Our Clergy, Staff & Lay Leaders

TeamAdas

TEAM ADAS

Adas Israel is a sacred, collaborative undertaking made possible through the dedicated, loving, visionary work of our talented team of clergy, professional staff, and lay leadership. Here, you can learn more about some of the extraordinary humans who strive, day in and day out, to make the world of Adas GO. 
 

 

OUR CLERGY

 

the rabbiRabbi Gil Steinlauf, Senior Rabbinic Advisor, joined Adas Israel Congregation as senior rabbi in 2008. He is widely respected for his success in re-envisioning the nature of our historic synagogue. Upon joining Adas Israel in 2008, Rabbi Steinlauf pioneered a paradigm shift that lifts up innovative modes of study and exploration of meaning as central in synagogue life. Rabbi Steinlauf is the first senior rabbi of a large, historic, conservative congregation to come out as openly gay, and through his honesty, has sought to create an atmosphere of constructive dialogue on the issues facing modern culture and Judaism.  He had previously been the rabbi of Temple Israel in New Jersey (since 2001). He is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University, and also studied at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, earned an MHL from the University of Judaism, and received rabbinic ordination and an MA at JTS.Currently, Rabbi Steinlauf is on the boards of the Washington Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. He sits on the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council.  He also sits on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee of JTS. He is an alumnus of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and a member of the Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership’s Rabbis Without Borders program. Along with Adas clergy and staff, Rabbi Steinlauf co-founded three nationally recognized projects now operating out of Adas Israel: YP@AI for Jewish Young Professionals, MakomDC for 21st century experiential learning, and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington for meditation, yoga, and contemplative Jewish practices. Rabbi.Steinlauf@adasisrael.org

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 3.24.43 PMRabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, oversees all adult education at the synagogue, in addition to her many pastoral and service leadership duties. She co-created three nationally recognized projects now operating out of Adas Israel — YP@AI (a community of Jewish Young Professionals [re]discovering their Jewish identities through programs, services, and events), MakomDC (a 21st century learning center offering dynamic programming and study around a variety of secular and religious topics), and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington (a Center dedicated to harnessing Jewish Mindfulness and contemplative practices).  She has also developed the Return Again Shabbat and High Holy Day experiences – soulful, musical worship experiences that attract thousands of Adas members and other DC-area Jews.  Previously Rabbi Holtzblatt had served as the Hillel Foundation Director of Campus Initiatives and as associate rabbi at the Yale University Hillel. Rabbi Holtzblatt was also a rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in New York. Under Rabbi’s Holtzblatt’s loving direction, the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington has now been nationally endorsed as one of America's Top 82 Innovative Jewish Organizations, via the coveted Slingshot Guide for Jewish Innovation. Selected from among thousands of finalists reviewed by 112 professionals with expertise in grant-making and communal life, the Guide says that the JMCW is “altering perceptions of synagogue life and engagement and is a model for other communities on what it means to be a catalyst for change.” Rabbi.Holtzblatt@adasisrael.org

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARabbi Aaron Alexander served for ten extraordinary years as Associate Dean and Lecturer in Rabbinics and Jewish Law at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Alongside his considerable teaching, managerial duties, and pastoral work at the Ziegler School, Rabbi Alexander was always involved in pulpit work, focusing on community building, teaching and preaching, and as an advisor to rabbis all over North America. He served as monthly rabbi-in-residence at Temple Aliyah, offered regular teaching and preaching at IKAR, and for two years co-led High Holy Day family minyan services at Sinai Temple. He was also active in the greater Los Angeles community, serving on the Board of Woman Against Gun Violence, and sitting on the Clergy Caucus of LA VOICE-PICO, a national faith-based organizing coalition. He is a certified mashgiach (kosher supervisor) by the Conservative Movement's Rav Hamachshir program, currently serves on its Committee for Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), and is a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. Rabbi Alexander was recently appointed a Rabbi Samuel T. Lachs Fellow in the 2015 cohort of LEAP, a joint program of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Rabbis Against Gun Violence, is on the Advisory Committee for Death Over Dinner—Jewish Edition, and sits on Mayor Bowser’s  Ward 3 Short-term Family Housing Advisory Team. Rabbi Alexander and his wife, Rabbi Penina Alexander, have three young sons, Ariel, Eliav and Amos. Rabbi.Alexander@adasisrael.org

 

Cantor Brown

Cantor Arianne Brown was invested as a “Hazzan” and received a Master of Arts in Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005 where she won the Hazzan Max Wohlberg Award and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from JTS in 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education/Voice degree from Rutgers University and is a high school graduate of the Hebrew Academy of Atlantic County, NJ. Cantor Brown served Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, CA from 2006 through 2012 where she had a large liturgical, educational, and musical portfolio. Fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish, Cantor Brown is an expert Torah and Megilah reader, pianist, composer and arranger, and theatre director. A renowned specialist in Yiddish music, Cantor Brown performed in off-Broadway productions of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Safra Hall, Disney Hall, the Krakow Jewish Music Festival, and Warsaw’s Ida Kaminska State Theatre. She is the author of the bi-weekly “Dear Cantor” advice column in the Yiddish Forverts and has been published in the Journal of Synagogue Music. She is conversant in Farsi and recently sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium. Cantor Brown is married to Rabbi Randy Brown and they have two young sons. Cantor.Brown@adasisrael.org

 

kerrithRabbi Kerrith Rosenbaum, Director of Education. Rabbi Rosenbaum joined Adas Israel as Director of Education in the summer of 2014, overseeing and directing all aspects of congregational education for members age 0-18, and their families. She has a rich and varied background in education and Jewish learning.  She previously served as Senior Jewish Educator at Tufts University Hillel, and  Director of Teen Programming and Family Life Educator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in NY, and has worked in a variety of other settings, including day school and camp. Rabbi.Rosenbaum@adasisrael.org

 


 

 

CLERGY EMERITI

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Stanley Rabinowitz, z"l Jeffrey A. Wohlberg  Avis D. Miller Arnold Saltzman
Rabbi Rabbi Rabbi Rabbi, Cantor

 

SENIOR STAFF

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David Polonsky, Executive Director. David was appointed Adas Israel Congregation’s Executive Director in 2014. Previously, David served as the Congregation’s Director of Marketing & Communications, and, beginning February 2014, as an Interim Executive Director.  Immediately prior to joining the senior staff at Adas Israel, David enjoyed a successful career in Strategic Planning, Marketing/Communications, and Audience Development at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, where he supervised large communications teams and was responsible for major strategic earned and contributed revenue campaigns. David happily serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE), and has also worked and volunteered in a synagogue setting from an early age. David also has an extensive background in performing arts, live events, and Jewish studies. His commitment to his own Jewish journey, and his highly successful career as both a Jewish communal professional and an organizational strategic planner make him an ideal leader for our diverse and thriving congregational community. David.Polonsky@adasisrael.org.

Sheri 2012 Sheri Brown, Gan HaYeled PreSchool Director, has worked in early childhood education for over 25 years as a teacher and administrator. She started her own NAEYC accredited pre-school and most recently was the Early Childhood Director of the Rosie Uran Jewish Education Center at Congregation Sha’are Shalom in Leesburg. Reach Sheri at Sheri.Brown@AdasIsrael.org.
Hazzan Rachel Goldsmith, Ritual Director,  joined Adas Israel in the summer of 2015.  She was invested as a Hazzan by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary where she also received an MA in Sacred Music.   She also holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College and the University of Michigan.  Hazzan Goldsmith has extensive experience as a Hazzan and Ritual Director and has taught all ages from pre-school through senior adults. In the Washington Metropolitan area, she taught at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, the Jewish Primary Day School and was a service leader at The Hebrew Home of Greater Washington.  Hazzan Goldsmith brings impressive administrative, organizational, and Jewish skills to our congregation – as well as a deep love for Torah, Jewish life, history and community. Hazzan Goldsmith and her husband, Howard Ungar, are the parents of three emerging adults. Reach Rachel at Hazzan.Goldsmith@adasisrael.org.
CaroleHeadshot Carole KleinDirector of Operations, joined the Adas Israel staff in July 2012 following a nine year position as Executive Director at Congregation B'nai Israel in Basking Ridge, NJ. Carole is responsible for the oversight of all operational and House & Grounds management for the synagogue. Before this major career change, Carole was at AT&T where she led product teams to many successful market launches, most notably AT&T 800 service for small business, as well as new concept efforts such as internet banking and early stage e-commerce projects. Carole has an undergraduate degree in Education, a Masters in Counseling from the Pennsylvania State University and enjoys the challenge of applying her corporate experiences in a synagogue environment. Carole.Klein@adasisrael.org
marcy

Marcy Spiro, Director of Membership Engagement. Marcy comes to us from the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC where she successfully served as Community Engagement Manager for over four years. She has also worked and taught religious school in a synagogue setting for many years. Marcy will be working with lay leaders, clergy, and staff to ensure that our members, potential members, guests, and school parents feel truly welcome at Adas Israel and to help all our members find their “niche” within our large and diverse synagogue community. She will work to welcome and engage new and veteran members, and to facilitate the development of fulfilling community relationships. She will also help our members get the most out of our busy programming calendar. She will coordinate, plan, produce, and staff major Adas events and social programming, as well as facilitate informal get-togethers with clergy. She will also focus heavily on program planning and execution for the new Beit Midrash and special Shabbat & Holiday programs. Marcy is a warm, talented, creative, and entrepreneurial  team player, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to the Adas Israel family. Marcy.Spiro@adasisrael.org

Naomi Malka Pic Naomi Malka, High Holiday Coordinator & Mikvah Director. Since 2006, Naomi has been the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah and served as our Ritual Coordinator from 2011-2015.  She now organizes all aspects of the High Holiday experience at Adas and continues to prepares b’nai mitzvah students and their families for their ceremonies.  Naomi trained as a Mikvah Guide at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA. She earned a masters in Jewish Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000 and a BA in Sociology from UCLA in 1991. In spring 2010, Naomi served as the ritual consultant for DCJCC Theater J’s production of the Israeli play “Mikveh.”  She is a frequent lecturer and writer on the subject of Mikvah.  She is also the founder of Tevila b’Tevaimmersion in nature, a program that introduces outdoor immersion to Jewish summer camps. As the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah, Naomi created “Bodies of Water,” a program for Jewish women and girls ages 10 and up to learn about Mikvah as a tool for positive body image and healthy decision making from a Jewish perspective.  Naomi.Malka@adasisrael.org
 
   

 

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SYNAGOGUE STAFF

Accounting

Ron Schwartz
Controller

Rita Nicholls
Bookkeeper

Jane Baldinger
Executive Assistant

Nikk Wasserman
Administrative Coordinator
 Administration

Courtney Tisch
Director of Programmatic Engagement

Melissa Adler
Executive Assistant and
Programs Coordinator

Gail Mattison
Event Coordinator

Carol Ansell
Receptionist
Communications
   

Brenah Srour
Communications and
Program Manager

Rich Webster
Media Coordinator
   
 Education Department
 

Pamela Gorin
Religious School
Assistant Director

Yoni Buckman
Youth and Family
Coordinator

Robin Jacobson
Librarian
 

 
       
       
   

Stephanie Slater
Gan Developmental
Support Coordinator

Abby Koplow
Gan Hayeled Office Manager

 
 
Ritual Staff
   

Beryl Saltman
Executive Assistant

Marcia Miller
Executive Assistant

 

 

 

 

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LAY LEADERS

Meet our officers! We take this opportunity to introduce our dedicated congregational leaders (Terms Reflected: June 2017 – June 2019).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricki Gerger, President  president@adasisrael.org
Ricki Gerger has been a member of Adas Israel for 20 years and is serving her second term in this position. She has been a member of our Chevra Kadisha and is a past chair of the Religious Practices Committee. She was the first Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Brith Shalom in Houston, Texas in 1959, many years before the JTS debated the status of women in the movement. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Ricki came to Washington in 1971 as press aide and speechwriter to then-US Congressman Bill Archer. She earned a Masters Degree in Political Affairs from GW while working in the Congress.

A respected real estate broker for over 35 years, Ricki is a sought-after speaker at local, regional and national real estate events on topics as wide-spread as Business Planning, Office Culture, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. She served as President of the DC Association of REALTORS(R) and as a Vice President of the National Association of REALTORS(R). She was named REALTOR(R) of the Year in 1992, which is the highest honor bestowed in the real estate industry.

   
   
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Steve Himmelfarb, Vice President for Administration
Steve and his family have been Adas Israel members since 2005.  While much of his career was in Manhattan, Steve is a fourth generation Washingtonian with deep roots in our local Jewish community.  A graduate of University of Delaware with a Masters in Regional Planning and Land Development from University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School of Real Estate, Steve is a commercial real estate developer and advisor specializing in portfolio optimization for high net worth individuals and family trusts.  Positive disruption, sustainability, high standards, and soulful meaning are the pillars of Steve’s Jewish leadership and lots of why he keeps volunteering.  Steve is a former trustee of the Jewish Primary Day School and a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program.  He lives in Cleveland Park with his wife Lisa, a psychotherapist specializing in eating issues, and his daughter Sami, a Gan graduate, JPDS graduate and current CESJDS student.   

   
   

Laurie Aladjem, Vice President of Development
Laurie Aladjem joined Adas in 2001. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Laurie has served on a number of Adas Committees and led the search for the current Gan Director. A lawyer by training, you are now most likely to see her behind a camera. She has a B.A. in Religion from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from University of California, Hastings. Laurie grew up in New York and now lives in Chevy Chase, DC with her husband Dan, their two daughters (both of whom are Gan graduates and now attend the Religious School) and their dog.

   
   
secretary

 

 

 

 

Janice Mostow, Vice President for Education and Youth
Janice Mostow is a native Washingtonian who belonged to Adas as a child along with her parents, grandparents, and a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  She rejoined the Adas community 4 years ago and has served on the Board of Directors and on the JMCW Task Force.  During her career with Montgomery County Public Schools, Janice served as a a middle school and high school English teacher, an assistant principal at Quince Orchard High School, and the principal of both Briggs Chaney Middle School and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.  She also served as the Director of Secondary Administrator Training and the President of  the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals.   After retiring, Janice tutored students, served as a parent advocate, and coached new principals in MCPS.   Janice and her husband John live in Chevy Chase and spend joyful time with her son and daughter  and their spouses and their four wonderful grandchildren all of whom live nearby.

   
   

 

 

 

 

Michelle Buzgon, Vice President for Member Engagement
Michelle moved to Washington, DC, in 1995, and quickly created a circle of friends at Adas Israel. Several years later, she brought Jay Kirschenbaum into the fold and, together, they have raised two children as active members of the congregation. She has served on the board of directors; on committees for the Religious Practices, Education and Inclusion and the Gan; and as chair for the Member Engagement committee. She occasionally uses the skills she learned as a journalism major at Northwestern and in 10 years as a news editor to edit various Adas publications. In her professional life now, Michelle takes a strengths-based, skill-building approach in her busy coaching practice working with adults, students and parents whose lives are affected by ADHD and executive function challenges. Building community has always been a key commitment for Michelle, and she has been honored to be recognized for those efforts in both her personal and professional lives.

   
   
Alexandra Horowitz, Vice President of Programs and Religious Practices
Alexandra Horowitz joined Adas Israel in 2005. She is the proud mother of three Gan students — one who is currently enrolled and two graduates who now attend the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. In addition to serving on the board of directors, Alex has chaired the Gan Advisory Committee and served on the synagogue, Youth Commission, and on the Early Childhood Director Search Committee. Alex is a television news producer by training and spent ten years covering global business and financial news. She has an M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Brown University. Alex grew up in New York City and lives in Chevy Chase with her husband Michael, a lawyer, and their three children.
   
   
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Judith Bartnoff, Secretary
Judith Bartnoff has been a member of Adas Israel for nearly 30 years. She has served on the Board of Directors and for the past two years was the Assistant Secretary. She is a past Chair and current member of the Personnel Committee and has served on the Cantor and Executive Director search committees. Since 1994, she has been an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where she now presides over serious felony cases. Earlier in her legal career, she was an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice and an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia. Immediately prior to her appointment to the court, she as a partner at Patton Boggs. She received her B.A. degree from Radcliffe College of Harvard University and her J.D. degree from Columbia Law School. She lives in Forest Hills with her husband, Gene Sofer. Their son, Nelson Sofer, now lives in Los Angeles.

   
   

 

 

 

Betsy Strauss, Assistant Secretary
Betsy moved to Washington in 2013 from California to be closer to her two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren (in Washington and in Brooklyn).  She is an attorney and mediator specializing in local government law and working exclusively with California clients. In 2010 Betsy received a Masters in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College and began working on her recently-published book, "The Blessings in Conflict."  Betsy is active in the Adas Social Action Committee, the Hesed Committee, and is a devoted participant in Boker Ohr Torah Study and Makom DC programming.  

   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Levine, Treasurer
Scott Levine joined Adas Israel in 2000.  He is the proud father of two Gan graduates and current religious school attendees.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Scott was a member of the Gan Advisory Committee and the Gan Strategic Planning Committee.  Scott is a tax partner at the international law firm of Jones Day where he advises on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, including international and domestic mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs and other divestitures, restructurings, financings, and joint ventures.  Before joining Jones Day in 2006, Scott was a senior manager in KPMG's national tax office.  Scott is currently an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. and the International Tax Center at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he teaches courses on corporate taxation. He is a member of the D.C. Bar Tax Section’s Steering Committee and the immediate past chair of the Tax Section’s Corporate Tax Committee.  Scott grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania and lives in Chevy Chase with his wife, Melissa, and their two sons.

   
   

 

 

 

Steve Rabinowitz, Assistant Treasurer
Steve Rabinowitz, President of Rabinowitz Communications, is a seasoned media consultant, publicist and political event planner. He possesses a deep knowledge of campaign politics that goes back more than a quarter century; he has worked on the national staffs of nine U.S. presidential campaigns and has held various positions on other campaigns for every kind of political office.

   
   
Debby Jospeh

 

 

 

 

Deborah Joseph, Immediate Past President 
Debby and her husband, Mark, who met at Adas Israel have been members since 1986. Debby was active in USY in high school and attended the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Prozdor High School program. She received her bachelor’s degree and Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. She has an consulting practice providing Strategic Change Management to human services organizations, bringing together her professional and Jewish communal passions to support individuals with intellectual, developmental, and chronic psychiatric disabilities within our community. Debby and Mark are the proud parents of Ethan, Noah, and Gaby, graduates of Gan HaYeled  and Camp Ramah in New England.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

 

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David Bickart Rhoda Baruch Jeffery Yablon Leah Chanin
       
AlanBubes                                    
Alan Bubes      
       

 

BOARD MEMBERS

Elected Board Members   Life Board Members   

Sander Bieber
Jodi Blecker Lowit
Meredith Weiner Cymerman
Alvin Dunn
David Edelstein
Ross Eisenman
Sandra Eskin
Joel Fischman
Marcie Goldstein
Amy Golen
Julia Gordon
Beth Heifetz
Philip Henderson
Andrew Herman
Harriet Isack

Susan Kay
Steven Kleinrock
Jorge Kotelanski
Jennie Litvack
Stephanie Meyer
Herlene Nagler
Sanford Parnes
Sharon Polansky
Rhoda Ritzenberg
Mark Rosenberg
Rachel Rosenthal
Janet Scribner
Jay Sher
Michael Sloan
Jessika Wellisch

Dr. Clement Alpert (z"l)
Patty Perkins Andringa
Alvin Bernstein
Norman Bernstein
Toni Bickart
David Bubes
Leonard Burka
Jeffrey Cohen
Sheldon S Cohen
Stanley Cohen
Renée Fendrich
Eric Fox
Rhoda Ganz
Bernard Gewirz
Bernard Glassman
Arnold Hammer
Tamara Handelsman

Jack Herman
Estelle Jacobs
Dr. Irving Jacobs
Melvin Jacobson
Jack Kay (z”l)
Martin Kirsch
Ed Kopf
Jacob C. Lish (z”l)
Dr. Sander H Mendelson
Annette Morchower
Robert Peck
Donald Saltz
Bernard Segerman
Margaret Siegel
Russell Smith
Judith Strauch
Donald Wolpe (z"l)

ADAS ISRAEL PRESIDENTS      


Ricki Gerger
Present

Deborah Joseph
2015-2017

Arnold Podgorsky
2013-2015

Johanna Chanin 
2011- 2013

Robert Peck 
2009-2011

Ed Kopf 
2007-2009

Russell Smith 
2005-2007

Patty Perkins Andringa 
2003-2005

Reneé Fendrich 
2001-2003

Jordan Baruch 
1999-2001

Toni Bickart 
1997-1999

Dr. Sander Mendelson 
1993-1997

Bernard Segerman 
1991-1993

Stuart Fidler 
1987-1991


Jack Lish 
1983-1987

Max Goldberg 
1979-1983

Leon Shinberg 
1977-1979

Donald Wolpe 
1973-1977

Joseph Mendelson 
1969-1973

Milton Baldinger 
1967-1969

Samuel Lebowitz 
1964-1967

Joseph Blumenthal 
1961-1964

Stanley Wiener 
1960-1961

Julius H. Wolpe
1956-1960

Fred S. Kogod 
1956

Isaac Jacobson 
1953-1955

Joseph Wilner 
1929-March 1953


Fred Gichner 
1928-1929

Louis Rosenberg 
1924-1928

Simon Oppenheimer 
1888-1924

Felix Greenapple 
1887-1888

Jacob Rich 
1882-April 1887

Manassas Oppenheimer 
1880-1882

Julius Baumgertan 
July-October 1880

Bernard Rich 
April-June 1880

Jacob Rich 
1877-1880

John Jacob Boyer 
1874-1877

Nathan Gotthelf 
June-July 1874

Jacob Rich 
January-June 1874

Nathan Hotthelf 
1872-1874

Bendiza J. Behrend 
1869-1872