Class Correspondent

Heidi Hyde Smith, P’12, of Chestnut Hill, Mass., wrote “Feivel’s Flying Horses,” a National Jewish Book Award finalist in the illustrated children’s book category. Her first children’s book, “Mendel’s Accordion,” about klezmer music, won the 2007 Sugarman Family Award for Best Jewish Children’s Book. She serves as director of education at Temple Sinai in Brookline.

Cardiologist Bruce Decter was profiled in the Long Island (N.Y.) Herald after saving the life of a 58-year-old man who suffered a heart attack at John F. Kennedy International Airport in January. The man had stopped breathing, and Bruce administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for two and a half minutes until an automated external defibrillator arrived.

Former Brandeis runner Kevin Curtin was named the men’s and women’s track and cross-country coach at Bentley University. He had been serving as coach of the New Balance Boston Track Club since 2003. Kevin was an assistant coach at Brandeis in 1986–87.

Vicki Goldsmith reports that she recently moved to New Mexico, purchasing a house with a friend and her family. They are involved with permaculture and raising animals, heading toward self-sufficiency. She writes, “Spectacular mountain views and incredible sunsets really make this the Land of Enchantment!”

Josh Cohen married longtime partner Ian Flynn on May 23, 2010, at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

Cari Pepkin and Roger Jassie were in attendance. Josh and Ian live in Somerville. Josh is a freelance enterprise-content management consultant currently working at Cengage Learning in Boston. Ian works in the undergraduate admissions office at Emerson College, his alma mater. Todd Melnick is the associate librarian for public services and adjunct professor of law at Fordham Law School. He and his wife, Christie, live in Highland Park, N.J. Their daughter, Georgia, is 3 and enjoys school, ballet, tumbling and pretending to be Snow White. 

Allan Pressel lives in Los Angeles and is founder/CEO of CharityFinders, which builds interactive websites for nonprofits and some for-profits. Allan is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on e-philanthropy and is the co-author of “Internet Management for Nonprofits.” He received a Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush. Allan still does springboard diving. 

Tanya Wisoker Conley, P’13, teaches science at a Jewish day school in Virginia Beach, Va. Her daughter Morgan ’13 attends Brandeis and works at Lemberg Children’s Center — just as Tanya did. Tanya enjoyed visiting with Laura Masone, Hayley Wiseman Arone and Marc Tanis ’86 when she brought Morgan up to Brandeis.

Robert Barsky is the acting chair and director of graduate studies in the Department of French and Italian at Vanderbilt University. This year he directed a literature and law seminar at the Robert Penn Warren Center and was a member of the Collegium for the Yale-Haskins research project on college-level reading. His new book, “Zellig Harris: From American Linguistics to Socialist Zionism,” was published in April. It is the third volume in a trilogy that deals with linguistics and politics. Dan Garfield writes that he “has spent the last 20 years married to Amy Mager ’85 and personally creating the next generation (six kids!).” After living for many years in the woods outside Northampton, Mass., they moved five years ago to nearby Springfield so their oldest child could attend Jewish high school in West Hartford, Conn. Dan has been happily running his private practice as a chiropractor using network spinal analysis. He also does personal injury work in Springfield to help pay for all those day-school tuitions! The most exciting news is that his acting career has blossomed. He has now starred in three commercials and is gaining some notoriety (you can view them by doing a search for his name on YouTube). According to Dan, a 30-second investment will provide a substantial belly laugh! 

Rachel Meyers is married to a biotech patent attorney and has two kids, Julia, 16, and Jake, 14. Rachel is a biologist and works on drug development. She has been at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals for the past eight years. She is on the scientific board for the recently established master’s program in biotechnology at Brandeis and has been involved in science career day events at Brandeis and Harvard. She reports that she still has a passion for playing squash, which she acquired during her days at Brandeis. 

Lori Kaufman Goodian and her family recently returned from their first trip to Israel, where they celebrated their twins’ b’nai mitzvot and had a full immersion experience. They can’t wait to return! 

Karen Kolbor Ersted lives in Palo Alto, Calif., and has enjoyed hosting the Northern California student send-off for incoming freshmen the past few years. Her daughter, Rachel, is a freshman at University of California, Berkeley, and a coxswain on the women’s crew team. Karen's son, Matt, is a sophomore in high school and is interested in attending college in the East. Karen is looking forward to showing him Brandeis soon. 

Jaya Kader Zebede is an architect in Miami. She recently received a couple of American Institute of Architects awards for one of her projects and dedicated them to late Brandeis professor Gerald Bernstein, who was her mentor and whose passion for architecture inspired her to pursue what she says has been a wonderful career. She always mentions him when people her why she became an architect. 

Martin Alintuck served as president and CEO of the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, which ended in October 2010. More than 7.36 million people visited the pavilion. In recognition of its presentation and outreach efforts throughout China, the pavilion recently won the Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Award for country promotion. In addition, for his communications work over 10 years in Asia, Martin received the Gold Standard Award for professional excellence.

Naomi Yadin-Mendick was elected chair of the Southeast Seaboard District of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for 2011–12. Her region includes Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Cuba and Puerto Rico. As he does, tongue firmly planted in cheek, with each volunteer position, her husband asked, “Are you getting paid for this job?”

Farah Ganjei Gron is a Ph.D. candidate in homeopathy and has a practice called New Life Homeopathy in Newton, Mass., specializing in helping children with autism ( 

Scott Cohen is assistant vice president of human resources at MassMutual Financial Group. He and his wife, Sue, live in Sudbury, Mass. Their older son is a freshman at the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!), and their younger son is a sophomore in high school, perhaps a future member of the Brandeis Class of 2017. 

Fran Shonfeld Sherman and her husband, Jonathan, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a family safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Back to reality, she writes that “Jon’s litigating, Fran’s editing and fiddling.” Daughter Debbie graduated from the University of Michigan in the spring, daughter Leora is at Washington University in St. Louis, and son Paul is a sophomore in high school. All three kids are still playing music. 

Alyson Arbeiter Distel reports that her husband of 24 years passed away suddenly in November 2008. Her son Craig graduated last year from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He is currently in law school at the University of Miami in Florida. Her son Brad is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. Alyson recently started her own business as a QuickBooks certified proadvisor. Carolyn Josephs Hamlet lives in Aspen, Colo., with her husband, Ken, and 6-year-old son, Bryce. She enjoys all that living in Aspen has to offer: skiing, hiking, biking, art, music and a great community. She owns a mortgage brokerage firm, Hamlet Financial Corp. 

Dennis Kelleher was recruited to start a new nonprofit called Better Markets, which promotes the public interest in the domestic and international capital and commodity markets. He writes, “My focus is now on financial markets and economics, but the headlines pull me back into my recent international portfolio, which included the Middle East, where I was not long ago meeting with ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, his son and then heir apparent, Gamal Mubarak, and then intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, as well as the defense minister, foreign minister and the leaders of many social justice groups, although certainly not at the same time. The headlines remind us that history can happen fast. Our class began at Brandeis in the middle of the then-inconceivable Iranian hostage crisis, and we are now watching equally inconceivable changes again, this time throughout the Middle East.”

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