Our Volunteer Leadership

Board of Directors

President — Leo Levenson (president@bethelberkeley.org)

Leo Levenson has been a Beth El member for 6 years. Leo and his wife, Rebecca, have 3 kids at home, aged 17, 12 and 5, along with one who has already left the nest and lives in Colorado Springs. Leo is a Berkeley native and is a finance executive with the City of San Francisco.

1st Vice President — Allen Nudel

Allen has been a member of Congregation Beth El since 2006 along with his wife, Pamela, and two daughters, Avery and Elise. Allen’s daughters have gone through the nursery school, and now attend Kadima and Camp Kee Tov. Allen has been the chair of the Beth El House Committee f, charged with helping to maintain the incredible building and grounds that the congregation has created. By day, Allen is a Principal and Structural Engineer at Forell/Elsesser Engineers in San Francisco with over 20 years of experience in construction-related industries. Allen’s project list includes everything from large institutional projects to multi-family housing, with a focus on higher education. Allen has worked with many non-profits such as the JCC’s in Palo Alto and Berkeley, the Jewish Home of San Francisco, Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, and Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. Allen currently volunteers for several policy and construction-related committees with the Berkeley Unified School District.

Vice President, Membership — Lorianna Seidlitz-Smith

Lorianna Seidlitz-Smith has been a member of Congregation Beth El with her husband, Nicholas Smith and two sons Elijah and Joshua, since 2011. Lorianna was also a member as a child with her great grandmother, Sally Seidlitz. Lorianna started out being active in the BENS community while their son Elijah was attending. He now attends Camp Kee Tov and is enrolled in Kadima. Along with serving on the gala committee for four years, Lorianna has also been on the membership committee and active in many other programs. She has been working hard to revamp the Women of Beth El program. Lorianna has a background in business operations and recently went back to college to persue her Business degree. Lorianna is a bay area native with strong ties to the greater community.

Vice President, Development — Jeremy Alberga

Jeremy and his wife Suzanne, son Miles and daughter Sophia have been members of Congregation Beth El since 2009. Both Miles and Sophia have been active members of BENS, Kadima and Camp Kee Tov since they arrived in Berkeley. By day, Jeremy is Chief Operating Officer of the Global Health Group at the University of California San Francisco, where he works to help guide overall strategy, fundraising, and strategic planning of the Group. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Director of Global Viral, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of the microbial world, where he oversaw the organization’s day-to-day administration and operations. He has almost 15 years of experience managing international health projects, including 3 years living in Cameroon and 1.5 years in Botswana, where he was the Deputy Country Director for ITECH Botswana, dedicated to building clinical capacity for the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS. Jeremy holds an MA from George Washington University and a BA from McGill University.

Vice President, Personnel — Wendy Lukas

Wendy Lukas has been an active member of Beth El since 1997, joining her husband Brian Lukas who had previously been a member. Brian's son, Michael, participated in Camp Kee Tov, Religious School and Midrasha. Together, Wendy and Brian, have two children, Coleman and Allison, who have also participated in numerous family programs at Beth El. Wendy has been a gift shop volunteer since 2005, and she also participates in Rabbi Stern's Rosh Chodesh monthly gathering for the women of Beth El. This is her second time serving as the VP Personnel. Wendy has held human resources leadership roles in several Bay Area companies for the past 30 years.

Vice President, Program Council — Betsy Ami

Betsy Ami has been a part of the Beth El community for the past six years. She grew up in the Reform movement at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, attended Kutz Camp in the first Torah Corps cohort, and served as NFTY chaplain. Moving back south after four snowy years at Oberlin College she served as president of the LGBTQ and allied community Reconstructionist Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, GA. Betsy spent three years in Israel after being awarded a Dorot Fellowship to work with the Israel Union of Environmental Defense and prepared a fellowship thesis on the Jewish environmental perspective of Adam naming the animals in Bereshit (hint: it's about relationship not dominion). Since moving to Berkeley Betsy has raised two current Camp Kee Tov counselors, established a daytime career directing IT systems for community health centers, and continues her Jewish learning via the Bay Area Talmud Circle and Queer Talmud Camp.
 

Recording Secretary — Rochelle Johnson

Rochelle Johnson has been a member of Congregation Beth El with her husband, Timothy and two daughters Ava and Vera, since 2014. Rochelle and her family moved to the bay area from Atlanta, GA in 2014 and has found a second home at Beth El.  Rochelle became involved with BENS immediately after moving here and enrolling her daughters.  Her youngest daughter, Vera, graduated BENS this year while her older daughter, Ava, attended Kadima.  Both girls are attending Kee Tov this summer.  Rochelle has been chair and co-chair of the BENS parent group for two years as well as helping on the Gala committee for a year.  Rochelle's background is art education and she has been an active substitute teacher in the preschool and looks forward to finding other ways to be involved at Beth El.

Treasurer — David Huebner

 

Immediate Past President — Jill Dodd

Jill Siegel Dodd and her husband Martin have been active members of Beth El since 1988. Their two daughters, Sarah and Lizzie (now grown) took advantage of the full range of youth activities at Beth El, from the Nursery School to the Religious School (each becoming Bat Mitzvah) to Camp Kee Tov (starting when each were 5 and continuing through junior counselor positions). Lizzie was also confirmed at Beth El. Jill had a prior stint on the Board as Recording Secretary about 20 years ago, served on the first Interfaith Committee, and, most recently, was a member of the Committee that re-wrote the Bylaws a few years ago. In her day job, Jill is a non-profit, and trusts and estates attorney with a particular focus on philanthropy.

House Chair Committee — Jason Kaldis

   

Director at Large — Marv Pearlstein

Marv Pearlstein is an attorney who has been a member for 12 years. He practices law with the firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in San Francisco with a focus on real estate and financial services (they were Steefel, Levitt & Weiss until they merged into Manatt last year). He is the father of a 16 year old who was Bar Mitzvah'd and graduated from religious school at Beth El in 2010, and who is now participating in Midrasha at Beth El. He has served on the Beth El Board as Secretary and as a member of the Finance Committee. Marv has sat on several other nonprofit boards, and currently is also on the Bentley School Board of Trustees. Prior to law school he lived in Israel for 2 years and led tour groups of American high school students to Israel.

Director at Large — Karen Elkins Cohen

  Karen and her husband Andrew joined Beth El in 2013 and currently enjoy the full range of its Youth and Family Education programs. Their daughter Sydney attends the nursery school, and Karen’s step- daughters Abigail and Clara attend Kadima and have spent many summer sessions at Camp Kee Tov. Karen has co-chaired Beth El’s annual gala for the past two years, and previously acted as Vice President at Large on the San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club’s board of directors. Professionally, she leads the Human Resources function of Bay Area Beverage Company in Richmond. Karen has a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute.
   

Director at Large — Ethan Andelman

Ethan has been a member of Beth El since 2010, along with his wife, Laura Mytels, and their sons Max and Elliot. As a family, they participated in the Chug Mishpacha family education program until Max graduated into the bar mitzvah program (and miss it!), and both kids have attended Camp Kee Tov. Ethan currently heads the adult education committee at Beth El, and has been a member of the board since 2016. By day, Ethan is a lawyer specializing in business transactions and dispute resolution.

Director at Large — Marc Ettlinger

Marc and his family have been members of Congregation Beth El since their first Shabbaton, in 2012. Since then, they've been hooked and his kids are deeply committed members and ruach-bringers of the Kee Tov community. His older daughter is also training for her Bat Mitzvah at Kadima. Marc grew up in a conservative synagogue and went to a Jewish day school out east and loves the religious inclusiveness and diversity at Beth El. He currently also serves on another nonprofit board dedicated to research and education for Veterans health. He has a PhD in Linguistics from UC Berkeley and by day works in analytics and data science.

Trustees

  Ending 2019 — Gene Millstein
Gene Millstein together with his wife Robin Millstein have been Beth El members since 1975. Their three sons all had their Bar Mitzvah at Beth El and were active in Camp Kee Tov. Gene owns a real estate company in Berkeley. His community Jewish involvement has centered on Tehiyah Day School where he was on the board for twenty years and served as president when Tehiyah built its expansive auditorium and gymnasium.
 
Ending 2020 — Robinn Magid
For three generations, the Magid family has been an integral part of the fabric of Congregation Beth El. Robinn's leadership has included a wide variety of Beth El activities, including serving as synagogue Treasurer, Gift Shop Co-chair and Chanukah Bazaar Co-chair for three decades, Ritual Committee Chair, Synagogue Design Team member and countless other aspects of our daily congregational life. Robinn is a retired management consultant and a long-time board member of Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (jri-poland.org) Robinn's genealogical work resulted in her being recognized by the City of Lublin, Poland - her grandmother's hometown - with a medal from the mayor for inspiring the future and cultural identity of that city of 450,000 people on the city's 700th birthday. Robinn has also taught Jewish Genealogy in Kadima, the Beth El Religious Education Program.

 

Life — Odette Blachman
Odette Blachman is the sole surviving charter member of Congregation Beth El. A war-bride, born in Heliopolis, Egypt, she came to Berkeley just as the new congregation was forming. Her late husband Max owned a business in Berkeley in partnership with his brother. Her 3 sons became b'nei mitzvah at Beth El before the founding of the Nursery School.

She has held a number of positions on the Board over the years: fundraising chair, recording secretary, sisterhood president, chair of the stained-glass window project and handicap ramp at the old synagogue location. For the past 17 years she has managed the Beth El Gift Shop with Robinn Magid. 

Program Council Committee Chairs

  Program Council Co-Chair — Emily Marthinsen
 
  Adult Education Chair, Torah Study— Harry Margulius
 
  People of the Book—Jeff Gillman
 
  Israel Committee—Laurie Swiadon
 
  Green Team— Ted Obbard
 
  Library— Scott Spear
 
  Life Stories— Marilyn Margulius
 
  Homeless Meal — Adele Amodeo
   
  Torah Study & Coffee Hour — Angela Botelho
   
  Garden —Lindsey Hendricks-Franco, Andy Dale
 
 

Youth Education, Activities and Programs

 

YAFE Staff—Anna Fogelman

YAFE Committee—Seth Kaufman, Sarah Rosenbach

Grade Reps—Jenn Brysk

BENS Parent Group—Rochelle Johnson, Leeat Louvan

Camp Kee Tov, Tribe—Emily Schnitzer

BESTY President—Liora Ami

Sababa President—Olivia Rohksar

 

Congregational Leadership

 

Mitzvah Corps—Susan Zarchy

Lisa Feldman—Ritual Committee

Ist Vice President—Leo Levenson

Membership VP and Women of Beth El—Lorianna Seidlitz-Smith

 

At Large

Gerry Weintraub
Sharon Goldfarb
Sharon Friedman