Rabbi Lawrence Troster passed away on May 24, 2019
Rabbi Lawrence Troster is one of this country’s leading Jewish eco-theologians and religious environmental leaders. He is the founder and coordinator of Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors For the Earth and the Rabbinic Scholar-in-Residence of GreenFaith the interfaith environmental coalition in New Jersey and the former creator and director of the GreenFaith’s Fellowship program. He is part of the leadership team of Ourvoices.net a worldwide movement of people of all faiths advocating for a strong climate treaty. He is also the Rabbi-in-Residence at the Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College.
Rabbi Troster was also the Rabbinic Fellow for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL). Rabbi Troster contributes to the Huffington Post, and he has published numerous articles and has lectured widely on eco-theology, bio-ethics, and Judaism and modern science.
He is the author of Mekor Hayyim: A Source Book on Water and Judaism (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 2012). And is also the author of the chapter on Jewish environment ethics in The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews, edited by Martin S. Cohen & Michael Katz, (The Rabbinical Assembly, 2012)
He received his B.A. from the University of Toronto and his M.A. and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is presently working on a Doctor of Minstry in Eco-ministry at Drew University. He was given an honorary Doctor of Divinity by JTS for his more than 25 years of rabbinic service. Rabbi Troster was honored by the Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest worldwide interfaith organizations, as an Interfaith Visionary.
Rabbi Troster has been the Jewish Chaplain of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and an Associate of Bard’s Institute of Advanced Theology and Advisor to Students and Adjunct Lecturer the Rabbinical and Graduate Schools of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, the Academy for Jewish Religion and Drew Theological School. He also served as the rabbi of several congregations in New Jersey and Toronto, Canada.
Rabbi Troster is married to Elaine Kahn and has two daughters, two sons-in-law, three granddaughters and one grandson.
Cantor Rick Lawrence has been singing and playing piano since childhood, and is happy to take his passion and use it to serve the Jewish community. On the bima leading services, singing with people of all ages or playing with ensembles, Cantor Lawrence enjoys bringing people together through music. He loves learning and engaging with students of all ages, and likes exploring Jewish texts as a way to help us shape our own Judaism today. He is an eager teacher of Jewish musical history, traditional chant, and liturgical music.
Originally from Ann Arbor Michigan, Cantor Lawrence graduated from Oberlin College in 2008 with a BA in Jewish Studies. He received his Cantorial Ordination and Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew College in 2014. He is the recipient of the Cecilia and Harry Needle Fund Award from Hebrew College. He has had the pleasure of working with such people as Cantor Jeff Klepper, Josh Jacobson, and Yehudi Weiner. He has sung with many ensembles, including the Zamir Chorale of Boston, and was the featured soloist for the Newton Choral Society’s performance of Ernest Bloch’s “Avodat HaKodesh” (Sacred Service). He served as the Cantor of Temple Emanu El in Cleveland Ohio from 2014 through 2019.
Having studied how previous composers of Jewish music have taken their received musical tradition and blended it with contemporary musical styles, Cantor Lawrence has embarked on a similar musical journey. He has composed several pieces of Jewish music designed for synagogue use wherein our received musical tradition, nusach, is mixed with contemporary musical styles to help create synagogue music for today’s generation. He has since compiled these pieces into a Friday night service titled T’filot S’fateinu, the prayers of our lips.
Rachel Mussaf (Muh-suf) is the newest member of the Kesher Israel staff. She serves as the Education Director and is an integral part of the David Ari and Michael Eric Zukin Religious School. Rachel graduated from the University of Arizona in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Theory and received her Elementary Education Teaching certification from West Chester University in 2005. Shortly after graduating, Rachel began teaching Hebrew School at Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, DE and found her true passion! Jewish Education is very important to Rachel and it shows in her dedication and creativity when working with Jewish children and their families. In 2009, Rachel became the Assistant Director of Education at Congregation Beth Shalom and helped to grow their Hebrew School for 5 years. In 2014, Rachel began working at Temple Beth El in Newark, DE as their Synagogue Administrator. This position was all encompassing and taught Rachel many of the skills she holds today. While at Temple Beth El, Rachel not only served as Administrator, but she was in charge of payroll/billing and served as the B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator as well. In the Summer of 2017, Rachel was offered the Religious School Administrator position at Temple Beth El in addition to her other responsibilities. Rachel was thrilled to be getting back into a school setting and creating new and unique programs for the families at TBE. Over the course of her time within the Religious School, Rachel specialized in bringing new, creative and innovative programs to the students and families at TBE. In addition to her full-time positions, Rachel has also been a private Hebrew and B’nai Mitzvah tutor since 2014.
Rachel and her husband Josh live in Claymont, Delaware with their 2 children, Jenna (10) and Henry (8). Rachel’s family have been members at Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, DE since 2007. The Mussaf’s are looking forward to getting to know everyone at Kesher Israel Congregation and becoming part of this wonderful community.
Gail DeMarco began in 1998 as a co-director and teacher at Kesher Israel Preschool / Kindergarten. She has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education since 1988. Gail works mostly in an administrative capacity with teachers and families, as well as teaching a toddler class. She also leads the Tot Shabbat Service with Rohna Paskow.
Gail earned her Early Childhood Education degree from Temple University in 1982 and received her Core Director’s Certificate in 2006. Gail is the recipient of the Ateret Kavod award for an outstanding and well-rounded Jewish early childhood program. Gail continues her education through various workshops and with the Director’s Council at Jewish Learning Venture. She and Rohna continually develop curriculum at the preschool and kindergarten to remain current with the Pennsylvania State Standards and to make sure they are involved with the best and most current early childhood practices.
Gail has a fulfilling home life as well. She shares thirty-five years of marriage with Howard and has two young adult children, Bryan, Lauren and her husband Phil and beautiful grandson, Owen. She loves vacations (especially going to the beach), trying new restaurants and spending time with family and friends!
Lannie Hulnick joined the Kesher Israel staff in August 2014, as the Chief Community Builder. In this position, Lannie is responsible for coordinating all activities within the congregation and in their outreach efforts. Originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada, Lannie received a degree in Religious Studies and Sociology from the University of Calgary. Lannie moved to the Philadelphia area to attend Gratz College where she received a Masters Degree in Jewish Communal studies. Upon graduation, Lannie worked for the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, and then for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in the Chester County and Delaware County office.
In addition to the role of Executive Director, Lannie is the Director of the Chester County Hebrew High School at Kesher Israel
Lannie and her husband Scott live in West Chester and have twins, Hannah and Andrew. Lannie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, exercising and having fun!
Marci Rinaudo became a permanent member of the Kesher Israel Office Staff in 2015. She provides support for the synagogue and religious school, assists in programming and works with our families to coordinate all aspects of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process. Marci graduated in 1987 with a B.S. in Marketing and a B.A. in Literature from Philadelphia University. Marci received her J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 1993.
Marci and her husband Rick are members of Kesher Israel and live in West Chester with their wonderful children Julia and Harry.
Eileen Olenik started working in the Kesher Israel office in 2004. Before that, she worked as an aide in the preschool. She enjoys interacting with everyone who calls or stops in the office and will help to answer any and all questions. Eileen provides clerical and administrative support to the Rabbi, the Education Director and to the President. Eileen graduated from Penn State University in 1977 with a degree in Marketing. She worked in the corporate office of Acme Markets and then with Amtrak for many years after college. Eileen has been married for 31 years and has four children, all of whom are now out of college. She enjoys time with family and friends, exercising, and going to the beach.
Jennifer Kamph became the librarian of the Rebecca Kauffman Memorial Library in 2014, working to promote Jewish resources and provide educational programs for the children and adults of our congregation.
She enjoys working with Religious School students and maintains our extensive collection of Jewish materials.
Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in education from Kent State University. After graduating she moved back home to NJ. In 2001, she married her husband, Evan. Shortly afterwards, she completed her master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University. In 2003, Evan and Jennifer moved to Exton, PA. They now have two children, Aiden and Sheridan, and a dog, Eli. Jennifer has been a stay at home mom until starting this position. She is enjoying the opportunity to work with congregants, especially the religious school students. In her free time she loves to read, travel and spend time with family.
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