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Camp Weekend: Partner Spotlight: Teacher Silvia Wins 1 Family 3 Corporate 3 OFJCC A ‘Cathedral in Time’ Berman Gladstone Skin Institute Prestigious Diller Award

Vol. 1 No. 2 Fall 2013

Matters O S H M A N




A ‘Cathedral in Time’

The great theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel described the Sabbath as a cathedral in time —a sacred space apart from the hustle-bustle of everyday life. SAVE THE DATE

Oshman Family JCC Gala and Auction Honoring Marcia & John Goldman Sunday Evening, February 9, 2014 Join us for our signature annual benefit, raising scholarship support for preschool, afterschool and day camp families as well as subsidies for seniors who could not otherwise participate in our programs. Exciting details coming soon. Visit

For 20 OFJCC preschool families, spending Shabbat at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa last spring conjured the magical, memorable, sacred space and time of which Heschel wrote volumes. Staffed by Preschool Director Zvi Weiss, Jewish Resource Specialist Lana Atlasov, and OFJCC teens, family camp provides the time and space for families to focus, connect, and deepen the connections within our school community. “So often, as I stand at the gate of the preschool, I encounter our parents rushing to work, rushing to pick up the children, schlepping the kids from one activity to the next,” Zvi said “It was so wonderful to see our families relax and enjoy Shabbat together.”

Parents enjoyed time to reflect on their lives and values through discussions with scholar-in-residence Janet Harris, director of the Jewish Community Federation's Early Childhood Education Initiative. They had the opportunity to hike or attend yoga class, take a cooking class, and just enjoy each other’s company. Families shared meals and discussions, welcomed Shabbat through prayer and song, played games, took walks, and even mounted a talent show. “I was struck by how quickly our parents opened up to each other, sharing very personal stories and supporting one another,” Zvi said.

J Matters

Family Camp Weekend: A ‘Cathedral in Time’ (continued)

“Spending uninterrupted time with their families, Friday to Sunday, in a Jewish setting, connecting with other families—it was a really remarkable experience,” Lana said. “From the morning yoga class to the bonfire late at night—it was a truly magical time.”

friend. This year, family camp is scheduled for March 28-30, 2014.

She was especially impressed with the teen counselors, who supervised children while the parents were pursuing other activities. “It means a lot for them to be a part of this community.”

Rachel and her husband both attended Jewish summer camp as youth. They loved camp so much they got married at the picturesque Camp Hess-Kramer in Malibu. So when they learned about the

In a survey a few days after family camp, every respondent indicated that they not only would like to return, but that they would recommend family camp to a


Parent Rachel Gibson said she appreciated the “window into another part of families’ lives that we don’t see in the hubbub of drop-off and pick-up.”

opportunity to attend family camp with their sons, ages 6 and 3, they jumped to sign up and preview the Jewish camping experience for their children who are just a little too young yet for sleep-away camp on their own. “Camp is an amazing way to develop a child’s love of Judaism and Jewish culture,” Rachel said. “They think they’re just having fun, but there’s so much more going on.”

To help ensure that family camp is accessible to all preschool families, the OFJCC is seeking philanthropic contributions to help underwrite this very meaningful experience. For more information or to make a contribution, please contact Susan Wolfe, Director of Agency Advancement, or (650) 223-8614.

Berman Gladstone Skin Institute: Community in Practice “Our business is family. We consider our employees and our patients family.” Dr. David Berman grew up in the embrace of Palo Alto’s Jewish community, so he naturally chose to open his dermatology practice here. But when his fiancee, Lauren, joined him, starting both a new profession and converting to Judaism, she felt lost. “I struggled to understand how people could be so fully identified with being Jewish, “ Lauren said. “I didn’t get it until I came to the JCC, where I found my community and that shared bond. The JCC gave me a place to belong.” The arrival of their two children, Rachel, 10, and Zachary, 9, opened a window onto the Jewish childhood that Lauren never had. The children’s OFJCC preschool class tzdakah projects became a family tradition.

Lauren now volunteers and serves on many local nonprofit boards and committees. And that includes the OFJCC. The Jewish values of community, generosity, and family have also shaped their dermatology practice. Berman Gladstone Skin Institute is a corporate supporter of the OFJCC Gala and Auction fundraising event, scheduled this year for Sunday, February 9. They also offers free community skin cancer screenings at the OFJCC.

The Bermans also serve the community with the most advanced medical technology available. “We do a lot of medical device testing and dermatologic research,” David says. “We’re principal investigators for a number of medical device start-ups.” What’s really inspiring, though, is the passion that the Bermans bring to their medical practice and their Jewish community. “We’ve had the luck to have a successful practice and business here for 20 years,” says David, “We’re trying to give back to the community that has supported our practice and allowed us to grow.”

OFJCC Teacher Silvia Wins Prestigious Diller Award Teacher Silvia Gitlin, beloved by generations of OFJCC preschoolers, was honored last Spring with the 2013 Helen Diller Family Award for Excellence in Jewish Education through the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. “Being Jewish and having been born in Mexico City defines who I am,” Teacher Silvia says. “Coupled with my love for children and education, these elements of my background motivate my work and community involvement.” A Master Teacher, Silvia starts each school year by writing “Rosh Hashanah” in the center of a large white poster, adding the

children’s words, drawings, and photos to create a meaningful web of connections to the holiday. This has sparked an interest in honey and bees and led to an exploration of the life cycle of bees, other animals, and the environment. In addition to her work at the OFJCC, Teacher Silvia offers parenting skills workshops to low-income parents in both English and Spanish; she has also taught a tuition-free kindergarten-readiness program for low-income children. OFJCC Board member Hilary Weisfeld says she treasures the preschool experience Teacher Sylvia provided for her two daughters. “The OFJCC preschool was

such an important part of my girls’ lives. Teacher Silvia is magical and played an integral role in shaping them into the compassionate, curious, Jewish people that they are and will continue to become.”


3921 Fabian Way • Palo Alto, CA 94303 • • © 2013 Oshman Family JCC Find us on Facebook:

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Corporate Partners

Bank Leumi • Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School • HighCom Security Services MokaFive • Palo Alto Library

Executive Committee Sharon Leslie President Susan Steiner Saal First Vice President Emeri Handler Vice President Paul Resnick Vice President Orli Rinat Vice President Jed Solomon Treasurer Nanette Freedland Secretary Carol Saal Honorary Lifetime Director Daryl Messinger Immediate Past President

MANAGEMENT TEAM Zack Bodner Chief Executive Officer Randi Brenowitz Chief HR & Community Outreach Officer Marsha Deslauriers Chief Financial Officer Elina Kaplan Chief Program Officer Ric Rudman Provisional Chief Operating Officer Mimi Sells Chief Marketing Officer Susan Wolfe Director of Agency Advancement

J Matters is a newsletter designed to share the vibrant, engaging community that your support makes possible. Family camp photos by Iditt Blech. We welcome your comments at or (650) 223-8614.

J-Matters: Fall 2013  

Oshman Family JCC J-Matters publication

J-Matters: Fall 2013  

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