Rabbi Steven G. Sager (email: email@example.com)-Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Sager served as Beth El’s rabbi for 32 years. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and earned a Ph.D. in Rabbinic Literature at Duke University. Rabbi Sager has been a teacher, rabbinic advisor and mentor for students and graduates of the RRC, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary and the Rabbinical School of the Boston Hebrew College. Rabbi Sager is an adjunct faculty member of Duke Divinity School and has taught at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and in the Department of Social Medicine at the UNC Medical School. Rabbi Sager is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he is also a leader of the Rabbinic Programs Advisory Committee and of the Rabbinic Havurah program. Rabbi Sager served as President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and of the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis (GCAR); co-director of the GCAR Interfaith Institute, Scholar in Residence on numerous occasions for the GCAR, as well as serving in this capacity in congregations throughout the United States. Rabbi Sager has published articles in The Reconstructionist, The Journal of Religious Education, and The Southern Medical Journal. Rabbi Sager now serves as the Director of Sicha, a project to stimulate conversations between classical Jewish culture and contemporary Jewish needs.
Casey Baker (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Executive Director
Casey came to Durham from Brooklyn, NY in 2014. In Brooklyn, he served as the Executive Director of the Park Slope Jewish Center. Prior to working in Brooklyn, he was the Senior Manager for Long Term Israel Programs with Young Judaea. Casey grew up in the Young Judaea movement attending camps and participating in Israel programs. He spent his summers in college and beyond working at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in New York. Casey is a native of Los Angeles, CA (go Dodgers!) and is a graduate of the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University). During his tenure with Young Judaea, he graduated from Baruch College with a Masters in Public Administration focused on Nonprofit Management. Casey and his wife, Keri, and their children, Sadie and Avi are enjoying the South after leaving the hustle and bustle of New York City behind.
Elisabeth Albert Gerson (email: email@example.com) – Education and Youth Director
Elisabeth came to Durham from Brooklyn, NY in 2013. In Brooklyn, she served as the Director of Family Education and the Hebrew School Principal at the Park Slope Jewish Center for eight years. Elisabeth also completed a fellowship with the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators (http://www.leader-institute.org), a program that develops leadership and pedagogy for congregational school educators. Elisabeth hails from St. Louis, MO (Go Cards!) and is a graduate of the Solomon Schechter Day School. She spent her high school and college summers as a Rosh Aidah (Unit Head) at Machane Ramot Amoona and graduated from List College, the dual degree program with Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary with a B.A. in Anthropology and a B.A. in Jewish History. She also makes “the best challah in the world.”
Sheri Hoffman (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Congregational Services Coordinator
Sheri’s is usually the first face you’ll see or voice you’ll hear when you come by or call the synagogue. Sheri grew up in Los Angeles and at Temple Beth Am, where her grandparents were founding members and, coincidentally, where Rabbi Greyber founded the Neshama Minyan while at rabbinical school. Sheri visited Chapel Hill in 1973, fell in love with the Triangle area and moved to Durham, but studied History at UNC Chapel Hill; she remains fiercely agnostic about basketball teams. Sheri worked as an administrator (and cake decorator!) for many years before becoming Rabbi Friedman’s secretary in 1987 and managing the front office at Judea Reform until 2000, when she moved to England. It was beshert that Beth El was seeking a new Congregational Services Coordinator soon after her return to the Triangle. Sheri is delighted to again be part of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community, and near her son, grandson and close friends. She feels especially fortunate to be part of Beth El’s warm and welcoming synagogue life.
Sandy Fangmeier (email: email@example.com)- Kitchen Manager
Sandy moved to Durham 25 years ago after attending UCONN, Montana State University and San Francisco State University. She is a Lab Tech in the Duke Clinical Pediatric Stat lab. Sandy also has an NC Early Childhood Education certificate from Durham Tech. Sandy has served in a variety of roles throughout our Jewish community: Summer Camp director, Beth El Preschool director, religious school or music teacher at all three synagogues, and substitute teacher at the Lerner Preschool, having served on the Founding Board of the Lerner Day School. Sandy and her husband Jim are co-owners of Fangmeier Simcha Service, a kosher catering business. They both have degrees in Public Health microbiology. That experience has given Sandy a strong background to serve as our Kitchen Manager.
Jessie Bailin (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)- Communications and Marketing Associate
Jessie Bailin was born and raised in Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Jessie attended Beth El Hebrew School and celebrated her Bat Mitzvah with the congregation. She founded the first BBYO group at Beth El. Jessie is very excited to join the Beth El administrative staff. She attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (Go Vols) and was active in theater and media production during her time there. She began her career producing documentaries for TV and then realized she loved the marketing side of production more. She began marketing and booking music festivals, street festivals and then helped build websites and brands for companies. When she is not working, Jessie enjoys music, her dog, Oliver and exploring her creative side which currently focuses on jewelry making.
Rebecca Levine (email: email@example.com)- Director of Teen Engagement
Rebecca Levine graduated from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York in 2015, where she majored in Integrated Marketing Communications and minored in Communication Studies. She has been an active member in her Jewish communities for many years as a day school student, a Madricha in Hebrew School, and a Kadima/USY advisor. She served as the President of Hillel at Ithaca College and also interned with Hillel International where she focused on national engagement. She has combined her love for marketing and Jewish-life throughout different internship experiences. Rebecca grew up in Brooklyn, NY but is excited to become a southerner! Connect with Rebecca on Facebook or Instagram to learn about all of the programming for teens!
Jessie Zaleon-Lunk (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)- B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator
Jessie is a graduate of Beth El’s B’nai Mitzvah program and is thrilled to be serving in the role of B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator since June 2014. She has been involved at Beth El in a number of ways over the past decade, including as a B’nai Mitzvah tutor, Talmud Torah teacher, and Kadima advisor. Outside of Beth El, she is finishing the MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. When she’s not working or studying, she enjoys relaxing with friends and playing with her two border collie mutts.
Julie Halpert (email: email@example.com) – Youth Group Advisor