Team CBI

CBI is fortunate to have a talented and dedicated group of individuals serving the congregation as clergy, senior staff, educators and lay leaders. Our clergy and staff bring unique strengths to our community, and each stands ready to respond to your questions and help make your CBI experience a positive one.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our congregation, reflected in the commitment of lay leaders to serve as members of Board of Trustees, working hand-in-hand with our professional staff to uphold the values, ideals and mission of our kehilla (sacred community).

Leadership Team

Rabbi Ari Isenberg

In 2020, Rabbi Ari Isenberg became Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel. He is dedicated to pastoral work, community leadership, and creating meaningful, sacred moments in the lives of his congregants.

Prior to his move to Greater MetroWest NJ, Rabbi Isenberg served Temple Israel Center in Westchester, NY for five years. There, he collaborated in the development of the Hesed Circle, a network of caring and support; created Dor l’Dor, an intergenerational program in which older members interacted with preschoolers; and was known for his Torah on Tap series, a popular evening of learning at a local bar. In addition, he championed innovative models of worship to expand the options for prayer and customized ritual for lifecycle events.

From 2005-2014, Rabbi Isenberg was spiritual leader, cantor, and Senior Rabbi of Shaar Shalom Congregation in Halifax, Canada. There, he served as Associate Chaplain of Dalhousie University and Queen Elizabeth II Health Centre, and sat on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus. While in university, Rabbi Isenberg regularly served as guest cantor at Shaare Zedek, Shaare Zion, and Beth El congregations in his hometown of Montreal, Canada.

Rabbi Isenberg was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. While studying at JTS, he achieved a Master’s in Sacred Music, was named Tanenbaum Fellow of Beth Tzedec (Toronto), Leffell Fellow of AIPAC, and Rabbinic Intern-in-Residence of Masorti France and the Jerusalem Open House.

Together with his wife, Gila, Rabbi Isenberg loves to travel, cook, and root for the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

Email:  rabbi@cbi-nj.org
Phone: 973-379-3811 x114

Schedule a meeting with Rabbi Isenberg: www.calendly.com/cbirabbi

Cantor Lorna Wallach

Lorna Wallach, a native of Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, received her Diploma of Hazzan in 1991, from the Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, in the fifth class to allow women to be invested as Hazzanim.

Cantor Wallach became the Cantor of Congregation B’nai Israel in 1998, after having served for nine years as the Cantor of Tifereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue in Manhattan. She received recognition in Glamour Magazine (July, 1992) as the first woman to serve as the Cantor of a Conservative synagogue in New York City. Cantor Wallach’s early experiences singing professionally in the Children’s Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera for eleven seasons and spending fifteen summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, including heading the music program there for five years, greatly influenced her decision to enter the Cantorate.

Cantor Wallach has performed locally, nationally and in Israel as a soloist with the New York Zamir Chorale and the SELAH vocal ensemble.

She and her husband Michael Kalet are the proud parents of Shira and Joshua.

Email: cbicantor@cbi-nj.org
Phone: 973-379-3811 x119

Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald, Director of Congregational Learning

Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald is dedicated to the idea that Jewish education should be fully accessible to all, since we are each created B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.

Rabbi Julie became Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation B’nai Israel in 2019, where she is responsible for educational programming for all ages.

Having grown up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Julie has a BA from Wesleyan University in Education Policy Studies and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University in Computing in Education. After years of teaching in public and private schools, Julie taught in the lower school of Golda Och Academy for 12 years. In 2014, she shifted careers to become a synagogue education director and received rabbinic ordination in 2019. Rabbi Julie is honored to serve on the boards of NewCAJE and the Jewish Educators Assembly, and to be the Associate Director of jMorim.org.

Email:  rabbijulie@cbi-nj.org
Phone:  973-262-3717

Harvey Brenner, Executive Director

Harvey joined Congregation B’nai Israel in 2017 after a successful 30+ year career in sales, marketing and general business management and after transitioning into the not-for-profit world as a synagogue executive some 18 years ago.

He is both a Fellow in Synagogue Administration (“FSA” as conferred by the North American Association of Synagogue Executives {NAASE}) and a Fellow in Temple Administration (“FTA” as conferred by The National Association for Temple Administration {NATA}, The Union for Reform Judaism and The Central Conference of American Rabbis) and is active in both organizations. In March of 2021, he will begin a two-year term as President of NAASE and is also a past president of the Garden State Network of Synagogue Executives.

Harvey also leads board training workshops on the subject of “Ethical Decision-Making in the Synagogue Boardroom”, a case-study based ‘clinic’ on how to frame board decisions within the context of a Jewish, organization as well as national webinars on synagogue collaboration, co-programming, co-locating and mergers.

He lives in Aberdeen, NJ with his “bride” of 48 years, Faith, and is most proud of his granddaughter Averi and newborn grandson, Landon (come see the photos in his office any time you’re in the building).

Email:  hbrenner@cbi-nj.org
Phone:  973-379-3811 x 118

Rabbi Steven Bayar, Emeritus

Rabbi Bayar served as Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel for 30 years, from 1989 until his retirement in 2019. Rabbi Steven Bayar holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.A. in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Biblical Studies from the University of Virginia. He was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and has served pulpits in Greenbelt, Maryland and Spring Valley, New York before coming to B’nai Israel Congregation in Millburn in 1989.

He’s the co-author of “Teens & Trust: Building Bridges in Jewish Education,” “Rachel & Misha,” and “You Shall Teach Them Diligently to Your Children: Transmitting Jewish Values from Generation to Generation.” He was the lead author of the ZIV/Giraffe Curriculum (Righteous Person’s Foundation) and as co-founder of Ikkar Publishing has written more than 40 curricula ranging from the “Philosophy of Moshe Chaim Luzzatto” to “Teaching Jewish Theology through Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and Rabbis Without Borders and has trained as a hospice chaplain, a Wise Aging facilitator and served as a trainer for #GamAni (the Jewish #MeToo Movement) for creating safe workspaces. He is currently the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation B’nai Israel and proudly teaches at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, New Jersey. Rabbi Steven Bayar is Founder and Executive Director of JSurge.

Lay Leaders

Our Board of Trustees are a dedicated group of lay leaders who support our congregation in countless ways.

Executive Committee

Mariela Markelis Dybner, President
Jamey Potechin, 1st Vice President
Henry Bloom, 2nd Vice President
Dan Dovdavany, 3rd Vice President
David Ehrlich, Treasurer
Robert Brauer, Financial Secretary
Susan Gordon, Secretary

Organizational Representatives to BOT

Rachel Benjamin, BBRS Religious School Board
Laurie Kavowras, CBI Preschool Board
Alex Marcus, Religious Affairs Committee
Jennifer Glick, Sisterhood
Jonathan Schor, Men’s Club

Designated Past Presidents

David Touger (through 2021)
Nan Greenwald (through 2022)

Trustees through 2021

Rachel Benjamin
Greg Daniel
Ed Hilzenrath
Jackie Printz
Ivy Samuels
Glenn Zarin

Trustees through 2022

Lisa Biller
Wendy Kaplowitz
Ben Levy
Carrie Masia
Karen Tucker

With Deep Appreciation to our Past Presidents

Barry Allen
Steve Brown
Jonathan Engel
Sheldon Greenholtz
Andrea Hirschfeld
Robert Marcus
Linda Sotnick
David Touger

Seymour Beneroff
Naomi Eisenberger
David Good
Nan Greenwald
Erik Lindauer
Ilisa Perlman
Joseph Tenenbaum