Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the Union for Progressive Judaism is responsible for governance and oversight of the organisation. Elections are held every two years for President, two Vice-Presidents, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Secretary and two members at large. The President has the prerogative to appoint representatives from affiliated bodies (as specified in the constitution of the UPJ), as well as members at large for specific portfolios. The Executive Director serves on the Executive Committee ex-officio.

Current members of the Executive Committee are:

President:Stephen Freeman

Stephen is the immediate past president of NSTE and was an active member of its board for over 10 years. He strongly believes Progressive Judaism provides pathways and connections for many Jews who would otherwise abandon their Jewish heritage and that the UPJ provided a vital role in providing resources and a community voice on behalf of Progressive Judaism.

Stephen is a lawyer with a major law firm in Sydney, has two sons Alex and Antony and lives with his partner, Rebecca Dreyfus at Crows Nest on the lower North Shore.


Vice-President:Bev Gelbart

Vice-President:Roger Mendelson

Roger has considerable business experience to contribute to his role at the UPJ. He is the author of two published books on business. He served as president of Temple Beth Israel from 2005-2008, and as vice-chair of Progressive Judaism Victoria (formerly "The Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism") for one year. Roger believes that the Progressive Movement should strive to be accessible, welcoming and  relevant in a pro-active way. Roger is married to Sue, and the couple has three grown children.



Honorary Secretary: Sharene Hambur

Sharene is a practising lawyer who has worked in the property industry for over 25 years. She has had a long and active involvement in both the Progressive Jewish community and the Zionist movement having served as president of her congregation, the Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism in Melbourne, as Chairman of the Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism and as a Vice-President of the Union of Progressive Judaism. Sharene is currently the Honorary Secretary of the Union of Progressive Judaism and a Vice-President of the Zionist Council of Victoria. She also serves on the Executive of the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Committee of Management of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Sharene is married to Sam and has two children both of whom are currently attending University.

Honorary Treasurer and WUPJ Representative:
David Robinson

David  was born in Cape Town, South Africa and grew up in the Progressive movement as a member of Temple Israel. He attended Netzer youth movement (previously known as NFTY and then Maginim) as a Chanich and subsequently assumed a leadership role within the movement where he ran meetings for various age groups as well as the first national Netzer camp. David is also a past President of a B’nai B’rith lodge in Cape Town and has undertaken numerous other leadership roles including representing South Africa at a world Boy Scout jamboree in Japan in 1971. He is a Chartered Accountant by profession and is married to Maureen who he met through Netzer. David and Maureen have 3 daughters who have also all been involved in Progressive Jewish activities over many years. They migrated to New Zealand in December 1997 and David was elected to the Board of Management of Beth Shalom in Auckland in March 1998. He assumed the role of Vice President in March 1999 and took over as President in December 1999, a position he filled for 3 ½ years. On completion of his term as President, David assumed the role of Treasurer of Beth Shalom for 2 years. He was elected to the Executive of the UPJ in November 2004 as Vice President and convened the previous 2 UPJ regional conferences. David was honoured to be elected as President of UPJ in November 2008.

Committee member: Bernice Cohen

Bernice has skills in policy development, organisational efficiency, analysis and strategic approaches to decision-making. She looks forward to contributing to the development of Jewish life in Australasia through her role on the UPJ Executive. She is an active member of Beit Shalom Synagogue, Adelaide and recently served four terms on its Board. In addition, she volunteers in various capacities with Jewish Community Services. Her Adelaide experience enables her to bring a perspective from a small Progressive Jewish community. Over the past couple of decades Bernice has been an annual visitor to Israel to spend time with her immediate family. Bernice is retired , having spent a long and interesting career as a South Australian public servant working on policy and management issues in the fields of environment, natural resources and water. Bernice’s leisure time is mostly taken up with community volunteering, swimming, bushwalking, socialising and travelling.

Committee member
: Philip Levy

Philip and his wife Lorraine joined North Shore Temple Emanuel in 1980 and, after moving to the eastern suburbs, joined Emanuel Synagogue in 2007. They were active in communal work and Philip served on the Board of NSTE as Treasurer for 4 years and Vice-President for 3 years. Philip and Lorraine have 2 adult daughters, Monica and Sonja. Professionally, Philip graduated as a chemical engineer and had a career including technical management, management consulting, and senior corporate roles. He held the position of Human Resources Director in a major retailer, a bank, and a legal firm. Philip is in his 60′s and since his retirement he and Lorraine have enjoyed their interests of theatre, music and travel, and keep busy with voluntary work for several groups.

Committee member: Joel Mendelson

Joel works as a Principal Performance Analyst for the Western Australian Office of the Auditor General. He has also taught Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations and Small Business Management in all of Western Australia’s public universities for the past 10 years. Joel is currently President of Temple David Congregation, and has previously served the congregation in the roles of Assistant Treasurer and Senior Vice President. He has also served on the committee / boards of many other volunteer organisations. Joel was also active in the AUJS movement, in 2003 traveling to Israel as part of the Birthright Israel Program. Joel is passionate about ensuring the relevance of Progressive Judaism, especially younger members of the Jewish community.

ARZA president: Barbara Ford

My family from Germany were early members of Temple Emanuel where I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah. Later we joined North Shore Temple Emanuel.  There I was actively involved in many committees including the Senior Citizens concerts over the past 27 years. While at NSTE I became a Board Member and Vice-President and, for several months, General Manager in the synagogue office. My involvement on the NSTE Board introduced me to the UPJ and their annual conferences. Since then I have regularly attended these conferences and become more involved in the work of the Progressive Movement. Prior to my retirement I worked in Telecommunications with both IBM and Plessey. My now retired partner Charles Simon and I live in Drummoyne. We have always enjoyed travelling and we have been fortunate to do this for both work and pleasure

Schools Representative: Rabbi Gersh Lazarow

Moetzah chair: Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky

I was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Reform congregation Temple Sinai. The first woman was ordained a rabbi not long before my eighth birthday, so from quite a young age I knew that it might be possible for me someday to be a rabbi. My childhood rabbi encouraged this by offering a number of young women the opportunity to do a one year rabbinic internship under his tutelage, and I met my first woman rabbinical student when I was eleven. By then, I had caught the bug and had already determined that I would pursue rabbinic studies following university. I earned my rabbinic degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. The American Reconstructionist movement has strongly influenced my style as a rabbi, encouraging me to work collaboratively with my lay leadership and to see myself as a teacher and facilitator rather than a preacher. Following rabbinical school, I initially worked for two years as part of multifaith chaplaincy teams in major teaching hospitals. At the end of a challenging second year working with pediatric oncology patients, I decided I was ready to experience the entire life cycle, and so I came to roost for ten years at a small congregation outside of Pittsburgh. Since 2006, I have served another small congregation--Beit Shalom Progressive Synagogue in Adelaide.


Executive Director: Steve Denenberg

English born, Israel trained Social Worker, Steve has been a proud Australian since he moved to Sydney with his wife and two daughters in 1986. After 18 years as CEO of Jewish Care (NSW) and perios as CEO of the federal body, Steve established Plum Partnerships, providing low-cost fundraising and ‘profile raising’ for Israel-based not-for-profits. In 2044, Steve joined Emanuel Synagogue as part-time and then full-time CEO. In 2008 he combined this role with that of Executive Director of the UPJ until, in August 2008, he joined the UPJ full-time. Steve has a Bechor of Social Work from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and post-graduate qualifications from the University fo Essex (U.K.) and the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is an alumnus of the Sydney Leadership program. During this time he has worked as a volunteer for numerous organisations, including the Refugee Council of Australia, the Refugee Advice & Casework Service, the Association of Jewish Communal Professionals, the 2000 Olympics and Emanuel School (as Board member, chairman and President) and has received the Centenary Award for services to the Jewish community, the aged, young people and people with disabilities.

Project coordinator: Jocelyn Robuck

Initially brought on board to coordinate the Mishkan T’filah project in 2009, Jocelyn’s role at the UPJ has expanded to include editing Gal Chadash, the UPJ’s quarterly e-newsletter, coordinating UPJ gatherings and conferences, website management and numerous other projects. Jocelyn and her husband Rabbi Gary Robuck and their three children David, Shoshana and Aaron, returned to Australia in 2003, and proudly became Australian citizens in 2010.


Administrative Officer: Ellen Frajman

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