Mark Seidenfeld grew up in Kew Gardens, New York, attending the Solomon Schechter School of Queens and spending summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. His parents, survivors of the Holocaust who married and immigrated to America after the war, infused their home with strong Zionist ties and a deep sense of pride in their Jewish heritage. Marjorie Kaplan grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, attending the Providence Hebrew Day School. Marjorie always jokes that she grew up “confused” because her mother’s background was Orthodox and they belonged to an Orthodox shul, while her father was a devoted Agnostic. But the family was deeply connected to Judaism, Israel, and community. Marjorie was an active NCSY member and studied abroad her Junior year of college at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (leaving only a few weeks before Mark arrived for his Junior year at Hebrew University). Although they missed each other in Jerusalem, the stars aligned and while Mark was in law school at Boston University and Marjorie in medical school at Mt. Sinai, they each met their “basherte” by chance at a concert in Central Park in 1986, and married in 1989. Mark started his career as an associate at Proskauer Rose, spent several years as Counsel at Simon & Schuster, and is currently Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Scholastic Inc., the children’s publisher and media company, where he has worked for over twenty-three years. After training in Pediatrics and then in Adolescent Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Marjorie practiced at the Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and has now been the Medical Director of Barnard College Primary Care Health Services for over fourteen years.
Mark and Marjorie settled in New Rochelle in 1992 and, after the arrival of twins Michael and Talia, joined Beth El Synagogue Center in 1997. The family welcomed their son Jonah to the family in 2002. Through Torah for Tots, Junior Congregation, the weekly Shabbat luncheons, Mishpacha (now J-Life), and all their other involvements at shul, Mark and Marjorie and their children developed strong bonds of friendship with many families at Beth El, which has become their second home. All three children attended the Solomon Schechter School, as well as Beth El Religious School and Day Camp, and followed in Mark’s footsteps at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
Mark has served as a Trustee, Vice President, Executive Vice President, and now President of Beth El, co-chair of the Rabbi Search Committee that brought Rabbi Schuck to our community, as well as the Israel Affairs Committee, and serves on the Human Resources Committee. He chaired Synagogue 2000, the Focus Committee, co-chaired Ramah Shabbat, the Centennial Celebration, and was one of the founding co-chairs of what has become the Annual Beth El Kallah. He has also served on the Assistant Rabbi Search, Nominating, Gala, and High Holiday Honors Committees. Mark served on the Ramah Berkshires Advisory Council, American Jewish Committee Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of New Rochelle UJA Campaign. Marjorie was co-chair of the Beth El Membership Committee and has served on the Nursery School and Religious School Boards, Family Fun Day, Couples Club and Bar/Bat Mitzvah Committee at Beth El. She was also served on the Executive Board of the PTA at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, and is currently the Corresponding Secretary for the Executive Board of the Inter-Religious Council of New Rochelle. Marjorie and Mark are humbled to be the honorees at this year’s Gala and thrilled to be sharing the night with the President’s Ne’emanim Service Award recipients, Jodi and Rob Scheinfeld, and Lapid Award recipients, Ellen and Rick Barlis. They are deeply thankful to Beth El for its powerful sense of community and for providing such a warm focus of Jewish life for them and their children.
The President's Ne'emanim Service Award Recipients
Jodi and Rob Scheinfeld were married at the Fountainhead in New Rochelle in 1983 after dating since Rob was 17 and Jodi 16 (yes, going back to 1976). Jodi grew up in Eastchester, attended Hebrew School at the Genesis Hebrew Center in Crestwood, and became bat mitzvah at Scarsdale Synagogue; Rob was raised in East Rockaway, Long Island, went through the Lynbrook public schools, attended Hebrew School and became bar mitzvah at the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Center on Long Island. After living on Garth Road in Scarsdale for a few years, Rob and Jodi moved into their current New Rochelle home in January 1989, with their 18-month old son, Jeremy, of blessed memory. They joined Beth El that year and felt auspiciously welcomed when Cantor Uri and Judy Aqua invited them for a new members Shabbat dinner at their Roosevelt Terrace apartment (where they discovered they would soon be neighbors). This spring marks Rob’s and Jodi’s 30th anniversary as members of Beth El, and how fortunate and blessed they feel for the close friendships developed, and for the spiritual and religious growth and nourishment the Beth El community has helped their family cultivate over these many years.
Professionally, Rob is a patent trial lawyer and partner at Baker Botts, LLP, and the head of its New York Office and Intellectual Property Group; he graduated from law school in 1984. Since 2002, Rob has also been an active member of the New York State Camp Safety Advisory Council, having been first appointed by Governor Pataki. At Beth El, Rob served on the Board of Trustees in the late 1990s, including working as a Board liaison with Julie Rockowitz during her first years as Summer Session (now Day Camp) Director. Most recently, Rob is on the Journey Vision team, a member of our Human Resources Committee, and on our Clergy Search Committee, although Rob’s greatest pleasures were coaching his children and their friends on Beth El’s basketball teams, including a championship and a few last place finishes along the exciting way.
Jodi, after receiving her Masters’ Degree in English and Comparative Literature, taught high school English in Scarsdale and Mamaroneck schools, and writing at Iona College until their second child, Sarah, was born. She has volunteered in the New Rochelle community through PTA committees, the New Rochelle Public Library Foundation, and the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence. She currently teaches for the Sheldrake Environmental Center where she is an Environmental Educator, serving Mamaroneck, Rye Neck, and Scarsdale elementary schools, as well as a newly launched pre-school nature class at a local nursery school. One of her favorite volunteer commitments for Sheldrake is bringing nature fun to older Beth El campers, and leading Beth El trail trips at the end of each summer. Jodi has also enjoyed volunteering at Beth El over the years, serving on the Nursery School Board and writing for their newsletter, as well as the Religious School Board. She was also gratified to sing in Beth El’s Choir, Shirat El, led by Hazzan Ellen Arad, to honor Rabbi Emeritus Melvin N. Sirner at his Shabbat Retirement Service.
Together Rob and Jodi run their JS Foundation for Kids and participate in the JS Publishing Center of the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence, which sponsors the district-wide Poetry Out Loud program, founded in 1999 in memory of their son Jeremy, and more recently the Arts Out Loud and Authors Out Loud middle and high school programs. They received the New Rochelle Fund Community Spirit award in 2008.
Rob and Jodi’s children—Sarah, Dan, Zach, Corey, and Maya—enjoyed formative years of their Jewish upbringing in Beth El’s Nursery and Religious Schools, Mishpacha program, Summer Session, and Teen program; and they attended New Rochelle public schools. All became a bar or bat mitzvah at Beth El (with a double simcha when Maya was named Chaya Barucha during Sarah’s bat mitzvah service!). Recently, Dan and his wife, Elyssa, were fortunate to celebrate their aufruf during a beautiful Niggun Halev service at Beth El. They are grateful that their children will carry and feel inspired by these special experiences as their Jewish lives continue to evolve.
Rob and Jodi are without adequate words to express their gratitude to you—the membership, leadership, and support staff, teachers and clergy of Beth El, led by Rabbi Schuck—for all you have meant to them and their family for three decades, through life’s darkest challenges and remarkable blessings and grace. They are especially touched and humbled to be part of an evening honoring Mark and Marjorie Seidenfeld, two incredibly dedicated and selfless individuals, the epitome of Beth El’s goodness; and Ellen and Rick Barlis, the deserving recipients of the Lapid Award, who have given so much to Beth El as young members, true torchbearers representing the next generation of exceptional people. The Scheinfelds are so excited to celebrate with the Beth El Synagogue community on Saturday evening, March 9th!
Lapid Award Recipients
Ellen and Rick Barlis moved to New Rochelle from Manhattan in 2007 and immediately joined Beth El Synagogue Center. Their daughter Anna was soon joined by little brother Aaron, and they both attended Beth El Nursery School and continued through the Religious School. Ellen has been very active in the Religious School community, serving as chair of the Religious School board and co-president of the Religious School Parent Organization. She has also served on the Youth Services, Selection, Assistant Rabbi Search, and the Director of Youth and Family Engagement Search Committees. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees. Rick currently serves on the Catering Committee, and can be found working on various video projects for Beth El. They have made many close friends and have always felt very proud to be part of the Beth El community.