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Professional Staff

Rabbi Sarit Horwitz

Rabbi Sarit Horwitz is thrilled to be in Memphis as a part of the Beth Sholom community. She moved to Memphis from New York City, where she served as the Senior Rabbinic Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun, a large synagogue with strong emphases on music, prayer, and justice work. Rabbi Sarit began there as an intern while she was still in Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and she continued on full-time for two years following her ordination. In addition to standard rabbinic functions, in her time at BJ, Rabbi Sarit managed the conversion program and taught an Introduction to Judaism course, developed and engaged the community in extensive holiday programming, taught text classes, and grew the young professionals population. She learned a tremendous amount from this huge, 1700-family community, and is excited to be in the much smaller, more homey community of Beth Sholom.

Rabbi Sarit completed her undergraduate studies in the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary with degrees in Psychology and Midrash. Concurrent with her rabbinic studies, Rabbi Sarit  was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and received a Master’s degree in Jewish Women and Gender Studies. She also served as the Rabbinic Intern at Yale University’s Hillel and completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital.

Having grown up in Kansas City, Rabbi Sarit attended Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and is a Jewish summer camp enthusiast. In her free time, she loves biking, cooking (and browsing the New York Times cooking app), and reading. She lives in Memphis with her son and husband, Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel, who is the Director of Spiritual Care at the Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab.

Rabbi Sarit is excited to be in touch with you, and hopes that you will reach out to connect over a cup of coffee or a good book.

 

Executive Director - Geo Poor

Geo Poor joined the Beth Sholom community in 2015 as Executive Director. He is a longtime youth educator in the Conservative movement, having worked for USY, Ramah, and Schechter for much of his adult life. He has a Certificate of Jewish Studies from the Pardes Experiential Educators Program and both an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership and an MBA in Non-Profit Management from the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership.  Geo is currently working on a PhD in Jewish Mysticism through the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership.

In addition to running the business of the synagogue, Geo teaches classes on Kabbalah, spirituality, meditation, and other Jewish topics.  Geo is a guitarist, bassist, and percussionist, a vegetarian foodie, an off-and-on practitioner of yoga, and a rabbit enthusiast. He enjoys Jewish texts, particularly those relating to spirituality, theology, and Kabbalah. After 14 years in Massachusetts, he is thoroughly enjoying the winters in Memphis.  During the COVID pandemic, he adopted two adorable pet rabbits and took up baking ridiculous flavors of challah.

Geo invites anyone to stop by his office for a chat about the synagogue, Judaism, life, music, or anything else. Feel free to contact Geo by email.


Office Manager - Alan Goldkin

Alan Goldkin is excited to join the team at Beth Sholom Synagogue. Alan and his family moved to Memphis five years ago when he joined the leadership team at Anshei Sphard - Beth El Emeth. In addition to serving in a variety of professional capacities at Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox congregations, he is a former chaver (member) of Kibbutz Hannaton, the Conservative movement’s kibbutz in the Galilee of Israel. Alan has a BA in Jewish Studies from the University of Florida, and attended graduate school at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. His wife Amy is a first-grade teacher next door (Bornblum Jewish Community School) and in her copious spare time, she earned a Masters Degree in Special Education after she moved to the Bluff City. Alan and Amy are the proud parents of five wonderful children (of course), aged 13 to 21.

Alan is looking forward to meeting everyone and contributing to the warm sense of community already felt at his new home. Contact Alan here.


Director of Education - Julee Levine

Julee Levine spent the last 20 years in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, CA. In her former community, she spent time as the Director of Youth & Teen Engagement, Director of Congregational Programming, and as the Head of School of the JLC (Jewish Learning Community). Born in Buffalo, NY, her family moved to Jacksonville, FL, when she was very young, and at an early age learned "Hey Y'all" and "Go Gators." In high school, Julee was an active leader in BBYO and participated in Jewish education. A hiatus from that in college helped her to realize the importance of authentic and intentional Jewish communities, so after college, she became a Sunday school teacher and a USY advisor. This turned into a full-time position as a Youth Director in Birmingham, AL, 2 decades in LA, and what has brought her to Beth Sholom. Over the past 5 years, Julee has also presented sessions at Jewish education conferences and has been hired to do virtual trainings and education by organizations across the country. Julee was also in the 1st cohort of the Hadar Jewish Wisdom Fellowship and has worked with M2 - the Institute for Experiential Jewish Education, the Center for Rabbinic Innovation, and The Mussar Institute. Julee strives to make sure that everyone can have a seat at the table.

Julee is a VERY proud alumna of the University of Florida, with a BA and a M.Ed. in Special Education. While in LA, she was on the board of the Southern California Gator Club for 14 years, including 2 terms as President and recognition from the Alumni Association as an outstanding leader.

Julee is a curious foodie, an avid reader, and has been a contestant on 4 game shows! She and her husband Jason live in Cordova, and enjoy Marvel movies and TV shows, karaoke, comedy, and trivia. Julee's mom Barbara will also be joining the BSS community in 2022.

Julee hopes you will reach out and connect with her about education, college football, and whether a hot dog is a sandwich.

 

Early Childhood Specialist - Ariel Figueroa

Ariel Figueroa has been working with children since she was 8 years old. While growing up she aspired to be an actress, a writer, and a child psychologist and feels like she has achieved that by being a kindergarten teacher! After years spent babysitting, tutoring, and as a summer day camp counselor, Ariel eventually went to college to study child development and education. A cum laude graduate from University of Memphis with a degree in early childhood education and a minor in Sociology, Ariel has been teaching in the Memphis Jewish community since 2014. While working at the Barbara K. Lipman Early learning center, Ariel worked with children ages 18 months – 6 years old. Ariel has fond memories of Friday morning Shabbat with her 2-year-olds in the Gimmel class. Each child was given a yarmulke and then sat in a circle to enjoy traditional Shabbat songs, stories, and blessings with a toy Shabbat set and stuffed Torahs. Ariel definitely enjoyed the ritual just as much as the children!

Ariel has been teaching kindergarten at Bornblum Jewish Community School since 2018, where she loves teaching a play-based curriculum and integrating all subjects with a deep focus on Social-Emotional Learning. She incorporates Jewish values and holidays into all of her lessons. Ariel loves science experiments especially creating apple volcanoes and honey bubbles around Rosh Hashanah. She often integrates yoga, mindful breathing, and guided meditations into each learning experience. In the past year, Ariel taught Sunday School virtually and was often integrating science, art, mindfulness, and snacking into her classes with the children.

Ariel has been living in Memphis with her husband since 2008 but will always be a New Yorker at heart. She loves learning just as much as she loves teaching and can often be found at adult classes provided by the shul. Ariel loves yoga, dogs, reading, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Beatles. She is also a writer and has published 3 children’s books.

Ariel looks forward to hearing from you!  Email her here.

Fri, September 30 2022 5 Tishrei 5783