Clergy & Staff

Contact Us

Main Office: (202) 363-6394
Religious School: (202) 363-1942
Nursery School (202) 362-3836

Ritual & Director Staff

Jonathan Roos

Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Jonathan Roos is the Senior Rabbi at Temple Sinai, one of the oldest and largest congregations in Washington, D.C. Rabbi Roos was ordained as a rabbi from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2002 with special awards for best sermon delivered, outstanding contributions to women and Judaism and outstanding academic achievement. He loves teaching and works with students of all ages and levels from our Nursery School, where he is considered a “rock star,” through our adults. He is especially committed to building meaningful community by connecting people to Jewish traditions and each other and linking Sinai’s members with Israel.

Rabbi Roos graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with honors in History and received a Master’s degree in American History from the University of Maryland at College Park. He is a member of the CCAR and previously served congregations in Tinton Falls, New Jersey and Albany, New York. He has served on various boards and leadership groups including the Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy, STAR PEER’s second rabbinic cohort, The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County Allocations Committee, the CCAR Responsa Committee and more.

In addition to leading worship services, teaching at all levels, and guiding the staff team of Temple Sinai, Roos is available for individual meetings, pastoral counseling and support with any ritual or Jewish matters.

You can connect with Rabbi Roos via FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Adam Rosenwasser

Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Adam Rosenwasser joined the Temple Sinai team in July 2014 as Associate Rabbi. He was ordained in 2009 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. Adam grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and received a BA in History from the University of Michigan. Before working at Temple Sinai, Rabbi Adam spent five years as Assistant then Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California.

He is passionate about creating meaningful Jewish experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds. Rabbi Adam is married to Shalom Rosenberg. They live in Cleveland Park with their daughter, Eliza, and their dog, Phaedra. In his free time, Rabbi Adam enjoys cooking (and eating), swimming, musical theater, and cheering on his beloved Michigan Wolverines. If you are lucky, he may play his ukulele for you.

Hannah Goldstein

Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Hannah Goldstein has been at Temple Sinai since 2013. She received her rabbinic ordination at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York in 2013. She completed a Masters in Religious Education at HUC-JIR in the spring of 2011. Hannah grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and studied English and Politics as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. She was Co-President of the HUC-JIR Rabbinical School student body and has been engaged in social justice work through her engagement with HUC’s soup kitchen, the American Jewish World Service and the Religious Action Center.

Rabbi Goldstein most recently served as the rabbinic intern at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. She also worked as the rabbinic intern at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons and spent a summer interning at Temple Israel in Boston. Hannah has taught religious school at Congregation Rodeph Sholom and Central Synagogue in New York City. She has also spent many summers as a song leader and unit head at URJ Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Laura Croen

Senior Cantor

Cantor Laura T. Croen is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Master of Music degree from Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York) and Master of Sacred Music Degree and Ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, New York (1988).

Cantor Croen became the Cantor of Temple Sinai in 1994. One of her favorite “Washington experiences” was when she led lighting of the Chanukkah menorah at the White House with a group of Temple Sinai Nursery School students and taught President Bill Clinton how to play dreidel. She has been featured on “The Artistry of the Cantor”, WNPR (Live Radio Concert), performed for two years with Israel Cantorial Mission (Sponsored by the HUC-JIR), and as an artist in “Kol Zimrah” – a concert honoring Roberta Peters (Town Hall-New York). Cantor Croen was a soloist at the Music Center at Strathmore, spring 2005, in the concert entitled “350 Years in Song, A Celebration of Jewish America.” She is also one of the featured Cantors on Dr. Jose Bowen’s two CDs, A Klezmir Shabbat and Jazz Shabbat Service. Cantor Croen currently serves on the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) Ethics Committee and on the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) Commission on Outreach, Membership and Caring Community.

Cantor Croen lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband Mark Erlich. They have two children: Shoshana and Reuben.

Rebecca Robins

Cantor Educator

Cantor Rebecca Robins came to Temple Sinai in 2012. Originally from Long Island, NY, Rebecca holds a BM in Music Education and Vocal Performance from the Crane School of Music, State University of New York College at Potsdam in Potsdam, NY. She began her career in education as a K-8 music teacher at Lyncourt School in Syracuse, NY. There, Cantor Robins served on the Curriculum Advisory Team and both wrote and developed curriculum for the arts and advised on curriculum writing in other areas of study.

A passion for music, teaching, learning and working with people on life’s journey sent Rebecca to cantorial school the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. While at HUC-JIR, Cantor Robins served congregations in Edison, NJ, Katonah, NY and Falls Church, VA. Rebecca was ordained as cantor in 2008. Prior to coming to Temple Sinai, Rebecca served Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI as Cantor-Educator.

Cantor Robins superintends our congregational youth programs including our K-6 grade Temple Sinai Religious School, 7-10th grade Noar program, Mishpacha, our family social group, and our three active youth groups, Sinai Katan (4-6 grade), Noar Social (7-9th grade) and Sinaites (9th-12th grade).

In addition to her work at Temple Sinai, Cantor Robins serves as co-chair of the American Conference of Cantor’s Committee for Continuing Professional Development. She is also a member of the National Association of Temple Educators.

Rebecca and her husband, Zerek Schwartz, live in Takoma, DC.

Robyn Helzner

Cantorial Soloist

Robyn Helzner has lead services at Temple Sinai since 1987. She was appointed Cantorial Soloist in 2005. Robyn served for six years as the Cantor for the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong and officiated at the first bar mitzvah celebrated in Beijing, China. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s renowned theatre program.

A native Washingtonian, Robyn comes from a Temple Sinai family. Her father, Manny, was the temple’s first Director of Education, and her mother, Charlotte, taught first grade in the Religious School. Robyn has been performing Jewish music since she was eight years old.

 

Encouraging participation is a hallmark of Robyn’s cantorial style. She coordinates the temple’s twice monthly lay-led Shabbat morning, Kehillat Shabbat services. In addition to her work at the temple, Robyn performs concerts of World Jewish Music, with the Robyn Helzner Trio, throughout the U.S. and abroad. The moving story of her underground concerts in the Soviet Union, which led to sold-out performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg, was broadcast on the Public Television special, “Chanukah – A Celebration of Freedom.”  

Combining her love of Jewish music, culture, history and travel, Robyn leads Jewish Heritage Tours and has escorted groups to China, Spain and the Balkans. Her next tour will be to Morocco.

Robyn has released five recordings. Hearts Awaken, A Fire Burns, and Signs & Wonders, feature the Robyn Helzner Trio. Clap Your Hands and I Live in the City are beloved by children worldwide. Performance video of the Robyn Helzner Trio and information about Robyn’s musical programs and tours can be viewed at www.helzner.com.

Ellen Agler

Executive Director

Ellen Agler has been serving Temple Sinai as its executive director since 2008. Ellen’s previous professional experiences include running facilities and programs for Jewish and healthcare organizations meeting the needs of seniors in the Washington area. Ellen attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and returned there to pursue a master’s degree from the School of Public Health. As executive director, Ellen has responsibility for the temple’s administrative activities ranging from financial matters to staffing, coordinating logistics for the busy congregation, and taking care of the temple building. Professional activities where Ellen makes an impact include serving as a board member of the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) where she is credentialed as a Fellow in Temple Administration (FTA), and as President of the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA), a regional organization that brings together non-profits to save money and strengthen the community. Ellen lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband Jeff and son Adam.

Perri Iger-Silversmith

Nursery School Director

Perri Iger-Silversmith has worked in public schools and in private nursery school settings for over 30 years. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College, where she received her BA in Special Education. Perri earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. In 1991, Perri was hired to consult on the development of an early childhood program for our Temple community, after many years of teaching in public and private Judaic settings. Perri has served on the board of the NCRC and is a member of NAEYC, CEC DC, and PJLL Directors’ Exchange. She became the founding Director of Temple Sinai Nursery School, which was established in 1992. Perri surrounds the school with teachers who are aligned with the belief in experiential relationship-based learning and the importance of social emotional development in early years. TSNS is anchored in the belief that strong social emotional foundations best prepare children for life learning. TSNS has achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) four times, most recently in July 2012 – a rigorous, voluntary process by which early childhood programs demonstrate that they meet national standards of excellence. TSNS has gone through a similar accreditation process through the Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning called the “Community Program in Jewish Education for Early Childhood Centers.” Under her leadership, TSNS has garnered a reputation for excellence in early childhood education.

Fred N. Reiner

Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Fred N. Reiner served as senior rabbi from 1985 through June 2010. During his tenure the congregation doubled in size to nearly 1200 households, added a nursery school, expanded its religious school, enlarged its building, and enriched the ritual, educational, and programmatic offerings.

Rabbi Reiner served as president of the Washington Board of Rabbis (2000-02) and as president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). He served on the Board of Trustees of the national CCAR and on the Washington Advisory Council of Avodah. He has served on the faculty of the Howard University Divinity School under the sponsorship of the Jewish Chautauqua Society.

Since retiring, Rabbi Reiner has served Reform/Progressive congregations in Milan and Florence, Italy (September, 2010-January, 2011) and teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary. A volume of his sermons and writings, Standing at Sinai, was published in 2011. He has provided leadership nationally and in the Washington area on issues such as reproductive rights, church-state separation, housing, D.C. voting rights, and aging concerns. He has published articles in the British Library Journal, Masoretic Studies, Biblical Archaeology Review, Moment, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Rabbi Reiner was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California-Berkeley, where he was a campus leader following the Free Speech Movement. In 1973, he was ordained and received a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 1973.

Rabbi Emerita

Mindy Portnoy

Rabbi Emerita

Mindy Avra Portnoy, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, was ordained a Rabbi in June 1980 by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. She is a 1973 graduate of Yale University, a member of the first class of women, and holds a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew literature from HUC-JIR. She also spent a year as a graduate fellow in comparative religion at The Dropsie University in Philadelphia.

Rabbi Portnoy has done additional graduate work at The Catholic University, and has taught in the Jewish Studies and Religion Departments at The American University and the Theology Department at Trinity College. From 1980-1985, she was a Hillel Director at American University. Since 1985, she has served as a Rabbi at Temple Sinai, and she is now Rabbi Emerita.

Rabbi Portnoy is the author of five children’s books, including the ground-breaking IMA ON THE BIMA (MY MOMMY IS A RABBI) in 1986, and most recently, A TALE OF TWO SEDERS (2010). Her sermons and essays have been widely published.

Rabbi Portnoy is the former national co-coordinator of the Womens Rabbinic Network, and currently its representative to the Jewish Disability Network. She is also a member of the Board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. Rabbi Portnoy was honored for her professional achievements by the American Jewish Congress (1993-Golda Meir award) and by AVODAH: the Jewish service corps (2013-Partner in Justice Award).

She and her husband, Philip Breen, have two adult children, Ceala and Barney.

Rabbi Portnoy is currently on the Board of Directors of the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington).

Other Staff

Member Relations

Karen Auerbach

Member Relations & SinaiCares
Exec. Assistant to Rabbis Roos

Michelle Becker

Exec. Assistant to Rabbis Roos & Rosenwasser
Development Coordinator

Noah Benjamin

Development Coordinator
Accounting Assistant

Robin Berry

Accounting Assistant
Facilities Manager

Diego Enriquez

Facilities Manager
Religious School Teacher

Liza Fishman

Religious School Teacher & Program Administrator
Nursery School Assistant Director

Ali Hurewitz

Nursery School Assistant Director
Ritual Assistant to Rabbi Goldstein

Rachel Hynes

Ritual Assistant to Rabbi Goldstein & Cantor Croen
Nursery School Assistant

Gayle Moseley

Nursery School Assistant
Communications

Helena Peter

Communications & Programs Coordinator
Librarian

Ruth Polk

Librarian
Senior Assistant to the Executive Director

Laura Rose

Senior Assistant to the Executive Director
Religious School Office Manager

Reco Thomas

Religious School Office Manager
Accompanist

Neil Weston

Accompanist
Youth Engagement Specialist

Kelly Whitehead

Youth Engagement Specialist
Religious School Associate Educator

Diane Zimmerman

Religious School Associate Educator

Staff photos by Judy Licht Photography