About Us

Yad Chessed, which means “hand of loving kindness,” was founded in 1989 by Bob Housman to help Jewish families and individuals in need. We support clients across Massachusetts by alleviating economic distress and providing ongoing support to help them reach financial stability.

March, 2018: We are thrilled to introduce our new Executive Director, Meggan Levene! Read more in this letter from our Board Chair.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide emergency financial assistance while working to preserve the dignity of each individual client. The money we provide for basic needs – such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities – gives our clients security and allows them to get back on track.

Our Financials

Please feel free to download our most recent audited financial statement and our Form 990.

Professional Staff

Meggan Levene, Executive Director

Meggan Levene is a mission-driven leader and experienced coalition builder with over 10 years of experience working at the intersection of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Most recently, Meggan served as Chief Marketing and Development Officer for a national advocacy organization. Previously, she served Founder and Executive Director of a nonprofit sparking next-generation philanthropy and led corporate social responsibility for the largest health insurer in Massachusetts.

Meggan is a long-time volunteer and organizer in the Boston Jewish community. She sits on CJP’s Strategic Israel Engagement Task Force and served on the Commission for Caring and Social Justice. In 2014, Chai in the Hub named Meggan as one of the 18 most influential Jewish young professionals in Boston. She is also involved in the broader community as an elected Brookline Town Meeting Member.

Lauren Small, Associate Director

Lauren Small joined Yad Chessed as Operations Manager in March 2015 after initially volunteering at Yad Chessed during Purim. She was promoted to the Associate Director position in September 2017. Before Yad Chessed, Lauren worked in the Israel Advocacy (IA) Department of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. In partnership with key IA volunteers, Lauren coordinated the Massachusetts Water Technology Mission to Israel. As an independent contractor, and in conjunction with the Governor’s Office and the New England-Israel Business Council, Lauren also coordinated Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Trade Delegation to Israel. She brings over 15 years of business experience in the for-profit sector from her tenure at Verizon Business. Lauren has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Communication and a Master of Arts in International Affairs, both from The American University in Washington, DC.

Susan Barron, Case Manager

Susan Barron joined Yad Chessed as a case manager in January 2013. She previously worked at an adoption agency, at the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, and for Project Connect, helping parents of children with behavioral and emotional disturbances. She graduated from Columbia University with a master’s in social work.

Deborah Freed, Case Manager

Deborah joined Yad Chessed as a case manager in 2009. She has experience as a hospice social worker and a sexual assault crisis counselor and has worked with ex-offenders. She worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery. She also worked at BIDMC’s Center for Cognitive Neurology. She received her Bachelor’s at Wesleyan University and a Masters in Social Work from Simmons.

Rachel Nenner-Payton, LICSW, Senior Social Worker

Rachel Nenner-Payton joined Yad Chessed as the senior social worker in January 2016. Rachel has spent over 15 years supervising outreach teams and working as a therapist with at-risk youth and multi-stressed families in Massachusetts. She joins us after having served as the Director of Social Services for the City of Newton.

Rachel will be working closely with the social work team to continue to support and build on the excellent services and assistance provided by Yad Chessed.

Board Members

Susan Ain, Vice President, Development

Susan serves on several nonprofit boards in the Boston area. Her interest lies primarily in Jewish education, and she was a founding board member of the MetroWest Jewish Day School. Susan is a Trustee and immediate past chair at Hebrew College, where she earned a degree of Masters of Arts in Jewish Studies. Additionally, Susan serves on the board of CJP and is on CJP’s Israel Advocacy Committee.

As a volunteer at Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, Susan provided elders with Shabbat services at local independent living facilities and helped establish “Kesher,” holiday celebrations for those unable to travel.

Susan’s love of Jewish film prompted her to join the board of the Boston Jewish Film Festival. In addition to serving the community, she supports her husband Aron in his numerous philanthropic works. They have two grown daughters. Susan is a retired music teacher, enjoys travel to Israel, films, tennis, gardening, and watching the Red Sox.

Dr. Randi Berkowitz

Dr. Randi Berkowitz is a geriatrician at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) in Boston. She is Medical Director for the Senior Care Options and Clinical Group East at Commonwealth Care Alliance, a nonprofit prepaid Medicare and Medicaid-financed care system caring for thousands of Medicaid and Dual eligible elders and younger individuals with disabilities through multidisciplinary primary care teams in Massachusetts’ low income communities. She completed the re-hospitalization project at Hebrew Senior Life during her participation in the University of Colorado Denver’s Practice Change Fellows Program.

Liana Brodsky

Liana Brodsky is the Assistant Director of the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. Most recently she served as the Director of Programs at ShalomLearning, a nonprofit dedicated to providing technology-based Judaics and Hebrew curriculum for Jewish educational institutions. Previously, she was the Teen Program Manager at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, coordinating the Diller Teen Fellows. Liana volunteers for the Boston-Haifa Young Leaders Committee at Combined Jewish Philanthropies and at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was selected as one of Combined Jewish Philanthropies “Chai in the Hub” winners, the top 18 most influential young Jews in Boston. Liana received both her B.S. in Early Childhood Education/Child & Family Studies and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. She recently received a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University.

David Farbman

David Farbman lives in Needham and has been involved in Jewish organizations for the last twenty years, including serving on the governance committee of Yad Chessed for the last two. He has been a general and executive member of the boards of Temple Aliyah and Kehillath Israel, as well as serving on the board of Camp Ramah in New England for 15 years, including for three as president. Professionally, David is the director for the Center for Professional Learning at Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, after having served for 15 years as the senior researcher at the National Center on Time & Learning.  He earned his B.A. from Brandeis University and his Ph.D. in American History from Brown University. He is married to Karen, a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital, and has three children ranging in age from 20 to 12.

Sandra Fisher

Sandra Fisher works in the fund development department of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. Prior to that, she served as Associate Vice President of Community Services and Interim Director of the Planning Department for Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Earlier she served as Senior Vice President of Operations for WORK Inc., a nationally recognized pioneer in developing community-based programs for individuals with disabilities. Fisher was one of the early founders of The Second Step, a domestic violence agency in Newton where she has served as the Board Chair and a member of the Finance Committee. She joined the Yad Chessed Board in September 2013.

Michael J. Goldberg

Michael J. Goldberg is a partner in the firm Casner & Edwards LLP, where he specializes in the areas of business bankruptcy, financial restructuring and business transactions (in particular, real estate financing transactions). He is a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy; a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute (and former Co-Chair of its Real Estate Committee); a member of the Turnaround Management Association (and former President of its Northeast Chapter); and a member of the Boston Bar Association (Bankruptcy Section). As Co-Chair of the Legislation Committee of the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association (REBA), he coordinated REBA’s successful efforts in reforming the Massachusetts homestead laws.

Mr. Goldberg is a former President of the Greater Boston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and a former member of AJC National’s Contemporary Jewish Life Committee. In Boston, he has served as a member of CJP’s Commission on Jewish Continuity and a co-chair of its Jewish Resource Network Initiative. As a member of Temple Beth Zion of Brookline, he serves on TBZ’s Development Committee.

Robert Housman, Founding Director Emeritus

Bob Housman has spent his career as a computer programmer. He has worked for Four Phase Systems in Cupertino, California, Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, Prime Computer in Framingham and Computer Sports Systems in Cambridge and Brighton. From 1969 to 1971 Bob was in the Peace Corps working as computer programmer, first for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and then at an agricultural research center. In 1977-78 Bob spent a year at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He started Yad Chessed in 1989. He directed the organization from that time until the summer of 2012 and is currently a member of the Board of Directors.

Neal Karasic, Vice President

Neal Karasic has worked in the Boston technology start-up world for over 20 years and is currently the Senior Vice President of Product & Technology at SavingStar. He has help many CJP leadership positions beginning with membership on the Young Leadership Division Board in 2002. He received the CJP Young Leadership Award in 2008. He has served as co-chair of CJP’s Technology Industry Group and the PresenTense social innovation program and is in his final year as co-chair of the Executive Committee on Young Adults. In addition, he has volunteered as a coach and mentor/big brother for Squashbusters, an after school program for Boston youth that combines athletics, tutoring and community service.

Ed Musmon, Treasurer

Ed Musmon is the Principal at Financial Management Consulting, an Outsourced CFO practice. Ed is an accomplished operational CFO with over 25 years of experience as a senior financial professional and consulting roles in private, public, and nonprofit organizations. He has a proven track record implementing change, improving strategy, enhancing operations, and building stronger teams. Ed has held the Chief Financial Officer positions at Geocomp Corporation, Decision Economics, Inc. and the lead financial management positions at the Workers Compensation Research Institute and Integral, Inc. He also served as a financial consultant for Mast, Inc., Kaz Inc., Haemonetics, Inc., Brooks Automation, Spire Corporation and Yankee Holidays.

Ed began his career at Raytheon where he held positions of Auditor, Audit Supervisor, Audit Staff Administrator, and Program Control Manager. Ed held BS Management UMass Dartmouth, MBA Northeastern University and earned a Certificate of Management Accountant (CMA) designation. Ed has volunteered with the Yad Chessed as a member of the Finance Committee since July 2015.

Susan Podziba

Susan Podziba has been a Board member since 2013. Professionally, she is a public policy mediator and author of Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes (2012). She has mediated scores of cases across the policy spectrum for clients including the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, and Transportation, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Institute of Peace and the United Nations. Susan has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in peace and conflict resolution and has taught graduate courses in mediation and negotiation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Sanford Remz, President

Sandy Remz has been on the board of Yad Chessed since 2009. He is an attorney and managing shareholder of the Boston business litigation law firm Yurko, Salvesen & Remz, P.C. Sandy also sits on the board of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and has been a member of CJP’s Commission on Caring and Social Justice. He previously served on the boards of Hillel at Brandeis and Camp Ramah in New England, where he also was Board President for four years. His wife, Arlene, is the executive director of Gateways: Access to Jewish Education.

Lori Silver

Lori Silver is the General Counsel of Partners In Health, a nonprofit that provides healthcare to the poor in Haiti, Rwanda and eight other countries. Previously, she served as director of CJP’s Anti-Poverty Initiative, where she worked closely with Yad Chessed and other Jewish social service agencies. She also worked as General Counsel of Decision Resources Group and as a lawyer for Harvard University. She graduated from Harvard Law School and Stanford University. She lives in Newton with her husband, Peter Lefkowitz, and sons Ben, 18, and Nate, 13. Her family are members of Congregation Kehillath Israel, and she is on the board of the Rashi School.

Karen Tichnor

Karen Tichnor was a special educator for the Wayland Public Schools who taught elementary school children and worked with families to develop educational plans to highlight children’s strengths and interests.  Karen has been involved in Jewish and civic life for many years, and she is devoted to institutions and agencies that support local communities. She is a founder of Congregation Or Atid in Wayland and built the framework of its Religious School as the congregation’s first Education Committee chairperson. Karen served on the board of the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Commission of Jewish Continuity and was the founding president of a local chapter of Women’s American ORT.  Karen joined the board of JFS MetroWest in June of 2016.

Joyce Wertheimer, Clerk

Joyce Wertheimer moved to the Boston area to attend college in 1979 and has resided in Brookline since 1983. In addition to Yad Chessed, she is very interested Jewish education. A former software professional, she spends her time in various volunteer roles, and takes care of her family. She joined the board of Yad Chessed in 2012.