East Bay federation moving to Magnes building

After 24 years on Grand Avenue in Oakland, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay is moving to Berkeley — to the upstairs floor of the building housing the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life.

The move is set to take place in February or March 2014, after remodeling is completed, said federation CEO Rabbi James Brandt.

The impetus for the move, Brandt said, was the federation’s 10-year, fixed-rent lease expiring at 300 Grand Ave., the 13,000-square-foot building the federation has occupied since 2003. At 7,400 square feet, the Berkeley space, which has been unoccupied since the Magnes opened there in January 2012, is more suited to the federation and Jewish Community Foundation’s staff of 27.

“When the lease came up, we wanted to explore other options,” Brandt said. “Because of our work with the Magnes and the Magnes [Museum] Foundation, we knew the upstairs space was available. We immediately got excited about the prospect.”

Along with the federation and foundation, the East Bay offices of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Coalition for Literacy — all of which currently share space in the Grand Avenue building — will also move to the Magnes building at 2121 Allston Way.

The Magnes museum in Berkeley

In addition to being quartered with the Magnes, Brandt said there are several other factors that make this a positive move: The building is close to the Berkeley BART station and U.C. Berkeley, as well within 1 mile of Berkeley Hillel, Lehrhaus Judaica and the JCC of the East Bay.

Moreover, he added, the proposed floor plan will feature an open office space in which all staffers sit in one large room, with only minimalist partitions.

“By going to the open office plan typical of Facebook and Google, we embrace a change that will enhance collaboration and the sharing of ideas,” Brandt said. Along those lines, Brandt says the federation will make open work space available to Jewish community professionals who need it. The coffee and Wi-Fi are free.

The federation has been located near Lake Merritt in Oakland for nearly a quarter century, having occupied space at 401 Grand Ave. for 14 years before moving to its current location.

Brandt said an official office dedication and mezuzah hanging will take place in the new space in May.