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/.
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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.
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Rabbi Marc Katz
Rabbi Katz is the Associate Rabbi at CBE and has served here in different capacities since 2009 moving from religious school teacher to Revson Rabbinic Intern and joining the clergy full time in 2012. In addition to his regular clergy duties (leading services, conducting funerals, visiting sick congregants, officiating at weddings), Rabbi Katz currently oversees CBE’s conversion program and Basic Judaism class, teaches in the middle school and High School programs, runs a yearly trip to Israel, directs all b’nei mitzvah students on their Divrei Torah, and teaches a host of adult classes including a weekly Talmud and parenting class.
Originally from Barrington RI, Rabbi Katz received a B.A. from Tufts University in 2006. At Tufts, he studied Comparative Religion while serving as the captain of his college swim team. Before entering rabbinical school, Rabbi Katz worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism lobbying for environmental protection and health care reform on behalf of the Reform movement.
Rabbi Katz and his wife live in Park Slope. He is the author of the recent book: The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort.” See more of his writing here.
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Matt Green has been the Rabbinic Intern at CBE since the fall of 2015. 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’nai 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 is currently a Fifth Year student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he is 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.
Sarah is the Cantorial Intern at CBE, and she also studies at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in Manhattan. She loves her work with Cantor Josh during services for Shabbat and festivals, and her role as part of the B’nei Mitzvah process.
Born and raised in London, Sarah has been keenly involved in Jewish life since starting preschool at North Western Reform Synagogue at age two! She sang, learned, and prayed at shul, and as a teenager became involved in the British Reform Youth Movement, RSY-Netzer. After spending a year studying and volunteering in Israel, Sarah received honors in Hebrew and Aramaic at Oxford University, and worked at both Finchley Reform Synagogue and the British Reform Movement before starting cantorial school.
Since moving to New York, Sarah has worked at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge, NJ, Truah (the rabbinic/cantorial network of human rights and social justice), and the CCAR Press. Sarah is now a rising fourth-year student, pursuing her passions of using music and text to develop Jewish identity, strengthen community, and explore spirituality, and Hebrew language and literature.
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.
Betti joined CBE as Executive Director in March 2016 and brings a wealth of experience to her role. She is a native Californian, having grown up in Los Angeles. Her connection to Judaism developed over several years as a camper and counselor at Camp Hess Kramer, a Jewish summer camp in Malibu, California.
Betti spent many years of her professional career at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles as the Assistant Executive Director. She then served three more congregations as Executive Director. From 2005 to 2016, Betti was the Executive Director at Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, a 1,200 household congregation.
She has extensive experience in budgeting, human resources, facility management, membership, and public relations. Betti is a Senior Member of the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) and a past member of the NATA Board of Directors.
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Marissa is the Director of Yachad, CBE’s religious school for children from Kindergarten through high school. Marissa came to CBE from URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, where she served as Associate Director and oversaw Camp Chazak, a program for children with Special Needs.
Prior to that, Marissa was an Elementary School Special Education Teacher in New York City and Long Island. Marissa received her BA in Sociology and Judaic Studies, and has her Masters in Elementary and Special Education. Marissa and her husband live in Park Slope.
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Alex Ben-Abba is the Associate Director of Hebrew Language and Israel Programs at CBE. She came here from the Israeli American Council, where she was a Manager of Education and a Hebrew and Israeli culture teacher. In addition to hiring, training, and managing Yachad’s Hebrew teachers and curriculum, Alex Ben-Abba oversees CBE’s Hebrew and Israeli After School and Camp, Ha’Geemnaisa, plans and runs Israeli style Shabbat Dinner events called Shira Be’Shishi (signing on Friday), and maintains a strong connection with the Early Childhood Center’s dual language team.
Originally from Jerusalem, Israel, Alex Ben-Abba received a B.A from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 2006 and a M.F.A at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), alongside a teaching certificate at Brown University. She worked as a Hebrew and Judaic teacher at Hannah Senesh Community Day School, and was also a teacher-soldier for new immigrants in Ashkelon and Sderot. Additionally, she was part of the urban kibbutz, Migvan.
Alex Ben-Abba and her family live in Crown Heights. She shows her work internationally.
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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.
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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.
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Seth Lewis Levin
Seth is the Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Center (ECC), having recently joined us this summer. Seth comes to us after working in PK-12 education in public, charter and private school settings in both New York city and Cambridge, MA where he opened an acclaimed AMS certified, public, PK-5 Montessori program.
Seth grew up in Newton, MA and graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in History and French. He also holds graduate education degrees from New York, Baruch and Long Island Universities. Seth has been an active member of the congregation as the Parent Committee Co-coordinator for Yachad, where his two boys attend and has volunteered in the ECC library where his daughter is entering the dual-language threes program.
Seth and his wife live with their three children in Park Slope. He serves as adjunct faculty at Long Island University where he works to prepare new teachers for the classroom.
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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.
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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.
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