BZBI, where you belong


    Matt Whitehorn, President

    The President is the Chief Executive Officer of the Congregation and provides general supervision, in consultation with the Administrative Committee, of the affairs of the Congregation.

    I’ve been a member of BZBI for a long time (despite my youthful appearance). With the new level of energy and enthusiasm now abounding at BZBI, I realized that I actually missed being on the Board as my prior service ended several years ago. I am hopeful that I can use my professional background working with others to help promote and enhance all of the many positive attributes of our congregation.

    Anne O. Albert, Vice President

    The Vice-Presidents are each responsible for a group of standing and ad hoc committees as well as performing additional duties delegated to them by the President or Board of Trustees.

    BZBI has been my and my family’s Jewish home in Philadelphia for eighteen years. With children in both public school and Jewish day school, and a career in Jewish studies, I bring a broad perspective to the synagogue’s school and youth and family activities.

    Gary Bramnick, Vice President

    As one of the Vice Presidents, I support the efforts of the entire board and specifically the President and my co-Vice President. Specifically, I am focused on leading the Strategic Planning process for the synagogue to take the Visioning effort we completed, as a congregation, during the pandemic – and turn it into a multi-year, actionable plan for how we create the synagogue community we want moving forward.

    All members of the BZBI community, and BZBI itself, have their own unique stories. Personally, my BZBI story began when I needed to find a place to say Kaddish for my father when we knew the time was approaching. I walked through the doors of our magnificent sanctuary and knew at once, not only did I find a place to say Kaddish, I also found a home.  A home that, I later discovered, was destined for me to find.  I discovered that my father’s father is one of the original signatories of Temple Beth Zion and was also a part of this congregation in its early days.  So, there is history here for me. BZBI was a home I didn’t know I had until I found it. Moreover, BZBI truly lives up to its own advertising. “Where you belong” isn’t just three random words strung together – it is a promise, a commitment, a covenant that this incredible community continues to grow, evolve, and expand the boundaries of belonging. I am honored to continue to serve on the board and help share all of our stories and by doing so, help assure that BZBI has the support and resources to discover new stories, new members of our community, and new ways we can continue to be the open and welcoming heart of Conservative Judaism in Center City.

    Matt Maron, Treasurer

    BZBI is a home-away-from-home and an invaluable part of the Jewish community of Philadelphia. It is my honor and privilege to be a part of the BZBI family!

    Melissa Lerman, Secretary

    The Secretary primarily keeps the official records of all proceedings of the Congregation and Board of Trustees meetings.

    Akil Bowler, Chair, Building Committee

    This committee works with the Executive Director to maintain the condition of our facilities, recommending improvement projects to maintain the building and premises. It formulates rules and regulations for the use of rooms, and advises on custodial and other service personnel.

    Eileen Dwell, Chair, Community Committee

    This committee develops a year-round program of social and cultural activities for the congregation and community.

    After years of living in the suburbs and being a part of that Jewish community I moved into Center City some 10 years ago. When I started attending Shabbat services and joined BZBI I
    was welcomed warmly. The warmth I felt made it easy for me to feel at home and get involved in Synagogue life. When I was asked to serve on the board in the area of Community Engagement,
    I was honored. I have met many wonderful people and have developed valued friendships. I enjoy being a part of the BZBI Community helping to build warm, inclusive Jewish community
    here in Center City. At BZBI I want to do for others, what the BZBI community has done for me.

    Suzanne Litke, Chair, Development Committee

    This committee raises funds, other than dues, for the Congregation’s short- and long-term needs and endowment funds, including fundraising events that are appropriate and in keeping with Jewish values.

    BZBI is my home — that’s why I volunteer.  My mission is to help others feel the same way.  Collectively, we can support this community and help everyone find their place in it.

    Jessica Simon, Chair, Governance Committee

    This Committee identifies, enlists, and develops new leadership; recommends rules for the operation of the Board; plans and prepares leadership development programs and retreats; and audits the Trustees’ compliance with their duties and obligations as set forth in the Bylaws.

    BZBI has been like a second home for my children from the time they were 18 months of age until the present. I want to give back to the community who has given so much to my family through the years. I am honored to serve in this role on the Board.


    Josh Klein, Chair, Early Childhood Education Committee

    This committee works with the Rabbi and the Program Director to determine policy, rules and regulations for the administration of the Preschool and Playschool. The Committee helps develop curriculum and supervise preschool programs, working with the Board of Trustees. Committee members include active Parent-Teacher Association members.

    Daniel Cohen, Chair, Finance Council

    The Finance Council, in partnership with the Executive Director and Treasurer, is responsible for overseeing the fiscal management of the BZBI. Budget planning, monitoring our investments, authorizing and reviewing annual audits are the main functions of the Finance Council. We work to ensure the financial health of the synagogue.

    BZBI has been a primary source of Jewish education for our two sons from the Laurie Wagman Playschool/Abigail Cohen Preschool through Bar Mitzvah. For the past 15+ years, BZBI has been the fabric of our spiritual lives, woven from the celebrations of our family’s simchas and as well as milestones marked by members of our Kehilah. Sherri and I value the opportunity to give back to our community through volunteering, and have done so principally through activities related to Early Childhood and Youth and Family Education. I look forward to this new opportunity to serve BZBI as a member of the Board of Trustees.

    Gail Kroop, Chair, Human Resources Committee

    This committee works with the Executive Director to create employee job descriptions, conduct personnel evaluations, establish personnel policies (including benefits), and address employee grievances.

    Tanya Hess, Chair, Membership Committee

    This committee recruits and retains Members, communicating with Jewish families in the community who are not yet formally affiliated, with the view of inviting them to become Members of the Congregation. The committee reviews applications for membership, and when needed initiates action for the suspension or expulsion of Members.

    Nancy Leaderman, Chair, Adult Education Committee

    This committee works with the clergy and staff is responsible for developing a year-round program of educational activities for the adults of the Congregation and the Jewish community.

    I am a relatively new transplant to Philadelphia. My husband and I arrived two years ago, and I was thrilled to find that BZBI was both a wonderful community and also right in my neighborhood. I was excited to be able to chant haftarah, learn mah jongg, and, most importantly, find a spiritual home. I spent many years as an administrator in Jewish day schools, and I now coach teachers and school leaders. I have two (mostly) grown children and an adorable grand-dog. I enjoy reading, music, museums, film, ceramics, and math jongg in my spare time. I am honored to serve on the board.

    Doug Barg, Chair, Ritual Committee

    The Rabbi, Cantor, and this Committee formulates rules and regulations for all religious services and lifecycle events such as weddings and commitment ceremonies, B’nai Mitzvah, and funerals and memorial services.  It offers to the Rabbi advice and guidance regarding the character and mode of various services. It appoints and replaces gabbaim with the consent of the President.

    TBD, Chair, Youth and Family Education Committee

    This Committee works with the Rabbi, the School Director, and the Board to determine policy and formulate rules and regulations for Neziner Hebrew School and related programs. It sets the school’s size, helps develop curriculum and supervise programs based on recommendations from the Education Council. The committee helps develop rules and regulations for youth activities, including Kadima (pre-teen), USY (teen), and KOACH (college-age).

    Sheldon Bernick, Chair, Israel Engagement Committee

    This committee works with the Rabbi to coordinate Israel engagement programming.  It is also responsible for developing and maintaining liaison with other organizations in the community with regards to Israel programming.

    Shoshana Bannett, At- Large

    BZBI is a special community that gives so much to me, my husband and our two children. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to give back.


    Amy Schulz, At- Large

    Over the last 10+ years BZBI has been the place where I have celebrated Shabbat, holidays, simchas, and so much more!  I am honored to be serving on the board and look forward to getting to know more about the inner workings of the organization – and getting to know more of the congregation – so that I can help contribute to the ongoing growth and success of the synagogue.

    Bill Brookover, Chair, Tikkun Olam

    This committee is responsible for coordinating the social action programming of the congregation. It has the responsibility of studying community problems that may arise from time to time and social issues of concern and make recommendations for appropriate action.

    Judy and I have found our shul home at BZBI. We joined in 2019 after many years without a shul, and found so many friends already here. Throughout the pandemic isolation, BZBI kept our connection to the Jewish community alive. I’m humbled and honored to be asked to give back to my community through Board service.