Who We Are


Board of Directors


Susan Cohen


Susan Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York, to non-Deaf parents who raised her and her younger siblings in a traditional Conservative Jewish household where the family celebrated the holidays and kept kosher. Not having the Hebrew education that her siblings had, her desire to learn about her Jewish heritage, Hebrew and Jewish spirituality led her to completing her synagogue’s Adult B’nai Mitzvah program. As an active participant of Temple Beth Ami, she and other Deaf members founded the synagogue’s Deaf Access Committee, participated on the Search Committee for the synagogue's first Program Director and served on two of her daughters' Confirmation Committee. After their children completed their religious school education at Temple Beth Ami, she and her husband left behind 18 wonderful years of synagogue membership to give greater attention to Washington Society of Jewish Deaf. She served on the WSJD Board of Directors as its secretary for two terms from 2011-2017 prior to becoming its President. In 2013, at the Jewish Deaf Congress Conference, Susan was the recipient of the Henry and Anna Plapinger Award, which honors a Jewish Deaf Adult who has contributed outstanding service to the Jewish Deaf Community for over ten years. In retrospect, she says, “I enjoy being an active part of the WSJD team, building ruach (spirit), and bringing together the community for shared learning opportunities." Susan is the current Coordinator of the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library and Head of Adult Services/Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community for the Montgomery County Public Libraries. She and her husband, Jeff Cohen are proud of their two grown and married non-deaf daughters, two son-in-laws, a granddaughter, and a sweet fur granddog who they enjoy spoiling. She and her husband, Jeff enjoy traveling, finding Jewish and Jewish Deaf treasures around the world, and discovering new ventures together.


Lizabeth Katz


Liz was born and raised in the Washington DC area in a conservative Jewish family and had a bat mitzvah, although she did not have as full a Jewish education as her hearing peers. Liz was a member of Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf in Arleta, California while attending California State University at Northridge. She graduated with B.S. Degree in Health Education worked as health educator to the deaf community in Los Angeles. She and her husband, Ric Hernandez then moved to Hartford, Connecticut where she obtained her Masters of Social Work degree from University of Connecticut Her family was a member of Temple Sinai where her two deaf children received Jewish education with an interpreter. Liz's family moved back to her roots in Maryland to be closer to her extended family in the DC area. Over the years, Liz had led Jewish Education and coordinated day care programs for children at 3 past Jewish Deaf Congress conferences. She was a licensed social worker at Jewish Social Service Agency for 20 years, now retired. With this agency's motto of using "Tikkum Olam", she had the privilege of working with deaf clients and their families. At present, she is vice president of Washington Society of Jewish Deaf serving on the Caring committee and the Inclusion Access for synagogues with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Stephanie Phillips


Stephanie was born in Camden, N.J. and raised in Levittown, Pa. in a reform Jewish household near north Philadelphia. Growing up, she didn't have a Jewish education because her synagogue’s Sunday School and Hebrew School did not provide interpreting services. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Accounting and following graduation, she moved to Northern Virginia. After 37 1/2 years in the government, she retired in April 2018. She says that life is so peaceful and as a retiree, she enjoys relaxing, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Marcia Zisman


Marcia is a native Washingtonian who has spent most of her life in the Metro DC area. Marcia’s parents, Jean and Izzy Zisman, were among the charter members of WSJD and remained faithful members until their deaths. She is proud to continue their legacy. Marcia graduated from Gallaudet University with a B.A. degree in 1980 and McDaniel College with a Master’s Degree in 1982. After a 30+ year career in the federal government she retired in 2017. Life is great as a retiree - traveling, volunteering and spending time with her sweet dog, Lucky.


Jeffrey Dunefsky

Director: Outreach

Jeffrey Dunefsky, a New York native, received his Jewish education at PS 47. He later transferred to Lexington School for the Deaf. At this school, he attended a class once a week to study Judaism and had a bar mitzvah. As a member of WSJD for over 25 years, he has held different positions on the Board of Directors. He served as its treasurer from 1986-1988, vice president from 1988-1992, and member at large from 1996-1997. He took on active roles in WSJD over the years by assisting in the development of its programs, such as high holy day services. For the 2016-2019 term, he currently is one of the three Directors on the WSJD Board of Directors with a focus on Outreach. He also is member at large for the Jewish Deaf Congress (JDC) and is assisting its Board of Directors in the planning of the 2017 conference. He earned his associate of applied science degree in medical lab technology from NTID and a bachelor of science degree in biology from Gallaudet University. He lives with his wife, son and daughter.


Hillel Goldberg


Hillel Goldberg, son of Rabbi Goldberg, was born in New York City. He moved to Rutland, Vermont at age two and graduated from Austin School for the Deaf in Brattleboro, Vermont. He received his B.A. in Psychology and Secondary Education in Social Studies from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He worked at Gallaudet for 23 years as Program Coordinator for Student Union, Director of University Center, Coordinator oil Auxiliary Services, and is currently Coordinator, Office of Student Conduct. Hillel received his M.A. in Special Education from Ball State University in Indiana while he worked for Indiana School for the Deaf as Director of Student Development Center and Ean of Students from 2000-2006.

He has led spiritually engaging ASL High Holy Day services and provided support to lay leaders for WSJD for several years. In the past, he presented several Student Leadership Programs training sessions to Our Way organization and coordinated Shabbat Weekend Camp in Maryland. Almost every year, Gallaudet students ask Mr. Goldberg how to set up Hillel, the student organization at Gallaudet, because of his first name. In fact, the Hillel Club organization was not founded by him.


Steve Brenner

President Emeritus

Steve earned a Master’s Degree in Physical Chemistry and was employed for 45 years as a research chemist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. He has spent the last five decades serving the Deaf community in various capacities on the local, statewide and national levels. In 1972 he founded the Washington Society of Jewish Deaf and served for eight years as president. He enjoys tinkering with all things electronic— in the beginning, he built TV sets as a hobby. This led to reconditioning old Western Union TTY machines for distribution to the deaf. When not tinkering, Steve can often be found typing away at his computer, developing databases for various organizations, and serving as newsletter editor. Steve and his wife Dot are proud of their two children, David and Rebecca and five grandsons. A “Jack of All Trades” with a big heart, Steve received many awards and honors, including induction into the Jewish Deaf Congress Hall of Fame in 1998. At the present time, he is on the board of the Maryland Deaf Senior Citizens and as an ad hoc committee member of the Jewish Deaf Congress.