossman’s in Santa Rosa, which opened during a difficult Covid year, and favorite San Francisco restaurant Firefly, new to Readers’ Choice but well known and loved among Bay Area diners.

In Full Swing, a full-figure clothing boutique in Oakland that has been in business since 1994, is a new initiate to Readers’ Choice.

And then there are the perennial favorites: JCC of San Francisco and OFJCC in several categories, as well as Congregations Emanu-El and Sherith Israel, always tops in the synagogue category of J. Readers’ hearts and minds.

What remains special about the Readers’ Choice awards is that they are given by you, our readers. You vote online and by mail, letting us know some of the organizations and business establishments that make Jewish life in the Bay Area so appealing. Without your tips, how would we know about that great new bagel bakery, whom to turn to for insurance advice, or which fitness facilities provide the kind of classes and equipment that keep us working out instead of vegging out?

Enjoy perusing the 2021 Readers’ Choice, and here’s hoping that the word of the year for 2022 will be “together!”

Synagogue Life
Other Community Residence
Have a Nosh
Time to Celebrate
Shop Till You Drop
Health, Beauty & Fitness
Business & Professional