Board Member Biographies

Keri Bahar

Keri and her family joined BHBE in 2013. She is completing a two year term as President and previously served as Executive Vice President, Vice President of the Academy, Chair of the Rabbinic Search Committee, Chair of the Education Director Search Committee, and as a member of the Academy Board. She founded KSB College Consulting in 2011 and, each year, helps approximately 40 to 50 high school seniors and their families navigate the college admissions process. Keri and her husband, Phillip, who is CEO of the Chicago Humanities Festival, live in Evanston and have three children: Zachary, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, Chana, a freshman at the Alvin Ailey/Fordham BFA program, and Talia, a sophomore at ETHS.

 

Carla Banoff

My husband Neil and I live in Skokie and have been members of BHBE since 1997.  BHBE closely matches my upbringing. I grew up in the Conservative movement, attended Anshe Emet Day School, & Synagogue and often read Torah/Haftorah. I thoroughly enjoy singing in the BHBE High holiday choir. I have served both on the Executive and General boards of the Sisterhood. One of the Sisterhood committees that I helped to coordinate is the Sisterhood Kugel baking for Shiva houses. I am currently coordinating the Sisterhood planting of JNF trees in memory of loved ones. I chaired the Zumba Special interest group in addition to serving on the Adult Education Committee. All 3 of our daughters, (Lisa, Jenna, and Rachel) went to Solomon Schechter, celebrated their Bat Mitzvahs at BHBE, and were very active in USY. Lisa and my son-in-law Matt Rothenberg were married at BHBE and have two beautiful daughters (Leora-4, Ayelet-2). My educational background is BBA Accounting / MBA Finance. I am honored to serve on the BHBE Board of Directors.

 

Greer Braun

B.A.Ed, University of Michigan, M.A. Ed, University of Southern Connecticut, MBA Lake Forest College. My husband, Arthur and I have been members of BHBE for 32 years. We have three grown children, two who live in the Chicago area, and a son who lives in Israel. We have 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grand-daughters. As a teacher I taught elementary  school, Hebrew school, and designed an art appreciation program for grades K-6. I am currently retired from our family real estate investment firm. I have served on the BHBE Board over several terms in the past as V.P. of Ways and Means, serving on the House and Grounds Committee, and organizing many fundraisers. In addition I have been active in Sisterhood throughout the years. My interest in participating on the Board of Directors is to contribute to our creative growth to keep our wonderful community engaged, committed, and strong.

 

Leah Buchbiner
Originally from southern California, Leah has been a happy Midwestern transplant for 14 years. Leah and her husband Avi are parents to Eli (7) and Zev (4). Leah works in the nonprofit sector as grant writer and program administrator and has degrees from the University of California, Irvine and DePaul. She loves to schmooze at shul while watching kids run around, bake, read, and is committed to egalitarian Jewish practice in a way that brings meaning to modern lives. Fun fact: Leah and Avi got married at BHBE, many years before moving to Skokie and joining the synagogue!

 

Steve Bucksbaum

Steven and Betty Ann Brody, M.D. Ph.D., joined BHBE in 1991, before kids. They selected BHBE after spending months visiting congregations over the North Shore. Steven is on the synagogue board as President of our local chapter of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC). Steven is also on the Board of the FJMC-Midwest Region.  In BHBE Men’s Club Steven worked on the annual High Holiday ushering projects and the annual Trip-O-Rama/Gala Rama raffle projects, both for the last 20 years. Until a few years ago Steven was a software consultant specializing in C-Sharp and SQL Server. Currently, Steven is managing a farm operation in Iowa co-owned with his brother.  Steven and Betty Ann have two sons, Noah and Isaac.  Both boys had their Bar Mitzvas at BHBE. The whole family was active in Boy Scouts.  Steven is still an Assistant Scoutmaster at Troop 9 in Wilmette.  Both Noah and Isaac earned the Eagle rank. Noah, the oldest, is a Lance Corporal serving in the USMC, currently stationed in Hawaii.  Isaac Theodore, younger by 14 months, lives in Oregon and runs his own business.

 

Dan Chodrow

Dan Chodrow and his wife, Kate, became members of BHBE in 2017 after moving to Wilmette from Chicago. In the congregation, they found an exciting community and a good academy for their daughters, Olivia and Mimi. Dan has spent most of his career in advertising, crafting big brand ideas for everything from diapers to whiskey to banking, and is currently engaged as a partner in a creative agency and executive creative director of a food startup. Most days, the work is fun. Some days, the work is work. These days, most of the work happens at home. Dan doesn’t miss commuting every day, though he does miss the free office snacks.  Dan looks forward to helping the congregation thrive.

 

Jon Clemens

My wife Katie, son Gabriel (4), daughter Orly (3), and I joined BHBE in 2019 and my kids attend the BJE preschool as well. In the short time we were members before COVID shut everything down our family became active members in the Synagogue and even after we have continued to participate as much as possible virtually. I have been on numerous boards, most recently I was President and Property manager of our condo association overseeing all aspects of association finances, maintenance, and operations for 5 years until we moved to Skokie. Professionally I am the director of the Education IT Services practice at Konica Minolta. I work with schools and religious institutions across the country to align and implement technology to meet their organizations goals. 

 

Fran Diamond

 

Ira Dubin

I have been a member of BHBE for over 25 years. I was brought up in a traditional synagogue but had an issue with the fact that they would not allow women on the bimah. I started to research different synagogues and realized that after my traditional upbringing, reform was too extreme and the conservative movement seemed to meet my needs. It was the late Mike Rosen who convinced me that BHBE would be right for me.  When I came for Shabbat services, Mike befriended me and I have never forgotten that. I raised my children here and they both had their bar mitzvah’s here. I have made some terrific long time friendships through the synagogue. I have been on the board off and on for numerous years. I currently live in Skokie with my wife Colleen and our dog Ranger. I have an accounting practice, also located in Skokie.

 

Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg

Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg is the granddaughter of Trude and the late Julius Schnitzer who joined Beth Hillel in the 1960s. She grew up running on the ramp and now watches her nine-year old Julia and six-year old Hunter do the same and helps lead services for young families. Gail works as a civil rights attorney with her own practice at Loftus & Eisenberg, Ltd., focusing on workplace discrimination and harassment.  Gail is active in the community, serving as the elected New Trier Township Supervisor, on the Administrative Committee for the JUF, and as co-chair of the Legislative Committee of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers and the National Employment Lawyers Association- Illinois. Gail also regularly volunteers with the ACLU, Women Employed, PersonalPAC, Girl Scouts, and March of Dimes. She graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern Law and summa cum laude from the University of Illinois with her MA/BA in Political Science.

 

Dianne Goldman

Dianne Goldman received her Ph.D. in Musicology from Northwestern University in 2014. Since then, she’s taught at the University of Maryland, Elmhurst University, and Columbia College Chicago. Her classes include music appreciation, a survey of western music, and several topical classes like Latin American Music and the history of opera. Her main research area is Mexican music of the 18th century. She and her husband, Steve, have been members of BHBE for almost ten years. She has been a member of the BHBE board for four years. Steve and she live in Glenview and have a 6-month-old Great Dane named Rachel.

 

Minnie Goldsmith

Minnie has been a member of BHBE since 1982. She has been an active member and leader in our synagogue and looks forward to continuing her work on the board.

 

Jay Goldstein

Jay has been a member of BHBE for over 12 years and his family has belonged to the synagogue since 1967. Jay has served for five and a half  years as VP of Ritual and two years as the Executive Vice President. He is a member of the Adult Education Committee, Finance Committee,  Ritual Committee and the Legacy Committee.

 

Carter Greene

Jennifer and I live in Lincolnwood, where we raised four children. My family has been a member at BH since the early 1960’s and I became a Bar Mitzvah here in 1973. After leaving Chicago for a time, I returned joining the now shuttered Shaare Tikvah Bnai Zion, serving on the board and as President. I joined BHBE  in 2014. 

 

Allison Kamen

Allison, her husband Mike McElwee, and daughter Molly (10) started attending Tot Shabbat at BHBE in 2015. It was clear this is where they wanted to be. Molly is active in Junior Congregation and loves her Academy class. Allison is the niece of the late Dolly and Herb Moline and grew up celebrating many family events at BHBE. She even had her Bat Mitzvah party in Spak. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Behavioral Sciences and Law and Sociology and is currently a Health and Benefits Consultant. Most recently, Allison participated in the BHBE Strategic Planning committee and Membership committee. Allison grew up in Highland Park and now lives in Evanston with her family.

 

Susan Kay

Susan and her husband, David Baron, live in Skokie joining BHBE in the early ‘90s where they celebrated the B’mitzvot of Susan, their sons, Jacob and Zachary, as well as the recent baby-naming of their granddaughter, Elana. BHBE clergy were there for them at sad life-cycle events as well.  Highlights of her BHBE membership were the trip to Israel in 2000 and volunteering with TOV in Puerto Rico in 2018 repairing hurricane-damaged roofs. When the kids were young, Susan served on the Congregation’s Board and Executive Committee. More recently she’s been a member and chair of the LGBTQ+ Inclusion Committee, and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.  Her primary secular avocation is her involvement with Northwestern’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute where she coordinates classes and has served on the Development and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees, and will soon chair Membership Enrichment.  In 2013 Susan retired as the Anti-Defamation League’s Midwest Director of Endowments and Planned Giving.  Her work life beyond fundraising was varied – from program development for adults in Higher Ed in Charleston, SC and at the JCCs of Chicago to teaching art history.  She is a graduate of Emory University (B.A.) and the University of Chicago (A.M.)   

 

Rochelle Leff

My husband, Alan and I joined Beth Hillel in 1968. Our children, Edward and Lauren attended Hebrew School and had the Bar and bat Mitzvahs at Beth Hillel. I had my Adult Bat Mitzvah after studying with Rabbi David Lincon. Edward lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida and is married to Lisa and he has two daughters. Emily will receive her Doctorate in June and Sarah will receive her Masters Degree next May. Lauren is married to Michael and they have two children, Ilana and Jacob. They live in Buffalo Grove. Ilana graduated from College of DuPage with an Associates Degree in Applied Science in Cosmetology. She will continue her education at DePaul University in the fall and will receive her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management. Jacob is a Junior at Buffalo Grove High School. Over the years, I have served on many committees, both Congregational and Sisterhood. At the present time, I’m Corresponding Secretary for Sisterhood with the responsibility of writing the bulletin. I am on the Congregational Ritual Committee and serve as co-chairman of the High Holiday Honors Committee.

 

Michael Lehrer

Michael has been a member of BHBE for most of his life. At BHBE, he sings in the choir and occasionally leads davening, and has served in the leadership by being a member of various committees and on the Board of Directors, most recently as its Treasurer. Michael graduated from Northwestern University, where he was a mathematics major and Jewish studies minor. He also played saxophone in the marching band, was active in the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, and coordinated the conservative minyan at Hillel. Professionally, Michael combines his passion for math and sports by ensuring that high profile clients in the sports industry have all the data they need. Michael and his wife Rachel Sacks, who runs a public health consulting firm, live in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.

 

Cynthia Lerner

Cynthia Lerner has been a member of BHBE for about eleven years.  She has been a member of the BHBE Board and served three years as President of the BHBE Sisterhood.  Cynthia is finishing up a two-year term as Ritual Chairperson and enjoys seeing more and more people attending Shabbos morning services here at BHBE.  Cynthia is currently the co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and looks forward to presenting the committee’s two years of work to the congregation.  She is an avid knitter and also loves to read.  She enjoys spending time with her family in Chicago, Josh Garfinkel, Sam and Katie Garfinkel and their almost three year-old son Benjamin, and in Boston, Rachel, AJ and two year old Charlie (Charlotte) Zylberfink.    

 

Judy Levy

Judy Levey has been a member of BHBE since 2007, when she moved with her family (former BHBE board president Sandy Goldberg and former children – now adults!) to Evanston from Lexington, Kentucky. She previously served as a two-term secretary on the BHBE board. She is the Executive Director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), engaging the Jewish community of Chicagoland in combating poverty, racism and antisemitism working in partnership with diverse communities. 

 

Jessica Littmann

Jessica, her husband Alan, and their daughters Mira, Orli, and Dalia have been members of BHBE since 2015. Jessica graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in history and holds an MsEd from Northwestern. She has taught humanities and English language arts at several public and private schools in the area. For the past several years, Jessica has worked as a freelance writer and editor. She is always looking for book recommendations, great restaurants, and her keys. Jessica has served on the Academy Board, the Retreat planning committee, the Strategic Planning Facilities Task Force, and other BHBE committees.

 

Joan Meyers

My family has been part of the BHBE family for almost forty years. Both sons attended and graduated from the Academy and attended Hebrew High. All of our family’s life cycle events including our children’s weddings, grandchildren’s brit and baby namings and sadder events were all officiated by our BHBE clergy. I became involved in BHBE through classes and through our Sisterhood; eventually, I became Sisterhood president and was Sisterhood Valued Volunteer of the Year through our Central Branch conference convention. I headed several Sisterhood nominating committees, coordinated the Lox Box for many years and worked on the Synagogue Book Fair.  I’m also a graduate of the Melton two-year learning program.  I previously served on the Congregation and Executive Board as recording secretary.  I am now completing a two year term as Congregation Board member and am looking forward to the next two year term. Presently, I can be found in the Sisterhood Judaica Gift Shop (for the past ten years) as Co-Manager.

 

Harris Miller

I have worked six years in customer service for Autohaus on Edens Mercedes-Benz in Northbrook. I bring in well over 100 outbound appointments per month into the service department and talk to people from all over the North Shore. I am civically involved in our community through several non-profit organizations. I serve as Secretary for the Morton Grove Historical Society (MGHS), Secretary for the Northeastern Illinois Historic League (NEIL) in Northbrook and board member for the Norwood Park Historical Society (NPHS) in Chicago where I run their Long Range Planning Committee (LRP). I created a Maintenance Spreadsheet for the NPHS’ LRP Committee to determine when appliances need to be replaced and when building maintenance should be done. I also completed several Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analyzes for NPHS and NEIL. Additionally, I conduct Chicago area history presentations to groups and run the “Go Explore Chicagoland” Blog.  As for my second home BHBE, I became a member with my family in 2000 to attend our Hebrew School and later our Ruach, Kadima and USY youth groups. After graduating from Lake Forest College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, I became active with the Social Action and Inclusion Committees. In 2018, I became an independent BHBE member after moving from my parents’ Morton Grove home to my apartment in Evanston and became a first term board member the same year. In 2021, I joined the Strategic Planning Committee where I serve on their Communications subcommittee and remain active with Social Action and Inclusion.

Carol Pellish

Larry Plawsky

Larry Plawsky and his wife, Rachel, have been members of BHBE since 2017, not long after they moved from Chicago to Wilmette with their 2 children, Ben and Allie, who enjoy attending the Academy.  Larry is excited to work with other congregants to expand and enrich the BHBE community, while remaining faithful to Conservative Judaism. Larry is a long-time supporter of the Jewish United Fund, and when he was “young,” he served as President of the Young Leadership Division of JUF and as a member of the Governing Commission of the Hillels of Illinois.  Larry is currently an executive vice president at Ticketmaster, where he runs the company’s Marketplace.  He and his wife spend a substantial amount of time and treasure attending their kids’ soccer, baseball, and basketball games, along with numerous recitals and plays.      

  

Harold Primack

Harold and his wife, Aileen, have been members of BHBE for 22 years.  He is currently the Chair of the House Building and Grounds Committee and was Chair of the committee in the past.  Harold was also President of the BHBE Men’s Club and is currently the Treasurer of the Men’s Club.  Outside of BHBE, Harold is active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Northwestern University where he just completed a term as Evanston Campus Chair of the Advisory Council. He also coordinates study groups at OLLI.  He is Chair of the Skokie Commission on Family Services and a Trustee on the Skokie Police Pension Board.  And if that isn’t enough, Harold and Aileen babysit for three of their grandchildren twice a week.  Prior to all this, Harold earned degrees in Chemical Engineering and worked for BP Corp. in several roles including Process Design Engineer where he designed petroleum refinery units and Environmental Business Manager where he managed a portfolio of over 400 contaminated marketing sites.  Harold and Aileen have two grown children, a son, Ross (42), living in Texas and a daughter, Cheryl (39), living in Highland Park.

 

Shoshanna Reynolds

Shoshanna, her husband, Scott, and their three kids (Arianna, Ivy and Emmet) joined BHBE in 2018 after moving from the city to Glenview. They regularly attend Tot Shabbat and Junior Congregation, their girls are attend the Hebrew Academy, and they have all truly enjoyed becoming a part of this wonderful and warm community. Shoshanna has dedicated her entire career to fighting hate with ADL, serving as the Director of Development for ADL Midwest. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies and a minor in Sociology. She spent her junior year studying at Hebrew University, and a semester at Alexander Muss Institute for high school, both in Jerusalem.   

 

Harriet Robbins-Ost 

For 24 years, BHBE has been an integral part of my family’s life. We happily have celebrated our children’s b’nai mitzvah, grandchildren’s baby namings, and many other smachot with our BHBE family. I have been involved in many areas of our community, some of which are choir, school board, sisterhood executive board, LGBTQ inclusion committee, cantor search committees, and chanting Hebrew Scripture for the congregation. I bring a diversified professional background to my responsibilities on the Board of Directors: I have experience as a lawyer, religious school teacher and education director (kindergarten through 10th grade and adults), and secular high school teacher in English, history, and law. As I enter my second term on the Board, I look forward to continuing to serve by drawing on my skills, life experience, and devotion to our congregation. I am honored to work alongside the other board members to help keep our synagogue vibrant and at the forefront of the Jewish community.

 

Sam Rodin

Sam Rodin grew up at BHBE and had his first crack at synagogue leadership as a past president of BHUSY, the congregation’s youth group. He is now a second generation BHBE member, following in his parent’s footsteps and joining the congregation in 2019 with his wife Beth and three sons Charlie, Joey, and Micah. Sam attends Shabbat morning services regularly, and you will find him chasing his three young boys between Tot Shabbat and the main service visiting their Zayde. Outside of BHBE, Sam works as the Director of Alumni Network and Engagement for Diller Teen Fellows, working to build connections between the over 6000 alumni of the Diller Teen Fellows program worldwide, and supports the Children’s Heart Foundation, helping to raise money and awareness around Congenital Heart Defects.

 

Fred Rosenwasser

My wife Minna and I live in Northbrook where we raised our two daughters Rina and Abbi. We also have multiple dogs all of which are rescues. I grew up in Wilmette and my family joined Beth Hillel in 1964.

 

Gail Schneiderman

Gail was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and came to the United States as a youngster with her parents. She and her husband Irwin have been members of BHBE since 1978. Their son and daughter celebrated their b’nai mitzvahs at BHBE and the next generation – two of their eight grandchildren, as well. Gail, a former primary and art teacher, has been on the Sisterhood and Board of Directors boards for many years, serving in various capacities, including many nominating and search committees, and currently the Legacy Circle.  On the Sisterhood board she was in charge for 20 years of creating themed decorations for their events and is their publicity chair. Gail has been the synagogue’s publicity person for over 30 years.  Her fascination with publicity work began as a volunteer for Wilmette area schools and later for organizations such as Hadassah and Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. So the next time you’re reading about BHBE in the newspaper, on-line or watching a news story about our synagogue on TV, you’ll know who spread the word.

 

Ellen Sered

Ellen and her husband Allen  have been members of BHBE since 1967. Their three daughters attended religious school and each became a Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue. She has a bachelor degree in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign where she met her husband. She has been involved in the sisterhood for many years as a board member, officer, and in charge of various projects. Both Ellen and Allen appreciate the friendships that they have made over the years. She looks forward to be an active member of the Board of Directors.

 

Robin Smulson

I, Robin Smulson am the shaliach tzibur at Tuesday morning minyans.  Once a month on Saturday mornings, at the start of Shabbat Services and on the High Holy Days I chant Pseukai  D’Zimra . I am a past Central Branch Region President, Sisterhood President, and Atid-Shalom Hadassah President.  I graduated the two year Melton educational program.  I was on the Rabbi’s search committee.  I am currently co-manager of BHBE Judaica Shop. I am married to my wonderful husband, Paul, a retired oral surgeon.  We live in Wilmette, IL where we raised two daughters, Gabrielle and Randi.  Gabrielle is married to David having two adorable boys (Chase-9 Ethan -7).  Randi is married to Zachary having two beautiful daughters (Anabella- 7 Alexandra-5). 

Helen Stopek

Helen Stopek was on the board of Congregation B’nai Zion and also after the merger with Shaare Tikvah, when we became Shaare Tikvah B’nai Zion.  At BZ, when I retired from teaching in 1963, I became Sisterhood president.  As president I attended all branch conferences and Women’s League conventions.  When we became STBZ in 2002, Shaare Tikvah had not had a Sisterhood in about 10 years and I invigorated the women to join Sisterhood, and they were pretty active until the membership of the congregation began going down, then it became difficult to do much. 

 

Gail Swerdlik

After retiring from 34 years of teaching in Chicago, I was asked to join the Academy board.  After five years, I was asked to be the chairperson.  When those two  years were up, I decided to focus more on Sisterhood activities.

Now I wish to return to attending Congregational Board Meetings, as well as my Sisterhood ones. My higher education is a B.A. in Music Education, a M.M. in Music Education, and a M.A. in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management.

 

Zvi Tannenbaum

My family became members of Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah about 25 years ago. My daughters Rachel and Becky celebrated their Bat Mitzvahs here. I have previously served on the board and exec board as the ritual chairman. I am a fairly regular attendee of Shabbat and holiday services. I have been practicing dentistry since 1976 and have been regularly volunteering at The Ark’s free dental clinic for over 35 years. I attended the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, where I earned my dental degree in 1975, and also earned an MS degree in Oral Pathology at the U of I Graduate College in 1978. After most Shabbat services, barring a pandemic, I can be found singing a few spirited tunes with other congregants at the Kiddush table. Please join us there.

 

Jennifer Wertheimer

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and immigrated to the United States in 1976, together with my parents and siblings. I have two children, Michael and Leslie.  Michael is engaged to be married in June 2022 and lives in Chicago. Leslie and her husband live the U.K. My late husband Jay, and I joined Beth Hillel about 30 years ago. Jay served on the both the general board as well as the executive board and I served on the Beth Hillel education board for several years. My children were bar and bat mitzvahed at Beth Hillel and in between their special days I joined the adult bar and bat mitzvah class and was bat mitzvahed at Beth Hillel too. Jay died in November 2004. I decided to return to school and received certification in Non-for-Profit Management and also certified in medical and research grant writing. I joined the Division of Gastroenterology at NorthShore University HealthSystem in September 2006 to create Continuing Medical Education programs for the division, and served on the Pancreatic Cancer research team. I also assisted both Cardiology and Internal Medicine with the development of their Continuing Education programs. In 2012, I was instrumental in founding a Gastroenterology Fellowship.  I managed the fellowship until my retirement in December 2020. I look forward to becoming involved again and keeping our synagogue vibrant, and very necessary.