First BANJO networking event

Bay Area Network of Jewish Officials (BANJO) is a partnership between JCRC Bay Area and Jewish elected officials from our area. Active since 2021, BANJO was formally launched on November 21, 2022.

At the time of its official launch date, BANJO already included more than 50 Jewish elected officials from across the nine counties of the Bay Area. BANJO members gather for regular networking and professional development. The purpose of the group is to support members, strengthen relationships, develop and share best practices and policy priorities, and lead with a common Jewish voice. It will serve as a trusted resource for its members and to deepen Jewish elected engagement in Bay Area government, education, and civic spaces.

Three regional chairs have been selected: San Rafael Vice Mayor Rachel Kertz (North Bay), Belmont Mayor Julia Mates (Peninsula), and El Cerrito City Council Member Tessa Rudnick (East Bay).

BANJO Regional Chairs 2023

“As someone who grew up being the only Jewish kid in my class, it was hard being the sole voice of the Jewish community. Or at times not wanting to share that I was Jewish. Although as a city councilmember my experience is different, there are times that I still need to be that voice. BANJO and JCRC provide a support network that hasn’t previously existed. As a member of BANJO we share experiences as well as challenges, discuss local, state and federal policies impacting the Jewish community and most importantly we celebrate our Jewish background.”

Rachel Kertz
Councilmember, San Rafael


“I am grateful to JCRC for creating this support system to help address the unique issues facing Jewish elected officials. BANJO is already building bridges and elevating issues of importance to the Jewish community in meaningful ways. I hope and expect that having this network will increase and encourage Jewish community activism and participation in civic life for years to come.”

Julia Mates
Mayor, Belmont


“As JCRC saw rising antisemitism, we knew we needed a community-wide response. JCRC also recognizes that elected Jewish officials face unique challenges in public life – from simple misunderstandings about Jewish identity to outright discrimination. This new network for Jewish elected officials, BANJO, allows us to exchange ideas, strengthen relationships, share best practices, and speak with a common voice on issues of mutual concern.”

Tessa Rudnick
Mayor Pro Tempore, El Cerrito