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Clergy Team

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.

To contact Rabbi Rick Rheins, please call 303.759.1827 x307 or email rabrheins@sinaidenver.org.

Rabbi Jordy Cohen, Assistant Rabbi


Originally from the Boston area, Rabbi Cohen was raised in a family active in their congregational community. Attending NFTY EIE’s semester in Israel (now URJ Heller High) and Hebrew College’s Prozdor High School program as a teen, Rabbi Cohen developed a deep a sense of comfort and belonging in Jewish spaces. She earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014 and was ordained a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 2019.

As a Jewish Foundation Fellow, Rabbi has brought her warmth, knowledge, and expertise to the Rockwern Academy, Xavier University’s Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. From 2015-2016 Rabbi Cohen served as Student Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Marquette, Michigan, and from 2016-2017, she served as Student Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Flint, Michigan. Rabbi Cohen also served as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Tikvah in Columbus, Ohio. As a program director at Mitzvah Corps, Rabbi Cohen led summer programs in Seattle, Israel, New Orleans, and Costa Rica. Rabbi Cohen’s commitment to Israel shines through in her congregational work as well as the many Israel programs and trips she has led.

In March 2019, Temple Sinai selected Rabbi Cohen to serve as Assistant Rabbi. Rabbi Cohen’s love for learning and building Jewish community make her an inspired selection to join the warm community of Temple Sinai. Rabbi Cohen has a unique passion for food and cooking, having written her rabbinic thesis on American Jewish food and identity.

Rabbi Cohen and her fiancé Matthew Callman are engaged to be married in November.

To contact Rabbi Jordy Cohen, please call 303.759.1827 x306 or email rabbicohen@sinaidenver.org.


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.



Dan Yolles, Artist-in-Residence


Dan Yolles has been a part of the Temple Sinai community since he attended preschool many years ago and has been serving this community over the past several years, musically, spiritually and in the preschool. He graduated from CU Denver with a bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Relations, studied music education at CSU and has over 10 years of experience teaching music in a variety of settings. His passion for education, music, Judaism, Israel, and mentorship drives him to make the biggest impact he can on our community and keeps him up to date with the latest trends in music education and important Jewish topics. Dan is also a professional musician who has been lucky enough to be able to share his music around the world. He and his partner, Ali Weiss have 2 lovely dogs and enjoy spending time outside in their free time.

To contact Dan Yolles, please call 303.759.1827 x311 or email him at dan@sinaidenver.org.

Staff

 

 

Greg Kellner,
Executive Director

(on Medical Leave)

 

 


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.

To contact Lisa Thorner, please call 303.759.1827 x315 or email lisa@sinaidenver.org.

Ron Leff,
Director of Education


Ron Leff has been involved in the field of Jewish education for over 25 years. He holds a MA in education from the American Jewish University (formerly University of Judaism) in Los Angeles and a BA in Psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit. Ron was granted the title of RJE (Reform Jewish Educator) by the Reform Movement in 2000.

Ron began his work in Jewish education as a Religious School teacher, Youth Group Advisor, Youth Director and camp counselor. From 1999 – 2016, Ron served as the Director of Religious Education at Temple Emanuel in Denver and at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan, prior to that. He also worked as the Supervisor of Jewish Programming for Tamarack Camps in Michigan. He has been an active member of the Jewish Educators Council and served on the Board of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.

Ron and his family live in Aurora. He is excited to join the Temple Sinai staff and work with the clergy and board in providing engaging educational programs for our congregation.

To contact Ron Leff, please call 303.759.1827 x308 or email ron@sinaidenver.org.



Melissa Oxenhandler,

Youth Coordinator & Marketing Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Melissa Oxenhandler is from Colorado Springs, CO. She grew up attending Temple Shalom, and was an active member of BBYO, involved in Rocky Mountain Region, and internationally.

Melissa attended University of Colorado Boulder where she received Bachelor’s Degrees in Religious Studies and in Advertising, Public Relations, and Design. In college, Melissa was involved with Hillel, where she served as student President, and with Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, where she was one of the founders of her chapter.

After graduation, Melissa spent a year working as a Leadership and Educational Developer for Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi, the national Jewish Sorority, where she travelled to campuses across the country, opening new chapters and visiting existing ones to lend support.

When she isn’t working, Melissa enjoys, skiing, hiking, playing ukulele, and hanging out with her pet chickens.

To contact Melissa Oxenhandler, please call 303.759.1827 x334 or email melissao@sinaidenver.org.


 

  Mimi Raizen,

Religious School Administrator 


 


Miryam “Mimi” Raizen is a Colorado Native, and grew up in the Denver Metro Area.

Mimi grew up at Rodef Shalom Synagogue, and on moving to Ohio became very active in her local USY chapter and going to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin almost every summer. After graduating from High School Mimi took a gap year in Israel with the Nativ College Leadership Program where she attended a semester at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and volunteering at Kfar Hassidim.

Mimi started her college career at Kent State University in Ohio where she was involved with Hillel as a Community Building Co-hort and office assistant for the Jewish Studies Department. Upon moving back to Denver Mimi became involved with Kol Nashim, the women’s choir of Colorado Hebrew Chorale, and began co-writing and selling Purim Shpiels. Mimi recently finished her degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

During her free time Mimi enjoys going to the theater, crocheting, and playing trivia games.

To contact Mimi Raizen, please call 303.759.1827 ext. 301 or email mimi@sinaidenver.org.

 

Sheila Purdin,
Preschool Director



Sheila Purdin began her career in early education twenty eight years ago in her native Seattle. She is on the board of Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism, serving as VP of Marketing. During her twenty years in the Atlanta area, she was director of two Reform preschools, actively participated in the Jewish Early Childhood Council of Atlanta as both Chairperson and Conference Coordinator. She previously sat on the PJ Library of Atlanta board and participated in the URJ Pursuing Excellence in Your Early Childhood Center Community of Practice. Sheila is thrilled to be a part of the Temple Sinai Preschool and greater synagogue community. She lives with her dog, Lulu, and has two adult children who are pretty fantastic.

To contact Sheila Purdin, please call 303.759-0755 or email  sheila@sinaidenver.org.
 


 

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!

To contact Marissa Vaughn, please call 303.759.0755 or email marissa@sinaidenver.org.
 

 


Lauren Bubis,
Administrative Assistant

 



Lauren Bubis began working at Temple Sinai in January 2018. She graduated in 2008 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Political Science and Jewish Studies. She worked with the programming, membership, and development departments at Temple Sholom of Chicago from 2008 to 2011. Lauren then moved to Houston for three years where she was the Special Events Coordinator at Jewish Family Service. For a year, she served as the Community Engagement Associate at the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. After a year in Nashville, she moved to Orlando where she worked as an Accessibility Consultant for the University of Central Florida. In June 2017, she arrived in Denver with her husband, David and daughter, Sadie. Lauren and her family love Denver and have begun to plant roots in the Mile High City!

To contact Lauren Bubis, please call 303.759.1827 x322 or email lauren@sinaidenver.org.

 


Yoni Buckman,
Program Specialist

 

 

Yoni Buckman has been working in Jewish organizations since 2014. Yoni began his work in Jewish congregations as the Youth & Family Educator at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC. While living in the DC Metro Area, Yoni built a community of young Jewish professionals as a founding member of the Bethesda Moishe House.

Yoni moved to Denver in 2017 and has worked as the Director of Communication & Engagement at BMH-BJ and as the Colorado Design Strategist at UpStart. Since moving to Denver, he has also volunteered in the Colorado Jewish community, serving as a YAD Ambassador and sitting on the board of B’nai B’rith Colorado as their Marketing Chair.

Yoni lives with his dog, Stevie, and enjoys cooking, hosting Shabbat dinners, and visiting family across the country and in Israel. He is thrilled to join Temple Sinai’s enthusiastic staff and warm community.

To contact Yoni Buckman, please call 303.759.1827 x312 or email yoni@sinaidenver.org.

Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779