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:

PresidentStephen 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-PresidentRoger 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.


Brian Samuel

Brian has been associated with the Progressive movement all his life . He is a Past President of Temple Beth Israel from 2008-2010 and President of Progressive Judaism Victoria from 2012 to current . In addition to his involvement with Progressive Judaism he is involved in a number of community organisations . He has been associated with the clothing industry for just on fifty years with expertise in marketing. He has been appointed an Ambassador for White Ribbon Australia , an organisation that campaigns to stop violence against women. He believes that Progressive Judaism brings innovation and creativity to Jewish traditions. It should provide pathways to its members and friends to enjoy an engagement with Progressive Judaism that enhances their lives through spiritual enrichment , learning and community. Brian is married to Jenny and they have two grown children and five grandchildren.

Honorary Secretary: Jim Cyngler


Jim was born in Ramat Gan, Israel. He has lived in Australia since he was 2 years old. A lawyer by training, Jim has developed an expertise in facilitating change through dialogue for individuals, organisations and Boards. He has for over 25 years chaired and served on many not-for-profit Boards, both within and outside of the Jewish Community. Jim was President of The King David School for 11 years during which he oversaw substantial organisational, infrastructure and enrolment growth. He is currently President of The Kedem Community. He was awarded an OAM for services to Jewish Education in 2009.


Honorary Treasurer: Sally Castle

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: Bob Cooper

Committee member
Alison Dwyer

Alison is the Immediate Past President of Beit Shalom Synagogue in Adelaide and has been serving on the board of Beit Shalom since 2006.  Alison grew up in the American reform movement in a large Jewish community in Baltimore, Maryland but was driven to become actively involved in synagogue management when joining a much smaller community.  Alison delivers an urban renewal project for the South Australian Government in one of Adelaide’s lowest socio-economic areas and will bring strong project management, strategic thinking, budgeting and governance skills to the UPJ executive.  Alison is passionate about supporting the smaller Jewish communities in our region to ensure they are able to have sustainable progressive congregations and stay connected to Judaism.

Committee member: Susan Kadar 

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.

Moetzah chair: Rabbi Adi Cohen

Netzer federal mazkira: Shira Appelboom
Growing up in a Progressive Jewish household in Melbourne, it was unsurprising that Shira completed 13 years of schooling at The King David School and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at Kedem. She attended her first Netzer camp at the age of 3 as the daughter of the camp medic. Shira’s progressive Jewish journey continued with the Shnat Netzer program in 2013 where her enthusiasm for youth empowerment and Progressive Jewish education exposed her to the world of Progressive Jewish leadership. She is therefore very excited to fulfill the role of Federal Mazkira of Netzer in 2015. Outside of Netzer, Shira spends her time at Monash University studying a double degree of Arts and Law and volunteers at the student run vegan and vegetarian Wholefoods café at the Clayton campus. She enjoys puzzles, hiking, improving her Hebrew and reading Winnie-the-Pooh. She looks forward to the challenge of shaping the vision of Netzer Australia and being an active member of the UPJ executive.

Netzer Shaliach: Yuval Nemirovsky

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