Board members

ANN ANGEL
I first became part of the Menorah community when, age 13, I was invited with my friends to found a youth group. It was great fun.  I even sat on the Board as the youth representative.  An eye-opener!

Coming full circle I am now pleased to hold portfolios for Adult Education and Interfaith issues.  Please be in touch if you have an interest in attending sessions, supporting activities or introducing new ideas.  Or simply want to enjoy a chat over a nice cup of tea!

I returned to Menorah in 1994 with Paul, my husband, and Ilan and Yuval, our children, who attended the Menorah nursery and enjoyed youth activities.  I supported youth leaders and youth activities at Menorah and helped to launch the Kehilla weekend and the Schools Outreach programme.  I am currently coordinator of the Access course and adult Hebrew classes, and the Menorah representative for Altrincham Interfaith Group.

Professionally I work in Jewish education.  I love to use creative means to explore Judaism, especially Jewish storytelling.  I was the Northern Communities Consultant for the Leo Baeck College Centre for Jewish Education, trained youth leaders in Jerusalem, taught B’nei Mitzvah in Haifa and Jewish studies in Manchester.  I am now running my own business, offering specialist workshops on Judaism to schools. I also like wild swimming and then eating homemade soup!


DAVID BALSAMO

I grew up within the Liberal tradition in London, attending cheder at the North London Progressive Synagogue in Stamford Hill. I have been in the North West for thirty plus years, joining Menorah relatively recently and have become involved in activities where I can help or contribute in some way. This is an easy thing to do because I have found Menorah to be such a vibrant, interesting and welcoming community – a place where it is possible to feel at home very quickly! Currently, I am involved in co-ordinating ARK (Adults Requiring Knowledge), with Judy Bavin, which is interesting, rewarding and, also, a fantastic way to forge and develop community connections.

In my professional life, I am Professor and Dean of Social Science at the University of Chester.  I am a governor at a further education college in St Helen’s and have a keen interest in matters of governance. However, before entering academia, I did a variety of jobs from painting and decorating to working in operating theatres as a technician. I have worked in South East Asia and the US as part of my university role, spending some time in the ‘deep south’, where I had the privilege to engage with former Freedom Riders and current civil rights activists. I am hoping that some aspects of my professional and life experience will be transferable as roles on the Board evolve and develop.

I live in Chester with my wife and son and have an older son living in Altrincham; Chester is fine and has good coffee shops, but you cannot get a bagel for love or money! Therefore, when conditions allow, I am a regular commuter to South Manchester and have got to know the area fairly well in recent years. I like to cycle, spend time with my dogs and cook – I currently trying to perfect the art of latke making with reasonable success.


JANE BLANK 

I have been attending Menorah for over 25 years and being there with my friends it has become an integral part of my life. I was born and brought up in the Manchester area.

Over the years I have been involved in a range of shul activities and I have met and volunteered alongside some wonderful people who have inspired and supported me along the way.

In 2018 I decided to give something back in a more formal way by joining the board.
I am often found at Menorah with usually with a pot of tea in hand – please come up and say hello.


ROBERT CLINE

I joined Menorah in 2014 at the same time as my wife Sarah enrolled on the Access Course (which she completed and subsequently converted through the Beit Din).

I became a Board member about a year after joining Menorah. Having a modern orthodox background in North Manchester, I was immediately struck by both the similarities and differences between reform and orthodox life and wanted to become more familiar with reform practice and theology whilst at the same time contributing to the running of Menorah. In that vein, I have become involved in the structure and planning of services and assist the Rabbi in chairing the Ritual and Practice sub-committee of the Board.

My profession as a barrister allows me to contribute to the legal aspects of Menorah’s running as well as recognising the Board’s obligations to its members and as a charitable institution.


EMILY CARP


SIMON COHEN

I am a teacher at Langdon College Salford campus, having previously taught in mainstream, and CAMHS for several years.  I was married in Menorah Synagogue 18 years ago.  I believe in supporting my local Jewish community and giving something back which I do by being a Director of the synagogue.  My hobbies are playing outside, gardening, exploring flooded mines and caves in the UK.  My favourite chocolate bar is Jacobs orange club biscuit.


HELEN CONWAY

I joined Menorah as a member in 2018 having been active in the community for two years before that having come through the access class.

Menorah has become a true home for me and I have enjoyed getting involved in a range of activities as diverse and delightfully fun as organising Talmud study sessions, teaching the children to build mini succot from biscuits, Matchmakers and icing sugar, offering face painting at the Hannukah fair, speaking at ARK, designing art work for the Covid year Rosh Hashanah delivery bags, writing for Shofar, helping with social media and publicity and, of course, buttering a considerable number of bagels. I have a particular love of the learning and study inherent in Judaism.

Professionally I was originally a solicitor then barrister, finally serving for ten years in the Judiciary as a District Judge in the Civil and Family Courts and Court of Protection. I took an early retirement in 2020 to build my current portfolio career as a coach, trainer and author. I am also an internationally exhibited artist making graffiti inspired textile art and photo collage.

I live in St. Helens, have a mixed faith marriage  with my Christian husband Dennis, who is a keen rugby union supporter and knowledgeable classical music lover. Together we love to travel, as often as possible on long trips across continents or decamping to a Parisian flat for a month or so and pretending we live there for real. When I am at home I relax by reading, baking and playing golf badly.


JENNIE FERRARIO

I joined Menorah in 2012 having come from an Orthodox community. My husband and I thoroughly embraced the inclusive approach of Menorah and I quickly became involved in youth activities having seen the positive impact of Shul life on my 3 sons.

As a Board member I will continue to work with colleagues in encouraging Jewish education both for the youth and the community as a whole and in my work as Head of Cheder will continue to try and provide excellent learning resources. As a member I will no doubt continue to enjoy our services, particularly making a contribution where I can, our social events and catching up with everyone and being part of a community that believes in providing a non-judgemental platform.

On a personal note, I am Mum to Zac, Jake & Ollie, a self-employed Barrister specialising in Employment and Regulatory Law and if I don’t exercise each day I become very grumpy.


HENRY FOX

I joined Menorah in 2017 and was elected to the Board in 2019. I am responsible for organising social events, and look forward to putting on a variety of events throughout the year appealing hopefully to all members of the community.

I grew up in a modern Orthodox community in South Manchester and came to Menorah as my wife Sophie was a member.  I play tennis on a regular basis and enjoy travelling socialising and car shows.

Please feel free to put in any suggestions to me in relation to social events for the synagogue going forward.  I look forward to seeing you at one of the events soon.


CLEM HERMAN

I’ve been a Menorah member for about 15 years and live in Chorlton with my wife Deirdre.  We have two sons, one lives in London and the other in New York. Over the years we have been regular attenders at services and social events, but I felt it was time to make a more formal contribution to the shul and community and was very pleased to be invited to join the Board in 2019.

Growing up in London, as the daughter of a Reform rabbi, my Jewish identity has always been very firmly rooted in the Reform tradition and this has shaped my lifelong commitment to social justice and inclusion.  Over 20 years ago I set up the LGBT Jewish group in Manchester, as an informal network for people from all sectors of the community and we still continue to celebrate festivals and simchas together.

In my professional life I am Professor of Gender and Technology at the Open University.  I’ve worked both as a researcher and educator on equality and diversity issues, including developing policies and strategies for organisations, and I hope to bring this expertise to the Menorah Board to ensure that we continue to grow as a welcoming and inclusive community.


CATHY KNOWLES
I have been a member of Menorah for over 25 years.  Roles over the years included running Kehilla weekend; leading the Israeli dance class; chairing the Russian twinning group; tutoring Hebrew on Thursday nights; marriage secretary; and more. Outside Menorah, I served on the board of Reform Judaism and helped run Jewish mindfulness retreats.  I am very active in Limmud, supporting Day Limmud events in cities around the UK, including Manchester Limmud since 2013.

I was born in Manhattan, grew up in Los Angeles, and moved to Manchester in 1991. I have always been Reform, and spent 8 wonderful years in the Habonim youth movement – long summers at camps around the USA and Canada and a gap year on Kibbutz Urim in the Negev.  I lived in Jerusalem for 3 years after university. My profession was software engineering, and I am now happily retired.  My son Vince lives in London.  I love the warmth and diversity of Menorah and the range and quality of religious, social and cultural events of this special community.


DAVID RABIN
I was born a true Cockney, but grew up in Canada. I returned to the UK in 1967 to study Optometry at UMIST, where I met my wife, and so stayed in the UK.  I spent forty years as an optometrist and at the same time studied for my M.B.Sc. We joined Menorah in 1978 on moving to Manchester.

I joined the synagogue Council in 1980 and apart from having a couple of years off, I have been on the Board ever since. My wife & I began the cheder PTA/Social Committee in 1981 & I was synagogue Chair in the early nineties and again in 2019. I retired from work in 2009 and now have time to enjoy children and grandchildren.


ERIC ROTH


RICHARD SPECTERMAN