Sisterhood Blog

Palo Alto's Jewish Fairy Godmother

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Tech industry aficionados traveling to Palo Alto, Calif., to visit sites like the HP Garage and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ house likely drive right past the Lucie Stern Community Center. They probably don’t even notice it, let alone wonder about the Jewish woman whose name it bears.

If you look carefully, many of Palo Alto’s institutions carry the philanthropic imprint of Stern, who lived and died (in 1946) here well before silicon ever came to this valley nestled between San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains. But few are familiar with the biography of the beneficent woman once known as “Stanford’s Aunt Lucie” and “Palo Alto’s Fairy Godmother.”

I took an interest in her shortly after my move to Palo Alto from New York around seven years ago. Of course, the Jewish surname “Stern” automatically piqued my curiosity. But beyond that, our next-door neighbor told us that she had inherited her house from her grandfather, who had been Lucie Stern’s personal French chef. Stern, who our neighbor mentioned had been part of the Levi Strauss family, had built the house for the chef and his family. I was eager to learn more about this generous woman—whom I eventually discovered enjoyed great wealth and privilege, but also suffered great pain and loss in her lifetime.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: palo alto, lucie stern, jewish women, california

Apples, Honey — and Israel — in My California Backyard

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Renee Ghert-Zand
The apple tree in the author’s back yard. (click to enlarge)

Libi bamizrach va’ani b’sof ma’arav. “My heart is in the East, but I am in the farthest West.” Those were the sentiments of Yehuda Halevi, the Jewish-Spanish physician and poet who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

They are also mine.

However, while for Halevi, “East” represented the Land of Israel, for me it symbolizes both that and my other cultural home — New York City. When you live on the western edge of the North American continent, as I do, both seem very far away.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rosh Hashanah, Palo Alto, Israel




Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.