Karen Kantor, Executive Director
In the spring of 1982, my husband, Jim, infant son Steven and I moved “home” to the Philadelphia area. We were barely unpacked before we began looking for a synagogue. Rabbi Waintrup had been one of my teachers at Gratz College, and I remembered his warm and wonderful manner. We joined Beth Am and it did not take long before we became active members of Beth Am – and the “house of the people” became our synagogue home. When our son, Mark, was born, he joined us at many young family programs and services. Both boys entered our religious school in kindergarten and were Confirmed here.
As a volunteer, I was involved in the Parents’ Association, served as co-chair of a Strategic Planning Committee, and was elected to serve on our Executive Board as vice president of Social Action and v.p. of Membership, eventually accepting the challenge of serving as congregational president in 1995-97. As co-chair of a search committee for an assistant rabbi in 1989, I made the first phone call to Rabbi Robert S. Leib, then serving his home congregation in Cape Town, South Africa. Neither of us could have imagined then that we would someday share senior staff responsibilities at Beth Am, with him as our Senior Rabbi and me as Executive Director! My years as a volunteer serve as a constant reminder of the importance role each congregant can have in synagogue life. I never take their time for granted.
My colleagues across country often joke that our job is to take complaints about heat and air conditioning. It’s always too hot or too cold for someone, but we do try to make everyone comfortable and take pride in a well-run facility that is open seven days a week. Working with our Building Superintendent and his staff and our dedicated office staff, we support the work of the clergy and educators and offer assistance to our dedicated volunteers. Welcoming members, helping to plan life-cycle events, synagogue programming and fund raising keep me busy!
My professional background includes a degree in Journalism from Drake University and Masters in Business from Temple University. Jewish communal work included seven years as coordinator of the Kehillah of Old York Road, a project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. In my spare (?) time I enjoy biking and relish every moment spent with our grandchildren, Sylvia, Dorothy and Griffin!
Sherrie Turetsky, Director of School of Early Learning I have been formally been involved in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 26 years. Being a teacher is something that I always wanted to do. From playing school in my parent’s basement, to always wanting to stay after school to help my teachers, and volunteering at the Temple Beth Torah summer camp, being with children and teaching was in my blood.
I was the director of Temple Beth Torah preschool for 18 years, the same school I attended as a child. In 2004, Temple Beth Torah merged with Old York Road Temple-Beth Am and this became our new home. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education as well as a Master’s Degree in Education from Beaver College, now Arcadia University. Additionally, I served as co-director and programming coordinator for the Lower Moreland Parenting Center for eight years. In this capacity, I facilitated many group discussions, workshops and parenting classes.
I try to stay at the cutting edge of my field, and attend continuing education classes bringing fresh ideas back to our school. I describe myself as a hands-on director, meaning I will do anything to escape my office and interact with the children. As a mother of three boys, now young men, I know that a child is your most precious gift, and as director, I strive to provide a safe, loving environment in which to thrive. I would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have related to either the synagogue or our school. Beth Am in Hebrew means “house of the people,” and for your children, our school becomes their “home away from home.” We welcome you!
Rebecca Slavin - Phillips, Religious School Principal
The love for Jewish learning begins in the home. I grew up in a small town in Northern New Jersey where my parents helped nurture my sense of exploration and encouraged me on a path of self-discovery. My family has deep roots in the Philadelphia area extending more than three generations.
My journey has led me to working in both informal and formal Jewish educational venues. My experience began as a teacher, then as Assistant Principal of a regional Hebrew High School and then progressed to the Educational and Youth Director at a large New Jersey synagogue. My students have included Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. I can honestly say I have learned as much from them as I trust they have learned from me. I am committed to tolerance, diversity and pluralism for all Jews and religious beliefs.
I earned my Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. My Master's degree was awarded from Drew University with a certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. My Master's thesis was on "The History of Jews in Ireland." I also earned a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. My dissertation topic was "Tradition and Individualism in Suburbia: An Ethnographic Study of Orthodox Jewish Women." I was awarded a grant to do research at the World Zionist Archive in Jerusalem, studied at Hebrew University, and had the honor of presenting at conferences and being the keynote for various educational institutions. I have been privileged to travel all over our world; at last count I have visited 25 countries, with three trips to Israel.
Education is best acquired as a team effort between the student and parents, teachers and administrators. My goal for our Religious School and Confirmation Academy is to promote a successful learning environment that is fun, content-rich and engaging. I believe the future of Judaism is l'dor v'dor -- from generation to generation -- that we should impart our love, understanding, and knowledge of the faith to the generations that follow.
I am excited for 2016-2017 year at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am and joining you in shaping our Religious School, Confirmation Academy, and family programming.
||Mark Daugherty, Music Director You don’t have to be Jewish to love Jewish music! With a Bachelor’s Degree (with distinction) from the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music, I joined Old York Temple-Beth Am in 1984 as music director. I earned a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music where I was a full scholarship student and was the recipient of the Elaine Brown Tribute Award. I have studied at Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music and at Westminster Choir College. Although I earned a Law Degree from Temple University, I didn’t practice law for long. Music fills my life, teaching at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, serving as artistic director for the Ambler Choral Society and as the concert accompanist for the Orpheus Club of Philadelphia, the oldest men's singing society in the US. Believing that making music is a healthy life-long pursuit I have also begun working with a chorus made up of residents at Foulkeways Retirement Community in Gwynedd.
I have served as director of music at the Unitarian Society of Germantown (USG) since 1983. I believe that music is a force that can bring people together and enable them to learn about each other. At both USG and OYRTBA, I work with the adult choirs, always striving to help people discover their spirituality through making music. Here at Beth Am, along with Cantor Zarkh, I accompany the Children’s Choir. We have recently formed the T’filah Band that brings guitar, strings, brass, woodwind and percussion together. It gives me a chance to get in touch with my inner Jewish rock star. I also also assist with our very own klezmer-style ensemble and I also have one at USG. We make a joyful sound!