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CBH Rabbi and Staff

 

Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum (he/him) is thrilled to join Bet Haverim as Chief Haver.  Ordained at the pluralistic Academy of Jewish Religion in New York (AJR-NY) in 2006, he graduated from the New College of Florida in 1997 with a BA in Public Policy/Economics.
Rabbi Mike was raised in Rockland County, New York just north of New York City. As a teenager, Rabbi Mike became involved in in the local NAACP and helped start his high school’s first Amnesty International chapter.  In retrospect, he has identified the Jewish imperative of r’difat tzedek – the command to pursue of justice – as the force that solidified his love of Judaism and his passion to become a rabbi.

After ordination, Rabbi Mike served students at Sarah Lawrence College and Purchase College as Campus Rabbi. He has worked in Jewish communities in New York, the Bay Area, and the Boston area for over 25 years, as youth director, rabbi/educator, and pulpit rabbi, as well as serving as Co-Chair of the Bay Area Regional Council of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.

Rabbi Mike has spoken and taught widely, addressing groups as varied as Moishe House, Jewish Community Relations Council, and "Nuns on the Bus." He has appeared in front of audiences at the US Senate and House of Representatives, Oakland City Council, and the New York State Democratic Party. In 2012 he joined a rabbinic delegation to Ghana, sponsored by American Jewish World Service, and was named a Global Justice Fellow by AJWS in 2018.  His writing has been featured in Forward, Tikkun, Sojourners, Alma, Ha'aretz, and the anthology, Peace, Justice, and Jews: Reclaiming Our Tradition.

A proud alumnus of Seminary Summer, a joint project of the AFL-CIO and Interfaith Worker Justice, bringing labor organizers together with clergy, Rabbi Mike was also honored as the Gary David Kibblewhite lecturer at the Loft Community Services Center in White Plains, NY, as well as a speaker at the International Perspectives Forum in Westport, CT and the Paul Robeson Community Center at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.  Rabbi Mike’s religious-based activism has been covered in several media outlets, including CNN, WABC-TV, and i24 Israeli television.

Devoted to creating and nurturing vibrant learning communities, teaching Torah that touches heart, mind, and soul, and continuing the Jewish mission he discovered as a teenager of pursuing justice, Rabbi Mike is a passionate advocate for the idea that every moment is an opportunity to make a Jewish choice.

Rabbi Mike lives in the Summerhill section of Atlanta with his husband, internationally-acclaimed Yiddish vocalist Anthony Mordechai Tvzi Russell, who kindly tolerates his passion for fair-trade coffee, Bob Dylan, and manual transmission.

rabbimike@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 4 | Contact Cara to make an appointment


Hailey Monette, Executive Director, (she/her) comes to us with an extensive background in owning several successful businesses. She has worked at CBH for the last 4 years and has served as Event Manager and Program Director and most recently, has worked closely with the new and interim Rabbis at CBH.  She is excited to take on the role as Executive Director, utilizing her strong organizational and management skills. She currently resides in Woodstock with her amazing husband and son who is studying psychology at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, along with their three pups. Hailey’s passions include planning parties, the arts, volunteering, and traveling.

execdirector@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 5


Rebekka Goldsmith, Music Director, (she/her) believes in the power of the collective voice and regularly bears witness to the transformation and healing that can happen when people sing together. Trained as a singer, group facilitator, professional coach, and ritual leader, Rebekka has spent over 15 years guiding individuals and groups in explorations of voice, creativity, spirituality, and social justice. She has worked in public, nonprofit, education and religious sectors designing and facilitating experiential and sound-based programs that support people to learn about themselves, deepen their relationships with others, and take action on the issues they care about.  

Rebekka has been a prayer leader and soloist in many progressive Jewish communities, including Lab/Shul in New York City, where she was a regular ritual team member for High Holidays and Kabbalat Shabbat.  Rebekka was the vocal arts consultant for Hadar’s Rising Song Institute and is an alumnus of their music residency program. She collaborates with many of today’s Jewish music artists and has recorded an album of her own called, Seeding the Tree, exploring themes of nature, mysticism, ancestry, and the feminine in Judaism. Rebekka holds a theater degree from Rutgers University, and certifications in vocal improvisation, life coaching, and voice.

“As a longtime student of sound improvisation, I have learned to approach my art, my work, and my life with curiosity, imagination, and deep appreciation of the mystery. Sacred listening is at the core of everything I do: listening to our bodies, our hearts, to each other, to the wisdom within the natural world, and to the Creative Life Force that connects us all. I believe that collective singing and embodied sound practices are essential tools for building vibrant Jewish community—for those already involved in Jewish life and those who have felt disconnected from it. I am honored to be a part of the CBH community to continue building on the rich legacy of music as an ever-expanding spiritual tool.”

musicdirector@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 


Will Robertson, Chorus Director and Bandleader, (he/him) is the composer or arranger of much of the synagogue's repertoire.  Will studied classical double bass, composition and choral conducting at Rice University in Houston and the Kodaly Pedagogical Institute in Hungary, and studied music production at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been the producer of all of CBH's albums to date. 

"The thing I have found most compelling about working with the musicians of CBH is their thirst for fusing all sorts of different sounds in interesting ways," Will says. "We somehow manage to successfully navigate a number of different stylistic roads, merging many varied traditions (Jewish and otherwise) with popular song, world music, ancient chant and all sorts of sounds you'd never expect to hear in a synagogue. I think this musical audacity comes from a unique combination of things: the culture of the congregation; strong and open leadership; a group of singers and instrumentalists with the focus, energy, dedication and desire to work to create something really unique; and, not least, the interpretive spirit of Reconstructionist Judaism. It's an honor and an incredible pleasure to be a part of this group."

Beyond his work at CBH, Will is a sought-after music producer, Grammy-nominated mix engineer, and talented multi-instrumentalist with over two decades of experience in the music industry.  He has produced/engineered, performed with, or arranged music for a variety of artists, including David Berkeley, Rebecca Loebe, Eliot Bronson, Ruthie Foster, John Mayer, Lori McKenna, and members of Wilco and the Zac Brown Band.   www.willrobertson.com

wrobertson@cbhatlanta.org 


Cantor Jennifer Duretz Peled, Education Director, (she/her) has been described as creative, passionate and uplifting and as an emotionally moving bringer of ruach (spirit). She has been blessed to work as a synagogue cantor and educational director for over a decade but has been leading spiritual experiences and creating memorable, Jewish moments for much longer. She has extensive experience working with summer camps, preschools, youth groups and adult educational programs. Cantor Jenn says, “The work I do is incredibly rewarding because people allow me into their lives in such personal and meaningful ways. I find holiness in these moments and hope that those with whom I connect do as well.” She is a big believer that “Judaism should be joyful and full of creative energy.”  

Cantor Jenn received her BA from the University of West Florida’s School of Music with a degree in vocal performance. Her post-graduate studies brought her to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she was the recipient of the Emma Lou Young Vocal Award for Opera Performance. She also studied at the University of Haifa in Israel where she focused on Hebrew language and Bible as Literature. She received her MA in Jewish Music and Cantorial Studies from Gratz College and Cantorial S'micha from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Cantor Jenn is a member of the American Conference of Cantors and the Reconstructionist Educators of North America.

She and her husband, Rabbi Matan Peled, met through Taglit-Birthright Israel and URJ Camp Coleman. They spent the last two years living in beautiful and complex Israel with their energetic twins, Shai and Noam, who look forward to joining the CBH Community School. 

education@cbhatlanta.org  | Ext. 6


Cara Levine-Brenner, (they/them), Clergy Assistant,  (they/them) recently returned to Atlanta after 20+ years up North, where they earned a handful of degrees and studied with Rabbi Yael Romer. Cara is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and experienced educator, including 12 years in university classrooms and four years in Jewish Education. Cara is passionate about queer sci-fi, puzzles, disability justice, Atlanta Roller Derby, their clan of niblings, and endlessly exploring the breathtaking world of Talmud and Jewish literature/culture. They live with their amazing wife Farrell Brenner and their gifted cats, Jean-Claude and Junipero.

clergyassistant@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 7


Anquenetta Kenon, Office Administrator | (she/her) Anquenetta is a Greater Atlanta native and finds new reasons to love the city each day. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art at Oglethorpe University. Shortly afterward, she completed her Master’s degree in Social Work at Georgia State University. After working for several years as a private school administrator and gaining additional experience at local nonprofits, she utilizes her knowledge base and skills in this avenue to serve the city of Atlanta. At Congregation Bet Haverim, Anquenetta works to provide support and organization to promote impact and success.

Outside of work, Anquenetta enjoys going for long walks, reading, arts and crafts, and spending time with treasured friends and family.

admin@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 2


Abbie Garcia, Engagement & Programming Associate | (she/they) Abbie, originally from Florida, has lived in Korea for the past 4 years, and is excited to join the CBH team! They graduated from Florida State University with two bachelors, one in Media Production and the other in Theatre. After graduating, Abbie has committed their life in Korea to educating youth on intercultural awareness, community engagement for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as creating content reflecting on ex-pat experiences in Korea. They have produced Twitch live streams, podcasts, as well as YouTube videos centered around social issues. They are thrilled to bring their skills to CBH and help promote a strong and inclusive community.  Abbie is looking forward to getting to know Atlanta and the members of CBH. When Abbie isn't camping or doing something outdoors, they like to practice yoga, play the ukulele, and make Spotify playlists.

engagement@cbhatlanta.org | Ext. 3


Laurie S., Communications Manager 

communications@cbhatlanta.org


 

Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Rabbi Emeritus | (he/him) Rabbi Josh is a committed leader for justice and mutual understanding and his work has breathed new life into Jewish tradition. He recently transitioned from Congregation Bet Haverim’s Senior Rabbi to Rabbi Emeritus after 22 years of service. As a catalyst, he supported the creativity, ingenuity, and enterprising spirit of members in their engagement in synagogue life. 

He also founded the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, cofounded the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, serving as its first Jewish president, and chaired the City of Atlanta’s Human Relations Commission. He sits on the Mayor of Atlanta’s Task Force for LGBT Concerns and was recently awarded the Phoenix Award, Atlanta’s top honor given to its citizens, for his unwavering service to the city. He was the editor of the groundbreaking LGBTQ Torah commentary, Torah Queeries, and was recognized as one of The 36 Most Inspiring Rabbis by the Forward and one of The 100 Most Influential LGBTQ Clergy by the Huffington Post

Most recently, he co-founded Bridges Faith Initiative, a nonprofit mobilizing the faith community to support just immigration policy and civilian security. He serves as an adjunct professor of Judaism at Agnes Scott College and as a consultant on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. A trained spiritual director, Josh currently works with The OnBeing Project and their Social Healing Fellowship as the Spiritual Director to the fellows and as a spiritual director for Hebrew Union College serving their rabbinical students. He is part of the inaugural Mid-career Rabbinic innovation fellowship at the Center for Rabbinic Innovation.

Josh’s work continues to elevate timely conversations that help communities engage in healing and justice. To respond to the challenges that faith and spiritual leaders have encountered during the pandemic and political disruption, he created two international online forums for clergy to brainstorm, share resources, and offer mutual support. Josh’s leadership experience and focus on social healing help his clients and communities advance their missions, cultivate connection and deepen communal joy.

emeritus@cbhatlanta.org 

 

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784