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Staff

Michael Saxe-Taller-BEST

©Susan Freundlich

Michael Saxe-Taller, Executive Director

Michael is a Berkeley native and has been connected to Kehilla in many ways over the last three decades. His mom, Dolores Taller, is a proud Kehilla member (as was his dad before he died 18 years ago). When he first met his wife and life partner, Julie, in 1989, she was teaching in Kehilla’s religious school.

Michael loves working in and building communities, and has done so in many parts of the Jewish community, including at Berkeley and San Francisco Hillels, the JCC in Manhattan and at Congregation Kol Shofar in Marin. He has also been a community organizer working with churches, synagogues and community agencies in the North Bay, building political power for the common good.

Michael is an enthusiastic father (of his son, Sam), a passionate basketball player, a spirited singer and loves nothing more than hanging out and schmoozing.  So give him a call or email him to set up a time to get together, or just drop by the office.

You can contact Michael by email at michael@kehillasynagogue.org, or call (510) 547-2424 x101.

Visit the Executive Director’s Blog

Rabbi Dev Noily, Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Dev Noily was ordained in 2009 by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia.  Dev returned home to the bay area to serve as a hospital chaplain at Alta Bates, and came to Kehilla in 2010 as the part-time director of Kehilla School.  In 2013, Rabbi Dev became Kehilla’s full-time Associate Rabbi, in addition to being Kehilla School Director.

Since coming to Kehilla, Rabbi Dev has brought exciting innovations to our community, including a three-year partnership between Kehilla School and Urban Adamah, and Pop-up Shabbat, our collaboration with the Bites off Broadway food truck festival.  Rabbi Dev has created lively davening experiences for kids and their grown ups through regular Family Shabbats (with Musical Prayer Leader Beth Dickinson) and Family High Holy Days (with Beth, Jenna Stover-Kemp and Lior Ben-Hur).  Rabbi Dev facilitated a restructuring of Kehilla’s Spiritual Leadership team to deepen the team’s capacity for both shared spiritual leadership and smooth operation.  Rabbi Dev served on the committee that gave rise to our fabulous Glitter Kehilla, and serves on the Legacy Committee, building Kehilla’s financial future.  To support adults in ongoing learning and spiritual practice, Rabbi Dev started Kehilla’s thriving meditation group, created a new program for people exploring conversion to Judaism (with Spiritual Leader Sharon Grodin), and teaches a series of classes that offer intimate access to the life-giving ancient wisdom in Jewish texts like Torah, Talmud and midrash.

Rabbi Dev was one of twenty North American rabbis chosen in 2013 for the inaugural cohort of the Clergy Leadership Incubator, a two-year leadership program that recognizes and supports innovative early career rabbis.  Beyond Kehilla, Rabbi Dev teaches LGBTQ inclusion to rabbinical students at RRC, and to chaplains of all faiths at Alta Bates/Summit Medical Center.  Dev is a member of the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace, and is an advisor for Reframing Israel, Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman’s groundbreaking new grade school level curriculum on Israel/Palestine.

You can contact Rabbi Dev by email at rabbidev@kehillasynagogue.org or call (510) 547-2424 x104.

Visit Rabbi Dev’s Page

Rabbi Gray Myrseth, Director of Kehilla School

Rabbi Gray has recently completed rabbinic studies at Hebrew College in Boston. They have worked extensively with youth of all ages, from pre-school through high school, and bring an extraordinary capacity to connect with anyone and everyone, guiding Jewish learning that is both brightly alive and strongly rooted in Jewish traditions. Rabbi Gray is deeply aligned with the mission of Kehilla Synagogue and Kehilla School, and is eager to share their vision of justice-oriented, radically inclusive Jewish life with our community.

You can contact Rabbi Gray by email at rabbigray@kehillasynagogue.org.

Dee Ward, Office Administrator

My name is Deirdra Ward but I prefer to be called “Dee.” I am a California native originally from Los Angeles. I moved to the Bay Area in 1996 and have called Oakland my home and the city where my husband, Bobby and son, Cota reside as well. Most recently, I worked at Starr King School for the Ministry as the Office Manager and Coordinator of Academic Programs. Prior to that, my husband and I ran our own business for several years and I have also worked as a paralegal for the American Cancer Society. I am a member of First African Methodist Church in Oakland where I serve as a Steward and work with the Video Technology ministry. Bobby and I are actively working towards getting Cota ready for college (summer 2018). I like to shop, I love Starbucks coffee, I like cooking and travelling with my family. I feel honored to work at Kehilla as I fully embrace my spiritual gift of helping others and this community will allow me to continue to walk in my gift, as it embodies the servitude of others.

You can contact Dee by email at dee@kehillasynagogue.org or call (510) 547-2424 x100.

Sandra-Safadirazieli250-150x150Sandra Razieli, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program Director

Sandra Razieli serves as a Spiritual Leader and is also the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program Director. She has been involved with Kehilla since 2000. Sandra has studied and lived extensively in Minnesota, Israel, and California, and holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and Stanford University.

As an anthropologist with a focus on the modern Middle East, Sandra’s academic interests overlap nicely with her work at Kehilla. She created the 6th grade curriculum at Kehilla and is the author, along with Alaiya Aguilar, of Tree of Life: Torah for Bar/Bat Mitzvah Students.

Sandra also teaches yoga with a specific interest in yoga for scoliosis. She holds a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT500) designation from Yoga Alliance and a teaching certification from the Institute of Yoga and Jewish Spirituality. Her yoga website is www.raziyoga.com. Sandra is also an avid soccer player.

You can contact Sandra by email at sandra@kehillasynagogue.org.

Natalie BoskinNatalie Boskin, Youth Programs Coordinator

Natalie began her journey at Kehilla School in 4th grade, had her Bat Mitzvah ceremony in 2006, and became the Kehilla School 6th grade Madricha/Teaching Assistant as a teen. She then spent a few years at the University of Puget Sound where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts in Comparative Religious Studies. After returning to the Bay Area in 2015, Natalie began teaching in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program and found a deep love for Kehilla’s youth education programs. She is now Kehilla’s first Youth Programs Coordinator, which puts her in the logistical and administrative center of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah program as well as Kehilla School. She feels honored and blessed to be so deeply involved with Kehilla’s fantastic youth education programs and to have to opportunity to grow as a Jewish educator.

You can contact Natalie by email at Natalie@kehillasynagogue.org or call 510-547-2424 x107

Copy-of-Josef-118x150Josef Straub, Custodian

I was born and raised in Germany, which I left in 1991. After an odyssey through a couple of countries, most of the time on an island in the Caribbean, I arrived in the San Francisco-Bay-Area in August 1993. In 2004, Kehilla purchased the building and wanted to retain me as its custodian, to keep things running smoothly. Of course, I was available and excited about the new developments.

With a fresh morale, and dedicated to my employment and tasks, as it is my nature, I became part of Kehilla, doing whatever it takes to keep things running, in order, clean and well organized, to make the experience of the synagogue a pleasurable one to all congregants.

I live in Oakland with my wife, Hailon. I consider myself very lucky and am happy to be part of such a lovely community. It is a great fit, not only for my needs in income and living, but Kehilla helps me a great deal on my personal spiritual path and development as well! Rabbi David is certainly a gift to have great conversations with, and all other staff members and congregants I happen to work and socialize with make me feel comfortable, and happy to serve.

alt=Molly Melamed, Bookkeeper

Molly was born in Powelton Village, in an intentional inner city community, in Philadelphia , into a family of socially and politically progressive parents.

After completing a comprehensive holistic health & massage therapy program in Boulder Colorado, she migrated to California in 1985 to continue her studies in somatic psychotherapy, and consequently completed a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University, in San Francisco in 1987. Although mind and body are her true preoccupations, bookkeeping has been her livelihood for the past 30 years.

She loves to dance, sing, and eat! She loves animals, and enjoys problem solving and fixing things.

You can contact Molly at molly@kehillasynagogue.org or (510) 547-2424 x102.

 

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees meets at 6:45p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Kehilla members are welcome to attend our meetings.

Madeleine-Adkins-150x150Madeleine Adkins

Madeleine’s connection to Kehilla and Jewish Renewal go back to the early 1990s. (She has moved a number of times over the years, but when living in the East Bay, she’s been an active Kehilla member.) Madeleine was previously on the Kehilla Board in the early 2000s, where she served on the search committees that led to the hiring of former Executive Director Sandy Bredt and our hazzan, Shulamit Wise Fairman, and where she helped managed communications during the building-buying process. In addition, Madeleine served as Board liaison to the Education Committee. It is her love of Kehilla and desire to help Kehilla thrive—as well as her wish to contribute her skills and experience–that motivate Madeleine to want to join the Board again.

In her professional life, Madeleine has worked in the fields of leadership planning, intercultural communication consulting, language teaching, ethnographic research, and technical writing. Her board and leadership experience extend to her professional life, as well: she has held leadership roles in her academic and professional lives, including—most recently—serving as co-chair of her company’s LGBT employee resource group.

Madeleine’s passion for endangered languages and linguistic anthropology led her on a seven-year journey to Santa Barbara, Boulder, and Brittany (France), and has also driven her to engage in language revitalization activism, and to write a number of academic publications about the Breton language revitalization movement.

Karen-Cohn-150x150Karen Cohn

Karen Cohn and her wife, Teri Gruenwald, have happily been a part of Kehilla since they moved to Oakland in the early ‘90s. They were married (again!) in July 2008 as part of Kehilla’s seven-couple lesbian and gay wedding celebration and have raised two sons, Rafi and Simon, within Kehilla’s vibrant community. In recent years Karen led the Bar/Bat Mitzvah committee while Rafi and Simon completed Kehilla School and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program, and their family participated in two fantastic Chavurot. Their Kehilla wedding and sons’ bar mitzvahs were a great joy and revelation to their families attending from the Midwest and East Coast.

Karen is a Children’s Environmental Health Promotion program manager in the San Francisco Department of Public Health and has been involved with environmental and occupational health goals for over 30 years. She supports her department’s Maternal Child Health programs and their clients by promoting low-income family access to affordable housing free of health hazards. And she is often a departmental spokesperson in building trust with community stakeholders on issues of air quality, environmental justice and housing habitability. When not at work, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, biking in nature, taking in artistic expression, exercising and exploring good food.

Marjorie-Cox-118x150Marjorie Cox

Marjorie arrived in the Bay area in 1975, a transplant from Virginia, where she was born and raised, by way of Baltimore, for college, and New York, where she lived and worked for five years before moving here for law school. Finding the Bay Area to her liking, she stayed and worked as a lawyer for the next 30-odd years, mostly in public service of one type or another, including a 20-plus year stint at the California Attorney General’s Office. She retired from practice in 2009, but remains active as a volunteer both at Kehilla and as a member of two community boards: the Downtown Berkeley YMCA (where she has been chair for five years) and the Berkeley Housing Authority (member and vice-chair since 2007).

Marjorie became involved at Kehilla in 2013, when she began again to explore converting, having been ever so gently turned away – as was the practice at the time — when she first sought to convert, at age 18. Warmly welcomed by all, since then she’s been gleefully studying and contributing her time and energy. She would be honored to join the board.

Marjorie’s local family includes her 28-year-old son, Tito Rodriquez, and his wife, Rita.

Shoshana Finacom

Shoshana Finacom grew up in SoCal and was a member of a conservative congregation led by Aaron Weiss, the first Conservative Rabbi to speak out against the Vietnam War, thus setting the stage for understanding that spiritual practice comes in different forms. Shoshana loved Junior Congregation and the youth led Shabbat services. After high school she lived on and off on Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi for three years. Upon her return to the US, she defected to the Bay Area where she completed her BA degree at Sonoma State, in Sociology and Gerontology. She moved to Oakland in 1980, and has had a diverse work life, including being a galley cook for whale watching voyages, a small business organizational consultant, and has held administrative jobs in the legal world.

Shoshana’s journey to Kehilla started with the Aquarian Minyan, Chochmat haLev and Temple Sinai – each offering something different and collectively fulfilling some of our family’s needs. She and her husband Dave wanting a more family friendly community, joined Kehilla soon after the building was purchased.

Since then, Shoshana and Dave’s daughter Becca went through Kehilla School and the BBM program. Shoshana has served on the former Youth Ed Committee, as co-chair and chair; has cooked, laughed and created dear friendships as one of the kitchen angels; facilitated the Executive Director search which brought Michael Saxe-Taller to us; currently serves as the chair of the Spiritual Life Practices Committee, and volunteers weekly in the Kehilla office. Shoshana thrives in and loves this community deeply and is honored to be nominated to the board.

Jay Koch-NEWJay E. Koch

Jay retired from full-time high-tech sales in 2010, but continues part-time involvements with tech startups. He and Ruth, his wife of 44 years (and counting), are long-time members. Both their son, Andrew and daughter, Amy, are Kehilla BBMs.

Jay joined the Kehilla board in July of 2012, and was co-chair from July 2013 to July 2015. He has been Kehilla’s Treasurer and Finance Committee chair since 2012. He also sits on the Building Committee and the Committee Against Abuse.

Jay joined the board to sustain Kehilla’s growth and its path toward long-term financial health, and to help Kehilla realize its dreams. He says he has been surprised and gratified to become more deeply involved with the board, with the clergy, with Michael Saxe-Taller and the staff, and the community.

Jon_Levin_Blue-shirtJon Levin

Jon Levin, born and raised in Central New York, moved to the Bay Area in the early 80’s. For many years while a resident of SF, Jon searched for a temple and community to call his own. It took over 20 years before finding Kehilla after moving to the East Bay. And he immediately knew he had found his place.

Husband to Ruthie Levin, Father of Quentin; both having studied for and completing their B’mitzvahs with Kehilla. Jon and his family have been closely involved with Kehilla for nearly ten years. The entire family has been part of the Kitchen Angels group, coming together to create and serve wonderful meals for special occasions.

Jon’s professional experience has taken him in many directions allowing him to gain in experience in areas valuable to Kehilla. Most consistent, is work in organization, customer service and leading teams. Jon says “being on the board will be a new opportunity to volunteer and serve the members of Kehilla, I look forward to the challenges.”

REMEDIOSRemedios Martinez-Cantú

Remedios Martinez-Cantú is a 32-year-old Queer Xican@ Femme (Pronouns: she & her) from New Mexico who found a home in Oakland 10 years ago. She moved out here as a union organizer, but shifted her work and political focus to supporting queer families as a prenatal yoga instructor, post partum doula, and placenta encapsulator.

Remedios found a home in Kehilla last summer, and has been involved in the Adult Education Committee and Glitter Kehilla.

Remedios hosts monthly QTPOC Shabbat dinners, and QTJOC gatherings. She wants to connect Jews of Color within Kehilla and the larger community, and to center disability justice in all of hers and Kehilla’s work.

Barbara Petterson NEWBarbara Petterson, Chair

Barbara Petterson is an Art Therapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She worked with non-profits for many years, providing therapy to youth and families, running a school-based counseling program and supervising and training people in training to be therapists. Barbara currently has a private practice in Oakland and Castro Valley where she works with adults of all ages, and facilitates art therapy groups with older adults at an assisted living center and with people in chronic pain through a Functional Restoration Program. She is on the board of the Northern California Art Therapy Association.

Barbara became involved with Kehilla after a friend brought her to High Holy Days services many years ago, and has been a member for over 20 years. She is profoundly appreciative of the multi-faceted role Kehilla has played and continues to play in her life and that of her family. Barbara was a member of the LGBTQI and Allies Welcoming Synagogues Committee and is a member of a Kehilla Caregiver Support Group. She joined the Kehilla board in 2014 and has served as Co-Chair since July 2015. She also serves on the Finance Committee. She is excited about the opportunity to continue serving on the board and sustain the community that sustains her.

Nattie-Roden-150x150Natalie Roden

Natalie Roden is a California native and grew up primarily in Berkeley. She graduated in 2013 from the University of the Ozarks, a Presbyterian-affiliated college in Clarksville, Arkansas, with a degree in Strategic Communications and a minor in Political Science.

While in college, Natalie was a member of the Student Government Association and served as the student representative on the university’s Committee on Religion, Ethics, and Vocation. She also was an active member of the Planet Club, the Ozarks Alliance (a club for LGBT students and their supporters) and the Methodist Campus Ministries (MCM), and she participated in Habitat for Humanity projects. One college memory that Natalie will always treasure is sharing with MCM what is like to be Jewish on a Christian campus. After graduating, Natalie returned to Berkeley and completed a summer residential fellowship program at Urban Adamah. She currently attends Merritt Community College, where she is studying Early Childhood Education.

Kehilla has been a part of Natalie’s life for the past 20 years. In July of 2005, Natalie became a Bat Mitzvah at Kehilla. She did an internship at Kehilla, where she planned and wrote a grant request aimed at making Kehilla more accessible. Natalie feels that Kehilla has been more than just a place where she practices religion; the community has been a second family for her, and has always accepted her fully despite her disabilities. She would be honored to join the board. She looks forward to using her communication skills on Kehilla’s behalf, and to sharing her perspectives as a young adult and a member of the disability community.

Marcie-Rubel-150x150Marcie Rubel

Marcie Rubel has lived in the Bay Area for many years after growing up in the Chicago area. She became a Kehilla member 10 years ago right after the synagogue moved to its current location on Grand Avenue. The beautiful singing, soulful drumming, deep spirituality and commitment to social justice drew her into Kehilla. The Kehilla community has been a solace to her during hardships and a wonderful support when her two children were B’mitzvah at Kehilla in 2010 and 2012. She loves to drum with the Ketzev Kehilla group for Chai Shabbat and High Holidays.

As a bilingual, Spanish speaking, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Marcie has provided psychotherapy and supervision at La Familia Counseling Service in Hayward since 1992 and has a private practice in Rockridge. Recently, she began home visits to assist Latin American unaccompanied minors seeking refuge. The work she’s done in her career reflects her beliefs in compassionate listening, equal access to mental health services, and social justice.

Tova Vance

Tova Vance recently moved to the East Bay after spending ten years in Chicago. Originally from Oregon, Tova is happy to be back on the West Coast where she particularly enjoys the quality of life and being closer to family. Tova and her husband, Robert, have two young children, Isa (2.5 years) and Soren (5 months). They were drawn to Kehilla by the warmth and diversity of the community and its emphasis on social action.

In her consulting practice, Tova focuses on helping leaders in the education, not-for-profit and corporate sectors utilize communication to create successful organizations. Her methods include understanding and evolving culture, building leadership competencies, increasing awareness of mission, vision and values, facilitating dialogue, and engaging constituents in accomplishing their organization’s objectives. Tova believes her effectiveness is due to her ability to listen and ask insightful questions.

Tova feels blessed to be a part of the Kehilla community and wants to help the community thrive. She hopes Kehilla will be a source of joy, comfort and inspiration for her children as they find their places in the world.

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