Meet the FRS council

FRS’s vibrancy relies on the enthusiasm and creativity of its members who bring their specific skills and expertise when they join committees to shape and support the vision of the community.

Overall management of the synagogue is conducted by the FRS Council as its Board of Directors. We recently became a company limited by guarantee which provides additional safeguarding of the community’s assets. Positions on the Board are elected annually at the AGM, generally held in March.

Council currently includes:

 

Michael Salida - Chair

I lived in Finchley from the age of 9 months until Ingrid and I were married in 1973. We have lived at our present home in Potters Bar since 1977.  Ingrid and I joined FRS in 1974, and since then the synagogue has been our spiritual and cultural home, and that of our children, Anouska and Drew (formerly Andrew!).  Anouska was amongst the first class of children when FRS Kindergarten opened its doors in 1981.

I was Secretary of the Synagogue for about 5 years during the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, and I enjoyed working with Rabbi Jeffrey Newman and the late Chairman, Alan Rayner, and gaining an insight into the challenges facing a growing community and helping to find possible solutions.

I retired in July 2014 as senior partner of a local solicitors’ practice, after 39 years with the firm, and I am now dividing my time between my position as Legal Director of a multi-franchise motor dealership, a small amount of legal consultancy work, and my much more important and enjoyable role as grandpa to my two energetic grandchildren.

I am a lifelong and passionate Spurs supporter and try to attend most home games with Drew, son-in-law Josh and Grandson Louis. I also enjoy all forms of music and often inflict my voice on unsuspecting attendees at Kabbalat Shabbat, as well as singing with the FRS choir, the Rhythm n Jews band, and with old friends in a 60’s band. I am also trying very hard to learn to play more than three chords on the guitar, and to improve my bridge and tennis.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year as Chair and I am looking forward to another satisfying and challenging year leading FRS Council and working with such a talented and dedicated group of lay leaders and our inspiring and innovative clergy team.

 

Suzi Philip – Vice Chair

My family and I have been members of FRS for 11 years.  My three children are kindergarten graduates, and now attend Kochavim and TAP.  I am so proud to be involved in this wonderful and forward thinking community.

I have had another busy year being involved in exciting new initiatives, recruitment, training, new members evenings, fundraising conversations, meetings at the MRJ, with Keshet UK, progressive dinner plans and look forward to passing on as much information as I can to the community as well as helping to facilitate the many new initiatives and events I hope will be planned in the near future.   (Always looking for help and support so please contact me if you would like to get involved!).

 

Robert Stitcher – Honorary Treasurer

We joined FRS in 2005 when we moved to Finchley and Lara our eldest started at the nursery there. Subsequently our second, Dina also was at the nursery. Having both come from different and more orthodox backgrounds my wife, Janine and I have finally found a synagogue that we both feel comfortable in. Janine has run Teddy Tennis lessons in the shul for children at the nursery.

I currently run my own entertainment manufacturing company (yes manufacturing in England!!) but for my sins trained as a chartered accountant with PWC. Subsequently I was Finance and Commercial Director in a number of large advertising and marketing companies both in the UK, Europe and the USA (where I met Janine).

In spare moments I love travelling, reading and acting as a chauffeur. To add some football supporter variety to the synagogue, I am a QPR fan and have been so for over 40 disappointing years.

 

Matthew Stratton – Honorary Secretary

My wife Karen and I have been members of FRS since 2006, having grown-up in and around north London.  We have 3 children, all of whom have graduated from FRS Kindergarten.  I am a lawyer at a shipping and energy law firm based in the City.  My interests include sports:  I am a lifelong Arsenal fan and enjoy riding to work (as long as the sun is shining).  I also love the cinema. My objective is to help FRS to continue to shine as a beacon for the community.

My wife Karen and I have been members of FRS since 2006, having grown-up in and around north London.  We have 3 children, all of whom have graduated from FRS Kindergarten.

I am a lawyer at Ince & Co which is a specialist shipping and energy law firm based in the City.  My interests include sports:  I am a lifelong Arsenal fan and enjoy riding to work (as long as the sun is shining).  I also love the cinema.

I am thrilled to be able to continue to assist Rabbi Miriam and the dedicated team in addressing FRS’s challenges and exploiting its opportunities.  My objective is to help FRS to continue to shine as a beacon for the community.

This will be my third year on council.

 

Leah Jacobs – Senior Warden

To say that FRS is my second home would not be understatement. For my whole family it provides a space where we can all do something we enjoy or find a moment of peace. Grandma is one of the regulars at bridge, my parents and I are regulars at services; my nieces are regulars at Rhythm and Jews services.   And my nieces and I are alumni of FRS kindergarten.

I went through religion school, Friday group, bat mitzvah, helper and supervisor at Friday group and finally went off to university.  Rabbi Miriam joined us at the time I was able to become a member in my own right, and I decided it to give something back to community and became a warden. Those six years were my most rewarding of my time as a member. I now look forward to working with our fantastic professional and lay leadership as Senior Warden and Chair of the ritual committee.

 

Catherine Levy

After a career change from my previous job as a theatre stage management I joined the FRS Kindergarten staff team in 2012 and have not looked back since!

After converting to Judaism in 2011 at our local Liberal shul in East London and following our move to north London myself, my husband Adam and our two children Scarlett (10yrs) and Saul (8yrs) have been members of FRS for a year and a half.

I have now been appointed as the Head teacher of the Kindergarten, a job that gives me huge personal reward, watching the children from our community grow and develop both in their Jewish and secular learning.

 

Sara Bensusan

I was married at FRS nearly 25 years ago, and returned as family members almost 5 years ago. I became a warden 4 years ago and took on the role of senior warden 3 years ago. I am married to Dave (Bash) and we have two children Rebecca (25) and Jonathan (20). Before he left for University Jonathan became an involved younger member at FRS and I really appreciated the way in which the community involved him and helped him to grow and develop his skills. Professionally, I am a consultant solicitor and help people to buy and sell their homes and other properties. I enjoy theatre, films, books, walking, pottery, knitting and baking (when I get time).

For me being a part of community is very much about what I can give. So although I am stepping down as Senior warden this year, I hope to remain as a warden and a member of council. I am looking forward to being able to contribute further to the life and workings of FRS and getting to know the community even more.

 

Roger Barden

I joined FRS in 2010 when I moved to Crouch End from Central London.  I spent the bulk of my working life in the City in the taxation of financial institutions, after qualifying as a chartered accountant.

I “retired” from the City a few years ago and have been involved in a family furniture business and motorbike repair and service business. I enjoy tennis, theatre, cooking, classical and world music and lately bridge.

 

Lainie Dropkin

My family and I moved to London from New York in 2010 and we joined FRS soon after.  We immediately felt welcome at FRS as the lovely musical services felt quite similar to our reform synagogue in New York as well as our summers spent at NFTY camp in Utica, MS (Henry S Jacobs camp).  Both of our children are involved with the youth provision at FRS – having completed the fantastic B’nei Mitzvah process and then continued on the youth journey to become youth leaders.

I am currently serving as Chair of the Youth & Education Committee and am very proud of the various Youth & Education initiatives that FRS offers, and I enjoy working in partnership with the professional and lay community.  I recently decided to make a career change and began training as a counsellor/psychotherapist.   I support the Syrian Refugee scheme in Barnet and I am training to become a volunteer at Home-Start Barnet.

We are very proud to be associated with this dynamic community and we feel thankful to be part of the FRS family.

 

Candice Gubbay

I became involved in FRS when my eldest daughter Ava attended the kindergarten. We began with Kuddle up Shabbat and fell in love with the service and the warm and welcoming community. Having been brought up in the United community in Leeds, FRS was a welcome reprieve from judgement and the first time I have ever felt comfortable with my Judaism.

All 3 of my children, Ava now 13, Lara now 11 and Alex now 8 attended the kindergarten and now attend Kochavim/TAP and Ava has just become Bat Mitzvah at the synagogue.

I have been involved in the synagogue in various guises in the last 10 years from being a member of the Youth and Ed committee heavily involved with the inception of Kochavim, which was transformed from the traditional cheder model, to volunteering wherever

time allows with Chesed the last 4 years.

I work for a television production company in their legal and business affairs department and life is busy between this and 3 kids.

I would love to continue to help and support the Chesed committee in the wonderful work they do.

 

Avi Marco

After serval years at Shaarei Tsedek I joined FRS after trialing a range of services with my young son Nadav. I fell in love with the community and its inclusiveness and variety. Nadav loved the melodies as do I, and I even feel at liberty to join my rather off-key voice to the song of the community.

I grew up Southgate in the Orthodox tradition and attended Old Farm Avenue - services and learning - until I was 17.

As a student I came face to face with the challenges of Zionist and Jewish advocacy in a sometimes hostile environment - and perhaps there, more than anywhere, I learnt both to stand my ground and build bridges of understanding.

I lived in Israel for 20 years, served in Zahal and worked in community renewal before completing my legal training and practicing as a lawyer.

Discovering my true work passion was IT I took the plunge and have since had a successful career in data systems and data management - now working as an independent consultant.

I'm committed to advocacy for Israel and do what I can in that sphere and am equally passionate about education and opportunity for young people. I'm currently studying for MA at Leo Baeck College.

I'm also a Spurs supporter. I've had a broad and varied life experience and would hope that elements of that could be of use in serving within the community.

 

Ben Noah

I have always been part of, and active in, reform synagogues. I starting with teaching on Sunday mornings at Mill Hill Reform in the late 1980s and at Middlesex New in the early 1990s and then spending most of my youth involved in RSY-Netzer as a Madrich, of which the last couple of years were as a full time movement worker (Camps Organiser) planning and running the Israel Tours, Shemesh summer camps and other RSY national events. I joined FRS in 2010 with my wife, Abi, and three children.

In my free time I play golf, eat the results of my children’s baking and generally relax with the family.

This has been my first year on Council and I have enjoyed understanding the inner workings of the synagogue better whilst supporting the professional team in both the synagogue and kindergarten. I look forward to the coming year with continued focus on new membership.

 

 

Gill Yentis

I grew up in North Manchester. My strong influence on my growing up was my involvement with Habonim and being part of a very Jewish neighbourhood. My shul life was ‘old style’ United Synagogue. I trained as a primary school teacher and youth and community worker.

I moved to London and discovered Reform Judaism whilst working as a professional youth worker for the Reform Synagogues. Being part of the creation of RSY-NETZER was one of my greatest challenges and achievements.

Latterly I have made a career with Jewish Care training care staff and volunteers about Dementia.

23 years ago Steve and I joined FRS as members. We have two amazing daughters who have grown up with FRS as their home community.  Steve and I continue to be involved mainly with our music. Rhythm and Jews, Friday night services and various other musical events. Steve is the real musician, I manage to play the same few guitar chords to most of the songs! Recently I have developed percussion skills.

I chaired the Education and Youth Committee for nearly 10 years and sat on council for a few years. I’ve had a break from this until recently taking on chairing the Music Committee. This brought me back onto council again since 2016.

 

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