Meet Bernis Kretchmar

Women's Philanthropy Spotlight

This post is part of a series highlighting women who are doing great work in our local Jewish community.

Bernis Kretchmar:

Bernis Kretchmar

My dad, Paul Moskowitz, has always been my hero and role model. At age 9, his mother died, leaving 5 children behind who were ultimately placed in the Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum. B'nai B'rith took all of them in, and my dad was forever grateful. He stayed there with his siblings until he went off to the University of Wisconsin. I was raised in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. My dad always had the value of giving back and in his adult life he was very active in B'nai B'rith, the Milwaukee Jewish Welfare Fund, the Jewish Community Center, and in the politics of Wauwatosa. He passed that sense of responsibility to me.

When I moved to Los Altos, so far from family, I joined Congregation Beth Am and found a sense of community and friendship, but very little Jewish life. I was invited to join the board of the Federation in the South Peninsula, and I not only met some very talented people but also learned a great deal about current Jewish life in Israel and around the world. It was a very interesting time, and I learned so much. I also joined the boards of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Congregation Beth Am, and Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School.

In 1986, I was asked to fill in for the Women's Division Director at the Federation during her 6-month maternity leave. It turned out to be 10 years, and I helped them get organized and educated. I was quite amazed at the success and, together, we all learned the needs of the community and the world. We planned for nearly a year for the Mega Mission of all three Bay Area Federations.

Last year, I came down with Sepsis, a potentially life-threatening illness, and spent six weeks in El Camino Hospital. With wonderful medicine, devoted children, grandchildren, and my husband, I went to a rehab center as I was unable to walk after being on bedrest. I am very grateful to my doctors and now I am just fine. It was quite a lesson in recovery, and I appreciate life so much more as well as the blessings of good health.


July 20, 2015


Robyn Carmel