Our Volunteer Leadership

Board of Directors

President — Jill Siegel Dodd (president@bethelberkeley.org)

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.

1st Vice President — Leo Levenson

  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.

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 — Ruth Ehrenkrantz

Ruth Ehrenkrantz and her husband Spencer Klein joined Congregation Beth El with their children Micah and Solomon in 2004. Ruth was a relatively new member when she served on Rabbi Search Committee. She conceived of and organized the first Congregational Shabbaton in 2007, and ran the Shabbaton for several years. In her last Beth El leadership position she served as Chair of the Ritual Committee and on the Program Council. As part of Ruth's Ritual Committee work she expanded the congregation's Sukkot programming, founded Beth El's Schnapps Committee, and launched the Multi-Lingual Meggilah Reading Program at Purim. This is her second time serving on the Board. Before starting a family, Ruth worked as a planner and landscape architect.

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 — Emily Marthinsen

Emily and her husband Bill joined Beth El in 1985 a few months after their daughter started at Beth El Nursery School. Except for the seven years they lived in Washington, DC, the Marthinsens have been Beth El members ever since. All three of their children (Leah, Sam and Noah) attended Beth El's religious school, became Bar/Bat Mitzvah and were (in various combinations) campers, counselors and leaders at Kee Tov. Emily has served in multiple capacities on the board, participated in two rabbi search committees and been a member of many committees, including the recent strategic planning effort. She attends Torah Study and the Talmud class. In her work life, she is Assistant Vice Chancellor and Campus Architect at UC Berkeley.

Recording Secretary — Rochelle Johnson


Treasurer — David Huebner


Immediate Past President — Paul Sugarman

Paul Sugarman and his wife Susan joined Congregation Beth El in September 1979. Paul has been an active volunteer at the synagogue for more than 20 years, initially joining (and then chairing) the Kee Tov Committee, and later serving for eight years as Vice-President of Fundraising, a member of the Oxford Street Project Steering Committee, and Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign which raised $4.25 million to help fund the construction of our synagogue. He also served on the Rabbi Search Committee, and as a member of the Budget & Finance Committee and as a Trustee. He has served on the Beth El Board for 17 of the past 19 years, and on the Executive Committee for nine years while an officer.

House Chair Committee — 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 is currently the chair of the Beth El House Committee, 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.

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 — Anna Fogelman


Director at Large — Ethan Andelman


Director at Large — 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.  


  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


  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. She started the Scrip Gift Card program (which sells gift cards for local businesses and Beth El benefits from a percentage of the sale) and, for the past 17 years, 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