Gregg Rubenstein is the CEO of Primark Benefits, which helps small- and medium-sized businesses set up meaningful retirement plans tailored to the needs of their owners and employees. Gregg leads the management team, focusing on maintaining the high level of expertise and excellent customer service that clients have come to expect from Primark Benefits for over 50 years.
Gregg is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and served as the finance director at Camp Tawonga for the first 20 years of his career. He lives in Alameda, CA, with his wife and three daughters.
Gregg has been volunteering with Hebrew Free Loan since 2009 and is proud to be serving as President of this vital organization, especially during a time of great growth and impact on our community.
First Vice President
First Vice President
Maureen Holt is a principal in DDMH Worldwide, a qualitative market research consultancy. She started the company in 1995, consulting with US and international corporate clients in a wide variety of product and service categories, bringing consumer and/or business professional voices and perspectives to marketing, product development, branding, and communication efforts.
Maureen worked in advertising and market research companies when she first arrived in San Francisco in the mid- 80’s after growing up in Montreal, Canada, and graduating from universities in Canada and England. She and her husband Kelly have 2 daughters, 4 grandkids, and a small vineyard with 3 grape varietals which keeps them really busy with what was supposed to be a “fun” hobby.
Second Vice President
Second Vice President
Roman Polnar has over 20 years of experience in the financial-services profession working for some of the nation’s most recognized names. But after ten years in the corporate world, Roman left to build an independent firm that would do right for their clients without compromise, or conflicts of interest that plague so many firms in the financial space. Pillar6 Advisors was born out of that vision in 2010 and has been steadily growing in size, depth, and expertise for the benefit of every individual, family, and closely held business they serve.
Roman lives in San Mateo with his wife Sabina and their three kids, Ellie, Zev, and Gabriel. When not running the firm or working with clients, he can be found enjoying the outdoors with his family, volunteering, and setting new endurance challenges like swims from Alcatraz and cycling adventures that give him time to re-energize, think, and reflect.
Michael Rapaport is currently Treasurer and member of the Hebrew Free Loan Executive Committee of the Board. Michael has been involved with Hebrew Free Loan since 2017. Professionally, he has spent over 30 years in the consumer and small business credit industry, including 14 years at Fair, Isaac and Company, where he helped develop the FICO credit score.
Michael is currently President and Chief Operating Officer at Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit organization that offers small business loans and business advising to underserved populations. He is also an active volunteer in the San Francisco Jewish community: he is currently Board President at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. Michael and his wife, Ruth Katz, live in West Portal with their sons, Julian and Manu.
Madeline (Maddy) Chaleff has been involved in nonprofit management for over 30 years, including serving as the Director of Planned Giving at El Camino Hospital Foundation in Silicon Valley. Other positions included Marketing Manager for Practising Law Institute, Director of Development for Kehillah Jewish High School, and Program Manager for the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation.
Maddy is an active volunteer who has also served on the Boards of the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, and Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City. Her work at each of those organizations has included chairing multiple committees, and she is especially proud of her role leading giving circles to encourage philanthropy.
Maddy’s hands-on volunteer work has included tutoring and mentoring with Girls to Women in East Palo Alto and leading a Shabbat program for residents at the Vi at Palo Alto Senior Living for over 15 years. She participated in the Wexner Heritage Fellows program and has studied with the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel, NY, and locally.
Having grown up on the east coast, Maddy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington University in St. Louis and studied for a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She moved to California in 1989 and loves her community here. She and her husband, David Arfin, live in Palo Alto and have two adult sons.
Immediate Past President
Immediate Past President
Steve Zimmerman is the Founder, Principal Broker, and CEO of Restaurant Realty Company. Steve has personally sold/leased over 1,000 restaurant, bar, and/or nightclub businesses and over 40 related commercial buildings totaling over 2 million square feet of commercial space, collaborated with over 2,000 clients, and completed over 3,000 valuations since 1996. His real estate experience also includes sales, acquisitions, management, and ownership of numerous properties throughout California, including restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings, single family houses, an office building, and a multi-use retail building. Prior to starting Restaurant Realty Company, Steve had over 20 years of restaurant experience and was President & CEO of Zim’s Restaurants which was one of the largest privately owned restaurant chains in the San Francisco Bay Area with a total of 37 restaurants during its history.
Cindy Rogoway has 35 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management within the San Francisco Jewish community. She joined the team at Hebrew Free Loan in 2003, and she became the Executive Director in 2014. Cindy is the first woman to assume this role since the agency was founded in 1897.
Since her tenure as Executive Director began, the agency’s assets have more than doubled, increasing from $13 million to $28 million. Of this amount, approximately $21 million is out in loans that are assisting 1,500 individuals, families, businesses, and Jewish organizations throughout Northern California.
Before becoming Executive Director, Cindy was Hebrew Free Loan’s Development Director (2003-2010) and Associate Director (2010-2014). As Associate Director, Cindy assumed responsibility for our loan program, which brought her in contact with hundreds of loan recipients each year. This experience deepened Cindy’s appreciation for the profound and lasting impact a loan can make on a person’s life. It remains a primary inspiration for her work to grow and strengthen the agency.
Cindy has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since graduating from UCLA and moving to Northern California to begin her career. Prior to joining Hebrew Free Loan, she worked for the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation for 14 years, where she focused on fundraising, community building, and leadership development. Cindy also serves as Immediate Past President of the International Association of Jewish Free Loans, a collaborative body providing support to more than 50 similar agencies in America, Canada, Israel, Australia, and Brazil.
She has been an active volunteer for political campaigns and several local Jewish organizations, including Congregation Kol Emeth, Wornick Jewish Day School, South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, and the Palo Alto-based Friendship Circle. She lives on the Peninsula with her husband, Joe, their teenage son, Alan, and their adorable dog, Matzah.
Board of Directors
Ryan Chernis is an accomplished financial services executive, currently serving as the Vice President and Head of Institutional Sales and Investor Relations at Achieve. In this role, Ryan is responsible for overseeing the funding strategy for all of Achieve’s consumer lending products and manages the sourcing and forward flow relationships with institutional investors and financial institutions throughout the US. He also manages investor relations for Achieve’s affiliate asset manager, Freedom Financial Asset Management. The latter serves as the General Partner for the Freedom Credit Consumer Fund (FCCF), an award-winning consumer credit fund with approximately $1 billion in assets under management.
Prior to joining Achieve, Ryan served as the Vice President of Institutional Sales at LendingClub, where he led strategic partnerships and forward flow relationships with institutional investors and financial institutions. Earlier in his career, he spent over a decade in investment banking and fixed income capital markets. Ryan has an extensive background in advising regional and community banks on balance sheet management, strategic, financial, and operational issues. As a Vice President at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (acquired by Stifel Financial in 2013), the nation’s largest boutique investment bank focused on the financial services sector, he gained invaluable experience. Ryan holds an MS in Real Estate Finance from New York University and a BA from the University of San Francisco.
Rabbi Steven Chester
Before coming to Temple Sinai in 1989, Rabbi Steven Chester served congregations in Jackson, Michigan, where he also served as the prison chaplain for the Jewish prisoners of the State of Michigan and Stockton, California. Rabbi Steven has taught Hebrew at Jackson Community College, Bible at Spring Arbor College, and Bible and Judaism at the University of the Pacific where he was named Adjunct Professor in the Religious Studies Department.
Rabbi Steven received a BA in History from UCLA, a BHL (Bachelor of Hebrew Letters) from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, an MHL (Master of Hebrew Letters) from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and an honorary doctorate from HUC in 1996. His Rabbinic thesis was “Eli Wiesel: Rebbe for our Generation” and he was ordained in 1971. Rabbi Steven retired in 2011, and along with Rabbi Samuel Broude, is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sinai. Since his retirement, he has served as Interim Rabbi at Temple Beth Ora in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Temple Israel in Alameda, California; and Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, California.
Rabbi Steven is married to Leona. They were married in 1969 and have two children, Adam and Shira. Adam and his wife, Keng, are the parents of Rabbi Steven and Leona’s granddaughters, Anna and Amanda. Shira and her husband, Daniel, are the parents of Rabbi Steven’s and Leona’s granddaughter, Trinity. This is his second time on our Board, and he is honored to serve and feels our work is one of the most praise worthy of all Jewish organizations.
Stephen L. Dobrow, ERPA, APA, CPC is president and owner of Primark Benefits, a firm that provides pension consulting, administration, record-keeping, and actuarial services. Stephen entered the retirement field in 1976, is licensed to practice before the IRS as an Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent, and holds a degree in Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He holds professional designations issued by the National Institute of Pension Administrators and from the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) and currently serves on committees as an ASPPA Past President. As an expert in retirement plans, Stephen regularly meets with Senators, Congressmen, staffers, and officials of the Department of Labor, Treasury, and the IRS to help form national pension policy for American workers.
Mark Goldman is Chief Operating Officer of Pacmachinery, a company based in San Rafael which designs and manufactures a wide range of packaging and fabrication equipment. Mark is an experienced executive, having worked in the computer and packaging industries for many decades. He is a technical and business development professional with a background in negotiation, business planning, operations management, sales, and team building.
Mark received his MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and his BS degree in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a past President of Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, served as a campaign chair for the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation, and was involved in securing the property later used for the Jewish Community High School of the Bay.
Chris Karow is an inspirational business leader with extensive leadership accomplishments. Much of his career, Chris has defined strategy and driven business growth through entrepreneurship, innovation, relationships, collaboration, team building, and building consensus among diverse parties throughout the financial services industry. He is a senior executive who brings deep expertise in corporate and board governance, regulatory affairs, financial and non-financial risk management, climate risk management, rapid business growth, and business transformation combined with a breadth of experience in management, finance, accounting, and audit.
Chris serves as a Board Advisor, Board Member, and investor to numerous companies, bringing his innovation, strategic perspectives, financial and funding knowledge, marketing insight, connections, and operational experience to rapidly accelerate start-ups and growth established organizations. Underpinning everything he does is a deep appreciation for the power of diversity.
David Kiferbaum joined the Hebrew Free Loan Board in 2021, after serving on it as a Jewish Community Federation Fellow in 2020. David first got involved with Hebrew Free Loan in an effort to better serve the Bay Area Jewish community during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to more deeply engage with the mitzvah of interest-free loans. As a lawyer and current business development manager at Google, he is proud to contribute on various committees.
David Levine is President and CEO of Presidio Mortgage Holdings, LLC, an entrepreneurial real estate platform headquartered in San Francisco and focused on renovating and building multifamily communities and providing capital to real estate professionals. David has over 25 years experience in the mutifamily finance industry. His career began at Fannie Mae in their Housing Policy Group, and from there, he moved to New York where he worked in the Fixed Income Group at UBS Securities and then Prudential Securities. In 1995, David moved to San Francisco to help launch ARCS Commercial Mortgage which grew to be the nations’s largest apartment house lender and was sold to PNC bank in 2007. He remained with PNC thru 2010.
In 2009, David became Chair of The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco and remained Chair through 2013. Between 2011 and 2013, the museum was without an Executive Director, so he assumed the role of Interim ED until a successor was found. David has two children and serves as a Trustee for Hebrew Free Loan, Skidmore College, Mercy Housing California. He also serves as Executive Director of a private family foundation. David enjoys tennis, running, and adventurous eating.
Amanda Lurie is an East Coast transplant: she grew up in DC, went to college at Columbia in NYC, and studied at MIT for graduate school. Amanda made the move to California five years ago and doesn’t miss winter at all. An engineer by training (Environmental and Systems Engineering), she started her career in customer operations and transitioned to strategy and Business Development. Amanda currently leads Product Strategy for ServiceTitan, a vertical SaaS platform for the trades industry. She loves to play sports (basketball is her favorite, but her secret skill is skeeball), enjoys cooking and eating spicy food, and takes her role of aunt to her eight nieces and nephews very seriously. Amanda loves to travel and even spent a summer building a car in Kenya! She lives with her husband, Elias, and their cat, Sasha, in San Jose.
Paul Orbuch grew up in NYC in a family of Holocaust survivors and immigrants. After graduating from Columbia University in 1976, Paul began a career in commercial photography which led him to the Bay Area for a job. Pursuing his interest in natural foods, He spent the next several decades involved in management and leadership at two companies, Wildwood Natural Foods, a manufacturer of tofu and alternative sources of protein, and Odwalla, Inc., a natural juice company.
Paul joined our Board in 2016 and currently serves as chair of the business loan committee and member of the executive committee. He is the founding president of The Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation which works with thousands of educators to inspire the next generation by teaching the history and life lessons of the Jewish Partisans during World War II. Paul lives in Marin County with his partner, Lisa.
Sabina Polnar is originally from Latvia and grew up in San Francisco. Sabina has been involved with Hebrew Free Loan for the last nine years as a committee member and a board member. She has a deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the American Jewish community and what they did for Soviet Jewry and is now paying it forward by working with Jewish nonprofits in the Bay Area.
Sabina is a graduate of Cal Berkeley currently works at Arm, Inc. as Director of Pricing, and is honored to be on the Board of Hebrew Free Loan. When not working or volunteering, she and her husband, Roman, are proud parents of an 8th grader, 4th grader, and kindergartner.
Paul Ratner was initially introduced to Hebrew Free Loan as the organization helped him pay his way through graduate school. Paul has extensive experience in B2B sales and a career built on finding solutions for his customers’ needs. Nearly two decades of experience in the sports industry with the Golden State Warriors and PGA TOUR, he is now helping businesses with strategic financing to foster growth for their businesses.
Paul is currently an advisor for multiple startups and helping fundraising efforts for various nonprofits. As a former Adjunct Professor at University of San Francisco in the Sport Management Graduate Program, he focused on helping graduate students break down the negative stigma that surrounds the word SALES while building their skills in public speaking, personal brand development, social media, and networking. Paul is very transparent by nature and loves connecting likeminded individuals with each other.
Josh Rutberg is currently the Chief Customer Officer for Boomi. Prior to that, Josh was the SVP of Customer Success for MuleSoft (a Salesforce company) which he joined in 2016. He worked at Bain & Company from 1999-2014 where he was a partner working with technology companies and private equity funds.
Josh holds both graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Mill Valley, CA, with his incredible family: Ashley, Hunter, Savannah, Jake, and Truckee.
Gayle Starr is currently focused on expanding her Board and advisory positions at growing companies and organizations; both for profit and nonprofit. Serving on the Board for two Fundrise entities and as a Global Trustee for the Urban Land Institute has exposed Gayle to Board roles and responsibilities. Positions on the Urban Land Institute’s Global Audit Committee and the Fundrise Real Estate Interval Fund’s Audit Committee have enhanced her board knowledge. Serving as an active advisor to the retail real estate company, Bridge33, further rounds out her experience.
In her previous role as MD, Head of Global Capital Markets at Prologis, a NYSE company, Gayle had the unique experience of sourcing capital throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In her tenure at Prologis, she and her team sourced over $38 billion in debt capital in eight currencies. Gayle was afforded the opportunity to serve both as a member of the executive committee of the Women’s Leadership Initiative within the Urban Land Institute and as a mentor locally in the Bay Area for the Young Leaders within ULI. Both of these roles have kept her active within the real estate arena and allowed her to give back by guiding upcoming leaders in real estate.
Ronna Stone has spent over three decades in the nonprofit and private sectors and brings wide-ranging business experience to in the areas of small business consulting, marketing, program management, strategic planning, and stakeholder development. Most recently, Ronna served as a business advisor for Pacific Community Ventures and as an advisor for the Goldman-Sachs 10KSB program for small businesses. Prior to small business consulting, she founded and operated Roanti Ranch, a diversified agricultural business dedicated to sustainable farming and artisan food production. She has also worked in the healthcare industry as a consultant at Mercer Consulting and Director of Marketing for Diagnostic Networks, a medical services startup.
Ronna has held several Board and committee level positions in the Bay Area, including at Rhoda Goldman Plaza, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, and Greenlight Clinic. She has participated on multiple lay-committees at Congregation EmanuEl, Town School, JCCSF, Hamlin School, Parents Coalition of Bay Area High Schools, and SFCAHT. Ronna received her BA in Economics/Sociology from the University of Michigan and her MBA from Chicago Booth School of Business at The University of Chicago.
Jessica Taran was born in Moscow and emigrated to San Francisco in 1989 with her parents when she was 10. Jessica graduated from Hebrew Academy of San Francisco and received a BA in Political Science from UCLA, as well as a JD from USF Law School. After 12 years at a bustling New York law firm, she returned to San Francisco in 2014 and, since then, has developed a robust law practice, Taran Law, focusing on complex judgment enforcement and civil disputes. Once her practice was off the ground, she had her daughter Estela (“Estee”) as a single mom.
Jessica and her parents were Hebrew Free Loan recipients at various times and are incredibly grateful for the direct assistance that it provided. She is also is an engaged member of the San Francisco community and Hebrew Free Loan, in particular, having served on a number of committees over the last eight years. Jessica is also involved with the San Francisco Bar Association, currently serving as a chair of a subcommittee of the Solo and Small Firm Section, focused on social engagement and networking.
Renata Telefus joined our team in 2010 to help launch the Full Circle Club and has been on our Board since 2015. Renata brings a combination of corporate expertise, a keen understanding of interpersonal connections, and profound empathy for the experience of immigrants. She immigrated to the United States from St. Petersburg with her husband, Mark, and oldest daughter in 1979, and they made a home for their family in San Francisco. Renata retired from a successful career at Levi Strauss where she rose to the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. In addition to her professional career, philanthropic work, and engagement with the Jewish community in the Bay Area, Renata, together with her husband, raised three children and two grandchildren.
Eric Toizer has had a 30 year career in leveraged finance and investment banking, with a focus middle market private equity financing. Eric was most recently with Ally Bank in San Francisco, where he ran the west coast sponsor lending team and technology finance. Previously he was with the CIT Group (San Francisco) and BNP Paribas (San Francisco, Paris and New York offices).
Eric served on the Board for the Osher Marin JCC from 2009 to 2019, including as President from 2016 to 2018, and continues as a member of their finance committee. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, he has a BBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Eric and his wife, Debbie, have three children, and reside in Marin County, CA.
Adam Wiskind is a Senior Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor with Exit Strategies Group, a lower-middle market valuation and brokerage firm. Adam works with business owners to transact their closely-held B2B service, manufacturing, and distributions companies. He is also the Chair of the Board of Aris Horticulture, a 100-year-old family-owned horticulture business located in the Midwest.
Adam received his BA from UC Berkeley and is grateful to have been the recipient of our interest-free student loan when he returned to school to earn an MBA from the Presidio School of Management. He is a member of our Full Circle Club and has been serving on our business loan committee since 2018. Adam and his family live in Petaluma, CA, where he volunteers at a number of local organizations.
Honorary Advisory Council
Noah Alper is a consultant to aspiring entrepreneurs and a dynamic motivational speaker. Noah’s experience includes concept creation, marketing, retailing, food service, and sales management. In his new book, he weaves together Jewish ethical teachings and over 35 years of business and nonprofit management experience.
Six and a half years after founding Noah’s New York Bagels, Noah sold the business for $100 million. At that time, it was the largest Kosher retailer in the United States. He is also the founder of six other ventures, including the grocery store company, Bread & Circus, once the Northeast’s largest natural foods chain and now part of Whole Foods Market.
Noah has been very involved in the Jewish community in the Bay Area. He was the founding president of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay and is still a member of that Board. He is vice-president of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, CA, and has been a member of the board of the Jewish Community Foundation. Noah graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in Economics, and in 1997, he fulfilled a dream of living in Israel and attended the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. He grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Barbara Bass Bakar
Barry Cohn, a fifth generation San Franciscan, has an active real estate and Jewish communal career. Over 30 years in commercial brokerage, Barry has completed over 15 MSF of commercial real estate transactions in the Bay Area and is currently a Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield.
In 1998, Barry co-founded Etz HaShaked Development, Inc., a real estate development company in Israel which has built over 2,000 apartments and 500,000 square feet of commercial/office space in Israel. In 2015, he co-founded Freshwater Investments which is an investment company holding multi-family real estate assets in the western US.
Since being president of his temple youth group in Lafayette, CA, in 1976, Barry has participated in and led countless organizations in the community. His focus has been on Jewish camping, education, and Israel relations. He has led the construction of many capital campaigns and is currently part of the leadership team overseeing the rebuilding of URJ’s Camp Newman, as well as the Chair of the Federation’s Capital Planning Committee.
Barry received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and his double master’s degree in Public Administration from USC and Jewish Communal Service from HUC. He and his wife, Debbie, live in San Francisco and Tel Aviv.
Deborah Kirshman is retired Assistant Director and Director of Development at the University of California Press where she worked for 25 years. Deborah also served as art history editor, acquiring over 200 titles from authors in the US and abroad. Upon retirement, she formed a consulting firm specializing in fundraising, publications, and nonprofit program development and evaluation. Deborah currently serves as Chair of the Helzel Family Foundation. She holds BA and MA degrees in art history from the University of Michigan.
After graduating from business school, John Osterweis served as a Senior Analyst concentrating on the forest products and paper industry for several regional brokerage firms and later for E.F. Hutton & Company, Inc. In addition to his activities as an analyst, he served as Director of Research for two firms and managed equity portfolios for over ten years.
In late 1982, Mr. Osterweis decided to devote himself full time to his portfolio management activities, and in April of 1983 launched Osterweis Capital Management. He has served as Director of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Director on the Stanford Alumni Association Executive Board, Trustee of Bowdoin College, Director and Vice Chairman of Mt. Zion Hospital and Medical Center, and President of the Board of Directors for Summer Search Foundation. He currently serves as a Trustee of the San Francisco Ballet Association, Director of the San Francisco Free Clinic, and President Emeritus of the San Francisco Ballet Endowment Foundation, as well as Trustee Emeritus of Summer Search Foundation and of Bowdoin College.
Mr. Osterweis is a member of the firm’s Management Committee, a principal of the firm, and a co-lead Portfolio Manager for the core equity, growth & income, and flexible balanced strategies. He graduated from Bowdoin College (BA in Philosophy, cum laude), and Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA with top honors in Finance).
Bob Tandler, a native of St. Louis, received his BA (1973) and JD (1977) from Washington University there. Bob practiced law in San Francisco from 1977-1986, joined his wife, Valli Benesch’s family business, Fritzi California in 1986, became its co-chief executive officer in 1994 and co-chief executive officer of Fritzi Realty in 1998. Today, he and Valli, manage Fritzi Realty and Tehama Partners, LLC. a West Coast-based real estate investment and management family business.
Bob has been active in the San Francisco and Jewish nonprofit communities, including Board memberships with us, San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, SF Congregation Emanu El, SPUR, SF Chamber of Commerce, SF Maritime Museum, SF Historical Society, American Conservatory Theater, Merola Opera Program, Jewish Community Federation, American Technion Society, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, American Jewish Committee, American Israeli Political Affairs Committee, SF Jewish Community Center, SF Jewish Community Relations Council, and Night Train Swimmers.
Bob is a fan of opera, modern art, an avid hiker, daily San Francisco Bay swimmer, triathlete, and classical clarinetist. He and Valli have been married 39 years and have worked together 37 years. They live in San Francisco and have two daughters, 37 and 34. They are passionate about parenting, San Francisco, Judaism, the outdoors (hiking and open-water swimming), art, theater, ballet, opera, and travel.
Mark Abelson was the President of our Board from 2018 through 2020, which included the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mark helped us make substantial changes to our operations in response to the emergency conditions, allowing us to quickly loan out over $6,000,000 to meet urgent needs. Prior to his presidency, he was an officer and member of our Executive Committee for six years and a Board member for an additional six years.
Mark has been involved in a number of other Bay Area Jewish organizations. He has been practicing law since 1976 and gliding toward retirement for the past five years, hoping that he will finally retire at the end of 2023. Mark and his wife, Gilah, have been blessed with three sons, Jeremy, Joel and Noah, as well as eight grandchildren. Hanging out with their grandchildren, all of whom live outside California, is amongst their highest priorities and keeps them on the go. He and Gilah love traveling and expect to spend significant time on the road once he is free to do so.
Elton Blum was the President of our Board from 2010 through 2012. Elton was born, raised, educated, and always lived in San Francisco. He is grateful for the number of fortunate opportunities that have come his way, both personally and as a lawyer. Elton particularly values his long term affiliation with Hebrew Free Loan, having served on the Board, the Executive Committee, and most of all, as President which was and continues to be a highlight for him.
William Breall, M.D.
William Breall, MD, joined the Hebrew Free Loan board of directors in 1965. He continued his involvement for decades and served as our President from 1986 through 1987. Dr. Breall was also a board member and past president of Sinai Memorial Chapel.
Professionally, Dr. Breall is a Cardiology Specialist in San Francisco with 69 years of experience. He graduated from Oregon Health and Science University School Of Medicine in 1954. He served on the clinical faculty at UCSF and he was formerly Chief of cardiology at UCSF/Mt. Zion. At 93 years-young, he still goes to work at his medical practice four days a week.
Arlene Krieger was the President of our Board from 2007 through 2009. Arlene has always been involved in the Jewish community and loves being able to help others in need. For over 20 years, she has sat on the Board of Hebrew Free Loan, both as a committee member and as Past President.
Arlene also served as chair of the Jewish Home’s Senior Living Foundation and the Jewish Home’s Board of Trustees and is an active committee member at Congregation Sherith Israel. She and her husband, Steve, feel fortunate to have four adult children and nine grandchildren!
Stuart R. Pollak
Stuart R. Pollak was the President of our Board from 2001 through 2004 and founded our Pollak Student loan program to help with higher education costs for students from low and moderate income homes in Northern California, regardless of religious background.
Justice Pollak recently retired as Presiding Justice, First District Court of Appeal, Division Four. Before his appointment to the Court Of Appeal in 2002, he was a Judge of the San Francisco Superior Court from 1982 to 2002 where he served a term as Presiding Judge from 1995 to 1996. He presided in the civil, criminal, and juvenile departments hearing trials and also heard matters in Law and Motion; Writs and Receivers, Complex Litigation and was the San Francisco designated CEQA judge.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Justice Pollak was a partner in private practice for over 17 years at the firm Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady & Pollak. Since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1962 where he earned his LL.B., he was the Law Clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren and to Justices Stanley Reed and Harold Burton. Thereafter, he was a Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division. In 1964 he served as a Staff Member on the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Justice Pollak is a frequent author and lecturer on legal topics and in the past has taught a course on CEQA. He has also dedicated a considerable amount of his time to teaching for CJER where he has taught civil practice issues relating to CEQA and Jurisprudence. He is a member of the Advisory Committee for Civil Proceedings Benchbooks, as well as a Past Member of the Judicial Council Task Force on Jury Instructions – Civil Subcommittee; Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Alternative Resolution; Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Telephone Appearances and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals Nominating Commission.
John J. Riley
John J. Riley was the President of our Board from 2014 through 2016.
Gary Shapiro was the President of our Board from 2012 through 2014. Gary earned both his BA and JD from the University of California, Berkeley, and was elected to the Order of the Coif. After receiving his JD, he became a law clerk for Hon. Oliver D. Hamlin of the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Gary subsequently practiced law and was a partner in various law firms over 38 years. He was of counsel to the firm of Steefel, Levitt & Weiss in San Francisco, specializing in taxation, estate planning, and real estate for 17 of those years. While practicing law, he also taught wills, trust, and real estate taxation at San Francisco and John F. Kennedy law schools, at Golden Gate University, and at The American College. In 1981, he was the President of the Estate Planning Counsel of the East Bay.
Gary’s prior board service included American Associates of Ben Gurion University of Northern California, the Judah L. Magnes Museum, of which he was President 1989-1992, the Boalt Hall Alumni Association, Congregation Emanu-El, International Host Committee, the Committee to Administer the Koret Israel Prize, the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay and its Endowment Foundation (president), AIPAC (national executive committee and national counsel), the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Family Service Agency, and the Saint Francis Hospital Foundation. He was also the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Palo Alto University (formerly the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology) 2002-2010.
Gary has been married to his wife, Dana Shapiro, for 38 years and has two children and four grandchildren. In addition to his family, the person that had the most significant effect on his life was Mort Friedkin. The two met in 1970, and through the years, their relationship as attorney-client, partners, close friends and travel companions, together with his appreciation of Jewish values, integrity, our community and philanthropy, contributed to much of the success he has achieved in his career. He is very appreciative of his friendship and relationship with Mort that has grown over more than 50 years.
Gary retired in 2001 after a 38 year career as an attorney in private practice. In addition to Hebrew Free Loan, he has dedicated significant time to numerous nonprofit organizations.
Sharon Silverman was the President of our Board from 2016 through 2018.
Executive Directors Emeriti
Ed Cushman worked 35 years at communal organizations serving the Jewish community. He spent a majority of those years at Jewish Federations in San Francisco, Cleveland and Orange County, as well as 12 years as Executive Director of Hebrew Free Loan until he retired in 2014.
Ed has Masters degrees in Social Work from USC and in Jewish Nonprofit Management from Hebrew Union College. He is married to Sharon Cushman, who is a retired psychologist, and has two adult children, David and Yael, and two wonderful grandsons, Avery and Solomon, who are almost six and three and half years old respectively.
*Of Blessed Memory