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Board of Directors

Feel free to contact the board with any questions you may have about The Shul of New York.

















































Co-President Karen Seidman Email
Program Director

Of all the things I do (running a consulting business, traveling internationally to promote vision rehabilitation, enjoying my wonderful family and friends) I truly LOVE being on the Board of The Shul of New York! The road that led me here is a winding one. My husband, Doug, sons Adam and Eli and I first met Rabbi Burt when he was the Interim Rabbi at the Village Temple, where I was on the Board. Rabbi Burt officiated at Adam’s Bar Mitzvah and impressed us from the start with his kindness, erudition and inclusive spirit – the latter particularly important to me as a Jew by Choice. Time passed and then Adam (who has played keyboard with The Shul Band) told us that he had “found” Rabbi Burt again at the Orensanz thanks to his/our friend Adam Feder. We began going to Shabbat services and reveling in the insightful message, joyful feeling, wonderful music and the welcoming, open and interesting people we met. Vera and Mike Hearn drew us in and welcomed us to participate and engage in Shul activities. We told our friends, and soon we all followed our hearts to The Shul of New York. I was so honored to be asked to succeed Vera as Co-President, a position in which I served for 7 years. Now, as the Shul's Program Director, I enjoy working closely with Rabbi Eva to plan and implement her impressive program ideas.  No matter how busy it gets, it is one of the joys of my life to be able to work with everyone from the Shul. I’m proud of all the things we’ve accomplished together as a Shul community, and I’m eagerly looking to the future.


Co-President Joan C. Brancaccio Email

Joan C. Brancaccio has been a member of The Shul of New York since 2000. She has happily served on the Board since 2006. Joan is a Managing Director at a bank, a very large bank, working on innovation & product commercialization, doing things that most mortals cannot understand. She is very proud to use her skills for good as a former Treasurer and now as Co-President. Joan lives in the West Village with her husband and dog, whom she professes to love equally.


Treasurer Don J. Brancaccio Email

Don is very proud to serve as Webmaster for the Shul and to have been invited to serve on the Board and as a Co-President. (And now Treasurer. Really?! What were they thinking?)   Both are volunteer positions despite the occasional slap on the back followed by, “Great job, take two yarmulkes from petty cash!” In a previous life, Don worked backstage on Broadway as a highly skilled Automation Specialist. His career will be the subject of his forthcoming memoir, “Push Button, Get Banana.” No matter what anybody says, Don has never worked as an assassin for the CIA under the name Rufus T. Firefly and is definitely not in the Witness Protection Program. Don is also very lucky to be the husband of the lovely and talented Shul Co-President, Joan C. Brancaccio, who made absolutely no threats regarding this sentence.   


Secretary Cathy Cooper

Cathy Cooper has been a member of Shul of New York since 2000. She is thrilled to be elected to serve as Secretary. Cathy enjoys chanting the V’Ahav’ta occasionally at services. For her day job, Cathy loves using data and analytics to drive marketing and business. Currently she is a Senior Director of Big Data Analytics at SAP. Cathy lives in the Village with her husband, daughter, 2 cats, one fish and no plants. She enjoys knitting baby hats and crocheting blankets – let her know if you want one! Cathy is also the Knitter-in-Chief of the Shul's You-Know-What Hats. Grab one today!




Josh Cabat

Josh Cabat and his family have been members of the Shul of New York community since 2001. His daughter Melissa had her Bat Mitzvah at the Shul in 2008, and has recently done work for the Shul with social media. Josh has participated in both the Wise Aging and Meditation Shabbat programs and, after serving on the Auxiliary Committee for a year, has served as a Board member since August of 2017. Josh currently works as the Chair of the English Department for the Roslyn Public Schools, where he teaches English Literature and Film Studies.




Pete Grossman

Board member since 2017.


Patricia Weisman Ivry

Patti and her husband Rob were first attracted to the Shul of New York because of the Shul Band. They attended high holiday services for many years before becoming more involved with the Shul. Hailing from Northern Westchester, it was a real schlep. But with the encouragement of Karen and Doug Seidman, they became active.   Having recently retired, the schlep became more feasible. For 38 years Patti was a Professor of Social Work and then Interim Dean of the School of Professional Studies at Western Connecticut State University, in Danbury, CT. As a community organizer, her expertise is in macro social work practice. One of her creative passions is writing, which was her undergraduate major, and which she also taught.  She now shares that passion with the Shul community by facilitating the zoom writing group.  Patti and Rob have three adult children, and six grandchildren. Patti is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Shul.


Cheryl Jacobs

Board member since 2017.


Sara Lavner

Sara Lavner is famous as the mother of former Shul Band singer, Lilly Lavner, and is honored to have served as a Co-President of The Shul of New York. Sara is the first drama therapist to become a psychoanalyst in New York City and has a private practice in the Village. She is also a professional actress who was in The Muppets Take Manhattan and has done theatre, film and TV work. Sara is the author of The Glitter Factory. Sara is the wife of Bill Lavner and also the mother of David Lavner. She is a proud member of the BIMAH Group (those “alumni” who have had an adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah conducted by Rabbi Burt). She loves being a part of The Shul of New York.



Lisa B. Lewis

Lisa B. Lewis Is a lifelong circus performer -- from Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey to the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. Lisa has a BA from Brandeis and an MA from NYU Gallatin. She and her husband founded the company "Super Scientific Circus" where they use circus skills and magic tricks to make science visual and fun. In addition, she teaches in-school and after school residencies for spectrum and "at risk" kids through Marquis Studios. She is currently serving on the board of her coop. Lisa and her daughter, Lea, have been very active in The Shul of New York and the Shul School for many years and she is happy to serve as the school's Administrative Director. Lisa is the author of Crystal Child: How Chinese Medicine Saved My Daughter from Food Allergies and Asthma. Lisa's current project is CircusSense. CircuSense is an extraordinary circus experience specifically created for Blind, Deaf, Visually and Auditorily Impaired students and their families as well as those on the Autism Spectrum and their families.  Our mission is to bring joy and laughter to all ages in the best way for them to receive it. We strive to enrich empathy between people of all abilities through a positive experience “walking a mile in their shoes” Enjoying the Circus through a different sensory structure allows all present to appreciate the core humanity and love which unites all souls, regardless of the body they inhabit. Lisa is delighted and honored to be a member of the board of The Shul of New York as a way of giving back to the community which continues to give so much to her family.


Jan Lichtenstein

Board member since 2017.


Carole Robbins

Board member since 2020.


Carrie Schwartz

Carrie Schwartz graduated Brooklyn College with a BS in Psychology and Sociology. In a strange twist of fate and life Carrie pursued a career in Banking. Although she enjoyed the banking world,  Carrie now works in optical where she believes her psychology skills are put to good use. In her spare time Carrie enjoys long walks in the company of good friends. Carrie has been an active member of the Shul since 2000. She feels fortunate to belong to such a diverse and energetic group and is honored to serve on the Board of Directors.




Doug Seidman

Doug Seidman is a Legal Aid lawyer who for 42 years assisted poor people with their civil legal problems, mainly landlord-tenant matters. Doug enjoys family tree research and foreign travel, especially in the developing world. He is responsible for the House Committee and tries to make sure that the space(s) that the Shul uses are appropriately set up for services and other events. Since we have no permanent home, this can be challenging. He appreciates all of the people who volunteer to help, whether it’s putting out prayer books before services, collecting them when services end, or schlepping boxes of books and other items.  




Auxiliary Committee members participate in Shul events, spearhead and/or work on initiatives, participate actively in Shul life and encourage the participation of others. They making it possible for services and programs to take place. Auxiliary Committee members are elected for 1 year terms. If you would like to learn more about becoming an Auxiliary Committee member, please contact us.

Diana Cioffi, Audrey Cohn-Ganz, Rabbi Dennis Math, Susan Scheer, Norman Schiff,
Risa Schiff, Kkuumba Seigell, 
Anne Silverman



John Balan* (Co-Treasurer), Kenny Bookbinder (Co-President), Steve Ganz* (Secretary)
Mike Hearn 
(Founder, Co-President), Vera Hearn (Founder, Co-President),
Dara Kessler
(Vice President), Joy Mach (Co-Treasurer), Joe Sussman (Co-Treasurer)



 Jaymie Adachi, Jiro Adachi, John Balan*, Michael Baum*, Myra Baum, Ed Goldfader*, Paula Goldfader, Mike Hearn, Vera Hearn, James Lane,
Dani Liebling, Jacob Ween



Jaymie Adachi, Jiro Adachi, George Beckwith, Peter Berson, Mark Beigelman*, Dani Durkin, Mary Ellis, Nancy Freeman-Carroll, Ed Goldfader*, Paula Goldfader, 
Sheila Grossfeld
*, Bonnie Kozek, Marsha Leo, Anne Lewison, Rich Mach, Wendy Miller, Jen Palgon, Elizabeth Price, Sari Roboff, Steve Rose, Susan Scheer, Jacob Ween*



We mourn the loss of our friends who faithfully and diligently served The Shul of New York.

John Balan, Michael Baum, Mark Beigelman, Steve Ganz,
Ed Goldfader, Shelia Grossfeld, Jacob Ween 



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