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Board Of Directors



Phillip Ross

Phil is an East Bay native, raised in Piedmont. His family joined Beth Jacob in 1991, with his encouragement while he was in college. Throughout college and medical school he held leadership roles with Jewish organizations on campus and beyond. He is a former board member of the Montreal Community Education Center and Oakland Hebrew Day School. He spent a year of intensive text-based study at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and the Schlesinger Institute for Medical-Halachic Research at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. He returned to Bay Area to complete his fellowship in Urologic Oncology at UCSF. Phil is a urological surgeon practicing in Oakland and Orinda and has been actively involved with Beth Jacob since his return to the Bay Area in 2005. He lives in Oakland with his wife, Daphna and their three children.



Brian Kaye, Vice President

Brian has been a member of Beth Jacob Congregation since 1992. He is a physician with a specialty in rheumatology, with a practice in Berkeley and Orinda. He is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and an Adjuct Professor at Touro University in Vallejo. Brian is also very active in the Jewish community. He has been on the Board of Beth Jacob since 1995 and is a past-president. He is a past-president and long-term board member of Oakland Hebrew Day School (OHDS) and co-founder and past-president of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS). Brian has chaired nine head of school or senior rabbinic searches for Beth Jacob, OHDS, and JCHS. He has been a Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellow and also served on the Executive Board of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. Although born in Detroit, Brian considers himself a Bay Area native as he grew up in Palo Alto. Brian has a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine. He and his wonderful wife Fran have two children, Naomi and Joshua, and son-in-law, Honza, and two grandchildren, Ezra and Abram. Brian’s hobbies include playing with his grandchildren, travel, studying Jewish texts, reading, genealogy, classical music, going to art museums, and philately.


Mary Friedman, Vice President

Mary has been part of the incredible Beth Jacob Community since moving back to the Bay Area in 2010.  She was born in Moscow, Russia and grew up in the South Bay. Mary works in healthcare strategy, got her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from UC Berkeley and her Masters in Healthcare Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health. Mary lives in Oakland with her husband and three boys on a mini urban farm with bees, fruit trees, veggie beds, a greenhouse, and chickens coming soon!



Debby Jacoby Ruben, Secretary

Debby Jacoby has been a member at BJC for almost 5 years, together with her husband, Rabbi Howard Ruben. Debby has long been involved professionally in Jewish education working with every age group, especially educators, where her focus has been developing, connecting and deepening networks. Debby grew up in the Midwest where Jewish life and learning, and love of Israel was deeply embedded in her world, having benefited from a robust lifetime experience with Bnei Akiva. Debby recently became a Nana in Israel, where her daughter lives, is looking forward to a New York grandbaby soon, and is also a grandparent in Santa Monica with Howard.



Deborah Sosebee, Treasurer

Deborah Sosebee, Board President, is a native Northern Californian and has been a member of Beth Jacob since 2003. Before becoming a full-time mom, Deborah worked in Operations Research at the New York Stock Exchange. Since becoming a full-time mom, Deborah has served on the boards and committees of various institutions including Redwood Day School, Jewish Family & Community Services, Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and The Jewish Community Foundation. In her free time, Deborah enjoys baking, crossword and Ken-Ken puzzles, finding typos, and organizing things. Deborah and her husband Michael have three children, Hannah, Isaac and Daniel, and two grandchildren, Betzalel and Arava.




Jennifer Blumenfeld

Raphael Edelman


Alan Engel

Alan and his wife, Rachel along with their daughters Sarah & Daniella, have been members of Beth Jacob since 2004. Alan has been an owner operator of apartment buildings in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. He is an active volunteer in the Jewish community and currently serves on AIPAC’s National Council and is very active in pro-Israel politics, developing relationships with members of Congress. He also serves on the board of Oakland Hebrew Day School. Alan is the past president of the Housing Industry Foundation, which works to prevent homelessness in the South Bay and Peninsula. Alan has a B.A. in accounting from the University of San Francisco.


Aaron Harris 

Aaron Harris moved to Oakland along with his wife Jenna and their daughter Annie four years ago. Since moving here and joining BJC, they've added Max and Robbie to the family. When not spending time with the Shul Board, Aaron works in venture capital, funding early stage technology companies from around the world.



Alexandra Hart

Alex, born Salford, UK is on sabbatical in Austin with husband Neil and her family this year. She has served on the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Saks’ זצ'ל Champions of Change, designed to shake up the UK’s United Synagogue; Board Member of Hampstead Synagogue and Board Member of Oakland Hebrew Day School. Many late nights were spent working in London’s square mile before she pivoted to serve private foundations, in London and Europe, Israel, and here in the Bay Area. Each of her three children were born on different continents and these days, late nights are filled with magical bedtime stories, unless there’s a Board Meeting.


Lenny Karpel 

Lenny is originally from Miami Beach and moved to Los Angeles in high school before making "aliyah" up north to Oakland. Along with bringing his professional marketing background to the board, he takes great pride in representing the wide range of voices of our beloved community to the board. He is married with three boys and has been a board member for over 3 years.  



Ben Kellogg

Ben joined the Beth Jacob community in 2018 along with his wife Amy and their now four kids: Gloria, Reuven, Zev and Lila. Ben is the founder of BWK Public Relations, a boutique PR agency supporting the most inspiring CEOs, founders and scientists in the world. When he's not doing that, Ben loves to play guitar and piano - and make some of the best dad jokes you've ever heard.



Raphael Shorser

Born in Toronto, Raphi moved to the Bay area with his family in 2018 after 10 years in NYC. Raphi has spent over a decade working in the FinTech world, most recently as an engineering leader at Goldman Sachs. In his free time, Raphi can be found spending time with his wife Nili and two sons (Ezra & Natan), riding his bike, or exploring ways to enhance our Eruv.



Ariel Siegel

Originally from New York, Ariel Siegel moved to Oakland in 2019 with her husband and daughter and immediately joined the Beth Jacob community. A veteran of the professional and volunteer Jewish world, she works in market research at a firm focused on creative content and cultural insights. Ariel holds a BA in Public Health from New York University.


Sun, January 29 2023 7 Shevat 5783