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Our Clergy, Staff and Lay Leaders

Team Adas

Meet the Amazing Humans of Adas 

Adas Israel is a sacred, collaborative undertaking made possible through the dedicated, loving, visionary work of our talented team of clergy, professional staff, and lay leadership. Here, you can learn more about some of the extraordinary humans who strive, day in and day out, to make the world of Adas GO.  Clergy & Leadership Team | Staff | Lay Leadership

Leadership Team

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, is celebrated by the Forward as one of the 32 most inspiring rabbis in the country. Recently, she was named one of Jewish Women’s International’s (JWI) “Women to Watch,” and is a proud senior fellow of the coveted Schusterman Fellowship, a leadership development program for individuals who are committed to growing their leadership in the Jewish community (an honor rarely bestowed on rabbis). Rabbi Holtzblatt also gratefully serves on the national board of Avodah and on the joint steering committee of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). Among Rabbi Holtzblatt’s many achievements here at Adas, she has completely revitalized our caretaking (Hesed) and bereavement efforts, co-created the acclaimed MakomDC adult learning curriculum, launched and leads our wildly successful “Return Again” worship services, and directs the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington, which has twice been recognized as one of America's top innovative Jewish projects by the annual Slingshot Guide for Jewish Innovation. Previously, Rabbi Holtzblatt served as the Hillel Foundation Director of Campus Initiatives and as Associate Rabbi at the Yale University Hillel. Rabbi Holtzblatt was also a rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in New York. She is married to Ari Holtzblatt, and their two children, Noa and Elijah, attend the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital.


Rabbi Aaron Alexander served for ten years as Associate Dean and Lecturer in Rabbinic and Jewish Law at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, where he also received his ordination. He has long sat on the prestigious Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) for the Conservative movement, the governing body determining Jewish law and practice for our entire movement. He is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on Halacha (Jewish law), also certified as a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) by the Conservative movement's Rav Hamachshir program. Rabbi Alexander was appointed as a Rabbi Samuel T. Lachs Fellow of LEAP, a joint program of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbi Alexander serves on the Board of Jews United for Justice, the Leadership Circle of One America, the D.C. Attorney General’s Faith-Based Advisory Committee, and the City Council’s Interfaith Working Group. Among his achievements here at Adas, Rabbi Alexander has elevated our Social Action work to a high level of recognition throughout the Washington, DC community, and has reinvigorated our adult learning, bringing it to a level and quality that now serves as a model for synagogues across the country. Rabbi Alexander and his wife, Rabbi Penina Alexander, have three young sons, Ariel, Eliav and Amos.


Cantor Arianne Brown loves her work in this dynamic community, where she has a large musical, educational, and pastoral portfolio. Arianne’s primary goal is to inspire our people to love and connect to Judaism through prayer, education, and the beautiful music of our tradition. Fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish, Cantor Brown is an expert Torah and Megilah reader, pianist, composer and arranger, and theatre director. A renowned specialist in Yiddish music, Cantor Brown performed in off-Broadway productions of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Safra Hall, Disney Hall, the Krakow Jewish Music Festival, and Warsaw’s Ida Kaminska State Theatre. Cantor Brown previously served at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Voice/Music Education, and JTS with a Master of Sacred Music and Jewish Education. She is featured in the Cantors Assembly’s New Voices of the Cantorate video series. Arianne’s recordings include a Yiddish theater album entitled Eternal Flame¸and her trio Ashira’s Suddenly Spirited - available at, and Shabbat Sing! with our very own Gan students. She is married to Rabbi Randy Brown and loves spending time with her three young sons!


Rabbi Kerrith Solomon joined Adas Israel as Director of Education in the summer of 2014, overseeing and directing all aspects of congregational education for members age 0-18, and their families. She has a rich and varied background in education and Jewish learning and her educational practice and philosophy is based on her experiences working in synagogues, day schools, camps, campus, Federation and Israel. She previously served as Senior Jewish Educator at Tufts University Hillel and Director of Teen Programming and Family Life Educator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York and has worked in a variety of other formal and informal settings. Kerrith completed the Hartman-Hillel iEngage Fellowship for Campus leaders and is currently a participant in the second Senior Educators Cohort of M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. She enjoys sharing her learning with the Adas community.


Rabbi Sarah Krinsky received her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in the spring of 2018, and holds a BA from Yale University. Most recently, she served as the Rabbinic Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in New York City, where she co-led a wide variety of musical prayer services throughout the year for adults, families, children, and teens. She also managed the synagogue’s conversion process, and was involved in teaching, counseling, and mentoring Jews by choice. Her work with teens and young adults included teaching and curriculum development for religious schools, B’nai Mitzvah preparation, and summer camp. Rabbi Krinsky has served as a member of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Social Justice and Public Policy Staff, and a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She has developed social justice programming, including community engagement opportunities, for all age groups. She is the recipient of several awards from UJA and JTS. Rabbi Krinsky is thrilled to be part of the Adas Israel community along with her husband, Rabbi Daniel Novick.


David Polonsky, Executive Director. David was appointed Executive Director in 2014, after 18 months serving on our senior team as Director of Marketing & Communications. Prior to this, David built and led new, robust marketing divisions for both the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC. In these positions, David supported the overhaul of institutional/artistic brands and strategically positioned both organizations for rapid growth and modernization, setting all-time sales and audience development records and reversing decades of revenue decline. David has also served as an Adjunct Professor of data-driven marketing strategies at American University, and is a regular consultant and field lecturer in finance and investment planning, brand marketing, institutional fundraising and executive leadership. David also brings extensive experience as a brand agency and strategy consultant, leading and advising on several national branding initiatives in the entertainment, mission-based, and consumer space. David happily serves as an Officer for the North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE), and is a recipient of their official certification of excellence (FSA).


Photography by Washington DC Headshots

Senior Clergy Who Have Paved The Way

Stanley Rabinowitz, z"l
Rabbi Emeritus

Jeffrey A. Wohlberg
Rabbi Emeritus

Avis Miller

Avis D. Miller
Rabbi Emerita

Arnold Saltzman
Cantor Emeritus

Gil Steinlauf
Immediate Past
Senior Rabbi


Noah Hichenberg, Gan HaYeled Preschool Director. Following a comprehensive, nationwide search process, we are thrilled to report that Noah Hichenberg will be joining the Adas Israel family as our new director of the Gan HaYeled Preschool this coming summer, 2019. Noah is an extraordinary early childhood professional who brings with him a deep understanding of children and families and demonstrated leadership and excellence in the field. Previously, he served as Director for The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. He is currently completing an Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching with a focus in early childhood education at Teachers College, Columbia University and received his master’s degree in early childhood education from Fordham University. He received his bachelor’s degrees in American history from Columbia University and Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Marcy Spiro, Senior Director; Engagement & Programming Operations, Marcy joined the Adas Israel family in 2013 after working in theatre education at Shakespeare Theatre Company and Round House Theatre. Marcy works with lay leaders, clergy, and staff to ensure that our members, potential members, guests, and school parents feel truly welcome at Adas Israel and to help all of our members find their pathway or niche within our large and diverse synagogue community. Marcy is a warm, talented, creative, and entrepreneurial team player, and she is eager to help you find your path at Adas. Feel free to reach out to her at to learn more about membership, upcoming events or to grab a cup of coffee and chat.

Hazzan Rachel Goldsmith, Ritual Director,  joined Adas Israel in the summer of 2015.  She was invested as a Hazzan by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary where she also received an MA in Sacred Music.   She also holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College and the University of Michigan.  Hazzan Goldsmith has extensive experience as a Hazzan and Ritual Director and has taught all ages from pre-school through senior adults. In the Washington Metropolitan area, she taught at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, the Jewish Primary Day School and was a service leader at The Hebrew Home of Greater Washington.  Hazzan Goldsmith brings impressive administrative, organizational, and Jewish skills to our congregation – as well as a deep love for Torah, Jewish life, history and community. Hazzan Goldsmith and her husband, Howard Ungar, are the parents of three emerging adults. Reach Rachel at

Naomi Malka, Mikvah Director & Director of Immersive Experiences. Since 2006, Naomi has been the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah and served as our Ritual Coordinator from 2011-2015.  She now organizes all aspects of large-scale holiday experiences at Adas and continues to prepares b’nai mitzvah students and their families for their ceremonies.  Naomi trained as a Mikvah Guide at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA. She earned a masters in Jewish Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000 and a BA in Sociology from UCLA in 1991. In spring 2010, Naomi served as the ritual consultant for DCJCC Theater J’s production of the Israeli play “Mikveh.”  She is a frequent lecturer and writer on the subject of Mikvah.  She is also the founder of Tevila b’Tevaimmersion in nature, a program that introduces outdoor immersion to Jewish summer camps. As the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah, Naomi created “Bodies of Water,” a program for Jewish women and girls ages 10 and up to learn about Mikvah as a tool for positive body image and healthy decision making from a Jewish perspective.

Synagogue Staff


Chloe Chemla

Rita Nicholls
Accounting Manager

Jane Baldinger
Accounting Assistant


Courtney Tisch
Director of Programmatic Engagement & B’nai Mitzvah Services

Melissa Adler
Executive Assistant and Programs Coordinator

Juliana Nieto
Food & Beverage Manager

Gerry Castillo
Programming & Building Operations Manager

Bianca Saget
Front Desk Manager and Administrative Assistant


Brenah Srour
Communications Manager

Rich Webster
Graphic Designer & Media Coordinator

Education Department

Pamela Gorin
Religious School Assistant Director

Darci Lewis
Gan HaYeled
Assistant Director

Stephanie Slater
Gan Director of Early Childhood Development

Tessa Rudnick
Youth Programming Educator

Jocelyn Dorfman
Director of School Operations

Megan Soe
Gan Program Manager & Executive Assistant

Robin Jacobson

Operations Team

Charles Mallory
Operations Supervisor

Mike Freeman
Technical Production Manager

Steve Clarr
Operations Staff

Calvin Casey
Operations Staff

Tyrone McCard
Operations Staff

Andrew Cooper
Operations Staff

Lay Leaders

Meet our Officers!

We take this opportunity to introduce our dedicated congregational leaders (Terms Reflected: June 2021- June 2023)

Janice Mostow, President

Janice Mostow is a native Washingtonian who belonged to Adas as a child along with her parents, grandparents, and a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins. She rejoined the Adas community 4 years ago and has served on the Board of Directors and on the JMCW Task Force. During her career with Montgomery County Public Schools, Janice served as a a middle school and high school English teacher, an assistant principal at Quince Orchard High School, and the principal of both Briggs Chaney Middle School and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. She also served as the Director of Secondary Administrator Training and the President of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals. After retiring, Janice tutored students, served as a parent advocate, and coached new principals in MCPS. Janice and her husband John live in Chevy Chase and spend joyful time with her son and daughter and their spouses and their four wonderful grandchildren all of whom live nearby.

Ian Halpern, Vice President of Administration

As unlikely a synagogue officer as there could be, Ian grew up in New York. He is quite sure his Hebrew school teachers (and principal) would plotz if they could see him now. An active congregant, member of the Board of Directors and Co-chair of the Gan HaYeled Director Search Committee and member of several others, Ian and his family are incredibly thankful to call Adas their Jewish home.  Ian is the co-founder of Larkspur Energy Group and lives in  Washington, D.C. with his partner, Sarah Wildman, and their two daughters both graduates of the Gan.  

Tali Stein, Vice President of Membership

Bio Coming Soon

Beth Heifetz, Vice President of Programs, Religious Practices

Bio Coming Soon

Sarah Dovere, Vice President of Education & Youth

Bio Coming Soon

Betsy Strauss, Secretary

Betsy moved to Washington in 2013 from California to be closer to her two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren (in Washington and in Brooklyn). She is an attorney and mediator specializing in local government law and working exclusively with California clients. In 2010 Betsy received a Masters in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College and began working on her recently-published book, "The Blessings in Conflict." Betsy is active in the Adas Social Action Committee, the Hesed Committee, and is a devoted participant in Boker Ohr Torah Study and Makom DC programming.

Emilie Hyams, Assistant Secretary

Emilie Hyams and her family joined Adas in 2015, and with each passing year-- in discovering its varied offerings-- she has become more dedicated to its mission of providing a sacred space for all who seek to be connected to Judaism and a Jewish community.  Emilie first became involved at Adas through participating in the Gan's Parent Association, and currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors and its Search Committee for Adas' COO.  Emilie, originally from Tucson, Arizona, lives in Bethesda with her partner, Jon, and their three children (one Gan graduate now attending Adas' religious school, and two current Gan students).   She is the founder of Immigration Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm that engages in advocacy to protect the rights of immigrants to and in the U.S., inspired by the history of the Jewish diaspora and her own mother who immigrated to the U.S. to fulfill her American Dream.

Andrew Herman, Treasurer

Bio Coming Soon

Andrew Ackerman, Assistant Treasurer

Bio Coming Soon

Laurie Aladjem, Immediate Past President

Laurie Aladjem joined Adas in 2001. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Laurie has served on a number of Adas Committees and led the search for the current Gan Director. A lawyer by training, you are now most likely to see her behind a camera. She has a B.A. in Religion from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from University of California, Hastings. Laurie grew up in New York and now lives in Chevy Chase, DC with her husband Dan, their two daughters (both of whom are Gan graduates and now attend the Religious School) and their dog.

Board of Trustees

Judith Bartnoff

Steve Himmelfarb

Herlene Nagler

Melanie Nussdorf

Brian Schwalb

Elected Board Members


Life Board Members


Keith Apple
Bill Begal
Arielle Beer
Sander Bieber
Sharon Burka
Blanche Cotlear
Jon Cutler
Rachel Farbiarz
Lois Fingerhut
Rachel Gayer
Laura Ginns
Marcie Goldstein
Philip Henderson
Ilyse Hogue

Gilbert Holland
Alex Horowitz
Terry Leach
Tedi Osias
Lauren Queen
Mike Ravvin
Michael Rodgers
Daniel Rosenthal
Alan Roth
Liz Scheier
Jay Sher
Greg Shron
Healey Sutton
Jessika Wellisch

Dr. Clement Alpert (z"l)
Alvin Bernstein (z"l)
Norman Bernstein (z"l)
David Bubes (z"l)
Leonard Burka (z"l)
Jeffrey Cohen
Sheldon S Cohen (z"l)
Stanley Cohen (z"l)
Eric Fox
Rhoda Ganz
Bernard Gewirz
Bernard Glassman (z"l)
Arnold Hammer
Tamara Handelsman

Estelle Jacobs (z"l)
Dr. Irving Jacobs (z"l)
Melvin Jacobson (z"l)
Jack Kay (z"l)
Martin Kirsch
Jacob C. Lish (z"l)
Dr. Sander H Mendelson
Annette Morchower
Donald Saltz
Bernard Segerman (z"l)
Margaret Siegel
Judith Strauch
Donald Wolpe (z"l)

Adas Israel Presidents

Laurie Aladjem
Current President

Ricki Gerger

Deborah Joseph

Arnold Podgorsky

Johanna Chanin
2011- 2013

Robert Peck

Ed Kopf

Russell Smith

Patty Perkins Andringa

Reneé Fendrich

Jordan Baruch

Toni Bickart

Dr. Sander Mendelson

Bernard Segerman

Dr. Stuart Fidler

Jack Lish

Max Goldberg

Leon Shinberg

Donald Wolpe

Joseph Mendelson

Milton Baldinger

Samuel Lebowitz

Joseph Blumenthal

Stanley Wiener

Julius H. Wolpe

Fred S. Kogod

Isaac Jacobson

Joseph Wilner
1929-March 1953

Fred Gichner

Louis Rosenberg

Simon Oppenheimer

Felix Greenapple

Jacob Rich
1882-April 1887

Manassas Oppenheimer

Julius Baumgertan
July-October 1880

Bernard Rich
April-June 1880

Jacob Rich

John Jacob Boyer

Nathan Gotthelf
June-July 1874

Jacob Rich
January-June 1874

Nathan Hotthelf

Bendiza J. Behrend

Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782