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CBH Staff

 

Rabbi Joshua Lesser leads Congregation Bet Haverim as a place dedicated to celebrating all aspects of Jewish life and creating an accessible and engaging spiritual home. Together he and the members of CBH have fostered a warm environment balancing the needs of a diverse community. Rabbi Josh is dedicated to contributing to the Jewish community and the city of Atlanta in positive ways. 

With an eye for innovation and encouraging new leaders, Rabbi Josh has been instrumental in illuminating the skills and talents of the CBH community. As a catalyst, he supports the creativity, ingenuity and enterprising spirit of members as they engage in synagogue life. His collaborative leadership has helped cultivate CBH’s flourishing music program, the CBH Community School, the Eli/Rose Adult Program Fund, a teen book group and the b’nai mitzvah process, along with numerous creative rituals and services. He breathes new life into Jewish tradition. His adventurous spirit has propelled him to found new programs like the Rainbow Center, a Jewish communal response to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.


Rabbi Pamela Jay Gottfried is the rabbinic face of Your Jewish Bridge, providing access to Jewish lifecycle, pastoral and spiritual support to the unaffiliated in Metro Atlanta. She believes the essential meaning of rabbi is “my teacher” and strives in her rabbinate to help individuals reach their potential; she is known affectionately by many of her students as Rabbi G. 

Since her rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Rabbi Gottfried has taught students of all ages in churches, colleges, community centers, mosques, retreat centers, schools, summer camps, and synagogues. She has been involved in the interfaith community in Atlanta for twenty years, and is a certified speaker of the Interfaith Speakers Network, which promotes dialogue and understanding among people of different faith traditions. Committed to social justice, Rabbi Gottfried is an activist and volunteer with SOJOURN, Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, Faith in Public Life and the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta. As an artist, Rabbi G often incorporates creative expression and message-driven art in her teaching. She is a ceramicist and member of the American Guild of Judaic Art. 

Rabbi Gottfried is a strong proponent of pluralism and an active participant in Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. She is a member of Clal’s Rabbis Without Borders network of rabbis, which spans denominations and strives to share Jewish wisdom in innovative and pluralistic ways, and she is a regular contributor to their blog. She was also a Clal LEAP fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2018-2019). She anticipates being welcomed as a member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association at their annual convention in March, 2020. 

Rabbi Gottfried is the author of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom.  An inveterate Scrabble player and New York Times Crossword Puzzle fanatic, she credits her love of words to her parents, who encouraged her to develop her vocabulary through reading and using the dictionary at an early age. She is currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction that includes stories and poems about her 25+ years as a parent and rabbi.

Rabbi G and her spouse, David, are parents to a teenage son and two adult daughters. Her favorite children are two canine companions, who prefer taking her for walks before sunrise around their neighborhood in Sandy Springs. 


Amy Robertson, Executive Director, divides her attention between the forest and the trees, ensuring that both the daily operations and the longer term vision for our community are executed carefully and according to the values of our community. One the one hand, she works closely with the board to oversee our finances, manages the staff and office needs, supports our lay leadership and volunteers, assist the Board in determining issues of governance, and tries to be sure that the broader community knows about the important work our community does. On the other hand, she works with Rabbi Josh and the board to continually renew and revitalize our community’s vision for our future and our strategy for getting there. 

Amy’s professional background straddles education, administration, and community building. During her lengthy career as a student, she worked as a Director in the Office of Student Life at both Rice University and Harvard Divinity School, where she was tasked with bringing together a multitude of departments and personalities to create welcoming, coherent, informative, and well-executed orientation programs for hundreds of incoming students. While finishing her dissertation at Emory, she began working as Director of Education here at Bet Haverim, which, at that time, had a relatively small school of about 80 students. During her four years as education director, she developed administrative and curricular systems that enabled continued growth while also bringing a culture of increased collaboration to the school, and worked to bring CBH’s values – and warmth – to the most minute details of school operations. Under her leadership, K-7 school enrollment grew by 40%. As Executive Director, Amy strives to do much the same thing for the wider CBH community. 

Amy earned her B.A. from Rice University, a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Religion (Tanakh) from Emory University. She loves learning, problem solving, value-based decision making, and community building – and as a context for all of these things, Judaism. She grew up in an interfaith family on Long Island, and now makes a musical, chaotic, philosophical, and joyful home with her partner Will, who is the choir director here at CBH, and their two children, Levi and Noa. She does her best to make time for reading, music, exercise, and, perhaps most importantly, gazing off into the woods behind her house.


Gayanne Geurin, Music Director, is honored to lead prayer, chant, and music at Congregation Bet Haverim for many years. As Music Director, she guides the artistic integration of music programming in congregational life. Since co-founding the Chorus in 2000, she has worked collaboratively with congregants, Rabbi Josh, and Will Robertson to foster an organic, dynamic, and innovative approach to music in liturgy.

Gayanne is a fellow with Hadar’s Rising Song Institute led by Joey Weisenberg. The first of its kind, this musical incubator is a cohort of selected musicians, composers, and prayer leaders whose aim is to “model and articulate a paradigm for twenty-first-century musical-spiritual leaders.”

Gayanne is also a singer who has done extensive work with one-of-a-kind improvisational performer and teacher, Rhiannon. Gayanne’s most profound musical learning was singing under Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for three years.  She enjoyed returning to Symphony Hall in November 2018 with a select ensemble that sang with Bobby McFerrin and Rhiannon.  

Gayanne holds a master's degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a master's in clinical social work. She was a psychotherapist for 27 years.  Now, when not working at CBH Gayanne offers vocal coaching and workshops. Gayanne is the mother of two adult children, is a brand new grandparent of identical twin boys, and can’t wait to teach them to swim where she lives in Pine Lake.

Gayanne will be releasing her first solo album in 2020 inspired by Trees and Torah.


Will Robertson, Chorus Director and Bandleader, 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 music production at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been the producer of all of CBH's albums to date. 

As an instrumentalist, Will has worked or performed with Grammy-winning and -nominated musicians such as John Mayer, Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band), Shawn Mullins and Pat Sansone (Wilco). Will has also produced/engineered, performed with and arranged for artists such as Rebecca Loebe (featured on the debut season of NBC’s “The Voice”), David Berkeley, Arlington Priest, The Brilliant Inventions and Eliot Bronson. Will’s work has been featured on TV and radio worldwide. 

Will, his wife Amy and their two children are actively involved members of CBH. 

"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 is directly attributable to the culture of the congregation; incredible leadership from Rabbi Josh and Gayanne; 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."


Kate (Adina) Hennessey, Education Manager has been working in Jewish education settings professionally for 8+ years. She has worked with a diversity of denominations (from Orthodox to Interfaith) and with a broad spectrum of age groups (from infant to middle school). She has worked at many Jewish schools and organizations around Atlanta.  

Kate has worked as a Jewish education teacher, camp counselor, curriculum writer and consultant, and preschool administrator. She is passionate about teaching traditional Jewish and Hebrew topics in fresh experiential and sensory ways that help reach and engage children of all learning types and backgrounds. Kate believes in instilling a love of learning in children and that no child should feel bored about their Jewish education!

Kate is trained in the Hebrew Through Movement program. She also created a children’s Middot Yoga program, which she led weekly with Jewish preschoolers.  

Though her spare time is limited as a working single mother and student, Kate enjoys art, yoga, mussar, Ted Talks and Netflix originals, exploring new places around Atlanta, and spending time with the people she loves. 


Hailey Monette, Event Managercomes to us with an extensive creative background. She graduated with a BFA in Interior Design but after college decided to go into event planning and has experience with all types of events from weddings to group trips and everything in between. For the last few years she has owned a bakery and was a cake artist, but after recently selling her business she decided that she missed event planning and is happy to jump right back in at CBH! She resides with her amazing husband and daughter as well as her two pups. Her daughter is in High School, loves participating in Drama and with the help of her Girl Scout leader mom is working on her Gold Award. Hailey’s passions include planning parties, the arts, volunteering and traveling.


Laurie Slack, Communications Manager, enjoys making things. She studied visual art at Carnegie Mellon University, went on to design costumes for various theaters around Atlanta, moved into the Jewish non-profit world here in Atlanta and then served as Jewish Programs Director at the Katie & Irwin Kahn JCC in Columbia, SC for six years.  After her return to Atlanta, Laurie found her way back to CBH and now handles the website, flyers, Facebook, eblasts, and other communication projects for the synagogue. She has a wonderful husband, Andy, and a delightful daughter, Orli.

She is a fellow of the Jewish Outreach Institute and a PJ Library Song Leader Bootcamp participant.

Laurie also teaches art at Jewish summer camp, teaches Hebrew school and leads an all-Jewish Girl Scout troop.  Never one to keep still for too long, she also freelances as a professional face painter.  In her free time, Laurie likes to cook, swim, ride her bicycle around Decatur, read books, play ukulele, putter in the garden and create her own artworks.
 


Agatha Walker, Rabbi's Assistant, has many years of experience as an administrative assistant and enjoys the variety of tasks that the job has to offer. 

Agatha is a graduate of Emory University and a native of Atlanta. She is a devoted mother to a wonderful daughter. Agatha loves reading, knitting, eating ice cream and pizza, hiking and spending time with friends and family.

 

 

 

 


Julie Lakric, AdministratorJulie Lakric, Office Administrator, is originally from Milwaukee, WI. Her background is as a Certified Preschool Teacher and she has always loved working with children. Julie has three human children, two daughters and a son and a “fur baby”, her dog Babbs.

Julie loves movies; she and her children will often quote lines from movies for any situation. She loves the theater and has passed this passion down to her children. In fact, many hours have been logged driving her daughters to rehearsals, practicing lines, and enjoying performances. Her son started to film the performances and this quickly developed into a business, which grew into filming shows for local schools. Today he has mastered his entrepreneur skills and grown his business into having full web development, marketing and social media offerings.

A few more fun facts about Julie…she loves Italian food and could eat pasta every day! She loves dogs and is passionate about rescues (Babbs is a rescue). Her favorite sport is football and her favorite team is the Green Bay Packers, she’s a very loyal Cheesehead! But is there any other kind?


 

 

Tue, October 22 2019 23 Tishrei 5780