BZBI, where you belong


    Nicole Morris, Chair, 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 serve on the Board because I want to be a part of my community because my community is a part of me.

    Susan Zeelander, 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.

    In my few years in Philadelphia, BZBI has become my home.  I have participated in classes, book club, sisterhood, shabbat services, coffees, even yoga , as well as many board meetings.  I have come to know the caring people who work in the office and in maintenance, and have made good friends and many acquaintances.   I have learned that your involvement, your commitment, is the most important asset we have.

    Matthew Whitehorn, Vice President

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

    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.

    Jeremy Bannett, 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!

    Terry Hirshorn, Secretary

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

    I joined BZBI 35 years ago when my older daughter started Neziner Hebrew School. A few years later I started coming to Shabbat morning services regularly when Shabbat services were part of the Hebrew School routine, making friends with the people in my pew. I been coming to services ever since and feel that BZBI is one of my communities of friends. While always an active volunteer in my adult life, this is the first time I was asked to serve on the Board. Being retired, I have the time and my skill set matches the job requirement, so I agreed. I look forward to learning and working with the Board.

    Gary Bramnick, Trustee at Large

    All members of the BZBI community, and BZBI itself, have their own unique stories. My personal story at BZBI 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, I had not only found a place that felt comfortable to say the prayers, I found a place that felt like home.  I am honored to serve on the board and help share all of our stories and by doing so, help assure that BZBI has the financial 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.

    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 many years of living in the suburbs and being entrenched in that Jewish community I moved into Center City eight years ago.  I am a relatively new member of the Beth Zion Beth Israel community. When I joined BZBI five years ago I was welcomed warmly. It was easy for me to feel at home and get involved in Synagogue life.  When I was asked to serve on the board I was honored. 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.

    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.

    Arielle Kerstein, 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

    Rabbi Bonnie Goldberg, Chair, Marketing Committee

    This committee has strategic oversight of BZBI’s brand identity, developing and implementing a marketing plan that delivers a consistent message and addresses BZBI outreach to existing Members, prospective Members, and the general public.

    I have been a member of the Marketing Committee since shortly after I joined BZBI, and it has been wonderful meeting and working with people who are passionate and committed to making this synagogue community the best it can be. I have always had a commitment to finding ways to help Jews connect to community and have been an active board member of Tribe 12, an organization engaging 20s and 30s in Jewish life.

    Sharon Greis, 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.

    Larry Kessler, 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.

    I’m honored to serve on the board of BZBI, a warm and vibrant community that has helped me reconnect to my heritage and pass that heritage on to my children. I want to help build BZBI as a place that fosters meaningful worship and spiritual growth for anyone who comes through our doors.

    Anne O. Albert, 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).

    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.

    Sheldon Bernick, Chair, Israel Engagement Committee