Board of Trustees

President

Ken Simon
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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.

President-Elect

Reesa Olins
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Reesa F. Olins is a fourth-generation Emanuel member and current first Vice President. She is a past President of the Emanuel Sisterhood and has served on the board of community agencies including JTConnect and the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Reesa recently retired from the University of Connecticut, after more than 40 years, where she was the Executive Director of the School of Social Work’s Outreach Office.

Reesa has always placed a strong emphasis on tikkun olam and giving back to the community, the social work profession and to the synagogue.

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.”

Vice President of Ritual Affairs

Emily Lebovitz-Miller

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.

VP Social Justice, Chesed & Cultural Affairs

Ken Malley

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 are in the Emanuel Religious school and are studying for their B’nai Mitzvah in 2022. 

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

Mel Simon

Emanuel Immediate Past President Mel Simon is the father of three daughters, all of whom received their Jewish education at the Emanuel Synagogue. He is a lifelong leader in the Jewish community.  He served as President of the Mandell Jewish Community Center and Jewish Teen Learning Connection and on the Boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. 

Mel is a practicing commercial litigator who represents financial institutions, real estate holding companies and closely held businesses in dispute resolution.  Mel volunteers his time to ensure the Emanuel Synagogue continues to be a vibrant caring and welcoming congregation.

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 2023

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

Fred Spaeth is a lifelong Connecticut native and a Hartford area resident of 30 years. He is a husband and father of two boys, each of whom became a bar mitzvah at the Emanuel, including one of the first zoom bar mitzvahs. Fred and his wife Eliana Tsukroff began looking for a shul to join when their boys reached the age to start religious training, and after visiting a number of local congregations, chose the Emanuel because of the open community and friendly atmosphere.

Reesa F. Olins is a fourth-generation Emanuel member and current first Vice President. She is a past President of the Emanuel Sisterhood and has served on the board of community agencies including JTConnect and the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Reesa recently retired from the University of Connecticut, after more than 40 years, where she was the Executive Director of the School of Social Work’s Outreach Office.

Reesa has always placed a strong emphasis on tikkun olam and giving back to the community, the social work profession and to the synagogue.

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.

Term Ending 2024

Coming soon

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.

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.

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 recently rolled off the Board after eight years of service.   

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.

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.

Sheryl Levin, her husband Boris and their three sons (two of whom graduated from the Solomon Schechter Day School and one is still a student there), joined the Emanuel community in 2018. At the Emanuel, Sheryl also plans to be on the membership committee.

She is also on the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, where she leads community outreach programs.

Sheryl has been a physical therapist for more than 20 years. She has worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston, for Home Hospice and is now an acute care physical therapist at Bristol Hospital.

Serving the Jewish community, raising responsible children and giving back to our country is Sheryl’s passion and purpose.

Term Ending 2025

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. 

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.

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.

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 are in the Emanuel Religious school and are studying for their B’nai Mitzvah in 2022. 

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. 

Coming Soon!

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.”

Coming Soon!