Alumni News  •  Issue 6  •  January 2019

This past August, over 200 current and former Brandeis Marin community members gathered together on Swig Field for our first ever alumni reunion. The evening was widely enjoyed by all in attendance. We were treated to musical performances by former music teachers, Rita Gershengorn and Susan Kaufman, along with their former students. Current music teacher, Jesse Scott, and many of his previous students, performed later in the evening, as well. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary as Brandeis Hillel Day School - Marin, this reunion was the first of various events planned throughout the year.

On Sunday, April 14th, 2019, we invite you to join in the 40th Birthday Celebration of the Brandeis Marin campus. It will be another fun evening of old friends, current and former teachers and administrators, good food and community celebrations. Please save-the-date for the 40th Birthday Celebration later this Spring!

In our continuing effort to reach all of our alumni and alumni families, please take a moment to update your contact information HERE


Please forward this to anyone who might be interested in staying connected to the Brandeis Marin community!

Finally, as we continue to build our school toward a very bright future, we are looking for former Brandeis students and parents to join our efforts in strengthening our alumni community. Alumni and alumni parents are encouraged to email me, if you would like to discuss various ways to re-engage with Brandeis Marin: I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wishing you a very happy and healthy holiday season and I hope to see you in 2019.


Becky Genet Fenster ('93)

Brandeis Marin Alumni Relations Coordinator



It is hard to believe that it has been forty years since we opened our doors at Brandeis Hillel Day School, the first Jewish day school in Marin County.  I was there in 1978, as one of five teachers and a total of forty children. In my first kindergarten, there were nine students and, amazingly, three of them were identical triplets! We were a loving, extended family, supporting one another and sharing in the daily excitement of becoming capable, strong, resilient learners!


Though there have been many changes since that first year, I love the fact that - forty years later - the project-based tenants of our early childhood program continue to flourish. Through a Jewish lens, the kindergartners continue to have ongoing opportunities to explore and celebrate Judaism. With a strong sense of ownership and pride, they continue to have ongoing opportunities to actively participate in the direction and design of their learning. As teachers, of course, we help to extend the learning and thinking experiences in these self-chosen projects.  Kindergartners at Brandeis Marin always come to understand that school is the perfect place to discover, explore and learn new things!


While there are many things that set current five-year-olds apart from their counterparts in 1978, there are a significant number of important traits that have remained the same for our students. Kindergartners continue to see the world through eyes of kindness, respecting themselves and all people.  They seek out ways to appreciate and take care of our planet. Their work/play is filled with complex problem solving, creative thinking, and lots of laughter.  They enjoy sharing their ideas and skills with one another and they never want to miss out on their work time! Best of all, they love learning!


As for me, I feel so lucky to continue to be able to spend my days in the midst of such wonder and joy!


Marni Shapiro

Kindergarten Teacher

Michelle Lerman

Brandeis Marin Board of Trustees and Alumni Parent



"Outstanding academics. Huge, welcoming community. This school is building leaders, mensches, thinkers, and citizens who will contribute immensely to making the world a better place. I am so proud of what my son is becoming on YOUR watch, Brandeis! Thank you!"  

That's what one parent recently wrote about Brandeis and what so many others are saying. I couldn't agree more. This is also a primary reason why my family and I have planned to help sustain Brandeis Marin for many years to come.

By leaving a gift to Brandeis in our estate plans, together we'll ensure the strength and vibrancy of Brandeis Marin for generations. Moreover, including charitable giving in your estate plan expresses your values. It sets an example for your children, highlighting the value placed on charitable giving. Your estate plan demonstrates a commitment to help others. When you include a charity in your estate plan, you leave a legacy that will last beyond your life. And it doesn't cost anything now! There are many ways to create your best legacy. LEARN MORE

Deborah Stadtner
Brandeis Marin Board of Trustees and Alumni Parent


When our first child, Joshua, was in preschool at the Marin JCC, he got the notion that our family should begin to keep kosher, celebrate Shabbat and observe havdalah. Wanting to be the best parents possible, we embarked on a journey incorporating more Jewish observance into our family life and by the time he was ready to go to Kindergarten we faced a decision about what to do next. It became apparent that to continue this journey was the right decision for us. So, we made the decision to send Joshua to what was Brandeis Hillel Day School at the time, despite the known financial demands it would place upon us.


In time, our other children (Rebecca, Jonathan and Jacob) enrolled at Brandeis and each of the four enjoyed nine years of community, outstanding academics and friendships that have lasted their lifetimes. Perhaps the best parts were the benefits that Larry and I have reaped from the community we have enjoyed in our 19 years as a family in the school. Brandeis was the place where I learned to be a community volunteer and a place where we felt we would be held, if our family were to need it. Simply, if you have had the opportunity to be a parent at the school, there is truly no where else that people take care of each other the way they do at Brandeis. READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Barry Hoffner

Alumni Parent


A little over a year ago, I lost my dear wife, Jackie, my life's-partner, best friend, soulmate, and amazing mother to my children. After a good period of shock, the thought hit me that there will be no tomorrow when things will be better, no hidden lesson to learn, no possibility of an unexpected blessing. What I can say today, one year after my healing journey started, though I miss dear Jackie every single day, I do see my blessing very clearly and it is this: Though I lost my life's-partner whose life was so tragically and unfairly cut short, I still consider myself the luckiest man in the world to have known her for the past 36 years, together for 25 years, and married for 21 years. In that time, we created experiences that will last many lifetimes and raised a family of two wonderful boys (and countless animals) whose lives have already been shaped by Jackie's special qualities. Nothing can change that and remembering that every day has buoyed me.

Shortly after those difficult days of mid-November 2017, my boys and I would meet every evening at sundown to talk about Jackie, how we were feeling, thoughts we had, memories we wanted to voice. One evening, we discussed our mutual feeling of the need to honor Jackie, who she was, her memory….as if it became our mission in life. The thought of finding a way to honor Jackie gave us a lot of needed strength and lifted our spirits! After some thought and discussion, we quickly arrived at the possibility of creating an award, in her honor, at a place that was very special to Jackie and will always be very important to our family. That special place is Brandeis Marin; a place where our two boys went to school from K-8 (2004-2014), where Jackie volunteered as a teacher's assistant and where we all made friends that will last a lifetime. At a time when feelings were still incredibly raw and powerful, I approached Dr. Peg Sandel, whom I had not really known, with this idea, not knowing what she would say. READ THE FULL STORY

Sofia Friedman ('13)


For the past 13 years, my home was a pastel yellow house in Kentfield, California. But, on September 8th, 2017 I drove away from my house as I began an adventurous gap year. I would be taking on the ambitious task of traveling to 12 countries: Israel, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Italy, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Few things would remain constant. Language changed from Hebrew to Spanish to Italian. Lodging changed from family homes to hostels to hotels. The weather changed from summer to winter as I crossed the equator. My diet changed from falafel to tapas to ceviche to pizza to smörgåsbord.


However, one thing kept me grounded and remained constant throughout my year of travel: a project I had started during my last month of high school at Marin Academy. I chose to dedicate my three-week independent study to interviewing and photographing local Holocaust survivors, after an incredibly powerful trip to Poland over that spring break. I became very close with one survivor, AnneMarie Yellin, who came on the trip with us. I hoped to somehow share her story with my community. READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Ruben Arquilevich

Executive Director, Camp Newman

Current and Alumni Parent


Rabbi Allie Fischman

Camp Director, Camp Newman


Just One Year Ago…

It's hard to believe that it has been just over a year since the Tubbs wildfire devastated our beloved camp and year-round community center, Camp Newman. Nor could we have foreseen that three other Jewish camps would also be severely impacted by California wildfires. This has certainly been a challenging year for so many of us. Yet we are more determined than ever to count the many blessings we've shared at Camp Newman this year, and to rise from the ashes stronger than ever!  


What a Community, What a Summer

On our final day of summer camp, after the last child went home, our staff held one another arm-in-arm on the shores of the Bay, and sang one last siyum, the same closing prayer our campers sing each evening. It was a powerful, tearful moment. We all felt so grateful for such an outstanding summer. We owe it to the tremendous effort and resilience of our incredible Jewish community, who rallied around us with love and support! READ THE FULL STORY


180 North San Pedro Road  •  San Rafael, CA •  94903

415-472-1833  •

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