Board of Directors

Jay Benanav is an attorney with Weinblatt & Gaylord PLC, a progressive law firm specializing in civil practice. He has practiced law and run businesses for over 30 years. Jay is also Director of Government Relations at Augsburg College. He served on the St. Paul City Council for 10 years. Jay has a J.D. from St. John’s Law School and has attended Harvard School of Government and Columbia University School of Business.

Ralph Bernstein is a member of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka and has been an active member of the Twin Cities Jewish community since 1996, when he and his family relocated from Baltimore, Maryland.  Ralph is an associate member of Hadassah and served for seven years on the board of trustees and executive committee of Bet Shalom Congregation.  Ralph is senior vice president and business leader of the healthcare payment solutions business of U.S. Bank.

Sally Bressler has served as president of Bet Shalom Congregation, as a trustee of the North American Board of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and as a trustee of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Foundation.  Currently, she teaches religious school at Bet Shalom and serves on the board of the National Council of Jewish Women and also is a member of the Community Development Steering Committee of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and a trustee of the Federation's Women's Endowment Fund.

Laura Ferenci is a former educator and longtime community advocate, having served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Guardian Ad Litem, a crisis interventionist for Chrysalis Center for Women and Womenkind, and other teen and youth advocacy programs.  She is Local Arrangements Director for the Minneapolis Talk Cinema Film Series and owns and operates a floral design business.  She has served as President of the Medicine Lake Women's Club and is trained as a community fire fighter.  For JCA, she has worked on the Marriage Amendment and Freedom to Marry Campaigns and joined the JCA Board in 2014.

Steven Foldes has long been a leader in the Jewish community and is a member of Beth Jacob Congregation.  He is a social scientist and has worked as a researcher and an executive in government and industry settings conducting public health and health services research on topics ranging from tobacco control to gerontology.  He recently started Foldes Consulting LLC, an independent consulting practice in health care, and was appointed an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.  He is married to Riv-Ellen Prell and together they successfully raised two adult daughters.

Rabbi Simeon Glaser (Rabbinic Liaison) is Associate Rabbi of Temple Israel (Reform). An accomplished guitarist and singer/songwriter, Rabbi Glaser attended Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, held a rabbinical position in Connecticut, and continues to work on music, social justice, teaching children and adults, and leading a very large Reform congregation.

Geri Katz has been the political organizer for the Minnesota Nurses Association for three years, facilitating nurse participation in policy and advocacy on behalf of patients and the nursing profession. Prior to that, she spent five years as a political organizer for the Service Employees International Union, and three years at Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Geri has volunteered for many social justice organizations and campaigns, and served as a board member and chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. She is a member of Shir Tikvah Synagogue. 

Abi Kritzer has served on the Indie Jews Leadership Team for the past three years.  She works as a research associate in analytical chemistry at a metro area biotech company, and does volunteer work assisting the education staff at a hawk observatory and research station in Duluth.

Bill Lerman was a teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders at Rondo Learning Center. He taught in St. Paul Schools for 29 years. Bill has served as the board chair of Leland-Johnson Common Vision Program, in JCA's GIFT, and with JCA's Racial Justice Leadership Team. He is a member and serves on the board of Temple of Aaron.

Tom Marver is a 4th generation member of Mt. Zion Temple in Saint Paul, having previously served on its Board of Directors and currently serving on its Tzedek/Social Action Committee. He is a graduate of Saint Paul Academy, received his A.A. degree from Menlo College and his B.A. degree in Chinese philosophy and political science from New York University (NYU).  In college, he was active in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and student government.  He worked for twelve years as a financial and budget analyst for H. B. Fuller Company before working for eighteen years for the city of Saint Paul in the Mayor’s office and other city departments as a political appointee.  His chief passion is working on all types of campaigns where he has specialized in doing opposition research. He worked for Minnesotans United for All Families for a year and a half and served on the JCA working group to defeat the marriage amendment. He works now closely with the Religious Action Center (RAC) and is an at-large member of the Commission on Social Action for Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.

Ed Rapoport has long worked professionally as a Software Engineer, currently for Rural Community Insurance Services, a division of Wells Fargo.  He serves on the board and continues to be a volunteer speaker for the Jewish Community Relations Council.  Ed belongs to Darchei Noam Congregation.  He served as president of Kenneseth Israel Congregation and has been a member of Mayim Rabim, Adath Jeshurun, Beth Jacob and Mt. Zion Temple in his long and varied Jewish life. He plays viola in the St. Paul JCC Orchestra and drives the trolley at Lake Harriet as a volunteer for the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. Ed is also an enthusiastic recumbent bicyclist.

Andrea Rubenstein is an attorney with Schaefer Law and specializes in employment and labor law. Andrea is a member of Shir Tikvah Congregation.

Elana Schwartzman has a background in marketing and communications, having worked with nonprofit, for-profit, and electoral organizations and campaigns throughout the Twin Cities with a particular emphasis on social media strategies and online community development.  Elana spent seven years at Wellstone Action, leading grassroots issue campaigns and training on citizen activism, and led social media and digital marketing for a statewide network of museums at the Minnesota Historical Society. Elana is currently a graphic designer and communications consultant working with nonprofit organizations and creative entrepreneurs.

Jacob Smith is an attorney for the Minnesota Department of Revenue in the Appeals and Legal Services division where he deals with Sales and Use tax. He has an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue.

Mary Ann Barrows Wark is active in early childhood, education and Jewish community issues.  She currently serves as Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and is on the Steering Committee of the Community Planning Process. She is past President of Mount Zion Temple and recently cochaired its sesquicentennial programs and its capital campaigns. She is chair its History Committee and heads its Oral History Project. She is a member of the Tzedek Committee and recently co-chaired the Children’s Initiative. She teaches as the Tzedakah specialist in the Religious School. She served on the Capital campaign for Sholom East and designed the concepts for the children’s areas there. She served as President and is now Trustee Emeritus at Think Small (formerly Toys N’ Things and Resources for Child Caring.) She also served many terms on the Board of Directors for St. Paul Academy-Summit School where she chaired the Education Committee and served on the capital campaign.  She served several terms on the Board at MacPhail Center for Music and served on its capital campaign.  She recently retired from teaching preschool at Jean Lyle Children’s Center where she still serves on their Board.  Many years ago she served on the Neighborhood House Board. She received her A.B. cum laude from Radcliffe College-Harvard University; her MAT from Harvard Graduate School of Education and her JD from Boston University School of Law.