Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the Union for Progressive Judaism is responsible for governance and oversight of the organisation. Elections are held every two years for President, two Vice-Presidents, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Secretary and two members at large. The President has the prerogative to appoint representatives from affiliated bodies (as specified in the constitution of the UPJ), as well as members at large for specific portfolios. The Executive Director serves on the Executive Committee ex-officio.

Current members of the Executive Committee are:

PresidentRoger Mendelson

Roger has considerable business experience to contribute to his role at the UPJ. He is the author of two published books on business and a novel, Eliyahu’s Mistress .  He is a lawyer and is CEO of a business he founded 40 years ago.He served as president of Temple Beth Israel from 2005-2008, and as vice-chair of Progressive Judaism Victoria (formerly "The Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism") for one year. Roger believes that the Progressive Movement should strive to be accessible, welcoming and  relevant in a pro-active way. Roger is married to Sue, and the couple has three grown children and 5 young grandchildren.

Vice-President: Brian Samuel

Brian has been associated with the Progressive movement all his life . He is a Past President of Temple Beth Israel from 2008-2010 and President of Progressive Judaism Victoria from 2012 to current . In addition to his involvement with Progressive Judaism he is involved in a number of community organisations . He has been associated with the clothing industry for just on fifty years with expertise in marketing. He has been appointed an Ambassador for White Ribbon Australia , an organisation that campaigns to stop violence against women. He believes that Progressive Judaism brings innovation and creativity to Jewish traditions. It should provide pathways to its members and friends to enjoy an engagement with Progressive Judaism that enhances their lives through spiritual enrichment , learning and community. Brian is married to Jenny and they have two grown children and five grandchildren.

Honorary Treasurer: Sally Castle

Honorary Secretary: Sharon Davis

Sharon is a longstanding member of the NSTE community. From 2003-2005 she was a member of the Board of Directors, including the office of Vice President. Her portfolio involved organisation of several events including a Capital Appeal Dinner, and collaboration with Emanuel Synagogue to organise a UIA Progressive Trust fundraising evening featuring Simon Tedeschi. Subsequently she headed the NSTE Community Support Group, which provides a year-round program of volunteer service including an Annual Senior Citizens' Variety Concert and charity collections. In her professional life, Sharon is a research and teaching pharmacist, and as such brings skills such as critical thinking and analysis.


Committee memberAlison Dwyer

Alison is the Immediate Past President of Beit Shalom Synagogue in Adelaide and has been serving on the board of Beit Shalom since 2006.  Alison grew up in the American reform movement in a large Jewish community in Baltimore, Maryland but was driven to become actively involved in synagogue management when joining a much smaller community.  Alison delivers an urban renewal project for the South Australian Government in one of Adelaide’s lowest socio-economic areas and will bring strong project management, strategic thinking, budgeting and governance skills to the UPJ executive.  Alison is passionate about supporting the smaller Jewish communities in our region to ensure they are able to have sustainable progressive congregations and stay connected to Judaism.


Committee member: David Knoll

David Knoll AM is a Sydney barrister.   His family have been members of Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney for decades. He also serves as the Honorary Secretary of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the elected roof body of the Australian Jewish community, on the Boards of Multicultural NSW, and the Council for Jewish Community Security.  He is a Past President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the peak body of the NSW Jewish community. Last year he gave two public addresses that touch on issues of concern to us all. At the FECCA 2015 National Biennial Conference he gave an address entitled: "40 Years of the Racial Discrimination Act Are We Still Protected?" At the 2015 B'nai Brith Human Rights address, he spoke on "How to combat terrorism without infringing human rights." In 2011 he was chosen as one “40 Inspirational Alumni” featured for the 40th Anniversary of UNSW Law School, and in 2010 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the Jewish community through a range of peak, religious and educational organisations, and to the promotion of interfaith relations. His essay on Faith Conflict and Society was published in the 50th Anniversary edition of Quadrant Magazine (October 2006). David is married to Karen. They have three adult children.

Committee member: Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey was educated at Methodist Ladies College and graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. She was elected to the Parliament of Victoria in 1996 and re-elected in 1999, 2002 & 2006 as the Member for Caulfield. Helen retired from the Victorian Parliament in 2010. During her time in Parliament, she served as the Shadow Minister for Health for five years after serving as the Shadow Minister for Aged Care, Multicultural Affairs, Housing and Community Services. She was previously an Economics and Politics teacher, chief of Staff and senior policy adviser to the Federal Coalition, a consultant to Western Mining Corporation, Metropolitan Female Vice President, and member of the Administrative Committee for the Victorian Liberal Party. Helen has previously served on the boards of the Jewish National Fund and the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Authority. She was the recipient of the Jerusalem Prize for her contribution to the Jewish community. Helen currently chairs the board of Alfred Health, serves on the board of Temple Beth Israel and has been elected as Vice-president for Progressive Judaism Victoria. She was recently elected to the Executive of the Union for Progressive Judaism.

Committee member: Franklin Tate

ARZA presidentSteve Denenberg

English born, Israel trained Social Worker, Steve moved to Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters in 1986. After 17 years as CEO of Jewish Care (NSW) and head of the Federal Jewish welfare organisation, he established Plum Partnerships, providing low-cost fundraising and profile raising’ for Israeli and Australia-based not-for-profit organisations. In 2004 Steve joined Emanuel Synagogue as CEO. In 2008 he was recruited to be the Executive Director of the Union for Progressive Judaism where he worked until June 2015. He is currently the administrator for ARZA Australia and studying to become a personal fitness trainer. Steve has a Bachelor of Social Work from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and post-graduate qualifications from the University of Essex (U.K.) and the Australian Graduate School of Management.  He has volunteered for organisations including the Refugee Council of Australia, the Refugee Advice & Casework Service, the Association of Jewish Communal Professionals, ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change), B’nai B’rith, the 2000 Olympics; ARZA and Emanuel School (as Board member, chairman and President) and was awarded the Centenary Award for services to the Jewish community, the aged, young people and people with disabilities.  

Moetzah chair: Rabbi David Kunin

Netzer federal mazkira: Jess Harrison

Jess is Federal Mazkira of Netzer Australia



WUPJ Representative:
 Sharene Hambur

Sharene's communal involvement began at the Leo Baeck Centre in Kew where she was a youth leader and then a member of the Board of Management. Sharene held a number of positions on the Board and was President of the congregation for three years. Subsequently Sharene went on to hold the positions of Honorary Treasurer and the President of the Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism (now Progressive Judaism Victoria). Sharene has also held a number of roles as an office bearer of the UPJ including four years as Vice-President. Sharene is currently an Executive Board Member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism representing Australasia and New Zealand and continues to be a member of the Executive of the Union for Progressive Judaism in this role. Sharene joined the Executive of Zionism Victoria as a Vice-President 5 years ago having represented Progressive Judaism on the Executive for some years and will assume the Presidency of the organisation in November 2015. She is also an office bearer of the Zionist Federation of Australia. For a number of years Sharene has been a member of the Committee of Management of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and in 2013 assumed the role of Honorary Secretary of that organisation a position she continues to hold. Sharene has a deep belief in the need for each person to give to their community to the best of their ability and she endeavours to fulfil this while balancing the roles with her role as a senior lawyer with Clayton Utz Lawyers. She has practiced in the property and development area for over 30 years and takes enormous satisfaction from seeing projects in which she is involved come to fruition. Sharene has been married to Sam for over 30 years and they have two children Michelle and Jonathan both of whom are now forging their own careers. Sharene and Sam are looking forward to lots of travel and spending time together in-between communal involvements!

Our Professional Staff

Executive Officer: Jocelyn Robuck

Jocelyn brings a wide range of experience to her role at the UPJ. She received a BA in Medical Dietetics from The Ohio State University, co-owned and operated a kosher catering business for 11 years, worked as a proofreader and writer at the Australian Jewish News for five years, and played an active role as a rebbetzin and synagogue volunteer for 30 years.  As Executive Officer, she provides a high level of support to the Executive and committees, leads and coordinates projects, and acts as point of contact for UPJ constituents and partners throughout the region and worldwide. She edits the UPJ's Weekly News & Drash, coordinates UPJ gatherings and conferences, manages the UPJ website and Facebook, and facilitates numerous other projects. 


UPJ Movement Rabbi: Rabbi Fred Morgan


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