Leadership & Staff
To contact CBE, please call (718) 768-3814, email email@example.com, or just fill out the contact form at the bottom of every page on our website. Thanks!
For our staff directory, please click here.
Rachel Timoner - Senior Rabbi
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is thrilled to serve Congregation Beth Elohim 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 greatest sorrow in their lives.
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, a Community of Elders, the Caring Community, and a Community Organizing Leadership Team. She explored spiritual life with congregants through a vibrant Jewish Spirituality Workshop and other classes and retreats. She worked with the Community Organizing Leadership Team to pursue social justice in the areas of public transportation, affordable housing, and health care. She also served as a leader of Reform CA, a statewide movement of more than 120 rabbis and many lay leaders to serve as a powerful voice for social justice in California, winning protection for 1.5 million undocumented immigrants and more than a billion dollars in affordable housing.
Rabbi Timoner grew up in Miami, Florida, received a B.A. from Yale University, and received s’micha 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.
From 1998 to 2004, she was a facilitator and consultant in organizational development and strategic planning. 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 transgendered youth. In 1994, she was honored by the San Francisco Examiner and KQED as an “Unsung Hero” for working to break the isolation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and empowering young people to feel proud of who they are. From 1996 to 1998, she was a Next Generation Leadership Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation. In 1997 she was chosen as one of ten leaders under thirty for Do Something’s National BRICK Award for Community Leadership.
Rabbi Timoner is a member of the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is the author of Breath of Life: God as Spirit in Judaism. She is married to Felicia Park-Rogers and they have two sons, Benji and Eitan.
Joshua Breitzer - Cantor
Joshua Breitzer is cantor and music director of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn and the founding conductor of HaZamir Brooklyn, a chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir. Considered one of his generation’s leading talents, Cantor Breitzer has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Merkin Concert Hall. For the past several years he has appeared with the New York Festival of Song in their annual “A Goyishe Christmas to You” program and has enjoyed significant collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winner Yehudi Wyner as part of the Boston Jewish Music Festival and on Wyner’s recent album Sacred Music.
As a dedicated and passionate Jewish music educator, Cantor Breitzer has coached young artists at NYC Opera, The Juilliard School, and Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. He has also taught at the Academy of Jewish Religion, the URJ Kutz Camp, and the North American Jewish Choral Festival.
A mid-Michigan native, Cantor Breitzer attended Interlochen Arts Camp and holds voice degrees from the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory. Prior to receiving ordination at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011 and eventually joining the adjunct faculty there, Cantor Breitzer presented a graduate thesis on the sacred vocal works of Jack Gottlieb, with whom he worked closely during the last months of the composer’s life.
Cantor Breitzer is a Storahtelling-trained “maven,” an inaugural participant in Piyut North America, and a member of the executive board of the American Conference of Cantors. He has served in advisory roles for the Central Conference of American Rabbis Press and the American Society of Jewish Music and is a delegate to the URJ Joint Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living. Together with his wife Donna, Cantor Breitzer is pleased to call Park Slope home to their young sons Jonah and Gideon.
Marc Katz – Associate Rabbi
After returning from his first year of rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, Marc has grown to love working at CBE first as a religious school teacher and then, starting in the fall of 2009, as Revson Rabbinic Intern. Over the past three years, Marc has taught in the academy program, run a weekly introduction to Judaism class, studied Torah with our adult Chevre Torah group, and served as program director for Brooklyn Jews, CBE’s outreach program to young professionals. He lives in Park Slope and can often be found running in Prospect Park, shopping at the Park Slope Food Co-op (when he’s not suspended), and eating at the host of Thai restaurants in the neighborhood.
Gerald I. Weider - Rabbi Emeritus
Gerald I. Weider served 28 years as the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim. He joined Rabbi Eugene J. Sack in 1978, just as the Brownstone Revival movement hit the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Rabbi Weider sparked the revitalization of Congregation Beth Elohim through innovative programming and services which met the needs of urban Jewish families. Under his leadership, Congregation Beth Elohim grew to become the largest and most active Reform synagogue in Brooklyn.
Rabbi Weider is a native of the Bronx. While growing up in the Bronx he attended Yeshiva Zichron Moshe.
During his teen age years, while living in Fort Lee New Jersey, Rabbi Weider became an active participant in Young Judaea, the Zionist Youth Movement sponsored by Hadassah. It was this involvement that ultimately lead Rabbi Weider to the Rabbinate. While in Young Judaea, Rabbi Weider lead local clubs, regional programs and attended numerous national camps and institutes. In college, at Rutgers University, Rabbi Weider continued to work for Young Judaea, becoming the President of their college age program and eventually representing Young Judaea at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem.
While at Rutgers, Rabbi Weider met Rosalie Daumann one morning in Jewish History class. (She sat in front of him!) After graduating from Rutgers University with a B.A. in History, Rabbi Weider attended the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati to study for the Rabbinate. During his first year at HUC, he married Rosalie, and settled down in the Queen City. The Weider’s first son, Avi, was born in Cincinnati.
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. His first congregation was Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline Mass. 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. While in Washington, the Weider’s second son, Alex was born.
During his first sabbatical, Rabbi Weider was granted a prestigious Merril Fellowship at Harvard Divinity School. He was in residence at Harvard Divinity for the spring semester of 1998, along with the other four Merril Fellows from all over the United States. After completing his Merril Fellowship, Rabbi Weider was granted a Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the spring of 1998. Rabbi Weider’s second sabbatical in 2006 was spent studying rabbinic literature and the Hebrew language in Jerusalem at the Hebrew Union College. In addition, he studied Islam at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Weider’s hobbies include skiing, bicycling, and travel. Rabbi and Rosalie Weider are also part time residents of Park City Utah. They have been going there since 1984 and have been involved with the creation of a synagogue in Park City, Temple Har Shalom, a synagogue that now has grown big enough to have a full time rabbi and a vibrant Jewish life.
Upon retirement from Congregation Beth Elohim, Rabbi Weider assumed the position of Senior Rabbinic Consultant to the Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Communities (UJC). In this role Rabbi Weider will work on the national level with over nine hundred rabbis (Reform, Conservative and Orthodox) in planning conferences, missions to Israel, and educational programs that explain the work of UJC and UJA to rabbinical students.
Margaret Friedman-Vaughan - Executive Director
Margaret Friedman-Vaughan comes to us having a lifelong involvement with congregations in the Reform movement. Whether as a paid staff member or a lay leader, Margaret has been instrumental in helping
congregations find ways to move forward with their mission and outreach to the communities in which they are connected. For ten years Margaret was the Director of Life Long Learning and Temple
Administrator at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, OH.
Prior to moving to Cincinnati, Margaret was one of the founders for a new congregation in Bowling Green, KY where she served as the service leader for fifteen years. During this time she was active in
interfaith work in the community and also an active member of Congregation Micah in Nashville, TN where her sons attended religious school.
In addition to her congregational work, Margaret spent the first half of her career in social work and
health care administration. She holds Master’s degrees in Health Care Administration from Webster
University in St. Louis, MO and Theology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. When she is not
working, she and her husband enjoy bike riding, hiking, and exploring new places—like Brooklyn!
Jacqueline Israel - Director of Early Childhood Center
Jacqueline Israel has enjoyed a long relationship with the Early Childhood Center where she began her teaching career in 1986. Since then she has coordinated pre-k programs for several non- profit 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 Luke and daughter Bridget.
Bobbie Finkelstein - Director of Youth Programs
Bobbie Finkelstein has been involved in the field of school age care for the past twenty years. She came to Congregation Beth Elohim 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. Currently, 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 Congregation Beth Elohim, 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. She loves developing new programs and believes in the power of groups.
Bobbie lives in Sunset Park with her family, husband Fred and daughters, Sylvie and Molly.
Marissa Frankel - Director of Yachad
Marissa Frankel is excited to join the CBE community. She comes 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 Degree in Elementary and Special Education. Marissa loves finding the best coffee and ice cream anywhere she goes, and has already found some favorites near CBE.
Jennifer Dowd - Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Center
After five years as an ECC classroom teacher, Jennifer Dowd is overjoyed to be joining Jaci, Meri and Bev in the ECC office as Assistant Director. The ECC and its amazing teachers were a huge influence on Jennifer’s decision to return to school to get her Master’s in Education when her own children attended the ECC between 2003-2008. Jennifer graduated with a Dual Masters in General and Special Education from Bank Street College in 2010. After completing her field work at PS 363 and PS 321 she taught early childhood science at PS 107 before joining CBE as a 2s and 3s teacher in 2010. Jennifer will be supporting CBE’s dedicated, nurturing teachers and will be a liaison as part of the greater CBE community.
Jennifer lives in the South Slope with her husband, Brendan, and their children, Declan and Mairin.