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Staff

Fred Rosenbaum, an educator and historian, is the Founding Director of Lehrhaus Judaica. He has also been a faculty member at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where for five years he taught a semester-long course on the Holocaust to Christian seminarians. He has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and has been the traveling scholar on numerous Lehrhaus-JCCSF study tours—to Eastern and Western Europe, Israel and the Middle East, South America and Cuba, and his native New York.

Rosenbaum is the author of seven books. His Visions of Reform, a full-length study of San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El, was acclaimed by Professor Jonathan Sarna in the Forward as “a sign of a new spirit of candor in American Jewish history.” His Taking Risks, co-authored with Joseph Pell, describes Pell’s exploits as a Soviet partisan and was hailed in the San Francisco Chronicle as “transcending the genre” of Holocaust memoirs. Taking Risks was excerpted in Becoming Americans, an anthology of immigrant writing published by the Library of America in 2009. Rosenbaum’s companion volume, Here, There are No Sarahs, co-authored with Sonia Orbuch, tells the woman’s side of the Jewish partisan saga. He has also written numerous articles, including five entries in the award-winning second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica published in 2006.

Rosenbaum’s Cosmopolitans: A Social and Intellectual History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area was published by the University of California Press in 2009. According to Kevin Starr, “no single community has contributed comparably to the rise and development of this region—and no book tells this story better than Fred Rosenbaum’s.” Cosmopolitans also received glowing praise from the American Jewish Archives Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

His latest book, Out on a Ledge, traces the Holocaust journey of Eva Libitzky through the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and beyond. Much of the research was conducted while Rosenbaum was a member of an international team of twelve scholars assembled by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to analyze the 150-million-page International Tracing Service, recently obtained from Germany, where it was inaccessible to scholars for sixty-five years. Out on a Ledge was a finalist for the 2011 Benjamin Franklin Award presented by the Independent Booksellers Association.

In 2010, Rosenbaum won the Anne and Robert Cowan Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding writing on Jewish themes by a Bay Area author. He has also received the S.Y. Agnon Gold Medal for Intellectual Excellence from the Scopus Society of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, and was the first educator from Northern California to receive the Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators from the Covenant Foundation in New York. Fr747@aol.com

Jehon Grist, Ph.D.Chief Operating Officer/Senior Educator of Lehrhaus Judaica, has been with the school as a faculty member and administrator since 1985. He received his doctorate in Near East Studies and a California State Teaching Credential from the University of California, Berkeley with Doctoral research time at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A veteran of excavations and field research in both Israel and Egypt, Jehon has published articles and presented papers on a variety of topics, from research identifying an obscure Egyptian queen, to the conflict between Egypt, Israel and the Philistines at the beginning of Biblical history. For Lehrhaus and many other institutions, he teaches a wide range of courses in Biblical Hebrew, ancient and modern Israel and the Near East, Introduction to Judaism, and other topics. He also leads tours to a variety of destinations, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Spain.

Over the last several years, he has spearheaded the development of the Digital Classroom format: live courses enriched with vivid presentations incorporating texts, images, and audio/video clips, all custom-designed to enhance the learning experience. More recently, he has developed Lehrhaus Online which allows students to attend courses live in the classroom, live online or any time via full video recording. Digital innovation also plays a role in the Lehrhaus Traveling Classroom study tour program. Jehon creates live pre-tour courses for many of these tours, including flash drive classes that thoroughly introduce students to the history, culture and sites of the countries they visit.

But the heart of Jehon’s life is his wife Jennifer, his four children and three grandchildren, his less-than-perfect garden, and his totally perfect 2001 Mazda Miata.jehong@aol.com

Peretz Wolf-Prusan, who served for 20 years as rabbi and senior educator at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, assumed his duties as Rabbi and Senior Educator for Lehrhaus Judaica in October 2010. The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation sponsors this new senior executive position. He currently serves as Chief Program Officer/Senior Educator.

Rabbi Wolf-Prusan will teach classical texts in such Lehrhaus programs as Bible by the Bay, Learning and Leadership (for Federation lay leaders meeting in private homes), and other venues. He will also work in the areas of museum partnership, émigré education, and parallel learning for day school parents, weekend retreats, and family tours to Israel. In addition, the national Covenant Award winner will assist the institution with fundraising and strategic planning.

After volunteering in Israel 1973-1974, Peretz came to the Bay Area to teach art at UAHC Camp Swig and study at the San Francisco Art Institute. He taught Jewish folklore and Hebrew calligraphy when Lehrhaus began 37 years ago!

After a decade of creating Ketubot, printmaking, working in informal education, he, along with Becki and one-year-old Leora, traveled back to Israel in 1985 to learn at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and became a rabbi in 1990 (best of all, along the way, added Avital and Noah to the family). He is the only graduate of HUC-JIR with an undergraduate degree in experimental art.

At Emanu-El, he was commissioned to spearhead the revitalization of the Congregation’s education program. He developed a nationally recognized family education program currently serving over 600 students and their families and directed the Tauber Jewish Studies Program, a program of the Madeleine Haas Russell Institute of Jewish Learning.

Peretz has continued his learning at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and with the Consortium for Jewish Family Education.

Peretz and Becki live in San Francisco where she is an Academic Counselor at City College of San Francisco, serving CalWORKs students. peretz@lehrhaus.org

Syd StaitiAssociate Director and Program Director, received a BA in English from Binghamton University and an MFA in creative writing at Mills College. Their first book, The Undying Present, was published in 2015. They have been working at Lehrhaus since 2007. syd@lehrhaus.org

Debbie Rosenfeld-Caparaz, who assumed the role of Director of Communications for Lehrhaus Judaica in July 2009, has 23 years of public relations and marketing experience, including in Jewish education, sports, and technology. Debbie received her bachelor’s of science degree in radio/TV/film from Northwestern. She was born in Skokie, Ill., and resides in Albany, Calif., with her husband and two daughters. debbie@lehrhaus.org

Vernita Lyons, Director of Business and Student Services for Lehrhaus Judaica, was born in Oakland, and raised in Alameda. Vernita received her AA degree from Vista Community College, and her BA degree in business management from Holy Names College. She is also the owner of a small home business, specializing in personalized gifts, novelty items, and custom screen printing. She is also a huge sports fan, who enjoys all sports. She resides in Richmond with her family. vernita@lehrhaus.org

Julie Bernstein Klein, joined the Lehrhaus Judaica staff as Development Manager in September 2015. She previously served as the Associate Managing Director of the Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and as the Director of Campus and Community Programs for the SF-based Jewish Community Relations Council. She has also held positions in Education Management at HealthTeacher and Kaplan. Julie received her BA from the University of Southern California and resides in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. julie@lehrhaus.org

Dawn Kepler is the founding director of Building Jewish Bridges, a program of Lehrhaus Judaica. She has worked in interfaith outreach since 1990. She has run workshops and classes in synagogues, JCCs, Federations and Jewish agencies. dawn@buildingjewishbridges.org

Abra Greenspan joined Lehrhaus Judaica in August 2012 and is the Bay Area Community Talmud Circle and Philosophy Circle Project Coordinator. She is also the Director of Learning at Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto. Abra has worked in Jewish education for over 30 years, including 12 years as the Director of Youth Education at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. She holds a BA in religious studies, an MA in Japanese language and literature from Stanford University, and an MS in Jewish education from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. She received her Reform Jewish Educator Credential in July 2011. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons (when they are not off at school or traveling the world) and enjoys long walks, good food, books and movies. abra@lehrhaus.org