Our Volunteer Leadership

Board of Directors

President — Paul Sugarman (president@bethelberkeley.org)

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.

1st Vice President — Jill Siegel 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.

Vice President Membership — Lisa Feldman

Lisa Feldman has a passion for creating collaborative environments and enjoys putting her energy and enthusiasm toward contributing to Beth El’s success. With a background in high tech marketing and services strategy, Lisa is currently the Director of Recruiting in MBA Career Services at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. In that role, she leads a team of account managers who ensure that employers experience world-class service when hiring Berkeley MBAs. Originally from Cleveland, Lisa is a proud Emeryville homeowner and has been a member of Beth El since 2009. She attends Torah Study and Shabbat services regularly and has graduated from Rabbi Zellman’s Torah chanting class. Lisa has served on Beth El’s Strategic Planning Committee and has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2010. Lisa received her undergraduate degree from Brown and also has an MA in Victorian Studies from the University of Toronto.

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

Recording Secretary — Abigail Rudnick

Abigail Rudnick joined Beth El with her husband Craig in August of 2010 (after moving from Tucson). Abigail became an involved and active member from the start. She's a member of the Ritual committee, brought Chardonnay Shabbat and the Tu B'Shevat Seder to Beth El, and you can see her every Saturday at services and at holiday events. Abigail taught high school English before her "Gan Kataner," Sam, was born.

Vice President Program Council — Emily Marthinsen

Treasurer — Thomas Lurquin

Immediate Past President — Daniel Magid

Dan Magid has been a member of Beth El since 1967. He became Bar Mitzvah and was married at Beth El. He and his wife Robinn have four children: Josh, 21, Beth, 18, Aaron, 16, and Nathan, 10, who have done some combination of Nursery School, Religious School, Kee Tov, B'nai Mitzvah and Midrasha. Dan was the President and CEO of Aldon (a software company co-founded by his Dad in 1979), until he recently sold the business last year. Dan helped establish the Shabbat morning minyan, and attends Torah study and services weekly. He has developed and printed several of the prayer books that have been used for Shabbat, High Holidays, and the Minyan services. He was on the last Rabbi Search Committee. For a break, Dan spends time with the kids, reads/studies, bikes, hikes, listens to music, and goes to the movies.

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 — 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. 

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 — Jeffrey Seideman

Jeffrey Seideman was born in Queens, NY but moved to San Lorenzo, CA when he was four years old. One of three boys, he was brought up and had his Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth Shalom in San Leandro. Jeff graduated from UC Berkeley in computer science. Jeff and his wife, Elisabeth Wechsler, have lived in Berkeley for almost 15 years. Jeff is an independent software developer currently working at Bio-Rad, a biotech company in Hercules, CA. He is an avid Oakland A's and Cal football fan, and enjoys playing folk-rock guitar with high school friends. Jeff and Elisabeth joined Congregation Beth El in June 2011. He is head of the Daley Scenic Park neighborhood's emergency preparedness group in North Berkeley.

Director at Large — Steven Resnik

Steven Resnik and his wife Katherine (along with their cat Tigger) live in El Cerrito, and joined Congregation Beth El in 2010.  Steven currently serves on three Beth El Committees – Finance, Israel, and Revenue Enhancement. He holds degrees from Colgate, UC Berkeley and Columbia, and spent over 20 years working in the Bay Area biotech industry, including positions in marketing, sales, business development and strategic planning. Since retiring in 2004, Steven has been a volunteer for Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay, and more recently for Sutter Hospice. He is an avid and regular hiker, reader of non-fiction, and dreams of someday being proficient at the classical guitar.  

Director at Large — Jerry Iserson

Jerry Iserson has been a member of Beth El for ten years, joining the congregation soon after he met his fiancé, Nancy Silverman, who was already a member. His main activity at Beth El has been Torah Study and he recently became associate editor of The Builder, Beth El's bi-monthly newsletter. Jerry has two grown children living in the Bay Area; when they were younger, they were members of Temple Sinai in Oakland. Jerry grew up in Philadelphia and New Jersey, moving to the Bay Area to attend graduate school at San Jose State University after graduating from the University of Michigan. He spent his career as a city planner, working primarily in Pleasanton, where he recently retired as director of planning and community development. Jerry enjoys music, cycling and baseball (Go A’s!). In his spare time, Jerry restores antique floor lamps.


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 2016 — Michael Fajans

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 Co-Chairs — Harry Margulius; Barry Silverblatt

Camp Kee Tov — Felicia Cole

Israel Co Chairs — Laurie Swiadon; Norm Postone

Library — Scott Spear

Marketing & Communications — Jeff Seideman

Men's Club — Allan Sobel

Mitzvah — Susan Sugarman, Laura Turbow, Susan Zarchy

Nursery School — Jenn Brysk

Ritual — Alison Bernstein

Women of Beth El — Cathy Stevens

Youth & Family Education — Sharon Friedman