Who are the people who work behind the scenes at Commonweal? This month, meet Doron Hovav, Commonweal Event and Database Coordinator.
At Commonweal, Doron coordinates events that happen on our site and provides support to programs who use the Commonweal database for accounting, fundraising, and events planning. If you come to a Commonweal event, you will likely be welcomed by him, or at least see the fruits of his labor in the well-executed details and logistics of the event. But only some of Doron’s many diverse talents are on display in his work at Commonweal. Doron has been a professional modern ballet dancer, a teacher, a youth leadership facilitator, and a law student before finding his calling working for two decades as a video editor specializing in storytelling for Israeli TV.
Doron was born and raised in Haifa, Israel—a port city in the north of the country. His grandparents on his mother’s side came from Kurdistan: they walked through Iraq and Syria to Tyberius on the Sea of Galilee, and then found work in Haifa. His father’s family was from Jerusalem, back hundreds of years, until his grandmother brought them to Tel Aviv.
His parents died when he was young, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother in a household where he heard many languages being spoken.
“I have two old languages in my family: my father spoke Ladino—a mix of medieval Spanish and Hebrew that the Jews in Spain and Portugal originally spoke before the Inquisition, a language they kept in through the generations. My maternal grandma spoke Aramaic, an even older language, in addition to Hebrew. So, growing up I heard Ladino and Aramaic and Kurdish, but mostly I heard Hebrew,” Doron said.
As a teenager, Doron wanted to study ballet, but was discouraged. When he was old enough, during his military service, he started dancing. At night, after his service day was finished, he took a scooter to ballet classes, learning to dance with 8 year old girls. He loved dancing and found some success, joining a local professional company.
Wanting to exercise a different part of his brain, Doron decided to attend law school. He spent a year there, and then realized that law was not the career for him, either. About that time, he met Elon Slozberg, his then future husband, in Haifa. For a while they traveled, spending six months in Costa Rica and another six months in England. After arriving back in Tel Aviv, Doron found another career, training and then working in the Israeli television industry as a video editor.
“This was when video was just beginning in Israel,” Doron said. “Right after my training I got a job editing a children’s show, and then I edited what could be called the Israeli versions of ‘Hollywood Squares’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ I also edited documentaries for the World Wide National Geographic Channel and many other shows. My favorite was comedy: I worked at the Israeli version of the ‘Tonight Show’ for four years, and for the local ‘Saturday Night Live’ for four more years, on comedy skits and political commentaries.”
Doron and Elon married in Vancouver BC in 2012. In 2015, they came to live in the San Francisco Bay Area near Elon’s brother, Oren. In Sonoma County, Doron took on being a producer for a documentary series about American culture through the prism of people and the food they make. He also ran two major cultural events in Sonoma County—The Jewish Film Festival and The Israeli Film Festival, both of which create public conversations by bringing stories of ways of living, thinking, and being that are usually not featured in mainstream cinema.
His first experience of Commonweal was when Oren invited him and Elon to the Fall Gathering in 2015. “We made a conscious decision to not say ‘no’ to anything–we said yes, and came, and it was wonderful to meet new people, change makers, world fixers, people that want to make a difference in the world. Five years later this job came up and I applied, and have been here since 2020,” he said.
Any biography on Doron would not be complete without mentioning the importance of music in Doron’s life. He plays piano for fun and he has a beautiful singing voice–he can periodically be heard singing at his temple services at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati, California.