Updated with quotes from Kastner, Oct. 4
Rabbi Andrew Kastner has taken over as interim executive director of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, which had been without a leader since Rabbi James Brandt resigned as chief executive in August. Kastner’s colleague, Lisa Tabak, serves as executive director of the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation.
Kastner, a trained shochet (ritual slaughterer), came to the Federation in July 2016 as director of community impact, overseeing grant-making and community programming. Before that he was a consultant on educational and agricultural projects, after a job directing a Jewish food justice fellowship in San Diego.
“The work of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay continues uninterrupted,” he told J. via email. “Our intention this year is to provide a stable and supportive presence to our East Bay Jewish community and organizational partners in Israel and around the world. Indeed, our organization is at an inflection point.”
A native of Cleveland, he received his B.A. in Jewish studies and religious studies from Indiana University and his rabbinic ordination in 2010 from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, an Open Orthodox seminary in New York.
Kastner worked as a Hillel rabbi at Washington University in St. Louis from 2010 to 2013.
Brandt resigned after more than nine years as chief executive and moved on to work with the Berkeley-based Creators Equity Foundation. His departure came as discussions of a possible future merger of the San Francisco, Silicon Valley and East Bay Federations became publicly known.
Kastner said such a plan is not actively under consideration now, though he did say his organization’s “re-visioning” task force expressed interest in exploring a “possible consolidation with the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.”
“In the meantime,” he added, “while both the East Bay and San Francisco Federations are continuing work in their respective catchment areas, we are stewarding current (cross-Bay) collaborative initiatives (such as the Teen Education and Engagement Initiative) and seeking to identify additional strategic connection points.”