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About the IAUJC Board

Shani Abel

An Israeli, and Jerusalem native, Shani moved to Ithaca temporarily in 2019 with her husband Uriel and two children, Nevo and Keshet. Her past work includes computer programming and project management, writing and editing and working with various non-profit organizations within Israel. She was also a leading member of the French Hill Jewish-Arab community of Maan-Yahad in Jerusalem, and hopes her commitment to community engagement and social justice will continue to thrive within Ithaca's Jewish community and beyond.

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.

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.

Claude Cohen

Claude Cohen retired from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell in 2015 after teaching and performing research for 38years. He received his education in French schools and at The American University in Cairo where he was born. He immigrated to the United States in 1967 and pursued graduate studies at Princeton. His growing up in Egypt in a Jewish home made him aware early on of his identity and developed his attachment to Judaism. He came to Ithaca in 1977 after spending two years in Israel at the Weizmann Institute followed by another two years at Caltech as a postdoctoral/research fellow. He is a long time member of Temple Beth-El.

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.

Lauren Goldberg

Ex Officio. Lauren Goldberg is thrilled to join Hillel at Ithaca College this summer as Executive Director!  Previously, Lauren worked for six years for Hillel at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where she honed her skills and passion for serving the Jewish college student population.  Creating spaces for dynamic and enriching Jewish communal experiences is Lauren's great joy.  Originally from Potomac, MD, Lauren and her family will be arriving in Ithaca this summer. Lauren has a B.A. in Anthropology from Skidmore College and a Master's in Social Work from Western Michigan University. She has worked in various non-profit agencies, bringing her passion for social engagement, justice, and community organizing to Hillel. Lauren is married to James Miranda and is the smitten mother of the incredible Luna!

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.

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.

Richard Rosenfield

Richard Rosenfield is an ordained cantor who served as cantor, educator, and spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El in Geneva, New York, from 1995 to 2010. He was ordained in 1994 by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he earned a Master’s degree in Sacred Music. During his years in Geneva, Richard also served on the Geneva Area Interfaith Council, the Geneva Human Rights Commission, and was a family liason with Habitat for Humanity of Ontario County. Upon retirement, Richard and his wife, Claire-Lise, moved to Ithaca and became active members of congregations Tikkun v’Or and Temple Beth-El. At Tikkun v’Or, they lead Shabbat services several times a year and sing in a chorus during the High Holy Day services. At Temple Beth-El, Richard offers adult education classes in prayer-book Hebrew and in chanting the Tanakh. From time to time Richard and Claire-Lise chant Torah or haftarah during the Shabbat and holiday services of both congregations.
Since 2002, Richard and Claire-Lise have also been active Modern Western square dancers. After retiring as a cantor, Richard became a square dance caller. Every week, since 2012, he has offered free dancing and dance lessons at Temple Beth-El. In 2017, Richard also became the caller and instructor for the Penn Yan Friendship Squares dance club.
Before becoming a cantor, Richard did scientific research in biochemistry, using using X-ray crystallography. In 1974, he earned a Ph.D. degree in Biophysics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and worked in Buffalo, New York; Zurich,Switzerland; and College Station, Texas.

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 an emeritus 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.

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.