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 Rabbi Howard Tilman

Rabbi Howard Tilman joined Congregation Beth Israel in July 2017. He was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May 2014, where he received the Eliezer Slomovic Award in Talmud. He previously served as a member of the clergy team of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, where he served 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. He spoke at City Council meetings and at events around the area in support of this cause.

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 enjoys teaching students of all ages, focusing on literary and critical perspectives of rabbinic texts and their modern applications. 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 is married to Naomi, who works on the Talent Team for Hillel International. Together, they enjoy baking, baseball and The Big Bang Theory. Their son, Micah, was born in the summer of 2017.

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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 Investiture 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 a national officer 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 has been a regular columnist and contributor to the online Bar & Bat Mitzvah Guide as well as, and is the author of Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide, and Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder. His third book, Raising the Bar Mitzvah: Reimagining What Our Kids Learn is due out in September 2020. 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, Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ, and they are the proud parents of Judah and Josh.

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Davida Berkowitz, Executive Director

Davida joined Congregation Beth Israel in 2005 as Executive Director. She came to CBI with many years of synagogue administrative experience and a strong background in Conservative Judaism.  She is a native of West Orange, New Jersey. She attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union and attended college at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is responsible for the overall management and day-to-day operations of the synagogue.  

Davida lives in Cranford with her husband Kenny Lavroff and their two sons, Daniel and Jeremy.

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Lev Metz, Director of Congregational Learning & Engagement

Lev Metz grew up in Los Angeles, California where his favorite Jewish activities revolved around doing things with his hands: building the sukkah, baking challah for Rosh Hashanah and making his bubbe’s chicken noodle soup. Attending college at UC Berkeley, Lev traveled to Israel for the first time and was inspired to have his Bar Mitzvah at Berkeley Hillel at the age of 19.  He studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, earned MAs in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College, and deepened his learning of text, tradition and prayer at the Conservative Yeshiva. Lev most recently taught Judaic Studies at Golda Och Academy, focusing on the Hebrew Bible and modern Jewish history.  He lives in Perth Amboy with his wife Sara and their three children – Doron, Eitan and Dina.  

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Jason Hoberman, President

Jason Hoberman, CBI President, has been active in Jewish organizations his whole life, holding several leadership roles, including CBI Executive Vice President and Trustee, JCC Winter Fundraiser Co-Chair and USY Chapter President.  Jason is General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of an asset management firm.  An avid runner, Jason has completed five marathons including New York, Philadelphia and Napa.  He lives in Scotch Plains with his wife Tracey (who is a member of the JCC Board), his daughter Ashley and his son Reid.

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Wed, May 27 2020 4 Sivan 5780