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Meet Jewish Gateways participant Cheryl Brewster

Cheryl moved to Berkeley after retiring in order to be close to her daughter Lara, who lives here with her husband and their 2-year-old son. Before that she lived in Chicago, where she worked as a health care administrator and medical outcomes researcher.


Though Cheryl was brought up Protestant, she explored other religions, and was attracted to what she learned about Judaism in a college class on comparative religions. She was especially drawn to the Jewish focus on tikkun olam, or repair of the world. Cheryl sought out classes on Judaism and decided to convert. She joined a Reform synagogue in which she was very active, including serving on their board and teaching second grade in their completely volunteer-taught religious school. Her daughter grew up involved in the synagogue, too, and it was a beloved place for both of them.


Cheryl and her grandson, who knows her as Nana.

Cheryl and her daughter tried various High Holiday services in the Berkeley area and really liked those offered by Jewish Gateways. She is a doer, and soon began volunteering with Jewish Gateways in the areas of finances, budgeting, and fundraising. Jewish Gateways has benefited enormously from her expertise and commitment. For example, she has written several successful grant applications, each of which enabled Jewish Gateways to take an important step forward. A year ago Cheryl accepted the position of chair of Jewish Gateways' Steering Council when founding chair Adrianne Bank stepped down. Cheryl writes:

The most meaningful activity I've participated in at Jewish Gateways is helping Rabbi Bridget launch our family programming. It is such a needed service for the many interfaith and intercultural families who do not wish to join a synagogue but are seeking comfortable ways to introduce their children to the culture and traditions of Judaism.

A personal goal for myself and Jewish Gateways is to work with others to build a stronger social justice component. Many Jewish Gateways participants are very focused on social justice issues, and we need to support their work and help them expand their impact. 

Besides her role with Jewish Gateways, Cheryl volunteers with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy coordinating a tutoring program at a Berkeley public elementary school. She also works part time at UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute as a Research Program Associate.

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