Alison Kur is Executive Director, Jewish Living, at Temple Beth Elohim. In her role, she oversees the Temple's learning programs and works with clergy, professional staff and members to develop and nurture a vibrant, engaged community. Prior to TBE, Alison worked at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, where she helped launch the Leadership Development Institute, designed to train professional and volunteer leaders in Boston congregations. Alison is a past president of the Rashi School Board (Jewish day school in the Boston area) and currently holds an honorary board position while serving as a Vice President on the PARDeS Board. After a career as an attorney and child advocate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Alison obtained a Masters degree from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University and made the career change to Jewish education.
Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, Jessica Bram grew up in the mid-west. She attended Goldman Union Camp Institute as both a camper and a counselor throughout her child and young adulthood. She received a B.A.S. in Political Science and Jewish studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. Jessica is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, with a Masters in Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School for Jewish Education in Los Angeles, California.
Hannah Richman is the Director of Havayah, The Teen Community at Temple Beth Elohim. Hannah is thrilled to be starting her 7th year at TBE. Hannah is originally from Western Pennsylvania, where she was an active member of her youth group and where she participated in NFTY-NEL. After high school, Hannah spent a year volunteering and studying in Jerusalem Israel followed by four years at Brandeis University where she studied Studio Art and Sociology. In 2014, Hannah completed the Certificate in Jewish Education specializing in Adolescents and Emerging Adults through Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. Today, Hannah enjoys living in Somerville, cooking, watching Steelers football, running, yoga, and painting and going to the beach. Hannah works closely with the TBE Youth Team and Havayah Manhigut (teen leadership) to coordinate innovative and meaningful teen powered programming for our 8th-12th grade community.
Leah Finkelman was raised outside Columbus, OH, where she lived until attending Brandeis University. She graduated in 2013 with a major in American Studies and four minors, including Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Leah spent 12 summers at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute, in Zionsville, IN, including two years as a counselor and two years as the musical director, and was an active member of NFTY-OV. She currently lives in Brighton, and enjoys crafting, cooking, and watching movies with her roommates. Prior to joining the youth team in August of 2015, she was TBE's Administrative Assistant to the Clergy. Leah coordinates our K-7 youth groups, JELY Jr. and JELY, and our Jewish Camping Initiative, as well as teaching in B'Yachad and Havayah.
Devon Barker grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where he went to the University of Northern Colorado and majored in Education. Back in Boulder, Devon was a middle school math teacher. Since 2016, Devon has been a full-time member of the Ed Team. At TBE, his portfolio covers most students from 4th grade through 12th. He is the Lead Teacher for Tagliyot, our 4th & 5th-grade science program, 7th grade Boy's Kesher teacher, & Behirot Teacher. In Havayah, he is the Lead Taste of Judaism Teacher, runs most of our Jew Man Groups, one of our NFTY Advisors, along with many of our other programs. When Devon is not at TBE, he enjoys camping, working with robotics teams, and cooking. During the summers, he is the Senior Lead Instructor at The URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. Devon is currently getting his Master's in STEAM Education.
Lilah Doris grew up in Northport, NY where she enjoyed life with her family and her pugs. She graduated from Brandeis in 2017 with majors in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. Lilah spent 10 summers at URJ Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, MA and considers her experience there the foundation of her Jewish identity. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, ancient history, yoga, thinking critically about contemporary art, and talking about her semester at agriculture school in Dublin, Ireland. At TBE, Lilah is involved in Tikkun Olam in the youth community, including coordinating Ma'asim Tovim.
Leah Sherin, Youth Engagement Specialist
Rabbi Sisenwine has been the Rabbi of Temple Beth Elohim since the year 2000, a period of great growth and energy in the life of our community. A native of Philadelphia, Rabbi Sisenwine graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. There, Rabbi Sisenwine received the prestigious Wexner Foundation Fellowship for Jewish Leadership, as well as the nationally recognized Truman Foundation Fellowship for public service. Following studies at various institutions of higher learning, including Tel Aviv University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, he was ordained a rabbi from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1995. Rabbi Sisenwine has distinguished himself as a leading voice in the local and national Jewish community. He is currently the rabbinic chair of the Reform movement's Commission on Worship and Religious Living, and also serves on the President's Rabbinic Council of the Hebrew Union College. He was also as a founding member of the region's Reform Beit Din, and has served on several local and national leadership boards, including the Jewish Community Center, the Rashi School, and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Sisenwine is the author of various articles and publications. He shares life with his wife Heidi, a teacher at the Rashi School, and his three daughters. He can occasionally be seen on the basketball courts of the JCC, the bleachers at Fenway Park, or enjoying time with his family.
Cantor Jodi Sufrin was raised in Toronto, Canada. Her home upbringing and early experiences as lay cantor at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto pointed her in the direction of the cantorate. For many years, Jodi sang with her older brother Kerry, specializing in the field of Israeli folksongs. She also pursued a career as a folksinger, serving as warm-up artist for Canadian songwriter and performer, Dan Hill. Fortunately, for all of us, her parents discouraged her from following this path. Following her graduation from the University of Toronto with a dual major in French and Italian, Cantor Sufrin entered Hebrew Union College, School of Sacred Music in New York City. In 2008, Cantor Sufrin received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College. Since her investiture in 1983, Cantor Sufrin has served as cantor at Temple Beth Elohim. Cantor Sufrin is married to Cantor Roy Einhorn of Temple Israel in Boston. They have two daughters, Laura and Jessica.
Rabbi Rachel Saphire is TBE’s Associate Rabbi. As a teenager, she founded her small temple’s youth group and became very active in NFTY Ohio Valley. Rabbi Saphire served NFTY-OV as the Regional President and was introduced to Reform Jewish camping at the Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville, Indiana. She enjoys playing and watching sports, cooking, eating, and visiting with friends. Rabbi Saphire is very excited to spend time with TBE’s teens and families. Her door is always open, so feel free to stop by and schmooze when you are at TBE.
Rabbi Philip Sherman grew up in Minneapolis and considers himself a true mid-westerner at heart. Active in Jewish life since early childhood, Rabbi Sherman attended Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for many years as both a camper and staff member and was active in USY with a position as Emtza Region president during high school. Rabbi Sherman attended Indiana University, where he graduated with honors in 2006 with a degree in Judaic studies. While at IU Rabbi Sherman was involved with Jewish life on campus, taking on leadership roles at Hillel and in the Jewish Studies Student Association. After college he worked as a Hillel Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow at Emory University. Rabbi Sherman completed his rabbinic training at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Newton Centre, a pioneering pluralistic rabbinical education program. He has held positions as educator, b’nai mitzvah tutor, youth group advisor and rabbinic intern at several Boston-area synagogues, including Temple Beth Zion, Temple Emanuel, Temple Reyim and Congregation Kehillath Israel. Most recently, he served as campus Jewish educator at MIT Hillel and rabbinic intern and spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe in Vermont. He received his rabbinic ordination in June 2013, along with a master’s degree in Jewish education. His master’s thesis exploring the idea of teaching compassion to adolescents was passed with distinction. Outside of Jewish learning, Rabbi Sherman’s passions include cycling and being in nature, exploring new places, following Indiana Hoosiers basketball and experimenting with his CSA harvest. He and his wife, Leah, live in Newton and are thrilled to be joining the TBE community.
Cantor Shanna Zell is a singer/songwriter turned cantor who believes in creating a warm, uplifting community of song open to all seekers and lovers of Judaism. She received her BA in both European Cultural Studies and English & American Literature from Brandeis University (Waltham, MA). Post graduating Brandeis, Shanna worked for the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92Y where she assisted in programming for multi-denominational Jewish 20/30s and received an award for her "lasting contribution" to the institution. Before embarking on her cantorial journey, Shanna performed live shows with her band - Shanna & the Zellots - a powerful pop-rock ensemble. She released one full length album (2005) and one EP (2011), both comprised of original music. Blending her experience as a songwriter and passion for Jewish music, Shanna often finds herself bringing driving rock rhythms into the synagogue. Since Fall 2013, she served as cantorial intern for Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn where she was a prayer leader, b'nai mitzvah tutor, Rosh Hodesh girls' group organizer and co-facilitator of the 20s/30s "Brooklyn Jews" community. In February 2016, she co-organized an Indigo Girls Tribute Concert to raise funds and awareness for Planned Parenthood NYC. In December 2016, Shanna presented a senior recital entitled, "Sacred Brooklyn," an exploration of the sounds of liberal Jewish Brooklyn, which was also the topic of her masters thesis. Shanna has returned to MA and is enjoying her new home in Brookline. She loves keeping her finger on the pulse of the underground music scene, exploring new neighborhoods and eating sushi. She believes it was b’shert to move from Congregation Beth Elohim (Brooklyn, NY) to Temple Beth Elohim (Wellesley, MA) where she proudly serves as the new Assistant Cantor.