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 BOARD The 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 COMMITTEES Committee 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.
JAMES ABRAMS: Treasurer
James (Jim) Abrams joined CBS in 2004. More recently, he served on the Rabbi Search Committee that culminated in Rabbi Aubrey 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 the clarinet.
DAWNE BEAR NOVICOFF: Education Committee Chair
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 the 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: VP, Ritual Committee Chair
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 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: VP, Development Committee Co-chair
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: President
Ben Chinn has been a member of CBS since 2009 and has served 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 as a freelancer in web development and for a Napa-based startup providing e-commerce technology to the wine industry (although he prefers a good bottle of tequila).
Raf grew up Orthodox in Johannesburg, South Africa. He and his wife, Clara Brenner, have lived in the Bay Area since 2011 and were married by Rabbi Glazer in 2017. They were attracted by Beth Sholom’s respect for tradition blended with a progressive determination to make modern Jewish life appealing and meaningful. Raf currently heads expansion for the Bay Area bike share system, Ford GoBike, and is proud to be bringing an affordable, sustainable, integrated regional mobility option to the Bay Area. He holds an MA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. He is particularly excited to work alongside Rabbi Ain and the Board, to represent and nurture the young-adult segment of the community.
Chelseaa Bush was born and raised in San Francisco. She attended a SF Hebrew day school from nursery through 12th grade and is grateful to her mother for giving her this deep Jewish background. Chelseaa attended UC Berkeley and then law school at Stanford University. She is now a trademark and copyright attorney at a large, national law firm. Chelseaa has four children, including identical twin girls. They were all born within a span of three years (amazingly, that is humanly possible!) and so the Bush house is always busy! All four children have attended the CBS Family Preschool where Chelseaa has served as room parent and has helped lead the parent committee for a number of years. Chelseaa now serves on the CBS Education Committee. Chelseaa hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps by helping provide her children--and other members of the CBS community--with an enriching connection to their Jewish heritage.
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 their bar mitzvahs 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: Executive Vice President & Development Committee Co-Chair
Ellen Ginsberg joined CBS in 2009 after moving from Washington, D.C., 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.
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.
ABIGAIL (ABBY) LEVINSON MARKS
Abigail Levinson Marks is a San Francisco native who grew up at Beth Sholom and attended its religious/Hebrew school from pre-kindergarten through Confirmation (10th grade) and beyond. Abby and her late husband, Milton, were married by Rabbi Lew in 2001. Abby is a clinical psychologist with a private practice working with children, adolescents and adults, and specializing in (among other things) family illness and loss. She has worked in a variety of community mental health and training settings in the Bay Area, teaching and developing collaborative therapeutic programs within schools and medical institutions. She has a great interest in community outreach, and in building strong community and collaboration between different organizational and individual stakeholders. In 2014, Abby co-founded and now directs the Milton Marks Neuro-Oncology Family Camp, a collaborative non-profit project with UCSF, which provides an annual weekend arts-based family camp that brings respite and healing to families with a parent who has a malignant brain tumor.
DAVID MADFES: House Committee Chair
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.
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: Board Secretary
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 Senior Counsel, Litigation at Airbnb, Inc. 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 is the granddaughter of an Auschwitz survivor. She has been on the Board of CBS since 2017. Alexa and her husband, David Ragone, live in San Francisco with their children, Asher and Naomi.
JOEL SUSAL: VP, Governance Committee Chair
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 Abecassis (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 three children are proud members of Beth Sholom and nearby Anshey Sfard, where they celebrate both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. Joel is a Product Management executive (currently at Checkr) who has led both startups and multi-national corporations. He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, in Economics from the Wharton School and in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Joel is excited to support and grow Beth Sholom's important role in 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.