At JCHS the deepening of each student's unique identity is a process not a product.
Supported by a team of dedicated professionals and guided by a group of visionary leaders, our remarkable educators affirm, encourage, and challenge all students to integrate varied perspectives and sources of wisdom.
Howard Ruben joined JCHS in 2008 after having served as the senior rabbi for nearly a decade at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio, an 1,800-family Reform congregation in a suburb of Cleveland. He previously served as the executive director of Cincinnati's Bureau of Jewish Education. In these roles, Rabbi Ruben particularly enjoyed helping Jewish teens find their path to spiritual and ethical learning as well as their love of Judaism and growth as adults.
Rabbi Ruben has deep roots in the Bay Area Jewish and secular communities. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he served as a partner in the law firm of Severson & Werson in San Francisco, and held lay leader positions on the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. He also held several leadership positions at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo. His work with Jewish teens dates to his time as the assistant director of UAHC (now URJ) Camp Swig Institute in Saratoga.
Rabbi Ruben graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with honors; the University of California, Hastings College of Law, in San Francisco; and Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati and Jerusalem, where he studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. He also was in the inaugural class of Rabbinic Fellows of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Michael has worked in California independent schools since 1992. In that time, he has taught US History, AP US History and AP Economics, helped run outdoor education programs, coached varsity sports, chaired a History Department and worked for 10 years as a College Counselor.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Michael earned a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School and a B.A. in Urban Studies through the College of Arts and Sciences. Michael earned an M.A. in Educational Administration from Stanford University School of Education and he is a National Board Certified Teacher in Social Studies-History as well as a Klingenstein Summer Institute alum. From 2000-2015, Michael was a consultant for the College Board and ETS on the AP Economics program. In addition to overseeing the scoring of AP Exams, Michael served a five-year term as the co-Chair of the AP Microeconomics Test Development Committee, presented at AP Annual Conferences, and taught professional development workshops for teachers in the western US, China and the Middle East. The co-author of two blended learning Economics textbooks, Essential Micro and Essential Macro, Michael is also a featured educator in Davidson Next’s AP Macroeconomics MOOC.
He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and two sons where he tries to spend as much time as possible outside, hiking, climbing and working on his beach glass collection. He aspires to be a better guitarist.
Lauren has over two decades of experience in college admission counseling developing relationships with colleges, universities, and individual families engaged in the college admission process. Prior to her role at JCHS, Lauren served as an Associate Dean of Admission at Mount Holyoke College, a selective residential liberal arts college for women in Western Massachusetts. Lauren is an active member of the National and Western Associations for College Admission Counseling (NACAC, WACAC), the Bay Area Independent School College Counselor (BAISCC) consortium, and the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS). She served as WACAC President in 2019-2020, is a member of the Fiske Guide to Colleges Counselor Advisory Group, a frequent contributor to NACAC publications, and an occasional commentator on college admission for ABC7 News Bay Area. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in Education from Northeastern University, and is an alumna of the Social Justice Training Institute.
Mary Ellen has been a part of the professional community at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay since 2003. She has worked in the Admissions office, consulted on the report for JCHS' initial WASC accreditation, and served as Development Associate in the fundraising office, before taking the helm of the Marketing Department. She is constantly inspired by the creativity, warmth, and authenticity of JCHS students and colleagues, who make working at the school a joy. A native New Yorker, Mary Ellen Hunt has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1997. Mary Ellen trained as a classical dancer, later going on to work professionally with Feld Ballets/NY and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She earned her undergraduate degree in astronomy and physics from Bryn Mawr College before entering the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Arizona.
Avidly interested in science and science education, Mary Ellen was a research associate for Sheila Tobias on the revised edition of her landmark book Overcoming Math Anxiety, and worked for several years in the San Francisco Exploratorium's Center for Teaching and Learning, Tactile Dome and later in the Public Relations office. She has also taught physics, math and astronomy for the Summer Science Program, an intensive course of study for gifted teenagers sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Her extensive background in the arts has served her well as a freelance writer and arts critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Studio Life, South Bay Accent, and Diablo Magazine.
Julie Vlcek-Burke began working in the development office in 2003, and has literally grown with JCHS. She knows the School's history, is personally connected to many of our 400+ alumni and enjoys working with many of the same community leaders today who helped make JCHS a reality. While directing the Annual Fund, grants program, and Spring Celebration gala, Julie looks for every opportunity to creatively engage members of our community to share what she knows first-hand is unique and valuable about our school and our students. Julie is an active member of the Association of Bay Area Development Officers (ABADO), and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and serves on the Advancement Committee at the Katherine Delmar Burke School.
Julie obtained her Bachelors degree in Music Education/Tuba from San Francisco State University. She lives in the Outer Richmond with her wife and two young daughters, and still uses her classical music degree - most recently while performing trumpet in a live drag rock musical.
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace their Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.