At Tefillah on May 24th, we introduced a new student award to honor the legacy of longtime Brandeis parent, Jackie Hoffner. Known for her beautiful spirit and caring soul, Jackie was a force for good in the world. It was an honor and privilege to have Barry Hoffner and his sons Ben ('12) and Daniel ('13) with us to share a few words about this unique award as we bestowed it upon graduating 8th grader, Rosie Cohen. Mazal Tov Rosie and family!


Alumni News  •  Issue 5  •  May 2018

Dear Brandeis alums and alumni family -

I am very excited that next school year (2018-2019) will be both the 40th and 4th anniversary of our school. Some of you may ask, "how can you celebrate both a 40th and 4th anniversary at the same time???" Well, the answer is quite clear. In 1978, five extraordinary women supported by forward-thinking community members, opened the Marin campus of Brandeis Hillel Day School. Fast forward to 2015, under the inspired leadership of Dr. Peg Sandel and highly committed Board members, Brandeis Marin opened as an independent Jewish day school. Thus, next year we will be celebrating both our 40th and 4th anniversary!

In anticipation of this remarkable milestone, the teachers, administration, and Board of Trustees want to reconnect with our alumni and alumni families at various school events and reunions throughout the coming school year.

I am very excited to announce that we will have our first ever Brandeis Marin alumni reunion on Saturday evening, August 11th from 5:30-8:30pm on Swig Field (behind Brandeis Marin). This will be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with former classmates, teachers and staff spanning 40 years on this campus. We hope you can join us! Invitations will be mailed and emailed later this summer. Stay tuned...

Please make sure our school has current contact information for your and your family. Updated contact information can be emailed to me directly at OR provided through our school website at: If you are on Facebook, you can also join our new Brandeis Marin Family Alumni Association Facebook page for the latest info and updates.

As always, you are invited to join us at our 8th grade graduation which takes place this year on Wednesday, June 6th at 9:30am in the Rodef Sholom sanctuary.

The 2018-2019 school year looks to be our most exciting yet. I hope you will come back to reconnect and remember what has made Brandeis such a special place in our community for the last forty years.

All my best,


Becky Genet Fenster ('93)

Alumni Relations Coordinator


A Time to Stand Up

Adam Friedman ('14)

My time at Brandeis was full of formative experiences and memories that define much of who I am today, but one specific memory stands out. I recall the difficulty I faced while writing my eighth grade graduation speech. It seemed that many of my classmates knew exactly what to write about, but I felt lost. There was so much to thank Brandeis for, and so many stories to tell. I struggled to find the perfect one. I wrote three different speeches, but none of them felt quite right. They each checked off all of the boxes: one had some humor, another was focused on self-reflection, the third discussed growing up. Yet, none of the speeches I submitted sat quite right with me.

It was close to 1:00am on June 6th, the day before graduation. I was reading the speech I was planning to deliver over and over again in my head. It didn't sound quite right. My gaze began to wander, finally settling on the picture of my grandfather on my desk. In a moment of inspiration, I opened a new document and began writing furiously. Thirty minutes later, I had something I was proud of. It was not as eloquent or refined as the speeches I had previously written, but it was vulnerable. It got to the heart of what Brandeis meant to me and how that shaped me as a young adult. I chose to write about the way the Brandeis community supported my family and me after the loss of my grandfather to gun violence when I was in seventh grade. While I voiced my appreciation in my speech for the way my friends and teachers buoyed me in the aftermath of such tragedy, I have only recently realized something Brandeis gave me that is equally as powerful.

Brandeis taught me how to use my voice, how to channel my sorrow, frustration, and anger into words, action, and change. In the five years since the passing of my grandfather, I have advocated for gun violence prevention and other social issues, both on the legislative and cultural level. I have drawn on the skills I gained in the classroom in order to affect change in my community, state, and country. While this work has been difficult and often discouraging, my Jewish identity and community has given me the strength and skill to persevere.

This past year, I have been able to further my connection with the Jewish community and deepen my activism by serving as NFTY (the Reform Jewish Youth Movement)'s Social Action Vice President.



Brandeis: Then and Now

Daniel Barenbaum ('86)


When Brandeis Marin opens the doors to its students this coming September, it will be 40 years since our school first welcomed students and became an important foundational staple of Marin Jewish life. My sons, Sam and Henry, will be among the returning kids, entering 8th and 5th grade respectively. And while we are a new family to Brandeis this past year, I am hardly surprised that it has demonstrated itself to be a supporting and welcoming community and a first-rate education.


Why am I not surprised? When I say that we are a new family to Brandeis, I mean that my wife, Michelle, and I are new as parents, and my boys are new as students. But, in fact, Brandeis played a big role in making me who I am today because I was one of those students entering that new school 40 years ago. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE



The Sarah Bendiner Fenner Fund

Maxine Epstein (alumni mom '13)

Sarah Bendiner Fenner was a friend of mine.  In 2004, I moved to Marin with my partner, Geraldine, and our two daughters, Adina and Ma'ayan.  We moved around the corner from Sarah and her husband, Rabbi Natan, and their two boys, Micah and Evan.  Even though Micah and Evan were considerably older than our daughters (and still are), our families shared nearly every Shabbat dinner together for more than a year.  Living close to Sarah and to other Jewish families in Terra Linda - all of whom sent their kids to Brandeis - unwittingly helped us create our own sort of "shtetle" that extended out to the entire Brandeis community.  It was a bubble for sure, or near bubble….


Sarah lived with breast cancer for 12 years.  During her lifetime, Sarah educated herself, took a proactive approach to her healthcare and treatment, and cared for her family as a mother and partner.  Throughout her illness, she was a much sought-after support and pillar of strength to others who were also enduring this same diagnosis. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE



Reflections on a Lifetime of Teaching
Liz Atterman

After 32 years of teaching at Brandeis, I will be retiring at the end of this school year. Reflecting on my time in the Brandeis library and in the classroom is both overwhelming and comforting. But, how do I even begin to reflect on all of those years at this amazing, caring and nurturing institution?

Starting out as a fourth grade English/social studies teacher those many years ago, I was blessed to be in a shared position with Louise Gross, who taught math and science in the mornings. Every evening we would talk on the phone (pre cell phone era) to plan and share our thoughts about our students and create many of the collaborations between math, science, English and social studies. One of the highlights of our fourth grade studies was going on the Gold Rush trip to the Stanislaus County's camp in Sonora. There we would have an outstanding opportunity to study the Jews of the Gold Rush by doing gravestone rubbings at the historical cemetery in Sonora, where many of the Jewish families were buried during that period of time. The children also performed skits during our two day stay at the camp dressed as their Gold Rush historical figures.

When Ruth Rosenthal was ready to return to the classroom after being the librarian, I was given the opportunity to be the teacher/librarian for the lower school. I became immersed in the many facets of librarianship, and over the past twenty years, the Brandeis library collection grew to its first major goal of boasting a vibrant 10,000 titles.  We have since expanded that goal by acquiring 5,000 more titles over the last few years.



Reflections from our Board Chair

Marty Friedman

Our Brandeis 'life' began while we were still living in New Jersey in 2005.  After we enrolled our older daughter, Sofia, in First grade at Brandeis, but before we had actually moved to California, our phone rang. "Hi," the friendly voice said, "we hear you're a new family. When are you moving here?"  We answered that our family would be moving at the end of July and the response was, "Great! We will change the date of our daughter's birthday party until after you arrive so you can meet everyone in the class." We were stunned, thrilled, touched, nervous, and excited.  And sure enough, we got off the plane one day in late July and the very next day we went to our first of many birthday parties (Shout-out to Laura Century & Lee Unkrich!). And with that, our Brandeis community was born, and from there it blossomed into something wonderful and something I would have never expected.

Brandeis became our 'everything' as we settled into our new life as West (Best!) Coasters. Coming from Manhattan and then a New Jersey suburb, we had never experienced a community like this before.  Maybe it was due to the lack of school buses which meant that every parent was on campus twice per day? Maybe it was the proximity to the JCC fitness center next door, and for some the synagogue as well?  Or maybe it was the incredible nexus of like-minded, unassuming, modest, shared-values families that we kept meeting time and again, practically everywhere we turned. Life was easy, warm and friendly. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE


First of the Lasts

Melissa Freeman

I have been a teacher at Brandeis for 20 years.  How can that be? As we approach the 40th anniversary of our school, that means I have taught half of our alumni. But, I keep asking myself, "How can that be? I only just started as a new teacher a few years ago!"  So, how does one capture almost two decades of teaching in a short article? Well, there are a few themes that come to mind...1) Brandeis "traditions" 2) Alum visits and the K/8 Buddy Wall of Fame and 3) the "First of The Lasts."  

At Brandeis we've had a long standing belief that change is not only positive, but essential. We pride ourselves on being cutting edge with technology and educational curricula, but we also hold tight to values and celebrate tradition. By grade, here are some of the traditions that we hold dear at Brandeis Marin.  

  • Kindergarten Bus Boycott play
  • 1st grade Tefillah and receiving their own siddurs
  • 2nd grade Flat Stanley project
  • 3rd grade takes the ERBs
  • 4th grade California Gold Rush trip
  • 5th grade Family Tree Project
  • 6th grade Middle School Retreat
  • 7th grade Tzedakah project
  • 8th grade Graduation speeches

Why do these "traditions" resonate so strongly with me?  Because I've lived them...not just through the lens of a teacher, but through our alums, their families and even my own children. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE


Susan Kaufman (founding teacher), Rita Gershengorn (founding teacher), Rose Barlow (incoming Board chair and alumni parent), Dr. Peg Sandel (Head of School) & Becky Genet Fenster (Alumni Relations Coordinator, former teacher, and alum) meet for lunch in May 2018.


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