The Jewish crab, and challah as a pet


David Silver

1 Seattle auctioneer David Silverman has built on his foundation as a song-and-dance man to help countless organizations raise money for good causes.

An auctioneer has “a huge advantage to being in theater,” he says. “You have to be able to make that flip [from] making people smile…to getting them to be moved by the message.”

Born and raised in Yonkers, N.Y., David’s family moved to the Bay Area when he was a young teen and he finished high school in Marin County having already done a lot of theater. A self-described “terrible student,” he went to junior college, where he was offered the opportunity to teach theater if he finished his degree. He chose the University Washington in 1977 where, not knowing anyone, he thought he wouldn’t be distracted from his studies.

But then there was that dance audition notice in the school paper. It was for The Music Hall — old time Seattleites may remember it. “They were paying $280 a week” for Las Vegas-style revue shows, more money than he’d ever made. Becoming a permanent member of the corps, he did about 870 shows, and with his background in theater, the producer tapped him to do some directing. He began to regularly host and direct many of the beauty pageants in the area, including Miss Seafair and Miss Washington.

“I quickly gave up moving back to California,” he says, and no, he did not finish school. “I was getting paid to dance bare chested with women in G-strings…. I wasn’t an idiot.”

David was also one of the three dancing crabs in the popular ’80s television commercials for Sea Galley restaurants. He continued to do theater, improv and stand-up, winning the Seattle Laugh-Off in 1980.

“In ’89 I sold everything I owned and traveled around the world,” for a year. Returning to Seattle he bought a house, met his wife, Stacia, and started doing more events. Somebody asked him to be an auctioneer and “I was too stupid to say no,” he says, but he was immediately drawn to it.

Now he does 60 auctions a year. “A $60 million auction for Swedish is thrilling, but just as thrilling is a $30,000 auction for a group that didn’t think they could do it.”

Despite being a funny guy, David takes auctioneering seriously, feeling “a good sense of responsibility…providing a really good service.”

You’ll find him, he says, “either in overalls cleaning out my sewer line or I’m in a tuxedo raising millions of dollars,” and asserts “I’m one of the few Jews who does his own plumbing.” Find out more about him — and watch Sea Galley ads — at


2 Trained as a microbiologist, Masha Shtern admits that baking bread “has become my scientific outlet,” a way to “experiment [in] a lab of sorts.”


Masha Shtern in her community center kitchen.

She has her degree from the University of Washington, but Masha made a career switch a few years ago. Laid off from a lab job and not wanting to go to grad school, she applied for various jobs and ended up as a Seattle Parks and Rec employee. Working first in West Seattle and at Belltown Community Center, she proposed that she teach challah and pita baking classes for the department. Those have now been offered at Belltown, West Seattle and Rainier Beach — with some classes taught by Carrie Carrillo.

She finds it interesting that her challah students have been “about a quarter…Jewish.” The non-Jews usually have Jewish friends or are serious bakers looking to expand their repertoire.

Born in Moscow, Russia, Masha’s family emigrated to Seattle when she was 11. She still speaks, reads and writes Russian and works occasionally as a medical translator. She speaks Spanish, too.

“I actually went to a Hebrew school in Moscow,” a public school, she says. It was “an amazing experience, [yet] I didn’t really know what it meant to be Jewish.” Though Hebrew songs, stories and Israeli dancing were taught, it “was pretty secular.”

Arriving here, she first attended Seattle Hebrew Academy then public school, and finished high school through the Running Start program at North Seattle Community College, where she helped form a Jewish club.

A founding member of the now-defunct Ravenna Kibbutz, Masha started baking there. “I learned by watching my housemate, Joel,” and by reading.

The 30-year-old North Seattle resident bakes for Shabbat almost every week, whether she’s hosting a dinner or will be a guest. “I’ve figured out [how] to work it into the work day,” she says, sometimes bringing her dough to work to rise. It’s a living thing, we agreed, no different than bringing your dog to work. “This is my pet challah dough,” she laughs.

The next challah class will be held at Montlake Community Center in May. Contact the center for more information.


3 Short Takes: Temple De Hirsch Sinai has announced the hiring of two new rabbis, Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen will join as the temple’s assistant rabbi, while Rabbi Micah Ellenson will join as assistant rabbi and the temple’s director of congregational learning. Both will begin on July 1.

Grants management specialist Leslie Silverman has joined Philanthropy Northwest’s The Giving Practice as an associate partner, coming off of extensive work with local family foundations as well as a stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.