Machar


Committee, Club, and Havurot Chairs and Group Coordinators

Machar is lucky to have a large supply of “go-to” people, members who say, “I can do this,” when there’s a call for a new project or activity. Here they are, a list-in-progress:

Nadine Wettstein has served as a President of Machar and is chair of the Nominating Committee and High Holidays Committee. She is also a member of the Liturgy Committee, and for several years, has coordinated planning of the High Holiday, Passover, and other celebrations. LEARN MORE

Nadine is thrilled with Machar’s growth and aims to make Machar the home for many more Secular Humanistic Jews in the Washington, DC, area. She was raised in a conservative Jewish synagogue, but, finding them less than meaningful, ceased participating in Jewish services and activities until her husband found Machar decades later. She and her family—husband David Baron and son Jacob Baron—have been Machar members since 1998. Jacob graduated from Machar’s Jewish Cultural School and presented a Bar mitzvah program on “Jewish Composers” (memorably playing Berlin’s “White Christmas” and other, less surprising selections, including from Leonard Bernstein’s “Kaddish”). In her non-Machar life, Nadine is an immigration lawyer and head of the immigration program at Maryland’s Office of the Public Defender. She also is co-author of an immigration law treatise published by West (Thomson-Reuters) and a frequent lecturer on immigration law to lawyer groups across the United States.

Darlene Basch  LEARN MORE

Darlene has served as a President of Machar.  She joined Machar in 2005, and has served as chair of the Book Club for several years, is a member of the Rabbi Committee, and is an active member of WiTs.  Darlene has worked for the Federal Government for almost 30 years and currently is a foreign affairs analyst for the Department of State with a focus on Russia. A Los Angeles native, she has a B.A. in political science from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in international affairs from The American University. Darlene loves to travel and explore local crafts. She inherited her father’s love for photography and enjoys taking loads of pictures of her journeys. Darlene lives in Silver Spring with her cats Tolstoy and Anna.

Marlene Cohen is a long-time Machar member who is the New Members chair. She is also a member of the Adult Education Committee, the Education Committee, the Social Action Committee, and the WITs women’s group. LEARN MORE

Marlene has just reached her 30th year as a Machar member!  She is so grateful for all the thoughtful, caring, inspiring people who have become her friends along this journey and for the special community that is Machar!

She also serves as Chair of the Youth Education Committee of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and is on its Executive Board.

She is a former Jewish Cultural School Director and Vice President of Machar. Now she chairs the New Members Committee and participates in the Adult Education and Social Action Committees and WITs.

Marlene retired after 35 years as a communications professor and director of the International Education Center at Prince George’s Community College.  Now she teaches part-time introductory communication to anxious University of Maryland College Park freshmen.

Husband Michael Kidwell was raised Methodist but is a secular IT program manager who enjoys Machar; he just won’t eat the gefilte fish. Son Alex Kidwell is a happy Reality TV podcaster & show producer in Los Angeles. He was schooled and Bar Mitzvahed in Machar; his irreverent religious upbringing serves him well in the snarky world of podcasts and Twitter.

David Abramson is co-chair of the Adult Ed Committee LEARN MORE

David became a Machar member in 2011, has co-chaired the Adult Education Committee for several years, and is an at-large Board Member.  He’s married to Kelly Hand and has two daughters, Hazel and Daisy, who attended the Jewish Cultural School. David works at the U.S. Department of State as an analyst of Russian foreign policy and occasionally teaches at Georgetown University. He received his doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from Indiana University, where he specialized in community and conflict in post-Soviet Uzbekistan.

Myrna Frank is co-chair of the Adult Ed Committee LEARN MORE

Myrna was happy to find Machar in her search for a secular Jewish ‘home’ when she moved from NJ to Silver Spring in 2010.  In her youth she was active in Habonim South Africa, made Aliyah to Kibbutz Yizreel and later lived in Kiryat Tivon.  She and her husband Howard have a blended family of 4 children and 2 delightful granddaughters. Myrna is a clinical psychologist treating adolescents, adults and couples in her Bethesda and home offices.

Young Adult Havurah chair (temporary vacancy)

Joyce Rosenthal is chair of Machar’s Communications Committee. LEARN MORE

Joyce is also a fourth term boar member who has served three terms as Secretary. She has been a Machar member since 1999. A native of Boston [go Sox!], she grew up in Kent, OH, but defected from the Buckeye State to attend the University of Michigan, where she majored in political science and wrote for the college newspaper, The Michigan Daily. She has been a journalist ever since and currently writes and edits for a medical news website. She and her husband, Greg Rosenthal, have two children, Ellen and Mitchell, both former Machar B’Nei Mitzvahs.

Renée Weitzner is chair of the recently formed Mishpachah Committee. She is also co-chair of the Book Club. LEARN MORE

Originally from Hewlett, Long Island, NY, Renée has lived in Washington, DC, for most of her adult life. She received her B.A. from The American University and an M.A. from New York University. In 2007, she received a M.Ed. in the Teaching of Reading from Trinity Washington University. For many years, she was a teacher of special education, working primarily with children with emotional disorders and learning disabilities, at a variety of private and charter schools, in Washington, DC. She currently tutors children who have learning issues, a practice she has maintained for over 20 years. Previously, she has served as teacher and principal of Machar’s Sunday School. She and her husband, Peter G. Wolfe, have two lovely daughters, Amy and Nancy Wolfe, both of whom attended JCS. Nancy celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in 1998.

Rose Levine is chair of WITs (Wimmin’ in Transition)

Jason Lubin is Machar’s Education Committee chair. LEARN MORE

His family joined Machar in 2012.  Jason has been a teacher for 22 years.  For the last eight years, he has been teaching computer applications to grades 6-7-8 in MCPS.  Jason, his wife Eileen, his son Joseph, and his daughter Maddie now live in Gaithersburg, MD.

Michael Prival currently serves as chair of the Liturgy Committee, mentor of the Evening Study Group, e-mail List Manager, and member of the Rabbi Committee. LEARN MORE

Michael and his wife, Joan, joined Machar around 1982. Michael soon found himself teaching in our Sunday school, which, at that time, had a total of three students, two of whom were his children. Raised as a secular Jew, teaching at our school was his first serious encounter with the Bible, and led to his writing of a book to help nonreligious people teach the Bible to children. He has officiated at numerous weddings, funerals, and other life cycle events; given many talks at our High Holiday services; served as chair of our Social Action Committee; and enjoyed being a part of Machar as it grew and promoted positive human values. Now blissfully retired from his paying career as a microbiologist at the FDA and from most of his Machar responsibilities, Michael looks forward to leading some adult education activities each year. He currently serves as chair of the Liturgy and Rabbi Committees, mentor of the Evening Study Group, and e-mail List Manager.

Ariana Rodriguez-Gitler is the Editor of the Machar newsletter

Barbara Francisco is the Community Service Committee chair. LEARN MORE

Barbara and her husband, Marc Mauer, have been Machar members since about 1977. Children Joanna and Daniel are former Machar B’Nei Mitzvahs. Marc grew up in a Conservative congregation in Queens, NY, and Barbara is a lapsed Presbyterian who hopes for the survival of the Jewish people. Marc is the director of The Sentencing Project, a non-profit dedicated to sentencing reform and racial justice. Barbara has taught in Montgomery County Public Schools for 20 years, the most recent 6 years as a teacher of 9-11-year-olds who do not speak English and who did not attend school in their own country. She organizes Machar Community Service activities at the creek across the street from the JCS, where Macharniks remove litter and invasive plants.

Fundraising Committee chair (temporary vacancy)

Ami Argaman serves as coordinator of food and refreshment for Sunday services, school and adult education events, and he also helps with the planning and preparations for some of the holiday celebrations. LEARN MORE

Ami and his wife, Ann, have been members of Machar since 2001. Ami was born and raised in Israel in a fairly secular home, although his upbringing was strongly affected by his Orthodox grandparents. Upon his arrival in the U.S., he searched for many years for the right congregation, until he finally landed in Machar, where he feels at home. A professional Hebrew to English translator by trade, Ami works as a language specialist for the Federal Department of Justice.