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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.

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.

Elaine (she/her) and Steve (he/him) Crane met at the Rodeph Shalom seder five years ago. Clearly beshert! They are both graduates of the University of Pennsylvania. Elaine holds degrees in English literature, intercultural communication, and human development. She taught all of those subjects, including as the first female English teacher at Central High School and instructed ESL teachers in China. Steve got his degree in engineering, which led to a long career in construction and real estate. Steve has pursued a second interest in publishing, authoring and editing books, including some of Jewish interest. That led him to found the  Torah Study history havurah. Elaine and Steve share a deep commitment to Judaism and Israel and are members of the RS Israel ConnectRS.

Cassidy Leighton (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based collage artist. Her work brings fabric and ephemera together to form pieces that emphasize history, connection, and thoughtfulness. Manufacturing of goods often relies on exploitative labor practices. In an effort to minimize her support for this system, as well as her work’s impact on the earth, she uses reclaimed materials. The reclaimed fabric, paint, ephemera, and fibers bring with them history, memories, and stories highlighting the beauty in everyday objects.

Betsy Ostrow, MD (she/her) is a retired pediatrician who became a certified yoga instructor at the end of her medical career. She continued on to study one year of yoga therapy to broaden her yoga background. She has taught yoga at several gyms and done private yoga consultations, focusing on specialized client problems. Her medical background permeates her yoga practice, and she is sensitive to individual strengths and limitations.

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. Mel was a long-time member of RS. He has been a docent at the Barnes for 12 years.


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.