The lay leadership of CBS is composed of two groups, the board and our many volunteer committees. Working closely with the staff and clergy, these groups conceive of and produce all CBS programming.
The BoardThe Congregation Beth Sholom Board of Directors is the governing body of the synagogue. The elected members are responsible for long-term policy decisions, the financial health of the institution, the hiring of clergy, and the overseeing of the congregation’s programs and schools.
The CommitteesCommittee responsibilities include managing finances, investing our reserve funds, arranging and leading services and Torah readings, overseeing the religious school, and planning adult education. If you are interested in joining a committee, please email Beth Jones.
Board BiosJAMES ABRAMS
James (Jim) Abrams joined CBS in 2004. More recently, he served on the Rabbi Search Committee that culminated in Rabbi Glazer’s 2014 appointment. He is a partner at Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh LLP, where he specializes in commercial, multi-family, and winery real estate and financing. Prior to practicing law, Jim had a ten-year career in government and banking. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and provides pro-bono legal services to a number of nonprofit organizations including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Northern California Community Loan Fund, and the Community Music Center. In addition to spending the High Holidays at CBS, Jim enjoys attending lectures, art tours, baseball games, wine tastings, and musical events with CBS members. He can often be spotted at the symphony, opera, ballet, art openings, falafel stands worldwide, and sometimes even playing clarinet.
DAWNE BEAR NOVICOFF
Dawne Bear Novicoff is Assistant Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation in San Francisco. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Dawne graduated from the double BA program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary with a focus on American Jewish History. Dawne has worked as a grant maker in the Jewish philanthropy arena for the past 20 years, both at the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco and more recently at Jim Joseph Foundation. Dawne and her husband, Gregg, have been members of Congregation Beth Sholom for the past 15 years and their two children, Arlo (12) and Rayna (10), have been active participants in the congregation’s Family Preschool and Shabbat School programs.
Linda Bernstein has been a member of CBS for 41 years. Linda grew up in the city and her parents were leaders at Congregation Chevra Thilim. When Linda was 16, they allowed her to come to Beth Sholom to join the United Synagogue Youth (USY) group. She also helped teach Sunday school at CBS and lead High Holiday services in the Junior Congregation. Linda is currently a shaliach tzibbur (service leader) on Shabbat and the High Holidays, is a Vice President of the Board, and serves on the Executive, Development, and Ritual Committees. Linda has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and founded her own medical communications company in 1998 called Vita Media Corporation. Linda is passionate about music, plays piano, and has taken many courses and private lessons in acting, singing, and musical theater. She enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren.
Becky Buckwald is a native San Franciscan who grew up at Beth Sholom. Becky had her bat mitzvah at CBS and was also a member of United Synagogue Youth (USY). She holds a BA in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. After college, Becky made aliyah and enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she received an MA in Cultural Anthropology. Becky is currently the Director of Planned Giving at the New Israel Fund, where she has worked for many years – both in San Francisco and in Israel – and which is the leading organization promoting equality and democracy for all inhabitants of Israel. She hopes to bring a social justice lens to her service on the CBS Board. Becky lives in Cole Valley with her husband Dani, who is Israeli, and their two daughters, Mika and Heleni.
Ben Chinn has been a member of CBS since 2009 and has filled an interim position on the Board since October 2015. He has served on the synagogue’s Development Committee and currently chairs the Education Committee. Ben’s whole family is engaged in learning with CBS, either through Kevah groups, the CBS Family Preschool, or the Shabbat School, where he is a room parent for the K/1 class. Ben leads an e-commerce software development team at Restoration Hardware, where he has worked since 2010. Previously, he has worked in web development as a freelancer and for a Napa-based startup providing e-commerce technology to the wine industry (although he prefers a good bottle of tequila).
Dr. Richard Cohen and his wife, Sandra, are long-time members of CBS and are together a steadfast presence at Shabbat services. Richard is recently retired from his practice as an oncologist/hematologist. He has served as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California School of Medicine San Francisco and as Chief of Oncology/Hematology at both California Pacific Medical Center and Mount Zion Hospital.
Sandy Edwards served as Beth Sholom Board President from 2000-2002. Sandy’s grandfather became a member of Congregation Beth Sholom in 1937, and Sandy grew up at Beth Sholom. Her two sons, Gabe and David, each celebrated his bar mitzvah at Beth Sholom. Her father, Jerry Neuhaus, and sisters, Debbie Frank and Nancy Neuhaus, are all part of the congregation. Sandy directed grant-making activities at the Koret Foundation for 20 years and then served for nine years as Associate Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on Jewish education. Sandy is currently building a consulting practice offering senior-level support and advising to philanthropic foundations and non-profit organizations in all aspects of philanthropy, organizational, and programmatic strategy/planning, and Jewish education.
Ellen Ginsberg joined CBS in 2009 after moving from Washington, DC, to San Francisco. Ellen has been active in the CBS Family Preschool community and served on both the Education and Development Committees. Ellen graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1999 and from the American University Washington College of Law in 2005. Much of Ellen’s career has been spent in government and politics – she worked on Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign, in the United States Senate, and, most recently, in the District Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Ellen is married to David Ginsberg. Their children, Ava, Nathan, and Ryan are students at the Brandeis School of San Francisco.
Steven Goode is a graduate of both Brown University (A.B. Economics, 1989) and Indiana University (School of Law, J.D., 1993). For the last 23 years, Steven has worked for Aon, a global insurance brokerage firm that is headquartered in London. In 1996, Aon moved Steven from Chicago to San Francisco, where he began his career as a reinsurance broker. San Francisco is also where he was lucky enough to meet his wife, Nyla, in 1999. Steven believes he first stumbled into CBS in 1996, during the High Holy Days, about six months after he moved to SF. He remembers absorbing Rabbi Alan Lew‘s (z”l) sermon, and being struck by how Rabbi Lew took something from his life’s everyday minutiae and weaved it into the fabric of both our community’s story and that of the Torah. CBS is where Steven’s children, Jacob and Leilah, were named, where they attended preschool, and where they have or will have fulfilled their b’nai mitzvah.
GABRIELLE HANDLER MARKS
Gabrielle (Gabi) Handler Marks has been a member of CBS since 2001. Gabi is a 1999 graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. After practicing for over fifteen years with two San Francisco law firms, Gabi became a co-founder of Hulst & Handler LLP, a law firm that focuses on performing workplace investigations in response to employee complaints of wrongful conduct. Gabi’s early years in the Jewish community of Cape Town, South Africa, influenced her decision to join our traditional-but-progressive and egalitarian synagogue. She and her husband, Don Marks, met at Beth Sholom through the Young Adults of Beth Sholom (YABS) group. They have two children, Noa and Saul, who are graduates of the CBS Family Preschool and attend the Brandeis School of San Francisco. Serving as a member of the Board provides Gabi with an unparalleled opportunity to support the work of the shul at a very exciting time.
Scott Horwitz is originally from Houston, Texas. He his wife Missy Sue Mastel have been members of CBS for 20 years. They celebrated their son Josh’s and daughter Sara’s b’nai mitzvot at Beth Sholom in 2011 and 2013. Scott is currently serving as the President of the Board of Directors and has previously chaired the Ritual Committee. He is an active member of the Torah readers and service leaders groups. Scott has worked at Fair Isaac – a statistical consulting and software firm – for over 25 years and currently is a Senior Director managing analytic business development in the Americas and Asia Pacific regions.
Jason Jungreis has been a member of CBS since 2000, along with his wife, Robyn Lipsky, and their children, Eva and Asa, both of whom attended CBS religious school (now Shabbat School) and received b’nai mitzvah training at CBS. He especially enjoys the study sessions, lectures, and other Lifelong Learning programs offered by CBS. Professionally, Jason has been an attorney for 27 years, including ten years as a litigator and nine years as a construction attorney. For the past eight years, Jason has been in practice at Jungreis Law, which focuses on clean technology transaction and litigation. He has been a long-time Judge Pro Tem, is active in several civic and environmental organizations, and likes to perform his own handiwork projects.
Janie Kass is Managing Director at Margolis/Kass Advisors, serving the investment management community. A native of North Bellmore, New York, Janie graduated from Colgate University (Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Mathematical Economics) and later received her MBA from Harvard University. She relocated to San Francisco in 2003 with her husband Eric Silverman and daughter Maya (now 17); they have been members of CBS for the past 13 years. Janie is on the synagogue’s Finance and Investment Committees, and in her spare time enjoys being a part of the CBS Women’s Book Club.
David Madfes was born in San Francisco and has lived here his entire life. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BS in Biology. Additionally, he earned his Secondary Teaching Credential and an MAT in Biology. With three careers behind him, he is retired from teaching science, mathematics, and computer technology (Lowell and Lincoln High Schools), from the United States Naval Reserve (retired with rank of Commander), and is semi-retired from work as a general contractor. David and his late wife, Tania, joined CBS over 40 years ago and became active members. He feels that the Board provides an opportunity for him to help guide the congregation in ways that make it appealing to a wide variety of interests, thereby increasing membership and participation.
Michael Rapaport officially became a member of CBS recently, but he has been contributing to the community as a player on the CBS softball team for over two years. Professionally, Michael has spent 28 years in the consumer credit industry, including 14 years at Fair, Isaac and Company, where he helped develop the FICO credit score. He is currently the Chief Revenue Officer at BorrowersFirst, an innovative online consumer lending company. Michael is also an active volunteer in the San Francisco Jewish community: he spent two years on the Finance and Administration Committee at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, and is currently a member of three committees at the Hebrew Free Loan Association. Michael and his wife, Ruth Katz, live in West Portal with their sons, Julian and Manu, who both went to preschool at the JCC at Brotherhood Way and now attend the Brandeis School of San Francisco. Julian will be celebrating his bar mitzvah at CBS in the winter of 2018.
Joseph Ratner and his wife, Julie, moved to San Francisco in 2011 to be closer to family, and were pleased to learn that Joe’s great-grandparents had been CBS members. Joe and Julie are both enjoying an early retirement while also trying to keep up with their three daughters, Zehavah, starting her senior year in high school, Ellie, starting first grade at Brandeis, and Adinah, who is entering PreK in the CBS Family Preschool. Joe left a career in retail management, buying, and product development with RadioShack and Walmart, and Julie had been in medical ethics and patient advocacy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Joe had been a synagogue Board member for over 15 years before coming to CBS, including two terms as president, and is dedicated to ensuring a vibrant and inspiring future for his spiritual home.
David Samson has been a member of Congregation Beth Sholom for more than 20 years. He has worked as an attorney and CPA, and has particular expertise investigating fraud and restoring monies to injured parties following accounting improprieties. David has served Beth Sholom in many roles: as Vice President, Treasurer, and Chair of the Finance, Investment, and Building Committees. He lives in the Richmond District with his wife Renee and their two children, Elisheva and Ari.
Todd Strauss, wife Tracey Thomas, and child, Gavi, moved to San Francisco in 2003, when they joined CBS and bought a house two blocks from the shul. Todd has served on the Beth Sholom Board since 2009, including stints as Co-President from 2011-2013 and as Treasurer from 2009-2011 and 2013-2015. Gavi’s bat mitzvah was at Beth Sholom. Todd and his family previously lived in Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. Todd grew up on Long Island, went to college in Boston and grad school in the Bay Area. Todd was on the Executive Committee of synagogue Beth El – Keser Israel in New Haven, Connecticut. Todd has worked on energy and environmental issues for 25 years. Todd holds a Ph.D. in operations research from UC-Berkeley and an S.B. in Mathematics from MIT, which makes his mother proud but, as Tracey and Gavi often remind him, Todd is not a “real” doctor.
Lael Sturm is a native San Franciscan who grew up at CBS. Lael works as a strategic advisor to a number of growth-stage companies and participates in founder/angel investment groups whenever possible. He earned an MBA from Columbia Business School after working in the music industry for the first part of his career. Lael and his wife Tristen Gottlieb Sturm live near the Panhandle with their two children.
Alexa Summer has been attending services at CBS since she moved to San Francisco in 2009 and has been a member with her family since 2014. Alexa is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. She is a partner at the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, where she represents clients primarily in business litigation and consumer class actions. Prior to joining the firm, Alexa was an Assistant United States Attorney in San Francisco. Alexa was grateful to find a Jewish community at CBS that reminded her of her time at Harvard Hillel in college, where she was exposed to a diverse environment of Jewish practice and tradition. Alexa and her husband, David Ragone, live in Pacifica with their son, Asher, and are expecting another child soon.
Joel Susal is a Bay Area native whose family has been involved in many Conservative synagogues on the Peninsula. His grandparents were founding members at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City and later joined Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. Joel was active in the Kol Emeth community growing up, and in high school extended his involvement to include USY, eventually serving as the USY Regional President for Northern California and Nevada. Joel and his wife Clara (who was born and raised in San Francisco) met and became friends at Camp Arazim, a Northern California Conservative sleepaway camp that operated through the 1990s. Now, Joel, Clara, and their two children are proud members of Beth Sholom and nearby Anshey Sfard, where they celebrate both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. Joel is Director of Virtual and Augmented Reality at Dolby Laboratories. Prior to that, he has held leadership and technology management positions at startups and multi-national corporations. He holds two Bachelors degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, one in Economics from the Wharton School and another in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Joel is committed to continuing Beth Sholom’s important role in the wonderful and diverse San Francisco Jewish community.
Harris Weinberg has been a member of CBS since his arrival in San Francisco in 1977; he joined the shul just days after his move from Vermont. Harris was born and raised in an Orthodox immigrant community in Louisville, Kentucky — a true fact notwithstanding the widespread belief that such communities did not exist in cities of that size or locale. This is Harris’ third term on the CBS Board. He first served in the early 1980s, and then again in 2009; he accepted this third appointment last year. Harris was, long ago, a trial lawyer; he has been a full time mediator for the past 25 years. Harris is married to Dana Corvin. He is the father of three grown children, all of whom live in San Francisco and all of whom were raised and became b’nai mitzvah at CBS. He is blessed with three grandchildren, with a fourth, please G-d, on the way.