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Storytelling night 2014

The Ithaca Area United Jewish Community - Your Local Jewish Home - Your Connection to the Jewish Federation of North America.


The Board of Directors of the IAUJC are all volunteers.  We represent Jewish organizations, individuals and the greater Jewish community. IAUJC strengthens Jewish community locally and abroad. Please join us. We are always looking for volunteers, new board members, fresh talent and ideas. Contact us via email at, fill out the volunteer form or write to us at PO Box 4124, Ithaca, NY, 14852.

About the IAUJC Board

Ariel Avgar

Ariel Avgar and his family returned to Ithaca in 2016 after living in Champaign, Illinois for eight years. Ariel is very excited to join this fantastic organization. Ariel was an active member of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish community serving on the boards of the synagogue (Sinai Temple) and the local Jewish Federation (CUJF).  Among his roles on the board of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation Ariel served as Vice President for Allocations. He is an associate professor in the Labor Relations Department at the ILR School at Cornell University and affiliated with the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution. Before joining the ILR School, he was an assistant professor (2008-2014) and an associate professor (2014-2016) at the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served as associate dean for graduate online education.


Miri Birk

Miri Birk joined the IAUJC board in 2015.  She serves the Cornell and greater Ithaca Jewish community as part of the team at the Roitman Chabad Center.  She also serves as the treasurer of B'Yachad Jewish Preschool.

Alan Blankstein

Alan Blankstein is an author and educational leader, who served for 25 years as president of the HOPE Foundation, which he founded. He is the author of the best-selling book Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools. His connection to Jewish community begins with his debt to the Jewish Child Care Agency which took him in as a child and again to a group home in Queens as a teen.

Richard Ehrlich

A retired physicist, I greatly value our community and have lived here for almost forty years. I've served on the IAUJC board for more than a decade. I'm a member of Temple Beth-El.

Ann Erlich

I have been on the IAUJC Board for many years and have been part of the growth of the Board and Jewish life both in Ithaca and around the world. I am now Nominating  Committee Chair and I have had the honor of building the present strong IAUJC Board.

Howard Erlich

Howard Erlich has served on the IAUJC board in a number of capacities: as chair for some years; currently as Chair of Allocations—working with four other board members—and also chairing the recently created Investment and Endowment Committee to shepherd the two  recent very generous half-million dollar gifts. His commitments to Israel and to Jewish needs, including local, animate his dedication to IAUJC.

Rabbi Scott Glass

Ex Officio.  Rabbi Scott Glass has served as the spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El since 1976.  Following his undergraduate studies at Queens College, CUNY and Hebrew University, he was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he was also awarded an M.A.H.L.  Rabbi Glass has served as a resource to various departments at the local institutions of higher learning as well as the Ithaca City School District and Cayuga Medical Center, where he was instrumental in establishing the interfaith chaplaincy.  He has served the Rabbinical Assembly in various capacities, both regionally and globally, has been active in interfaith activities in the Ithaca community, and traveled as part of a Beit Din to the Abayudaya community in Uganda.  In recognition of his service to the community Rabbi Glass was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by HUC-JIR in 2001, and a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2003.

Marjorie Hoffman

Marjorie Hoffman settled in Ithaca in 1991 with her husband and two little girls. She has been a member of Temple Beth El since that time and is very much devoted to the Ithaca Jewish community. Marjorie served as Temple Beth El president from 2010 through 2013. As Campaign Chair and Program Chair of IAUJC since 2007, Marjorie has sought to enrich and enliven our local Jewish community with opportunities for education and social action.  Marjorie is an artist and art teacher.

Sara Kabakov

Sara Kabakov has lived in Ithaca since 2001. She grew up in New York City, and was educated at Yeshivat Ramaz. Sara worked full time as a Certified Nurse Midwife, as well as a camp nurse, until bringing their adopted daughter home from Russia, in 2010. 

In 2012, as there was no Jewish Preschool in Ithaca, Sara, Miri Birk and Seli Allen founded B’Yachad Ithaca Jewish Preschool. Presently Sara serves as the Administrative Director of B’Yachad. She also serves on the steering committee of the Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East. 

Sara Kranzler

Dr. Sara Kranzler is a clinical psychologist. She landed in Ithaca in the summer of 2016. After spending the majority of her life in NY city and it's surrounding suburbs, she finds it thrilling to live in a place of so much natural beauty. As a lover of Jews, Israel, and Jewish education, she is excited to participate in the work of the board. 

Cantor Abbe Lyons

Ex Officio.  Cantor Abbe Lyons is the Interim Executive Director and Jewish Chaplain for at Hillel at IC. She is an IC alumna (voice performance, 1987), and received her cantorial smicha (ordination) from ALEPH in 2010. She teaches Jewish liturgical music, Hebrew prayer skills and music theory to ALEPH students by videoconference and sings in English, Hebrew and Spanish in a duo with Juliette Corazón and with her band Resonate. Cantor Abbe was a Student Cantor at Congregation Tikkun v'Or, where she still tutors b'nai mitzvah students, and has also worked in the healing arts and nonprofit sectors.

Sherrie Negrea

Sherrie Negrea is a freelance writer and editor who works for Cornell University, Cayuga Medical Center, and local businesses. Sherrie is a board member of the Rabbi Felix Aber Religious School at Temple Beth-El and of the Public Relations Society of America Finger Lakes Chapter.

Sherrie has a master's degree in English from the State University of New York at Brockport and a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. She has lived in Cayuga Heights since 2000 and grew up in Ormond Beach, Florida.

John Rosenthal

John Rosenthal and his wife have lived in Ithaca for over 44 years and John has been a member of the IAUJC for at least half of that time.  He is a faculty member in the Department of Math at Ithaca College.  Other local Jewish passions include Ithaca College Hillel on whose board he has served for most of his time in Ithaca, and the Orthodox Minyan at Cornell.

David Sinefeld

David Sinefeld is a post-doctoral researcher in the applied and engineering physics (AEP) department at Cornell. He received his PhD in applied physics from the Hebrew university in Jerusalem. Besides his academic duties, David is an active member of the Israeli community in Ithaca, as well as in the Ithaca orthodox shul.

Tehia Sinefeld

Tehia is an active member of the Israeli community in Ithaca, as well as in the Ithaca orthodox shul.


Rabbi Ari Weiss

Ex Officio. Rabbi Ari Weiss is a Jewish educator, thought leader and social entrepreneur.  He has led multiple initiatives in the Jewish educational, social justice, and innovation ecosystems that engage young adults and connect them to Jewish values, ideas, and community.  Ari is currently the Executive Director of Cornell Hillel.  He recently served as the Interim Managing Director and Senior Director of Jewish Education at NEXT: A Division of the Birthright Israel Foundation. At NEXT, his work focused on training Jewish professionals across the country on best practices in engaging Birthright alumni and Jewish young adults. Prior to joining NEXT, Ari was the Executive Director of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization, and grew it to engage tens of thousands of people in 15 cities. He spearheaded multiple innovative programs designed to create change and transform the intellectual conversation within Jewish communities and promote the pluralistic Jewish social justice agenda. During his tenure, Slingshot Guide selected Uri L’Tzedek as one of the 50 most innovative and impactful organizations in the country for five consecutive years.  Ari is a former Joshua Venture Group fellow for Jewish leaders engaged in social change and social entrepreneurship, and a former Neta Fellow with the American Jewish World Service for rabbis working toward creating a just world. In 2012, The Jewish Week selected him as one of “36 under 36” young Jewish visionaries who are reimagining Jewish life. Ari received his rabbinical ordination from YCT Rabbinical School.  He has studied philosophy and Jewish studies at graduate schools in New York and Jerusalem and received his B.A. from Yeshiva College where he studied Philosophy and Religion. He studied Advanced Talmud at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Beit Morasha of Jerusalem.  
Ari is married to Dr. Sara Kranzler.  They are proud parents of their son Adir.​

Ed Weissman

Board Treasurer. Ed joined the Board in 2009 and has served as Treasurer since 2011. He also serves on the Allocations Committee and on the Investment and Endowment Committee.

Naomi Wilensky

Ex Officio. Naomi Wilensky is the Religious School Director & Administrative Coordinator at Congregation Tikkun v’Or (Ithaca Reform Temple).

She has lived in Ithaca for 20 years, with her husband Joe and their four daughters.

Marcia Zax

Board Chair.  Since 2008, I have served as co-chair and now chair of IAUJC.  My identity as a Jewish American and Israeli is very strong, and I do feel passionately about my connection with the Jewish people and Israel, which is why serving on the IAUJC board has been so important for me. I was born in the US, made Aliyah to Israel in 1986, and returned to the US in 1990 with my husband David and children Benjamin and Rachel. Our third child Aryeh was born here in Ithaca in 1996. We are members at Temple Beth El and are part of the Orthodox minyan at Cornell.