For Gardens co-chairs, everything is coming up roses

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Bob Tandler and his wife, Valli Benesch Tandler, have never missed Israel in the Gardens. This year, as co-chairs of the annual San Francisco event, they’re working hard to make sure nobody else misses it, either.

Both longtime community volunteers, the Tandlers are glad to take the helm of Israel in the Gardens 2010. They believe the theme, “Israel in our lives,” will resonate with the Bay Area Jewish community and beyond.

Valli Benesch Tandler and Bob Tandler

“A couple of years ago I got involved in programming, then chaired fundraising, too,” notes Bob Tandler. “We’ve been supporting [Israel in the Gardens] ever since. This year we’re particularly pleased to have been asked to chair Israel in the Gardens.”

As part of their responsibilities, the Tandlers have focused on what they call team-building and community outreach, to make sure as many Jewish institutions as possible — synagogues, agencies, institutions and individuals — participate in the June 6 event.

That includes all regional Jewish community federations, from San Francisco, the East Bay, Silicon Valley and Sacramento. For the first time in the history of Israel in the Gardens, the presidents of each of those federations sit on the event’s organizing committee.

“The response from the community has been wonderful,” Bob says. “It’s falling on welcome ears. We see this as a real opportunity to bring our community together and remind us why we’re here. That’s why the theme is resonating really well.”

The theme will highlight the role Israeli innovation plays in the everyday lives of millions, including breakthroughs in high-tech, green tech, cleantech, medicine and energy.

To that end, Bob says the California-Israel Chamber of Commerce will be honored from the main stage this year, saluting the organization’s efforts to develop business ties and opportunities between the Golden State and the Jewish state.

Israel in the Gardens is also partnering with the S.F.-based nonprofit Israel21c, which promotes positive images of Israel beyond the conflict. “So we’re focused on all the good things [Israel] does,” Bob says.

Both attorneys and married for 27 years, the Tandlers are accustomed to working together. The parents of two grown daughters, the couple co-own Fritzi Realty in San Francisco, and between them they have been a husband-and-wife Jewish community dynamo.

An alumna of the Wexner Foundation’s Heritage Program, Valli currently sits on the board of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation. Bob has likewise sat on the federation board and has been a lay leader with AIPAC, the Hebrew Free Loan Association, the federation’s Business Leadership Council, American Technion Society and Hillel.

The Tandlers may have their hands full organizing Israel in the Gardens, but come June 6, they intend to blend in like any other attendees. Bob says he enjoys seeing families having fun together, as well as learning more about the Jewish agencies set up at their booths.

“I love the entertainment,” adds Valli, “and the feeling of connection to our community and to Israel. We have a symbiotic relationship. We are important to Israel, and Israel is important to us. That’s what this event reminds me of each year.”

Adds Bob: “We feel a tremendous passion for Israel. We feel it’s the heart of our Jewish community, and what Israel in the Gardens brings to Northern California is that heart, all together in one place on one day.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.