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Executive Board Bios

Jeff Hauser, President., was raised in Suffolk County, where his family were leaders of the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station, and within United Synagogue in various capacities. Jeff attended the Hebrew Academy of Suffolk County for elementary school, and as a teenager, served on the Long Island Ma'alot NCSY regional board as well as on NSJC's USY chapter board. Jeff received a BS in Mathematics from SUNY Stony Brook, where he served as President of the Hillel student board in 1981-82, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer for Rauch Industries, Inc. in New York, and is a faculty member in the Finance department of CUNY's School of Professional Studies. Jeff, and his wife Phyllis, a Physical Therapist, moved from Long Beach to Merrick in late 1997 and joined Ohav soon after. They have three children who grew up at Ohav, Danielle, Bryan, and Mia. Jeff has chaired Ohav's Budget Committee since 2004 and has served on the Executive Board and the Board of Trustees in various capacities since 2000.

Ira Balsam, Executive V.P., grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Merrick with his wife, Sheri, 12 years ago. They joined Ohav Sholom in 2000. Ira coordinates the annual golf outing, a major fundraiser and previously served as Ohav’s Financial Secretary. His wife, Sheri, is the current Social Hall chairperson.

Jack Graber, V.P. Ritual & Education, grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, NY.  He attended and was Bar Mitvahed in an Orthodox shul, where he graduated Hebrew School and sang in the choir.

 In 1985, he moved to Bellmore, NY, where he and his wife Ruth joined the Bellmore Jewish Center.  Jack was a member of the Board of Trustees, served as Financial Secretary and eventually rose to President in 1995.

 In 2004, looking for a return to his roots, he and his family joined Ohav Sholom.  Jack had attended a number of minyans during the passing of his parents and knew many of the morning regulars.  He was always impressed with their warmth, compassion and genuine concern for their fellow members.

 During the past 10 years, he has continued to experience and enjoy the services, which are both complete and spiritually moving, as well as the diversity of membership which shows an unusual amount of mutual respect for each other. 

 Jack has been the 2nd Gabbai, a member of the Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Executive Board.

 His family includes his son Evan, a Pediatric Endocrinology Fellow at Mt. Sinai Hospital, his daughter in law Jenny, Attending Physician OB/GYN at Jacobi Hospital, his daughter Melanie, an Events Coordinator for the Jewish National Fund and his wife Ruth, a Teaching Assistant at Lido Elementary School.

 After a long and successful career as a Director of Print Production and Paper for an international retailer, Jack is now a Senior Purchasing Agent for Publishers Clearing House.

Kenny Duftler, V.P. House and Property, grew up in Merrick and is a second-generation member. Kenny and his wife, Fay, moved back to Merrick seven years ago. He served as trustee before becoming our Ritual Vice-President. Kenny works as a Litigation Consultant.

Jordan Smith, V.P. of Fundraising, previously served on the Board of Trustees, as Corresponding Secretary and co-chair of the Membership Committee. Mrs. Smith grew up on Long Island and moved to Merrick with her husband and daughter in 2008. She is a litigation associate at the Manhattan law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. She also serves on the executive board of Hofstra University's Gray Wig Alumni Association.

Gary Friedman, V.P. of Social Activities is a Brooklynite who is proud of it. He is married to a wonderful wife, Arlene. They will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary this May. They have three beautiful girls, Briana, Samantha, and Jessica (Tikvah). They moved to Merrick in the summer of 2001. They joined Ohav in 2002, and was greeted with a warm family reception. Gary has been involved with Ohavim, Men's club and has served as the VP of Social Activities since July 2009. Gary has been on the Board of trustees since 2008. He loves Ohav and enjoys all the friendships he made there. Gary is an Optician and loves what he does. He has helped many of our Congregants to see better. Just ask and he can help you too.

Matthew Lerner, Treasurer, grew up just North of Merrick in East Meadow.  The youngest of 4 children, Matthew grew up in a Kosher home and attended Hebrew School 3 times a week.  From East Meadow, he went on to Cornell University receiving a bachelor's degree in Applied Economics and Management.  After Cornell, he lived in Manhattan for 3 years, where he currently works for a Business Intelligence software company.  He has had many roles in his professional life ranging from technical support to his current position of Technical Director.   

Matthew along with his wife Jessica moved into Merrick in December 2006.  They have a beautiful 5 year old daughter, Shira and a funny 3 year old boy, Kaleb. Matthewhas been an active Shul member serving as co-Webmaster since October 2007, followed by Recording Secretary and is currently our Treasurer.

Daron Rubensohn, Financial Secretary, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He and his wife Sarah moved to Merrick in 2003 and are currently raising two daughters (Hannah age 7 and Alana age 3). Daron served on the Ohav Sholom Board of Trustees since 2007 and as Treasurer since July 2009. Daron is a Manager in the Financial instruments, Securitization and Real Estate (FSRE) Group of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

Michael Wajnrach, Recording Secretary has lived in Merrick since 2004, moving from Wantagh. Prior to joining the executive board he served on the Board of Trustees. He has a wonderful family including his wife, Shosh, and their three children, Corey 16, Mia 13, and Ariel 10. He is a Pediatric Endocrinologist, working at Pfizer.


Ilissa Schoenberg, Corresponding Secretary, grew up in Long Island. She and her family have been Merrick residents since 2000.  Illisa currently manages her husband Ben's dental practice.  She and Ben are the proud parents of Gabrielle, who is entering middle school in the Fall.