Board of Directors

The board of directors is entrusted with the responsibility of assuring a long and healthy future for OHDS. The board comprises parents of current students, parents of alumni and other members of the community, whose interest in OHDS and personal and professional skills enable them to fulfill the duties of fiscal management, long-range planning consistent with the mission, hiring the head of school, and evaluating the head of school’s performance. The role of the board is to guide the institution, set goals and establish policies, while the head of school is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school. The board and the head of school work closely together to ensure that the activities of the school are consistent with the OHDS Hashkafa and mission.

The board welcomes your questions and comments. Please direct inquiries related to board matters to:



Jessica Minkoff


Jessica is an active community volunteer and board member at OHDS. She and her husband Dan have four children; the older three attend OHDS: Leah (5), Noah (3) and Zoe (K). This is her second of three years serving as president of the board. Jessica has chaired the OHDS Development Committee for the past 4 years. She brings a wealth of experience, having served on the Head Royce Alumni Council, Development Committee, and various Jewish Federation/Foundation and AIPAC committees. She is a recent Wexner Heritage Fellow. Jessica has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in architecture from Harvard. Her family belongs to Congregation Beth Jacob.

Jo-Ellen Pozner Zeitlin

Vice President

Jo-Ellen and her husband, Ben, are the parents of two OHDS students, Simon (2nd grade) and Gideon (Bridge K). Proud graduates of their local Jewish day schools in Albany, New York, and Glasgow, Scotland, respectively, they are firm believers in the importance of Jewish education and community. Jo-Ellen is a professor of management at Santa Clara University, where she teaches courses on leadership, organizational theory, ethics, and corporate governance. She has been a member of the board of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley since 2011 and an officer since 2012, and is a lifelong member of Hadassah. The Zeitlins live in San Leandro.

Dr. Brian Kaye


Brian has been involved with OHDS since its creation. Brian 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. Brian is also very active in the Jewish community. He is a past-president and long-term board member of OHDS, co-founder and past-president of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and past-president of the Beth Jacob Congregation. Brian has chaired nine head of school or senior rabbinic searches for OHDS, JCHS, and Beth Jacob. He is the parent of two OHDS graduates, including a daughter who was in the first class at OHDS. Brian has a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine.

Mark Links


Mark and his wife, Vered, moved to the East Bay a few years ago from Connecticut and were living in London before that (via Scotland, Israel and Africa)! They are parents of a two recent OHDS graduates and a current 4th grader. Mark has been in banking, compliance and auditing for 20 years. He is currently working for Wells Fargo as executive audit director for corporate risk and was previously with the Royal Bank of Scotland where he was in compliance and various auditing roles. The Links are members of Congregation Beth Jacob.

Rabbi Gershon Albert

Rabbi Gershon Albert has been the senior rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland since 2014. Originally from Montreal, Canada, he received his rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He believes in the power of Jewish education to transform communities, families, and individuals. In addition to serving on the board, Rabbi Albert is the halachic decisor of OHDS and teaches in the middle school Workshop-Based Beit Midrash. Rabbi Albert believes in the nexus of Torah and modern life, a feature of his community, which prides itself on the diversity of its membership and its commitment to tradition. Being a passionate musician, he is committed to enhancing Jewish ritual and spirituality through music and song. Rabbi Albert and his wife, Meira, a Jewish community professional, have a daughter (a future OHDS student), and their family loves the natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle of Northern California.

Rabbi Yonatan Cohen

Rabbi Yonatan Cohen is the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley.  Under Rabbi Cohen’s leadership, Congregation Beth Israel has significantly grown its membership and broadened its educational programming for youth and adults. He was born in Israel and grew up in Montreal, Canada. After receiving his B.A. in philosophy from McGill University, he studied at Kollel Torah Mitzion in Montreal. Rabbi Cohen received his rabbinic ordination for Yeshivat Chovevei HaTorah. Rabbi Cohen is also a respected and passionate teacher both in the shul and broader community. He and his wife, Frayda, have three children, two of whom attends OHDS.

Leslie Edelman

Leslie has been actively involved with OHDS for more than 20 years as a parent, active volunteer and board member. She is a past president of the board and has been led numerous board committees and initiatives. Her five children all attended OHDS from grades kindergarten through grade 8. Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 1993, she worked in marketing for American Express. Leslie attended Jewish day schools for all of her elementary and high school years. She has a B.A. from Barnard and an M.B.A. from Columbia. She and her husband, Raphael, are active members of Beth Jacob. 

Alan Engel

Alan and his wife, Rachel, are the proud parents of two OHDS graduates, who are now in high school at the Meira Academy.  Alan has been an owner operator of apartment buildings in the Bay Area for more than 25 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 Beth Jacob.  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.

Jonathan Esensten

Jonathan and his wife, Dr. Raquel Gardner, have a son at OHDS and two preschool-age daughters. He is the organizer of the San Francisco OHDS carpool program. Jonathan has served on the boards of the Mission Minyan and Congregation Adath Israel (modern Orthodox) in San Francisco, where he is currently the gabbai. He is a pathologist on faculty in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at UCSF, where he specializes in cellular therapy development and manufacturing. He earned an A.B. degree in biochemistry at Harvard College and an M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at UCSF. A native of Pasadena in Southern California, Jonathan is active in pro-Israel politics and in promoting kosher Israeli wines.

Ilana Friedkin

Ilana Friedkin was born and raised in this community. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in art history and then earned a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in early adolescence from the Bank Street College of Education in New York. After teaching for six years at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Middle School in Manhattan, she returned to the Bay Area to teach math at Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco. Ilana then returned to the East Bay to teach middle school math at Oakland Hebrew Day School while earning a second master’s degree in educational leadership from Mills College in Oakland. Ilana is married to Reed Bennett. They have a son and daughter who attend OHDS, and a younger daughter who attends Gan Mah Tov Preschool at Congregation Beth Jacob. Ilana currently serves as head of the Gan Mah Tov Preschool Parent Committee and on the board at Beth Jacob.

Jenna Statfeld Harris

Jenna is thrilled to be part of the OHDS community, even though her children are not yet old enough to enroll. Jenna and her husband, Aaron, moved to Oakland from New York and have been consistently amazed by the Jewish community here. They are members of Beth Jacob Congregation, where Aaron is a board member and Jenna co-chairs the synagogue’s annual gala. Their daughter attends Gan Mah Tov, and their new baby can’t wait to join her. Jenna brings her experience as an attorney to the board; she was previously an education lawyer and a tax attorney. She also brings her significant volunteer experience with her, including serving as a founding board member of the Shefa School, a Jewish day school for children with language-based learning disabilities.

Alex Hart

Alex, together with her husband, Neil, are the proud parents of current pupils Aidan, 4th grade, and Laura, 2nd grade, as well as their baby, William. They are active members of Beth Jacob. Alex previously co-chaired Gan Mah Tov’s Parent Committee and was a member of the Gan’s Re-Envisioning Committee. Alex brings a decade of experience directing Zionist, philanthropic foundations, both here in the Bay Area and in Europe. When in London, Alex was the youngest member of Hampstead Synagogue’s Board. She was a founding member of ‘Champions of Change’; former UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ initiative for future lay leaders. In these roles, she led the development of a cross-communal, intergenerational e-learning program. Here, she whole-heartedly embraces OHDS’ methodology of sparking a life-long love of learning.

Rachel Heitler

Rachel and her husband, Jacob, have proudly watched four of their nieces and nephews attend OHDS, and look forward to sending their two young daughters some day as well. Rachel is a Berkeley native. She has served on the boards of the East Bay Federation and Congregation Beth Israel. Rachel is in training to become a marriage and family therapist. Before starting graduate school, Rachel worked at the Nonprofit Finance Fund, where she consulted with organizations on business model change and sustainability.

Bathea James

Bathea has numerous degrees in political studies, clinical social work, educational leadership, and business. Bathea has lectured at the University of Witwatersrand, was a clinical therapist and administrator at King David School in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since emigrating to America in 1992, Bathea was head of school at two Blue Ribbon schools, Tucson Hebrew Academy in Arizona and Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito. Most recently, she worked as a coach for the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education’s (now Prizmah) Atidenu program. In addition to being a consultant for numerous schools, Bathea most recently was interim head of Oakland  Hebrew Day School. Bathea spends her free time with her grandchildren, and also travelling, reading and taking the occasional Zumba class.

William Selig

Bill and his wife, Sarah Lefton, have a son at OHDS and a younger daughter at Temple Sinai Preschool. A licensed clinical psychologist, Bill practices adult psychotherapy at the Rockridge Wellness Center and at Kaiser Oakland, where he spearheaded several innovative program design efforts. Bill received  his B.A. from Harvard College in studio arts, an M.F.A. in stage directing from Moscow Art Theater School, and his doctorate in psychology from the PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium. Bill’s family are members of Congregation Netivot Shalom.

Devorah Shapiro

Devorah and her husband, Gav, are the parents of an OHDS graduate and two current OHDS students. Devorah is a software developer and consultant working in the field of medical informatics. Over the past 18 years, she has been an active contributor to the OHDS and Beth Jacob communities, organizing a variety of social events and educational opportunities. She has a B.S.E. and M.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania and attended Midreshet Lindenbaum Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

“OHDS has become more than a school, it’s our community and neighborhood. The focus on educating the whole child carries over to an investment in the health and welfare of each child, family and staff member.”