Mindy Davids, Director of Congregational Learning and Engagement
As the Director of Congregational Learning and Engagement, Mindy enjoys working with all of the programs that serve the youth, families, and adults in our congregation. She first joined the staff of Shaaray Tefila in 2006 as our Director of Religious School and Educational Innovation. Before then, she served as the Director of Religious Education at Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, CA and as the Director of Education at Temple Beth Torah in Melville, NY.
Mindy earned a double Masters degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a Bachelors degree in Hebrew Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, she has completed all coursework toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Fordham University in New York.
Mindy has been active in many areas of Jewish life. She is a past President of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE), served on the board of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), and represented educational alumni on the Council of Alumni Associations of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Insitute of Religion (HUC-JIR). She was a mentor in the Leadership Institute for Congregational Educators, and has taught courses at and served on the clinical faculty of HUC-JIR both on the Los Angeles and New York campuses.
Mindy loves being a part of the Shaaray Tefila family and brings her creativity, passion for Jewish learning and living, and a love of people to her position.
Rabbi Jessica Lenza, Director of Religious school Engagement
Rabbi Jessica Lenza received her rabbinic ordination and Masters in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in 2015. During her time as a rabbinical student, she served as the Rabbinic Intern for Congregation Ahavas Achim in Newburyport and as the Director of the Beit Rabban Religious School and Family Programming for Temple Beth Zion in Brookline. Before joining the team at Temple Shaaray Tefila, she worked as the Education Associate for the Jewish Journey Project at the JCC in Manhattan. Music being one of her passions, Rabbi Lenza enjoys singing, playing guitar, ukulele and djembe. You can listen to some of her recordings and learn more about her on her website.
Andrew Paull, Director of Teen Engagement
Andrew Paull is thrilled to serve as the new Director of Teen Engagement for Temple Shaaray Tefila. Andrew is a proud product of the Reform Movement. Hailing from Seattle, WA, he was highly active in his temple youth group and in NFTY Northwest. In 2007, he was a member of the inaugural staff at URJ Camp Kalsman, where he worked for four summers, followed by camp leadership roles with URJ Kutz Camp and URJ Mitzvah Corps.
Andrew received his B.A. in History from Chapman University and earned a Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He moved to New York City in 2010, bringing with him a passion for engaging Jewish teens and a deep commitment to creating community.
Andrew previously served as the Youth Programs Coordinator at Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, NY, where he expanded teen leadership and educational opportunities. He also served as the Program and Communications Associate at the Jewish Teen Funders Network, supporting the network of Jewish teen philanthropy programs across North America. Most recently, Andrew was the founding Senior Regional Director for BBYO Manhattan, a new pluralistic Jewish teen program based at JCC Manhattan, where he worked with teens, parents, and community leaders to reach more than 200 teens in three years. For his work with BBYO, Andrew received the Young Pioneer Award from the Jewish Education Project in 2017.
Andrew is thrilled to return to Temple Shaaray Tefila, where he previously served as the Junior Youth Group advisor and staffed various youth programs and TaSTY events since 2012. Now, he is excited to bring his passion, experience, and energy to the dynamic community of Temple Shaaray Tefila teens and families. As a Pacific Northwest native, Andrew enjoys hiking, kayaking, and all things outdoors. He lives on the Upper East Side with his wife, Elena.
Casey Talmas, RS Operations Coordinator
Casey joined the Religious School as Operations Coordinator in May of 2015. She has served Shaaray Tefila since 2012 in a variety of roles, most recently as the congregation's Events Coordinator. Casey grew up in Lancaster, PA and is a proud Penn State alum. Casey loves to quilt and create unique crafts. Casey is happy to help with any questions you may have about your child's Jewish journey!
Rachel Kaplan, Bnai Mitzvah Coordinator/Cantor's Assistant
Rachel Kaplan joined Shaaray Tefila in January of 2017. Growing up, Rachel was involved with her synagogue's confirmation and high school programs, as well as BBYO. She graduated from Binghamton University in May of 2016, and it was there that she developed a true passion for Jewish life and decided to make a career out of this passion. A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, she currently lives in the neighborhood on the Upper East Side.
Rachel loves being a part of the Shaaray Tefila community, and her favorite part is the relationships she has created with all of our wonderful members and staff! Please don't hesitate to contact her with any Bnai Mitzvah related questions.