Clergy

RABBI ROBERT GAMER

rgamer@congbethshalom.org

Rabbi Gamer came “home” to join Congregation Beth Shalom as our spiritual leader. He is a native of Oak Park, Michigan and a graduate of Berkley High School and the University of Michigan. He earned a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary and received his ordination from JTS in 2002. Formerly, he was Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove, Illinois for eight years.

Rabbi Gamer is married to Wendy Miller Gamer, who received her Master’s degrees from JTS andColumbia School of Social Work. They have four children: Maya, Oz, Aryeh and Avishai. 

RABBI DAVID A. NELSON, RABBI EMERITUS

ravdavid@comcast.net

Rabbi David Nelson served Beth Shalom as its spiritual leader for more than 35 years. Throughout his tenure he has been active in the community at large, taking special interest in chaplaincy programs such as Beaumont HospitalDetroit Police DepartmentMichigan State Police andOakland County’s Sheriff Department.  His warmth and informality are hallmarks of his rabbinate. Rabbi Nelson has served as President of the Conservative Rabbis of Metropolitan Detroit, President of Michigan Branch of Rabbis, a member of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, President of the Michigan Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, and Chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Member Committee.  On the Jewish communal scene, Rabbi Nelson has been the director of the Michigan region’s United Synagogue of America, a board member of Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Jewish National FundJewish Association for Residential Care, the Fresh Air Society, theHebrew Free Loan Association, the Jewish Community Council, and Jewish Federation Apartments. In the ecumenical sphere, Rabbi Nelson has been active with the Detroit Round Table of the National Conference of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Rabbi Nelson is a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a graduate of Brandeis University, and he was ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1967.

He is married to Alicia, who is the owner of Tradition! Tradition!, a Judaica business. They have three adult children: Harry, Reva, and Deborah.

CANTOR SAMUEL L. GREENBAUM, CANTOR EMERITUS

perfectnow@excite.com

“Cantor Sam” Greenbaum has been with Beth Shalom since 1973 and has served as cantor, teacher, bar/bat mitzvah coach, choir director, and more during his tenure. His warmth, humor and caring nature have endeared him to our synagogue family. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Cantor Greenbaum is a graduate of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is a member of the Cantors Assembly of America and has served as President of the Tri-State Region Cantors Council and the Cantors Council of Detroit. Cantor Greenbaum is a regular speaker and performer for Jewish organizations – and is the mohel of choice for Jewish families in the metro Detroit area.

Cantor Sam Greenbaum remains a vital member of the Beth Shalom clergy team and will continue to fulfill all of his other responsibilities as prescribed by the congregation, participating at life cycle moments, providing pastoral care, preparing students for their bar/bat mitzvah milestones, helping adults learn how to lead various services, chant Torah and Haftarah, and above all else, always being attentive to the spiritual needs of his congregants.

Cantor Greenbaum is married to Mona, a retired teacher, and they have three adult children: Rabbi Alex, Ilana, and Sheri.

Officers and Directors

President
Eric Zacks - ezacks98@yahoo.com
 

Eric and his wife, Renee, became members of Congregation Beth Shalom in 2007. He currently serves as Vice President and has served as trustee as well as a member of several synagogue committees. Renee is a former President of the Gan Board. Eric is an Assistant Professor of Law atWayne State University Law School, where he teaches corporations, corporate finance, securities regulation, contracts, and other business law courses.  Prior to joining the law school faculty, he was a partner at the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, where he advised private equity funds and other corporate clients regarding mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and other corporate transactions and issues.  Eric received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his law degree from Harvard Law School. Renee and Eric have three children: Asher, Micah, and Leah.

 

Executive Vice President
Barry Chesterman - chesterman@wowway.com
 

Barry and his wife, Elaine Webber, have been members of Congregation Beth Shalom since 1988. Barry serves on the Budget Committee and was Treasurer and a Trustee in the past. When their four children, Benjamin, Nathan, Miriam, and Ari, were at home they each actively participated in shul and community events. Benjamin currently lives in Chicago, and at the time of this writing, Nathan is studying chimpanzees in Uganda. Miriam and Ari spent the past year in Israel on the Young Judea Year Course program. Barry manages rehab departments in 12 post-acute care centers. He received his undergraduate degree from Tel Aviv University and his MBA fromMichigan State University.

 

Vice President
Barbara “Bobbie” Lewis - blewis14140@gmail.com
 

Bobbie Lewis and her husband Joe joined Congregation Beth Shalom in 1988.  Bobbie has spent her career as a nonprofit organizational communicator, working for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan DetroitSinai Hospital of DetroitHospice of MichiganLutheran Social Services of Michigan and other health care organizations. She retired in 2012 and now is a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News and associate editor for the Michigan Jewish History Journal.  She also manages two food blogs, Bobbie’s Best Recipes andFeed The Spirit. Bobbie chaired the Beth Shalom Cultural Commission for several years, is a member of the Sisterhood Executive Committee, and a long time member of the Sisterhood Evening Book Club. Bobbie is also on the board of the Eleanor Roosevelt Group of Hadassah and of WISDOM, a women’s interfaith organization. Bobbie has a B.A. from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  She spent her junior year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her senior year at an Antioch program in London, where she met her husband, Joe. Bobbie also has a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University and a master’s in administration from Central Michigan University. The Lewises have three grown children, Miriam Gardin, an arts administrator in New Jersey; Aaron, a musician based in Nashville; and Hannah, a certified massage therapist who runs Detroit Massage and Wellness in Detroit’sCorktown area.  They have two granddaughters.

 

Vice President
Glen Pickover - gh.pickover@att.net
 

Glen and his wife Wendy (Berger) joined Beth Shalom in 2001, although Wendy’s parents have been active members since the 1960s.  The Pickovers were married at Beth Shalom in 1983 and have one adult child, Aaron, who is a graduate of Beth Shalom’s Hebrew School.  Aaron is currently attending college at Oakland University and is active in the Men’s Club.  Since joining the congregation, Glen has been actively involved in congregational life.  Glen has served on the Board of Directors in a variety of roles, including Chair of the Youth Commission and as Secretary. Glen has also served as a member of the School Board and participated in the most recent Rabbi search. Glen is currently chair of the Ritual Committee and serves on the Strategic Planning Committee.  Glen has served on the Board of Directors in a variety of roles including as Chair of the Youth Commission, Secretary and Vice President.  Glen is also a member of the Men’s Club. Glen is a graduate of Central Michigan University and received his Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law. Glen is a Partner at the law firm of Gregory and Meyer P.C., located in Troy, Michigan and represents various insurance companies on matters related to insurance coverage disputes.  Glen currently serves as President of the National Society of Professional Insurance Investigators Michigan Chapter and is a national delegate to the organization.

 

Vice President
Gretchen Weiner - gnweiner@msn.com
 

Gretchen and her husband Neil have been members of Beth Shalom since 1996. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and English from McMaster University, a B.Ed. in Elementary Education from York University and an AMLS from the  University of Michigan. She worked for a number of years as a librarian at the Cranbrook Institute of Science and is currently Head of Reference and Instruction at the Lawrence Technological University Library in Southfield. Over the years, Gretchen has been active in local library organizations. Gretchen and Neil have both been active participants in various aspects of synagogue life. One of their most interesting experiences was participation on the Beth Shalom Synagogue 2000 committee. Gretchen has also served as co-chair of the Cultural Commission. Gretchen participates in the Sisterhood Sunday Evening Book Club and was part of the planning committee for the Women’s Seder. Gretchen and Neil share their Livonia home with two cats and a dog.

 

Treasurer
Neil Zemmol - neil_zemmol@denso-diam.com
 

Neil and his wife, Shari, have been lifelong members of Congregation Beth Shalom.  Their daughters, Rachel and Julia, both have become a bat mitzvah at CBS and attended CBS religious school.  Neil served on the CBS Religious School Board for five years.  Neil was the CBS Treasurer in 2013 and served as a member of the budget committee for three years.  He has an Accounting degree fromWestern Michigan University and a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Walsh College.  He is currently employed by DENSO International America where he is the Director of Finance.  Neil is also a Certified Treasury Professional.

 

Secretary
Aaron Schwartz - therishbi@gmail.com
 

Aaron and his wife Rachel have been members of Beth Shalom since 2011.  Aaron has been involved in the Ritual and Communications committees as well as Men’s Club; and he maintains the Beth Shalom website and Facebook page.  Rachel works part time in the Beth Shalom office as an Administrative Assistant, and also works at Temple Emanu-El’s Early Childhood Center.  Together with daughter Pearl, the Schwartzes are involved with the Young Families Havurah.

Aaron recently completed an M.A. in Urban Planning at Wayne State University, and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.  He has been Treasurer of Beth Shalom and in the past and also held that position at two other synagogues – the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and Congregation Hava Nashira.

 

Immediate Past President
Marie Slotnick - marieslot@aol.com

The Slotnick family have been members of Beth Shalom since its inception. Marie was confirmed and graduated from Beth Shalom Religious School and later worked there as a Sunday School second grade teacher and music instructor.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in secondary education and a master’s degree in the teaching of reading and an additional master’s degree in English from Oakland University.  Marie is a retired high school and community college teacher. Currently, she serves on the Ritual and Program for Organized Development committees, is a regular evening Minyanaire, has emceed three Chai Life Celebrations, and has been known to give a sermon or two when asked.

 

Director
Bryan Beckerman - bandtbeckerman@wideopenwest.com
 

Bryan and his wife, Teresa, became members of Congregation Beth Shalom in 2010. He has served as a member of two synagogue committees: the Cantor Search Committee and Nominating Committee, as well as helped out during Shelter Week the past several years. Teresa is a current member of the Religious School Board. Bryan is an attorney with Novara, Tesija, P.L.L.C.  His areas of practice include ERISA, corporate law, real estate and civil litigation.  Bryan received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his law degree from Wayne State University. Bryan and Teresa live in Huntington Woods with their twin daughters, Eden (11) and Brooke (11). He looks forward to taking an active role in Beth Shalom’s growth.

 

Director
Susan Friedman - susanjfriedman@gmail.com
 

Susan and her husband Ted joined Beth Shalom in 1998.  Since retiring as a Physician Assistant, she has become very active in the synagogue.  Her activities include: current CBS Board Director, Gabbai Rishon once a month, active member of the Programming Committee, preparing Kiddush monthly, frequent kitchen and cleanup for other events, helping with Shelter Week and other activities as needed.  Susan is also a member of the Executive Board of Sisterhood, Sisterhood Education Committee and the Sisterhood Evening Book Club.  Ted is an active member of Men’s Club and Susan helps frequently with Men’s Club activities.  Susan and Ted were recent Chai Life honorees.  Susan has a B.S. and M.Ed in Special Education from Wayne State University as well as M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies from University of Detroit Mercy.  Susan and Ted have two married children, Will who lives with his wife Sabine and their daughter Eva in Seattle, and Ed who lives with his wife Jessica and their daughter Madeleine in New York.

 

Director
Julie Grodin – julie.grodin@att.net
 

Julie Grodin and her husband Rob have been members of CBS since 1996.  Their daughter Amy went through religious school and had her Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue.  Julie has been an active member of Circle of Friends since 1998, after returning from a teacher exchange program in Russia.  She has been the director of COF since 2006. Julie was a co-chair of the Chai Life Silent Auction Committee in 2014.  She has also been a Sisterhood co-vice president of Programming for two years, a vice president of Sisterhood Membership for two years and is in her second year as Sisterhood Vice President of Tikun Olam.  In 2015, Julie chaired the Sisterhood Tikun Olam “Empty Bowls” committee.  Julie was last year’s Donor Honoree for Sisterhood. She has assisted during shelter week since 2008, and since 2011 she has been the coordinator of Shelter Week for the synagogue.  She has been an active board member for the last 8 years as a representative from Circle of Friends.  Julie is a Special Education Resource Teacher with Farmington Public Schools and has been teaching for 36 years.  She has a B.A. in Social Sciences and holds Special Education Degrees in Cognitive Impairments, Visual Impairments, and Teacher of the Homebound fromWayne State University.  Julie completed graduate work in Reading and Curriculum and Instruction fromMichigan State University. She currently teaches all academic areas to elementary special education students.  In her spare time, after tending to her cats and her family, she tutors students with special needs, plays Mah Jongg, enjoys reading, and is a member of the Sisterhood evening book club. She is an avid knitter and in 2014 co-chaired Sisterhood Coffee and Crafts.  Julie has lived with her husband and daughter in Huntington Woods since 1986 and is very happy to continue to serve as a Director for the coming year.

 

Director
Beth Rodgers - bethlrodgers@gmail.com
 

Beth and her husband David started attending Beth Shalom in the fall of 2012.  They joined in February of 2013.  A few months later, in June, their first child, Evan, was born.  They are active attendees at shul services and events.  Beth holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English Education from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, respectively.  She is a college English instructor at Baker College in Clinton Township, and she has also recently published her first book, a young adult novel titled Freshman Fourteen. In addition, she works as a professional editor and custom poem/speech writer. Beth is very excited about being a director on the board and is looking forward to staying involved with Beth Shalom.

 

Director
Molly Rott – molly.rott@gmail.com
 

The Rott family has been a member of Beth Shalom for over twenty years.  Molly became a bat mitzvah here and graduated from Beth Shalom Hebrew High School.  As a junior in CBS’ Religious School, Molly participated on the congregational school improvement board and continues to serve presently on the religious school board.  During the high holidays Molly participated in the Beth Shalom choir.  Molly attends Wayne State University and will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in Biology.  After graduation, Molly hopes to attend a Physician Assistant (PA) program and work as a pediatric PA.  In addition to being a student and an active member at CBS, Molly is the President of the Jewish Student Organization at Wayne State.   Molly treasures being involved at CBS and looks forward to playing a bigger role at Beth Shalom.

 

Director
Arnie Weiner - ajw_msw@juno.com
 

Arnie has been a member of  Beth Shalom since 1980, and both of his children, Matt and Eve, were bar/bat mitzvahed at CBS and attended its religious school. His grandson, Mason, is enrolled in the Gan. He holds a BA in Political Science and an MSW in Community Practice from the University of Michigan. He retired as Michigan Region Senior Executive Director from the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization in 2008 after a 39-year career with the agency. Arnie served as a member of the BBYO National Management Team from 1995-2003, and in 2000-2001 he served as Interim International BBYO Director. He has led teen programs to Israel eight times, three of them as part of the March of the Living. From 2003-2007 Arnie directed the BBYO Chapter Leadership Training Conference in Los Angeles. Arnie is married to Shira Shapiro, who serves as Executive Director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield. At Beth Shalom, Arnie has served as a member of the Religious School Board, on the Cantor’s Celebration committee, as a volunteer during Homeless Week, and as a member of the Rabbi Search, membership, and communications committees. He currently serves as a Trustee and is the editor of the monthly Hakol. He is also involved as a volunteer at Yad Ezra. Arnie is a regular participant at Shabbat and Yom Tov services at Beth Shalom.

 

Director
Greta Zalman - Gzatty@aol.com
 

Greta and her husband, Marvin, found their home at Beth Shalom in 1992, following short memberships in two other area synagogues. She has served on the CBS Disabilities Committee, the Investment Committee and on the Synagogue 2000 project. Greta has a B.S. in Biology from theCity College of New York and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where she met Marv, following which they served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Nigeria from 1967-69.  After coming to the Detroit area in 1982, she practiced real estate and probate law as a sole practitioner, and was an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit/Mercy School of Law for 21 years, first teaching Estates and Trusts and then Real Estate Transactions.  Greta currently volunteers at the Wayne Mediation Center as a civil mediator in probate cases. She also serves as volunteer legal advisor to Proving Innocence, a non-profit innocence project formed to provide investigatory resources to those professing innocence of a crime which they did not commit (for which they are in prison) and to educate the public about these miscarriages of justice. The Zalmans have two adult children, Seth, in New York City, and Amy, in Washington, D.C.

Administrative Staff

 

Sheryl Kaminer, Office Manager-skaminer@congbethshalom.org

Our Members

Our own Fritzi Roth will be interviewing CBS members to tell the story of our families.  Watch this space as interviews take place!