The Record

In this Issue

Embracing Chanukah's Meaning

Finding my Jewish Heritage

The Art of Observation

Community and Alumni Show the Way
At the 2019 Lamplighter Gala

Giving Tuesday: Support the New Gym

Generations of Service at Veterans Day

TUC Staff Council

I Am Touro: Destiny Wilson

Fresh on Facebook

Students Help Community in Battle of the Cans

Giving Tuesday: Take a Tour of the New Gym

Register Now for the Integrative Medicine Symposium

Tour the New Gym

Childhood Conditions and Female Entertainment Work in Cambodia


Embracing Chanukah's Meaning
Rabbi Tenenbaum & Dr. Riemer light the Menorah at the 2018 Chanukah Celebration

Embracing Chanukah's Meaning

By: Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum, Campus Rabbi

Chanukah is known as the festival of lights for a very good reason. In the eight days of Chanukah, we light candles to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. Because the number of seven represents the completion of a full, natural cycle, the days of the week .. the number eight moves us beyond, into infinity. In these eight nights of Chanukah, we have the light to light up the darkness for the entire year.

The story of Chanukah begins with the Macabees who were brave enough to oppose the evil that was around them, helping bring the Jews back to G-d. During Chanukah, we renew our own strength to stand together against the forces of darkness with light and spirituality in our own lives.

Encouraging acts of charity is the reason why we give gifts of gelt, which are chocolate coins, or actual money during Chanukah. We give these gifts so that children may have something to give in turn to those in need.

During Chanukah, we eat food that has been prepared with oil such as latkes and jelly donuts. More than just tasty, these treats allow for us to physically experience the miracle of Chanukah with the oil that was enough.

Finding My Jewish Heritage

By: JULIAN GALLEGOS, PhD, MBA, RN, FNP-BC, CNL, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Chair

One day while at school, I discovered a Hispanic Heritage Newsletter of New Mexico where I learned about the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico. I learned how many Hispanic families of New Mexico descended from Jews who had travelled to the “New” world fleeing persecution from Spain during the Holy Inquisition.
Dr. Julian Gallegos
Dr. Julian Gallegos with a photo of his great grandparents.

The article mentioned that the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico were individuals who outwardly practiced the Christian faith by attending Church services and celebrating Christian holidays, but secretly practiced Judaism in their homes. Many Jewish customs were ingrained in the New Mexico Hispanic home to include things like lighting candles on Friday, making special foods during and around Jewish holidays, and the methods for the butchering of animals. These customs began to be incorporated into everyday culture, and no one ever made the connection to their Jewish roots.

That afternoon after school, I sat with my grandmother and great-aunt at the kitchen table, and I naively asked if some of our ancestors who had settled New Mexico could be Crypto-Jews. For a moment she did not speak, and then she looked up at me and said, “Yes, we are.”
She told me that throughout her childhood, her grandmother who had raised her due to her mother’s passing insinuated to her that we descended from a Jewish line. It was her grandmother who taught her about that it was good to be a faithful Christian, but to always remember that the Jewish people were His elect. I loved listening to my grandmother’s stories until she passed in 2009 at 100 years old.

In 2015 the Spanish government passed the Law of Return for descendants of Jewish citizens who had been expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. The law was enacted as reparations for the wrongs that were committed on the Jewish people in the late 1400s and later.

In 2018, after completing a Ph.D., I decided I should investigate further if what my great-grandmother had told me was true. I hired a certified genealogist who specializes in New Mexico Hispanic families. Together, he and I compiled a genealogical record extending back to the 1400s. The compiled genealogy showed that I had several Sephardic lines, the most prominent through an ancestor named Luis Caravajal, a governor of a Mexican province whose family was burned at the stake in 1596 for practicing Judaism.

Armed with this information, I have begun applying for Spanish citizenship, and will be traveling to Malaga, Spain to complete the process. This journey has been a long one, but in doing so I have learned much about my ethnic and spiritual heritage and my connection to Judaism. Working at Touro has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about Jewish traditions. I still remain a faithful Catholic, but I can now fully appreciate the customs and traditions of my Jewish inheritance.

The Art of Observation

Tamira ElulIt was a different kind of “Eureka!” that the development of frog embryos inspired in Dr. Tamira Elul, Associate Professor of Basic Sciences in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. She had seen hours of footage of cells fluxing outwards as they elongate into a spine from their initial ball shape. After completing her research of the process known as convergent extension, Dr. Elul felt that an artistic chord had been struck in her.

Stepping away from the microscope, she picked up the brush to paint the cells in watercolor to capture their unique movements that she knew so well.

“It’s with me forever,” she said. “All my work was in microscopic imaging, and I always found it beautiful.”

For a decade, Dr. Elul has shared this experience with Touro medical students in the Art of Observation elective. The class gives medical students a space where they can observe people in fine art paintings and connect with ambiguity. The experience comes with measurable benefits like a marked increase in visual diagnostic skills and improved cultural and gender aptitude in relation to their peers.

Dr. Tamira Elul
Dr. Tamira Elul displaying her own art.

She also leads Art of the Cell activities in which students create art based on cell images they have learned. Free from multiple choice tests and the burden of being right or wrong, Dr. Elul finds that students open up in the effort to recall the information that they have learned and attempt to recreate it visually.  “You see a completely different facet of students,” said Dr. Elul. “The way they talk about their own work—they just kind of shine.” Throughout the activities, students approach the biological forms that they are learning from an artistic point of view.

Dr. Elul’s marriage of art and science is also taking roots in the local community. On November 13, she led an Art of the Cell workshop in Vallejo’s JFK Library where participants learned about the four basic living cells of the body. After viewing the cells under the microscope, participants created an artwork of their own.  Dr. Elul also coordinates the Touro Israel Global Health Site, where students do service work in a community garden for Ethiopian immigrants and refugees.  She plans for the Touro students to do artistic projects serving the needs of this community in Israel in the future.  

“Underlying what we see as beautiful in nature is a balance between order and disorder,” said Dr. Elul “We see that in biological systems over and over, and I find art to be a very nice way to experience it. Art is also a way to bring people of different disciplines and communities together.”

Community and Alumni Show the Way at 2019 Lamplighter Gala

The one-time officer’s club was decked in black and white splendor as supporters from throughout Solano County enjoyed an elegant Sunday evening of cocktails, fine dining, and live auction at the 3rd Lamplighter Gala and Awards.

On stage, CEO and Senior Provost Shelley Berkley and Provost and CAO Dr. Sarah Sweitzer honored five community members and three alumni who have been a beacon for others.
“In the Jewish tradition, lamplighters are pillars of the community,” said CEO Berkley. “We are honored to have them with us here this evening.

Keynote Speaker of the evening, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, congratulated the awardees and expressed her gratitude to TUC for being the state’s leader in producing health care providers who enter into primary care positions.

“People are putting so many of their hopes and dreams on their children’s ability to go to college…and get good jobs,” said the Lieutenant Governor in her address. “This is truly the central piece of the pathway of the American dream.”

Lt. Governor Kounalakis is the first female Lieutenant Governor of California and was previously the US Ambassador to Hungary.

In the excitement of the live auction, Helen Pierson, CEO of Medic Ambulance, approached the stage to donate tickets to see Celine Dion and Cher respectively in Sacramento during the Lamplighter live auction.

The funds raised by the evening’s donors support diversity scholarships at TUC, which help students in their efforts to give back to our diverse communities.

The Lamplighter auctioneer and longtime TUC supporter, Tom Phillips, General Manager of Recology Vallejo, was also surprised to be awarded the Touro Bull Award, which is given to those who demonstrate the unbeatable spirit of the Touro Bull.

Ari Ramos, MPH, Class of 2013, walked solo and unsupported across the US for 3,000 miles to promote an active lifestyle and healthy eating campaign, presenting in schools and hospitals across the nation.

Lamplighter 2019
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis with Jessica Tran, Joint MSPAS/MPH Class of 2022 (L); Jeremy "Teekz" Yenpasook, COM 2022 (M); and Jaela Ilagan-Evangelista, COP 2023 (R)

An advocate for the growing role of pharmacists in healthcare, Saad Sultan, PharmD, Class of 2010, serves as Area Director of Pharmacy for Providence St. Joseph Health in Sonoma where he has launched several clinical pharmacy programs over the past few years.

Lamplighter recipient Lt. James Wilson, DO, Class of 2011, was nominated by his peers for his service. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Dr. Wilson began a training program to enable corps member medics to be as self-sufficient as possible. He also started a weekly lecture series to train the island’s first marine aircraft wing.

“A big draw for me to come to medicine was because the teaching never stops,” said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson attributed his fondness for teaching to his father, who was the first of his family to go to college and law school, and his mother, a teacher and a stickler for grammar.

Before his return to campus for the Lamplighter, Dr. Wilson stressed how as an alumnus, he treasures the relationships with his former classmates and professors and enjoys hearing how the campus has changed since his time as a student. For him making a positive change draws back to his experience in the military.

“You learn in the Marine Corps to never leave a place the same or worse than you found it,” Dr. Wilson explained. “If you don’t do anything better by the end of it, then what were you trying to do?”

Giving Tuesday: Support the New Gym

Join the campus community to help build a new gym on campus. Student-advocated through the Student Government Association, the new gym is being renovated at the center of campus in Wilderman Hall to provide a new space for exercising comfortably on campus. Your donation will provide new exercise equipment to bring generations of health and fitness to our students.  To donate visit

TUC Staff Council

Formed in September of this year, TUC’s new Staff Council has opened a new, peer-driven portal of communication for TUC staff to bring their thoughts and concerns forward to TUC leadership. Over 75 staff from throughout TUC attended the Staff Council introductory breakfast on November 20th. There, the council stressed how each member is ready with open ears to hear thoughts and ideas, taking suggestion cards and offering a group email,

TUC Staff Council
TUC Staff Council (L to R) Sharon Chesney, Mallory Davis, Charity Yamada, Pawan Sahota, Jack Madderra, and Karen Malone

“We want to have a positive impact on campus and to make sure that staff know they are valued,” said Charity Yamada, Staff Council Secretary.

The staff council’s goals are to advocate on behalf of represented staff, keep the university informed of its progress and activities, and to promote staff learning through professional development and awards.

The group’s first motion was to write a series of bylaws, which are receiving their final emendation. After announcing their readiness to listen about topics ranging from professional advocacy to safety related issues, the council plans to meet monthly and transparently keep the TUC staff community abreast of their activities.

“We have opened up our own emails, so whether you see us in person or email us or use the group email, any way you prefer you can reach us,” stressed Jack Madderra, Staff Council President Mr. Madderra was one of the first 30 employees to be hired by TUC. He began working at TUC in 1999 when the university first moved to Mare Island.

“The needs of the campus have evolved a lot over time,” reflected Mr. Madderra. “We are here to work together for the benefit of everybody on campus.” Getting into the holiday spirit, the council announced a friendly competition with Faculty Senate to collect canned foods for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Goods can be collected across campus until December 13th.

Getting into the holiday spirit, the council announced a friendly competition with Faculty Senate to collect canned foods for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Goods can be collected across campus until December 13th.

 Generations of Service at Veteran's Day

Generations of ServiceVeterans who had served during times of peace and war, some of whom had even been stationed at Mare Island Naval Base, met with enlisted TUC students at the Historic Mare Island Hospital Flagpole during TUC’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Daniel Strayve, Military Club President, told the audience, “Despite the everlasting risk of warfare and violence across the globe, men and women of the US Armed Services are always ready and willing to answer the call.”

World Diabetes Day
World Diabetes Day

New students came out to discover the research and volunteer opportunities in the community that are available to them with the TUC DREAM Team.
OMED 2019
OMED 2019

TUC students and alumni came together to grow their professional networks at the Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition (OMED) held in Baltimore, Maryland. TUC alumni had the greatest showing within the Touro College and University System, trading stories at the alumni mixer. Students presented posters and took the opportunity to meet their future colleagues.
Katherine Farley
Destiny Wilson
School of Nursing, Class of 2021

I Am Touro:
Destiny Wilson

Destiny Wilson, RN, always wanted to work with babies. An EMT for eight years before becoming a registered nurse through Solano Community College, Ms. Wilson enrolled this year in TUC’s Master of Nursing Science (MSN) program to realize the dream that she had of working in Labor and Delivery or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“When I had my daughter, the nurses were great and very educational,” she remembered. “If there was something that I was worried about, they were on top of it.”

The Vallejo native first learned about TUC’s MSN program when she received the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award, which provides women the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. At the ceremony in the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, she met School of Nursing adjunct faculty Kathleen Hahn who let her know about the opportunity that she had next door to realize her dream.

Ms. Wilson said that the School of Nursing appealed to her because it fit her busy life as an accelerated 18 month program that was locally available to her in Vallejo.

Currently, she is gaining necessary experience as a post-acute rehabilitation nurse in Fairfield. Her day involves helping both those who have just come out of surgery and long-term patients whose needs are not quite hospital level, but reach beyond what they have access to at home.

By the end of her time at TUC, she hopes to get her very first labor and delivery or NICU experience through a preceptorship.

“For me, it’s to help the families to get started when they have their first child or if they’ve been through it before,” Ms. Wilson reflected. “I want to make sure that they’re able to get a good start with that baby’s life.”