Our Staff



Mychal Copeland

Contact Rabbi Copeland at [email protected]

Rabbi Mychal Copeland speaks and writes about the inclusion of LGBTQI people and interfaith families in religious life.  She is the co-editor of Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives [Skylight Paths Publishing, 2015]. Prior to joining Sha’ar Zahav, Rabbi Copeland was the Director of InterfaithFamily Bay Area where she helped couples navigate a diversity of religious and cultural backgrounds.  She served for thirteen years as a university Rabbi, first at UCLA and later at Hillel at Stanford University.  She earned a Masters in Theological Studies and Secondary Teaching Credential from Harvard Divinity School in 1995, and a rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2000.  In 2005 she was recognized as being an Exemplar of Excellence by Hillel’s International Center, the highest individual honor for Hillel professionals. She served as the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City, the world’s largest Jewish LGBTQ community and has carried that work into her career with college students.  Mychal is a certified yoga instructor and fuses Jewish spirituality with movement in her yoga teaching.

Photo by Norm and J.


Sharon Bernstein

Contact Cantor Bernstein at [email protected].

Cantor Sharon Bernstein, a native of California, grew up in Palo Alto, where she frequented Conservative synagogue Kol Emet and graduated from Palo Alto High School. An avid musician from a young age, she studied piano and voice, performing in concerts, operas, and musicals through junior and high school. Her musical studies continued at the University of Redlands, where she graduated in Voice and Piano. While in college, she took an active role in the local Jewish community and Hillel, sparking an ever-growing interest in Jewish music and prayer. After graduating, she served as the High Holy Day cantor for Arizona State University, and then as part-time cantor for Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills and Congregation Sha’arei Torah in Arcadia while working for Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. as their International Sales Manager. During this time, she studied with local cantors, worked at her Hebrew, started writing music on Jewish themes, and became increasingly more interested in Jewish music and liturgy. Her life took a turn in 1999, when she enrolled in the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She spent a year in Jerusalem and the two following years in New York City. In 2002-2003 she devoted her last school-year to doing research for her MA Thesis (The Italian System for Chanting the Torah According to the Torino Tradition) and served as an instructor in Hazzanut for the JTS Cantorial program in Jerusalem.

Israel and Jerusalem proved extremely inspiring to her both in the discovery of the richness of the Jewish musical traditions and in the shaping of her parallel career as a Yiddish performer.  Through the wondrous resources of the Hebrew National University, she has been able to learn melodies from a wide array of traditions – Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Italian, Hasidic – to teach and sing with the congregation, and to perform Yiddish songs which are little known.

As a Yiddish performer, she has presented in venues such as RAI National Italian Radio, the Ancona Klezmer Music Festival (Italy), the Center for Jewish History, the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, and Yung YiDish, Jerusalem; has taught in the Vilna Summer Yiddish Program and KlezCalifornia; and recorded several of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s songs on her album:  Af di Gasn fun der Shtot.

Her compositions include ditties on Jewish themes (such as The Heir and the Hair), music for the synagogue, and settings for several Yiddish poems, and she has a particular love for teaching and mentoring folks of all ages.

She joined Sha’ar Zahav in 2007, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work and grow with such a warm, vibrant, and passionate community.


Director of Education

Liz Jaroslow

Liz Jaroslow discovered Sha’ar Zahav and its’ innovative education programming back in 2005, when her oldest child was yearning for a religious school experience that was engaging and truly put the learner at the center of the curriculum. It was not long after enrolling in Beit Sefer Phyllis Mintzer, that she became the school’s Project Based Learning consultant and one of the architects of the current progressive curriculum model. She was thrilled to come back as interim Maker Space teacher at Beit Sefer in 2021 and even more happy to stay on as Director of Education.

Before moving to San Francisco, Liz taught in the NYC public school system, piloting the very first inclusion kindergarten there. While in NYC, Liz earned a M.S.in Child and Family Development as well as an Ed.M is Special Education and Intervention at Bank Street College. Once in San Francisco, Liz was selected to be among the first cohorts of Jewish Learning Works Family Education Fellowship, a three year program designed to increase knowledgeable and experienced Jewish Family Educators in Congregational settings. Liz has worked as the educational leader in a variety of Jewish and secular settings including at Beth Sholom, Temple Emanu-El and the Osman Family JCC. In addition, she has served as Head of School at Creative Arts Charter School and Brightworks School here in San Francisco.

Liz holds the indefatigable belief that when learners have control of their education through exploring their interests and asking their own questions, especially in a Jewish setting, they can achieve anything. 

Want to learn more about Beit Sefer Phyllis Mintzer? Please contact Liz at [email protected]

Executive Director

Susie Idzik

Susie serves as the Executive Director at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. She has over 25 years of experience in congregational administration and non-profit leadership and is passionate about serving congregations effectively so that they can build and grow strong communities. Susie has worked for numerous Unitarian Universalist congregations and organizations along with other interfaith non-profits serving as an administrator and an educator. For the last twenty years, Susie has had a private practice of heart-centered coaching and counselling offering spiritual direction to folks who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. She is a painter and knitter and mom to three adult children who all live in the Bay Area.

Contact Susie at [email protected]

Assistant Director of Administration

Kerasa Tsokas

As the Sha’ar Zahav Assistant Director of Administration, I focus on the day-to-day administrative operations in the office as well oversee the building and facilities. 

I also make sure all services, holidays, ceremonies, B’Mitzvah’s and more, are coordinated with the families, clergy and staff. 

Contact Kerasa at [email protected]

Facilities Staff

Jason Ashworth and Matthew Diana

Matt and Jason make up our facilities staff. They work at Sha’ar Zahav to ensure a clean environment and enable all of our services, holidays, ceremonies, bnei mitzvah and more are set-up to CSZ’s standards. In their spare time, Jason is practicing to become a professional billiards player and  Matt has two other jobs.

Recent blog posts

What’s Happening at Sha’ar Zahav

Learn to Read High Holy Day Prayers in Hebrew One hour evening class (4) sessions Tuesdays, August 30th through September 20, 7-8pm Welcome in Elul with a mini course of Hebrew and get prepared for High Holy Days! Have you sat in High Holy Day services wishing you had a bit more comfort with the…

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Hybrid Services – In-person and on Zoom 02/2022

  An Update on In-Person Events and Services Dear Sha’ar Zahav Community, We hope that you are healthy and well. We would like to update you on Sha’ar Zahav’s plans regarding meeting in person at 290 Dolores. Our Reopening Task Force met again on Thursday, February 10 and had a spirited conversation about returning to…

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Wingsong: for all the friends who died of AIDS

Wingsong: -Maggid Andrew Ramer      I carry you on my back I carry every one of you who has died on my back        You are not a burden      your weight is exalting      each one of you      is another feather      in my arched wings      You carry me     …

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