David Bernat PhD, Executive Director
David Bernat took the helm as Executive Director of the Synagogue Council in the Fall of 2015. He came to us with a background in campus leadership and academics, having served as Jewish Chaplain at Wellesley, Babson, and Olin Colleges, under the Hillel Council of New England umbrella. He has also held faculty positions at Wellesley College and Hebrew College Rabbinical School and is currently a Lecturer in Judaic Studies at UMass Amherst. David is also active in Adult Learning, having taught for the Meah Program since 1998. He has a PhD in Biblical Interpretation from Brandeis, and has published in the areas of Jewish ritual, especially circumcision, and violence and zealotry in ancient Jewish writings. David is engaged in many community-wide endeavors, with seats on CJPs Boston-Haifa Identity and Education Committee and Committee on Disability, the Limmud Advisory Council, the Boston Labor Council Steering Committee, and the Israel Seder Project's Advisory Board. David believes in the continued role of the Synagogue as a center of Jewish vitality, and the project of Jewish pluralism that is a core value for SCM.
Gretchen Marks Brandt, Associate Director
The newest member of the Synagogue Council staff, Gretchen Marks Brandt joined the team as Associate Director in January, 2020. A veteran Jewish educator, she has held administrative and teaching roles at multiple Jewish day schools and synagogues, and has taught students of all ages. Gretchen is the Torah Godly Play Instructor at Hebrew College where she works with Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire. She is a TELEM educator at Congregation Or Atid engaging high school students in service learning. She is an active member of the Community Hevra Kadisha. Gretchen was one of ten fellows in The Fellowship in Educating for Applied Jewish Wisdom through JTS and the Lippman Kanfer Foundation. A fifth generation Californian, Gretchen holds degrees in English and Earth Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley, and after several years living, working and learning in Israel, she attended Boston University where she did graduate work in Social Psychology with a research emphasis in Jewish Identity. An active member of Temple Israel of Natick and the Chabad Center of Natick, she is passionate about building Jewish community and committed to Jewish life and learning.
Emma Savitz, Office Administrator
Emma Savitz joined the Synagogue Council in September 2018. Emma grew up in the Boston area. After spending a year in Israel, she attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. After college, Emma moved back to Boston, where she has been involved in the Jewish community both professionally and personally over the last several years, while also working for the Boston Red Sox. She is pleased to be able to serve the community as part of the Synagogue Council.