Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Kol Ami Leaders and Staff


Debbie Linick, Kol Ami President

Debbie Linick joined Kol Ami shortly after returning to the DC area with her husband Michael in 2002. Together they raised two daughters in the congregation, Sandi James and Rebecca Linick. Professionally, Debbie has worked in the Jewish community over many years, starting as the Political Director of a pro-Israel PAC and serving over ten years as the Assistant Director and later Director for Virginia and DC at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington. At JCRC, she oversaw government and community relations for those regions, including interfaith, media, law enforcement and public-school outreach. Today Debbie plans Holocaust commemorations and educational activities for the Greater Washington region and founded her own digital scrapbooking and photography service, Pictures with Prose LLC. In addition to her work within the Jewish community, Debbie has served in the Departments of Defense and State and chaired committees for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and her local homeowners association. Debbie is a former Dean’s Scholar from Georgetown University’s School of Business and a graduate of Tufts University where she graduated magna cum laude with a BA majoring in International Relations. She is also a Presidential Management Fellow alumna. Debbie Linick can be reached at president@kolamivirginia.org

Jane Schulman, Kol Ami Vice President

Jane Schulman, has been a member of the Kol Ami community since 2006. She led the participatory and inclusive Rabbinical selection process that culminated in the selection of Rabbi Gilah Langner to succeed Rabbi Leila Gal Berner as she retired from Kol Ami. She previously served as President, as chair of the Ritual Committee for several years and remains an active member. Jane was raised in a Conservative/Orthodox home. However, like many others, Jane was alienated from her Jewish roots for most of her adult life… until she found Congregation Bet Haverim, a vibrant, growing Reconstructionist community in Atlanta, GA. When she and her husband moved to Alexandria, she was very grateful to find Kol Ami — the only Reconstructionist community in northern Virginia — and remains fully committed to supporting this progressive, inclusive, thoughtful, and caring community.

Jane’s professional training is in biostatistics and public health research (M.S. Harvard University; Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley). She serves as Study Area Director for Westat, Inc. in Rockville MD where she directs an active public health and biomedical research program of more than 150 staff serving NIH, CDC, and EPA. Jane’s husband, Don Viehman, is a cloisonné enamel artist at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town, Alexandria. Jane can be reached at vice-president@kolamivirginia.org

Ervin Walter, Kol Ami Treasurer


Ervin Walter was born in Sweden to Romanian parents. He grew up in an Orthodox home and completed his Jewish studies at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington. His Jewish upbringing was shaped by his parents and their many friends representing most of the East European cultures.

Ervin has been a member of Kol Ami since 2003. He was a teacher in the early years of JCEP and was given the remarkable opportunity to teach his children for their B’nai Mitzvah.  He has been on the Steering Committee for many years and is currently the Treasurer.

Ervin is a CPA and a graduate of the University of Maryland where he received his MBA in finance. He is President of Federal Management Services, a software and development company providing research support technologies to the National Institutes of Health.

He is married to Laura and has four children – Elizabeth, Katherine, Melissa, and Benjamin.  He enjoys running, biking, and old-time radio. Ervin can be reached at treasurer@kolamivirginia.org.

Ted Joseph, Kol Ami Secretary Ted Joseph (360x640)

Ted Joseph joined Kol Ami in 2015 and is currently serving as Secretary.  He grew up attending a Reform synagogue in Sarasota, Florida.  Ted and his wife, Lorna Joseph, have lived in New York, Dallas, and Tokyo before settling in Northern Virginia.  They have twin boys who attended JCEP and observed their B’nai Mitzvah at Kol Ami.

Ted’s professional background is in finance and investing.  He currently works as a portfolio manager at Strategic Investment Group in Arlington.  He attended Stanford University (MBA) and the University of Pennsylvania (BS). Ted can be reached at secretary@kolamivirginia.org.


Meryl Paskow, Administrative and Communications Coordinator 

Meryl Paskow became Kol Ami’s Administrative and Communications Coordinator in 2019.  Her professional background is in Higher Education Administration.  She has also recently served in various leadership roles with Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, and as a lay leader within her synagogue, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston.   Meryl and her husband Bob have been married for 21 years and they have two quick-witted and independent thinking daughters, Sarah (16) and Rachel (11).  In Meryl’s spare time, she is passionate about working for social justice around the issues of education and youth mental health.  She also loves to read, write, and spend time outside. Meryl can be reached at Coordinator@kolamivirginia.org.


Lay Service Leaders

Herb Levy

Herb was raised in an Orthodox home in Baltimore, completing the high school department of the (then) Baltimore Hebrew College, in addition to public high school. In those days, he was also active in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s Aleph Zadik Aleph program.herb-cooper-levy

Through his college years, he became disconnected with the Judaism that he was raised on, but began to reconstruct Judaism to address the social change commitment he made in his life. The day he picked up The Freedom Seder by Rabbi Arthur Waskow was the day he learned that Judaism could be made relevant to his own concerns. He spent over 40 years working in affordable housing as his contribution to Tikkun Olam.

While his kids were educated in a Conservative Hebrew School, he was a member of the Fabrangen Community in DC for over 15 years. (Fabrangen is a lay-led havurah that now is over 40 years old.) At Elat Chayyim, he experienced the Shabbat of his life. He returned wanting to re-create that experience every Shabbat.

He’s been active in Kol Ami since December 2000. During that time, he’s led more than 150 services, been active in the Steering and Ritual Committees, served as Administrative Coordinator, and drafted the Haggadah that he uses to lead the Kol Ami Second Seder.

What he loves about Reconstructionism is its intimate connection to Judaism, its thoughtful approach to services, the sound of guitar and tambourines during davening, and the fresh ways Kol Ami connects to HaShem. He feels the joy of continued bonding in our growing community and meeting new people who feel like old friends.

Michael Jawer

Michael Jawer chairs the Ritual Committee.  He’s been a proud Kol Ami member for 18 (“chai”) years, 9 of which he taught his and other congregants’ kids in the Jewish Children’s Education Program.  Besides occasionally leading or co-leading services, he chants Torah and Haftorah.  Before marrying his spouse Bonnie and settling in Vienna, Mike taught at Temple Micah and prepared students for their B’nai and B’not Mitzvah.  Mike hails from suburban Philadelphia (headquarters of Reconstructionist Judaism) and professes to sometimes see God’s hand in the fortunes of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers.

Jim North


Jim North joined Kol Ami in 2003 as he began weaving Jewish threads of his Judeo-Christian up-bringing in a spirit and song-filled Southern Baptist home into his life’s tapestry. Drawn to Jewish values and beliefs harmonious with his spiritual development, Jim studied with Rabbi Berner for his formal conversion to Judaism in July 2004, and he most recently was called to read from the Torah as one of Kol Ami’s first bnai mitzvah in June 2005. Jim loves to cook and sing and he lends his voice to the celebration of Shabbat at home with his partner Richard, as well as at Kol Ami. He has served on the Steering Committee and enjoys supporting the community in a variety of lay leader roles. A linguist and language trainer, Jim works as associate dean for instruction at the School of Language Studies, Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State.

Susan Freiband

Susan Freiband is a retired library educator and volunteer librarian living in Alexandria, Virginia.  She was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has lived in many parts of the United States since her father was a social worker in the army.   She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and did graduate work in library science at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, and at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.   She spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Medellin, Colombia. Most of her professional career was spent in Puerto Rico teaching library science at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. Her interests are in the arts, including visual arts and classical music.  She does volunteer work at the Arlington Public Library, as well as at Green Spring Gardens Horticultural Library and at two synagogue libraries, Beth El Hebrew Congregation and Agudas Achim Congregation, both in Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to being a member of Kol Ami (since 2009), she supports and participates in two Jewish Renewal communities, Minyan Oneg Shabbat in Washington, D.C. and Am Kolel in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Richard Ruth

Dr. Richard Ruth, a member of Kol Ami, is a clinical psychologist in private practice; he is also an associate professor at the George Washington University Center for Professional Psychology and on the steering committee of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program at the Washington School of Psychiatry. He is trilingual (Spanish and Yiddish) and lived and worked in South America, Europe and the Caribbean before settling in Arlington. When not watching Law and Order reruns or lost in a book, he can often be found at Kol Ami services, singing heartily if not always in tune.



Contact Kol Ami

P.O. Box 1801, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: 571-271-8387
Rabbi's Study: 202-364-3006

Where We Meet

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington Blvd. (Route 50) & George Mason Dr.
Arlington, VA 22204
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