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Clergy and Staff

Clergy

We are fortunate to have two co-rabbis serving our congregation. Both Rabbis Moffic and Serotta are actively involved in Jewish education teaching weekly Torah study, adult education classes, downtown lunch and learn programs and they work closely with the confirmation class.

Rabbi Isaac Serotta

Rabbi ‘Ike’ Serotta is committed in both word and deed to social justice. He is a strong advocate for civil rights, women’s rights, voter’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant and refugee rights. He is also active in interfaith dialogue, with service as past president of the Southeast Lake County Clergy Association and similar roles with the Greater Milwaukee Interfaith Council as well as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He teaches regularly in interfaith study groups.

Rabbi Serotta is easily approachable to both adults and children. He is passionate about sports, music and movies. Congregants consider him to be scholarly, highly personable and uncommonly kind and caring.

Rabbi Serotta is married to Ceilanne Libber and has three children.

Rabbi Evan Moffic

Respected as a Jewish thought leader both in the Chicago area and nationally, Rabbi Moffic is the author of four best-selling books. He is regularly featured as part of the Religion Panel on Fox and Friends and on CNN, and his articles appear in Huffington Post.

The Chicago Tribune described our Rabbi Moffic as “a brilliant antidote to all that divides us. He constructs bridges where others drive wedges” and “the Rabbi we’d love to call our own. Humble, wise and good beyond words.”

Rabbi Moffic graduated Stanford University and ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2006. After serving 3 years as at Chicago Sinai Congregation, he joined Congregation Solel in 2009. He is married to Rabbi Arielle Moffic. They have two children.

Rabbi Dov Taylor

Emeritus Rabbi at Makom Solel Lakeside

Coming to us from Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts, Dov Taylor became Congregation Solel’s third rabbi, serving for a quarter of a century from 1984 to 2009. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1968, he went on to do postgraduate work in Modern Hebrew literature at Brandeis University. He has taught at Brandeis, New England College and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, and has been a Visiting Scholar at Oxford and the Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellow at Harvard.

In 1965 Rabbi Taylor founded Torah Corps—an intensive summer experience in Jewish living and learning for teenagers from the United States and Canada—and directed it for twenty years. Many participants in the program have gone on to become rabbis, cantors, academics, educators and Jewish leaders.

In addition to writing, teaching and lecturing, Rabbi Taylor has been a strong supporter of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, affordable housing initiatives and separation of church and state. Dov and Judith now make their home in Woodstock, Vermont, where he leads Chavurat Ki-tov - A Gathering for Jewish Life and Learning.

Cantor Jay O’Brien

Whether you are hungry for music with an uptempo beat or something mellow to stir your soul, Cantor Jay O’Brien delivers it all.

With a fine tenor voice equally suited to singing opera or show tunes, Cantor O’Brien appeals to Jews of many different demographics and denominations through his fusion of traditional, contemporary, folk, and classical musical genres in Jewish worship and communal life.

His interfaith background and observant Jewish upbringing makes him an inspiring and compelling musical leader.

Educational Staff

Ashley Plotnick, Director of Congregational Learning

Ashley believes Jewish education must address children’s social, emotional, and spiritual needs, while engaging them in and out of the classroom. She is passionate about involving adults in Jewish learning, and loves teaching Mussar (character development based on Jewish values) to all ages.

Ashley holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, as well as Master’s degrees in Education and Social Work from Widener University.

Vanessa M. Ehrlich, RJE, Director of Lifelong Learning

Vanessa believes that a Jewish education is a lifetime journey and, for that reason, manages a vibrant Adult Education program, enriched significantly by her deep knowledge of contemporary issues in faith and religion. In addition to being integrally involved in the identification of quality speakers to support adult learning, Vanessa teaches classes, conducts book groups, and takes an active role in our Adult B’nai Mitzvah classes.

Vanessa holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a Masters of Jewish Education from Spertus College.

Simcha Ackerman, B’nai Mitzvah Educator

Simcha joined our staff as a Religious School teacher in 1995. In 2003 she became the B’nai Mitzvah Educator and began tutoring b’nai mitzvah students.

Simcha is the person who assigns b’nai mitzvah dates, currently tutors all b’nai mitzvah students and helps with coordinating the b’nai mitzvah service by meeting with families. She attends all b’nai mitzvah services.

Simcha also teaches hevruta, a small group b’nai mitzvah preparatory course. Hevruta meets on Tuesdays and Sundays before religious school, and Simcha also works with students needing additional Hebrew help during Religious School hours.

Professional Staff

 

Rick Schuster, Executive Director

Rick brings a unique blend of senior management experience and sustained passion for Makom Solel Lakeside Congregation to his role as Executive Director. Rick plays a crucial role in many of the vital operations governing our congregation including overseeing administrative and support staff, strategic planning, budgeting, technology, facilities, maintenance, and implementation of new policies and procedures. Starting out with a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, he has followed a diversified career path with ownership and executive level positions focusing primarily on the sales, marketing and strategic planning aspects of closely-held enterprise.

Rick served on the Board of Directors for nearly 12 years – including a term as president – and then remained active on several committee assignments after leaving formal board appointment. He was very instrumental in establishing the popular Sunday morning Adult Enrichment program.

Rick and his wife Mary live in Deerfield. They have been members for over 25 years and their two grown children, Ann and Ben, are confirmands of the religious school program.

Amy Blechman, Executive Coordinator & Assistant to Clergy

Amy has broad responsibilities within the congregation. Since Amy joined the congregation staff in 2017, she has been responsible for assisting the clergy members and she is the one to contact for life cycle events. She works with families throughout the b’nai mitzvah process. Amy is the one to go to for information on renting space in the building as well as for general requests and questions. Amy greatly enjoys the warm environment of Makom Solel Lakeside.

Amy earned her Bachelor’s degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, her MBA at Northwestern's Kellogg School and is a CPA. You can often find Amy and her family at just about any sporting event!

Leah Neiman, Director of Communications 

Leah is Makom Solel Lakeside's Director of Communications. Leah received her LL.B. from Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law while completing her Israel Ministry of Law mediation certification. After being called to the Israeli Bar, Leah moved to Chicago and joined Zelda's Catering, helping North Shore families plan their mitzvahs, weddings and private events. She has experience as a teacher at Emanuel Congregation’s Hebrew School program, manages a popular Facebook community group devoted to Challah baking enthusiasts, and has served as a synagogue membership committee chairperson. Leah comes to Makom Solel Lakeside with a passion for fostering strong community engagement through impactful communications, and takes pride in our congregation’s unique set of values, warm inclusiveness and rich history. She lives in Skokie with her husband and two children.

Rikki Carl-Goldberg, Graphic Designer

Rikki joined our community in 2016, has a Fine Arts degree focused on graphic design and runs her own graphic design company outside of Makom Solel Lakeside. Having grown up on the North Shore, she has a great connection to the Jewish community and has a background in Jewish studies. Rikki is devoted to helping others and bringing a creative and fun environment to our congregation!

Stephanie Sohn, Administrative Assistant

Stephanie's smile can be seen in the office and heard on the phone when you call Makom Solel Lakeside. She can handle just about any request such as making a donation or checking a Yahrzeit date. Her degrees in sociology and human resource management give her the perfect background for her role in our community. Stephanie and her husband live in Northbrook with their two children.

Thu, July 2 2020 10 Tammuz 5780