If you are interested in getting more involved and becoming part of our leadership team, please reach out to Stacy Shwartz at stacy@bethavodah.org and we will find the right role for you!


Carole Rodenstein, President

Carole celebrated her adult Bat Mitzvah at TBA in 2014, an amazing accomplishment. Carole chaired the ad-hoc Vision committee and played a key role in developing our new Vision statement. Carole brings expertise in project management, strategic planning and teamwork building.

James Nahirny, 1st Vice President

James has played a key role in our fundraising strategy, serves on the Institutional Advancement Committee and the Finance committee. He participated in the strategic planning process and helped us create our new strategic plan.  James was a longtime director at Bain Capital.

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David Cohen, Treasurer

David has been a member of TBA for a number of years.  David worked in private equity with Berkshire Partners and GC Companies, founded Midwood Capital Management, an independent investment firm focused on small-cap public equities, in 2003 and currently Portfolio Manager and Managing Member.  He is married to Stephanie and they have 3 children, Jacob, Bailey and Andie.

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Bruce Blakely, Member-at-Large

Bruce and his wife Robin have been members of TBA for almost 7 years. Bruce served on the Board of Directors at his former synagogue in Texas and has wanted to get more involved at TBA. He served on the Leadership Council and participated in Heneini. Bruce is the co-chair of the Brotherhood and is involved in the Cultural Arts group. Bruce and Robin have two daughters, Rachel and Hannah.

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Jeremy Goldfarb, Member at Large

Jeremy lives in Newton Centre with his wife Ilona, son Jonah and daughter Misha. His family has been very active in the TBA community for nearly a decade: both children have gone through Hebrew school and are currently in Midrasha; Ilona and Misha were recently showcased in the Temple production of Joseph; Jonah was on the BAYGL board, and Jeremy has served as co-chair of the TBA Brotherhood. He is an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. He likes to be silly at times but is actually quite serious at the core and is really excited to participate on the board.

Lauren Siff, Member at Large

Lauren was the chair of the Pre-school Committee and served as co-chair of our 50th Gala Celebration. Lauren participated in the strategic planning committee and has been instrumental chair on the Building & Grounds Oversight Committee. She is currently chairing the very exciting R & B task force which is helping to oversee the construction project. She works at Chestnut Hill Realty.

Stacy Schwartz, Immediate Past President

Stacy grew up at Temple Beth Avodah and has taken on many leadership roles. Most recently, Stacy co-chaired the Torah project and 50th Anniversary with Abby Shapiro. Stacy was the chair of the Education Oversight Committee since its inception under the new governance structure.  She is an adjunct professor at Boston College and brings her experience and enthusiasm to everything she undertakes. You can reach Stacy by email at stacy@bethavodah.org.


Finance – David Cohen, Treasurer

Education – Stephany Johnson

Building & Grounds – Lauren Siff

Community & Programming – Beth Kozinn

Leadership Development – Carolyn Snider

Development – James Nahirny


Josh Baumer lives in Newton with his wife, Niki, and son, Bryan. They have all really enjoyed being part of the TBA community and increasing their involvement in recent years. Josh has been involved with the Brotherhood, performed with the TBA Arts Troupe, and just finished the Henini Leadership Development program. Outside of TBA, Josh is an elementary principal in Westwood. He is honored and excited to be joining the TBA Board.

Larry Cohen is a lifelong resident of the Boston area who lives in Oak Hill, Newton.  Larry is a partner with the law firm of Nixon Peabody in Boston, specializing in wealth management and trusts and estates.  He is New England Chairman of the Jewish National Fund and serves on the Jewish National Fund’s National Board of Directors.  Larry is married to Suzanne Cohen and has three children, Julia, (who is now serving in the Israel Defense Forces), David, and Adam.  Larry’s hobbies include running, tennis and playing the viola.

Margie Ross Decter has been a long-time active temple member. She currently co-chairs the Tzedek (social action) Committee championing racial justice and enjoys participating in the Arts Troupe and women’s events. She’s passionate about civic engagement and has served in a number of other organizations in the Jewish and non-profit world. Margie is a senior health care expert and advocate with more than 25 years of experience in advising, developing and managing local and global health and mission-driven organizations. She founded and currently serves as President of Enzyme Inc. which specializes in consulting with executives from hospitals, managed care, government, research, bio-pharmaceutical, and advocacy organizations. Margie was also a national policy advisor coordinating national health care reform for the Clinton White House. She lives in Newton with her husband, Adam, and has three children, Noah, Jacob, and Zach. 

Alyssa Gusenoff works part time as a pediatric speech pathologist and enjoys doing events to promote the book she wrote, Margarita Mama-Mocktails for Moms to Be. Alyssa lives in Waban with husband Dan and two sons, Zack & Alex.  Both kids are graduates of the TBA Early Learning Center and continue to try to perfect their imitation of the talking challah!  She currently chairing the Engagement Task force.

Emily Isman lives in Oak Hill Park with her husband Mike, who is a member of the Heneini Leadership Initiative, and three children Henry  Samuel, and Isaac. Emily's older children both attend the ELC and she is also chair of the Parent Council. Emily recently played the role of Zebulun in this years TBA production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Emily enjoys spending time with her family, going to the theater, and staying active at her CrossFit gym.

Stephany Johnson lives in South Brookline with her husband Tim, son Teddy (5), and daughters Evy (3.5) and Abby (2). She has one ELC graduate and 2 children still attending. She is Chair of the Education Oversight Committee and a member of the Engagement Committee, Community and Programming Committee, and the ELC Parent Council.  She also attends the Rabbi's Torah class with her husband on Sundays.  Stephany enjoys playing outside with her kids, being active and learning how to cook.

Beth Kozinn and her family have been members of Temple Beth Avodah since 2002. In recent years, she has become increasingly involved in our community through participating in Arts Troupe productions, chanting Torah, and helping to plan several Kallahs. A graduate of Brandeis University and Suffolk University Law School, Beth has worked primarily in the non-profit sector. During her 25 years working for the Union for Reform Judaism, Beth served as regional office manager, executive assistant to the senior vice president, event planner, and program coordinator for in-person and virtual Introduction to Judaism programs. Beth enjoys volunteering at Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh. She is looking forward to continuing her involvement in the Jewish non-profit world. Beth lives in Newton with her husband Glenn Barest and their daughter Peri.

Ellen Meisel Under Ellen’s leadership, we celebrated 50 years in grand style.  Ellen also led us through the Temple governance changes during her presidency. When she isn’t at the Temple, Ellen spends her time as a realtor and with her family.  

Keith Merlin is Chief in the department of OBGYN Signature healthcare and clinical instructor at Tufts and Harvard Medical schools. He is presently taking NOAM certification course (to be a reform movement certified Mohel. He participated in the Heneini program. Keith is married to Heidi and has two adult children.

Bonnie Millender has been a member of TBA for many years. She is a Past President of the Temple and served on numerous committees. We rely on Bonnie for her historical knowledge and are honored to have her continue her involvement at the Temple. Bonnie serves on the Leadership Development Committee.

Deb Poskanzer has been a member of the Temple since 1997, the same year that Rabbi Stern joined as rabbi. Deb participated on a few committees; planning the evening event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of TBA, the 18 tables events and the women of TBA planning committee. She is currently co-chair of our Boomers! Group. Deb has been married to Howard Schlenker, and recently moved to Wayland. They have two fantastic young adult sons, David, is a high school history teacher in NYC and Lee, recently graduated from college and is seeking work to fulfill his interest in and passion for Latin American urban studies.

Laurie Probstein grew up in Brookline and joined TBA in 2011.  She lives in Brookline with her family.  Her children attended TBA religious school and now Midrasha. Laurie is a very engaged temple member. She co-chairs the 6th -12th grade Parent Council, is a member of the Community & Programming Oversight Committee, co-chairs the Pride parade and is a member of the Heneini Leadership Initiative.  She enjoys attending temple events with her family and is very blessed to have met so many amazing temple members especially through the Women of TBA events.  She passionately volunteers for her favorite charities; Hospitality Homes helping patients and their families, Gift of Life bone marrow registry and donating platelets at the American Red Cross.  She sees the world through rose-colored glasses and a Jewish lens.

Adam Rizika has been a member of TBA for 13 years.  Adam spent two years as head of the Brotherhood and his favorite TBA event is building the sukkah. Outside of temple, Adam is an entrepreneur, tech company advisor, FIRST Robotics coach, plus an avid skier, hiker and mountain biker.  Adam has worked in large companies and has also started several companies including Reflective Technologies, Quantum Clicks, Blackwave and VidScale.  He earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a MS degree in management from the MIT Sloan School. Adam is married to Ellen and they have three children, Joshua, Sasha  and Ava.  

Margo Rosenbach is a vice president of Mathematica Policy Research, where she specializes in health policy. She has a Ph.D. in health policy from Brandeis University's Heller School. Before joining Beth Avodah a few years ago, she was a member of Ohabei Shalom for 20 years and served as a vice president, member of the school committee, chair of the gift shop, and other roles. She is currently co-chair of our Boomers! Group. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking from the garden, and sharing her garden bounty. She has been married to Robert Gottlieb for 36 years and has two daughters, Dana (age 30) and Hannah (age 23).

Carolyn Snider has belonged to TBA since age 5 when her parents were among the Temple’s early members and since then she became a Bat Mitzvah, participated in junior choir and BAYGL, graduated Hebrew School and was confirmed, got married, and even witnessed her own children embark on their own Jewish milestones. Carolyn is co-chairing our Hineini Leadership Initiative. Outside the temple, Carolyn co-founded and currently runs p.s. designs (an event planning company), volunteers (and past-president) with the Boston Children’s Hospital League and enjoys spinning, and traveling and cooking with her husband Jeff, 24-year-old daughter Emily and 21-year-old son Justin. 

Michelle Spitzkoff first joined TBA when she was in 4th grade and returned with her family when her children began attending our ELC in 2014. Michelle has been active in the Parent Council and Education Committee helping with the Challah Bake, Pancake Breakfast, and anywhere else needed. She has co-chaired the Welcoming Committee and taken an active role in the Community & Programming Committee and the Engagement Task Force. Michelle participated in Heneini and Atideynu and enjoyed connecting with staff and lay leaders about how to continue engaging members so that our wonderful community can continue to thrive. Michelle works in Human Resources at Liberty Mutual and is very active in the Memorial Spaulding PTO. She lives in Newton with her husband, Craig, and their children Maya and Zach. 

Robin Welch and her family came to Temple Beth Avodah nearly 12 years ago when her oldest son started our preschool. They became members four years ago and have always been actively involved in a variety of programs including Hebrew School, Family Services, building the sukkah and attending Women of TBA events. Robin also served on the Caring Committee, delivering packages to families who have experienced a loss, and participated in the Heneini Leadership Program. She is excited to work with fellow board members and congregants to look at ways to increase awareness of all the synagogue has to offer and explore new ways to engage children and adults, building a stronger connection to Judaism.

Rachel White and her husband Jonathan have been Temple members since 2004. They have two children, Caleb and Dory, who have been through pre-school and religious school at TBA. In the past, Rachel served on the Temple pre-school committee, the Social Action Committee, and the Board of Directors. She also co-founded the Green Committee with Pat D’Amore. Rachel works at Byggmeister Design/Build, a residential remodeling firm in Newton that is passionate about fixing older homes and bringing them into the 21st century. Rachel also has a PhD in Religious Studies from Brown University.