Presidential pair is at the helm of Marins Jewish community

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"There's a lot of power in our bedroom," says Sharon Young of the boudoir she's shared with her cardiologist husband, Jerry, for 31 years. But, alas, it's not conjugal activity Sharon is thinking about — some things are private.

It's the pillow talk.

Sharon and Jerry Young are the ruling royalty of two of the largest Jewish institutions in Marin. Jerry reigns as president of Congregation Rodef Sholom and Sharon has her own throne as president of the Marin Jewish Community Center.

To make matters even more incestuous, Rodef Sholom and the MJCC are neighbors on the Lonee Celeste Hoytt Jewish Community Campus in San Rafael. Brandeis Hillel Day School, the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family and Children's Services also have offices on the site.

As the Youngs are discovering, having the presidents of two major Jewish organizations in bed together has lots of benefits, like off-duty brainstorming.

"We do discuss a lot of the things that are going on in the different organizations," says Jerry. "It's a major part of what we talk about."

It also has disadvantages. Both presidents are so busy that, even though the organizations they head are in close physical proximity, the couple doesn't get to spend too much time together.

"We don't see a lot of each other," says Jerry of their daily routine. "I usually work 12-hour days and have meetings most days for temple or some organization I'm involved in. The nights I'm home, Sharon is usually gone."

Also, the greater Jewish community can come to a screeching halt for want of a telephone line when the Youngs' three children, Matthew, 27, Rachel, 23, and Rebecca, 19, are home. That, according to Sharon, is when Jerry can be found sitting in his car, using his cell phone to conduct business.

Despite their busy schedules, however, the pair still finds time to travel, bird watch and take in live entertainment.

"We are probably the largest consumers of the programs presented at the center," says Sharon, touting the MJCC's performing arts events. Even so, sometimes it's hard to get away from the office.

For example, during an outdoor concert at the MJCC recently Jerry spotted a dead tree near the stage.

"Sharon, you're going to have to take down that tree," he said.

"I think it's on your property," she countered.

The tree is still there.

Completed in 1990, the Hoytt campus is a model for Jewish communities throughout the country, Sharon says. Having three major Jewish institutions on the same site is synergistic.

"The center calls on Michael, Stacy and David for help," says Jerry, referring to Rabbi Michael Barenbaum, Rabbi Stacy Laveson and Cantor David Margules. "The Brandeis kids come into our social hall when it's raining and they can't use the playfield. The school uses temple classrooms during the day. The library is shared space for all three organizations."

And this summer, when rain threatened an outdoor George Carlin concert sponsored by the center, the audience of 500 was moved into the synagogue's social hall.

"The two organizations work together so well that there's no conflict," says Jerry.

Well, almost no conflict. There is the matter of the parking spot.

"When the [campus] governance committee on which we both now sit was dividing the parking spots, the temple was able to keep its designated spots for the rabbi, cantor and president," says Sharon, whose position does not include a parking perk. "I only get the spot when Jerry is at the office."

The parking shortage is an indication of how much the Jewish community has flourished since the campus was completed in 1990.

Jerry estimates that the temple has more than doubled in size since the mid-1980s to its current membership of 1,100 families. The center has an annual budget of $6 million and 3,100 memberships. These include singles, couples and families.

Both Jerry and Sharon have ambitious goals for the coming year.

Jerry, who initiated a reorganization of the committee structure and oversaw an increase in the synagogue's financial base during his first term, plans to create a "small Jewish community feeling for the temple." This he hopes to accomplish with "neighborhood organizations"and person-to-person contact. He also wants to increase social action programs and projects with other Jewish and non-Jewish groups.

Sharon wants to add programming at the center for seniors, school-age children and singles.

Volunteerism is a way of life for the Youngs.

"It was my way of doing something for the community and a wonderful outlet for me to see adults," says Sharon, who began volunteering when she was home raising her children.

Jerry just followed his wife's lead.

"Sharon has been my role model," he says. "She's always been involved on the board of this and on the board of that. That's the model I've used as far as getting involved in volunteer organizations."

"I've gotten so much more out of the community than I've given," says Sharon. "I've been very fortunate not to have to work."

After all, a normal workday ends at 5 p.m.