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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 send him an email.

Rabbi Jordy Callman, Assistant Rabbi


Originally from the Boston area, Rabbi Callman 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 Callman 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 Callman 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 Callman also served as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth Tikvah in Columbus, Ohio. As a program director at Mitzvah Corps, Rabbi Callman led summer programs in Seattle, Israel, New Orleans, and Costa Rica. Rabbi Callman’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 Callman to serve as Assistant Rabbi. Rabbi Callman’s love for learning and building Jewish community make her an inspired selection to join the warm community of Temple Sinai. Rabbi Callman has a unique passion for food and cooking, having written her rabbinic thesis on American Jewish food and identity. Rabbi Callman and her husband Matthew are thrilled to be part of the Temple Sinai and Denver Jewish community.

To contact Rabbi Jordy Callman, please call 303.759.1827 x306 or send her an email.


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.

Administrative

Lisa Thorner

Executive Director

Temple Sinai is thrilled to announce that Lisa Thorner has been promoted to the position of Executive Director as of November 2020.  Lisa has been a passionate and dedicated staff member at Temple Sinai for almost 12 years fulfilling multiple roles. Lisa joined the Temple Sinai staff in January of 2009 as the Director of Programming and Volunteer Recruitment.

During her tenure at Temple Sinai, Lisa has demonstrated a strong desire to connect and communicate with all congregants at Temple Sinai.  Her proven leadership and wealth of knowledge in management, programming and engagement has been appreciated over the years as she embodies the welcoming principles of our Temple. Lisa brings tremendous knowledge, expertise, warmth, enthusiasm, and dedication to maintaining and furthering Temple Sinai’s success.

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 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. She is also engaged to be married to Brian Higgins.

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

 

Mara Simon

Controller

 

We are excited to welcome Mara Simon into our Temple Sinai family as our new Controller.  Mara’s 20-plus years in the finance and accounting field brings Temple Sinai crucial expertise, leadership, and support.

Mara will work closely with Lisa Thorner, Temple Sinai’s Executive Director, overseeing and managing all accounting functions. She will prepare financial statements and other financial reporting along with supervising, training, and mentoring the accounting support staff. In addition, Mara will serve as the primary financial contact to the Board of Trustees and congregants. 

Before working at Temple Sinai, Mara spent nearly three years at Charlotte’s Web where she served as the Lead Accountant managing the accounting functions related to third party manufacturing. Prior to that, Mara was the Division Controller at The Management Trust where she applied her financial expertise for almost 10 years in the real estate/HOA Community Management industry serving over 200 boards and thousands of homeowners.

Originally from northern California, and after a few years living in Virginia, Mara attended East High School where she competed in varsity swimming, volleyball, and played violin in several orchestras.  

Mara is the proud mother of Amir who is almost 16 and attends Rangeview High School. He is an avid bowler, loves internet gaming, and enjoys any activity involving water. In Mara’s free time, she loves to cook, dance and loves water and outdoor activities.

To contact Mara Simon, please call 303.759.1827 x309 or email mara@sinaidenver.org.


 

 

Melissa Maahs

Staff Accountant

 

Melissa Maahs joined the Temple Sinai staff in January of 2018 as Staff Accountant. She has been in Colorado since 1991 and enjoys gardening, cooking and spending time with her two grandsons as well as her dogs and cats. Melissa is your contact for paying your account with Temple Sinai.

To contact Melissa Maahs, please call 303.759.1827 x314 or email finance@sinaidenver.org.

Carly Coons

 

We are excited to share that Carly Coons has joined the Temple Sinai team in a part-time capacity to support various programs and departments, and to help engage our incredible community.

Carly grew up at Temple Sinai and served as our Director of Youth Engagement, helping to foster an inclusive youth culture. After working at Sinai, she completed her Master of Social Work with a focus on Children, Youth and Families, and Non-Profit Management at Washington University in St. Louis. During graduate school she stayed connected to NFTY working as the Missouri Valley Regional Program Associate. Most recently, Carly served as the Assistant Director at the JCC Ranch Camp, which continues to remain near and dear to her heart.

Carly is excited to be working in the Sinai community again and looks forward to engaging with our members and supporting our staff!

To contact Carly Coons, please call 303.759.1827 or email carly@sinaidenver.org.

Education & Youth

 

Ron Leff

Director of Education

 

Ron Leff has been involved in the field of Jewish education for over 30 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.

 

 

Sheila Purdin

Director of Early Childhood Education

 

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.

 

 

 

Kelsey Oliver

Preschool Operations Manager

 

Kelsey Oliver is a Temple Sinai Preschool alum. She started her career with Temple Sinai as an Assistant Teacher and moved through the ranks becoming a Lead Teacher in a 2-year-old and then a 4-year-old classroom.  Kelsey has settled in the preschool office but still enjoys visiting the classrooms. In Kelsey's free time you can find her spending time with her family and enjoying being a mom.

To contact Kelsey Oliver, please call 303.759-0755 or email kelsey@sinaidenver.org.

Sat, September 25 2021 19 Tishrei 5782