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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.


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. Last year, she was named one of Jewish Women’s International’s (JWI) “Women to Watch,” and is a current recipient of the covet ed Schusterman Fellowship, a leadership development program for individuals who are committed to growing their leadership in the Jewish community (a tremendous honor, and one rarely bestowed on rabbis). 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 El ijah, 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 highly 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) and is considered one of the foremost Talmud teachers of his generation. Rabbi Alexander was recently 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. He is also a certified mashgiach (kosher supervisor) by the Conservative movement's Rav Hamachshir program. 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 was invested as a “Hazzan” and received a Master of Arts in Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005 where she won the Hazzan Max Wohlberg Award and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from JTS in 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education/Voice degree from Rutgers University and is a high school graduate of the Hebrew Academy of Atlantic County, NJ. Cantor Brown served Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, CA from 2006 through 2012 where she had a large liturgical, educational, and musical portfolio. 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. She is the author of the bi-weekly “Dear Cantor” advice column in the Yiddish Forverts and has been published in the Journal of Synagogue Music. She is conversant in Farsi and recently sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium. Cantor Brown is married to Rabbi Randy Brown and they have three young sons.

Rabbi Kerrith Solomon, Director of Education, 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 PolonskyExecutive Director
David was appointed Adas Israel Congregation’s Executive Director in 2014. Previously, David served as the Congregation’s Director of Marketing & Communications, and, beginning February 2014, as an Interim Executive Director.  Immediately prior to joining the senior staff at Adas Israel, David enjoyed a successful career in Strategic Planning, Marketing/Communications, and Audience Development at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, where he supervised large communications teams and was responsible for major strategic earned and contributed revenue campaigns. David happily serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE), and has also worked and volunteered in a synagogue setting from an early age. David also has an extensive background in performing arts, live events, and Jewish studies. His commitment to his own Jewish journey, and his highly successful career as both a Jewish communal professional and an organizational strategic planner make him an ideal leader for our diverse and thriving congregational community.



Marcy Spiro, Senior Director; Engagement & Programming Operations, Marcy comes to us from the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC where she successfully served as Community Engagement Manager for over four years. She has also worked and taught religious school in a synagogue setting for many years. Marcy will be working 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 our members find their “niche” within our large and diverse synagogue community. She will work to welcome and engage new and veteran members, and to facilitate the development of fulfilling community relationships. She will also help our members get the most out of our busy programming calendar. She will coordinate, plan, produce, and staff major Adas events and social programming, as well as facilitate informal get-togethers with clergy. She will also focus heavily on program planning and execution for the new Beit Midrash and special Shabbat & Holiday programs. Marcy is a warm, talented, creative, and entrepreneurial  team player, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to the Adas Israel family.

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, High Holiday Coordinator & Mikvah Director. 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 the High Holiday experience 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.





Chloe Chemla

Rita Nicholls
Accounting Manager

Jane Baldinger
Executive Assistant





Courtney Tisch
Director of Programmatic

Melissa Adler
Executive Assistant and
Programs Coordinator

Gail Mattison
Event Coordinator

Carol Ansell




Brenah Srour
Communications Manager

Rich Webster
Graphic Designer &
Media Coordinator


Education Department


Pamela Gorin
Religious School
Assistant Director

Sarah Atermann
Youth and Family

Kristine Hyland
Education Office Manager



Stephanie Slater
Gan Developmental
Support Coordinator

Abby Koplow
Gan HaYeled Office Manager

Darci Lewis
Assistant Gan Director
& Curriculum Specialist

Robin Jacobson

Ritual Staff


Beryl Saltman
Executive Assistant

Megan Soe
Executive Assistant to the
Ritual Department





Meet our officers! We take this opportunity to introduce our dedicated congregational leaders (Terms Reflected: June 2015- June 2019)

Ricki Gerger, President
Ricki Gerger joined Adas Israel in 1994. She has been Chair of the Religious Practices Committee and served two terms as Vice President for Ritual, Lifelong Learning and Programs. She was the first Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Brith Shalom in Houston, Texas in 1959, many years before the JTS debated the status of women in the movement. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Ricki came to Washington in 1971 as press aide and speechwriter to then-US Congressman Bill Archer. She earned a Masters Degree in Political Affairs from GW while working in the Congress.

A respected real estate broker for over 35 years, Ricki was President of the DC Association of Realtors(R) and a Vice President of the National Association of REALTORS(R). She was named REALTOR(R) of the Year in 1992, which is the highest honor bestowed in the real estate industry.

Steve Himmelfarb, Vice President for Administration

Steve and his family have been Adas Israel members since 2005.  While much of his career was in Manhattan, Steve is a fourth generation Washingtonian with deep roots in our local Jewish community.  A graduate of University of Delaware with a Masters in Regional Planning and Land Development from University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School of Real Estate, Steve is a commercial real estate developer and advisor specializing in portfolio optimization for high net worth individuals and family trusts.  Positive disruption, sustainability, high standards, and soulful meaning are the pillars of Steve’s Jewish leadership and lots of why he keeps volunteering.  Steve is a former trustee of the Jewish Primary Day School and a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program.  He lives in Cleveland Park with his wife Lisa, a psychotherapist specializing in eating issues, and his daughter Sami, a Gan graduate, JPDS graduate and current CESJDS student.   

Laurie Aladjem, Vice President of Development and Financial Affairs
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.
Janice Mostow, Vice President for Education and Youth
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.
Michelle Buzgon, Vice President for Member Engagement
Michelle moved to Washington, DC, in 1995, and quickly created a circle of friends at Adas Israel. Several years later, she brought Jay Kirschenbaum into the fold and, together, they have raised two children as active members of the congregation. She has served on the board of directors; on committees for the Religious Practices, Education and Inclusion and the Gan; and as chair for the Member Engagement committee. She occasionally uses the skills she learned as a journalism major at Northwestern and in 10 years as a news editor to edit various Adas publications. In her professional life now, Michelle takes a strengths-based, skill-building approach in her busy coaching practice working with adults, students and parents whose lives are affected by ADHD and executive function challenges. Building community has always been a key commitment for Michelle, and she has been honored to be recognized for those efforts in both her personal and professional lives.

Alexandra Horowitz, Vice President of Programs and Religious Practices
Alexandra Horowitz joined Adas Israel in 2005. She is the proud mother of three Gan students — one who is currently enrolled and two graduates who now attend the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. In addition to serving on the board of directors, Alex has chaired the Gan Advisory Committee and served on the synagogue, Youth Commission, and on the Early Childhood Director Search Committee. Alex is a television news producer by training and spent ten years covering global business and financial news. She has an M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Brown University. Alex grew up in New York City and lives in Chevy Chase with her husband Michael, a lawyer, and their three children.


Judith Bartnoff, Secretary
Judith Bartnoff has been a member of Adas Israel for nearly 30 years. She has served on the Board of Directors and for the past two years was the Assistant Secretary. She is a past Chair and current member of the Personnel Committee and has served on the Cantor and Executive Director search committees. Since 1994, she has been an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where she now presides over serious felony cases. Earlier in her legal career, she was an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice and an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia. Immediately prior to her appointment to the court, she as a partner at Patton Boggs. She received her B.A. degree from Radcliffe College of Harvard University and her J.D. degree from Columbia Law School. She lives in Forest Hills with her husband, Gene Sofer. Their son, Nelson Sofer, now lives in Los Angeles.


Betsy Strauss, Assistant 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.  

Scott Levine, Treasurer

Scott Levine joined Adas Israel in 2000.  He is the proud father of two Gan graduates and current religious school attendees.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Scott was a member of the Gan Advisory Committee and the Gan Strategic Planning Committee.  Scott is a tax partner at the international law firm of Jones Day where he advises on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, including international and domestic mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs and other divestitures, restructurings, financings, and joint ventures.  Before joining Jones Day in 2006, Scott was a senior manager in KPMG's national tax office.  Scott is currently an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. and the International Tax Center at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he teaches courses on corporate taxation. He is a member of the D.C. Bar Tax Section’s Steering Committee and the immediate past chair of the Tax Section’s Corporate Tax Committee.  Scott grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania and lives in Chevy Chase with his wife, Melissa, and their two sons.

Steve Rabinowitz, Vice President for Membership and External Affairs
Steve Rabinowitz, President of Rabinowitz Communications, is a seasoned media consultant, publicist and political event planner. He possesses a deep knowledge of campaign politics that goes back more than a quarter century; he has worked on the national staffs of nine U.S. presidential campaigns and has held various positions on other campaigns for every kind of political office.

Deborah Joseph, Immediate Past President
Debby and her husband, Mark, who met at Adas Israel have been members since 1986. Debby was active in USY in high school and attended the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Prozdor High School program. She received her bachelor’s degree and Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. She has an consulting practice providing Strategic Change Management to human services organizations, bringing together her professional and Jewish communal passions to support individuals with intellectual, developmental, and chronic psychiatric disabilities within our community. Debby and Mark are the proud parents of Ethan, Noah, and Gaby, graduates of Gan HaYeled  and Camp Ramah in New England.



David Bickart

Herlene Nagler Jeffery Yablon Leah Chanin
Alan Bubes      



Sander Bieber
Blanche Cotlear
Meredith Weiner Cymerman​​​​​​​
David Edelstein​​​​​​​
Ross Eisenman​​​​​​​
Sandra Eskin​​​​​​​
Joel Fischman​​​​​​​
Marcie Goldstein
Amy Golen​​​​​​​
Julia Gordon
Ian Halpern​​​​​​​
Beth Heifetz
Philip Henderson
Andrew Herman
Harriet Isack​​​​​​​


Steven Kleinrock
​​​​​​​Jorge Kotelanski​​​​​​​
Terry Leach
Howard Marks
Stephanie Meyer
Sanford Parnes​​​​​​​
Rhoda Ritzenberg​​​​​​​
Mark Rosenberg
Rachel Rosenthal
Janet Scribner
Jay Sher
Michael Sloan
Healey Sutton
Sara Vogler
Jessika Wellisch


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

Estelle Jacobs
Dr. Irving Jacobs
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)



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 

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 

Thu, December 13 2018 5 Tevet 5779