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Our Staff

Brian Fox, Executive Director 

Brian is originally from Virginia and worked in the hotel and hospitality industry for 25 years before bringing his generous nature and varied skill set to the Beth Jacob community. He likes to spend time with family and friends, travel, engage in fitness, and take advantage of the beautiful outdoors we have here in the Bay Area.

Julia Neely, Gan Mah Tov Preschool Director

Julia was born and raised in the Bay Area. As a child, she and her family belonged to Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek. Julia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development from San Diego State University, and completed additional ECE director certifications. With decades of work experience, Julia has been a preschool teacher, director, and executive director. She has also been an adult instructor, field consultant, private consultant, and parent educator. Julia’s prior experience includes working at Montessori schools located in rural areas - with llamas and goats - and in urban settings like the University of Washington in Seattle. At UW she directed an early childhood center for children of faculty and staff. For nearly two decades, Julia was a faculty member at a training institute in the Seattle area, where the curriculum manual she wrote, is still in use today. Julia has developed and led a classroom leadership training program that included positive child discipline, respectful communication skills, training assistance, and a Peace Curriculum. Julia also has experience with non-profits, writing grants in the East Bay in support of underserved families attending preschool. 

Julia has a married daughter and is thrilled to be a Bubby to 5-year-old Finn! Julia enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking with her dog, reading, and gardening.

Michelle Raskin-Kennedy, Gan Mah Tov Associate Director and Director of Culture and Curriculum

Michelle Raskin-Kennedy graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, from Hebrew College with a Master of Jewish Education degree and studied Torah at several seminaries in Israel, including the Pardes Institute. She also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Kibbutz Lotan’s Center for Creative Ecology. Michelle has worked with infants to college aged students, and began her preschool teaching career at the Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center at Temple Israel of Boston, an award-winning preschool with a certified Nature Explore outdoor classroom.

In addition to her teaching experience, Michelle has been trained in counseling, community-building, and workplace-based conflict resolution. Prior to teaching, she served as the counseling director at the Berkeley Free Clinic, where she managed a team of volunteers, provided free talk therapy, and co-facilitated a yearly course on Carl Rogers’ talk therapy model.

Michelle’s family lives within a 10-minute walk from Beth Jacob, and her daughter, Avia, is currently in Gan Nesharim at Gan Mah Tov. In her free time, Michelle has enjoyed long-distance adventures – like walking from France to Portugal and cycling from Paris to Budapest, listening to Torah podcasts and audiobooks on parenting and practicing yoga.

Rabbi Shua Brick, Director of Family Learning

Originally from West Hempstead New York, Shua is a Wexner Graduate Fellow who received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva University, where he went for high school and undergrad, as well as pursued a dual masters in Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Education. In love with experiential education and summer camp, he has been upper staff in Camps Dora Golding, Ya’alozu, I.O., Stone, Wildrose, and Nageela, always looking for new and exciting challenges. Previously the Rabbinic Intern at the Jewish Center of Manhattan, and writer for the Office of the President of YU, Shua is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to join the Beth Jacob Community which he gleefully refers to as his happy place.

Austin Blair, Facilities Manager

We are delighted to introduce Austin Blair, our new Facilities Manager, to the Beth Jacob community. Austin has seven years of experience working as a handyman throughout the East Bay. Outside of work, Austin is an avid hockey player who also enjoys hiking, camping and spending time at the beach with his dogs. 

Adira Aufhauser, Accounting & Systems Administrator

Adira moved to the Bay Area in 2006 from Mevaseret Zion in Jerusalem, Israel, and she has been with Beth Jacob since February 2017. She currently lives in Portland with her family.  Adira has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science, Humanities, and Theater Studies, as well as a Master of Law degree. Her Jewish education includes a Judaism seminar in Arachim, Israel, and Jewish Studies for Women at Neve Yerushalayim, Israel. Adira’s passions include art and painting, floral design, gardening and hiking. What she likes most about working at Beth Jacob is that she can combine work with spirituality and that she is able to be a part of the Beth Jacob community.    

Kathy Hollander, Home of Peace Cemetery Administrator

Kathy Hollander is celebrating her 20th year working for Beth Jacob. She worked first in the Beth Jacob office and became the Administrator of Home of Peace Cemetery in 2005. Kathy loves ensuring that everyone receives the kosher and dignified burial they deserve. She also is grateful to have the opportunity to help families pre-plan their burial needs so that families are spared from making complex decisions during a highly emotional time. In addition to her work for Home of Peace, Kathy also volunteers by giving massages to hospice patients and their caregivers a few times each week.

Fri, July 12 2024 6 Tammuz 5784