North Suburban Synagogue Beth El


Hazzan Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett has been a professional Jewish educator for more than 20 years. A member of the Cantors Assembly, Barbara received her commission as Hazzan-Minister from the Cantors Assembly in 2018. She holds a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Political Science, and is an award-winning novelist, writer, and public speaker. She has published works on a wide variety of topics, from pop culture to spirituality. She has studied Hebrew and Judaic studies through the University of Wisconsin and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Dr. Robert Bernat

Dr. Bernat is a physician at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. He has degrees from The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Harvard Law School, Oxford University, and Princeton University.

Lori Feldstein

Lori graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary and has been involved in formal/informal Jewish Education for more than 25 years. Lori was the founding director of the Jewish Youth Connection at KJ, a Jewish learning experience for families in Manhattan. She made Aliyah in 2004 and created a Jewish traveling summer camp for children in Gush Etzion. Lori lives in Efrat with her husband, Jonathan and their 6 children and loves hiking, spinning, cooking and sharing her passion about Judaism and Israel with others.

Silvi Freedson

Silvi is currently the principal of Beivrit: Conversational Hebrew Made Easy, a private multi-level language program that focuses in Conversational Hebrew. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Haifa, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, to earn her MBA from the business school of Herriot Watt University. In 2003, she settled in Chicago. The mother of a 14-year-old son, Silvi is also an active member of the Board of the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema.

Tovah Goodman, Youth Community Director

Tovah Goodman came to NSS Beth El after working for the last two years as an Engagement Associate for Israel Initiatives at the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, recruiting for and organizing Masa Israel programming. She has also worked at Jewish summer camp and taught in Conservative congregational religious schools. Tovah hails from California, has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Strategic Communications and Music Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has staffed several trips to Israel for Birthright, Ta’am Ysrael and participated in the Taglit Fellows program.

Chuck Kahalnik

Chuck has a BA in Political Science & Education from Northeastern Illinois University, and a State of Illinois Teacher’s Certificate. He has been serving the Jewish community of Chicago for over 30 years, primarily in formal and informal Jewish education. Chuck has taught at BethEl for the past 10 years, and was the Executive Director of the synagogue from 2007-2016.

Rachel Kamin, Library Director

Rachel Kamin, the Director of the Beth El’s Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural and Learning Center, has also worked as the Preschool Liaison Librarian at the Des Plaines Public Library and as the Director of the Libraries & Media Center at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan. She holds a B.A. in History from Grinnell College and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Michigan.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz is the Rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. He received his B.A. from York University, his M.A. and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary. He also received a Doctor of Divinity degree (Honoris Causa) from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is president of the American Zionist Movement.

Rabbi Michael Schwab

Rabbi Michael Schwab is completing his 13th year at NSS Beth El. He received his BA from Rutgers University, where he majored in History and Jewish Studies, and he received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in May, 2004. In addition, Rabbi Schwab received an MA in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Education.

Hazzan Benjamin Tisser

Cantor Benjamin Tisser has taught Judaic Music for many years in Jewish Day Schools. A graduate of the American Jewish University with degrees in Hebrew Literature and Middle Eastern Political Science, he recently completed his Masters of Sacred Music and Cantorial Ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.