Elisabeth (Lis) Marks
Lis Marks was introduced to the DJC within two weeks of moving to Toronto from Montreal in 2008, and was immediately taken with the vibrancy, diversity, warmth, and music that the community creates together. Since then, Lis has jumped on opportunities to learn from and celebrate with the DJC. She is thrilled about the increasingly central role that this amazing community is playing in the life of her family.
Originally from New York City, with a background in community organizing and social justice advocacy, Lis has been working in public health as a researcher for over 10 years. She is also a committed bike commuter, an outdoors enthusiast, and an avid vegetarian cook and bread baker. Lis brings her perspectives as a new-ish member of this community (and Toronto) and as part of a “youngish and Jewish” queer family to the Board. She is excited to continue to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the DJC community.
Marlee Novak is a founding member of the Danforth Jewish Circle. She has had great pleasure in serving on committees and as the first Chair of the Board. Her husband David is a key contributor to our congregation as the original Yahrzeit Memorial Board creator and as a graphic designer and photographer. Their daughter Amanda was one of the first Bat Mitzvahs to be held through the DJC, and children Lauren and Zachary were among the first DJC after school program’s attendees.
Her careers have included television producer, wife, mother, active congregant and partner in a property management firm. Marlee is currently taking online courses in the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She hopes to be of help to those struggling with the final stages of life. It is with appreciation for our congregation that Marlee offers her time and dedication to this Board of Directors.
Hilla Keren grew up on a religious Kibbutz in Israel, near the Jordan River, that celebrated agriculture and Jewish life. From 1986 to 2014 she lived and worked as a social worker in Maryland and was an active member of the East Bank Havurah, an egalitarian fellowship promoting the joyful participatory practice of Judaism for people of diverse backgrounds and ages. Hilla taught Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons to children and adults and led Jewish prayers and community celebrations.
From 2005 to 2009 Hilla was an active member of the Living Room Dialogue and Love Thy Neighbor both of which are dedicated to improving Jewish-Palestinian relations and promoting peace and understanding between the two groups. In March 2014 Hilla moved to Toronto to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She joined the DJC in the fall of 2014 & has been active in community events, multi-faith programs, and the choir. She recently led a Shiva service for a DJC member and has helped lead a Rosh Chodesh group in Toronto.
Hilla has more than 20 years of experience in individual, couples, group, and family therapy with a passion for helping people achieve true healing. In her work, Hilla always leads with her heart, integrating the theory, skills, and knowledge obtained through years of experience into an intuitive process that goes beyond typical talk therapy. Hilla is looking forward to working with this wonderful, welcoming community.
Josh Greenhut and his wife Susan Rich have been members of the DJC since 2003; their 11-year-old Jonah and 8-year-old Sadie both attend the DJC school. Growing from a “high-holiday only” DJCer, to a hesitant member of the Fundraising Committee, and now to a member of the Board, Josh loves this community, in all its diversity, full-heartedness, and willingness to wrestle with big questions. Professionally, Josh is a researcher and brand strategist, working with companies to figure out and articulate who they are and what they stand for. He brings the same keen ear and respect for common vision to the DJC. In his spare time, Josh likes cycling, live indie rock, and playing monster with his kids.
Nadya has been involved in the DJC for 10 years. She was one of the founders of the DJC’s B’nei Mitzvah program; her elder son was in the first B’nei Mitzvah year, and her younger son was in the 2012-13 year. Both her sons also had individual Bar Mitzvahs at the DJC.
Nadya’s passion for the DJC centres on commitment to creating an open, thought-provoking, alternative and widely inclusive Jewish community. Understanding progressive Jewish community as a place that both welcomes and honours the diversity that walks through our doors, that centres mixed-faith and queer families, Jews of colour, those with disabilities or less access to economic resources, and all those who may often tend to be ‘outsiders’ to Jewish community, is an aspect of the DJC that is close to her heart and that she seeks to support and strengthen. A critical, thoughtful approach to Palestinian rights and peace in Israel/Palestine is also an aspect of the DJC to which she is committed. In her working life, Nadya is a sociologist and Associate Professor in the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University.
Shelley, his wife Keri Levine and their two children, Isabel and Ethan, are relative newcomers to the DJC. The Levines live in Riverdale and moved from a larger distant synagogue to the more intimate DJC. The move has been a most welcome change in their Jewish lives as they now can enjoy attending a neighbourhood shul with friends and family. Shelley and Keri especially value the easy-going approach the DJC brings to their Jewish life and the diversity of programming. Shelley has a small law firm specializing in the areas of Immigration, Refugee, and Family law. Shelley also teaches Immigration and Refugee law at the University of Western Ontario. When Shelley is not working, he enjoys photography, coaching hockey, playing squash, and skiing with the family.
Emma Firsten-Kaufman has been attending DJC services and events for half her life and is excited by the opportunity to be involved with the Board. With a Jewish identity borne of secular Sunday school, religious summer camp, and international volunteer work, she was committed to reconnecting as an adult to a Jewish community inclusive of the breadth of Jewish experience. Emma has a Masters of Public Health degree and works at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, where she is dedicated to making Ontario’s health system more coordinated, accessible, and evidence-based. When not working, she is mostly practicing Spanish, doodling, or dancing.
Mara and her family have been members of the DJC for over 10 years. Mara and her spouse have two children, both of whom attend the Jewish studies program at the DJC. Mara’s oldest child will be attending the B’nai Mitzvah program next year. In addition to being a mother of two very active children, Mara works full time in the criminal justice system and is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School where she teaches Criminal Procedure. Mara comes to the DJC Board with many years of board experience, having been on the board of a number of different not-for-profit agencies over the past twenty years. When not at work or with her family, Mara can be found playing hockey at her local hockey rink.