Meet Our Staff

All staff can be reached at 904-292-1000

Jennifer Smith - Executive Director

Jennifer has worked as a Jewish Communal Professional for 20 years and is currently in her 12th year as executive director at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, TX.  After receiving her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Behavioral Science at Drew University, she attended law school at the University of the Pacific - McGeorge School of Law receiving her certificate in Governmental Affairs. Following graduation, Jennifer worked in the California State Assembly for a couple of years. After deciding California was too far from home, Jennifer moved back to Atlanta and started working at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) while studying for the Georgia bar. After passing the bar, Jennifer decided not to pursue a legal career and to continue her work in the Jewish community.  While working at the MJCCA, Jennifer obtained her Masters of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management from Kennesaw State University.  Jennifer spent 8 years at the MJCCA as the Program Director in the Sports, Camps & Fitness Department focusing on new programming, budgeting and marketing. While leading the Team Atlanta delegation at the San Antonio JCC Maccabi Games, she met her now-husband, Daniel. She moved to Austin in the fall of 2006 and began working at Congregation Beth Israel shortly thereafter.
During Jennifer's tenure at Congregation Beth Israel, the congregation completed and implemented a strategic plan, renovated the Sanctuary, participated in the URJ Community of Practice in Financial Support and expanded the Child Development Center. Jennifer has also spent significant time on facility and energy issues within the congregation. With her guidance, CBI installed solar panels and was the first organization in Texas to be a recipient of PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy) financing, which enabled the congregation to put more energy efficient HVAC equipment in place.

Jennifer has been an active leader representing CBI while collaborating with partner organizations of Austin. She worked with the Jewish Foundation of Austin and Central Texas to become the first congregation in Austin to have funds managed by the foundation. Jennifer is a senior member of the National Association for Temple Administration (NATA). She was the local delegation chair for the NATA National Conference held in Austin in 2018 and is the co-chair of the upcoming conference in Chicago in 2019.

Jennifer grew up in Metro Atlanta attending a Conservative synagogue and fondly remembers participating in youth group conventions at the Jacksonville Jewish Center as a teenager. Jennifer has an 11-year-old son and is looking forward to his involvement in Kadima and USY.

Email- j[email protected]

 

Raquel Scharf-Anderson - Head of Schools; DuBow Preschool, Martin J. Gottlieb Day SchooL, & Camp Ki Tov

Raquel Scharf-Anderson earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and World History from Russell Sage College and her master's degree in Literacy with a focus in Special Education from the Sage Colleges. She began her teaching career at Westmere Elmentary in Guilderland, New York. Raquel also taught as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She later moved to Arizona where she taught middle school science and opened an educational consulting business, The Whole Learner. Raquel gave presentations and led professional development for schools on special education inclusion and reading. 

 

email: [email protected]

 

 

 

Justin Sakofs - Director of Congregational Learning

Justin Sakofs has been the Director of Empowerment for Families with school-age children at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey for the past three years.  In his work at Federation he has created "Shtick Together" for families to create and take ownership of their own Jewish practices centered on Shabbat; designed intergenerational experiences for grandparents and grandchildren in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel; collaborated with local day schools to utilize PJ Library as a recruitment tool; empowered B'nei mitzvah teens to make a difference through the "Mitzvot of Greater MetroWest program; and has planned and choreographed myriad events of Jewish family education across the five-county region covered by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest.

Justin also brings an entrepreneurial spirit to his work as a Jewish educator.  As the founder and CEO of Magnetic Shul, he has created a variety of synagogue-friendly educational toys, which he sells and markets via e-mail, at Jewish educational conferences, and through his website (www.magneticshul.com). A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Justin received a Masters in Jewish Studies from Boston's Hebrew College and earned a second MA of Education in School Administration and Supervision from the Loyola University of Chicago. He has had extensive experience in educational settings, including summer camp and Jewish day schools such as the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Chicago, the Adelson School of Las Vegas, and the American Hebrew Academy. Justin enjoys cycling, cooking, music, and theater in his spare time. Justin is married to his wonderful wife, Rachel and has two children Amit and Mira.

Email- j[email protected]

Tracy Hilbert - Operations Manager

email - [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Lee - Accounting Manager

 

IVY KFARE - MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

email- [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

David Vandiver - Head of Security

email- [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRENT GANEY- FACILITIES DIRECTOR

Brent Ganey is the maintenance supervisor.  He attended FSCJ for electrical theory studies, commercial arts & culinary arts and Whitney M Young Job Corps Louisville KY for construction electricity. He has a varied background with 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, hotel and restaurant management, culinary arts, mechanical maintenance and renovations, and property management. Brent is single and enjoys art, sculpture, music, and boating.

email- [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Administrative Professionals:

Lori Gerard - ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE

email-  [email protected]

ROSE TINCHER- Accounts Receivable

  email- [email protected]

  
 

 

 

 

 

Dari Ben-naim - DIRECTOR OF FIRST IMPRESSIONS, "RECEPTIONIST"

 

DANIELLE BERKE - Executive Assistant to Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner, Jack F. Shorstein Senior Rabbinic Chair

email- [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

DINA KIRSHBAUM- executive assistant, DuBow Preschool

email- [email protected]