North Suburban Synagogue Beth El


Jeffrey T. Baden

Jeffrey T. Baden, Executive Director
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For nearly 30 years, Jeff Baden has served the Jewish communities of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Ann Arbor in a variety of leadership roles, including Executive Director of both the Cincinnati and Ann Arbor JCCs, Director of Planning and Allocations for the Greater Cincinnati Jewish Federation, Director of Early Childhood Education for the Indianapolis JCC and Director of Camp Livingston (a Jewish resident camp).  While in Cincinnati, Jeff met his wife, Rabbi Ilana Greenfield Baden, who grew up in Libertyville.  When Rabbi Baden was offered a position with Temple Chai in Long Grove, Jeff left the Ann Arbor JCC so that the family could “return home.”  Jeff and Rabbi Baden have two children and reside in Buffalo Grove.  In his spare time, Jeff enjoys practicing magic, as well as playing and recording Jewish music.

Mark Stadler

Mark Stadler, Ritual Director
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Mark has been the Ritual Director of Beth El since 1996. He is responsible for daily minyan, ritual supplies, and memorial plaques.  Additionally, Mark tutors our b’nai mitzvah students and teaches in our religious school.  He also leads our Jr. Congregation on Shabbat and is our Mashgiach (Kashrut Supervisor).  Prior to his arrival at Beth El, Mark served many years as a Youth Director in a Conservative congregation in Virginia.

Karee Bilsky

Karee Bilsky, Steinberg Pre-School Director
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Karee joined Beth El in the summer of 2016 with a wealth of education and expertise in early childhood education.  Karee most recently served as Director of the Linda and Fred Wein Center for Gan Ami Early Childhood Education, which is a program of the Harry and Rose Samson Family JCC in Milwaukee, WI.  A graduate of Indiana University (BS – Early Childhood Education), Karee is a past fellow of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute and is an active board member for the National Jewish Early Childhood Network. She is a current member of the Coaches Catalyzing Change Community of Practice comprised of fourteen Jewish Early Childhood Professionals from across the country.  A published author in the field of Early Childhood Education,  Karee previously served as the Director of Early Childhood Programs at Congregation BJBE in Deerfield, IL.  A career early childhood educator over the past 17 years, she has also served as a Director, Assistant Director, Lead Teacher, and Kindergarten Teacher at a variety of organizations, including Bernard Weinger JCC, Gan Shalom Early Childhood Center, and the Mannheim School District. Karee is deeply familiar with and supportive of the Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to early childhood development upon which our preschool curriculum is based.

Dr. Alicia Gejman

Dr. Alicia Gejman, Director of Formal Education
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Alicia is a native of Argentina and lived in Israel for many years. While in Israel, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Education Counseling from Bar-Ilan University and then a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from The Hebrew University. Alicia completed an Educational Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from George Washington University.  Alicia held a number of professional education positions in the United States. She served as the Principal at West Suburban Temple Har Zion in River Forest for thirteen years and was the Director of Makor Or, Special Needs Center of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago for five years.  Alicia was awarded the title of “Conservative Jewish Educator” (‘CJE’) and she holds a Principal’s License from the National Board of License for Teachers and Principals of Jewish Schools in North America.

Alicia has a degree of Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Her doctoral dissertation was on Judeo-Spanish proverbs and on how to teach these proverbs to elucidate a deeper understanding of the Sephardic worldview. Reflecting on her studies, Alicia feels more grounded in learning, more equipped to develop curriculum and hopes to inspire lifelong learners.

As well as serving as our Director of Formal Education, Alicia is the Director of both the Jack and Mildred Cohen Religious School and the Bernard H. Sokol Hebrew High School and she supervises the Steinberg Pre-School.

Aliza Drumm

Aliza Drumm, Director of Informal Education
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Ali has served the Beth El community since August 2003, working with youth, families, and on membership and engagement initiatives.  She currently serves as our Director of Informal Education, overseeing adult education, and working closely with our cultural, youth and family programming. Ali holds a BA in English Literature and Middle Eastern Affairs from the University of Miami and a masters degree in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Ali holds the title of “Conservative Jewish Educator” (‘CJE’) through the Jewish Educators Assembly and serves on the national board.  Having served on the board of the Jewish Youth Directors Association and the  planning committee of the Chicago Informal Jewish Educators’ conference, and having worked in all forms of informal education from Camp Ramah to USY Pilgrimage to year-round youth work, she works to bring the energy of experiential education to our entire congregation. Ali and her husband Mike live in Highland Park, and have four children.


Tovah Goodman

Tovah Goodman, Youth Community Director
847-432-8900 x214 or 847-432-2040

Tovah Goodman is coming to NSS Beth El after working for two years as an Engagement Associate for Israel Initiatives at the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, recruiting for and organizing Masa Israel programming. Among her primary responsibilities were staffing trips to Israel and planning a curriculum to educate youth about Israel for Birthright and Ta’am Yisrael. She has worked at Jewish summer camp and taught in Conservative congregational religious schools.  Her skills in prayer leadership, song, theater, arts, digital media and photography enhance her talents as a Jewish educator and assist her in connecting with teens and Jewish youth. In addition to her main responsibilities as our Youth Community director and in view of her Conservative background, we hope Tovah will eventually join in the effort to reinvigorate Junior Congregation. During her rigorous on-site interview, she created and led an activity for our Kadimaniks. Complementing her well-rounded experience with a wide-range of age groups and Jewish activities, her enthusiastic, vivacious and dynamic personality won over the search committee and all who met with her that day. Tovah hails from California, has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Strategic Communications and Music Education from the University of Nevada, Reno.  At the Hallelujah Jewish Singing Competition, sponsored by the Israel American Council, she was a semi-finalist to represent the Los Angeles Jewish community as an ambassador for Judaism and music.  She has staffed several trips to Israel for Birthright, Ta’am Ysrael and participated in the Taglit Fellows program.

Rachel Kamin

Rachel Kamin, Gray Cultural and Learning Center Director
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Rachel has served as the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, a national committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries that presents awards to the best Jewish children’s books each year, and frequently gives presentations and workshops about Jewish children’s literature at education and library conferences around the country. She has authored articles for BookLinks, Jewish Book World, and Judaica Librarianship and also writes children’s book reviews for School Library Journal, Jewish Book World, and the Newsletter of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Kamin holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.

Judy Berkeley

Judy Berkeley, Director of Development
847-432-0703 or 847-432-8900 x262

Judy joined the Beth El staff as our new Director of Development, working with staff and volunteer leadership to execute development strategy in supporting annual giving, major gifts, legacy and Capital and Endowment Campaigns – managing all giving related activity at the synagogue.  Judy comes to us with vast Development experience in the Jewish community; including the United Jewish Communities, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, and Am Shalom Synagogue in Glencoe. Judy received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Double Master’s Degree in Jewish Communal Services and Social Work from Hebrew Union College and the University of Southern California. A lifelong Jewish community worker, Judy is committed both personally and professionally to help ensure our congregation and community l’dor vador. She is truly humbled and honored to work at such an incredibly strong, flourishing  and vibrant congregation like NSS Beth El.  Judy grew up in Glencoe, where she now resides with her husband Stephen and four children; Benjamin, Becca, Joseph, and Matty.

Abe Rotbart

Abe Rotbart, Director of Finance
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Abe is a dual American-Israeli citizen. After growing up in Chicago, Abe lived 13 years in Israel and 16 years in New York. A CPA graduate of the University of Illinois, Abe spent 4 years in public accounting, both in Chicago and Tel-Aviv, before entering the private sector. Abe has six years’ not for profit experience in the capacity of Director of Finance, managing accounting departments, and serving as a strategic planning partner to the Boards of the Rockland County NY JCC, Federation and Jewish Family Services as well as the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning based out of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. On the corporate level, Abe has close to 20 years’ experience as a CFO and Controller for industries including Legal Collections, Pharmaceuticals, Textiles, Wholesale Distribution and Third Party Logistics. He is avid supporter of Israel and of Jewish Education. While living in Israel Abe was ordained by the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He has four children and today makes his home with his wife in Skokie.

Abby Lasky

Abby Lasky, Director of Communications

Abby Lasky joined the Beth El team in October of 2017 as our Director of Communications. Abby’s background is in graphic design and digital communications where she has over 30 years of experience. Prior to working at Beth El, Abby handled all of the print and communications for a small private school in Northbrook. Previous to that position, she had her own freelance graphic design business working with clients in B2B and B2C markets as well as working on-site for other agencies. Some of the specialties of the agencies included hospitality, magazine publishing, healthcare, and packaging. Abby received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and also attended University of Wisconsin in Madison. Abby grew up in Farmington Michigan, and now lives in Northbrook with her husband Ed and three children.

Avram Pachter

Avram Pachter, Director of Hospitality
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Certificate in Culinary Arts – Jerusalem Culinary Institute, 2009
Associates in Applied Sciences – Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, 2011

Avram has combined his love of Judaism and his passion for cooking in a variety of settings.  He has interned in kosher kitchens in Jerusalem (Olive Restaurant – now closed – in the German Colony) as well as mid-town Manhattan (Abigael’s On Broadway with James Beard Winner Chef Jeffrey Nathan). Avram has spent many summers in Jewish camping, most recently working as the Head Chef at Olin-Sang Ruby Union Institute in Wisconsin and serving as a Sous Chef/Mashgiach at Ramah Outdoor Adventure in Colorado.  Avram has served as a Youth Advisor for Beth El’s Youth Community and as a regional staff member for CHUSY Region.  He has also taught kosher cooking and provided kosher catering to a variety of settings around the Chicago area.  

Office Staff

Kathy Stinson , Event and Facilities Manager
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Lennie Kay, Executive Assistant to Rabbi Kurtz
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Ana Igornov, Clergy Assistant to Rabbi Schwab and Hazzan Tisser
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Jeff Dreifuss, Accounts Receivable
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Ava Nussbaum, Steinberg Pre-School Assistant
847-432-8900 x213 or 847-432-2830

Anne Loshbough, Religious and Hebrew High School Assistant
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Rayna Forman, Religious and Hebrew High School Cooridinator
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Marcie Eskin, Informal Education Coordinator and Librarian
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Elise Kline, Accounts Payable and Office Assistant
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