In this issue:











Upcoming Chapter Events

The 34th Annual Book & Author events begin February 1.

See our March issue for a recap and photos.

Scroll down for photos from the recent Table Captains' Brunch.

After the event, see our website for the updated, digital version of our Program Book.

Let's Dance! will be held Saturday, March 16 - Scroll down for details

Our Annual Meeting and Program will be Wednesday, March 20

Details are below

On Wednesday, April 17, save the date for our

Spring Event and Installation of the 2024-2025 Board.

Scroll down for more information.

From June 1 - August 31, we are pleased to offer our popular

Summer Camp program. Join the fun, see below.

Presidents' Message

Dear Brandeis Friends, 


As you read this issue of our chapter’s Bulletin, it is just before the premier event of our fundraising year: the 34th annual Book & Author Luncheon, preceded, the night before, by the Bookmark Cocktail Party hosting our authors and moderator.

Our Book & Author Event was established in 1991 and is recognized by publishers and authors as well as the President of Brandeis University, Ron Liebowitz, as one of the best events in the country. It was established by Chapter influencers, led by Carol Kern, to create an event that would enhance our Chapter’s mission to raise funds for the Brandeis Library. Although the total amount of donated funds for the preceding years is not known, we do know that last year’s event raised over $100,000. Book & Author has been, and will continue to be, a remarkable accomplishment for our Chapter. 

Another huge achievement began over ten years ago and I am proud to have been a significant part of that effort. The Men of Brandeis Study Group was created eleven years ago. With my co-facilitator, Sam Summer, we started with 35 members. The MOB, as it is affectionately called, has tripled in size and, more importantly, over 25% of the current annual chapter members are men. There are now 24 men facilitating Study Groups, with 175 men participating in a variety of Study Groups.

Ellen and I want to congratulate all of those who have contributed to this enormous growth in the past, and we thank those who are continuing to do so.

Leith and Ellen

Upcoming Events

Get ready to put on your dancing shoes - have fun – and Let’s Dance!


Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 16 • 7:00 ~ 10:00 pm

and get ready to party at The Imperial Ballroom

DJ Teffanie will spin your favorite tunes

from the 60s, 70s and 80s

There will be sandwiches, snacks and desserts,

as well as wine and water

Watch your inbox for more information, coming soon

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Have questions? Contact Susan Sacks at [email protected]


Ruth Lerner, Susan Sacks and Andrew Tievsky, Event Chairs

Annual Meeting and Program

Speaker: Fred Bronson, Music Journalist

2:00 ~ 4:00 pm

Gloria Christi Federated Church (formerly Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church)

3535 E. Lincoln Drive, Phoenix

Fred Bronson has been called “America’s foremost chart journalist” by the editor of Billboard magazine and as an expert on music has guest-starred on American Idol four times. He is the author of six books: The Jacksons Legacy (with the Jacksons), Dick Clark’s American Bandstand (with Dick Clark), The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits and The Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits (with Adam White).

The program will follow a short board meeting. There is no charge for this event.

Spring Luncheon & Installation

April 17, 2024

11:00 am ~ 1:30 pm

Congregation Beth Israel (CBI)


The day includes Installation of our 2024-2025 Board,

a Luncheon and a Dynamic Program

New Frontiers in Genetic Testing and Your Health


How much do you know about your genetics?

Ask the experts from the Minkoff Center for Jewish Genetics!

Learn the pros and cons of over-the-counter DNA kits

Explore medical advances that have been made possible

as genetic testing has become more common

Hear how your genetics contribute to

your overall health and that of your family

More information and registration coming soon


Questions? Contact Marilyn Reinfeld

Event Chairs: Marilyn Reinfeld, Hillary Kaminsky and Carol Kadet

Summer Camp

Amazing how time flies! We are starting to plan for Summer Camp (June, July and August, 2024). Put on your thinking caps and let us know if you wish to lead a Summer Camp activity.

Please send us an email with a brief description, tell is whether the activity is in-person or on Zoom, and we will contact you.

Ronee Siegel and Susie Sacks, Summer Camp Chairs

[email protected]

Recent Events

University on Wheels

University on Wheels took place on January 5, 2024 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Phoenix. Dr. Zachary Albert, Professor of Politics, gave an interesting talk on Why Is Government So Dysfunctional?

Over 150 people registered for the event, and we were honored by the presence of Merle Carrus and M’Lissa Brennan from National.

We thank everyone who attended and appreciate those who made additional donations.

Gale Stam and Barbara Stern,

Co-Chairs, University on Wheels 2024

Book & Author ~ Brunch for the Table Captains

This lovely annual event was held on January 8, in appreciation for the Table Captains for Book & Author, who contribute to the event by encouraging attendance, providing a welcoming table and simplifying the event's seating arrangements. We thank and appreciate Judy Green for generously sharing her home, and Patti Grossman, Terriann Kleiner and Ruth Lerner, our hard-working and gracious co-chairs.

Photos: Gale Gradus

Board Leadership Meeting

The board met in person on January 17 to do some training on best practices to transition incoming board members and how to be effective mentors and mentees. There was a lot of great discussion and some role playing to go along with it. Thank you to all the board members who were able to attend.

~ Patti Grossman, VP of Strategy and Leadership Planning

Photos: Gale Gradus

Study Group News

Spotlight on Study Groups

Many Study Groups are Still Available

Join today and you can enjoy the activities

  • You can read about available groups in the Study Guide on our website. There is also information on how to register on the website. 
  • Remember, if you registered in the fall for Study groups, you should use the Edit My Registration link on your confirmation email to access the registration system.


Even a group that has reached its maximum participation may have openings from time to time - if you are interested in a particular group, contact the facilitator(s) to see if space is available. Very often there is! Look in the study guide for group details, which include contact information for the facilitators. A $5 guest fee will apply.

Our chapter’s Study Groups are for the benefit and enjoyment of current BNC members.

Please be sure to join or renew your membership, so you will be able to register for study groups!

Study Groups Out & About 

The International Wine Connoisseurs group

Ellen Kirschenbaum and Debbie Gordon at Nourish (formerly Interfaith Ministries) with Mitzvah Mavens - you can see all the prescription bottles donated by our chapter!

The new Neighborhood Walks #3 group selfie at Roosevelt Row

Movers & Shakers making Hamsas

at Orit Feinberg's studio

The Cake Decorating study group having a fun and delicious time!

Men of Brandeis

Wednesday, February 14

1:00 pm

Speaker: Paul Rockower

On Wednesday, February 14, the Men of Brandeis will hear from Paul Rockower, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix. As always, the meeting will begin at 1:00 pm at the JCC on Scottsdale Rd, preceded by lunch at the J’s in-house eatery, Milk and Honey, at noon.

Mr. Rockower was formerly the Executive Director of Levantine Public Diplomacy, an independent public diplomacy organization. He has managed the U.S. Department of State’s American Music Abroad and Next Level programs in dozens of countries around the world, including many countries in conflict. He has partnered with numerous U.S. diplomatic posts to run public diplomacy programs in countries ranging from Algeria to Iraq to Venezuela to Zimbabwe. Mr. Rockower has worked on public diplomacy with multiple Foreign Ministries, including Israel and India, and was an International Visiting Fellow at a think tank in Taiwan. He holds a Master’s of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor’s from Brandeis University.

Guests (men and women) are welcome for a $5.00 guest fee.

ALL participants must RSVP to the facilitator in advance in order to attend.

For additional information or to RSVP, contact the facilitator:

Leith Baletin • [email protected]


Please contact us with any study group questions:

Marcia Langer and Harriet Schwartz

[email protected]

Study Group Vice Presidents

Save the Date

♥ ♥ Book & Author 2024 ♥ ♥

Thursday, February 1 • Bookmark Cocktail Reception and Donor Dinner with the Authors

Westin Kierland Resort

Friday, February 2 • Luncheon ~ Authors ~ Boutiques

Let's Dance! 🕺🏻

Saturday, March 16 • 7:00 - 10:00 pm

Imperial Ballroom

Annual Meeting

Wednesday, March 20 • 2:00 - 4:00 pm

3535 E. Lincoln Drive, Phoenix

  Spring Event/Installation

Wednesday, April 17 • 11:00 am - 1:30 pm

Congregation Beth Israel (CBI)

All of our events are open to the public.

Community Outreach

Community Service is a fundamental part of the mission of BNC. Throughout the year, we collect items for various non-profits in the greater Phoenix area, and your support is much appreciated. 

Additionally, our Mitzvah Mavens Study Group provides participatory activities for our members to volunteer directly with specific agencies.

Collection of Items

Our Chapter is collecting for those in need. Anything you can bring to our events will be delivered to various organizations. Items needed include: purses, bras, toiletries, children's books and toys, costume jewelry and prescription bottles with safety lids

New this year: We are collecting eyeglasses, which will be delivered to the Lion's Club.

Questions? Contact Ellen or Wendy[email protected]

Brandeis has launched a Global Service Initiative in honor of their 75th Anniversary. They hope to illustrate how community involvement makes a compelling change and a positive mark on the world. Each chapter is compiling a list of the volunteer hours and organizations to which their members contribute. Our chapter is always involved in community outreach and it’s so nice to be able to acknowledge that!

We have been receiving your volunteer information.

Please continue to let us know:

  • Where you volunteer
  • How often
  • The number of hours you put in

Please submit your volunteer activities to Wendy Cohen at [email protected].

So many of you are true community advocates! We thank you all - you DO make a difference!

Wendy Cohen and Ellen Kirschenbau

[email protected]

Knit A Mitzvah

Do you Knit? Do you Crochet? 

Help us make Scarves, Newborn Baby Caps,

Lap Blankets and Chemo Caps

We donate newborn baby caps and lap

blankets to Honor Health Medical

Center, scarves to Sojourner Center

and chemo caps to 

Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center.

For more information, please contact:

Ronee Siegel

[email protected] 917-273-0393

Joan Davis

[email protected] 602–499-8357


For more information, see our  website.

Mitzvah Mavens

Participants in this study group volunteer at a variety of Valley non-profit organizations. We meet at the specific locations of the organizations on various dates, lending helping hands as needed. If there are activities that can be done at home, participants will be notified.

Mitzvah Mavens Facilitators:

Patti Grossman [email protected]

Ellen Kirschenbaum [email protected]

Ileen Herberg [email protected]

Nan Waldman [email protected]

For more information, contact the Community Outreach Chairs:

Wendy Cohen and Ellen Kirschenbaum

[email protected]

Membership News

Membership Milestones

  • Congratulations to Patti and Irwin Grossman on the birth of their grandson, Leo Simon Grossman. Proud parents are Eliza and Barry Grossman.
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Carolyn Friedman
  • Our sincere condolences to Carrol Gottfried on the passing of her brother, Dr. Nelson Goodman
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Joyce Gordon
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Sylvia Gordon
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Raquel Hammer
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Faye Hein
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of life member Phyllis Moroff
  • Our sincere condolences to Rabbi Marty Scharf and family on the passing of his wife, Roberta Scharf
  • Our sincere condolences to the family of Marilyn Zolondek, life member and past president of our chapter

We welcome our new members:

John Brezack, Debbie Frazelle, Toby Haberman, Tracy Malman, David Newman, Joyce Rabinowitz, Stephen Schoffman, Mark Winer

To report life-cycle events, please contact:

Marilyn Reinfeld • [email protected] • 480-620-5601

Chapter Roster

To report a change in email address, phone number (cell or landline) or mailing address, please contact:

Carol Kadet • [email protected] 

She will update our membership roster and ensure that you receive Chapter mailings and information.

A Social for New and Prospective Members

We hold these gatherings several times throughout the year to welcome new and prospective members

The next one will be on Monday March 18th, from 1:30-3:30 pm

Evites will be sent out in February

For more information, please contact Membership VPs

Membership Social on January 12

Photos: Gale Gradus

Membership Vice Presidents 

Gale Gradus and Kathleen Witkin

[email protected]

Name Tags

Would you prefer not to wear the stick-on name tags used at Chapter functions?

We are offering personalized, magnetic BNC name tags for $15.00, including shipping. You can get your name tag by filling out the order form and mailing it to the listed address.

Order Form

Note: Replacement magnetic backs for existing name tags are available; contact the Chapter at 480-359-7262

Brandeis Happenings

Brandeis community comes together

for teach-in event

By Kennedy Ryan

December 8, 2023

In response to issues that emerged in the wake of the Hamas attacks, the war in Gaza, and campus events, Brandeis canceled all classes Dec. 5 to hold a special community wide teach-in.

Fourteen events, ranging from group discussions to lecture-style presentations, focused on addressing the pervasive imbalance between the polarizing rhetoric of the current moment — on and off campus — and information based on reliable sources. 

Each event aimed to create an environment that fosters respectful, constructive conversations. Drawing on topics from their own courses and expertise, faculty encouraged attendees to engage across their differences and communicate constructively with one another.

The teach-in featured a broad range of topics: Evaluating News Reports for Credibility, Bias, Authority, etc.; Deliberative Dialogue as a Means to Understanding Ourselves and Others; Hate Speech and the First Amendment

Policing and Race in the US; Dog Whistles and Political Speech; Women, Gender-based Violence, and War; Social Media’s Role in Protest, Polarization, and Disinformation; Studying Judaism and Islam at Brandeis; Reasoning Through Ethical Dilemmas in Times of Political Conflict; Interfaith Dialogue in Times of Crisis; Contemporary anti-Semitism; Contemporary Islamophobia; Kingian Non-Violence; and Did You Know that there are Christians in Israel/Palestine?

Neil Swidey, professor of the practice in journalism, led a discussion on how to evaluate news for credibility, bias, and authority. He urged students to learn to “think like a journalist,” and “interrogate your own assumptions.”

A trio of legal studies professors, Daniel BreenRosalind E. W. Kabrhel, and Melissa Stimell, led a lively discussion of the definition of hate speech and how the courts have interpreted it. 

Read more

Brandeis at 75: A daring university that is still making history

Celebrate Brandeis’ past, present, and future with this 2-minute video





Iris Wigal

Leith Baletin

Best wishes for a speedy recovery

To make a donation online using a credit card, go to giving.brandeis.edu/bnc

In order to include your online tributes in the bulletin, please email the details - 

Fund, Donor(s), Recipient(s) and Occasion only - to Beth Messer at [email protected]

For future inclusions, please notify Beth Messer.

The Current Campaign

The Legacy of Louis: Inspiring Inquiry

As the university celebrated its milestone 75th anniversary, the Brandeis National Committee's current campaign, The Legacy of Louis: Inspiring Inquiry, was halfway towards its goal, thanks to all of you.

This campaign will reinvigorate the Brandeis Library's mission to empower its community to become scholars, creators, and innovators through the creation of two interactive additions to the Library. The first will be the construction of a research archive of original letters, photographs, documents and family objects that shed light on the life and the lasting contributions of Justice Louis D. Brandeis. 

The second addition to the Brandeis Library will be the creation of a new Judaica reading room in the library. This space will provide the Brandeis community with a place to engage with Jewish texts outside of the typical classroom and religious environments. By presenting Jewish texts in conjunction with writings from cultural and religious traditions from around the world, the room will serve scholars and students alike. 

In 1948, the BNC (formerly BUNWC) was founded alongside the university to provide philanthropic support and now, 75 years later, continues to support the mission and principles upon which Brandeis was founded.

General Chapter Information

Chapter Board Meetings

Board meetings are conducted via Zoom

Chapter members are welcome to attend all meetings,

which are generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 10:00 am

Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 21, from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

RSVP: Email Corresponding Secretary Linda Perlman

at [email protected] in order to receive the Zoom link

Chapter Presidents: Leith Baletin and Ellen Widoff

Board of Directors 2023-2024

Report a Change of Contact Information

Privacy Policy

Zoom Protocols

Mission Statement

Founded in 1948, Brandeis National Committee is dedicated to providing philanthropic support to Brandeis University, a distinguished liberal arts and research university founded by the American Jewish community. Its membership is connected to the University through fundraising and through activities that reflect the values on which the University was founded: academic excellence, social justice, nonsectarianism and service to the community.

Presidents: Ellen Widoff and Leith Baletin

Editor: Sara Leopold • Assistant Editor: Ronee Siegel

[email protected]


Let's Dance logo: Image by brgfx on Freepik

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