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Meet the Members
"Meet the Members" is a passion project from Cohort Bet of Adath Israel's Na'aseh v'Nishma leadership initiative and seeks to provide a face to ongoing synagogue programs.
Around once per month, a profile of a member and the Adath Israel program in which they participate will added to this page. Profiles are also featured on the Adath Israel Facebook page and in our weekly "What's Nu?" e-mail blast. We encourage everyone to introduce themselves to featured members and learn more!
February 2019: Devin Smith and the Teen Trip to Israel
Meet Devin, a high school student who has participated in many Adath Israel youth programs and a recent participant in Adath Israel’s Teen Trip to Israel (December 2018). Devin is a member of the congregation along with her family, which includes her parents, Regan and Duane, and her three siblings, Jolie, Tallie, and Greyson. Her family also includes Remy and Savannah -- two Bernese mountain dogs who are not known for their regular shul attendance.
Like many middle school students, Devin was an active participant in the Hebrew school program and she remained a regular Shabbat attendee until the end of her Bat Mitzvah year. After that, she “drifted off for a bit” in 8th and 9th grade because she was beginning to make the transition to high school and had more competing priorities in her schedule. Now, as a sophomore, she appreciates and takes advantage of the fact that programming for high school students recognizes that “it’s okay not to go every single week.” She gets a lot out of her participation when she is able to attend around her commitments to schoolwork, sports (lacrosse and soccer), and spending time with her family and friends.
Devin reflected on her experience on the Teen Trip and described the experience of being with her peer group at the Kotel and having the group break into song and dance in a public place as if it were normal -- because it’s different being in a place where “the community is Jewish” instead of simply being in a place where “people are Jewish.” One of the most special parts of her participation was the fact that the Adath Israel group was smaller and more tight knit compared those of some of the other shuls participating. She would love to share her experience with others who are considering participating in the trip in the future.
January 2019: Sonya Cooper, Amy Shubert, & the PTO Fundraiser
Meet Sonya and Amy, two Hebrew school parents hard at work planning the Quizzo fundraiser for children’s programs at Adath Israel. Amy, a nurse at Haverford High School, and Sonya, an account director at an ad agency, are planning an event that is fun, low-key, welcoming, and full of friendly competition.
Amy looked around carefully for a synagogue that would meet the needs of her family. She needed a Hebrew school for her oldest, and a place where her husband, who was not born Jewish, would feel comfortable. After looking around, she realized that Adath Israel, headed by her high school friend Rabbi Eric, was the perfect fit.
Since joining, Amy has jumped in with both feet. She was an active parent while her son was in the preschool, joined the production of Beauty and the Beast, and now is the lead parent for our newly re-formed Kadima chapter for children in grades 5-7. She loves how Adath makes being Jewish exciting and meaningful for kids and adults.
Sonya and her husband Chad also looked around carefully before joining a shul. When they found that the Center City congregations where they lived were not the right fit, they were surprised to discover that her sister’s rabbi, who had named Sonya and Chad’s children in Michigan, had also moved to Philadelphia.
Sonya loves the Makom option of attending Saturday school, and is a regular attendee with her three kids, especially now that Zach is finally old enough to join his sisters in classes. She has made new friends here, and reconnected with old ones, including a former camp counselor! Sonya was amazed when her twin daughters read Torah at Adath Israel in fifth grade, and is studying to read for her first time at their joint Bat Mitzvah this year.
November 2018: Jonathan Liepmann & the Adath Israel Mini Minyan
What causes a toddler to get upset on Shabbat? For Jonathan Liepmann’s daughter, Evie, it is when she cannot go to Mini Minyan.
Originally from North Jersey, Jonathan Liepmann moved to Philly with his wife, Amandine, a native of Michigan, and they needed a preschool. They found a loving, Jewish environment in the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) at Adath Israel and came on Shabbat to see if they would meet people. Once they came, they were hooked. They met a whole community of people they now consider close friends. This opened them to seeing the experience of going to shul on Shabbat as a family.
Now, you will find Jonathan, Amandine, and Evie at Adath Israel when services begin on a typical Shabbat. Jonathan and Amandine begin the day with the Parenting the Parashah class, a nice chance in the week to have an intellectual discussion with other adults. With Evie happily occupied in babysitting, they then have a chance to hear the Torah service in the sanctuary. Afterward, the family attends Mini Minyan, where Jonathan, a natural emcee, occasionally leads an energetic group of around 15 (or more!) toddlers through the prayers and songs of the Shabbat day. Finally, it is lunch and schmoozing with friends.
Jonathan’s involvement in Mini Minyan has led to other activities in the shul, including Men’s Club softball (new players are always welcome) and Naaseh v’Nishma. His favorite weeks are the ones during which new people come and have a meaningful experience on Shabbat.
November 2018: Jeff Marmon & the Adath Israel Minyan
If you’ve spent time around the shul in the early mornings or on Shabbat, you might recognize Jeff. While he might not be one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, he certainly serves as one of the Keepers of our Community. An early riser, Jeff is usually found leading Birchot Hashachar and P’sukei D’Zimra (morning blessings and psalms) during the morning minyan. He can also be found around the sanctuary on Shabbat, serving as an usher, handing out source sheets for the rabbis, and providing gentle reminders to younger participants about the hazards of texting while davening.
Jeff says he participates in the daily minyan in part to “do something good for someone else.” Making a minyan to enable others to say kaddish is an important and meaningful aspect of Judaism for him. He believes in keeping Jewish traditions – walking the walk so that he can talk the talk. He is a man of humility and with a lev tov, a good heart.
Other interests? Jeff is an athlete, coach, and referee. Tennis is his main sport, having coached at the high school and college level for 39 seasons, but he has also been a basketball ref and a baseball umpire. Strike up a conversation with him and learn more – you won’t regret it!