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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 of Greater Philadelphia, and other leadership roles.  Jon has studied piano for over 50 years, including at the Oberlin School of Music.  Jon is currently RS President.

Ben-Zion Friedman (he/him), a retired radiologist, majored in psychology at Haverford College and attended the University of Pennsylvania medical school. A bona fide bibliophile, his area of interest is the interplay of emotions and rational thinking, facts and fictions.   

Jeffrey Himelstein (he/him) grew up in Media, PA. He attended Haverford College, majoring in psychology, and is studying for his doctorate in clinical  psychology at Chestnut Hill College. Since 2010 Jeff has participated in the Witness to History Project, which involves interviewing Holocaust survivors and making presentations about their testimonies; he has so far presented the testimonies of three survivors, and his participation in Frieda Tabak’s presentation is part of this project. Outside of school Jeff enjoys tennis and pickleball, and plays guitar and violin.

Jenny Laden (she/her) is an artist, writer, teacher, organizer, fund-raiser and mother.  Her family have been members of Rodeph Shalom for five generations.  Born and  raised in Philadelphia, she studied studio art and art history at Barnard College and has an MFA from New York University. Her art work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally.  This Terrible True Thing is her first book.  The audio book is a 2024 finalist for Audie Awards.

Rose Lerner (she/her) is the pen name of a congregant who is a historical romance author, freelance editor, and research assistant.  She has done extensive research into Anglo- and American Jewish history of the eighteenth century for her books, including a novella set during the siege of Yorktown, “Promised Land.”  She has taught craft and research workshops for conferences, libraries, and writers’ groups, and her books have been featured in NPR’s Book Concierge and Publishers Weekly’s annual Best Books lists.

Jerry Silverman (he/him) has 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.

Mindy Solkin (she/her) is the founder of BB Babes, The Fashion, Fitness, and Health Network for Baby Boomer Women, and The Running Center, Coaching for Runners and Walkers from One Mile to the Marathon. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she spent 25 years in New York City, where she coached 12,000 people to lead healthy lives through running, walking, and wellness programs. As a competitive runner, Mindy has run six marathons, and won age-group awards in 5K to the half-marathon. Among her many talents, she is also a fashion designer and personal stylist.

Frieda Tabak (she/her) was born in Lipcani, Romania.  After Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact in 1939 and Soviet troops entered Romania, her family moved to Cnernowit to avoid them, but later on German troops invaded and sealed the Jews in Chernowitz in a ghetto.  She was able to avoid deportation, but life was difficult, and did not improve when the Soviets “liberated” the town, arresting her father.  The family wound up in a displaced persons camp in Germany, which they left in 1947, emigrating to the United States and arriving in Chester, PA.  Frieda earned a degree from Temple University.  She is widowed and has three children and three grandchildren.

Susannah Trubman (she/her) is a Rodeph Shalom member and was married in the sanctuary on November 12, 2023. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. in History from Temple University. Susannah has been studying Yiddish language and culture with YIVO since 2019, is a three-time veteran of the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program, and previously served as an intern for the Landsmanshaftn Collection at the YIVO archive. Her current role at the Institute is Educator for the forthcoming YIVO Learning and Media Center.


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.