President Emeritus, Joel Rosenberg proudly served as the first president of the newly formed Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society. He lives in Brooklyn, CT. with his wife Beverly and children Bailey and Connor. Joel’s parents David and Shirley Rosenberg were among the original group of incorporators to form Temple Beth Israel.
From childhood to adulthood, Joel has only known Temple Beth Israel to be the Synagogue where he has celebrated, prayed and gathered with friends and family. He is glad to be back home. Joel has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit organization AHM Youth and Family Services for the last 28 years. He is also president of the Connecticut Youth Services Association. He also serves on a number of statewide commissions and boards through his work in the non-profit sector and on juvenile justice causes.
Norman served as the president of the Preservation Society from 2014 through 2018. A founding partner of Berman Tabacco, a Boston law firm specializing in Securities Fraud class actions, he has practiced law for forty years. He lives in Newton, MA. Norman was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War II. His parents, both Holocaust survivors, met and married in the camp and settled on a sixty-acre farm in nearby Moosup, Connecticut and were among the early members of the Temple.
Norman grew up speaking Yiddish at home. Today he sings in the Yiddish Chorus of the Boston Workmen’s Circle. Norman’s father, Misha (Morris) led High Holiday and Shabbat services at Temple Beth Israel for many years.
His mother, Bluma (Betty) was a member of the Sisterhood. His uncle, Isidore (Izzy) Levine, served on the original board of directors of the Temple and served two terms as Temple president. Norman attended Hebrew School at TBI and was active in the USY, serving two years as chapter president and a term as Connecticut regional treasurer. In recent years, Norman has spoken at local middle and high schools about the lessons of the Holocaust. In 2019 he became President Emeritus of the Preservation Society.
Vice President Evert Gawendo is delighted to be a part of the group committed to seeing Temple Beth Israel preserved. The Temple has special meaning to him as the son of Jacob and Ray Gawendo, original founding members. He went through Hebrew school, was a member of the youth groups & USY and had his Bar Mitzvah at TBI. He lives in Norwich, CT with his wife Lisa.
Evert has two grown sons, Jacob & Michael who also live in Norwich. He is a partner in The Nutmeg Companies, Inc., a general construction firm also located in Norwich, CT. Evert’s pastimes include motorcycling and off road jeep rock crawling. He volunteers on numerous community boards such as the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT, the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce and the Beth Jacob Synagogue. Evert has many fond memories of Temple Beth Israel and is committed to its preservation.
Rosa L. Goldblatt
Treasurer Rosa Drobiarz Goldblatt was born in New York, a daughter of Henry and Sophie Drobiarz, newly emigrated from a displaced persons camp in Germany. The family, which included Henry’s brother Michael, moved to a dairy farm in Central Village, Connecticut in June of 1952. They soon joined Temple Beth Israel because of the many families with young children. Henry and Sophie became very involved in Temple Beth Israel activities from Sisterhood to youth groups, ritual activities to social and fund raising activities.
Their children, Rosa, Suzanne, Martin and Marilyn, followed their lead and also became involved in Synagogue life participating in various plays, youth groups and Hebrew School. Rosa, a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. is married to Michael, a CPA in Norwich, Connecticut and has three children-Louis, Matthew and Rachel.
Rosa works full-time in her husband’s practice as a staff accountant as well as being the office manager. She is a past Vice-President of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich and has served on many committees there as well. She is also currently serving as Secretary of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut.
Matthew Goldblatt is the son of Rosa and Michael Goldblatt and the grandson of Henry and Sophie Drobiarz. He is the full time accountant for the Gilman Corporation in Gilman, CT. He graduated in 2004 from Assumption College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a Concentration in Business. He currently lives in Norwich, CT. Matthew joined the board in January 2016.
Sheri Abrams is the corporate secretary of the Preservation Society. Sheri grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and was a member of Temple Beth Avodah, a reform temple in Newton, for many years.
She has been the office manager for William Seeglitz, Jr., DO in Newton, MA for many years. Sheri has one daughter, Leah, who co-founded CustomMade Theater in San Francisco. Leah currently lives in New York City and is the founder of Undiscovered Works.
Paula Rosenberg Bell
Paula Rosenberg Bell was elected President of the Preservation Society in 2019. Paula lives in Norwich, CT which is less than a thirty-minute drive to her beloved Temple Beth Israel where Paula’s parents, David and Shirley Rosenberg were active members from its inception in 1950.
Paula was the first baby to be named in the building. It was here that her brothers Warren and Joel became Bar Mitzvahs and she was married to Chris. Paula served as president of the Youth Group and USY and later as the last Sisterhood Temple Beth Israel co-president helping to keep the Sisterhood alive.
Until retiring in 2014, she was a teacher of the deaf for thirty-nine years. She provides consultation services in Deaf Education and American Sign Language. Paula also teaches American Sign Language at two community colleges.
Marty lives in Old Saybrook, CT with his wife Elizabeth and has 3 children, Heather, Alison and Jonathan. A graduate of UCONN School of Pharmacy in 1978, Marty owns Northeast Medical Products, Inc. – a retailer and wholesaler of medical equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals. Marty’s bar-mitzvah date was June 22, 1968 and following that, he became active in USY, serving as its president the following year.
Marty stayed involved by helping to lead services with his father Henry for several years until moving away from the area. The Drobiarz family has deep roots in Temple Beth Israel and Marty feels honored to serve on the Board of Directors.
Naomi and Martin Weiner
Naomi and Marty moved to Brooklyn from the Boston area in January 1988, and until the mid 90’s they continued to travel back to their old congregation in Massachusetts. They became members of Temple Beth Israel when the membership was relatively small, but the history of the community intrigued them and we realized that quality was more important than quantity.
Naomi taught school until their daughters were born; as they got older Naomi started working with young adults as an advocate for children of parenting teens and continued counseling and running after-school programs when she moved to Connecticut.Marty ran a sales agency that his father started in 1933. The agency sold plumbing material from various manufacturers and covered the six New England states.
In 1987 Marty became Vice President of sales for a company in North Grosvenordale and for the next ten years traveled the country working with representative agencies. After that company was sold, Marty worked in sales management for a similar company in Newington, Connecticut. Marty retired after twelve years, on April 1, 2010.
Dora Glinn is proud to represent the Blumenthal Family on the Preservation Society’s Board. Her grandparents, Nathan and Dora Blumenthal settled in Danielson and owned D. Blumenthal Hardware store. Nathan Blumenthal was a founding member of Temple Beth Israel. Dora’s father, Jack Glinn, met her mother, Miriam Blumenthal, when he moved from New York City to Eastern Connecticut to farm with the encouragement of the Jewish Agricultural Society.
Although Dora moved from Danielson at a young age, she has maintained strong ties to the area and to Temple Beth Israel. Dora resides in Middletown, CT with her husband, Vincent Loffredo. She retired from teaching special education in East Granby, CT. after 32 years.
Al Turner was a Yeshiva of Hartford graduate. He was a past president of the Connecticut Valley Region of United Synagogue. He also served as lay-leader for Sons of Zion Synagogue and B’nai Shalom for 33 years. He served on 2 Interfaith councils and has taught in the public schools and at QVCTC. He and his wife Marcia have lived in Danielson for 36 years.
Judy Fetterman Engel grew up in Danielson and lived there until she was 6 years old. She is enjoying becoming reacquainted with so many of the people on the board. After many years of living out of the area, she now has an opportunity to work on the board with new friends, and with her mother, Elsie Blumenthal Fetterman, and her daughter, Robyn Haley Engel. She is the office manager at East Lyme Oral Surgery, LLC.
Judy enjoys challenges, creative problem solving and is willing to intervene with any problems. Judy has held several offices in her community including two boards of education and East Lyme Rowing Association. She lives with her husband, and their three children.
Michael Gawendo is the son of Lisa and Evert Gawendo and the grandson of Ray and the late Jacob Gawendo, founding members of Temple Beth Israel and the late Anne and William Shwartz. He is a graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology and is employed at the Nutmeg Companies, Inc. in Norwich, CT. Michael lives in Norwich, CT with his fiancé Kristine.
Martin joined the board in 2016. He lives in Providence Rhode Island with his wife Betty Ann. He graduated Killingly High School in 1963, attended college and in 1976 he founded Coldmasters Temperature Control. CTC is a commercial and industrial HVAC/R service, design and installation firm and in 2014 his son Jonah took over as President and CEO. Martin’s parents were Holocaust Survivors and settled on a poultry farm in Killingly in the early 50’s. Leon and Anna Israelit were among the early founders of the community and served as Hebrew School teachers. Leon served on the board of directors and Anna was active in the Sisterhood.
Richard is honored to serve on the TBI board. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Janice. Richard grew up in West Hartford and was Vice President of Corbin Motor Sales in New Britain, CT for over twenty years. He was active in synagogue life serving on the Board of Trustees at the Beth-El Temple of West Hartford, CT as House Chairman.
Richard also served as Men’s Club President for two terms and served as Connecticut Valley Regional President. Richard joined the board in January 2016.
Alicia May is the great-granddaughter of TBI founding members Nathan & Dora Blumenthal, and the granddaughter of Harold Blumenthal, the Temple’s de facto caretaker for many years. A former Killingly resident, Alicia now lives in nearby Putnam, CT with her boyfriend, Craig, and their rescue dog, Yoshi. She works as a claims adjuster for a prominent Boston-based insurance company, and in her “spare time”, she operates Karisma Events, a wedding and special event DJ service. Alicia is an avid singer, and in addition to lending her talents to numerous Temple events and family celebrations, she has had the privilege of performing at Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, and more.
Through her service to the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society, Alicia is thrilled to have the opportunity to act on a personal commitment to give back to her community, while also honoring her family’s legacy in Danielson. While she has given her time to various organizations and causes in the past, her passions are promoting religious tolerance and championing LGBTQ+ equality. Alicia looks forward to sharing the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society’s mission of social justice through unity with another generation, and inspiring others to share the message of acceptance and peace.
James Alan Weiss
Jim Weiss, a resident of Pomfret, CT, recently joined the board of TBI. Jim, a former state legislator, is married to Nancy Pritchard Weiss. They have two daughters: Hadley and Chelsea and two grandchildren. Jim is the founding partner of Weiss and Hale Financial in Pomfret, an investment advisory and financial planning firm, and has recently launched Savor Coaching, a life coaching/planning business. Jim also is a chocolatier and founder of Pomfret Chocolates, a small batch enterprise.
Jim credits Henry Drobiarz (a founder) for encouraging him to recognize and explore his own patriarchal Jewish heritage. In Jim’s words, “Henry helped me to embrace fully who I was and am; and my own mixed religious heritage…for this I remain eternally grateful.” Jim feels compelled and happy to support TBI and its mission.
Elsie was born in Danielson. Her parents, Nathan and Dora Blumenthal moved to Danielson in 1924 and were the first practicing Jewish family in the town. She was named the first President of the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood in 1950. She was recently honored at the Temple for her 85th birthday celebration with 120 friends and family. Elsie now lives in Amherst, MA and has just completed the research for a book on the Blumenthal family published by the Killingly Historical Society.
Ray Gawendo (1915-2018)
Ray Gawendo was a Holocaust Survivor who turned 103 in 2017. Born in Vilna, now Lithuania, she lived in the Vilna Ghetto during World War II. Subsequently she was an inmate at the notorious Klooga concentration camp. She was liberated and spent time in the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camp. Ray arrived in the Danielson, Connecticut area with her husband, Jacob in the early 1950’s with the assistance of the Jewish Agricultural Society. The Gawendos bought a poultry farm in Plainfield and worked hard to build new American lives, having lost everyone and everything. Ray and Jacob were among the early Jewish settlers who helped to build Temple Beth Israel in Danielson. Ray served on the Temple’s sisterhood. Jacob served on the board of directors.
For most of her life, Ray had not talked about her experiences during the Holocaust. She encouraged her children to assimilate to American life and spared them the pain and burden of her trauma. Some ten years ago, Ray was encouraged to talk about her experiences during the Holocaust. She remembered her experiences in great detail and began to tell her story to local high school students. She was determined to share her experiences so that students could perhaps begin to understand the evil that occurred just a generation ago. This was her way of trying to insure that the horror of the Holocaust would not be repeated. “Never again!” she said. Ray has been widely recognized and honored for her work with students by the State of Connecticut legislature and numerous other organizations. She was very proud to be an advisor to the Preservation Society.
Rachel Sheppard Rubin
Rachel Sheppard Rubin is the Director of Compliance for Storrs and Regional Campuses at UConn and the Executive Secretary to the University’s Board of Trustees. Governor M. Jodi Rell appointed Rachel as her Special Counsel for Ethics Compliance for the Executive Branch from July 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006. As Special Counsel, her duties included advising the Governor on public integrity issues and serving as a resource to the Executive Branch, staff of the Office of the Governor and all agency heads, on ethics laws and any ethics guidelines adopted by the Governor.
Rachel served as Managing Director and Commission Counsel for the State Ethics Commission from 1988 until 2000. She then served as a legal counsel in government affairs for ING – North America, before joining the staff of the University of Connecticut.
Rachel holds a B.S. in Business from UConn and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts. She is certified as a Corporate Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP) through the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE). She serves on the Board of Directors of the University of Connecticut Alumni Association . She is also active in the Hartford-based organization Voices of Hope: an organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors to collect, categorize and share the experiences of Holocaust survivors for the benefit of future generations.
Fay Sheppard grew up in Temple Beth Israel. Her parents were among the founders of the community. Her father, Herman Sheppard, served as president of the congregation for a number of years. Fay was a Senior Vice President for the Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. where she was a senior commercial/corporate lender and then Manager of New Haven Corporate of the New New England Bank & Trust Co. While with Fleet Bank she managed the Health Care and Non-for-Profit areas for Fairfield and New Haven counties.
She currently serves as First Vice President – Investments for Wells Fargo Advisors. She has served on number of boards including the Greater New Haven Jewish Federation, Society for Human Resource Managers, United Way, Strides for Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, as well as the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut. She has been a special honoree as the Outstanding Woman of the Year by the New Haven YWCA,as well as being named a Leslie Wexner Heritage Foundation Scholar.
An architecture student at Penn State University, Robyn is passionate about design, personal history, storytelling, and her dog Toby. Besides her family connection to TBIPS,Robyn is Elsie Fetterman’s Granddaughter) Robyn began getting involved with the Preservation Society as an intern in Summer 2012. For this position, she researched the various founding board members in archival records, as well as interviews.
She also designed an exhibit for the social hall of the temple and aided in researching and preparing the application of Temple Beth Israel for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. When she is not busy in the architecture building, which is rare, Robyn enjoys painting, reading comic books, as well as listening to the radio.
Jack Hodys is the son of Holocaust survivors, Anna and Henry Hodys, who were founders of Temple Beth Israel. Jack lives with his wife Nancy in Pascoag, Rhode Island. They have two children, Ethan and Karen.
Vita Fetterman Goldstein
Vita (Fetterman) Goldstein was born and brought up in Danielson and attended Temple Beth Israel in her youth. As a teenager, Vita was active in the USY chapter. She married her husband, Richard Goldstein, in the Temple, lived in Danielson and continued to be active in the Sisterhood. Vita is proud to be the daughter of Elsie and Irving (obm) Fetterman and the granddaughter of Nathan and Dora Blumenthal, obm, who were among the founding members of the community.
Vita made aliya to Israel with her husband. Their children, Bethami Gold and Ilana Freundel are married and live in Israel. Their grandchildren are Eden, Yemima and Asaf Gold. Vita tutors English, teaches art classes and participates in Israeli craft fairs. She helps to welcome new families to Israel.
Vita was one of the original participants in the creation of the Preservation Society. Temple Beth Israel has always been an important part of her life and she is pleased that this building, its history and mission are being celebrated and preserved. Vita sees to a bright future for TBI-PS. It is a special place for Danielson area Jewish families to call home.
Herman Sheppard (1926-2017)
Herman was one of the founders of Temple Beth Israel. Born in 1926 in Sosnowiec, Poland, he was a Holocaust survivor who labored in several concentration camps until being liberated from the Buchenwald camp by American soldiers. He arrived in the US in 1949 and moved to Plainfield CT where he met his wife Gertrude. His daughters Fay and Rachel both served on the board of directors of the Preservation Society in its formative years. Herman was very active in the leadership of Temple Beth Israel and served on the board of the temple and as president. He was a real estate developer and involved in other business projects, including the establishment of Plainfield Greyhound Park. He was active in local and State politics and had served as Chair of the Plainfield Democratic Committee. Herman died at age 90 in March 2017.
Born in NYC, the daughter of German Jews who had each come to the US in the late 20s, Mili was raised in a culturally but not religiously Jewish household. Mili and her sister were sent to all three branches of the Ethical Cultural Society: Fieldston Lower (the elementary school and on up through high school in Rivlerdale, the Bronx, the multicultural Sunday School at the Midtown branch and the summer camp in upstate New York. Thus, although surrounded by Jews, Mili had a multicultural and diverse background.
After receiving a BA at the University of Chicago in German Literature, she met her future husband Werner (Tom) Angress, who had grown up in Nazi Germany as the last Jew in his school in Berlin before emigrating to something akin to a “kibbutz” in Virginia. Upon its dissolution, he joined the American Army in 1941, was one of the “Ritchie Boys” returning to Germany to fight the Nazis. Tom witnessed every major battle of the war, serving as an interrogator (far more humane than most) until the end of the war.
After their marriage, they lived for 13 years in Port Jefferson with their two daughters and periodically her stepsons. Tom became professor of modern European and German history at SUNY-Stony Brook where Mili earned two master’s degrees – one in French literature and the other in ESOL/Linguistics. After an amicable divorce, Mili taught French and Spanish and then opened their house to mostly Latino grad students who became “older sisters” to her growing daughters.
With the exception of experiences with Orthodox relatives, Mili’s knowledge of traditional Judaism has been limited. She’s beginning to explore more of it at Temple Beth Israel under Alan Turner’s patient guidance.