Rabbi David Levy Reiner began serving our congregation in July 2013, and was drawn to this community by his perception that our members are hungry for Judaism: spirituality, learning, and Jewish communal engagement.
Prior to arriving in Ridgefield, Rabbi Reiner served Temple Beth-El in Geneva, NY and as Hillel Campus Rabbi at the University of Rochester. Rabbi Reiner has led multiple groups of college students to Israel, and directed the prestigious Machon Kaplan summer internship program at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC for two years.
Rabbi Reiner was ordained and earned a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, following the completion of five years of study and a thesis exploring Jewish-Christian dialogue. A passionate advocate for social justice, Rabbi Reiner was a Rabbi Balfour Brickner Rabbinic Fellow for Social Justice with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and has been through extensive training with Just Congregations.
A cum laude graduate of the University of Rochester, Rabbi Reiner earned highest honors from the Department of Religion and Classics, was awarded a year of post graduate study exploring music in the African-American Community, and spent two summers working on an archeological dig in Tuscany.
An enthusiastic and kindhearted man, Rabbi Reiner is passionate about building our synagogue community, deepening relationships among our members, inspiring the future of Judaism through creative adult and youth educational programs, and developing new and meaningful approaches to Jewish tradition and worship.
Rabbi Reiner lives in Ridgefield, CT with his wife, Ashley, and their sons, Samson and Asher, and their Puggle (dog), Pancake.
To contact Rabbi Reiner, email: RabbiReiner@OurShirShalom.org
Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray is a fourth-generation cantor and the second to serve a Conservative congregation. She is the Founder (1982) and Past President of the Women Cantors’ Network. Deborah has served Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties since l999 and has been honored by the congregation for her 10th, 13th, and 18th years. In 2009 She was chosen as one of the Jewish Ledger’s Movers and Shakers in 2009.
She is the first recipient of the Debbie Friedman Miriam Award given by Miriam’s Table Women’s Seder and Chasing Light Speakers. She is currently organizing the first Women of the Wall Choir supported by the Women Cantors’ Network.
Her ten recordings and many with the Cantors Assembly Spirit Series are heard on Jewish radio stations and available at CDBaby, oysongs, and iTunes. She has published two books; Katchko-Three Generations of Cantorial Art and Prayerful Creations: Creating an heirloom tallit or challah cover using Swedish Weaving and Jewish design.
Her story is included in “The Invisible Thread- A Portrait of American Jewish Women.” Her archives are preserved with the American Jewish Archives and the National Museum of American Jewish History where two items are on permanent display. Her papers and memorabilia from her years of study with Prof. Elie Wiesel are housed in the Mugar Library at Boston University with the Elie Wiesel Archives. She is currently writing a book about her studies with him.
NPR‘s program The Story for Yom Hashoah in 2009, recorded her reunion with her Holocaust cantorial cousin, “Finding Family Through Song”. The Jewish Broadcasting Service recorded and archived her lecture, Elie Wiesel Story and Song in 2019. Deborah is an active writer with
The Times of Israel Blog. She is a founding member of Compassionate Ridgefield and is the treasurer for the Cantors Assembly CT region. Her workshop on Lessons, Stories, and Songs from Elie Wiesel is listed with the State of CT Dept of Education, Resources for teaching about the Holocaust. She is the mother of a growing family, four sons, two stepsons, four daughters-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren. She is married to Dr. F. Scott Gray of Somers Orthopedics in Danbury, CT.
To contact Cantor Katcho-Gray, email CantorDebbie@OurShirShalom.org.
Also, visit her at www.cantordebbie.com
Rabbi Jon R. Haddon was invested at the Cantorial School of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and ordained a Rabbi in 1980. He was a Cantor in Rye, NY, and the first director of the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Haddon served Temple Shearith Israel (now Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties) from 1987-2008. During his 21-year tenure, membership grew from 65 families to nearly 300 families.
He is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the American Federation of Cantors, the Rabbinic Council of The Jewish Federation and the Pastoral Advisory Committee of Danbury Hospital. He is also a former president of the Ridgefield Clergy Association.
Rabbi Haddon is the founder of the WREF radio program, “Moments of Inspiration,” and has written for many local newspapers. His article, “The Need to Teach Goodness,” was published nationwide in Reader’s Digest magazine.
A long-standing member of the Association of Religious Communities, Rabbi Haddon currently facilitates its FVEP (Family Violence Education Program), is an on-call Chaplain at Danbury Hospital, the Danbury Federal Correctional Institute, and a Police Chaplain for the Town of Ridgefield. He is a past President of the Greater Danbury Jewish Federation and is very active in AIPAC and FIDF.
Rabbi Haddon is married to Jean Haddon, the father of three grown children, and proud grandfather of six.
To contact Rabbi Haddon, email: RabbiHaddon@OurShirShalom.org
Our Directors of Education
Cathy Deutchman, our Religious School Director (RS)
Cathy’s passion for working in the Jewish community started after her junior year in Israel. She began her career as a recruiter for study programs to Israel and made Aliyah in 1999 with her husband. While living in Jerusalem, she was the Director of the Ramah English-speaking summer camp. She holds a Master’s in Education from George Washington University and is a graduate of the Leadership Institute (co-administered by the Hebrew Union College and Jewish Theological Seminary).
Since 2002, Cathy has had a number of different roles in the Jewish community including Teacher/Curriculum Head at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, Family Educator at Community Synagogue of Rye, Director of Jewish Life at Rosenthal JCC, founding Director of Young Judaea Sprout Westchester Day Camp and most recently as Assistant Director for Learning and Engagement at Temple Israel Center in White Plains.
She has three children, and lives in Croton-on-Hudson with her husband, Josh. She’s excited to be part of the Shir Shalom community, and bring her love of the Jewish people, expertise in Jewish education and skill at community-building.
Sarah Denyer, our Early Childhood Center (ECC) Director, has been an early childhood educator for over 25 years.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BS in Family and Child Studies, Sarah began her teaching career in Boulder, Colorado where she worked at the Kellogg Child Development Center during their inaugural year.
Sarah helped develop a philosophy and programs at the center in addition to being a headteacher for 5 years. Wanting to be closer to family, she moved back to Westchester County, NY, and continued with her passion for working with young children, first at the Rippowam-Cisqua School and later at the New Canaan Nature Center. Sarah also founded and directed Little Explorers Preschool Enrichment before joining the faculty at the ECC in 2017.
She lives in South Salem, NY with her husband, Nic, and teenaged sons, Kieran and Logan. Sarah loves being a part of the warm, welcoming, and tight-knit community at Congregation Shir Shalom.
Leslie Gottlieb, is our Director of Education, Emerita. With over thirty years’ experience as an educator, Leslie taught high and middle school English for many years before moving to this area.
Prior to her role as Director at our school, Leslie taught culture and Hebrew for grade three and culture for grade six at Jewish Family Congregation (JFC). She has also worked as Director of the Pound Ridge Day Camp and was a columnist for a local publication.
In addition to running the Religious School, setting curriculum and developing programming, Leslie helps oversee our relationship with the URJ Camps programs. We are pleased to note that our students — ages seven through young adulthood – are highly represented at the URJ camps. She is the facilitator for the Youth Group at Shir Shalom, and also runs and teaches the Student Mentor Program for students in grades nine through twelve.
She has run many adult programs over the years and continues to welcome learning opportunities for all kinds of learners at all ages. She lives with her husband, Larry, in Pound Ridge. Their three children attended our school program through confirmation; two of their children participated in the Mentor Program and Youth Group through grade twelve.
Jane Emmer, Early Childhood Center Director Emerita, has been an educator for over 25 years. Jane holds both a Bachelors and a Masters in Education. Prior to accepting the position as director of our ECC, Jane founded and directed South Salem Enrichment, where she still runs a private tutoring program and college counseling business. Jane sat on the Board of the URJ camps Eisner and Crane Lake. She currently lives in South Salem and New York City with her husband, Stu. She has been an active member of the Jewish community for 20 years. Jane has two sons, Andrew and Matthew, and a step-daughter, Miranda.
The Board of Trustees of Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties is elected by the membership to oversee all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the synagogue in conformance to current by-laws. Board meetings are held throughout the year, on a monthly basis. The Board consists of 18 trustees, of which 5-7 serve as officers and members of the Executive Committee. Our current Officers and Trustees are listed below.
Lynn Broder Trustee Larry Brooks Co-President Lesly Burns Chief Financial Officer Jody Cross Secretary Jeff Gorelick Immediate Past President Terry Henry Trustee Steve Landzberg Trustee Michael Neiman Trustee Stacey Neumann Trustee David Pazer Trustee Adam Rubinfeld Trustee Marc Sheridan Executive Vice President Alan Waldman Trustee Steven Waldinger Trustee Michael Zeitz Trustee Tiffany Zezula Vice President
Our first Executive Director, Mark Block, has accumulated more than thirty years of professional and volunteer experience in Jewish communal affairs; in executive leadership positions, marketing communications and development.
Before joining Congregation Shir Shalom, he served UConn Hillel as the Director of Development, and prior to that, over a decade with distinction and professional skill as the second longest tenured executive director of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Bridgeport, where he was honored with the congregation’s highest accolade, the Shem Tov (Good Name) Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award among other community honors. He is a member of the Reform Movement’s National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA). Additionally, Mark is currently a member and previously served on the Board of Governors of the Conservative Movement’s North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE), is a Fellow in Synagogue Administration and a certified fundraising professional through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
Prior to his synagogue career, Mark worked for twenty years in Marketing Communications, nearly all for Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in Danbury, CT, and was honored with numerous Community Service Awards, Corporate Chairman’s Awards and Marketing Communications recognitions. He is most proud of his work spearheading the company’s National Environmental Achievement Award entry where (UCC) was recognized for presenting the first eco-friendly, recyclable binder for corporate, campus and personal use.
Mark resides in Trumbull, CT with his wife, Ann, a retired school social worker. They are proud parents of daughter, Emily, Assistant Executive Director Cornell University Hillel.
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