Meet our Temple Emanu-El Board!
Pamela Bookbinder Clarke
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ABOUT TERRI KLASS – PRESIDENT
About Jonathan Gelfand –
About BEN BERRY – VICE PRESIDENT ADMINISTRATION & STRATEGIC PLANNING
Three important events happened to me in the 1995 and 1996 calendar years: my wife (Julie) and I moved to Westfield from New York, our first child was born and we joined Temple Emanu-El. Almost 25 years later, we still live in the same house in Westfield, that child is soon to turn 25 years old…and we still belong to Temple Emanu-El. In the intervening years, many things occurred, including the birth of a second child, job changes and many life cycle events. The one constant throughout, however, has been our strong connection to Temple Emanu-El. It has been the pillar of our Jewish life for our family and we are committed to supporting it so future generations get to experience and benefit from that same feeling of belonging to such a special sacred place. It is this sense of mission and purpose that motivated me to become a member of the Board of Trustees over two years ago, and more recently, a member of the Executive Committee. I welcome hearing from congregants with any issues, concerns or questions.
ABOUT JENN WHITE – VICE PRESIDENT EDUCATION & YOUTH DEVELOPMENT & SOCIAL ACTION
Growing up, my parents were both very active in our synagogue, and it became a second home to me. It was only natural that when my husband and I were looking for a synagogue to raise our two daughters, we looked for someplace that would give us a similar feeling. I am so happy that Temple Emanu-El has been that place for us. Since becoming members, our family has become active participants in temple life. To watch our daughters become Bat Mitzvahs in the synagogue where they grew up, and are so comfortable, gave us such joy. The friendships that we have all made, not only with other members, but with staff and clergy, has enhanced our sense of belonging. Being on the Temple board has allowed me to help ensure that the Temple will continue to be there for the community, and it is my hope that families will continue to have positive experiences such as ours.
ABOUT ROBERT KURTTER – VICE PRESIDENT FINANCIAL MATTERS (TREASURER)
ABOUT PAMELA – VICE PRESIDENT MEMBERSHIP & COMMUNICATION
ABOUT MARALYN – SISTERHOOD PRESIDENT
Maralyn Lieberman I am so proud and enthusiastic about representing my Sisterhood as their President and having this opportunity to be a member of the Board and its Executive Committee. Our Sisterhood is a place of belonging to a community of women serving our temple, who accomplish more together than we could do alone. My first significant Jewish role began as the first woman allowed to sit on the bimah for the Bnai Mitzvah I shared along with my twin brother in Cedarhurst, L.I. Working at JCC’s in both NJ and in Atlanta, provided a wider source of Jewish belonging. I co-mingled my work with activism in NCJW and Hadassah; and I continue to be a board member at my local Hadassah section. During my 15 years living in first Lexington, MA an then Roswell, GA, I was actively involved in committees and boards of the temples I belonged too. My children were all Bar/Bat Mitzvahed and Confirmed at our Temple; and I take great pleasure in glancing at their Confirmation pictures hanging in our lobby. Our temple is in a new chapter in its life, and I am thrilled to assist in its role of moving forward as a place for special bonding in friendship and meaningful Jewish learning and spiritual growth. I am fortunate to be sharing this time with my husband, Ed Lerner in his role as President of the Men’s Club.
ABOUT ED LERNER – MEN’S CLUB PRESIDENT
My name is Ed Lerner, and I am President of the Temple Emanuel Men’s Club. As president, I am also a member of the Temple Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees. I first joined Temple Emanuel in the early 1980’s, lived in Massachusetts and Georgia for 20 years, and then rejoined the Temple when my wife Maralyn and I moved back to New Jersey after I retired, to be closer to our kids and grandkids. My roots go back to the vibrant, and sadly, vanished Jewish community in Newark, and yes, I am a proud graduate of Weequahic High School. The Orthodox synagogue I grew up in is now the eastbound lanes of Interstate 78, but the memories of belonging to that community are as vivid as ever. I spent my childhood summers at my grandparents bungalow colony in the Catskills, so it always seemed like I belonged to a Jewish community somewhere. After graduating from New Jersey Institute of Technology, I spent my engineering career in the corporate world, where “belonging” had a very different, non-Jewish meaning. My ties to Temple Emanuel are strong and deep…it is here that Maralyn and I were first introduced to each other by Rabbi Kroloff, after my first wife passed away. I chose to seek the Men’s Club presidency to help rebuild and re-energize the group and refocus it on Comradeship, Congregation and Community. Also, to make sure that the Men’s Club is a vital partner to the Temple and clergy in helping to build a strong Jewish institution that will thrive in the future. I look forward to this challenge.
About MARK KABAKOW – ASSISTANT TREASURER/BUDGET COORDINATOR
I grew up in Westfield and am a 2nd generation member of the Temple and a proud graduate of the Temple’s Nursery School. I was a Bar Mitzvah, Confirmed and Married by Rabbi Kroloff. I have been on the Temple Board of Trustees as Treasurer, Budget Coordinator, Men’s Club President and now the current Budget Coordinator. We currently live in Scotch Plains and I love to read, listen to music, watch the NY Giants, and write and perform as a profession comedian. I am always glad to hear from my fellow congregates and to assist them with any issue they have.
About Marc Epstein:
As I begin my 12th year of service as a member of the Temple Emanu-El Board of Trustees, it seems appropriate to reflect on how our synagogue has been central to our family’s understanding of and participation in Judaism. Our relationship with the Temple Emanu-El community started when we joined the synagogue in December 1982. As the years passed, we joyfully experienced the b’nai mitzvah and confirmations of our sons, mourned the deaths of my mom and Roni’s parents, and most recently celebrated the marriages of our sons. The Clergy and staff of Temple Emanu-El together with our fellow congregants increased the joy and abated the sorrow of these life cycle events. During my tenure on the Board, I served as President of Men’s Club, Chair of the Personnel Committee, VP of Administration, and most recently, President of the Congregation. I have had the privilege of working with well over a hundred congregants, including six presidents, all dedicated to their responsibilities as Board members. When disagreements arose, they were “arguments for the “sake of Heaven” with the focus onto doing what is best for our community. I am honored to have been able to participate in representing our congregation.
ABOUT ROBIN EISMAN
Hi! My name is Robin Eisman. I have been married to my wonderful husband Rob, for almost 18 years and have 2 amazing daughters, Sammie and Becca. We got involved in Temple Emanu-El’s Early Childhood Education program when we first moved here and have never looked back. From the ECE, to the religious school, to being on the Board of Trustees and proud members of the TEE congregation, Temple Emanuel is our HOME. I am really lucky that we have many friends and are involved in various groups outside the temple community, but the feeling I get when I walk through the doors of Temple Emanu-el is like no other. The bond is indescribable and is so strong. I truly love this place and it is both an honor and privilege to be serving my second term on the Board of Trustees.
ABOUT HARRIS FREIER
My name is Harris Freier and I am new to the Board. My family, my wife Lily and I have been members of the Temple since 2009 when we moved to Cranford. We have two children, Marshall who is 9 who is entering fourth grade and Georgia who is 5 who is entering Kindergarten. Both will be in the Hebrew School on Sundays this year (this will be Marshall’s third year) and Georgia’s first year. I grew up in Montclair and was Bar-Mitzvahed at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. After law school, my wife and I lived in North Brunswick and were members of Temple Anshe Emeth where Rabbi Miller was the senior rabbi. As to work, I am a partner at a regional law firm called Genova Burns LLC where my practice focuses on labor & employment law on behalf of employers. I have been a member of the Temple’s personnel committee in its various forms for a number of years and look forward to continuing to assist in any way that I can. I think it is a great community and look forward to a great term on the Board of Trustees.
About Lauren Guberer
I live in Westfield with my husband Steve and our 4 boys. I have been a member of Temple Emanu-El since we moved here in 2013. I also worked at Temple Emanu-El for three years as the Inclusion Coordinator in the Religious School. It was the perfect job for me where I could join my two passions of Special Education and Judaism. In addition, I have served on the temple’s Inclusion Task Force Committee. I have been volunteering in many capacities around town for years now. When I was asked to be on Temple Emanu-El’s board I thought to myself “what better way to spend my time volunteering then to help my Jewish community and to help the synagogue that I want to raise my children in!” When I reflect on my “Jewish memories” as a child I always have fond memories of my synagogue, my Jewish education, different Judaic programs and events I was involved in, my Jewish sleep away camp, and an amazing trip that I took to Israel, just to name a few things. I had all of these positive Judaic experiences thanks to the Jewish community that I was involved in, no matter where I lived, that connected me to Judaism and fellow Jewish people. I want the same for my children, and that is why I am “here.” I am “here” serving on the Board of Temple Emanu-El so that my family, and all of the families who belong to Temple Emanu-El, can also have an amazing connection to Judaism through the synagogue and have a great sense of pride and happiness to be a part of our Jewish community.
ABOUT JEFFREY KAGAN
Hello! My name is Jeffrey Kagan, and I am both delighted and honored to serve on the Temple Emanu-El Board of Trustees for the next two years. The Kagan’s are fairly new members of Temple Emanu-El, though I have spent 20 years of my adult life serving two congregations (in Oak Park, IL, and in Bloomfield, NJ) as their high school youth group advisor (NFTY). Being a member of a congregation—versus staff—provides phenomenal opportunities to belong to a community, as opposed to serving it. And this community is both warm and welcoming, making us even more eager to contribute. The Kagan’s are definitely Camp people—I’m currently the Vice Chair of the URJ’s Six Points Creative Arts Academy, and previously served as the Vice Chair and Chair for the URJ Kutz Camp; Amy is Associate Director of the URJ Camp Harlam; and Sophie and Noah have been going to camp since they were babies—and we are excited to explore the joys of a year-round community as we grow as Jews. We look forward to being part of this community, and to meeting all of you. Thank you!
ABOUT NIKKI MAIZEL
Nikki has been a member of the Westfield community since 2015. The Maizel family includes her husband Ari, almost 10-year-old son Max, and 6-year-old daughter Gemma. After moving to Westfield not knowing one single person, the Maizels credit the ECE and their temple membership for immediately making lifelong best friends upon moving to town. Nikki grew up in both Long Island and South Florida without a strong connection to a synagogue and did not have a Bat Mitzvah. After getting to know Rabbi Prosnit through her children’s enrollment in the ECE, she was inspired to pursue the opportunity to have an Adult Bat Mitzvah in celebration of her 40th birthday. She met with Rabbi Prosnit and he completely supported her in her mission to accomplish this on top of juggling the demands of being a working mom. From that moment on, Nikki felt compelled to help in the rebirth of Temple Emanu-El. In addition to being a member of the board of trustees, she is co-chair of the Membership Committee, including spearheading the Genesis Project to ensure new members of the temple feel as welcome and connected as possible to our temple community. Nikki is a 20-year veteran of the advertising industry, holding leadership positions at agencies including Ogilvy, TBWA, GREY & McCann Worldgroup, where she is currently EVP, Account Director. Her past volunteer experience has largely included working with non-profit organizations on pro-bono campaigns to advocate for both HIV/AIDS and gun reform
ABOUT TRACY HENNES – EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CHAIR
One of the very first things that our family did when moving to Westfield in 2016 was to join Temple Emanu-El; we actually attended a New Member BBQ the day after we moved into our new home. Marc and I didn’t grow up in the area, and we were looking to find a sense of community by belonging to a Temple. We quickly found that community by becoming involved with the ECE, our daughter Emily just graduated Pre-K, and our son Drew is starting the 2s. Not only did we meet a ton of other families through the school, it also helped us in forming relationships with the Clergy. I served as the ECE Parent Coordinator for the last two years, and am very excited to be joining the board this year as the ECE Representative. I’m looking forward to sharing how much the Temple has to offer to young families like mine.
ABOUT DEB CARBERRY – RELIGIOUS SCHOOL CHAIR
I am proud to serve in my third year on our Board as the Youth Learning and Engagement Chair. This role has allowed me to build a myriad of connections and friendships with religious school staff and leadership, our clergy and many families in our congregation. Volunteering to support the religious school and their activities, especially leading the mishloach manot fundraiser for Purim each year, allows me to give back to the Temple community and school that has played a significant role in my daughters’ Jewish upbringing. Joining Temple Emanu-El has allowed our family to be part of a large, vibrant Jewish community, which is what I was seeking as part of Temple experience (very different from the experience I had growing up in a very small Jewish community). Temple Emanu-El is a place where everyone has an opportunity to engage and contribute in many different ways, and I encourage our members to find their niche as part of this welcoming and inclusive Jewish community.
About Marcy Lazar
ABOUT AIDAN BERMAN – TEWY CO-PRESIDENT
I have been coming to Temple Emanu-El for as long as I can remember. I attended the ECE through Kindergarten, became a bar mitzvah here, and was part of the 2019 Confirmation Class. I have been a Madrich for the past three years. Through these programs and milestones, I have met some amazing friends and formed relationships with incredibly nice staff members/Clergy. Every time I walk into Temple, I am greeted with a smile or a wave. The Temple Emanu-El community is definitely the most welcoming and friendliest community I am a part of. No matter what I am dealing with, I am always happy when I enter the building and can be myself, which has always made me feel like I belong. This past February when I traveled with twelve other 11th graders to New Orleans with Cantor Novick and Mike Kenny, the same sense of belonging remained, despite us being over 1200 miles away. This showed me that it’s not about the physical space, but rather about the people. I am currently in my second year serving as Co-President of TEWTY, the Temple’s youth group. As a result of this position, I get to sit on the Temple Board. Although this initially seemed intimidating to sit on a mainly adult board, I was again welcomed by everyone on it. I am entering my senior year at Westfield High School and even though I am “aging out” of the religious school, I know the bonds I have made with people and this community will always remain.