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Petaluma's Inclusive Center for Jewish Life

Rabbi Search Completed!

From Rabbi Shalom Bochner:

I’m extremely excited to become your Rabbi. My plan is to assume full-time duties in Petaluma July 1st after I complete my current contract at Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto. Over the next few months I will be at B’nai Israel for Shabbat Services once a month, for “drop-in” office hours, meeting with the Board, Ritual Committee and other groups, and to lead a Passover Seder and a program in May with a campfire and a concert for Lag B’Omer. I’m very eager to meet all of you, learn more about the community, and begin to serve as your Jewish spiritual leader. 

I’ve been working in the fields of Jewish education and community leadership for almost 40 years since I was in high school. I’m passionate about teaching and making Jewish texts meaningful and accessible. Embracing pluralism and the diversity of the American Jewish population are extremely important to me, as is multi-faith dialogue, and connecting with people individually. My experience, in addition to the last 10 years of being a congregational rabbi, includes working with college students at Hillel, directing Jewish summer camps and youth groups, being a synagogue Educator, teaching at Day Schools, and supporting Jewish life through organizing regional gatherings, retreats, and conferences. The threads that run through all off this work include music, text-study, and hands-on holiday programming. 

Some of my goals at BIJC are to actively outreach to younger families living in the area to get them more involved, to ensure that there is regular cultural programming to attract and maintain members that are proud of their Jewish identity but are less motivated by our prayer Services, and to ensure that the spiritual and educational life of the community is robust, inspiring, and accessible. My initial sense of the community is extremely positive and I was really moved by the warmth and leadership of the congregation when I visited last month. I’m highly motivated to dream big with all of you and to support the BIJC moving into a new era of growth, increased activity, and raising the profile of the congregation in Petaluma and Sonoma County. There are so many successes to build on: a rich Jewish history, an historic and beautiful building, and a genuine sense of friendliness and community.  

I grew up in Albany, NY in a Jewish community with much in common with Petaluma. I’ve been living on the west coast since 1993, first in Seattle, then 13 years in Santa Cruz, and then Berkeley, and Modesto. My wife Shoshana is eager to bring her own talents to the community. She’s an avid reader with a wide variety of interests and hobbies including photography, Jewish astrology, genealogy and travel, and loves to try new foods and drinks. We have three children in our blended family: Ethan (24) serves in the Navy,  Nitzan (20) is a Junior at UC Santa Cruz, and Yuval (16) is a Junior at Berkeley High. When I’m not at work, my interests include hiking, biking, skiing, playing guitar, drums and song writing, and listening to live music.  Forming a Petaluma Jewish Jam band is absolutely on my to-do list in addition to my current musical projects and bands. 

My immediate priority is to get to know all of you. Between now and the High Holidays, I want to meet with every member family and get a sense of what you are looking for in a diverse and active Jewish community, what committees, working groups or tasks forces you are willing to serve on, and what have been your experiences with the Jewish community in Petaluma. Together, we can create a vibrant center of Jewish life that is intergenerational and engaging. I’ll be available to meet you at shul, in your home, or out for a cup of coffee. All Rabbis love questions and I am particularly eager to hear yours. Community is about building relationships and it’s this work that I am most eager to begin as soon as possible. I can’t wait to begin this exciting new era together with all of you.

Kol tuv - all the best,

Rabbi Shalom

 


 

Our Clergy & Staff

Rabbi

Rabbi Ted Feldman has retired from B’nai Israel Jewish Center after serving the community from 2005-2022.  He was previously the director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) East Bay, an organization that provides essential mental health and social services to individuals, families and older adults in crisis. Before that, he spent over a decade working in various roles for the Jewish Federation. Rabbi Feldman is honored with tributes in the Petaluma Argus-Courier and  The Jewish News of Northern California. (Photo by the Argus-Courier)


Gan Israel Preschool Director - Teri Porter

We are pleased to welcome Teri Porter as the director of Gan Israel Preschool. Teri has a wealth of experience in Early Childhood Education and has directed infant, preschool, and after-school care programs in Sonoma and Marin counties. She received a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena. Teri has lived in Petaluma for over 30 years, and has two grown sons, Garrett and Marshall. She enjoys photography, hiking, yoga and traveling.

Teri may be reached at (707) 763-5136. Email her at Teri@bnaiisrael.net


Outreach and Programming - Hillary Fox

Hillary Fox is our outreach and programming director. A native of Los Angeles and longtime resident of Marin County, she received her degree from CSU–Long Beach in Theatre Tech and has worked in theatrical production management and has helped to found two schools. A member of Kol Shofar, Hillary lives in San Rafael with her husband, two daughters and their Labradoodle, Brady. Contact her at hillary@bnaiisrael.net.


Communications Coordinator - Open

 


Office Administrator -  Erica Stuart

Erica Stuart is our Office Administrator. Before moving to Petaluma, she spent 20 years in the news industry, including 10 years at 60 Minutes. She also served as Public Information Officer for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, handling media relations for local and state government agencies. She serves as a board member for BIJC’s Sisterhood and manages the Sisterhood Gift Shop. Erica’s hours are from 9 am – 1 pm, Monday - Friday. She can be reached by phone at 707-762-0340, or via email at office@bnaiisrael.net. Click here to view the Sisterhood Gift Shop catalogue online.


Web Consultant - Lisa Basalto

Lisa Basalto has worked in web, layout and graphic design since 2001. She got her start designing websites as a hobby, and has been the webmaster at BIJC since 2008. In addition to designing websites, she has worked as an afterschool teacher and as a writer. She graduated from Sonoma State University in 2007, and lived throughout the Bay Area and Central Valley of California for most of her life before finally moving to northwest Oregon in 2013. 

Sat, February 4 2023 13 Shevat 5783