Oak Park Temple Clergy
Max Weiss and his family came to the Oak Park Temple community in 2009. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997, he has served congregations in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Rabbi Weiss currently serves as Chair of the Rabbinic Advisory committee of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute and is active in interfaith dialogue and community outreach programs. He has particular interest in lifelong Jewish education and is passionate about American Jewish history. If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk, please call the Temple office or contact him at email@example.com.
Julie Yugend-Green appointed cantor of Oak Park Temple in 1997, holds a degree of Master of Sacred Music from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was invested as Cantor in 1994. Cantor Yugend-Green has instituted dynamic programs of music and study including the establishment of Shalshelet – Oak Park Temple’s Council for Music and the Arts. She is committed to fostering our community’s relationship with Eretz Yisrael, and has led several several congregational tours of Israel and Eastern Europe. In 2013, Cantor Yugend-Green became a founding member of the West Suburban Chevra Kadisha, a partnership between Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion and West Suburban Temple Har Zion.
Gary S. Gerson
Gary S. Gerson served as Senior Rabbi from 1979 to 2009. Reflecting on his tenure, he is most proud of having facilitated a vibrant congregational program of adult studies that culminated in the building of our adult learning center. With this as a backdrop, upon his assuming emeritus status, the Rabbi Gary S. Gerson Chair in Adult Education was created and endowed. Through this vehicle, Rabbi Gerson continues to serve the congregation with his courses in Jewish text, Jewish thought, and the foundational texts of the Jewish mystical tradition. In addition, Rabbi Gerson continues to serve as a resource in other areas of congregational life.
Staff and Administrators
Danielle Sandler has over 15 years of experience in Jewish Institutions crossing the spectrum from Orthodox to Reform. She worked for Northwest Suburban Jewish Congregation as Executive Director, Hebrew Theological College/Anne M. Blitstein Teachers Institute as Assistant to the Dean, and Administrative Assistant for the Early Childhood Department of Hillel Torah Day School. She has an M.Ed from Loyola University in Administration and Supervision, B.S. from DePaul University in Political Science; A.A. from Columbia College in Paralegal Studies. Email Danielle.
Robin Arbetman has taught children of all ages in Chicago area synagogues since 1981. She joined the Oak Park Temple Religious School staff in 1990 and immediately became one of its most beloved teachers. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Ms. Arbetman also studied at the Hebrew University and completed a year of intensive leadership training at the Institute for Youth Leaders in Israel as well as the Master Teacher Training Course for Jewish Educators. She is active in national CAJE conferences. As a curriculum writer, Ms. Arbetman has developed material for special media events, courses on contemporary Jewish identity, and an interactive online Holocaust study guide. Her vision for Jewish education is an organic one, providing students individual expression, cooperative learning, meaningful experiences, and community awareness. Email Robin.
Director of Early Childhood Education
Marci Sperling-Flynn has been Glasser Preschool’s full time director since 1998. She received her BA in psychology from Brandeis University (having also spent a semester at Tel Aviv University), received her JD from Georgetown University Law School, and completed her coursework towards the MA in early childhood education at National Louis University. After practicing law for ten years, Ms. Flynn changed careers to follow her dream of working full time with children and their families. Email Marci.
2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors
(term ends Jan 2017):
President: Deborah Holdstein
Executive Vice President: Shari Schindler
Finance Vice President: Aaron Lebovitz
Vice President w/o Portfolio: Lucy Fox
Building Vice President: Brian Hammersley
Treasurer: Sarah Shkutov
Secretary: Seth Levrant
Immediate Past President: Sheri Gilley
to the Board of Directors:
Religious School: Mike Fine
Glasser Preschool: Amelia Hardy
Women of Oak Park Temple: Lauren Levrant
Adult Education: Mel Loeb
Social Action: Annika Rothbaum
Development & Annual Giving (Fundraising): Sarah Lewensohn
Worship: Naomi Landman
Membership: Marc Imowitz
Communications: Lee Kantz
At-Large Board Members
(term ends Jan 2017)
At-Large Board Members
(term ends Jan 2018):
Deborah H. Holdstein
Deborah Holdstein has been a member of Oak Park Temple since 1986, and, among other activities, she has served on the Board of Directors under several administrations. She has also served on the Glasser Preschool Committee and for many years co-led the volunteers of the Shure Memorial Library of Oak Park Temple. Deborah also had the honor of being part of the Rabbi Search Committee that brought Rabbi Weiss to OPT. She and her husband, Jay Boersma, are members of an OPT chavurah.
Professor of English and for seven years Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Columbia College Chicago, Deborah became bat mitzvah several years ago, studying with Cantor Green to accomplish this milestone. Her children, Emily and David, now adults, attended preschool, religious school, and became B’nai Mitzvah at OPT, and late in life, Deborah’s parents became members of OPT after moving to the Chicago area.
Executive Vice President
Shari served two terms as OPT Treasurer. She was an at-large board member prior to becoming an officer.
She and her family have been temple members for 10 years, and she has been on various committees including most recently finance, communication, worship, and Derech Eretz. Shari became a Bat Mitzvah at Oak Park Temple as an adult. Her son went through the Religious School program, Bar Mitzvah, and recently was confirmed at OPT. Shari is active in a women’s torah study group as well as a chavurah. Shari is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and she is currently a Supervisor at the Internal Revenue Service where she leads a group of highly specialized forensic accountants.
Immediate Past President
Sheri Gilley has been a member of Oak Park Temple since moving to Oak Park in 1986. She has been on many boards and committees over the years, creating the first website for OPT in the early 90’s. Sheri continues to be part of the Communication Committee. She is also currently active on the HR, Finance, Worship, Communications, Adult Ed Committees in her role as Immediate Past President.
Sheri has one son, Shawn, who quite literally grew up at Oak Park Temple – from his days of attending Glasser Preschool to being a Camp Shalom Counselor to his current job as Religious School teacher. Shawn became Bar Mitzvah at OPT, was confirmed there, and in August 2013 was married at Oak Park Temple. In her non-temple life, Sheri is a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft.
Finance Vice President
Aaron joined the OPT Board as the Vice President in Finance in March of 2013. His family joined the Temple in 2006. Aaron grew up in Glencoe, IL, and became Bar Mitzvah at Am Shalom.
Aaron and his wife, Donna Meyers, have served on a wide range of boards and committees around town, including the D97 Financial Oversight and Review Committee, the D97 PTO Council, West Suburban PADS, the Oak Park & River Forest Food Pantry, the Chicago Zoological Society, the Oak Park / River Forest Community Foundation, and the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Their older daughter, Madi, became Bat Mitzvah last September. Their son, Bram, will soon become Bar Mitzvah, and daughter Ava will graduate from the Glasser Preschool. Aaron was trained as an economist, and he spends his weekdays developing quantitative strategies for investment and trading.
Sarah Shkutov has been a member of Oak Park Temple since 2013. Her husband George is a Bagel Boy and their son Christopher is an alumnus of Glasser Preschool. She served on the Glasser Preschool Board of Directors as the Chair of the 2014 biennial auction, is a member of Sisterhood, and is part of “the most awesome” Chavurah. She and George are current Derech Eretz participants.
Sarah is a twenty-five-year veteran of the mortgage industry in Chicago. She was a Branch Manager of a Fortune 500 mortgage company and now works part-time doing licensing and compliance reporting for the eighth largest mortgage company in the U.S. Sarah, George, and Christopher live in the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago.
Seth Levrant joined Oak Park Temple in 1992 after moving from New York to this area in 1991. He joined the Board as Secretary in 2013 and was a member at large on the board a decade or so prior to his current term. Most significantly, Seth Levrant has been the “Chief Bagel Boy” for the last thirteen years and the High Holidays Head usher for the last eight years.
Further, Seth is currently on the Israel committee, serves as the Temple’s representative to ARZA, and has served on the last silent auction committee. During his absence from the Board, Seth’s wife, Lauren Levrant, served on the Board and was President of the congregation from 2008-2010. Their three children became B’nai Mitzvah (as did Lauren in 1998) at Oak Park Temple and have participated extensively in Temple educational and religious life. When not at Oak Park Temple, Seth has a medical practice specializing in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Vice President without Portfolio
Lucy Fox joined Oak Park Temple in 2007, when her oldest was entering Gan in the religious school and her twins were entering Gan Katan at Glasser preschool. She fell in love with the Temple’s welcoming and homey community, particularly after attending her first congregational retreat at OSRUI. She has attended every annual retreat since she joined, and she has helped to run the planning committee for several years. She has served two terms on the Board and is honored to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board.
When she is not at Oak Park Temple, Lucy (AKA Dr. Fox) is a family physician with a bustling practice in Oak Park. She and her husband, Michael Kelly, live with their three sons in an even-more bustling house they lovingly call “The Boy Farm.” Lucy can be found needlepointing furiously in her spare time, having committed herself to make tallitot for all three boys’ b’nai mitzvot in the next three years.
Lee Kantz and his wife Rebekah Cowing joined Oak Park Temple as Glasser Preschool parents, and all three of their kids are now in Religious School. Lee started and led the first Communications Committee as an offshoot of the Membership Committee in 2010, and in conjunction with former President Sheri Gilley has served as Temple webmaster since then.
Lee has more than a quarter of a century of experience in digital publishing, digital marketing and education marketing, including work at Encyclopaedia Britannica, University of Illinois, Monster.com and currently at Keypath Education.
Naomi Landman, an OSRUI alumna, grew up in the close community of Temple Beth Israel in Jackson, Michigan, and joyfully remembers her time in Michigan State Temple Youth.
Naomi comes to the OPT board with gratitude for the inspiration of her family and Rabbis Irwin Tanenbaum and Fred Scherlinder Dobb. With a lifelong background in the arts, Naomi works as a writer and editor. She and her husband live in Berwyn.
Development & Annual Giving Committee
Sarah Lewensohn and her family joined Oak Park Temple in 2002. Both of her daughters became B’nai Mitzvah and attended the religious school up through the Confirmation class. Her youngest will complete the program this Spring. Sarah is new to the board and serves as a Member-at-Large.
Professionally, Sarah recently embarked as an entrepreneur. Previously, she held positions in investor relations and finance at a number of publicly traded companies in the Chicago area.
Sarah and her daughters live in Hinsdale.
Adult Education Committee
After a fifty-year hiatus from Judaism, Mel Loeb joined Oak Park Temple in 2006.
Mel regularly participates in Torah study and attends every Saturday Shabbat service, many Friday night services, and most all of the Sunday minyan services. Mel chairs the Adult Education committee and sits on the finance committee. Retired from his profession as a financial planner, Mel is a mainstay of the congregation.
Social Action Committee
Annika Rothbaum was first introduced to Oak Park Temple when she became a Glasser Preschool parent in the fall of 2008. She is currently representing the Social Action Committee on the Oak Park Temple Board and is finishing up her term as Co-Chair of the Glasser Preschool Board.
In the past six years, Annika has served OPT in various ways, including her work on the last three Auction committees and in spearheading Oak Park Temple’s Marriage Equality efforts. Annika has a background in marketing and keeps busy with her human resources consulting business. She lives in Oak Park with her husband, Andy and their children, Eve and Soren.
At-Large Board Members
Allison Cowett joined Oak Park Temple with her husband, Dave Adams, and their two girls Noa and Talia in 2013. She and her family have formed a Chavurah with families whose children attend Longfellow School. She is an active member of the Social Action Committee.
Allison is an Obstetrician Gynecologist specializing in contraception and abortion. She views her work with her patients, many of whom are medically underserved women, as part of the larger mission of Tikkun Olam.
Jennifer George joined the temple in 2010 after walking into the rotunda on a Sunday morning and experiencing the joy and energy. Their twin boys Ben and Noah and daughter Abbie all attended Glasser Preschool. Their family is very active in the Temple and the preschool.
Karen Gillett’s family joined Oak Park Temple in 1996 and has participated in several committees over the years. She enjoys volunteering, and this is her second time on the Board – just after her husband, Randy Gillett, served for two terms.
Their children, Rachel and Michael, have grown up in OPT, attending religious school, becoming B’nai Mitzvot, being involved with the youth group, and as day camp counselors. Under the tutelage of Cantor Green, Karen celebrated becoming a Bat Mitzvah as an adult.
When she is not at Oak Park Temple, Karen is Senior Recruiter and Nurse at Northwestern Medicine.
Judy Klem is founder and principal of Strategy Scene, a strategic marketing consulting firm. Prior to founding Strategy Scene, Judy spent fourteen years at 88 Brand Partners, most recently as Director of Client Services.
Judy has a background in the restaurant industry having worked as Director of Marketing for Bravo Restaurants, and she began her career in healthcare marketing and PR for LifeSource Blood Services. In addition to her marketing career, Judy is mother to four kids (with husband Jon). She is also an active cook, native gardener, and a member of the board for The Sugar Beet Co-op. Judy also leads the Oak Park Temple Green Chaverim.
Ali Mandell’s family joined Oak Park Temple 12 years ago. Her husband, Steve, grew up in the Oak Park/River Forest community and his parents are also longstanding members of the congregation. Their daughters, Alyssa and Ashley, have grown up at OPT, participating in Glasser Preschool and Camp Shalom, attending religious school and Alyssa becoming Bat Mitzvah in 2013. Ali and her family are also part of a wonderful Chavurah with four other temple families.
Professionally, Ali is taking some time away from the workplace after 24 years as a Managing Director in the financial services industry. This change has afforded her the opportunity to dedicate more time to her family and also to volunteer and explore new avenues.