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!


Stacy Schwartz, 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.

Carole Rodenstein, 1st Vice 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, 2nd 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.

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.

Neil Jacobs, Member at Large

Neil has been involved in Temple leadership for a number of years and spearheaded the governance changes at TBA in 2013 – 14 and the strategic planning process. Neil is an attorney and one of the founders of the 3PointFoundation, an organization that teaches and mentors boys to prepare them for success in academics and life. 

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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.

Abby Shapiro, Immediate Past President

Abby accomplished quite a bit as president. A new strategic plan was created and rolled out, we raised $3 million dollars for the Rabbi’s 20th Anniversary Vision Campaign, we reviewed and updated our by-laws and we started the process to renovate and build a new space at the Temple  


Finance – David Cohen, Treasurer

Education – Stephany Johnson

Building & Grounds – Lauren Siff

Community & Programming – Matthew Miller

Leadership Development – Carole Rodenstein

Development – Larry Cohen


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.

Adam Decter Adam is a quiet leader.  He can be counted on to ask the hard questions, to make sure those leading with him are making the right decisions.  He most recently co-chaired the Aronson Spring Gala which was a success at all levels.  Adam is working with the Institutional Advancement oversight committee and will help create a long term development plan for TBA.  Adam is a managing principal at the Analysis Group where he specializes in antitrust and business strategy cases.

Jeremy Goldfarb lives in Newton Centre with his wife Ilona, son Jonah (currently a junior at Newton South) and daughter Misha (an eighth-grader at Oak Hill Middle School). 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 just finished serving as co-chair of the TBA Brotherhood. He is an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. He also directs a team of anesthesiologists, internists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and support staff who ensure that patients are both medically prepared for their upcoming surgery and that their recovery is optimized. He likes to be silly at times but is actually quite serious at the core and is really excited to participate on the board.

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.

Bev Holzman has been a member of TBA for over 40 years. She served as Sisterhood president as well as a number of other leadership positions.  Bev has become an honorary historian for TBA and can be found in the lobby on Sunday mornings knitting scarves and hats for those in need. 

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.

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.

Matthew Miller has been a member of TBA for 9 years and is currently the Chair of the Community & Programming Oversight Committee. He is looking forward to serving on the board in an effort to deepen temple connections, strengthen the community and to increase & diversify membership. Matthew is married to a wonderfully supportive husband, Harold Licon. Harold and Matthew have three boys, Jeremy, Matthew and Randall.

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.

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. 

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.