Shanah Tovah

from Barbara, Brian, Aviva and Yonah

Family at Thanksgiving, 2015

Shanah tovah! We wish all of our friends and family a good and sweet new year, a year of peace, health, and blessing. This year's site marks two decades of our annual web site, letting us share some of our life (and pictures) with our community, both far and near. Looking back on the old web pages (links below) dramatizes the growth and passing of time as we mark the years.

We start by being grateful for all of the blessings in our life. With Brian's 25-day hospitalization last fall, we understand how much privilege we have as a family, in our work, in the excellent health care we receive and our children's education from K through college and grad school (and beyond). We hope the end of 2016 is full of positive, hopeful spirit for the future. The Penzner-Rosmans are doing all we can, on the political, spiritual, and communal fronts to make it happen.

Aviva and Yonah both graduated in 2016 Aviva and Yonah both had a stellar year. We celebrated Yonah's graduation from Temple University in May, and Aviva's graduation from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago (with her MA) in June. Both of them are working in fields they are passionate about. While we were in Chicago, we all were also able to attend a taping of our favorite radio quiz show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (right). Wait Wait Don't Tell Me - June 2016

Over the past 2 years, Aviva and her partners have grown their start-up into an award-winning website for the upcoming election. This non-partisan site provides you with your own personalized ballot for the general election, including every candidate and every initiative you'll be voting on, and background information about candidates and their positions. Watch this video of Aviva and her partner explaining the origins of Ballot Ready.

With several hundred thousand dollars in investments and winning many competitions for funding, mentoring, and support, will be raising voter awareness in an amazing 25 states, starting October 1. (The ultimate goal is to provide information about every election, everywhere.) David Axelrod, of the University of Chicago Institute for Politics, has been a major supporter, helping the team get Republican advisors as well. At the DNC's tech showcase, they were the overwhelming winner for the people's choice award for the "initiative with the greatest potential, and most realistic strategy, to improve democracy." Check out this video explaining how BallotReady helps you vote informed:

Aviva's husband, Colin, is a high school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, and he loves to cook. We enjoyed another stellar Thanksgiving feast with them and their friends in Chicago last year. The next day, we got to travel with Colin and the football team from his school to watch the team take the State Championship. It was the first time in 35 years that a Chicago public school won a state football championship. Colin was exceedingly proud of his students.

The Making of BallotReady

We also took great pride in Yonah's seamless transition from student to working adult. Having worked a day job at the Philadelphia Center City Apple Store since October, he continued to move up from customer service to the Genius Bar (no, he's not considered an official genius, yet). This steady income enables him to work nights on his true passion, spinning and mixing electronic music. DJ Yonah plays shows in clubs and bars, and he also enjoys working for two different companies as a hired deejay for corporate events, weddings, high school dances, and other parties. (No bar mitzvahs yet.)

He has moved up quickly from assistant to head dj in just a few months. If you're in the Philly area (including New Jersey and the suburbs) and you need a dj, give him a call. You can listen to several examples of his original mixes by clicking below:

DJ Yonah

Barbara is still loving Temple Hillel B'nai Torah and they love her enough to have just completed a contract to continue through her retirement (a long time from now, we hope). The Temple is surging with new families, as parents with kids and retirees are moving into the area. Her passion for social justice has taken her back to Immokalee, Florida for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (see a blog she wrote for them -taking to task the Jewish chair of the Wendy's Board of Directors as his son became a bar mitzvah here). She continues to co-chair the New England Jewish Labor Committee and lead the annual Labor Seder, which draws 300 people annually from the Jewish, labor, and political leadership in Boston.

She also received the annual award from the Boston Jewish Community Relations Committee as the year's "outstanding Jewish community relations professional (see picture at right, and more pictures here, and read her speech here).

Barbara continues to be active with the Mayyim Hayyim mikveh she helped found. They released a beautiful video, featuring the immersion journey of a member of her congregation, and including participation by Barbara. Watch it here:

Barbara accepting an award from the JCRC

Brian continued his work as Policy & Government Relations Director at Health Care For All (HCFA), now in his 13th year. HCFA went through significant internal turmoil in the fall, resulting in staff layoffs and a change in leadership. But Brian's work continues, as HCFA celebrated the news in September that Massachusetts now covers over 97% of its population with health insurance. Brian still manages the HCFA blog, and his occasional tweets are from @rospenz.

He also continued his teaching of State Health Policy to masters of public policy students at Brandeis, and started again teaching graduate-level nurses at Regis College. And, he (and Yonah) have also been helping organize data for Aviva's BallotReady site.

He's been campaigning for Hillary in New Hampshire this fall, and at right you can see him there in the Hebrew Hillary shirt he designed. You can get your own shirt, button or sticker too, at Here's how he explained the origins of the design, which got lots of retweets by some famous Jews, including one who said, "if you encounter a Jewish Trump voter, just say it stands for "Hashem":

My Hillary arrow goes right to left

Show your support for Hillary goes from right to left


We did have some wonderful fun together. For our Lag B'Anniversary (33 years!) we had a romantic weekend at a 19th century B&B in New Hampshire (picture plus collage of a few old pictures here). We saw Springsteen twice - in Albany in February, and at the Patriots' stadium nearby in September (that one went over 4 hours - see delirious us on right), and were in the second row for a Bonnie Raitt show. Bruuuuce!
Barbara and her sister Devra

The highlight of the summer was a trip to Israel and Spain. Barbara left early for Israel, to attend the Bat Mitzvah of her niece, Moriyah (see Barbara and her sister Devra, left). Brian arrived 10 days later, and we together joined a congregational trip "dual-narrative" trip, with one Israeli Jewish guide and one Palestinian Christian guide. We went to places that in 40 years of visiting and living in Israel, we had never spent time. We learned a lot about some hopeful Palestinian-Jewish dialogue and cooperation, as well as confronting directly the impact of the Israeli occupation.

After that, visiting Madrid, Toledo and Granada was pure pleasure. Art museums, great food, friendly people, and some interesting medieval sites, including the Synagoge of Santa Maria in Toledo, built by a Moorish architect, and eventually turned into a church. At the Sephardi museum in Toledo (another former synagogue) they have grave markers from the 13th century in the patio. Below is a collage of some of our Spain highlights, and you can see our entire photo album from the trip here.


Viva Espana

Email us!

 Here's our email address:

The Internet never forgets!

You can use our Web way-back machine to see us in the the good old days:









2007 (including Yonah's Bar Mitzvah pictures)






2001 (including Aviva's Bat Mitzvah pictures);



1998; and


Brian Rosman and Barbara Penzner
10 Maple Terrace
West Roxbury MA 02132
(617) 553-2258

This page last updated 9/28/16