Our Staff

​​David Rothenberg: Executive Director

David and his wife Lorraine have been members of Congregation Beth El for fifteen years. Their children, Isaac and Isabella, were b'nai mitzvah at Beth El. Isabella is a counselor at Camp Kee Tov. David was born in Chicago, grew up in Southern California, and was a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Ahavat Shalom. He attended Hebrew High School at Temple Judea, where he played the role of Will Parker in an all-Hebrew version of Oklahoma!  The Los Angeles Times described the musical quality of his stand-out performance of "Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City" as "OK". Professionally, David has served in a variety of management positions helping mission-driven organizations adapt, grow and succeed.  David was most recently the Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation for National Progress, the non-profit organization that publishes Mother Jones Magazine.  David also served as the Executive Director of Playworks, a national youth services organization dedicated to improving the health & well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Before embarking on a career in non-profit management, David was the president and CEO of Nolo Press, the nation’s largest and most trusted provider of legal tools and information for consumers and small business. David began his career with global public accounting and consulting firm Deloitte, LLP where he worked with companies in the consumer finance, healthcare, and entertainment fields, in addition to serving nonprofit and government clientele. David studied marketing and accounting at the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley. He lives in Berkeley with his wonderful wife Lorraine and their two usually amazing children.
 

Mimi Abraham: Director of Operations &Communications 

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 a weekend singing gig, 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"!
 

 


Kevin Blattel: Business Office Manager

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.




​Rivka Weiner: Director of Education

Rivka Weiner has been a Bay Area Jewish educator for over twenty years. She served as the Education Director at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco, as well as Education Director of Temple Israel of Alameda. She has designed, created and delivered a wide variety of youth and family programs and curriculum. She has delivered trainings on Jewish educational topics nationally and internationally Rivka is delighted to rejoin Beth El where she had her Bat Mitzvah
 




Jodi Gladstone: Director, Early Childhood Education

Jodi Gladstone has been teaching young children for over 20 years. She is currently the Director and Jewish Resource Specialist at Beth El Nursery School. Jodi has been a member of the BENS staff for 10 years. She has taught in the 3 year old and four year old classrooms as well as the Kindergarten class of Kadima. Before moving to the Bay Area in 2003, Jodi was the Artist in Residence for Pinat Shorashim, a hands on learning center and biblical park located at Kibbutz Gezer in Israel. There she created curriculum and community art experiences for children, teens, families and educators based on nature and Torah. She enjoys combining her love of art, nature and Judaism to make meaningful and memorable educational experiences for children and their families.
 
Jodi holds a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and attended the WUJS post-Graduate Institute, in Arad, Israel in 1994 where she studied Hebrew and Judaism. She is a graduate of the first cohort of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Institute (JECELI). She received her Jewish Early Childhood Education certification from Gratz College. Jodi has won the Diller Education Award in Early Childhood Education (ECE), an annual award recognizing excellence in Jewish educational programming. Jodi has been a nature and art materials workshop presenter at Jewish ECE conferences nationwide. She can be found dancing and making whimsical works of art in her spare time. She lives with her husband, Gordon and their two sons, Gefen and Nitzan.


​Becket Sheeder: Camp Kee Tov & Youth Director

It was widely believed that when Beckett walked off into the sunset on Family Night back in 2016 it was the last we would see of him. But oh were we wrong… the fuzzy milk, Eric Schoen song sessions and the chance to spend a couple more summers with all his amazing friends was just too much for him to pass up. He packed up his car with all his earthly possessions, said goodbye to Louisiana, and sped back to Berkeley as fast as legally allowed (80mph on the highway in Texas…). 

Beckett is no stranger to CKT, having been introduced to the ruach as a little Habonimer back in 1998. He loved camp as a camper but found his true calling in 2007 when he joined the greatest group of camp counselors this universe has ever seen. In his eleven years on staff, including five years as a PD, Beckett has had the opportunity to work in Rishonim, Habonim, Mapilim and Gesher and cannot be more excited to begin his reign as Director.

 

Erika Katske: Membership Accounts Coordinator               

 
Erika Katske has been organizing for 20 years with faith, labor, LGBT, and public school communities around social justice issues that impact urban families: racial inequity, healthcare, education, violence, immigration, affordable housing and access to economic opportunity. She was trained in community organizing by both the Midwest Academy and the PICO National Network and worked for more than a decade organizing congregations throughout the Bay Area and across the country using the Congregation-Based Community Organizing (CBCO) model. After taking a year to live and work in Santiago de Chile, she returned to the states as a Changemaker Fellow at the Pacific School of Religion in 2015. Erika has a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Smith College and recently completed a Masters of Arts in Spirituality and Social Transformation at PSR in May. Her current research and writing is focused at the intersection of theology and economics and specifically looks at reclaiming and re-envisioning the story of the Tower of Babel. She joins the Beth El staff part-time as she applies to continue her studies at the doctoral level. You might recognize her—she is also Rabbi Reuben Zellman's partner.
 
 

​Shanah Kushner: YAFE Assistant Director   

Shanah Kushner comes to Beth El with years of experience and background in Jewish education, having worked at Congregation Beth Sholom, Congregation Emanu-El in the City, Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles and Temple Akiba in Culver City. Shanah has been a teacher and an Assistant Director of Education. She earned her degree in Child and Adolescent Development.






 

​Juliet Spear Gardner: BENS Administrator

Juliet grew up and became a Bat Mitzvah at Beth El and was a camper then counselor in Camp Kee Tov. She completed my B.A. at Columbia University, and got her teaching credential at Mills College. She has taught students of all ages in public and supplementary Jewish education and served as the Director of Education at Temple Beth Torah in Fremont. Previously, she worked as the Clergy assistant for Beth El. She is the coordinator for Chug Mishpacha, Beth El's Saturday Family School and teaches in Kadima. She is also a BENS parent! In her spare time she likes to cook, craft (someday I’ll finish my first quilt), and develop family costumes. She is excited to be back on the admin staff at Beth El!






Gabi Pardee: Camp Kee Tov Administrator

Gabi Pardee, known for such hits as the “Role Model Camper” award in Gesh 2010 and dancing to Brittany Spears in the infamous 2008 Chalutzim talent show, is ready to make her triumphant return to the Tov!Gabi began her illustrious Kee Tov career as a wee Habonimer back in 2001 and never looked back. When her camper career ended after her aforementioned “Role Model Camper” summer, Gabi took her talents to the Kee Tov Staff. She had the pleasure of working in Giborim, Mapilim, Chalutzim, and Chaverim in her five years on staff.

After 2015, Gabi took a brief three year hiatus during which she revolutionized the retail game. She turned the once mom and pop shop, Anthropologie, into a national brand single handedly. When the position of Camp Kee Tov Administrator opened up, she knew she was perfect for the role. She said, “Forget this national success! It’s time to change the Kee Tov game.”Gabi cannot wait to begin her first year in this new role and looks forward to making Kee Tov the best it’s ever been whilst re-getting to know the camp family.


Ezra Leventhal: Clergy Assistant

In August of 2017, Ezra quit her corporate job in a fit of pure chutzpah with no certain job prospects. Though one could have rightfully argued that this life choice was “irresponsible at best” and someone could have told her “it is not a good idea to forfeit your income and access to healthcare based on a dream and inspiration from Disney’s Moana,” this turned out to be one of the greatest choices she ever made. Within a week of her departure from the cubicle life, she had a position teaching Hebrew school at Kehilla Community Synagogue, and a week after that she began working as the Administrative Assistant and Social Action Fellow at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco. The same week her position at Or Shalom transitioned from full to part time, she was hired on at Congregation Beth El part time as well (B’sheret, some might say).  Ezra graduated from UC Davis in 2015 with degrees in Political Science and Religious Studies, where she completed an undergraduate thesis titled “What Gender Would Jesus Do: A Discourse Analysis on Evangelical Christianity and the Gender Binary.” Needless to say, she fits in well here. 


 

Emily Schnitzer: Gan Shemesh Coodinator

 
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.
 
 
 

Ashleigh Rubinsky: Front Office Coordinator

Over the past 10 years, Ashleigh has worked in and supported Jewish organizations in the Bay Area, most of that time providing operational and administrative support to early care and education and Jewish summer camp programs. Her professional passion extends from her personal values of supporting families with small children and the rich Jewish communities she grew-up in. When not working she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Ashleigh holds a B.A. from UCLA.





 



Harry Adams: Marketing and Communications Assistant

​Harry joins the Beth El staff with clear eyes and a full heart for his first post-collegiate position! Working alongside Mimi on the marketing and communications team, Harry has experience in web and graphic design from his previous job as a media specialist. Harry graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Biology in May 2018, and moved to Berkeley in June. Back in his home state of Maine, Harry worked as a B'nei Mitzvah tutor at Temple Beth El, his local synagogue in Augusta. Additionally, Harry worked for several summers as a camp counselor and song leader at JCC Camp Kingswood, a Jewish camp in Bridgton, Maine. Feeling very at home in The Bay, Harry is thrilled to be a part of the Beth El community and to have the chance to contribute to an exciting and extraordinary synagogue.