Congregation B’nai Israel, Toms River, Installs New Officers and Board Members

Posted on June 29, 2023 By

Recently past president Phil Brilliant conducted an installation of officers of the executive board and board members of Congregation B’nai Israel, a Conservative Synagogue, 1488 Old Freehold Road, Toms River, N.J. Current president Michele Pardes and Rabbi Bill Gershon welcomed the new boards.

Officers of the 2023 Executive Board are president, Dr. Glenn Jacob, Toms River; Rubin Ackman, Lakewood, financial vice president; Penny Leifer, Manchester, membership vice president; Peter Kitay, Jackson, facilities vice president; Assaf Langer, Bayville, education vice president; Michael Falk, Lakewood, religion vice president; and Lisa Kassenoff, DO, Toms River, communications vice president.

The new 2023 board members of Congregation B’nai Israel are Alan Baxter, Lakewood; Elaine Collins, Toms River; Terri Gibbo, Toms River; Phyllis Kohl, Berkeley Township; Stephen Lieberman, Toms River; Dr. Kenneth Lipkowitz, Toms River; Robin London, Manchester; Janet Miller, Toms River; Michael Perks, Manchester; Caryn Phillips, Toms River; Robert Rabinowitz, DO, Toms River; Susan Schmeid, Berkeley Township; Fred Weil, Toms River; Allysa Weintraub, Toms River; and Sandy Welsher, Toms River.

For more information, call Michelle Goldman, 732-349-1244.

About Congregation B’nai Israel of Toms River: Congregation B’nai Israel of Toms River, a Conservative Jewish synagogue, was established more than a century ago. In 1920 Toms River was mainly a farming community, whose many Jewish families owned and operated chicken farms. In the early 1920s they established the Toms River Community of Jewish Farmers and a Jewish cemetery. The members constructed a building at the corner of Old Freehold Road and Whitty Road, which everyone called the Community House, a place to go for meetings, cultural events, and Jewish religious services.

On May 25, 1949, a group of thirty religiously-minded Jewish individuals, including some from the Community’s Religious Committee, gathered at the Community House to organize what is now Congregation B’nai Israel. Their objective was that the new congregation should satisfy the religious needs of all Jewish families living in Toms River, and it was to include Jewish education for adults as well as children. Instrumental in this effort were Dr. Solomon Soloff, an optometrist, and his wife, Yetta.

Congregation B’nai Israel was formally established in 1950. The original membership of B’nai Israel consisted of 120 families, including 28 young students. Its religious school was and still is referred to as the Talmud Torah. After a multi-year effort, the new congregation purchased two chicken farms directly across Old Freehold Road from the Community House and built a synagogue on that land. Its new building was dedicated on December 25, 1959. The Jewish community of Toms River continued to grow, as did the membership of Congregation B’nai Israel, eventually reaching 500 families.

In 1975 Cantor Daniel Green and Rabbi Richard Hammerman accepted positions with Congregation B’nai Israel. Under their joint leadership, the congregation grew and flourished. Together they conducted religious services, making it the norm—even to this day—for both women and men to be offered equal opportunities in all religious contexts, including being counted for a minyan and being honored with aliyot to the Torah. Hammerman and Green also officiated at weddings, funerals, shiva services and unveilings; visited congregants in hospitals and nursing homes; participated in interfaith services and forums; and much more.

In the early 1980s, Congregation B’nai Israel needed even more space. After a fundraising campaign, an addition to the synagogue building was constructed, doubling it in size. B’nai Israel congregant Lawrence Simpson, an accomplished commercial builder, oversaw the construction. The new addition was dedicated on October 9, 1983.

As the result of the foresight of B’nai Israel’s leadership, today the Education Endowment Fund generates enough income to sustain the Talmud Torah, enabling free education for the children of all congregants. That fund also enables the congregation to award scholarships to high school students for a summer program in Israel. Congregation B’nai Israel has always had, and continues to promote, its own local chapters of Kadima and United Synagogue Youth (USY), the teenage youth groups of the Conservative Movement.

In 2006, Rabbi Richard Hammerman retired after serving Congregation B’nai Israel for 31 years. Cantor Daniel Green, who had served B’nai Israel for 33 years, also retired at that time. Rabbi William Gershon, the current Rabbi, joined Congregation B’nai Israel in 2018.