Board of Directors

The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts is governed by a Board of Directors that reflects the diversity of our community, including volunteer leaders and members of the clergy from across the spectrum of Jewish religious belief and practice. Meet our Board members.


Arnold Zaff, President

Arnie is a retired lawyer who much prefers wrestling with Jewish texts to wrestling with opposing counsel. He is a Unity Mission alum and has chaired several Synagogue Council committees. Arnie and his wife, Dale, live in Newton, where they are members of Temple Emanuel, a Conservative synagogue. Their son Jonathan and his family live locally and are members of a Reconstructionist synagogue. Their son Eric received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a Modern Orthodox yeshiva, and he and his family are members of an Orthodox synagogue in Skokie, Illinois. Indeed, a Synagogue Council family. 

Dr. Fred Cohen, Vice President

After completing his term on the Regional Board of the UAHC (now URJ), and while still president of Temple Shalom of Newton, Fred was appointed the new Reform movement officer to the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. In that capacity he has been Secretary, Treasurer and currently Second Vice President. Fred has chaired the Membership Task Force, helped re-write SCM's By-Laws, and has helped lead the Reform Shabbat service at several Shabbatons. Residents of Newton, Fred and his wife, Stephanie, have gone on Unity Missions to New York and on both Unity Missions in Israel.

Dr. Jay Sage, Vice President

Jay Sage retired as a physicist from MIT Lincoln Laboratory to pursue his interest in Jewish genealogy. He served as president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston and continues in many leadership roles. He is a "poster boy" for the Synagogue Council's unity message, having belonged over the years to Reform, Conservative, and now Orthodox synagogues.

Elizabeth H. Pressman, Treasurer

Elizabeth was educated at a Conservative synagogue in Hartford CT and Camp Ramah. As an adult she continues to study and actively participate in the Jewish community, including as a past president of Temple Emunah in Lexington, on the regional board of USCJ and Camp Ramah of New England, and currently Treasurer of SCM. Elizabeth and her husband, Bob, have been married for 47 years and have two sons, a daughter and 8 grandchildren.

Beverly Schwartz-Katsh, Assistant Treasurer

Beverly has spent more than 35 years in education, from preschool through college, including 25 years directing Jewish schools and working in congregational settings. She holds a doctorate in early childhood and special education and has served in both regional and national positions in a professional Jewish educators’ organization. Beverly has served on the board of two local organizations that work with Jewish children and adults with disabilities. She has mentored new teachers, done consulting for children and families and now works as a volunteer teacher of inner-city children and in ELL adult programs. Beverly and her husband, Ethan Katsh, are members of the Newton Centre Minyan. They have three adult children and two granddaughters.

Sandra Slavet, Secretary

Sandy Slavet is the Director of the Disabilities Resource Network of Jewish Family & Children’s Service and Director of Jewish Life: Services for People with Disabilities at JF&CS. Sandy currently serves on the Board of Directors of Temple Sinai of Sharon, is a member of the URJ Northeast District Council and is a mikveh guide at Mayyim Hayyim. She and her husband, Joe Strazzulla, live in Randolph and have four wonderful daughters.

Lauren Gabovitch, Assistant Secretary

Lauren grew up attending a Conservative synagogue in Lexington, KY and joined Shir Hadash, a Reconstructionist Havurah in Newton when she and her husband moved to Boston 25 years ago. She participated in the Unity Mission, SCM's strategic planning committee, and was the Reconstructionist board representative to SCM. 
Lauren also volunteers her time with the JVS Scholarship Committee, CJP's Boston-Haifa Connection and is an active member of Siach. Lauren works as a social work case manager at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where she supports visiting patients through their Palliative Care Service. Lauren and Bill live in Newton with their two college aged girls.

Dr. Herbert Birnbaum,  Officer At-large

Herb, a native of Newton and Board co-chair of Cong. Beth El-Atereth Israel of Newton, helped establish the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture to honor the memory of his late wife (who worked for 7 years as Unity Associate of SCM). He sits on the boards of the Jerusalem Dental Center for Children and Friends of the New England Holocaust Memorial. Herb is a past co-chair of the Men's Clubs Laymen's Institute and Vice President of Brotherhood Mishkan Tefila. Father of three children (Ben, Ilanna and Arielle), Dr. Birnbaum is a Newton-based dentist, serves on the faculty of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and received the school's Faculty Award. An avid singer of Jewish music, he has been a member of Boston Zamir Chorale and Koleinu and is co-founder (together with his father) of the Zachor Choral Ensemble.

Sharon Levinson, Past President 

Sharon has over 30 years of experience in the field of Jewish Communal Service. With a MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work, she has held two national positions with Amit Women and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studied in Jerusalem, and has worked for Jewish Federations, JCCs, family agencies and geriatric centers. A seasoned professional in the area of volunteer management, Sharon currently administers a program that trains people 55 and over to become pro bono nonprofit management consultants for SOAR 55. She also serves on the board of Ma’ayan – the women’s torah study initiative, and resides in Newton and Jerusalem.

Richard G. Shulman, Past President

Richard served as President of SCM from 2009–2011. Along with his wife Connie, and sons Jonathan and Carl, he was instrumental in founding the Reform congregation in Franklin. Long a believer in Jewish ‘peoplehood’, Richard continues to pursue the ideal of K’lal Yisrael through involvement with SCM as well as serving on its board and committees within his home temple.

Anita Zetlan Redner, Past President

Anita served as President of SCM from 2007-2009 and has been an active volunteer in Jewish organizations since her years in USY. She is the Head School Nurse and Upper School Counselor at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, where she also serves as the Health Consultant to Schechter’s preschool, Gan Shelanu. Anita is an active member and adult-education teacher at Temple Emanuel in Newton and serves as a consultant in the area of Jewish Special Education.



Rachel Adler-Golden

Rachel spent her childhood as part of small Jewish community in Niagara Falls, New York, and as an adult has been inspired by the size, vibrancy and diversity  of  the Greater Boston Jewish community.   She is past president of Shir Hadash in Newton, which she and her husband joined with their two young children 28 years ago.  Rachel credits Shir Hadash for nurturing her love of Jewish education.    A former Sunday School drop out, Rachel celebrated her adult Bat Mitzvah at Shir Hadash in 1993, regularly leads services, and tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah students.   A music teacher for over 35 years, Rachel currently runs a private piano studio in her home in Newton.

Rabbi Yonah Berman

A native of Teaneck, NJ, Rabbi Berman studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel and earned his BA from Yeshiva University. Following his studies at YU, he returned to Israel and served in the Israeli Army's Tank Corps, where he was awarded for excellence during training. Rabbi Berman received semichah (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York City, having interned at synagogues West Hartford, CT and Providence, RI and at the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale.  Rabbi Yonah Berman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe, Brighton.

Nechama Cheses

Cantor Sheila May Cline

Cantor Sheila Cline is celebrating her 36th anniversary in the cantorate. She is one of the first two women to become a Cantor in Jewish history and the first to be invited to sing in Israel and Europe. Awarded a full scholarship for her cantorial studies at NY's Hebrew Union College-School of Sacred Music, Boston-born Cantor Cline was also a National Scholar in the Creative Arts at Brandeis University. She attended the NE Conservatory of Music and was the winner of the Mass. Young Artist's Award in Voice. Cantor Cline has served congregations in NYC, Nashville, NJ and Massachusetts. Certified in gerontology by BC College School of Social Work, she has pioneered in using music as a healing force in healthcare chaplaincy and senior living facilities. She is a member of the NE Board of Cantors, the American Conference of Cantors, and serves on the Board of JCRC. Cantor Cline resides in West Roxbury with her orange tiger cat, Tsimmis Hineni.

Liz Corman-Shiro

Liz Corman Shiro is a passionate Jewish Educator. She is currently the Education Director at Temple Tifereth Israel in Malden, teaches 2nd grade at Temple Sinai in Sharon, and works as an Instructional Assistant at Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon. Liz received her Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew College in 2007 and her professional level Massachusetts’s Elementary Teacher’s License in 2008. When she isn’t teaching, Liz volunteers as a Jewish Big Sister for Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister. Liz is excited to be a Reform Representative for the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts! Liz lives in Sharon with her husband Lee and their two cats, Callie and Sylvia.

Rabbi Braham David

Rabbi David completed his undergraduate studies at Indiana University in 1991 majoring in History with an Area Certificate in Jewish Studies and Minor in East Asian Studies, then spent a year studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Upon his return, Rabbi David entered the Davidson School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he received a Masters of Arts in Jewish Education in May, 1997 focusing on Jewish day school education. After this time, Rabbi David entered the rabbinical school and was ordained in 2003.  Since 2003, Rabbi David has served as the rabbi of Temple Shalom in Medford, MA.  Rabbi David is also the director of the Jewish Discovery Institute, a joint venture of the New England regions of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly.

Elisha Gechter

Elisha is the Associate Director of Adult Learning at Hebrew College where she helps run several community learning programs. She combines her passion for Jewish education and cooking in a food blog, Elisha's Double Portion, that features recipes that correspond to the weekly Torah portion. She and her husband Sam live in Harvard Square and attend the partnership Minyan, Minyan Tehillah.

Samuel Gechter

Sam Gechter is the Director of Information Services at Peregrine Energy Group, Inc., an energy consulting firm in Boston. He grew up in San Diego, California and lived in Oregon, Michigan and Washington, DC before moving to Cambridge. He is an active member of Minyan Tehillah, an independent partnership minyan in Cambridge, where he and his wife Elisha served as the co-chairs from 2007-2009. Sam also is a founding member and co-chair of CJP's Young Jewish Leaders Council, which brings together over 50 Boston area young adult organizations and their leaders for networking, skill building and organizational development. Sam's passions include Japanese art, science fiction, cool tech and photography.

Barnet Kessel

Barnet is a native of Boston who grew up in Canton and currently serves as Executive Director at the Vilna Shul. He is strongly committed to Jewish renewal, continuity, and innovation locally and internationally. A former chair of CJP's Young Leadership Division, Barnet and his wife, Nava, live in Newton where they are starting a family.

Aaron L. Kischel

Aaron Kischel served a combined 45 years working for the United Synagogue of Conservative judaism first as New England Region USY and then as the Northeast District executive director. Since retiring in 2011 Aaron has been doing volunteer  work with CJP’S Follow-Me-to Israel seminar and is co-founder of Synagogue Solutions USA a consulting and Jewish heritage travel business. Aaron lives in Sharon ,MA with his wife Ellen.

Rabbi Judith Kummer, Ex Officio

Rabbi Judy Kummer serves as the Executive Director of the Jewish Chaplaincy Council of Massachusetts. Rabbi Kummer is a Boston native and studied at Barnard College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Currently a member of the board of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, Rabbi Kummer is also active in the local Jewish community and in the arts, Jewish spirituality, tikkun olam and interfaith dialogue efforts.

Rabbi Abraham Morhaim

 Rabbi Abraham Morhaim was born in Brooklyn, NY to a Sephardic family. Upon completion of undergraduate studies at Yeshiva University, he was ordained at JTS. Rabbi Morhaim served the Sephardic community and, after a stint in Mexico City, returned to the U.S. to become the rabbi in Peabody where he remained for 29 years until retirement.
Over the years he has worked closely with USY and its many summer travel programs. He has served for many years as chaplain at Boston Children's Hospital, V.A in Boston, and serves on the faculty of the Gerim Institute.

Michael Rosenberg

Mike has been active with Synagogue Council, including terms as treasurer and assistant treasurer, since participating in the 1989 Unity Mission to NYC. A former president of Temple Emunah in Lexington, where he also is a long-time bar/bat mitzvah tutor, Mike has been a non-academic administrator at Maimonides School for almost 25 years. He is also involved in community affairs, serving on the Town of Bedford Board of Selectmen and the Emerson Hospital Board of Corporators.

Rabbi Benjamin J. Samuels

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels has been the rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton Centre since 1995. As President of the Rabbinical Council of New England (Vaad HaRabbonim), he represents the Vaad to the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. Rabbi Samuels also teaches adult education in the Greater Boston Jewish community and sits on several local and national Jewish organizational boards.

Rabbi Rachel Saphire

Rabbi Rachel Saphire was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio. Rabbi Saphire attended Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), where she graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with a degree in Family Studies and Social Work. Following her graduation, she entered rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. After an initial year in Jerusalem, Rabbi Saphire studied for the rabbinate at HUC-JIR’s historic Cincinnati campus. Upon Ordination, Rabbi Saphire joined the staff at Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley as the Assistant Rabbi in 2009. She feels privileged to serve this dynamic, visionary congregation while partnering with a talented team of clergy, educators, and lay leaders.

Dan Schneider

Dan has been active in the Synagogue Council ever since he first participated in a Unity Mission to NYC in 2002. Since then he has been part of the first Unity Mission to Israel and a member of SCM's Strategic Planning Task Force. According to Dan, "without question, my involvement with SCM has been the most transformative experience of my adult Jewish life. The idea of K'lal Yisrael had always appealed to me, but it had always been just that--an idea. Through SCM, K'lal Yisrael became an experience." Dan is a member of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland where he lives with his wife, Julie.

Rabbi Rachel Schoenfeld

Rabbi Rachel Dvash Schoenfeld is the Rabbi of Shir Hadash Havurah in Newton Center, and the Education Director at Kahal Brairah in Cambridge.   She brings ten years of experience working with Reconstructionist communities in Ottawa, San Antonio, and most recently Marshfield, MA.    Rabbi Rachel is passionate about forming community, deep learning, and meaningful prayer. Rabbi Rachel Schoenfeld has been a member of the Mass. Board of Rabbi's Executive Council, and the Mass. Board of Rabbi's Public Policy committee.

Dr. B. David Stollar

David, a native Canadian and graduate of the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, served on the Tufts University School of Medicine faculty for 41 years, including 15 as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and two as Interim Dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. He, his wife Carol and their three children joined Temple Reyim in Newton in 1964. Active especially in its adult learning programs, he was congregation president in 2005-2007 and continues to serve on its Board. He is a singer with Koleinu. He and Carol, a clinical nutritionist who, in retirement, earned a Masters degree from Hebrew College, participated in the second Unity Mission to Israel in 2012.

Rabbi Norbert Weinberg 

After semicha (ordination) from Yeshiva University and a short stint in Quebec City, Rabbi Norbert Weinberg moved to New Bedford where he assumed the pulpit of Congregation Ahavath Achim, which he served for eight years. At this time, he also became the director of Camp Tikvah, a children’s summer day camp and did chaplaincy work at a number of area prisons and nursing homes. When Rabbi Weinberg's long-range contract of thirty years expired, he chose to pursue a part-time (weekend) position at Congregation Brothers of Joseph in Norwich, CT. In 2005, he happily found a part-time position closer to home, becoming the Rabbi of the historic Adams Street Shul, in Newton. Residents of Newton, the rabbi and his wife, Susan, have four daughters and twenty-four grandchildren.