Meet our Volunteer Leadership
Jewish Gateways is powered largely by our wise, creative, and dedicated volunteers. The folks below play key roles as members of Jewish Gateways' leadership body, known as the Steering Council, and in important program areas as well.
I have been involved with Jewish Gateways many several years now, attending the High Holiday services, taking Mussar and Anti-racism classes, and completing an adult Bat Mitzvah. My past volunteer activities have involved equity and inclusion work for the American Astronomical Society, UC Berkeley, and Occidental College. I currently work as a data scientist in Berkeley, California. I'm excited to bring my involvement in Jewish Gateways to a new level by joining the Steering Council. My focus will be on increasing diversity in the identities of our members and creating new programming that will attract and support this community.
Jessica Ann Kirkpatrick
I have been involved with Jewish Gateways many years now, attending the High Holiday services, taking Mussar and Anti-racism classes, and completing an adult Bat Mitzvah. My past volunteer activities have involved equity and inclusion work for the American Astronomical Society, UC Berkeley, and Occidental College. I currently work as a data scientist in Berkeley, California. I'm excited to bring my involvement in Jewish Gateways to a new level by joining the Steering Council. My focus will be on increasing diversity in the identities of our members and creating new programming that will attract and support this community.
I grew up with parents of different faiths, which was highly contentious for their fundamentalist families. Nevertheless I was raised as a Reform Jew, and found real meaning and beauty in Judaism, especially through involvement with the National Federation of Temple Youth. There we incorporated poetry, philosophy, and ethics into our study, focused on social justice, and arrived at more contemporary interpretations of text. My search for a similar Jewish community took me many places before I was fortunate enough to discover Jewish Gateways. Immediately, I was home again. I’ve brought my own interfaith family here; we have benefitted greatly from the lessons, community, and spiritual growth we have received.
I’ve retired from a career as a clinical psychologist. As Community Engagement Coordinator for Jewish Gateways, I organize volunteer participation and work to deepen our organization-wide sense of interconnection. Please feel free to contact me if you have suggestions to make. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to give back to Jewish Gateways. This wonderful organization illuminates the wisdom of Jewish thought, provides beautiful ritual, and works to make the world a better place in an uniquely inclusive, loving way.
Gina Kessler Lee
I first joined the Jewish Gateways Steering Council as part of the Jewish Community Federation Fellows program, and I was thrilled to discover there was a community for “wondering and wandering” Jews like myself, one where my multiracial, interfaith family would be welcomed.
I have been working as a college librarian for nearly a decade. I also volunteer as a youth mentor and serve on a national committee for college librarians, and until recently I served as president for my alma mater’s local alumni chapter. I have resided here on Huichin Ohlone land for most of my life and am grateful that my husband and I can now raise our son in this beautiful place too.
Participation in Jewish life has always been important to me and I have found a way to elevate and expand my Jewish experience at Jewish Gateways. I started with Mussar, an ethical practice which allows me to use Jewish teachings to become more of a positive presence in the world. I also attend Torah for Everyone sessions which help me to learn more about Jewish tradition and to interpret the teachings of the Hebrew Bible in ways that are inspiring and relevant. In both of these programs I am grateful to be able to learn from Rabbi Bridget and from the wonderful participants.
My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents held giving back to be one of the most important of their Jewish values. I am blessed to have had all of them as role models. My participation in the Steering Council is focused on managing day-to-day finances and on allowing our participants to experience the satisfaction of giving back by contributing to the financial sustainability of Jewish Gateways.
For more than three decades I have directed fund development in a variety of national and local social and economic justice organizations, focusing on building and maintaining relationships with individual donors and foundations and coordinating special events. Currently I am a consultant raising funds for East Bay Innovations, a nonprofit organization serving adults with developmental disabilities. After becoming inspired by Jewish Gateways High Holiday services I joined Jewish Gateways' Steering Council. I am also an eager student in a number of the classes that Rabbi Bridget teaches.
Growing up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood in New York, my family was not observant, but we strongly identified as Jewish. As a young adult, I celebrated some holidays, but after my daughter was born, I wanted her to have more exposure to Jewish tradition. I also wanted my non-Jewish husband to feel fully accepted in our Jewish community. Ultimately we found Shir Neshamah, a group of Chavurot (small fellowship groups), founded and mentored by Rabbi Sholom Groesberg. We helped to start a Hebrew School and formed a Chavurah under the umbrella of Shir Neshamah. We began to practice Judaism regularly, meeting in our homes and developing Jewish programing for our Shabbat and holiday gatherings. We also worked with other Chavurot to provide High Holiday and other services and organized B’nai Mitzvah services where our children could be called to the Torah as they came of age. We learned as we went along and made lifelong connections in the process, even though our Chavurah no longer continued as our children grew older.
Trying out various High Holiday Services, I discovered Jewish Gateways and enjoyed Rabbi Bridget’s welcoming and inspirational services. I began taking classes, finding Rabbi Bridget to be an excellent teacher. For the last few years, I have been participating regularly in Torah study, made accessible and relevant, as well as Mussar (ethics from a Jewish perspective, approached in a personal way). Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed attending occasional Shabbat dinners at participants’ homes, and since the pandemic have enjoyed a variety of online activities, including a weekly Friday evening service to welcome Shabbat.
I am currently retired, after working as a social worker and social work supervisor for approximately 25 years. I enjoy travel and hiking. I am pleased to have been invited to join Jewish Gateways Steering Council and look forward to making a meaningful contribution.
In 2010 I had the serendipitous good fortune of attending the first Jewish Gateways High Holidays services officiated by Rabbi Bridget at the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay. I loved absolutely everything about it: the warm welcome, the sermon, the prayers, the music and the songs. Being a minister for many years and not Jewish, I was completely surprised to find my spiritual home here. Following the third year of services, Rabbi Bridget invited participants to become involved with Jewish Gateways. I jumped in with both feet and became a member of the Steering Council for two years until my work schedule changed. Since then I continued to volunteer, participate in activities and classes, and am working with Rabbi Bridget toward conversion. After retiring in 2017, I rejoined the Steering Council. My primary assignment is High Holiday point person. I have only the greatest appreciation for Rabbi Bridget and her ever-expanding vision of Jewish Gateways, and I am truly grateful to be a part of this wonderfully welcoming, come-as-you-are community.
Adrianne Bank, Chair Emeritus of Jewish Gateways Steering Council
I grew up in New York City, going to an Orthodox synagogue on High Holidays, a Conservative synagogue for confirmation, and an Ethical Culture group for Israeli dancing. None of these quite satisfied my childhood quest for answers to “meaning of life” questions. In the 1980s, as part of my work in educational research for UCLA, I discovered that many Jewish adults and children had these same questions, which they felt were not being addressed by Jewish supplementary schools or synagogues.
In 1999 I moved to Berkeley with my husband Mike to join our children, and here we formed a closely-knit diverse family: multi-generational, multi-ethnic, intermarried, gay and straight, adopted and biological. Soon after, I discovered Jewish Gateways’ High Holidays services. Finally I’d found what I was looking for, a group of people interested in exploring meaning-of-life questions with the 2000 years of Jewish wisdom as a resource. Together with Rabbi Bridget we expanded Jewish Gateways into a year round community that learns and connects and celebrates together. Recently, I have stepped down from my role as Steering Council chair, but I am continuing my involvement in Jewish Gateways through the Compassion and Justice Circle.