Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is thrilled to serve CBE as Senior Rabbi. Her passions are community building, social justice, spiritual life, and lifelong learning. She is honored to stand with families at the moments of greatest joy and deepest sorrow in their lives.
In her first two years at CBE, Rabbi Timoner is delighted to be part of a flowering of creativity, relationship-building, prayer, and action for justice in our community. She loves to pray and teaches a weekly class designed to get to the heart and meaning of the prayer experience. Along with 12 CBE member-facilitators, Rabbi Timoner spearheaded a six-month study series in 2016 to look at the Jewish response to systemic racism in America, leading CBE members to form a Dismantling Racism community organizing team. The team contributed to the success of New York’s Raise the Age campaign for criminal justice reform in April 2017, by organizing a 1,000-person action with Governor Cuomo at Central Synagogue. In November 2016, Rabbi Timoner, in cooperation with City Councilmember Brad Lander, opened CBE’s sanctuary to #GetOrganizedBK, so that thousands of Brooklyn neighbors could help protect human rights, vulnerable populations, and democracy. Some of her new favorite things at CBE include the Yachad retreat, the B’nei Mitzvah retreat, the Community Retreat, the Torah surprise, the next happening generation of BESTY and Brooklyn Jews, and Kabbalat Shabbat when it’s vibrating with song. On any given Shabbat, you’ll find Rabbi Timoner speaking about God, our purpose as Jews and human beings, and the ways we need each other.
From 2009 to 2015, Rabbi Timoner served as Associate Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she was a beloved teacher of Torah and helped to develop a thriving Shabbat Morning Minyan, Community of Elders, Spirituality Workshop, and Community Organizing Leadership Team that took on public transportation, affordable housing, and immigrant rights.
Rachel grew up in Miami, Florida, received a B.A. from Yale University, and received her rabbinical degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and was honored with the Lorraine Helman Rubin Memorial Prize for Scholarly Writing, the Women of Reform Judaism Centennial Prize, the Professor Stanley Gevirtz Award for Excellence in Bible, and the Louis and Minnie Raphael Memorial Prize for Outstanding Service to a Small Congregation.
Previously, Rabbi Timoner raised funds to rebuild the San Francisco Women’s Building, a community center for low-income women; worked to mitigate the impact of welfare reform in California; worked in San Francisco City Hall for Supervisor Harry Britt; and founded two leadership programs and a peer hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Rabbi Timoner is a graduate of the Clergy Leadership Program and the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is the author of Breath of Life: God as Spirit in Judaism. Rachel, her wife and two sons live in Park Slope. Learn more about Rabbi Timoner at http://racheltimoner.net/.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x206
Cantor Josh Breitzer
Cantor Joshua Breitzer feels blessed to have served CBE since 2011. He leads the community through prayer and song, teaches chanting and ritual skills to students of all ages, and helps create sacred experiences for every occasion.
Cantor Breitzer performs regularly at synagogues and concert halls across America and Israel. He appears with the New York Festival of Song in the annual “A Goyishe Christmas to You” program and has enjoyed significant collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winner Yehudi Wyner and the late composer/scholar Jack Gottlieb. He has coached young artists at NYC Opera and The Juilliard School and has taught at the Academy of Jewish Religion, the URJ Kutz Camp, and the North American Jewish Choral Festival. He has also recorded prayers for the Behrman House “Hebrew in Harmony” religious school curriculum.
A mid-Michigan native, Cantor Breitzer attended Interlochen Arts Camp and holds voice degrees from the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory. He received his ordination at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011 and joined the adjunct faculty soon thereafter. In 2016, he was elected a Vice President of the American Conference of Cantors, which offers spiritual leadership and sacred music to Reform congregations throughout the world.
The Jewish Daily Forward named Cantor Breitzer one of the best new Jewish music voices in its first-ever “Soundtrack of Our Spirit” series. The PBS documentary “The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale,” partially filmed at CBE, features his singing throughout. He lives in Park Slope with his wife and their two sons.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x270
Rabbi Rebecca Epstein
Rabbi Rebecca Epstein feels extremely blessed to serve the CBE community as Associate Rabbi/Educator, a role which enables her to focus on youth and families within this vibrant synagogue community.
Rabbi Epstein is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. She studied Cognitive Science and Art History at Vassar College. Following her graduation in 2000, she moved to Brooklyn and pursued her interests in modern dance and choreography, whilst serving as a waitress at Le Marais kosher steakhouse in Times Square, and teaching religious school at two Manhattan synagogues.
She decided to become a rabbi in the aftermath of the events of September 11th. Following the tragedy, she felt called to bring grounding in Judaism to her religious school students. Rebecca gradually determined to apply her energies towards the rabbinate, integrating her interest in movement with Jewish spirituality through the study of yoga. She overcame doubts about participating in organized religion, in part through her involvement at the Park Slope Minyan, a traditional egalitarian prayer group that met in the basement of CBE. Shortly thereafter, she applied and was accepted to the Hebrew Union College; she departed for Jerusalem in 2004 to begin her studies.
Upon her ordination from the New York campus of HUC in 2009, she served Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey. There, she pioneered a teen mentorship program, a women’s spirituality group, and an environmental certification process, in addition to directing the religious school. Rebecca and her family moved to Austin in 2012, where she served as a National Vice President for the Women’s Rabbinic Network, and then from 2014-2018 as Rabbi and Director of Education at Congregation Beth Israel, leading the religious school through a major transformation in Hebrew education. She is thrilled to have returned to Brooklyn with her husband Barak and their three daughters, Noa, Aviya, and Sonia.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x205
Rabbi Matthew Green
Matt Green has been at CBE since the fall of 2015 when he started here as our Rabbinic Intern, and now serves as our Assistant Rabbi. He serves as the director of Brooklyn Jews, CBE’s community of young Brooklynites looking for connection to Jewish culture, time, and ritual. Matt has also spent his time at CBE teaching b’nei mitzvah students and teaching the 9th grade community organizing class. He frequently leads Shabbat services and officiates lifecycle events.
A born and raised Michigander, Matt holds a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan. After college, he worked as a Berman Fellow at Michigan Hillel. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he was a Tisch Fellow. In 2015, Matt won the Be Wise entrepreneurship competition at HUC for his project, Grindr Shabbat, now a part of Brooklyn Jews.
Matt is a fan of smoked fish, Yiddish literature, and Michigan microbrews. He lives in Park Slope.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x256
Rabbi Gerald I. Weider
Rabbi Gerald I. Weider was ordained in 1973 from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati Ohio. He served two congregations before coming to Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. His first congregation was Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts where he served as the Assistant Rabbi. His second pulpit was Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington D.C. where he served as the Associate Rabbi.
For 28 years Rabbi Weider served as the Senior Rabbi at CBE. He joined Rabbi Eugene J. Sack in 1978, just as the Brownstone Revival movement hit Park Slope. Under his leadership, CBE grew to become the largest and most active Reform synagogues in Brooklyn.
Upon retirement from CBE in June 2006, Rabbi Weider assumed the position of Senior Rabbinic Consultant to the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America. In this role Rabbi Weider worked on the national level with over 1,000 rabbis (Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox) who were members of the Rabbinic Cabinet. Rabbi Weider retired from this position in 2016.
Rabbi Weider and his wife Rosalie are parents of two sons, Avi and Alex Weider, and they are grandparents of triplets (two boys and a girl). Rabbi Weider and Rosalie continue to reside in Brooklyn, New York.
Caitlyn Bradley is the Department Coordinator for the Early Childhood Center. She began working at CBE in 2008 as an extended day helper in the ECC. Caitlyn then moved to the CBE KIDS Afterschool Program where she worked as a counselor and an administrative assistant. She finally came full circle and started working in the ECC again in 2016. Caitlyn was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Francis College in 2013. Caitlyn currently lives in Staten Island with her husband Ryan and Maltese dog, Bailey.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x222
Bobbie Finkelstein, Director of Youth Programs, has been involved in the field of school age care for 25 years. She came to CBE in 1987 as the director of the After School Center. At that time, the program was two afternoons a week. The program has grown and so has Bobbie’s position. As the Director of Youth Programs, she supervises a five-day- a-week after school program; two day camps (a division for elementary school age children and a travel camp for middle school age children) and three school vacation camps.
Prior to coming to CBE, Bobbie worked for Children’s Aid Society and Interfaith Neighbors, a youth service agency. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the State University at Buffalo and a Master of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work. She is on the Board of the New York State School Age Care Coalition.
Bobbie loves developing new programs and believes in the power of groups. She lives in Sunset Park with her husband and two daughters.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x210
Hannah Grossman is the Assistant Director of Yachad, our signature K-12 Jewish and Hebrew Education program. Hannah is a passionate Jewish educator, and brings a wealth of experience to Yachad. Hannah holds M.A.’s in Bible and Experiential Jewish Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary as well as B.A.’s in Judaic Studies & Comparative Literature and a certificate in Coastal and Marine Sciences from UMass Amherst. She spent a year studying at the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators in Jerusalem and a year working as a Jewish educator in the Bene Israel community of Mumbai through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Hannah has worked as the Education Director of Young Judaea Camp Tel Yehudah, in AVODAH’s community and alumni relations department and in various teaching capacities in the New York area. In her free time, she loves swimming, playing frisbee and taking improv comedy classes.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x108
Prior to joining Congregation Beth Elohim, Alan served as the Executive Director of Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattan. At Sutton Place Synagogue, Alan quickly illustrated his ability to handle facility and security issues, manage budgets and, most importantly, build meaningful relationships within the community.
Before becoming an Executive Director, Alan spent over 25 years in the for-profit world working in various roles within the consumer product industry. Throughout his career, building relationships and developing the team around him has always been central to who he is.
As an active lay leader and a member of Central Synagogue’s Board of Trustees, Alan was involved with social justice and building community. One of his areas of focus was revamping the Breakfast Program which provides a full hot meal to over 100 people every Thursday and Friday morning. Alan helped transform the model from a group of five people who shouldered the full responsibility to an active volunteer list over 350 people strong. In addition, he helped imagine and implement the “No One is a Stranger” initiative, which remains a cornerstone of connecting and engaging people more than ten years after its inception.
A native New Yorker, Alan, his wife Miriam, and their eight year old daughter Noa live on Manhattan’s East Side. Since his very first visit, Alan felt the warm embrace of the community and knew with full conviction that CBE was where he wanted to be. The Herman family is looking forward to sharing meaningful moments together with CBE for many years to come.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x204
Jaci Israel is Director of CBE’s Early Childhood Center and has enjoyed a long relationship with CBE where she began her preschool teaching career in 1986. Since then she has coordinated Pre-K programs for several nonprofit agencies and initiated the Project Reach Youth’s Universal Pre-K Program. She has also worked extensively with elementary age students with learning disabilities as a teacher at the Mary McDowell Center and as an Orton Gillingham tutor. Jaci has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education. Her proudest achievements by far are her son and daughter.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x221
Nate Jaffe joined the CBE team in August 2018. Nate oversees and manages all CBE communications, including but not limited to our website, social media, and emails. Before coming to CBE, he graduated from Goucher College with a B.A. in Theater and Communications/Media Studies.
Throughout his life, Nate has been heavily involved in Reform Judaism. The son of a Reform rabbi, Nate went to URJ Eisner Camp for 14 consecutive summers as a camper and staff member and was active in his home synagogue’s youth group, later going on to serve on NFTY-Northeast’s Regional Board. Nate is proud and grateful to continue his journey at CBE.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x234
Tom O’Connor is our Facilities Manager, overseeing and managing our maintenance staff. Prior to working at CBE, Tom was the director of operations at the Hebrew Educational Society, The Oculus at the World Trade Center, and Asphalt Green.
Judy Rubin has been the Director of Finance at CBE since 2015. In this capacity she oversees CBE’s financial systems; including payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. Judy comes to us from the 92nd Street Y, where she served as Controller . Prior to that Judy was an Audit Manager at the NYC Comptroller’s Office.
Originally from Brooklyn NY, Judy received a B.S. in accounting from Brooklyn College in 1985. She received her Certified Public Accounting License in 1990.
Judy currently lives with her husband and two daughters in Woodbury, NY.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x202
Diane Schevelowitz is our Events Manager at CBE. She’s in charge of planning all of our in-house events, B’nei Mitzvahs, Weddings, Brit Milahs, Baby Namings, Shabbat Dinners, Holiday Parties, and more.
After graduating with her BA in Fashion from CUNY, Diane worked for prominent designers such as Vera Wang and David Meister. She has also worked extensively in event planning, using her knowledge and understanding of textures, color, fabrics, and design to create beautiful and memorable environments for special events. Diane is also the proud owner and florist at Brooklyn Wildflower, a floral design and event planning company, which she founded in 2015.
Diane’s variety of experiences in fashion and event planning have provided her with the ability to cater her designs to a diverse range of people and infuse each CBE event with a unique style and efficiency.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x200
Adrian Sealy is the Assistant Director of the After School program and the Director of the Travel Camp at CBE. He has worked at CBE in some form since 2001. In addition to helping the Director develop the curricula for the CBE Kids programs, Adrian is in charge of interviewing, training, and maintaining the staff across the After School programs and Summer Camp programs. He also assists with the budget, payroll, and marketing of the programs. Lastly, Adrian supports the Director in maintaining the licensing requirements for the Department of Health, including permits, personnel files, safety plans, logs and various certificates.
Adrian Sealy was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received a Bachelors of Science from Oakwood University in 2013. He is currently working on a second B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Education, and plans to do his Masters in Education.
Sam Sterling is CBE’s Director of Membership and Engagement, and also plays an integral role in the temple’s High Holy Days coordination. Prior to CBE, she spent several years at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and then at Central Synagogue, where she was the Melton Director and Manager of Adult Education.
Originally from Connecticut, Sam attended an Orthodox Day School and a Conservative Synagogue, but always felt like a Reform Jew at heart. She spent time studying in Israel, received a B.A. from Emory University in Film Studies and Linguistics, and an M.A. from The New School in Media Studies. Sam is also passionate about art, conservation and the environment, philately, travelling, and most all of, spending time with her amazing boyfriend, family, friends and cat.
Phone:(718) 768-3814 x214