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:




team member

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 (4), Noah (2) and Zoe (BK). Jessica has chaired the OHDS Development Committee for the past three 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 in Architecture from Harvard.  They are members of Congregation Beth Jacob.
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Jo-Ellen Pozner Zeitlin

Vice President
Jo-Ellen and her husband, Ben, are glad to be joining the OHDS community as parents of a kindergartner. They also have a younger son. As 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. They recently moved to San Leandro from Berkeley. Jo-Ellen is a professor of management and organizations 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.
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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 Congregation Beth Jacob. 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.
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Mark Links

Mark and his wife, Vered moved to the East Bay from Connecticut and were living in London before that (via Scotland, Israel and Africa)!  They are parents of a recent OHDS graduate and a current 3rd and 8 grader. Mark has been in banking 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 and also involved in Chabad of Contra Costa.  In his spare time Mark likes to referee soccer and cycle.  
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Rabbi Gershon Albert

Rabbi Gershon Albert joined Congregation Beth Jacob of Oakland in 2014 after finishing his rabbinic studies at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, of Yeshiva University, where he is continuing towards a master’s degree in Jewish philosophy at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Rabbi Albert spent two years after high school studying in Jerusalem. While in Rabbinical school, he simultaneously worked as a rabbinic intern at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, and most recently as the rabbinic intern and coordinator of family education at the Young Israel of Scarsdale.  He serves as the halachic advisor to OHDS.  He and his wife Meira have one child.
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Daniel Cohen

Dan is the father of three current students. He is past president of the OHDS board. Dan is a veteran public relations, political communications and media strategist and currently leads Full Court Press Communications. Dan has been a political consultant for initiatives and Democratic candidates for offices from mayor to Congress. He was named by the East Bay Business Journal as one of its “40 under 40.” Dan is a licensed attorney but chooses to practice strategic communication — his passion.
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Rabbi Yonatan Cohen

Rabbi Yonatan Cohen is the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley.  Under Rabbi Cohen’s leadership over the last six years, 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. He Cohen is also a respected, passionate teacher both in the shul and broader community.  He and his wife Frayda have three children, two of whom attends OHDS.
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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.
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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.
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Ilana Friedkin

Ilana was born and raised in this community. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in art history, 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. After four years teaching at Brandeis, Ilana returned to the East Bay to teach middle school math at OHDS, while earning a second master’s degree in educational leadership at Mills College in Oakland. Ilana is married to Reed Bennett. They have a son in first grade and a daughter in the bridge kindergarten at OHDS. They also have a younger daughter who attends Gan Mah Tov Preschool. Ilana currently serves as co-head of the Gan Mah Tov Parent Committee and on the board of Congregation Beth Jacob.
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Jenna Statfeld Harris

Jenna is thrilled to be joining the OHDS community, even though her daughter is still not old enough to enroll. Jenna, her husband Aaron, and their daughter, moved to Oakland last year from New York and have been consistently amazed by the Jewish community here. Jenna is an attorney practicing in renewable energy and municipal bonds, and previously practiced education law. She was an active volunteer in New York, including serving on the board of the Shefa School, a Jewish day school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Jenna is excited to be an engaged community member, both at OHDS and Congregation Beth Jacob.
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Alex Hart

  Alex, together with her husband Neil, are the proud parents of a 3rd grader and a 1st grader at OHDS. They are active members of Beth Jacob. Alex previously co-chaired Gan Mah Tov’s Parent 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 U.K. 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.


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Rachel Heitler

Rachel and her husband, Jacob, are excited to be joining the OHDS community. They 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 in Berkeley. Rachel is in training to become a marriage and family therapist. Before starting graduate school, Rachel worked at Nonprofit Finance Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution, where she consulted with organizations on business model change and sustainability.
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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 has spearheaded several innovative program design efforts.  Bill received his B.A. from Harvard College in studio arts, an MFA in stage directing from the Moscow Art Theater School, and (after a decade of work as a theater artist), his doctorate in psychology from the PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium. Their family are members of Congregation Netivot Shalom.
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Devorah Shapiro

OHDS graduate and two current OHDS students.  Devorah is a software developer and consultant working in the field of medical informatics. Over the past 16 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.


What People Say

  • The essence of the education OHDS provides is brilliantly reflected in the character and values of its students and graduates. I can't imagine a better foundation from which to grow and succeed.

    Rochelle Shapell, Parent of two OHDS graduates and OHDS Founding Board Member

  • The OHDS dream unfolds daily through the lives of the school's students and teachers. Every moment at the school is an opportunity to connect, learn, and grow.

    Rabbi Yonatan Cohen, OHDS parent and Spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel

  • 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.

    Catherine Shachat, OHDS alumni parent and former OHDS Board of Directors President

  • I love the fact that my children begin each day with prayer, engage in deep Torah study, speak Hebrew like an Israeli, and receive an excellent secular education. We appreciate how OHDS embraces every child.

    Elissa Kittner, OHDS parent and President of the Board

  • More than just a school, OHDS is a family, where each student is seen as our crown jewel - each cultivating a personal, passionate and serious Jewish identity and a commitment to join the Jewish journey as life long learners.

    Rabbi Yonatan Cohen, OHDS parent and Spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel

  • Our children are learning their Judaism from the ground up. There is no ambivalence.

    Judy Chun, OHDS Parent

  • OHDS has already given my children a strong sense of themselves as Jews living Jewish lives. This is no small thing in the modern world.

    Jodi Tharan, former OHDS Parent

  • OHDS students are constantly exposed to the new ways of approaching a variety of subject matters. They are encouraged to think critically and really explore and understand the material that they are learning and the world around them.

    Leslie Edelman, Past President and current Board Member, OHDS parent

  • It's not just about love of Israel and learning Hebrew. Our Kindergartner now sings "G-d bless America" with the same enthusiasm as she does songs about "Apples and Honey" and is recognizing letters and words in both languages.

    Dan Cohen, Former President of the Board of Directors and parent of two OHDS students

  • OHDS is more than a school and more than a community to me. It is really a family. The teachers are so loving and caring. They want each child to succeed with a deep thought of benefiting the whole Jewish community.

    Adi Yaron Schaker, former OHDS Parent

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