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 has served as Senior Rabbi at Temple Sinai since 2010.  Jonathan is most enthusiastic about teaching Judaism to Temple Sinai members at every age and every stage of their lives. Each year he offers an adult education class focused on traditional Jewish sources.  He also teaches the 10th grade confirmation class. Jonathan is the leader of the Temple staff team and loves the opportunity to work with an amazing set of clergy who do great things individually and as a group.  Jonathan is committed to Jewish social justice work at Temple Sinai and in the wider community where he focuses particularly on issues of immigration and refugee rights. 

Jonathan 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 graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a Masters degree in American History from the University of Maryland at College Park.  He is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and previously served congregations in Tinton Falls, New Jersey and Albany, New York. Jonathan’s love for Judaism and Jewish community is founded on his family’s deep involvement in his childhood temple (Beth Am of Randolph, Mass.), great experiences in his USY youth group, and many amazing summers at Camp Bauercrest in Amesbury, Mass.

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 Facebook and LinkedIn.

Hannah Goldstein

Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Hannah Goldstein has been at Temple Sinai since 2013. She loves teaching learners of all ages from nursery school through 7th grade b’nei mitzvah preparation to 9th grade pre-confirmation students. She coordinates Temple Sinai’s adult education program which includes everything from book discussions to weekday mini-courses, adult Hebrew, adult b’nei mitzvah, and travel opportunities in the DC area. Hannah is also active in Temple Sinai’s social justice work, mobilizing congregants for major marches, supporting the Green Team, and participating in the Washington Interfaith Network. Most recently she has been working with the Multiracial Sinai Working Group to ensure that Temple Sinai is a welcoming and inclusive community for all members and to work toward racial justice and equity in the temple and in the larger community. She is also currently serving in her first term as a member of the Mayor’s Interfaith Council.

Hannah 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. 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.

Hannah grew up in Andover, Massachusetts and studied English and Politics as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. Before coming to Temple Sinai she 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 taught religious school at Congregation Rodeph Sholom and Central Synagogue in New York City. She has spent many summers as a song leader and unit head at URJ Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Noah Diamondstein

Assistant Rabbi

Rabbi Noah Diamondstein joined the Temple Sinai clergy team in the summer of 2020, having been freshly ordained from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. He has had wide ranging experiences as a scholar of Judaism—from handling primary source documents from early 20th Century rabbis who wrote about the Mourners’ Kaddish, to teaching the leadership of Jerusalem’s Women of the Wall movement to blow shofar, to serving as a rabbinic intern at a Jewish Social Justice non-profit organization. His rabbinic thesis is entitled “A Tale of Two Liturgies: Placing Liturgical Development in the Reform and Conservative Movements in Conversation,” and focused on the differences and similarities between the ways these two Liberal Jewish movements approach the work of creating new prayer books.

This project was meaningful for him, given that he was raised simultaneously in both the Conservative and Reform Movements. Noah was brought up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he was bar mitzvah-ed at the Conservative synagogue. Alongside this experience, he attended URJ Camp Harlam, eventually serving on the staff and leading the Jewish Life department as Head Songleader over two non-consecutive summers. His experience at camp was one of the chief shapers of his Reform Jewish identity. As a result of these dual, and often dueling, identities, Noah spends much of his intellectual energy on navigating what it means to do Reform Judaism using the model of “Choice-Through-Knowledge.”

Noah is also a published Jewish musician! His first album, entitled “Ashira L’Adonai,” was released in January of 2019 and produced by none other than Dan Nichols! He was featured as an Emerging Artist on Jewish Rock Radio, and spent much of his final year before coming to Temple Sinai as a guest service leader or artist-in-residence in Jewish communities across the country. His musical work has helped him to fine-tune his skills as a service leader, and has taught him the power of leaving your ego at the door for the sake of holding space for the group. You can find his music on Spotify, Youtube, or on his website: noahdiamondstein.com. On that website, in addition to his music, you can also read about Noah’s approach to the rabbinate and to Judaism, and where he stands on various topics relevant to today’s Jewish community, from intermarriage to Israel to God and commandedness.

Laura Croen

Senior Cantor

Cantor Laura T. Croen has served as senior cantor at Temple Sinai since 1994. She leads the Adult and Youth choirs, oversees the B’nei Mitzvah program, participates in lifecycle events and oversees all the music at the temple.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Laura 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 the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, New York (1988). From 1988-1994 She served as the first woman cantor at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles.

Laura has been featured at numerous national and international musical events.  She appeared on “The Artistry of the Cantor,” WNPR (Live Radio Concert) and performed as a solo artist in “Kol Zimrah” – a concert honoring Roberta Peters (Town Hall-New York).  Laura has appeared as soloist at the Music Center at Strathmore multiple times and she is one of the featured Cantors on Dr. Jose Bowen’s two CDs, A” Klezmir Shabbat” and “Jazz Shabbat Service.” She has been a longtime member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) Ethics Committee. One of her favorite “Washington experiences” was when she led the lighting of the Chanukah menorah at the White House with a group of Temple Sinai Nursery School students and taught the President, Bill Clinton, how to play dreidel.

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

Rebecca Robins

Cantor Educator

Cantor Rebecca Robins is Director of Temple Sinai’s religious school and superintends the congregational youth educational programs. She is especially passionate about making sure our children, teens, their families and our teachers feel a sense of significance and belonging at Temple Sinai. Rebecca can also be found leading Tot Shabbat services, Family Shabbat services, and other and other worship services here at Sinai.

Rebecca (also known as “CR”) came to Temple Sinai in 2012. A passion for music, teaching, learning and working with people on life’s journey sent her to cantorial school the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where she was ordained as cantor in 2008. While at HUC-JIR, Cantor Robins served congregations in Edison, NJ, Katonah, NY and Falls Church, VA. After being ordained she served Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI as Cantor-Educator.

Originally from Long Island, NY, CR 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. CR is a member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), and the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE), and serves as chairperson of the DMV’s Reform Synagogue Musicians professional group. She lives with her husband Zerek (a member of MMC, Sinai’s band), and their son Gus in Rockville, Maryland. When not at Sinai, they can be found exploring, doing projects, baking cupcakes, and having as much fun as possible.

Robyn Helzner

Cantorial Soloist

Robyn Helzner has been Temple Sinai’s Cantorial Soloist since 2005 but she has been leading services here since 1987. Encouraging participation is a hallmark of Robyn’s cantorial style. She coordinates the temple’s twice monthly lay-led Shabbat morning, Kehillat Shabbat services.

Robyn is a graduate of Northwestern University’s renowned theatre program. She 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. In addition to her work at Temple Sinai, she leads the Robyn Helzner Trio, performing concerts of World Jewish Music 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.”  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.

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. 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.

Ellen Agler

Executive Director

Ellen Agler is Temple Sinai’s Executive Director.  She came to Temple Sinai in 2008 after running facilities and programs for Jewish and healthcare organizations serving the needs of seniors in the Washington area. 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.  Ellen makes an impact beyond Temple Sinai by serving as a board member of the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) where she is credentialed as a Fellow in Temple Administration (FTA).  She is also President of the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA), a regional organization that brings together non-profits to save money and strengthen the community. Ellen attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and returned there to pursue a master’s degree from the School of Public Health. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband Jeff and son Adam.

Ali Hurewitz

Acting Nursery School Director

Ali Hurewitz has been a member of Temple Sinai for nearly 25 years, and part of the Temple Sinai Nursery School community for over 18 years, joining the program as a parent and eventually becoming credentialed as a teacher. After teaching at TSNS for six years, she left the classroom to work closely with school leadership on special projects and teacher support, while also working as a mentor for early childhood teaching fellows through the Center for Inspired Teaching. Ali, who graduated with a degree in English from Haverford College, is also a former labor and employment attorney who earned her J.D. cum laude from The Georgetown University Law Center. She then returned to school to earn her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Leadership from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York City, and wrote her thesis on the role of documentation in supporting children’s learning, educator growth, and community engagement through the Reggio Emilia Approach.

Actively involved in guiding the school through its most recent National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation process, Ali believes in the importance of staying abreast of and meeting the highest standards of excellence for early childhood practice; she attends annual NAEYC Conferences and varied conference programming on topics of interest around the country and online, and presented with TSNS colleagues at the NAEYC Conference in 2013. Ali has also participated in numerous Reggio Emilia symposia as well as a Study Tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She strongly supports ongoing professional development and offering opportunities for learning to all members of the TSNS community, and is a credentialed Trainer with the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Ali is committed to the hiring and retention of talented teachers, and seeks out early childhood educators who are aligned with our program’s values around experiential relationship-based learning and scaffolding social-emotional development in the early years. Ali’s professional memberships include NAEYC, the DC Directors’ Exchange, the DC Area Jewish Early Childhood Directors’ Council, and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA).

When not working, Ali enjoys time with her family, which includes her husband, two children who are TSNS graduates (now in college!) and Ozzie, her labradoodle. She is a voracious reader, a hobby crafter, and loves decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, especially for TSNS celebrations.

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).

Nursery School Director Emerita

Perri Iger-Silversmith

Nursery School Director Emerita

Perri Iger-Silversmith has worked in public school, private nursery school, and Judaic settings for many decades. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College, where she received her BA in Special and Elementary Education, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development from The George Washington University.  She is the founding Director of Temple Sinai Nursery School, and is credited with setting the vision for the program for nearly thirty years, anchoring TSNS in the belief that strong social-emotional foundations best prepare children for life and future educational experiences.

Since Perri established the program in 1992, TSNS achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) five times.  Perri also led TSNS through a similar accreditation process through the Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning called the “Community Program in Jewish Education for Early Childhood Centers.”  Perri has served on the board of the National Child Research Center and as one of the co-chairs of the DC Directors’ Exchange. Her professional memberships include the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECERJ), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the DC and PJLL Directors’ Exchanges and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA). 

Under Perri’s leadership, TSNS garnered its unparalleled reputation for excellence in early childhood education.

Other Staff

Member Relations

Karen Auerbach

Member Relations & SinaiCares
Exec. Assistant to Rabbis Roos

Michelle Becker

Exec. Assistant to Rabbis Roos & Diamondstein
Development Coordinator

Noah Benjamin

Development Coordinator
Accounting Assistant

Robin Berry

Accounting Assistant
Facilities Manager

Diego Enriquez

Facilities Manager
Asst. Dir. of Childhood Engagement

Liza Fishman

Asst. Dir. of Childhood Engagement & Learning
Assistant Director of Teen Engagement

Emily Halpern

Assistant Director of Teen Engagement & Learning
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
Religious School Associate Educator

Diane Zimmerman

Religious School Associate Educator

Staff photos by Judy Licht Photography