Our Clergy

Rabbi Richard Rheins, Senior Rabbi

Born in Cincinnati, OH, Rabbi Rick Rheins spent most of his youth in Indianapolis, IN. 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, NY, 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, PA, 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 and 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 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.

Rabbi Susan Miller Rheins


Born in Passaic, NJ, Rabbi Susan Miller Rheins has been professionally involved in the Jewish community in numerous ways:  as a synagogue Rabbi, Community Educator, Education Administrator, Outreach Coordinator, and Curriculum Writer.  Previously, she served as Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education, as Denver Community Coordinator for Chai Mitzvah and was Assistant Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Providence, RI; Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in Florida, NY; and Director of Youth Education at Temple David in Monroeville, PA.  For more than a decade Rabbi Rheins volunteered as faculty at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, IN.  At Temple Sinai she has taught Adult Education and Teacher Professional Development classes, tutored B’nai Mitzvah students, led High Holy Day and Shabbat services, and planned and co-lead six Temple Sinai tours to Israel, as well as women’s Israel study tour and Jewish heritage tour to Central and Eastern Europe.  Rabbi Rheins is a member of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council and served on its executive board for four years.

Rabbi Rheins graduated summa cum laude in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1984 and was ordained by HUC-JIR, Cincinnati, OH in 1988, where she also received an MA in Hebrew Letters and, in 2013, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Her life is filled with the love of her three sons, Josh, Sam, and Jakob and her husband, Rabbi Richard S. Rheins.

Rabbi Raymond Zwerin, Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Raymond Zwerin was ordained as a Rabbi from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH 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.  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) 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.

Cantor Sheila Nesis


Cantor Sheila Nesis grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to New York, NY in 2007 to join the clergy at Temple Israel in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Prior to that, and in partnership with the World Union for progressive Judaism, she toured the United States performing a repertoire that included liturgical Jewish music, tangos and boleros, Ladino songs, and jazz of the 1930s and ’40s. She also served as Cantor and Educator for Congregation Kehillah in Scottsdale, AZ, as well as other Reform and Conservative institutions in the Phoenix area for two years.

Cantor Nesis studied voice with renowned voice coach and soprano, Ida Terkiel of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. She learned the art of chazanut, cantorial singing and chanting from a Sephardic Cantor and Rabbi in Buenos Aires, imprinting her vocal style with a silky ethereal quality. In Manahttan, Sheila trained with Broadway voice coach Liz Caplan, voice teacher and soprano Marguerite Krull, and voice coach Ruth Rainero.

Sheila understands music, both secular and Jewish, as a sacred experience — a way to deeply and spiritually connect with others. Her performances have been described as enchanting, drawing all listeners into the shared moment created by her vocal talent.

Menucha is Cantor Nesis’ debut album, produced by singer/songwriter Todd Herzog in Phoenix, AZ. In her debut as a composer, she brings a fresh sound to the world of contemporary Jewish music. The selections on this album find their roots in the songs and rhythms Sheila grew up listening to and singing.  Latin American, Israeli, Ladino and Middle Eastern elements come together for a unique world music sound. Cantor Nesis’ compositions have a strong, vibrant identity, enriching the current Jewish musical language with the colors and flavors of our diverse world. She is currently working on new music as well as her thesis for her Masters in Philosophy of Language.

Cantor Nesis, her husband Alex, their beautiful son Solomon, and their Norfolk Terrier Freddy are excited to call Denver and Temple Sinai their home! Cantor Nesis is thrilled to work with Rabbi Rheins and the rest of the wonderful Temple Sinai community.

Administrative Staff


Lorne Maltenfort,

Executive Director



Raised in Chicago and Scottsdale, Lorne Maltenfort graduated from UCLA in 1995 amd the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1999 with an emphasis in Tax Law.  Lorne, the grandchild of two Holocaust survivors, served as Chairman of the Medical Research Junior Board of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, President of ATID at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and Board of Director of the American Israel Gap Year Association.  Upon departing from his law practice in Chicago, Lorne co-founded the Jackson Hole Film Festival in 2003, which focused on independent and social awareness films for the Teton County community.  In 2008, Lorne began his tenure as Executive Director of the Westwood Kehilla, a Jewish synagogue in Los Angeles, where he oversaw all financial and daily operations for the community.  Lorne is passionate about instilling Jewish values in our children, as well as building a deep love for Israel and our Country's democratic principles.  When not serving his community, Lorne can be found running along the High Line Canal Trail with his two dogs or advocating for animal welfare and our environment.



Lisa Thorner,
Director of Programming
&Volunteer Engagement


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.


Jody Meyer,

Director of Religious Education


Jody Meyer joined the Temple Sinai staff in the fall of 2015.  Originally from Southern California, Jody has lived in Denver for the past 16 years.  Jody received her BA degree in French from Wellesley College and her MA degree in non-profit arts management from New York University.  She previously worked in production and development for the Walt Disney Company/ABC studios in both Los Angeles and New York.  

Her husband, Mark, is a Denver native, and they have two children who are actively involved in Temple Sinai religious school and youth group activities.  Jody and her family are delighted to be part of the Temple Sinai community.


Karen Pawlak,



Karen Pawlak joined the staff of Temple Sinai as the Financial Controller in March 2017.  With over 30 years of experience with both for profit and non-profit organizations, Karen brings to the table a vast amount of experience.  Karen's previous experience has been with organizations such as Foothills Park and Recreation, Wellbridge Club Management, and Douglas County Libraries.  Karen is the Mother of 1 and Grandmother of 3 beautiful granddaughters and is very passionate about her 3 miniature schnauzers.  Karen is excited to be part of this incredible organization and committed to providing support to both the Board, Staff, and Congregation.

Youth Education and Leadership


Karen Kirk,
Interim Preschool Director


Karen has served the Denver Jewish Community for many years, including her service as Preschool Director of the Hebrew Educational Alliance for 17 years and as a Consultant/Substitute Director/Substitute Teacher with our own Temple Sinai Preschool.  While at HEA, Karen created a Jewish ECE environment that was warm and nurturing for her students, staff, and families.  She consistently promoted an environment for maximum physical, social, cognitive and emotional development of the 120 children in the early childhood program.


Marissa Vaughn,
Assistant Preschool Director


Marissa Vaughn is a Colorado native  and is the Temple Sinai Preschool Assistant Director. She joined the Temple Sinai team in 2009 as a teacher.  Early Childhood Education is her passion! In her free time you can find Marissa outdoors enjoying her two dogs!


Julia Teitell ,
Director of Youth Engagement


Julia Teitell joined Temple Sinai in the summer of 2015. She, however, grew up in the Jewish community of Colorado where she served on her youth group board in high school as well as the Hillel Board at Colorado State University. Julia double majored, at CSU, in Human Development & Family Studies and Sociology. Julia has spent the last twelve years working with youth in a variety of capacities, as a Nanny, Religious school teacher,  and Program Director at Shwayder Camp.  Most recently, Julia returned to the United States after serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English at the University level, in China.

Julia is passionate about creating a comfortable, welcoming environment for all of Temple Sinai’s youth, where they can explore Judaism as well as create Jewish friendships in a safe space. 



Tue, February 20 2018 5 Adar 5778