Our Staff

Jim Offel: Interim Executive Director

Jim Offel

Jim’s practice as an interim executive began with his role as the interim chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit engaged in grant making and program delivery to the Jewish community of the Bay Area, in Israel, and globally. In this role, Jim oversaw a staff of 105, an organizational budget of $40 million, and charitable assets of $1.8 billion. Prior to being asked by the board of directors in February of 2014 to step into the interim role, Jim served in several other capacities at the Federation including program officer, director of special projects and chief operating officer. Prior to transitioning to the nonprofit sector in 2010, Jim spent twenty-five years in leadership positions in the private sector, most recently as vice president, general manager, and partner at DCP, a privately-held diversified publishing and marketing services company serving both for profit and nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. Jim has been a speaker at NYU’s Stern School of Business and Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media, and Design as well as the American Advertising Association and the Custom Content Council where he served as national board chair. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards including the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (eLAW), the Child & Family Therapy Center, East Bay Agency for Children and Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. Jim has also served as a volunteer in the Writer Coach Connection program in the Berkeley Unified School District and for the City of Berkeley’s Community Emergency Response Team. Jim is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree and a California State multi-subject teaching credential. In his spare time, Jim enjoys whitewater rafting, hiking, SCUBA, downhill skiing, and cooking (but not baking). Jim holds certifications in advanced SCUBA; Whitewater Rescue; Adult, Child, and Infant CPR; Community Emergency Response (CERT); and is a Wilderness First Responder. He is currently pursuing a life coach certification through CTI. Jim resides in Berkeley with his wife and daughter.


Kevin Blattel: Business Office Manager

Jim Offel

Kevin Blattel has extensive experience with running temple financial operations coming to us from Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. Kevin grew up in the "borscht belt" of West Los Angeles and then Beverly Hills, attending Los Angeles Hebrew High School before moving on to U.C. Berkeley. Later he graduated in the inaugural class of the Berkeley-Columbia Executive MBA program, focusing on non-profit operations at Columbia in New York and financial operations at Haas School of Business. If you cut his wrists you would probably find it runs Blue & Gold. He is passionate about all kinds of music, proficient with a variety of instruments and having played as a teenager with many well known musicians in the LA area. As an avid backpacker, he has been camping with the same 6 friends in Desolation Wilderness every year for the last 35 years which has evolved into a gourmet backpacking trip. Thrilled to be at Beth El, he asks you to stop by and say hello if you want to talk CAL sports, music or how to make french press coffee at ten thousand feet.



Maguy Weizmann McGuire: Director, Early Childhood Education

Maguy McGuire
Maguy Weizmann McGuire has been in the field of Early Childhood for 35 years and each year she finds it to be more miraculous than the year before.  Maguy is honored to be the Early Childhood Director and looks forward to a great year teaming up with Rabbi Kahn, the teachers, parents and their children. Maguy is a proud mom of two amazing girls: Aviya, a recent graduate from U.C. Berkeley and Maya, a registered nurse who recent accepted a position at Valley Press (in the L.A area) in their Labor and Delivery Department. Maguy recently moved from Pasadena after living in the L.A. area for 40 years. She absolutely LOVES being in Berkeley! Maguy enjoys the Bay Area weather and does not miss Los Angeles summers at all! After many years spent navigating L.A. traffic, Maguy could not be more thrilled that her commute is only 10 minutes and to such a wonderful place! Maguy enjoys nature and all that it brings, particularly gardening, which Maguy finds relaxing and soothing to her soul. She is excited about the opportunity of growing vegetables and fruit at Beth El's new community garden and can't wait to get her green thumb working again. Maguy thanks the BENS families and the whole Beth El community for making her feel welcome! She is truly honored to be a member of Congregation Beth El. Maguy is in her office from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and invites you to stop by and introduce yourself!

Emily Schnitzer: Camp Kee Tov & Youth Program Director

Emily joined the Beth El staff after many years of being a part of our community. She became a Bat Mitzvah in 2001, attended Berkeley Midrasha and has enjoyed countless summers filled with ruach at Camp Kee Tov. After spending her childhood summers as a camper at Kee Tov, Emily happily joined the staff in 2003 to continue her experience. She spent 1 year as the Giborim Rosh before moving to 2 years as the Program Director. She could not be more excited to take this next step as the Kee Tov Administrator. Emily graduated from UC San Diego in December of 2010, studying Biology and Education. She hopes to return to school to earn her Teaching Credential and Masters in Early Childhood Education before entering a Bay Area school district as an Elementary School Teacher. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in the greater Bay Area, spending time with family and friends and attending country music concerts. Emily is eager to be part of the Beth El staff, and looks forward to continuing her involvement in the Kee Tov and Beth El community.

Mimi Abraham: Communications & Operations Manager

Mimi initially came to Beth El after moving to Berkeley in 2012 and finding out that a number of her new friends were already members. Prior to this she lived in Mexico where she worked independently as a web and graphic designer, as well as an editor of a tourist magazine. All these skills lent themselves to her coming on board to support Beth El with its marketing needs. In Los Cabos, there weren't many opportunities to participate in Jewish life, but she still tried to hold on to tradition with the help of Pesach care packages sent from the states. Over 60 years ago, her grandparents helped found Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland, so it was obviously synchronicity! In her spare time, she practices "chaos gardening' (ask her), has weekend singing gigs, and micro-manages her teenage sons' life. She is thrilled to work in a Jewish environment and coordinate with staff and congregants to get their message "out there"! 

Allie Liepman: Camp Kee Tov & BENS Administrator

Allie joined the Beth El staff in Fall 2014, but worked seasonally at Beth El since 2012. Allie calls herself a Beth El "Lifer". She celebrated many life cycle events at Beth El including her baby naming, Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, and Graduation. Allie graduated from the University of Oregon in June 2011 with a degree in Family and Human Services. She has worked at Camp Kee Tov for the past 11 years and is very happy to continue be part of the Beth El community and witness Kee Tov Ruach in her new role. In her free time Allie plays softball, rides her new bike, and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Aliza Minkina: Membership Accounts Coordinator

Aliza Minkina joined the Beth El staff in August 2014 after moving to the Bay Area from Seattle. She was born in Russia and immigrated to Seattle as a child. In Seattle, she was actively involved in a reform congregation and worked as a youth group advisor in her synagogue. Aliza graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in international studies and a focus in Hebrew and Judaic studies. As part of her studies, she has lived in Israel and worked on Israeli coexistence projects. She was attracted to Beth El because of its tight-knit Jewish community. Aliza also teaches 4th grade in Beth El's Kadima and 10th grade electives at Midrasha. She loves languages, and is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Russian and is learning Spanish. She plays volleyball on weekends and loves exploring new neighborhoods across the Bay Area.

Ben Bernard-Herman: Administrative Coordinator

Ben joined the Beth El staff in the summer of 2015. He was born and raised in Oakland and is happy to return to the Bay Area Jewish community. Ben graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in sociology and anthropology. As part of his education, he conducted fieldwork in the Middle East on food culture and globalization. In his spare time, Ben can be found hiking, cooking, and with his nose in a book.