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Ivy Barsky (she/her) is a seasoned nonprofit professional with a passion for arts and culture and an appetite for making a dent in the universe. She was CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History and was previously Deputy Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. She currently has her own independent consultancy, helping nonprofit organizations of all kinds realize their missions and visions, www.ivyleighassociates.com.
Louis Bernstein 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.
Robin Black is the author of the story collection If I loved you, I would tell you this, the novel Life Drawing, and the essay collection Crash Course: Essays From Where Writing and Life Collide. Her award-winning work has been published in multiple languages, and has been named a ‘book of the year’ by The Irish Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR among others. Her book on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is due out in 2022. www.robinblack.net.
Roberta Brenner is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Bala Cynwyd, currently working remotely. An additional rewarding part of this work is her involvement with the Chinese American Psychoanalytic Alliance, which offers training and treatment to Chinese psychotherapists. Roberta is a longtime RS congregant who started religious school here in 1957 and continued through confirmation. One of the highlights of her life was returning to become an adult bat mitzvah in 2015, when she discovered her penchant for chanting Torah.
Jonathan Broder, 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 the Philadelphia 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.
Joella Clamen has been leading walking tours of early Jewish Philadelphia since 2016. She has also worked as a docent at multiple Philadelphia historic sites, including Christ Church, Powel House, and Eastern State Penitentiary, and as a museum educator at the Museum of the American Revolution.
Rachel Dougherty is a Philadelphia-based author/illustrator driven by a love of nonfiction for young readers. She has illustrated several educational picture books and written one nonfiction early reader. She is the author/illustrator of Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge. Visit her online at www.racheldougherty.com.
Scott Engel, lifelong Philadelphian, is a husband, father, son, sibling, and friend. Embracing the gift and burden of ADD, he’s also a retired entrepreneur, philanthropist, proficient at bad Dad jokes, hiker, and founding member of JFC (Jewish Fishing Club, two members). As someone who simultaneously thinks outside the box and about l’dor v’dor, Scott sees himself as a link in RS’s longevity. He claims that everything he needed to know in life he learned working in a Jewish deli.
Michael Freidman, EdD, is an applied psychologist who provides consulting and clinical intervention for individuals, families, and leaders. He is past president of a congregation, member of the URJ’s North America Board of Trustees, and co-author of a book on clergy retirement. Michael founded Congregational Consulting Network, an independent service for clergy, congregations, and other Jewish organizations. His clients have included the Central Conference of American Rabbis, American Conference of Cantors, and various congregations and clergy.
Adam Grode is a recent Penn graduate and two-time Fulbright Scholar. A Silk Road ethnomusicologist, he is a senior researcher at the Smithsonian Asian Cultural History Program.
Allie Hauptman is a lifelong Philadelphian who grew up at RS. For 15 years, she has worked in a variety of environments in the local food industry, from staffing restaurants to running a school lunch program. She co-owns Rowhouse Grocery, a corner grocery in South Philadelphia that provides fresh produce and other staples. Rowhouse Grocery’s goal is to serve the community by making fresh food accessible to its neighbors, and to support other groups and small businesses striving to make life more equitable for the people of Philadelphia.
Jill Ivey is a writer, yoga teacher, and communications consultant whose company, Jilletante Creative, helps businesses and entrepreneurs learn the art of storytelling and apply it to their marketing and communications strategy. Jill has also acted professionally and currently freelances as a theatre reviewer for the Broad Street Review. A Texas native, she earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and MFA at Rutgers-Camden. She lives in South Philly with her husband Ross and two cats.
Hector Kilgoe is a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Benjamin Franklin scholar. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with minors in Jewish Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and a graduate certificate in Africana Studies. Hector received his Master of Theological Studies degree in African and African American Religious Studies from Harvard Divinity School. He currently studies religion, race, and politics in 19th and 20th century America, along with science fiction and queer theory.
Rabbi William Kuhn, graduate of the Wharton School and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, became rabbi emeritus in 2017 after serving as RS rabbi for 23 years. A Nashville native, he had careers in retail and real estate, and was a congregational officer there. At RS, he engaged in Jewish communal and civic affairs locally while also providing leadership through Reform Judaism’s denomination-wide organizations. He currently co-chairs a national effort to help nurture the sacred partnership between rabbis and congregations.
Len Lipkin watched Star Trek reruns on TV while studying for his bar mitzvah but really “warped” into love of Star Trek: The Next Generation in college. His Jewish life blossomed, too, as he became president of the Jewish Student Union in his senior year and subsequently had the chutzpah to ask Rabbi Maderer to live long and prosper as his partner. Len earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and currently manages IT operations at The University of the Arts.
Katherine Locke (they/them) lives and writes in Philadelphia with their feline overlords and their addiction to chai lattes. Their Young Adult debut, The Girl with the Red Balloon, was a Sydney Taylor Honor in 2018. They also co-edited and contributed to It’s A Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes and Other Jewish Stories. Their next book is What Are Your Words? A Book about Pronouns, out on May 25. They, and all of their books, can be found online at katherinelockebooks.com.
Jane McDowell was born and raised in Southern Oregon where she rode horses for 12 years and at 19 started playing native flute with the local People of the Earth Foundation. Now at 24, she is a conversion student seeking to reintegrate Judaism into her family. She lives as a volunteer in a socially therapeutic conscious community called Camphill, where she and adults with developmental disabilities work together on the community’s biodynamic dairy farm.
Gail ‘Malka’ Meister (she), PhD, has always worked in education but on diverse projects from preK to college, in public and private schools, and at local and state levels. Born a Reform Jew, she passed through Presbyterian churches near Trenton and in San Francisco, and traditional Conservative shuls in San Francisco and the greater Philadelphia area on her way to RS. Constant in love, she will have been married to Rev. Gregg Meister for 50 years come May.
Michael Riccardi is a writer, editor, journalist, and dad, not necessarily in that order. Growing up in Philadelphia’s Northeast, he always knew Jews–from his family nanny to many friends. Michael felt compelled to become a Jew himself in 2011 in order to make handing the Torah to his son on his bar mitzvah more deeply meaningful. At RS, Michael completed a term on the Board of Trustees and now serves on the Board of Advisors.
Adelle Rubin grew up in Maine and earned her bachelor’s degree in music at Tufts University. After completing her master’s degree in theatre at Temple University, she founded the theatre program at Drexel University and became its first director. Adelle retired in 2005 at the end of a 38-year career of teaching, directing, and producing theatre.
Alice Sayles grew up in a secular Jewish home. With degrees in political science and mathematics from Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin, and Arcadia University, she taught math in various high schools and at Penn State Abington. She lived in India and Brazil for two summers and moved to Berkeley, CA, for a year to participate in Vietnam War protests and the women’s movement. Now retired, Alice plays piano, is learning bridge, and is finally discovering the Jewish heritage she never knew about.
Len Sayles was raised by parents from Yiddish-speaking homes, so you’d think he grew up Jewish. However, his mother became a Christian Scientist and he attended a Quaker high school. But Len wanted to be Jewish. He met his wife, Alice, at an RS singles-again group. They raised four children and now have nine grandchildren. A Penn and Wharton MBA graduate, Len once owned a brass hardware factory and currently owns a finance company.
Seif Sekalala, PhD, is professor, researcher, and consultant in communication studies and social science. He is an aspiring polymath whose interests include languages, computer science, aviation, and cats. A proud first-generation American, Seif began his Jewish journey when he learned about the Exodus in 4th grade at a Catholic boarding school in Uganda. He is ecstatic to have discovered a very welcoming and social justice-oriented spiritual home at RS.
Dan Seltzer is a lay co-leader of RS’s Breaking Bread on Broad program that focuses on alleviating food insecurity in our neighborhood. He has led social justice work at RS for many years. Dan is on RS’s Board of Directors, currently serving in the role of Treasurer.
Jerry Silverman had a long career in math education. His master’s degree in Jewish education from Gratz College prepared him to teach and administer in numerous Hebrew schools in our area, including both branches of RS back in the late ‘70s. His love for Philly brought him to a new career as a tour guide for Mural Arts Philadelphia, American Jewish Committee, the Preservation Alliance, and RS.
Louise Simons, PhD, a noted Philadelphia poet, co-founded and co-edited The Painted Bride Quarterly. She at one time taught poetry in schools for the National Endowment for the Arts and retired as an English professor. Recently Louise has written short stories, including “The Pearls That Were His Eyes,” published in The Antioch Review in 2019.
Rabbi Jill Maderer and Rabbi Eli Freedman will also lead classes. Their bios appear on the RS website under About and then Leadership.