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Home - Congregation Beth Israel

 Rabbi Howard Tilman

Rabbi Howard Tilman joined Congregation Beth Israel in July 2017 and has enthusiastically embraced this growing community. Through partnerships with professional staff and lay leadership, he has worked to enliven the synagogue’s religious services, educational opportunities, and family programming. Rabbi Tilman loves spending time with the congregation’s many learners of all ages and enjoys bringing modern and classical perspectives, as well as humor, to all of his teachings. Elsewhere in the community, Rabbi Tilman serves as President of the Scotch Plains – Fanwood Ministerium and is an active member of the Union County Board of Rabbis. He is an alum of the Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship and was in the initial class of AIPAC’s Leffel Israel Fellowship.

Rabbi Tilman was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May 2014, where he received the Eliezer Slomovic Award in Talmud. For his Capstone Project in rabbinical school, he analyzed the similarities between the Talmud and modern social media as well as their educational potentials. He previously served as a member of the clergy team of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, where he worked in a variety of roles, including supervising Shabbat and Holiday programming, teen educational programming, and Israel advocacy. While in Jacksonville, Rabbi Tilman became a leader among the clergy of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality and its push for an expanded Human Rights Ordinance in the city.

Prior to the rabbinate, Rabbi Tilman graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and spent three years working as a producer for Sporting News Radio alongside the likes of Troy Aikman, Tony Bruno and Tim Brando. A passionate sports fan his whole life, he appeared on and won an episode of Sports Jeopardy! in August 2016. Rabbi Tilman has extensive experience working with youth of all ages in multiple synagogues and schools and at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. He has also worked with college students and serves as a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi‘s Council of Rabbis.


He is married to Naomi, who serves as an Area Director for BBYO. Together, they are proud parents of Micah and Sophie, who keep everyone busy with their youthful energy.

Contact Rabbi Tilman at

Cantor Matt Axelrod

Cantor Matt Axelrod was born and raised in the Boston area. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and received his Masters of Sacred Music and Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993. While studying at JTS, he came to our synagogue as the latest in a series of student cantors. Upon graduating from the Seminary, Cantor Axelrod remained at Congregation Beth Israel and became our first full-time cantor. He has proudly served in this community ever since.

Active in both the Jewish and interfaith communities, Cantor Axelrod serves as vice president of the Cantors Assembly and is a past president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium, comprising clergy of various faith communities as well as leaders of local civic organizations. Additionally, Cantor Axelrod has served on the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education and is a past president of the Cantors Assembly New Jersey Region. He sings with the New Jersey Cantors Concert Ensemble, which performs throughout the state and helps to raise scholarship funds for cantorial students.

Cantor Axelrod is the author of three books: Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s GuideYour Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder, and Raising the Bar Mitzvah: Reimagining What Our Kids Learn. His numerous articles have appeared in, Tablet Magazine, and the online Bar/Bat Mitvah Guide. He has been a frequent presenter at synagogues, Jewish community centers and conferences, speaking to groups of parents and teens about the process of preparing for their b’nei mitzvah and how to successfully navigate that period. Most recently, Cantor Axelrod appeared--briefly--in the HBO miniseries "The Plot Against America."

Cantor Axelrod is also an avid aviation enthusiast, and is a licensed pilot and flight instructor. When not flying over New Jersey, he is likely out running and training for his next marathon. He is married to Tali, a principal in Bridgewater, and they are the proud parents of Judah and Josh.

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Aviva Tilles, Director of Congregational Learning & Programming

Aviva Tilles was raised in the greater Washington DC area. After graduating high school from the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School during which time she was an active USYer including being a chapter president, Encampment co-chair & going on USY on Wheels and USY Israel Pilgrimage, she spent a gap year in Israel on NATIV - USCJ's college leadership program before heading to Worcester, MA to attend school at Clark University where she earned her Bachelors in Sociology and her Masters in Public Administration.

Following school she began working full time for USY for the next 13 years in NYC as the Director of USY Summer Programs, in Seattle as the Regional Youth Director for the Pinwheel Region and in Chicago as the USY Systems Manager/USY International Convention Director before taking a year off to work in the experiential hospitality world during which time she realized she missed the Jewish youth world and the east coast so she is thrilled to be returning to both.

Throughout the past 15+ years she worked in different Jewish congregational schools throughout the country, ranging in everything from being an all-in-one teacher to four different grade levels to spearheading a Project Based Learning curriculum for 8th - 12th graders.

Aviva is a proud aunt to 3 amazing nephews and likes to spend her time rooting on the NY Yankees, attending Broadway shows (and listening to the music in her office), cooking and watching Friends and The West Wing.

Contact CBI's Religious School at

Ryan Teicher, President

Ryan and his wife, along with their children Emersyn and Jonah, have lived in Scotch Plains for 15 years. Since living in the community, Ryan has been involved at both CBI and the JCC of Central NJ. At the JCC, Ryan was Chair of the Building Committee and Founding Member/Co-Chair of the Security Committee. For CBI, Ryan has served on House and Grounds, Security and Israel Support Committees. Outside of Synagogue service, Ryan also serves on the Township of Scotch Plains Planning Board and Environmental Commission.

When not volunteering, Ryan enjoys spending time with his family and trying to pretend he is a real runner.

Contact Ryan at


Sat, June 3 2023 14 Sivan 5783