Board of Trustees

President

Reesa Olins
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Reesa F. Olins is a fourth generation Emanuelite having attended Hebrew school, become a Bat Mitzvah, involved in USY, and continued her Jewish education through high school at Midrasha. Her involvement in leadership at The Emanuel Synagogue began with Sisterhood, where she continued the legacy begun by her mother, serving on the Sisterhood Board and ultimately becoming Sisterhood President. Reesa was honored with the Woman of Distinction award in 2012 by the North Atlantic Region of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and in 2013, she received the Chayei Olam award from Torah Fund.

Reesa retired from the University of Connecticut in 2021 where she held several senior positions at the School of Social Work. She has served on the board of community agencies including JTConnect and the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She recently completed the Jewish Federation’s Community Leadership Initiative (CLI) training program — a 10-month leadership development program designed for lay leaders advancing to senior level positions in their synagogues or Jewish nonprofits. 

VP Membership & Engagement

Michalee Merritt

Michalee Merritt and her husband Mark have three children who have all grown up at The Emanuel. She works for Chai Mitzvah, a Jewish engagement/learning non-profit. She also serves the greater Jewish community as a board member of the Greater Hartford Jewish Historical Society and a member of the Finance Committee of The Jewish Community Foundation.

She says, “The Emanuel is an amazing place, and I want to see the synagogue into the future, for my children and my children’s children.”

VP of Ritual Affairs

Tamar Margolis

VP Education

Deborah Zuckerman

VP Social Justice, Chesed & Cultural Affairs

Ken Malley

Ken Malley serves as the Vice President of Social Action, Caring Committee, and Cultural Affairs at The Emanuel.

A member of Emanuel since 2008, Ken has been actively involved in various community initiatives, including recently co-chairing the congregation’s celebration of Israel’s 75th anniversary of independence. Ken continues to support Israel during these recent challenging times, and his commitment to social action and cultural affairs reflect his ongoing effort to strengthen and uplift the congregation and the broader community.

Ken works in the Group Benefits division at The Hartford and is a dedicated father to three children: Aaron, Alanna, and Zev.

Treasurer

Michael Kamins

Michael Kamins serves on the Executive Committee as Treasurer and also serves on the Brotherhood board and the Ritual Committee. He was a member of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue for more than 40 years and has been an Emanuel members for seven years – six of them as a member of the Board of Trustees.

A Certified Public Accountant, he is the retired founder and CEO of a company that designs and develops computer oriented business software.

He said he believes a synagogue plays a vital role in the Jewish and secular community. “It serves as a house of prayer, a place to learn and a home for social activities. But, only if I am willing to make the commitment. The reward, though, is a place where I find peace of mind and soul,” he said.

Secretary

Andrea Goldenberg

Andrea Goldenberg is serving her second stint on the BOT. An Emanuelite with her husband Steven for 30 years, Andrea spent many years volunteering in the West Hartford Public School system when her children were young, culminating in being named Citizen of the Year by the WHEA. Andrea was Sisterhood Treasurer for 16 years and now has transferred her energies to the greater synagogue, as Secretary of the Executive Committee as well as the Board of Trustees.

Andrea’s parents had leadership roles at their synagogue when she was growing up, and honors their memories with her service.

Assistant Secretary

Dr. Hilda Slivka

Moving from Ohio, Hilda Slivka, MD, and family became members of the Emanuel in 1983.  Hilda enjoys the warmth and hubbub of The Emanuel Synagogue. After retiring, Hilda wished to contribute and partake in more of the synagogue’s activities. Additionally, she is certain the Board needed another opinion on topics!  She is now Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees. You will see Hilda and her husband, Ralph Rosenberg, in the shul most Shabbatot. 

Immediate Past President

Ken Simon

Born in Montréal, Ken Simon has lived in New York, LA, Philadelphia and West Hartford. As he likes to say, he “majored in English, minored in Rock n’ Roll.”  He said Law School gave him a springboard to a “marvelous profession and an even more marvelous wife, Pam.”

He enjoys ice hockey, baseball, live music and theater. He is proud to spearhead projects such as the Cantorial Concert and Livestreaming and Zooming our services at Emanuel.

Trustees

The Board of Trustees, consisting of twenty-eight elected members (including officers), generally meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings are open to members of the congregation. Please check with the synagogue office for any changes to the regular schedule.

*Newly nominated for the first time this year

Term Ending 2024

Jeff Adler is originally from Madison, WI. Jeff and his wife Gail joined the Emanuel in 2014 from Beth Hillel Synagogue, where they had been members since 1991, after moving to Simsbury from Farmington Heights, MI. Jeff was active in the Men’s Club at Beth Hillel, becoming President in the mid-1990s before joining the Board of Directors and eventually becoming President of Beth Hillel from 2005-07. Since joining the Emanuel, Jeff has been active in the Brotherhood, working on and leading the Kitchen Crew and served as President of the Brotherhood from July 2019-June 2022. Jeff has been on The Emanuel Board of Trustees since 2018 and chairs the Human Resources Committee, is a member of the Nominating Committee and has served on two Executive Director Search Committees and the Cantor Search Committee.

 

Jeff retired from Otis Elevator Company at the end of 2015, after a 40+ year career in Human Resources at a number of major companies. He believes strongly in the importance of a strong synagogue as a vibrant and central focus of the Jewish community, providing a diverse set of services to all members.

Andrea Goldenberg is serving her second stint on the BOT. An Emanuelite with her husband Steven for 30 years, Andrea spent many years volunteering in the West Hartford Public School system when her children were young, culminating in being named Citizen of the Year by the WHEA. Andrea was Sisterhood Treasurer for 16 years and now has transferred her energies to the greater synagogue, as Secretary of the Executive Committee as well as the Board of Trustees.

Andrea’s parents had leadership roles at their synagogue when she was growing up and honors their memories with her service.

Jackie Isaacson is Past President of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue and helped facilitate the merger with The Emanuel Synagogue.

She was born and raised in New Jersey, but has lived in Bloomfield since 1979. After graduating from Nursing School in Philadelphia, she worked briefly in Washington, D.C. Jackie has been employed with Hartford Hospital for more than 41 years. She has been active in local government and is Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Vice Chair of the Bloomfield Democratic Town Committee.

Jackie is married to Lou Blumenfeld and has three children: Andrew who lives in Manchester, Rebecca, who lives in California with her husband, Seth and their daughter, Vivian, and Jennifer who lives in New Haven.

Rona Gollob was born and raised in New York State but has lived in the Greater Hartford area essentially her adult life. Rona worked in the Nuclear Industry for more than 15 years. After her “retirement,” she became very involved in Jewish philanthropy and other civic organizations. She is co-chair of the Israel and Overseas Allocation Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. She is also on the executive committee of Voices of Hope. She has been a literacy volunteer in an inner- city school for more than 20 years and is currently co-chair of Children’s Reading Partners. She is a past president of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue. She loves to travel, especially on trips that are Jewish related.

Rona has two adult children: a son, Marc, who lives in Las Vegas and a daughter, Sandra, with her husband Aaron and their son, Felix, who live in Maryland.

Hannah Zwiebel relocated to West Hartford five years ago from New York City. She has spent the last 13 years working in all aspects of a niche pension risk transfer market. She now works for an administrative technology company building out their pension administrative platform.

When Hannah is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Lev Kropsky, and 3 daughters, hiking and drinking too much wine during the pandemic. Hannah’s daughters attend The Emanuel Religious School and are active Zoom participants in the youth services.

Jeremy Rubock graduated from SUNY College at Buffalo, and CCSU for his graduate degrees and has since retired as a high school Shop/Technology teacher after 38 years. He and his wife, Naomi have 3 grown children and one granddaughter. They joined Emanuel in 1983, and after a hiatus, they rejoined in 2010. Jeremy is active in the Brotherhood and contributes by serving on the Gabbai committee on Shabbat, as well as reading Torah and leading Shabbat and other services throughout the year. Naomi had taught for 10 years at the Emanuel Hebrew School.  She is also a member of the Sisterhood.

Jeremy sees The Emanuel as a true “Beit Knesset,” a house of gathering, which serves our community’s needs in the myriad ways possible.

 

Jeremy enjoys bicycling and making sawdust in his basement woodshop.

Lara Bomzer, her husband, David, and their three children have been members of the Emanuel since 2012 after moving to West Hartford from Long Island.  All three of her children were Bar and Bat Mitzvahed at the Emanuel and David served on the Board for eight years.  Lara is a partner at an elder law and estate planning firm where she helps families with estate planning, asset protection and navigating long term care crises.  Lara and her family moved to West Hartford without knowing anyone.  The warm and welcoming Emanuel community made a huge difference in their transition.  Lara joined the Board to give back to the Emanuel after all the synagogue has done for her and her family since moving to West Hartford. 

Tammi Kraushaar is chair of our Adult Education Committee as well as a member of the Board of Trustees. She is a former Beth Hillel member who has found a new home at The Emanuel. She is the mother of four wonderful daughters, grandmother of five precious granddaughters and finally a grandson!

She is happy to be involved in the fabric of The Emanuel and a part of vibrant synagogue life.

Term Ending 2025

Moving from Ohio, Hilda Slivka, MD, and family became members of the Emanuel in 1983.  Hilda enjoys the warmth and hubbub of The Emanuel Synagogue. After retiring, Hilda wished to contribute and partake in more of the synagogue’s activities. Additionally, she is certain the Board needed another opinion on topics!  She is now Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees. You will see Hilda and her husband, Ralph Rosenberg, in the shul most Shabbatot. 

Meredith Smith and her family have been part of the Emanuel community since 2015.  All three of her children attended The Emanuel Religious School with one completing B’nai Mitzvah studies and her younger two currently studying for their postponed B’nai Mitzvah, now scheduled for next year.

Feeling a deep connection to our synagogue and understanding the need to sustain and grow our vibrant, diverse and, always welcoming community, Meredith joined the Emanuel Board in 2019. She has been an active member of the Engagement Coordinator Search Committee and has recently joined the new Emanuel Initiative/Why, Emanuel? Committee. 

Bio Coming Soon!

For 29 years, Meyer Frankel and his family were members of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue. Six years ago, he joined The Emanuel and quickly became an active member. He serves as chair of the Cemetery Committee, an important job with much responsibility. He has also been Emanuel Brotherhood Treasurer for the past several years and a Board member as well.

Lou Blumenfeld became an Emanuel member as part of the merger with Beth Hillel Synagogue and is on the Emanuel Finance and Governance Committees. At Beth Hillel, he was chair and vice chair of the Board of Education and was a long-time member of the Board of Directors, serving as president, vice president and assistant treasurer. He also served on the Board of Directors of the United Synagogue Connecticut Valley Region.

Lou grew up in New Britain and settled in Bloomfield after college (the University of Vermont) and law school (Boston College Law School). After clerking at the Connecticut Supreme Court, he practiced law in a Hartford law firm for 52 years before retiring in 2022. 

Lou is married to Jackie Isaacson. He has sons Jeremy (+Sarah) and Matthew (+ Kim), and grandchildren Shiloh, Logan, and Brooklyn. Jackie also allows him to share her children, Andrew (+ Emma), Rebecca (+Seth Fink), and Jennifer Small, and granddaughters Vivian and Mallory Fink.

Michalee Merritt and her husband Mark have three children who have all grown up at The Emanuel. She works for Chai Mitzvah, a Jewish engagement/learning non-profit. She also serves the greater Jewish community as a board member of the Greater Hartford Jewish Historical Society and a member of the Finance Committee of The Jewish Community Foundation.

She says, “The Emanuel is an amazing place, and I want to see the synagogue into the future, for my children and my children’s children.”

Gail Adler was a member of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue for 24 years. She and her husband Jeff joined the Emanuel Synagogue in 2014 to be part of the vibrant, multi-generational synagogue.

Gail is a retired psychotherapist but continues to have a small practice. She says she is passionate about building community and lifelong learning. She chaired and is active on the Adult Education Committee and is a member of the Board of Trustees, actively supporting the Emanuel Synagogue community.

Bio Coming Soon

A member of Emanuel since 2008, Ken Malley has been active on various committees including serving as Chair of the Nominating and the Chesed Committee. Most recently, he served as co-chair on the Executive Director Search Committee.

Ken is a consultant at The Hartford Insurance Group Benefits Division. He lives in West Hartford, with his two sons, Zev and Aaron, and his daughter, Alanna. Aaron and Alanna attended the Emanuel Religious school and recently celebrated their B’nai Mitzvah in 2022. 

Term Ending 2026

Emily Lebovitz-Miller is a lifelong resident of West Hartford and has been a member of the Emanuel Synagogue for more than 50 years, beginning in 1967, the year her parents first became members, although she received her early Jewish education at the former Agudas Achim Synagogue.

Virtually all of her legal career was spent as an employee of the Connecticut Judicial Branch, where she served as the Reporter of Judicial Decisions for the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts, having overall responsibility for publication of the opinions of those courts as well as the Connecticut Practice Book, which contains the rules of practice and procedure for the Connecticut courts.

Since her retirement, the major focus of her attention, outside of her family, has been the Emanuel, where all of her family’s life cycle events have been observed, where she has been a Shabbat regular since the days when her now adult children were preparing for their bar and bat mitzvah and where, prior to the closing due to COVID, she went several days each week for study, services or various types of volunteer work. It is because of the Emanuel’s importance in her life that she sought to become a member of the Board of Trustees in order to provide even greater service to an institution that has such significance for her and to have some input into decisions that will influence the future of the synagogue.

Mitchell Jaffe serves on the Board of Trustees of Emanuel to offer his assistance, expertise and alternative perspectives as may be requested by the synagogue in an effort to serve the synagogue he has attended for more than two decades. He served as President of Jewish Family Services of the Greater Hartford Area, Chairman of the Real Property Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, President of the Connecticut Chapter of Community Associations Institute and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Mandell Jewish Community Center.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Mitchell has been a member of the law firm of Brenner, Saltzman & Wallman LLP since 1995. His practice focuses on commercial real estate law. 

Reesa F. Olins is a fourth generation Emanuelite having attended Hebrew school, become a Bat Mitzvah, involved in USY, and continued her Jewish education through high school at Midrasha. Her involvement in leadership at The Emanuel Synagogue began with Sisterhood, where she continued the legacy begun by her mother, serving on the Sisterhood Board and ultimately becoming Sisterhood President. Reesa was honored with the Woman of Distinction award in 2012 by the North Atlantic Region of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and in 2013, she received the Chayei Olam award from Torah Fund.

 

Reesa retired from the University of Connecticut in 2021 where she held several senior positions at the School of Social Work. She has served on the board of community agencies including JTConnect and the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She recently completed the Jewish Federation’s Community Leadership Initiative (CLI) training program — a 10-month leadership development program designed for lay leaders advancing to senior level positions in their synagogues or Jewish nonprofits. 

Dr. Jeffrey P. Cohen and his family have been Emanuel members since 2008. Having completed the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation’s Community Leadership Initiative program in 2018-19, he is now chair of several Emanuel committees. His passion for Judaism and supporting a thriving community for young families at the Emanuel are what inspired him to join the Board and pursue leadership opportunities.

His other service to the Jewish community includes board membership of the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council. He is a Professor of Finance and Real Estate at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business and its Center for Real Estate and Urban Economic Studies. 

Bio Coming Soon

Lori Gottlieb moved from New York to West Hartford with her children, Drew and Katya, in 2005. She began her due diligence of area Conservative synagogues by meeting with Rabbi Small; during that first meeting, she knew she’d found their home. In her words, “He had me at ‘shalom.’”

Lori grew up in Manchester and attended Temple Beth Sholom (BSBI). She was based in Manhattan for most of her financial services career with stints in London and Tokyo. Lori studied economics at Brown University and earned her MBA from the University of Chicago. She currently works as a freelance copy editor.

Lori is a regular attendee at Shabbat services. She is delighted to have this chance to contribute to the Emanuel.

Marc Resnick grew up in Edison, NJ, and attended Beth El synagogue where he was USY President. Marc started his career in advertising, then moved to brand management. He spent nine years at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare in online marketing and communication before moving to CT.

Marc and his wife, Jane, have three boys – Jack, who attends NEJA high school, and Max and Jonah, who attend SSDS middle school. Marc joined the Emanuel board to give back to the local Jewish community as well as to be a good role model for his children.

Michael Kamins serves on the Executive Committee as Treasurer and also serves on the Brotherhood board and the Ritual Committee. He was a member of the former Beth Hillel Synagogue for more than 40 years and has been an Emanuel members for seven years – six of them as a member of the Board of Trustees.

A Certified Public Accountant, he is the retired founder and CEO of a company that designs and develops computer oriented business software.

He said he believes a synagogue plays a vital role in the Jewish and secular community. “It serves as a house of prayer, a place to learn and a home for social activities. But, only if I am willing to make the commitment. The reward, though, is a place where I find peace of mind and soul,” he said.

Mark Jacobson grew up in a small town, Leesburg, FL. On any given night, the attendees at Emanuel outnumber the total Jewish population of Leesburg. After graduating the University of Florida, he joined the Navy as an aviation electrician and served active duty from 2009-2014 until he was honorably discharged. While in the Navy, he was a member of a young Jewish adult group through a temple in Virginia. He realized the Jewish community needs his support and recognized that the assistance, friendship and community becomes more important as one ages. He believes if he doesn’t support it now, it may not be there in the future.

He and his wife Heather, who is a member of the Emanuel Board of Education, and their son Levi moved from Virginia to Middletown, CT in August 2014 and later to West Hartford, where they became Emanuel members in 2017 and their daughter Kenzi was born. He praised the early childhood programs at the synagogue as an excellent introduction to Jewish life, culture and traditions for children.

His goals as a member of the Board of Trustees are to help the congregation navigate back to a “real” sense of normal (post pandemic), ensure the congregation remains strong and active and provide outreach to help other Jews find their religious homes. He looks forward to giving back to a congregation that has welcomed his family with open arms, and more globally, to the Jewish community that welcomed a stranger for services across America.