Dan Bodner lives in Oakland with his children, Rebekah, 16 and Cole, 14. His significant other, Anna Colibri, worked as a consultant for Jewish Gateways, and he learned of Jewish Gateways through her.
Dan had a bar mitzvah as a Reform Jew and his daughter had a bat mitzvah. He struggled with his Jewish identity almost from the moment of his bar mitzvah. His experience of religion did not fit with the approach taken by the rabbis he encountered.
Dan sees himself as an atheist with a spiritual connection to the world. He attended Jewish Gateways' High Holiday services and he enjoyed what he found to be Rabbi Bridget's enlightened, modern approach. He especially liked being outside under the tent. Dan says that Rabbi Bridget gave a “Well done and meaningful sermon, without all the words that get in the way for me.”
Dan founded and is the CEO of QuickHaven Transitional Shelters, which provides modular housing for people experiencing homelessness. Previously he worked as an information technology consultant for many years.
Dan spent his childhood in New Jersey, went to school in New York, and eventually landed in California in 1986. His other interests include gardening, growing food, sustainability, and building things. He is a hobbyist home renovator and he put his cabinetry skills to use in making a new Torah ark for Jewish Gateways.
Dan says, "I saw the old ark at the holiday service and thought I could do something better." He couldn’t stop thinking about how to design and build it, and decided he would just have to build it to “...get it out of my system.”
Dan made the ark pictured here almost entirely from spare recycled materials that were in his garage. He wanted something simple and modern that also evoked traditional themes, so he decided on the Tree of Life motif. The new ark has interior LED lighting and is lightweight and portable, with detachable legs and wheels and a handle. It fits with the unique way Jewish Gateways holds services: outdoors and in various venues.
Dan looks forward to participating in additional Jewish Gateways activities, and is particularly excited to see the ark in use. We at Jewish Gateways are also excited and thankful for Dan's gift and for his participation in Jewish Gateways.