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Honorees : The "I AM CBJ" 5784 Gala

Sheila Zelinger


Sheila is a past President of CBJ who raises the bar in everything she does. She helped professionalize every aspect of how CBJ functioned, while supporting the staff and to creating a culture where connection, story and learning for every age mattered. Deeply impacted by her parents’ backgrounds, Sheila feels a deep connection to her Judaism. 


More recently, Sheila has served as the co-chair, with George Dale, of our Tikvah committee. Sheila and George strategically created a committee devoted to creating tolerance and respect for diverse viewpoints throughout our community. Sheila believes that the key to success is asking the right questions that lead to real change. She pushed us to ask: Do our members feel safe expressing their opinions?  How do we create a culture where people stay connected with people with different points of view?  She and the committee set clear objectives to teach our community skills necessary to listen to one another with curiosity and to navigate the challenging task of staying connected to one another while holding on to our unique viewpoints.  The Tikvah committee works with clergy to ground their efforts in Jewish wisdom and sacred text.  


When October 7 traumatized us, Sheila helped coordinate all the different initiatives, programs, speakers and strategic response to serve our community during these trying months.  


Her devotion to our community has made a difference.  Sheila and her husband Ray are active members of our community and their daughter Jacqueline enjoyed her religious education in our school. 


Read our Interview with Sheila



George Dale


George has found that Judaism lived in community can be beautiful when lived in community.  While not growing up with a Jewish identity connected to synagogue, George continues to deepen connections to Judaism in a variety of ways that he never could have imagined as he grew up.  He has been a member of our adult Bnai Mitzvah class the past two years.

His background in law and community activism made him a natural fit to co-chair the Tikvah Committee with Sheila Zelinger.  George is a passionate advocate of creating a community where we find unity and connection through our diversity rather than avoid controversial or potentially divisive topics. He strongly believes in the value of respecting each others’ diverse points of view, and that a community that we live this respect when we embrace divergence.


George thinks ahead, pushing us to address issues that stand in the way of our success.  He leads us to deepen our efforts to more deeply embed the values of Tikvah into the lifeblood and daily functioning of community.  George reminds us that creating this culture of respect for divergent points of view requires continual work into the future, as we face emerging circumstances. 


George is a great problem solver who brings humor and thoughtful reflection to our community. 


Read our Interview with George



Natalya Martyushova


Natalya is a passionate and creative Jewish educator.  She loves her students and her love of Judaism is felt by all blessed to learn from her.  She has taught in our Preschool and Religious School for over 20 years.  Every Shabbat she leads Shabbat Club in the school wing or on the yard, caring for and teaching young children so that parents can participate in services.  She has led the highly successful Camp Shofar on the High Holidays for many years, where our children have magical experiences and our teens  gain teaching and child-care skills under her guidance. 


Natalya loves watching her students embrace Jewish practice and feels blessed to watch her students grow from preschool age through Bnai Mitzvah into adulthood.  


Born and raised in Ukraine, Natalya began to explore her Judaism as a young woman and spent time in a pre-rabbinic program.  Her Jewish identity has grown and flourished over the years.  She revels in studying Jewish texts and is a master teacher, using story, exploration, art, play, ritual and text.  She continues to take courses to grow as a teacher and Jewish educator.  Her greatest joy is watching her students discover the world around them and their own paths to Jewish meaning. 


Natalya cares for her mother who was able to emigrate from Ukraine to live nearby, and when she has a free moment, Natalya enjoys traveling and being on the beach.  CBJ is blessed to feel Natalya’s love and devotion to our children and our community. 


Read our Interview with Natalya



Ann Cauterucci


If you go to the school wing during the week, you will hear our preschool students learning with joy.  Ann emphasizes our children developing a sense of awe and wonder as they explore nature and makes sure that the learning environment emphasizes sharing, conflict resolution and self-mastery. 

Ann is the founding director of our school and a master educator who has devoted herself to CBJ for 22 years.  Our students learn through hands-on exploration and are treated with love and respect. The curriculum of the preschool fosters social and emotional growth, and nurtures a love of Jewish practices and celebrations.  Families often reflect on how deeply the students feel a connection to their Judaism after going through the CBJ Preschool. 

In addition to leading the school, Ann has led dynamic, innovative and ground-breaking initiatives to include students with special needs. Each student has a thoughtful plan for success that Ann develops with the teacher, parents and other experts.  CBJ was one of the first synagogues to be awarded Rosh Pina Cornerstone certification. Rosh Pina was a year long journey involving deep study on every level of synagogue leadership – including board, clergy, lay leaders and teachers; program modification and development; embedding inclusion in every aspect of synagogue functioning, including our building, curriculum, language use and leadership.  Each year we re-assess and re-dedicate ourselves to excellence in inclusion under Ann’s leadership.  

​​Ann has led numerous teacher-training workshops both locally and nationally and received the prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

When she is not running our school, Ann loves relaxing in Lake Tahoe and making quilts. 

Read our Interview with Ann

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784