“Who is wise? One who learns from all people…”
~Pirkei Avot 4:1
Rabbi Sara Zober
JULY 2018 TO PRESENT
Rabbi Sara Zober grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but spent her formative Jewish years in Lancaster County, PA. After graduating from Elizabethtown College with a degree in vocal performance and conducting, she converted to Judaism and was offered the position of Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. She served there for seven years before leaving for her studies at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. While in rabbinical school, she served both Reform and Conservative synagogues from the Dakotas to the Midwest, and participated in the Rabbis Without Borders’ student retreat and other interdenominational work. Her studies at HUC focused on the subjects of Jewish ethics and spirituality, and she received her Masters’ in Hebrew Letters in 2017. Her rabbinical thesis was entitled “Alei Shur: A Liberal Jewish Commentary on Selections from Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe’s Mussar Treatise,” and she prepared both the first English translation and commentary on that text. She was ordained in Cincinnati in 2018 and awarded the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize for the greatest contribution towards community relations by the HUC-JIR faculty.
Rabbi Benjamin Zober
JULY 2018 TO PRESENT
Rabbi Benjamin Zober grew up in Cleveland, Ohio learning to love winter, doomed sports franchises, and corned beef. After graduating from Brandeis University with a degree in European Cultural Studies and a minor in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, he returned to Cleveland and earned his J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. During his years as a lawyer, he spent time as a public defender, representing death row inmates in capital appeals. Seeking a more proactive approach to helping his community, Rabbi Zober applied to rabbinical school. During his time at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, he served communities in Michigan, West Virginia, Florida, and Illinois. Committed to social justice, Rabbi Zober served as a Social Justice Fellow in Cincinnati and attended the Religious Action Center’s Consultation on Conscience. His rabbinical thesis, “A Light Unto the Nation: 3 Jewish-American Responses to the Holocaust” detailed largely unknown efforts to intervene on behalf of Jews during the Shoah. He was ordained in 2018 and was awarded the Cora Kahn Prize for the graduating senior whose sermon delivery and oratory are considered to be the best. In his spare time (or what remains with rabbinical duties and being a proud step-dad to three wonderful kids) he likes to read, run, and make pop-up books.
As a couple, the Rabbis Zober live and work together, make goals together, and care for each other when they fall short. This is what communities at their best do for all of their members. The Rabbis’ hope is to help Temple Sinai nurture a Jewish community in touch with its values, a truly holy community united in its mission and vision for the future.
- The Rabbis’ Message (regular newsletter articles from our rabbis)
Rabbi Emerita Myra Soifer
AUGUST 1984 TO JUNE 2009
SEPTEMBER 2012 TO JUNE 2013
Rabbi Emerita Myra Soifer served as Temple Sinai’s rabbi for 25 years (from August 1984 through June 2009). Prior to coming to Reno, Rabbi Soifer served as the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Sinai in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was ordained in 1978, by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rabbi Soifer’s activities at Temple Sinai in Reno included services of worship and life cycle, teaching, home and hospital visits, community lectures, and private counseling. She is the author of numerous published articles on a variety of Jewish topics.
Retired on June 30, 2009, Rabbi Soifer retains the title “Rabbi Emerita.” She has been granted life-time membership at our Temple.
Rabbi Soifer also came back to Sinai for nine months (September 2012 through June 2013) and provided full rabbinic services during our search for a permanent rabbi. She re-entered retirement on June 30, 2013.
Where in the World is Myra?
FOLLOW THE WANDERING RABBI TO RWANDA AND BEYOND.
Hi all! Myra Soifer here. Many of you know me as your (former) Rabbi. Others of you are friends and adopted family. Most of you are all that and more! This is my first blog ever!, as I prepare to head out to Rwanda (9/17) with the Peace Corps.
Then, click the “Follow” button on the bottom right-hand of the blogsite page to get the updated postings emailed to you when they are published!
Rabbi Paul Tuchman
1982 – 1984
Rabbi Abraham L. Fineberg
Rabbi Emeritus, Holy Blossom Temple
1943 – 1961
Honorary Rabbi-in-Residence, Temple Sinai
1976 – 1986
Michael E. Gorden
President from 2019 to Present
I grew up in Southern California for about 10 years and then moved to Reno in 1986. I grew up in a Reform Jewish Home. As a youth and an adult, I have always ensured to the best of my ability to belong to a Synagogue. I have been happily married (Don’t tell my wife) to my wife Jennifer for almost 14 years now and we have three rambunctious children – Nathaniel 11 years, Shalom 10 years (no he is not peaceful), and that red-headed child who everyone thinks is cute–boy she has everyone fooled–Sasha 4 years. I am a Social Worker and have been working for the State of Nevada for about 12 years and currently am the Manager of three District Offices for Medicaid. I also have been in the Bowling business (My Hobby) for over 25 years. Currently, I am a supervisor at Coconut Bowl and I am an Association Manager for the Greater Reno-Sparks Bowling Association. My family and I have been members for about 5 years currently. I attended services as a teenager and into adulthood – as long as I have been in the Reno area. I served on the Board for three years as a Member-at-Large and just completed my second year as the Chair of Building/Grounds and Security Committee. My family and I are always involved with events and holidays and try our best to volunteer time and labor to help out. We are very dedicated to Temple Sinai. I am honored to serve as President for our Greater Sinai Community. I feel that I bring a positive, analytical, methodological, and Social Work perspective to growing and engaging our community in leading Temple Sinai.
- From the President (regular newsletter article from our president)
President Michael E. Gorden 1st Vice-President, Strategic Planning Beth Slamowitz 2nd Vice-President, Membership Russ Kotlicky Financial Officer Jay Goldberg Treasurer Marilyn Roberts Secretary Ignacio Montoya Member-at-Large Tova McGilvray Member-at-Large Sarah Friedman Member-at-Large Jeremy Gelman Member-at-Large Evangelyna Thurman-Silva Member-at-Large Lynda Goldman Immediate Past President John N. Louie Sisterhood President Joan Brickman
Men’s Club President
Michael E. Gorden (President) — I grew up in Southern California for about 10 years and then moved to Reno in 1986. I grew up in a Reform Jewish Home. As a youth and an adult, I have always ensured to the best of my ability to belong to a Synagogue. I have been happily married (Don’t tell my wife) to my wife Jennifer for almost 14 years now and we have three rambunctious children – Nathaniel 11 years, Shalom 10 years (no he is not peaceful), and that red-headed child who everyone thinks is cute–boy she has everyone fooled–Sasha 4 years. I am a Social Worker and have been working for the State of Nevada for about 12 years and currently am the Manager of three District Offices for Medicaid. I also have been in the Bowling business (My Hobby) for over 25 years. Currently, I am a supervisor at Coconut Bowl and I am an Association Manager for the Greater Reno-Sparks Bowling Association. My family and I have been members for about 5 years currently. I attended services as a teenager and into adulthood – as long as I have been in the Reno area. I served on the Board for three years as a Member-at-Large and just completed my second year as the Chair of Building/Grounds and Security Committee. My family and I are always involved with events and holidays and try our best to volunteer time and labor to help out. We are very dedicated to Temple Sinai. I am honored to serve as President for our Greater Sinai Community. I feel that I bring a positive, analytical, methodological, and Social Work perspective to growing and engaging our community in leading Temple Sinai.
Beth Slamowitz (1st VP Strategic Planning) — I moved to Reno with my family in July of 2013. We have been members of Temple Sinai for almost six years. I served on the Board as a Member-at-Large in 2017, and have been the Chair of the Familyhood Committee for the last three years. My husband Adam has also been a member of Temple Sinai’s Board. Our two boys, Russell and Matthew, are active in Sinai School, and Russell will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in 2020. I currently work for the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services as a Senior Policy Advisor in the field of Pharmacy. Adam and I will be married 13 years this May and we enjoy spending our free time in Lake Tahoe and watching our boys play competitive baseball.
Russ Kotlicky (2nd VP, Membership) — Russ Kotlicky and his wife Lynn, moved to Reno from Chicago, IL on May 2006. They have been actively involved with Temple Sinai’s familyhood and school programs with their daughter Carly. Throughout his childhood and adult life, he was a member of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Deerfield, IL and celebrated his bar mitzvah, wedding, and baby naming. Russ works as the Director of the Collections, Portfolio Management Team at Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc., the finance arm of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. He has been actively involved with Temple Sinai volunteer work for the past several years, including a lead role mentoring and facilitating the Temple Sinai co-sponsoring efforts to the Syrian refugee family, the Zarours. More recently, he served on the 2017-2018 Rabbi Search Committee and helped with the rabbi transition plan efforts. He has over 25 years of business experience including leadership and consulting roles at various finance auto finance companies. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Depaul University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University.
Jay Goldberg (Finance Officer) — Jay Goldberg, and his wife Amy, moved to Reno in January 2016. He works as the Vice President, Internal Audit at Employers Holdings Inc., a workers’ compensation insurance company. He has served on several Temple Boards, both in Houston and New Jersey, as a member-at-large and as both Vice President and Secretary; and Judaism has always been an important part of his life. He has over 25 years of business experience including starting and leading the internal audit function at various companies, both public and private, for over 15 years. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Bentley University McCallum Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University.
Marilyn Roberts (Treasurer) — Marilyn and her husband Ken have lived in the Reno/Sparks area for over 12 years after moving from Brea, CA where they lived for 30 years. They have two grown children still living in Orange County. Keith is a lead software engineer and Jennifer is a CPA with Ernst and Young. Marilyn has a BA in Math and an MBA in Operations Research and Accounting from UCLA. She ‘retired’ from a yogurt manufacturer doing purchasing, inventory management, and plant accounting. She has served on several synagogue boards and was the Administrator/Financial VP at Adat Ari for 11 years, and Religious Practices VP at Temple Beth Tikvah for eight years, both in Orange County. She has been the Chair of Temple Sinai Jewish Practice Committee for several years, involved with the finance committee, and has also served as treasurer on the Temple Sinai Board. She has been a member of the Sinai community for over 12 years.
Ignacio Montoya (Secretary) — Though I came to Reno from New York City, my roots are in the West. I was born in southern New Mexico and was raised in a small town on the border of the United States and Mexico. At the age of 13, I moved with my family to Arizona, where they continue to live in the Phoenix metropolitan area. After graduating from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I became a teacher. My first teaching assignment was a kindergarten and first grade bilingual class in Los Angeles. I continued to teach for eleven years at the elementary and middle school level in Los Angeles and then New York prior to beginning my graduate work in linguistics. While in New York City, I formalized the interest in Judaism that I had been cultivating for several years. I officially converted in June 2010. While in New York, I was a member of B’nai Jeshurun, where I participated regularly in services, took adult education classes, and volunteered for the homeless shelter associated with the synagogue. Upon completing my Ph.D. at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, I moved to Reno in August of 2017 to begin my job as an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Among my current research interests are Indigenous languages and language revitalization. For my dissertation, I focused on Hebrew, Navajo, and Spanish. I continue to be interested in those languages and have also started to study the Indigenous languages of the area, starting with Northern Paiute. My first weekend in Reno I attended Kabbalat Shabbat services at Temple Sinai, and from that point on I have been involved with the synagogue in a wide variety of capacities and have formed strong connections with many members of the Temple Sinai community. In addition to attending Shabbat and other holiday services regularly, I have also served on the Jewish Practice Committee and on the organizing committee for Shabbat Unplugged. I participated in the adult b’nei mitzvah class and chanted Torah not only in the b’nei mitzvah service but also for Rosh Hashanah, Simchat Torah, and for a Saturday morning service. I have also led Torah study and a Friday night service when the rabbis were away. In addition to my involvement with Temple Sinai, I spend my non-work time in Reno skiing during the winter, hiking during the summer, and meeting up with friends for meals and movies throughout the whole year.
Tova McGilvray (Member-at-Large) — Tova McGilvray was “Battle Born” and raised in Reno, Nevada and is a graduate of UNR’s writing program. She has worked in Title and Escrow for six years and looks forward to a long career helping people make Reno their home. She trained most of her life as a dancer and thespian, and cut her teeth at leadership managing and choreographing productions. Her experience co-founding the Nada Dada Art Show exposed her to the plight of the residents in Reno’s weekly motels and introduced her to community activism. While always identified as a Nevada Jew, it was not until attending Temple Sinai only three years ago that she found a home where she could practice community service from a proudly Jewish perspective. Tova now chairs the Temple Sinai Social Action Committee, sits on the Temple Board and is the upcoming president of the Rotary Club of Reno Midtown.
Sarah Friedman (Member-at-Large) — I have been very pleased to join the most recent generation of new Temple Sinai members. Joining Temple Sinai upon moving to Reno in 2017 was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a new Reno resident. Friends I’ve made through the temple have already helped my family make our transition from Los Angeles, CA (where I’d finished graduate school) to Reno. The meal train organized after the birth of our son was welcoming beyond belief, and I’ve taken great joy in helping to set up meal trains for other families over the past year as the Caring Committee Meal Train organizer. I’ve enjoyed bringing my family to Friday night services with long-time and new members alike and getting to know the congregation at our onegs.
My Jewish identify was forged at B’nai Israel, a reform synagogue in Sacramento, Ca. One of my first jobs was working as a madricha and as a song leader bringing camp and Israeli folks songs to the Sunday school classes. As a child and teenager, I spent several wonderful summers at Camp Swig, a Jewish summer camp in the Santa Cruz mountains, learning about Jewish traditions and developing a strong sense of social justice. Between leaving Sacramento for college on the East Coast and eventually moving to Reno (14 years for anyone counting), my sense of social justice steered me towards a career in public health, with a strong interest in reducing health disparities throughout the healthcare system. I now teach health policy and research methods in the UNR School of Community Health Sciences and have recently embarked on a new role as the UNR Hillel faculty co-Advisor to students. I have been a member of the Sinai community for two years, and it would be an honor to further contribute to the Jewish community as a Member-At-Large on the Temple Sinai Board.
Jeremy Gelman (Member-at-Large) — I was born and raised in Denver, CO and grew up in a very active Jewish home. I attended Jewish Day School, went to a Jewish summer camp, and was very involved with the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) in high school. After graduating from college, I pursued a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan. I completed my degree in 2016 and was hired to work in the UNR Political Science Department. Instead of moving to Reno right away, I spent a year working in the United States Senate. My wife, Michelle, and I finally arrived in the summer of 2017 and quickly became a part of the Sinai community. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, hiking, and watching my hometown Denver sports teams.
Evangelyna Thurman-Silva (Member-at-Large) — I grew up in Jamestown, California, a small town about an hour west of Yosemite, but I’ve lived in several other states before coming to Reno. This will be my second year in Reno, I moved for a job as a 911 dispatcher after being a paramedic for a number of years. I currently work from home as a transcriptionist to give me more time with my family and to be able to homeschool my son. I love to travel, especially road trips with my family. I also like to read and play musical instruments. I enjoy needlework – sewing, knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch. I’m starting to get into weaving as well. We have only been Sinai members for a short time, I think since the beginning of the school year. Our son attends the Hebrew school on Sundays and primarily my involvement has been with that. I’ll make suggestions to the Rabbis if I have an idea that I think would be fun and engaging for families in regards to holidays. If I come across a curriculum I think would be good to implement or games for the kids to try during Hebrew school, I’ll bring it up. I think it’s important to help keep the children engaged and learning and excited about being Jewish; they’re the future. I would love to be involved in any way that I can to help keep Sinai going strong in the years to come.
Lynda Goldman (Member-at-Large) — Lynda moved to Reno in 2014 and immediately joined Temple Sinai (TS). She has served on the TS Board and as a member of various committees. She is passionately committed to our TS Mission, Vision, and Values. Lynda’s Jewish heritage is central to her identity and informs how she lives her life.
Lynda is a Leadership and Organizational Development Consultant, working primarily in academia, healthcare, and financial services. She attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for her undergraduate and master’s degrees and The George Washington University for her doctoral degree.
Lynda grew up in Miami Beach, FL. She is blessed with a daughter, Monica, a son-in-law, Peter, and a 3-year-old grandson, Thomas; all living in the Bay Area. She is fortunate to have three sisters, and multiple nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews in Southern California and Florida as well as many wonderful friends. She is also most grateful for our amazing TS Kehillah!
John N. Louie (Immediate Past President) — John Louie (President) grew up in Southern California, where his parents had been Israeli folk dancing since 1962. He started Israeli dancing 32 years ago while working on his Ph.D. at Caltech’s Seismo Lab. Recruited to Nevada in 1992, he teaches geophysics at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, doing research in energy exploration and earthquake hazards. The family began attending Sinai services in 1999, with both Anna and Ben becoming B’nei Mitzvah at Sinai. First joining the Sinai Board in 2001 as Secretary, John subsequently converted with Rabbi Soifer. John served the Temple Sinai Board of Trustees as President from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019.
- CLICK HERE for more information on Temple Sinai’s committees and how you can become involved.