18th Annual

Connie Spear Birnbaum

Memorial Lecture

& Chai Anniversary



Featuring Yossi Klein Halevi

Sunday, May 2, 2021

12:30 pm EDT

from the comfort of your own home


Part 1:  Slide show, welcome, excerpts from previous lectures, "Shabbat Hamalka"

Part 2Horace Mann, Andrea Campbell, Ben Birnbaum and featured speaker, Yossi Klein Halevi

Part 3:  Excerpts from previous lectures, expressions of gratitude, special guest speaker (Sophia) "Lo Alecha Hamalacha Ligmor", credits

Yossi Klein Halevi.jpg

The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts is honored to join lecture founder, Dr. Herbert Birnbaum, the Birnbaum family, and honorary chair, Alan Teperow in presenting the 18th annual Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture.


This year's program features noted journalist and author, Yossi Klein Halevi. Our speaker will the address the challenges of maintaining Jewish unity--in and between both Israel and the Diaspora--at a time of every growing polarization.  He will also engage in conversation on this topic with with award winning journalist, Benjamin Birnbaum. 


Lecture donors of $100 or more are invited to Tea with Yossi Klein Halevi at 12:00 (prior to the lecture event).

Click here to learn more about Yossi Klein Halevi.



Connie Spear Birnbaum z"l

In the late 1980’s, when the growing divide between the denominations of Judaism threatened the integrity of a single and unified Klal Yisrael (Jewish people), The Synagogue Council instituted the Unity Mission to bridge the gaps by bringing together young leaders from across the denominational spectrum to help shape the community’s future. To head this initiative, Synagogue Council’s Executive Director, Alan Teperow, targeted an extraordinary Jewish communal professional, Connie Spear Birnbaum. Connie had the magnetism and passion for people in general, and her people in particular, to galvanize these forces and bring creativity to the process. The importance of community and the need to operate out of the box, values driven home by the pandemic, are precisely the elements which defined Connie as an inspiring and impactful leader.


Upon her untimely passing in January 2003, the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture emerged to

continue her legacy as a partnership of the Birnbaum family and The Synagogue Council.


May the memory of Connie Spear Birnbaum be for a blessing.

We are abundantly grateful to those who make the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture possible:

Pillars ($250+)

Dr. Herbert Birnbaum

  (lecture founder)

Dr. Nathan & Robin Birnbaum

Combined Jewish Philanthropies

Dr. Bruce & Madelyn Donoff

Drs. Todd Heller & Ruth Klein

Joshua & Amelia Katzen

Robert & Janice Kerwin

Bonnie Lazar

Dr. Brian Miller

Rabbi Daniel & Ruth Pernick

Dr. Jonathan & Rabbi Shayna          Rhodes

Dr. Fabienne Rottenberg

Jill & Larry Sandberg

Erica & Jerry Silverman

Dr. Fiza Singh


Patrons ($100-$249)

Alan Teperow (honorary chair) &

  Dr. Suzanne Hanser

Arnold & Barbara Andler

Michael & Joyce Bohnen

Gretchen & Stewart Brandt,

  H. Brandt Jewelers

Maureen Brodoff & Ellen Wade

Barry Caplan & Judith Freedman Caplan

Carole & David Decter

Dr. Jonathan & Renee Delatizky

Joni & Dr. Rodney Falk

Drs. David & Claire Fisher

Brenda & Harvey Freishtat

Dr. Robin Steinberg Gendelman &

  Dr. Phillip Gendelman

Barbara Greenberg

Drs. Elliot & Esther Israel

Aaron & Ellen Kischel

Robin & Phillip Levy

Richard Mann

Drs. Murray & Barbara Miller

Alan Nelson

Elizabeth Pressman

Mike Rosenberg

Richard Saltzberg

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels, Congregation        Sha'arei Tefillah

Rick & Rabbi Ma'ayan Sands

Sephardic Congregation of Newton

Daniel & Rifkie Silverman

David Starr

Joseph Stern

Jonathan & Ruth Tepper

Michael & Carol Wasserman

Sponsors ($54-$99)

Dr. Fred & Stephanie Cohen

Prof. Solomon Friedberg &

  Dr. Karen Siller

Debra  & Dr. Bernard Friedland

Payson Greene

Dr. Jesse & Brenda Hefter

Ron & Debby Iken

Ronda & Dr. Joshua Jacobson

Dr. Lawrence S. Milner

Adrienne Ruch

Dr. Craig & Tamar Schneider

Rachel & Daniel Seliber

Dr. David & Carol Stollar

Paul Tatelman


David Beckman

Barbara Bolshon

Joanne B. & Daniel Cohn

Barbara Gaffin & Doug Cahn

Lori Gilman

Joan & Prof. Lewis Glinert

Jonathan Golden

Sharon Haselkorn

Michael & Riselle Hirsh

Dr. John & Randi Lapidus

Nancy Lefkowitz

Dr. Carl & Naomi Lopkin

Elaine Matisoff

Beverly Peiser

Rabbi Barbara Penzner

Robert Perlman

Edna Perlmutter

Adam & Judith Rin

Linda Silverman

Gertrude Stoller

Michelle Weiner Taylor

Carol A. & Ken Turkewitz

Nathan Zielonka &

  Ann Bellows

Rabbi Henry & Barbara Zoob


If you wish to make targeted donation to the Connie Spear Birnbaum Lecture, you may do so online or by check.


Online donations:

Click the Donate to SCM button and select "Donate to Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture".


Donations by check:

Please make your check payable to Synagogue Council, write "Connie Lecture" on the memo line, and mail your check to

Synagogue Council

1320 Centre Street. Suite 306

Newton, MA 02459

Tribute Committee

Alan Teperow, Honorary Chair

Rabbi Susan Abramson

Rabbi Marc & Jill Baker

Rav-Hazan Aliza Berger

Rabbi Daniel Berman

Ben Birnbaum

Joyce & Michael Bohnen

Gretchen & Stewart Brandt

Rabbi Ariel Burger

Jeremy Burton

Councilor Andrea Campbell

Barry Caplan & Judith Freedman Caplan

Rabbi Noah Cheses

Dr. Fred & Stephanie Cohen

Anita Diamant

Aaron Feuerstein

Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz

Professor Lewis Glinert

Howard Worona

Rabbi Leonard Gordon

Steven Greenberg

Shelley Greene & Professor David C. Jacobson

Rabbi William Hamilton & Dr. Debra Block

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman

Dr. Shirah & Stuart Hecht

Brenda & Dr. Jesse Hefter

Ronda & Dr. Joshua Jacobson

Rabbi Howard Jaffe

Bernice Sis Kazis

Robert & Janice Kerwin

Aaron & Ellen Kischel

Cantor Jeff Klepper

Rabbi Claudia Kreiman

Rabbi Daniel Liben

Jeff Lurie

Alan Nelson

Daniel Nesson

Liz Offen & Ethan Mascoop

Rabbi Barbara Penzner

Edna Perlmutter

Rabbi Daniel Pernick

Rabbi Josh Pernick

Rabbi Dr. Nehemia Polen

Stephanie Pollack

Elizabeth and Bob Pressman

Rabbi Victor Reinstein

Rabbi Shayna Rhodes

Rabbi Michelle Robinson

Cantor Elias Rosemberg

Jay & Daphnah Sage

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Jill & Larry Sandberg

Dr. Craig & Tamar Schneider

Barry Shrage

Erica & Gerrald Silverman

Sandy Slavet & Joseph Strazzulla

Horace Small

Dr. Francene & Rav-Hazan Scott Sokol

Rabbi Keith Stern

Dr. David & Carol Stollar

Rabbi Mendy Uminer

Rabbi Moshe Waldoks

Howard Worona

Rabbi Henry Zoob

Sponsoring Synagogues/Organizations

Adams Street Shul of Newton

Ahavath Torah Congregation of Stoughton

B'nai Tikvah of Canton

Beit Sasson: The Sephardic Congregation of Newton

Center Makor

Chabad of Chestnut Hill

Combined Jewish Philanthropies

Congregation Beth Israel of Metairie, LA

Congregation Beth Israel of Worcester

Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Brookline

Congregation Shaarei Tefillah of Newton

Congregation Shirat Hayam of the North Shore

Facing History & Ourselves


Hebrew College

JCC of Greater Boston

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts

Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Massachusetts Board of Rabbis

Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue of Jamaica Plain

Synagogue Council of Massachusetts

Temple Aliyah of Needham

Temple Beth Avodah of Newton

Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley

Temple Beth Shalom of Needham

Temple Beth Zion of Brookline

Temple Emanuel of Newton

Temple Hillel-B'nai Torah of West Roxbury

Temple Isaiah of Lexington

Temple Israel of Natick

Temple Ohabei Shalom of Brookline

Temple Reyim of Newton

Union for Reform Judaism

Union of Minority Neighborhoods

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism-Northeast District

Young Israel of Brookline

Young Israel of Sharon

Congregation Beth El Atereth Israel of Newton

Maimonides School

Previous Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture Speakers

2013: Malcom Hoenlein

2014: Nancy Kaufman

2015: Ofir Shaer & Rabbi Rick Jacobs

2016: Leon Wieseltier

2017: Rabbi Dr. Meir Soleveichik

2018: Ron Dermer

2019: Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin

2020: 55th Anniversary celebration of the Voting Rights Act

2004: Dr. Norman Lamm, z”l              

2005: Richard M. Joel

2006: Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg

2007: Rabbi David Ellenson

2008: Rabbi Harold Kushner

2009: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

2010: Rabbi Steven Weil

2011: Rabbi Steven Wernick

2012: Natan Sharansky