Sign In Forgot Password

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.

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



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.

To contact Rabbi Susan Rheins, please call 303.759.1827 x306 or email rabbisusan@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.







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.

To contact Cantor Sheila Nesis, please call 303.759.1827 x305 or email cantornesis@sinaidenver.org.

Staff


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.
 



Brandis Conner,
 

Religious School Assistant

 

Brandy Conner joined the Temple Sinai staff in the fall of 2016.  Originally from Connecticut, she has also lived in FL, PA and DC.  Brandy received her BA in English/Literature from Western Connecticut State University.  She previously worked for a conservative temple in Connecticut as the Media Specialist and Israel Aircraft International as the Administrative Assistant for the Bedek Aviation Division in Washington, DC.  

In her free time, Brandy loves to spend time with her husband and two kids.

To contact Brandy, please call 303.759.1827 x301 or email brandy@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 Maahs,
 

Staff Accountant

 



 Melissa Oxenhandler,

 Youth 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.
 

  

Karen Pawlak,

Controller

 

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.

To contact Karen Pawlak, please call 303.759.1827 x309 or email karenp@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.
 


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.
 


 

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.
 

 Dan Yolles, 

 Music and Engagement

 Educator



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.




 

Sun, September 23 2018 14 Tishrei 5779