Julian Wolf, past president of E.B. federation, dies

Julian Wolf often noted that his grandparents helped found several synagogues, as well as the Jewish Memorial Hospital in Boston. It was that level of communal involvement that was passed down to him, he believed.

Wolf, a former president of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay who was known to most as “Julie,” died on Wednesday, Feb. 18. He was 65.

Born and raised in Boston, Wolf was the middle of three children. He grew up attending Hebrew school five days a week. His father died when he was 15.

Wolf graduated from Boston University, where he studied finance and economics.

He moved to San Francisco in 1963, and in 1966 he married Marjorie Kastel, whom he had met through a mutual friend. They lived in Oakland for a few years before moving to Piedmont. For most of his Bay Area career, Wolf worked as a stockbroker and financial advisor.

Wolf first became involved in the Jewish community through Oakland’s Congregation Beth Abraham. He soon became chair of its social action committee, and then the synagogue’s representative to the Jewish Community Relations Council.

His involvement with federation began in 1973.

“It was after the ’73 war, and we made our first donation then,” said his wife. “We went on our first trip to Israel with the federation in ’74, and we’ve been involved ever since.”

In 1992, Wolf served as its campaign chair, which required him to give a larger donation than ever before. “It was a lot of money, but I liked the idea that someone was seeking me for leadership, so I did it,” he told the Jewish Bulletin in 1992.

At different times, Wolf served as treasurer and vice president of the federation and its allocations committee chair; Jewish Community Endowment board member, and a member of its investment monitoring committee; vice president and president of the Oakland Piedmont Jewish Community Center; and vice chair of the JCRC.

All of this prepared him for the role of federation president, a title he held from 1995 to 1997.

Wolf considered Joe Zatkin, a federation past president, a mentor. Zatkin taught him “three things you needed to know,” he told the Bulletin in 1992: “No. 1, ask people for money. 2. Get them involved. 3. And get them committed.”

Zatkin called Wolf “a very warm, smart guy who loved being Jewish and loved being a leader in the Jewish community.” According to George King, a friend of 25 years, Wolf was the kind of guy who, given the choice, would prefer to talk about something Jewish than not. He also was prouder of his wife’s accomplishments than of his own.

Wolf is survived by his wife of 37 years, Marjorie of Piedmont; son Joshua of Oakland; daughters Beth Mora of Oakland and Ruth Long of Washington, D.C.; and his sisters, Eleanor Lennick of Boston and Susan Osher of Saddle River, N.J.

Donations can be made to the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, 300 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."