Leadership

Suzanne2017Suzanne Sawyer

President 

We have lived in various parts of Berkshire County for more than 20 years, but in South County since 2002.  We became members just before 9/11. It was an important time to have a place to come together to heal.  Our oldest children were also getting to an age where Tom and I wanted help to teach them Jewish values and traditions.  I needed a support system for creating a Jewish home, and I wanted our children to feel the same sense of Jewish identity and security in their faith that I did growing up.

As soon as we walked through Hevreh’s doors, as an interfaith family, we knew we had found our place to belong.  Tom is fully involved in many aspects of Hevreh life and even completed the 2014 B’Nai Mitzvah class, with our daughters chanting Haftarah in his honor.  All of our children are either in Religious School or have been Confirmed.  They stay involved after their Bat Mitzvah because they want to, as young teachers, in the youth groups, and volunteering.  We have had three B’Not Mitzvah and another soon, and our children will tell you Hevreh feels like their second home.

Working with our rabbinic team, part of my vision for Hevreh is to ensure for others that same sense of safety and belonging and spiritual home as we had been blessed to find so many years ago.

Larry Bronstein

Vice President   

I moved to Great Barrington in 1991 from Patchogue, Long Island along with my wife, Nancy, and our 3 daughters, Morgan, Shayna and Rachel. Jacob was born in Great Barrington in 1994.  After selling our chiropractic practice in New York, we started Mahaiwe Chiropractic and Health Services in Great Barrington.

We were drawn to Hevreh by the warm and friendly reception by both Rabbi Zecher and the small intimate family feeling at “the little shul” on Mahaiwe St. where we lived at the time and loved walking down the block to services.  We were thrilled with the vibrancy and energy of the Hebrew school and the warm and enthusiastic leadership of Paula Hellman.  Hevreh has become family and being involved with committees and having the opportunity to serve on the board is a blessing and an honor that deepens the connection of family and community.  Truly the name Hevreh says it all!

Alan Kaufman

Treasurer

My wife, Debby Roth, and I moved to upstate New York from New York City in 1981 and have lived full time in Chatham, New York, since 1982. We have been members of Hevreh since around 1990. Our two daughters,  Sarah and Mara, attended religious school and were bat mitzvahed and confirmed at Hevreh and now live in New York City.

I have previously served on Hevreh’s Board, chaired the Long-Range Planning Committee, and taught in the religious school.  I am pleased to join the Board again and work with such wonderful people in shaping Hevreh’s future.

Shelley Rolf

Vice President

My husband and I moved to the Berkshires from Michigan to work here.  We were young, had no children and thought that if we didn’t like it here, we’d move!  That was over 30 years and 4 children ago.

We joined Hevreh in 1990 when our older children were young.  Hevreh embraced our family and in turn, we embraced Hevreh.  Along the way, we have been proud to bear witness to 4 B’nai Mitzvah, 4 Confirmations and many other life cycle events.  Being part of sustaining a strong sense of community has been at the core of my Hevreh experience, being connected to committees supporting religious education, youth group programming and the Caring Community.

Phyllis Weiss

Vice President

I fell in love with the Berkshires, Hevreh, and its rabbi after visiting with friends for several years and then relocated here 17 years ago.  Married, 4 children, 3 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren.  I have been retired for the past two years.  On Long Island I served as president of the local region of Women’s American ORT, president of my congregation, Beth Elohim, and president of the area Jewish Community Council.  I was elected to the Hevreh board over 17 years ago as treasurer, also served as a vice-president, board member, and now am serving as treasurer for the second time.   I have erved on the Membership Committee, chaired the Human Resources Committee that I am still a member of.

At present, I am co-chairing the Ritual Committee, chair of the Life Long Learning Committee, and am also a member of the Caring Community Committee.  I have been serving as president of the Interfaith Committee of Southern Berkshire for the past several years.  The heart of Judaism is the synagogue and its strength, and this drives my passion for service.  I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come.

Carole Beyer

Secretary   

For the past sixteen years I worked as the Director of Organizational Development at the Bergen County YJCC in Washington Township, NJ.  It has been very rewarding knowing that I was able to make an impact on the Jewish world on two levels, as a Jewish professional and as a lay leader/volunteer. I grew up in the Conservative Movement, but it seems I have been a part of the Reform Movement for as long as I can remember – as a volunteer in my synagogue, Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove, NJ, in the New Jersey/West Hudson Valley Region, on the URJ North American Board and now very happily at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire since my retirement last year.

My husband, Barry and I have lived in West Stockbridge for 25 years and have been living full time now in West Stockbridge for the past seven years.  We are blessed to have two grown daughters and four beautiful granddaughters.

Mark Lefenfeld

Immediate Past President

After raising our two sons in Austin, Texas and seeing them both off to college, my wife Mimi and I moved to Great Barrington in 2004.  At that time, I began a gradual retirement from a legal and consulting practice that allowed me to increase my involvement with Hevreh … committee member to committee chair to board member to Executive Committee to president.

I find the opportunity to be part of Hevreh’s transition to the future to be exciting and important.  One of my goals is to share that excitement with as many Hevreh congregants as possible.

Michele Krieg Bauer

In 2009 my husband and I moved to the Berkshires from Dallas.  This was the “retirement” spot we had chosen after looking all over the US.  It has been as wonderful as we hoped it would be and Hevreh has played a big part in this.  I had been to Hevreh while visiting in past years and was instantly drawn back to it — the music, the warmth of the services led by two wonderful rabbis, the friendliness of the community — I could go on and on.

From joining the choir, participating in activities and the Rosh Chodesh group, to co-chairing the High Holiday Committee — I became more and more involved despite working full-time and living in Pittsfield.  I am now co-chairing the Rosh Chodesh committee and am honored to be joining the board.  This time of transition is an exciting and important point at which to join the board and I hope that I can contribute to Hevreh in a meaningful way as a board member.

HBodingerHinda Bodinger

I was Consecrated when I was 5, Confirmed when I was 15, and became a Bat Mitzvah when I was 50. I had always felt a positive connection to my Jewish heritage, however, once I became a parent and realized that Spiritual Development was part of my new job description, I realized that I had a lot to learn. Holidays became opportunities to celebrate our culture. We built a Sukkah and invited the neighborhood. I started compiling my own Hagaddah each year, to come up with something more engaging. (Each one is pure patchwork plagiarism, but have become our own.) Traditions have helped connect us to our history and temple membership has given us a strong community to belong to, which we value greatly. I look forward to serving on Hevreh’s Board and hope to contribute in a meaningful way.

juliegale150Julie Kalt Gale

Julie Kalt Gale joined Hevreh in 2006 after having served as President of Chavurat Tikvah of Westchester County, New York twice.  She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Connecticut College and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Community Social Work from Yeshiva University.  She has a deep connection to the State of Israel and visits her family’s home in Tel Aviv regularly.  She is married to Peter and has four grown children.  She owns a cooking school, At the Kitchen Table Cooking School and teaches all over the region.

BrianGrossmanBrian Grossman

Having lived exclusively in suburban and urban areas my entire life (most recently NYC) before moving with my family to Great Barrington in 2012, the Berkshires were a shock to the system – in the best possible way. After telecommuting down to New York City every week for two years, I was finally able to live here full time in late 2014 and it has been wonderful life change. Hevreh has been such an important piece of this – a place where I was instantly welcomed from the moment I set foot in the congregation and a loving, close-knit Jewish community for my kids to grow up in. My background is in marketing where I have run brands throughout my career and I help guide Hevreh’s rebranding and marketing efforts as a member of the board.

IMG_0673Deborah Harris

Although born in New York City and raised on Long Island, I have always been a New Englander at heart (my mother was born and raised in Hartford and I attended college in Maine). So, when my husband, Bob, and I were married and he introduced me to Otis Wood Lands, a community where he had once owned a home, I said “Yeah, I could live here.” We bought our house in the Wood Lands in 2009 and became weekend residents. A year later when I retired from my job as medical records specialist at the Bronx Zoo we moved up here permanently.
Being in need of a wider social network (the Wood Lands has fewer than 15 full time residents) we naturally began our search with Hevreh, the local temple. We fell in love almost immediately.

Since becoming members I have been a member of the Rabbinic Search Committee that was formed when Rabbi Zecher announced her retirement, been a member of the 2014 adult b’nai mitzvah class, co-chaired a tag sale, and was elected to the Board in 2015. I hope to help lead Hevreh into the future for many years to come.

Sandra Josel

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY my husband and I became second home owners in the Berkshires in 1996 because we loved the summer cultural events as well as most winter sports. After several years of driving back and forth and spending vacations here we realized we could make the Berkshires our permanent home after retirement. In 2001 we became official residents of Massachusetts and immediately joined Hevreh. Although raised in an Orthodox household, I was drawn to the warmth, friendliness and family like atmosphere of Hevreh.

I had always wanted to read Hebrew and was encouraged by Rabbi Zecher, who believes it’s never too late to learn something new, to become part of a B’nai Mitzvah class where I would not only learn Hebrew, but would read from the Torah, study many aspects of Judaism, and explore Jewish life of the past and present.

Since joining Hevreh I have served as chairperson on several committees; social events, membership and ritual. After my husband, who was a member of the Board of Trustees and treasurer for many years, served out his term I was invited and accepted a position on the Board, because I feel strongly about Hevreh’s presence in the Berkshires now and in the future. As an active member of the congregation I wanted to be involved in the challenges and planning of that future. By being on the Board I believe I can play a small role in keeping Hevreh a vital and vibrant presence for all Jews in this part of Western Massachusetts.  I have been married 52 years, have 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren. I am a retired clinical social worker.

RKabelRik Kabel

Jan and I chose Great Barrington as a weekend home in 1997, and
after spending much more than just weekends as the years passed,
joined Hevreh a few years ago. We became full-time residents in
2016. We have one son, who lives in Manhattan. At our New York
synagogue I was for many years involved with the homeless shelter
program, and was pleased to find a progressive, involved community
here. After years as a technology consultant with major computer
manufacturers working with public and financial sector customers,
I am pleased to be able to turn to new endeavors and contribute to
Hevreh and the larger community.

ElieKatzmanElie Katzman

My wife Marilyn and I began visiting the Berkshires together when we were in college. We have always loved the beautiful mountains, cultural events, and activities that are available here. In 1989 we became second homeowners, and in 2012, after beginning my gradual retirement as a partner in a regional accounting firm in New Jersey, we made the Berkshires our home.
We feel fortunate, because our daughter, son in law and two granddaughters had already made this their home. In addition, our son and daughter in law, who live in New York City, have a second home here.
While we lived in New Jersey we were affiliated with a temple. When we made the Berkshires our home we wanted to continue to be part of the local Jewish community, so it was natural for us to become involved and join Hevreh. Marilyn participated in the establishment of the Jewish Women’s Foundation and has served as the co-chair for the past two years. Even before we moved here we had experienced the warmth of Hevreh when our older granddaughter was a Bat Mitzvah at Hevreh.
When I affiliate with an organization, I want to be an active participant. Before moving to the Berkshires I served on the boards of a number of charitable organizations, including the Jewish News (where I was president), United Jewish Community of Metrowest, Jewish Community Housing Corporation, and the Mental Health Association of Essex County. It is for this reason that I now serve on the board of Hevreh. In this way I hope to make a difference.

Coming soon.

John Lipkowitz

My wife Nina and I moved to Great Barrington in 2006 following my retirement from practicing law in Manhattan. It was no accident that we chose the Berkshires as I had both gone to camp and been a counselor in Cheshire many decades ago and we had camped several weekends a summer for many years at October Mountain and Greylock State Parks.  We already knew the natural and cultural advantages of the Berkshires in summer.  Active in our former congregation in New York, with Hevreh just down the road from our house, the warmth of its clergy and congregation helped sustain us through the winters as well.  With the passage of time the synagogue needed new clergy and I became active in the search process resulting in our current superb clergy, which involvement has now led to board membership.

MMozianMatt Mozian

My wife Sharon and I moved to the Berkshires in 2007 from New York City. In addition to its scenic beauty, we believed the Berkshires would be a wonderful place to live, work, and raise children. Our belief was confirmed shortly after arriving in the Berkshires. One of the important pieces of the rich social and family life we’ve developed is Hevreh. Our two young children are students at Hevreh’s religious school and I’m constantly impressed by the warmth and caring nature of our religious school.

Although we became members of Hevreh shortly after arriving in the Berkshires, we have recently become active members by serving on various committees. I am very excited to now serve as a member of Hevreh’s Board to help Hevreh grow with our exciting Rabbinic team.

SteveSteve Pyenson

Steve currently resides in Otis, Mass with his wife Joyce. He graduated from University of Mass, Amherst in 1966 and complete 6 months of active duty in the US Coast Guard in 1967. He married Joyce the same year. For many years, Steve owned and operated the Otis Poultry Farm.
Joyce and Steve joined Hevreh in 2000. He studied and completed the adult B’Nai Mitzvah class in 2007. The warmth and friendship of the Hevreh community has been overwhelming. He has had the opportunity to visit Israel twice. One of these visits was with Rabbi Emerita Deborah Zecher, where he had the opportunity to read Torah at the Western wall.
Steve retired in 2010, joined the Board of Directors at Hevreh and became the chairman of the House Committee. He and Joyce love being active members of the Hevreh community.

Aviva Wichler

I moved to the Berkshires with my family seven years ago. Both my daughters attend Lenox Memorial Middle and High School. When we first moved here we were so impressed when we walked into Hevreh; my husband and I loved the inclusiveness of the services and the friendliness of the community.

I am currently the co-chair with Lisa Sloane of the PAC, parent advisory committee, which assists Assistant Rabbi Gordon, religious school principal, with activities that relate to the religious school. I decided to serve on the Hevreh Board because I feel fortunate that Hevreh is here for my family and I want this community to be strong and available to others.