Judith Goldkrand Cheskin spent much of her childhood in other people’s living rooms. That’s because her parents were constantly attending Jewish community meetings and get-togethers in her native Omaha, Neb., taking their daughter with them.
She sees that as a net positive.
“Growing up it was never a question whether involvement [in the Jewish community] is optional. It is your obligation as a Jewish person to be responsible for your community.”
Clearly, the Mountain View resident learned the lesson. Goldkrand Cheskin is this year’s recipient of the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Young Leadership. The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation award was to be presented at ceremonies Thursday, June 7 in San Francisco.
There are many reasons why Goldkrand Cheskin was selected. She’s a longtime leader of the South Peninsula Women’s Alliance, having served as president, campaign chair and vice-chair, as well as having chaired Lion of Judah. She also sat on the boards of the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School, chaired the parent council of T’enna Preschool at the Albert L. Schultz JCC and, for good measure, she served on the board of National Council of Jewish Women.
The busy mother of two young daughters launched her career as a Jewish activist with United Synagogue Youth. She was president of her Hillel at Yale University, where she earned a degree in Spanish. She went on to a career in banking, serving 10 years with CitiBank.
In 1997 she moved to the Peninsula to open a Palo Alto branch for CitiBank. It didn’t take her long to look into her volunteering options in the local Jewish community.
In fact, she did so on her first day in the area.
“That day I went to the federation office,” she recalls. “My parents taught me that the first thing you do is go to the federation and synagogue, and that’s how you make a new home for yourself. I said, ‘I’m here. What can I do?'”
She was immediately put to work, serving initially with the Women’s Alliance, a cause she still passionately believes in. “The power of women’s philanthropy and the power of building community,” she says. “For women, it’s about giving them the opportunities to become leaders, nurture their ideas and get a voice. My work in the Jewish community is not about ego, but doing what’s right for the community and helping people in any capacity.”
Goldkrand Cheskin now serves as senior vice president at Greater Bay Bank, a private capital bank.
As for winning the Dinkelspiel award, she says simply, “I feel flattered, overwhelmed and incredibly honored.”