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Louis Bernstein (he/him) is vice president of Case Paper Company. A Philadelphia native who has drummed since he was 11 years old, he played in bands all through junior high, high school, and college. Lou has taught drums and is also a jazz historian.

Cara Schneider Bongiorno (she/her) spent her career at Philadelphia nonprofits, holding development positions at WHYY and JEVS Human Services before joining the communications team at VISIT PHILADELPHIA ®.  There, she represented the city to travel media for 20+ years.  Mid-pandemic, Cara chose to devote her time to volunteer teaching with Mighty Writers and hosting Philly History Pop Ups, fun gatherings where she presents intriguing but little-known stories about the city’s past.

Jonathan Broder (he/him), a native New Yorker, stayed in Philadelphia after attending Temple Law School. Counsel for Conrail for 30 years, he was instrumental in creating New York City’s High Line. In Philadelphia’s Jewish community, he has served as president of a synagogue and of Jewish Learning Venture, trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and in other leadership roles. Jon has studied piano for over 50 years, including at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Melissa Broder (she/her) has been performing as an actress and singer in community, regional, and off-Broadway shows since she was nine years old and has been featured in countless musicals, plays and cabarets. During and after college, she also performed a solo act as a folk/rock singer-songwriter/guitarist throughout the tri-state area in clubs, cafes and college campuses. She is a proud Lifetime Member of the St. Bart’s Players, NYC’s longest-running community theater and has served on its Board for more than 25 years. She lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband Michael and their cat Mabel.

Adam Grode (he/him), a Philadelphia native, is a Silk Road ethnomusicologist and linguist.  A two-time Fulbright Scholar and Smithsonian Baird Resident Fellow, he completed his Master’s with honors at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020.  The following year he launched Rudaki Language Academy, a Zoom-based elearning platform offering affordable instruction in the Persian family of languages.  In close coordination with groups like HIAS, Rudaki is proud to have trained scores of resettlement specialists and volunteers who work directly with the Afghan refugee communities now spread across the US and EU.  For more information, please visit

Michael Hauptman (he/him), AIA, is a founding partner of Brawer Hauptman + Larkin, Architects. One of the firm’s specialties is synagogue design, and their work includes the renovation, expansion, and new construction of synagogues, Hillels, and JCC’s from New England to New Orleans. Michael received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a regular guest speaker at the Weitzman
School of Design at Penn, the Dona Gracia Chapter of Hadassah, and the Kaiserman JCC. Michael is Immediate Past President of RS and served as chair of the master planning effort that resulted in the synagogue’s expansion project completed in 2015.

Mon Kramer (they/them) is a queer and non-binary realtor who is committed to helping folks of all genders, sexualities, and family structures buy and sell homes with confidence. Mon is also co-chair of the EID (Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity) task force at Rodeph Shalom and serves on the Board of Directors. They are passionate about LGBTQ+ rights, animals, food, and Judaism. When not working, you can find them hiking, reading, or exploring all that Philly has to offer. 

Resa Levinson (she/her) is a proud graduate of the Philadelphia public schools (yay, Girls High!) and is a retired Philadelphia School District teacher who had the great fortune to teach gifted students at one of the best elementary schools (Go Loesche) in the city.  Resa attended Hebrew school and Gratz College and taught supplementary Hebrew school as well.  When the now Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History was being built in 2009, Resa applied to be in the pioneer class of docents, combining her love of history, Judaism, storytelling, and engaging people.  Resa has traveled the world in person and on Zoom and is a lifelong learner.  She especially enjoys learning about and fashioning her tours of the special exhibits that the Weitzman has curated.

Ralph Pinkus has been an attorney for 50 years principally in real estate and land use planning matters and is active in West Mt. Airy Neighbors and chair of its Zoning Committee. Ralph is a Former Democratic Committee Person (30 years), father of two daughters, and has been married for 51 years.

Mel Seligsohn (he/him) grew up in the city’s W. Oak Lane section, where he attended Central High and then the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a degree from Wharton in 1959. Wishing to broaden his education during his Penn years, he applied and was accepted to the Barnes Foundation two-year art appreciation program. His wife Valerie was an accomplished painter who helped found the art program at Philadelphia Community College. He has been a docent at the Barnes for 12 years.

Jerry Silverman (he/him) has a master’s degree in Jewish education from Gratz College and a long career in math education. These prepared him to teach and administer in numerous Hebrew schools in our area, including both branches of RS in the late ’70s. His love for Philly led him to a new career as a tour guide for Mural Arts Philadelphia, American Jewish Committee, the Preservation Alliance, and RS.

David Stiffman (he/him) and his wife Patty recently moved to Philadelphia and are relatively new members of RS. Both are New York City area natives and this is David’s third time living in Philadelphia. David has been a business executive in the retail and fashion industries for 40 years. During this time he has travelled extensively both for business and pleasure.  David and Patty have a daughter Julia who lives in Philadelphia, a son Andrew, daughter-in-law Ivy, and a one-year old grandson Lev, all of whom live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  

Fred Strober (he/him) is a long-term member of Rodeph Shalom who served as president from 2008-2011 and is now a member of the Israel ConnectRS Connection Group.  Over his lifetime, Fred has gathered first-hand stories about Jerusalem from family members (some born in the 19th century) and numerous primary source written accounts, and he weaves a tale of a journey from early 19th century Vilna to the modern Israel we know today.  Fred has numerous cousins in Israel and his daughter, Rebecca Strober, made aliyah in 2008 and currently resides in Tel Aviv.

Clergy bios

Bios for our clergy presenters—Rabbi Jill Maderer, Rabbi Eli Freedman, and Cantor Brad Hyman—appear on the RS website under About Us, Leadership.