Rabbi, Staff, and Leadership
Rabbi Valerie Cohen
Welcome to Temple Emanuel Sinai. Our Jewish synagogue home in Worcester, Massachusetts is not only warm and welcoming, it is our extended Jewish Family.
When my family arrived here in the summer of 2014, we were looking for a new Jewish home and family. A warm community was essential, since we are uprooted Southerners who experienced a real winter for the first time. Along with my husband Jonathan and my children Gabriel and Marisa, we have all found what we needed at Temple Emanuel Sinai.
I grew up in North and Central Florida, received my Bachelors in Public Relations at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), and after I was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, I spent my first 15 years as a rabbi in Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi. I never imagined myself in New England.
My presence here is b’sheirt – meant to be – for myself, my family, and for my partnership with this community. I am humbled to be guiding the congregation through our growing years after a successful integration process. I love teaching and learning with adults and children who are hungry for Jewish education. And I am excited to create innovative and accessible avenues for worship and spirituality through the vision of our members.
Most of all, I am inspired by the people I meet who have built our Temple Emanuel Sinai community and assure its vibrancy. Through baby namings and B’nai Mitzvah, weddings and funerals, casual conversations and serious talks at hospital bedsides, I am honored to be invited into people’s lives. Most of all, I am lifted by the laughter and smiles we share together as, in all these ways, we are building meaningful relationships with each other, with ourselves, and with God.
Come by and get to know us.
Music Director and Cantorial Soloist – Gitit Shoval
“Through music I hope to create a moment of connection, a moment of growth, and an uplifting spiritual experience, strengthening and empowering us all.”
My name is Gitit Shoval, I am a mother of four, a wife, a singer, a musician, and a songwriter. I was born and raised in Israel and relocated to North America with my husband and children in 2003. I come to Temple Emanuel Sinai after several years as a Cantorial Soloist at Temple Emanuel in Andover, MA, and many years as a recording artist in Israel and the US.
My music career began when I was 14 years old, when I took part in the Pre-Eurovision contest, back in the days when Israel only had a single channel on television. Since that moment, I have been writing, acting, and performing all over the world. My husband Ron and I owned a voiceover studio and produced the Hebrew versions of many beloved cartoon series. I was the Hebrew voice of characters such as Smurfette (The Smurfs), Barbie, and many more. Most recently, I graduated from Berklee College of Music with a master’s in the Art of Songwriting.
As Music Director and Cantorial Soloist here at TES, I will lead Shabbat, festival, and High Holy Day services, and I will work with our youth in a variety of ways.
When I first began leading services, I felt something changing in me while being on the bimah, singing all these meaningful prayers. I suddenly felt connected to my own spirit and soul, and to my surroundings. I immediately fell in love with praying through music and with feeling so present, and this changed my life as if I finally found my right place in the world. I am excited to start my new journey at Temple Emanuel Sinai, and to be working alongside Rabbi Valerie. I am looking forward to getting to know you, and for you to get to know me. I am eager to hear your stories, and to share mine with you.
Jade LeJeune – Temple Administrator
Talia Mugg – Religious School Director
Christa Benoit – Office Assistant/Campaign Administrator
Sophia Schlegelmilch – Administrative Assistant
Teresa Guertin – Bookkeeper
Steve Contois – Caretaker
Board of Directors
Executive Committee (July 2023 – June 2025)
Gary Wolf – President
George Pins – 1st Vice President
Nancy Berley – 2nd Vice President
Jonah Cuker – Treasurer
Ian Rifkin – Secretary
Term Ending June 2024
Term Ending June 2025
Core Committee Chairs
Chairs of the “core” committees (Finance, Worship, Membership, Social Action, Lifelong Learning, Fundraising, and Leadership/Nominating) are also part of the Board:
Janyce Cutler – Membership
Merilee Freeman – Leadership/Nominating
Patti Gould – Lifelong Learning
Dan Margolis – Social Action
David Persky – Finance and Fundraising
Stuart Sadick – Worship
Karen Thomsen – Leadership/Nominating
Please consider joining a committees or group to help make Temple Emanuel Sinai the congregation we want it to be!
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