Temple Sinai Clergy
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rabbi Rick Rheins spent most of his youth in Indianapolis, Indiana. He earned a BA from Indiana University in 1980, a Masters degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1988, and was ordained a Rabbi from HUC-JIR in 1989.
From 1989 to 1995, Rabbi Rheins served as Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Chappaqua, New York, with Rabbi Chaim Stern z”l, the acclaimed liturgist. In 1992, Rick was selected by the Central Conference of American Rabbis to serve on the Responsa Committee (at the time, the youngest ever to be so selected). He has authored a number of halakhic responsa as well as other scholarly articles.
In 1995, Rabbi Rheins was named by Temple David of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, to succeed its founding Rabbi of 35 years. In the ten years that Rick led Temple David, it grew substantially both in its membership as well as in the number of programs and services. During his tenure, he received many community honors, served on the boards of several organizations, and was especially active in communal interfaith efforts.
In July 2005, Temple Sinai selected Rabbi Rheins to succeed its founder, Rabbi Raymond Zwerin. Rick’s scholarship, passion, commitment, and devotion to God and the Jewish people are evident in the number and diversity of new services, classes, and programs at Temple Sinai. Rick is an enthusiastic and acclaimed teacher and he strives to create opportunities of engagement for every member.
In addition to serving Temple Sinai as its Senior Rabbi, Rick is the immediate Past-President of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council and is the Vice-President of the Solomon Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah. He also serves on the National Council of AIPAC as well as the other local boards, including the ADL.
Rabbi Rheins is married to Rabbi Susan Miller Rheins. They are blessed with three children, Joshua, Samuel and Jakob.
Temple Sinai is proud to welcome a new Assistant Rabbi to their clergy team. Rabbi Keren Gorban joined the staff on July 1, 2012. She came to Denver after receiving her ordination at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Gorban grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey. A few inspired educators, passionate rabbis and an engaging cantor transformed her relationship to Judaism and Jewish learning as she was preparing to become Bat Mitzvah. The hunger for Jewish learning and engagement led her to be a madrichah in her synagogue’s religious school, to join her temple youth group and NFTY, and to attend Jewish summer camp, including URJ Kutz Camp and NFTY-GER’s Urban Mitzvah Corps.
Having spent her childhood trying to decide between being a doctor or a teacher, Rabbi Gorban realized in tenth grade that she could do both by being a rabbi. Her passion for healing led her to study Health: Science, Society and Policy, which allowed her to explore the intersection between Judaism and health. As a rabbinic student, Rabbi Gorban continued to integrate her interest in health with her passion for Judaism and spirituality as a chaplaincy intern at St. Anthony’s Central Hospital in Denver and as a rabbinic intern at two Jewish nursing homes.
In addition to her chaplaincy work, Rabbi Gorban served congregations in Montana, British Columbia, and Arizona; taught Jewish History as a teaching assistant at the University of Southern California; and was a “strabbi” (student Rabbi) at Shwayder Camp.
Rabbi Raymond Zwerin was ordained as a Rabbi from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, in 1964. In 1989 he received a Doctor of Divinity degree from HUC-JIR. He is the founding rabbi of Temple Sinai, and has been serving in the Denver community since 1964.
Rabbi Zwerin was co-founder and president of A.R.E. Publishing, Inc., a major producer of creative Jewish educational materials for children and adults. He is a past Executive Board member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and past president of the Midwest Association of Reform Rabbis, and the Rocky Mountain Rabbinic Council. In Denver, Rabbi Zwerin is a founder of Theodor Herzl Jewish Day School of Denver and a founder of Babi Yar Park Memorial to the Holocaust and was active in the cause of Soviet Jewry.
He is the author of over a dozen books for children and teachers and the editor of some 700 titles. One of his latest books contains 98 of his High Holy Day sermons and is entitled, Forty Years of Wondering. His most recent publication is also his first novel, Holy Fire, a biblical mystery intertwined with a Holocaust story of redemption.
Together with his wife Rikki, Rabbi Zwerin has two married children, Ron (Julie) and Dina (Darren Boivin) and four grandchildren, Noah Asher Boivin, Elizabeth Rose Zwerin, Ethan Reuben Boivin and Bradley Ryan Zwerin. He is an avid Colorado Rockies fan and can be seen at the ball games with several people surrounding him listening to his commentary on the game.
Bryan Zive has been Temple Sinai’s Chazzan since July 2009. Bryan brings a new, unique style to the Reform Jewish movement and is one of it’s up-and-coming composers, educators and entertainers. He has performed in various synagogues, camp institutes, Jewish Community Centers and Hillels around the world.
Bryan began performing and leading prayer services in 2003 and has since played in such cities as Los Angeles, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, Jerusalem, Israel and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He served Temple Israel of Columbus, OH for six years as their Cantorial Soloist under the mentorship of Chazzan and Jewish Composer Danny Maseng before moving to Denver. In addition, Bryan has been head songleader and music director at URJ Camp Swig-Newman and Goldman Union Camp Institute.
Bryan and his Jewish Rock Band Kol Echad, have recorded two in-studio albums the latest titled, “Follow In My Footsteps”, which was released in December 2010 to rave reviews by clergy, educators, songleaders and community members. One of his songs, ”Rock and Redeemer”, was included on the URJ Transcontinental Music’s Ruach 5769 album. You can listen to and purchase Bryan’s music at www.bryanzive.com
Bryan graduated from The Ohio State University with bachelors degrees in Jewish Studies and Ethnomusicology, and is currently studying for his Cantorial Ordination. He and his wife Melyssa are loving Denver and looking forward to many more great years in Temple Sinai’s warm and welcoming community!
Amy Becker found her passion working in the Jewish community in 1989 when she became the Regional Director of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. Working with youth, fundraising and programming soon became her love.
Amy began her long devotion of working at Temple Sinai in 1994. At this time she was hired as the Director of Program Development. Among many other accomplishments, she successfully organized the volunteer program for the Temple and established a Chavurah recruitment program and the Temple’s Chavurah Council. Her biggest success was bringing Denver’s first Mitzvah Day program to the community along with a committee of committed volunteers.
Amy’s desire for working with children was always strong. In 2000, she was hired by Temple Sinai as the Preschool Director. Amy enjoyed working with the staff, children and parents. Among her accomplishments, she and the staff were awarded national accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Amy was named the Assistant Executive Director in June, 2007, Acting Executive Director in January 2013 and Executive Director in May, 2013. Amy and her husband Jeffrey are Denver natives. They enjoy evey moment of family time with their twins, Corey and Chelsea.
Lisa Thorner joined the Temple Sinai staff in January of 2009 as the Director of Programming and Volunteer Recruitment. In addition to planning and implementing programs, Lisa is responsible for encouraging volunteer participation. Lisa has extensive experience in event planning and brings an abundance of energy to Temple Sinai.
Prior to Temple Sinai, Lisa spent 17 years working in college Athletics. She worked at the Western Athletic Conference from 1997-2007 where she served as the Assistant Commissioner for Championships and the Senior Woman Administrator. While at the WAC, Lisa was responsible for planning championships for 17 different sports. Prior to the WAC, she spent five years as the Assistant Director of Media Relations at San Diego State University.
Lisa loves to interact and work with people and has a vast experience in event planning and development. She has planned events, both large and small and helped plan annual fundraisers for The Gathering Place and Mylifeline.org.
Lisa graduated for the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Journalism. Lisa is a Denver native and is the proud mother of two boys, Josh and Zach.
A Colorado native and certainly not a new face here at Temple, Cindy Abramson and her family have been Temple members for close to forty years. She went through Religious School, Confirmation and became a Bat Mitzvah several years ago in our Adult B’nei Mitzvah program.
Cindy was the Assistant Principal of the Religious School for four years and the Assistant Executive Director for two years. She just can’t seem to stay away and has returned to our staff as Communications Director. Cindy has a degree in Psychology, is an award-winning author, is a graduate of the Florence Melton Adult Jewish Education Core Program and has worked in Communications for many years. She has two extraordinary children, Sam and Julia, and is married to Rob Abramson, the love of her life. Rob brought his two beautiful daughters and three precious grandchildren into Cindy’s life. Two Denver natives marrying means a whole gaggle of family! Who could ask for anything better?
Dr. Steven Glickman grew up in the Chicago area where his family’s affection for the Bears and the Cubs taught him much about perseverance through adversity. Steve attended the University of Illinois where he earned a degree in advertising. During the summer before his senior year at college, Steve realized that his love for the written word was too powerful to ignore and decided to pursue a teaching career in the university world.
Having been a mountain-loving flatlander all his life, Steve came out west in 1989 to attend graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English. Early on his academic job search, Steve jumped on an opportunity to become the principal of the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education’s Denver Hebrew High School. For the next seven years, Steve’s passion for Judaism and Jewish education took off.
Steve joined the Temple Sinai family in June 2006. He brings a wealth of experience and a bottomless well of energy to the congregation.
Steve is married to Laurel Glickman, a hospice social worker and the most beautiful woman in the world.
From a very young age Michelle Schwartz has been actively involved in the Denver Jewish community. As a teenager she thrived as member in United Synagogue Youth Group where she discovered a true love for the intricacies of Jewish religion. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Michelle accepted a position as the Youth Director for Rodef Shalom and the Hebrew Educational Alliance working mostly with the middle and high schoolers.
In 1995, Michelle joined the Temple Sinai community as both a religious school teacher and independent tutor. She taught grades 6 through 10 and developed the impressive structure of the B’nei Mitzvah and Confirmation programs. She focused her energy on bringing more life and deeper meaning to Jewish study in young adults. During this time, Michelle also solidified her place as a noted B’nei Mitzvah tutor in the Sinai community. In June of 2008, Michelle accepted the Assistant Director of Education position where she continues to develop exceptional education programming.
Michelle is a Denver native, married to Brian Schwartz and the mother of two little girls, Macey and Avery. She loves spending quality time with family and friends and baking goodies.
Mindy Neel was born in Birmingham, Alabama and began her religious education at Temple Sinai in the 2nd grade. She went through consecration, became a Bat Mitzvah and was confirmed all at Temple Sinai. In 1998, after a 12 year career in hotel management, her genuine love of children and her passion for Judaism brought her back to her spiritual roots. Whether teaching Religious School or Preschool, from 2 year-olds to 13 year-olds, she clearly demonstrates her enthusiastic dedication to connecting with Jewish children and families alike. In 2007, Mindy received the Anita Fricklas Award for the “Most significant contribution to Jewish education at Temple Sinai.”
Her ultimate goal is to ensure that each student develops a lifelong love of learning. In her role as Preschool Director, she is able to utilize her strong communication skills along with her compassionate and warm, friendly manner to instill her commitment of creating a caring community for all of our Preschool families. She has a strong belief in honoring parents and extended families as their children’s first teachers.
Her own two children have both grown up at Temple Sinai, loving every step from Preschool through Confirmation! Mindy and her husband, Greg, enjoy watching their son perform in high school musicals and school plays and cheering for him on the baseball fields at Smoky Hill High School. They have all recently become Husker fans as their daughter is now a Freshman at the University of Nebraska where she is studying Journalism.
At Temple Sinai, Mindy has been an active volunteer always willing to lend a hand, but more formally was involved in both the Youth Group Committee and Religious School Committee, and more recently was on the Sisterhood Board as both Treasurer and Co-President.
Carly Coons is no stranger to Temple Sinai. She grew up here in Denver and has been a part of the Sinai community since 1992. During her high school years, she served as the local President of the Temple Sinai Youth Group, as well as Missouri Valley Regional President. Carly double majored in International Affairs and Jewish Studies and minored in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Besides excelling in her academic studies at CU, she was involved in a variety of activities applicable to her new position at Sinai. These include being the student President of the CU Boulder Hillel; a Hebrew School substitute teacher; a counselor, Unit Head, Program Director and Head of Judaics at various camps; and a junior youth group program coordinator. She spent a semester studying abroad in Jerusalem, Israel and is nearly fluent in reading, writing, and speaking Hebrew.
Carly’s passion for working in the Jewish Community and her energy and enthusiasm to engage our youth will ensure that Temple Sinai youth programming will continue to provide a vibrant and welcoming community for developing strong youth leadership and lifelong friendships.