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Staff and Board


Rabbi | Cantor | Director of Visioning and Engagement |Operations ManagerPresidentHigh Holiday Cantor/Composer 


 

David MinkusRabbi David Minkus

Rabbi@rodfei.org
773-752-2770

 

Rabbi Minkus grew up in Skokie, graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Psychology, and received his Rabbinic Ordination and Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  He has been a Rosh Eidah (unit head) at Camp Ramah and a rabbinic intern with Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York.  He was the rabbi of the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation in Fitzgerald, Georgia, from 2011‑2013.  Review selected sermons on the Pulpit Shelf.

Rabbi Minkus is a creative and flexible thinker in the context of Conservative Judaism.  His inquisitive approach to teaching and learning and his strong focus on creating personal relationships and fostering community have already enriched Rodfei Zedek.  His ability to remember names and personal stories is truly impressive!

Ilyssa Minkus, Rabbi Minkus' wife, is a special education teacher.  They are enjoying life in Hyde Park.

 


 

Rachel Rosenberg

Cantor
Cantor@rodfei.org

 

Cantor Rachel Rosenberg has served as the Cantor at Congregation Rodfei Zedek since 2011.  She formerly served for nine years as Ritual Director at Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Deerfield, Illinois.  Rachel completed the Cantorial Internship Program of the Cantors Assembly of America and was invested as Hazzan in May 2011.  She is a member of the Cantors Assembly Executive Council and Education Committee and is involved with initiatives dealing with best practices in Jewish Family Education.  Rachel studied psychology and music at the University of Illinois, Jewish studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and earned her Masters of Management degree at Northwestern University.

Rachel is the former President of the Chicago Cantors' Hub, an organization which facilitates professional development and networking throughout the region and raises scholarship funds for cantorial students through community musical programming.  She is also a founding member of the well-known Chicago-based musical ensemble, Shakshuka, which features Israeli and Sephardic music "spiced with jazz."  The group has performed at many concerts and festivals, including the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival, Navy Pier, The City Winery, and has been welcomed by the Jewish community of Alaska!

Rachel is passionate about Jewish music, prayer, and Jewish education, and seeks to find new modes of meaningful expression with diverse communities of all ages.

 


 

Hannah Kaiser

Director of Visioning and Engagement
dve@rodfei.org

 

Hannah grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and was always active in the Jewish community there. She graduated from her Hebrew High School continuing education program following her Bat Mitzvah, taught religious school, and spent six summers working at Camp Shalom, a Jewish day camp for kids. 

Hannah moved to Chicago in 2011 to attend Columbia College Chicago, where she served as Vice President of Columbia’s Hillel for two years and was active in the Metro Chicago Hillel community. She graduated in 2015 as valedictorian of her class, earning a BA in Fashion Business and a minor in Women’s Studies. 

Following her graduation, Hannah attended the Brandeis Collegiate Institute, which helped her reconnect to and reaffirm her connection and commitment to her Jewish identity. Upon Hannah’s return to Chicago, she worked in several different capacities doing marketing and community building - community building truly is her mission in life. After many years of searching for her Jewish home, Hannah is so excited to have landed at Rodfei Zedek and to be such an integral part of this special place. 

Outside of Rodfei Zedek, Hannah is an avid yoga practitioner! She has been practicing since 2011 and received her 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher Certification in January of 2020. She and her husband, Alex, currently reside in Pilsen. 

 


Rabbi Emeritus Elliot B. Gertel 

ebgertel@aol.com

 

Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel was the spiritual leader of Congregation Rodfei Zedek from 1988 through June 2013. The 5773 High Holy Days were bittersweet, the last ones led by Rabbi Gertel. Our celebration of his 25 years at the Congregation began at the dinner in his honor preceding Selichot services and concluded at services for Simchat Torah. Even when on sabbatical until his retirement, Elliot was our rabbi and continued to guide our decision making, provide us pastoral care, and officiate at our life cycle events including b'nei mitzvah and other special occasions.

A native of Springfield, Massachu­setts, Rabbi Gertel attended the Joint Program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary from 1972 to 1976, earning a B.A. in philosophy and a B.H.L. in Bible. He received a M.H.L. from the Seminary, where he was ordained in 1981. He did research and editing for Dr. Gershon D. Cohen and for the Rabbinical Assembly. From 1982 to 1988 he served his first pulpit, Congregation Beth El Keser Israel in New Haven, Connecticut. In December 2007 Rabbi Gertel received a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, from JTS in recognition of his contributions to Jewish life. He was honored by Akiba‑Schechter Jewish Day School in March 2012.

In Chicago Rabbi Gertel has been chairman of the Joint Television Commission of the Jewish Federation and the Chicago Board of Rabbis, President of the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council, and a board member of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society. Rabbi Gertel has been a contributing editor of Conservative Judaism and Jewish Spectator magazines. He has contributed many essays and reviews to popular and scholarly publications in the fields of Jewish thought, Jewish literature and American Jewish history, and, since 1979, has been the media critic for the Jewish Post and Opinion, American Jewry’s longest-running national English-language weekly. 

His books include:

  • Jewish Belief and Practice in Nineteenth Century America: Seminal Essays by Outstanding Pulpit Rabbis of the Era
  • What Jews Know About Salvation, which prodded the Library of Congress to list "salvation" as a Jewish concept
  • Over the Top Judaism, which discusses the depiction of Judaism in film and on television

On the congregational level, Rabbi Gertel was an innovator whose programs have won Solomon Schechter awards for music and publications and "unique programming."  He pioneered in outreach to synagogue alumni and in joint ventures with other communal agencies, such as Jewish Family Services.  Rabbi Gertel wrote several intergenerational Festival services; and he developed the concept of "one synagogue with many schools," which became fundamental at Rodfei Zedek.

 

Read our tribute to Rabbi Gertel here.


 

Diane Altkorn

President
president@rodfei.org

 

Diane is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. After over 30 years of full-time work as a general internist and medical educator, she is now supervising and teaching internal medicine residents part-time. When she is not working, she goes to synagogue meetings, plays tennis, reads, and spends time with friends and family.  Diane's husband, Bob Altkorn, is a consumer products safety consultant at Intertek.  Their son, Danny, lives in Lincoln Park and is a software developer at Tempus.  Their daughter, Emily, is a 4th-year student at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.

 

 


 

Jonathan Miller 2017Jonathan Miller

High Holiday Cantor/Composer
singwow@comcast.net

 

A leader in American choral music, Jonathan has been sharing the joy of his art form since he joined the Chicago Children’s Choir in Hyde Park at the age of ten.  In 1979, Max Janowski hired 17‑year-old Jonathan to sing bass in a high holiday choir for the Central Synagogue of the South Side Hebrew Congregation.  Three years later Jonathan’s high holiday assignment moved to Congregation B’nai Jacob in Rogers Park, where Jonathan began his 28‑year association with Cantor Julius Solomon, including 12 years of directing the choir here at CRZ and eventually taking on the High Holiday cantor’s role in 2010.

Jonathan attended Shoesmith School, Louis Wirth School, and Kenwood Academy, and studied mathematics and music at the University of Chicago.  Shortly after completing doctoral studies in musicology at UNC‑Chapel Hill in 1993, Jonathan founded Chicago a cappella, a professional classical vocal ensemble.  Jonathan is also Artistic Director, CEO, and co‑founder of the Sounds Good! Choir, a Chicago area choral-music organization for older adults, and the Good Memories Choir, a community in which people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and other dementias sing in a choir together with their care partners.  In addition to musical pursuits, Jonathan has worked in sales in the publishing and software industries and is passionate about the business of the arts.  He is a former board member of Chorus America and serves as an enthusiastic auctioneer for charity events. 

 


2022 Board of Trustees

Mark Sorkin

Lisa Golden

Russell Szmulewitz 

Edward Brener

James Gimpel

Ben Umans

Andrew Basa

Talia Berkowitz

Daniel Blumenthal

Mitchell Brown

Jonathan Dennis

Edward Hamburg

Nancy Jacobson

Lisa Salkovitz Kohn

Eliot Gershon

Douglas Kelner

Robyn Koyner

Jeffrey Ruby

Megan Schwartz

Benjamin Umans

Benjamin Waltzer

Sun, December 4 2022 10 Kislev 5783