Meet Our Faculty

Laurie Avrunin (Beresheet – PreK)

Teaching Beresheet is one of my many jobs that I love! I also teach the Mid-Year Twos class and the Mommy and Me class at Temple Isaiah Preschool and Shabbat Tots at the Jewish Federation of Howard County. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending quality time with my family, watching my 7-year-old and 5-year-old boys participate in sporting events, traveling, and scrapbooking our fun adventures!

Pam Axler (Music)

Mali Bendor (5th Grade)

I am a native Israeli who has been teaching Hebrew and Judaic studies for the past 35 years.  I hold a degree in Judaic studies from Towson University, as well as art studies that I completed in Israel I am a long-time resident of Columbia, MD where I have reared two children, and I am currently a grandmother to five grandkids. My other interests are traveling, regularly attending the local health club, painting (mostly pastel), reading, cooking, and spending time with my extended family.

Lowell Brazin (6th Grade)

Raquela Castine (2nd Grade)

I am so honored and excited to be part of the TI family this year! For my first year with Temple Isaiah, I am a 2nd Grade Religious School teacher on Sundays. During the week, I teach 1st Grade at a Baltimore City public school, and I love to bake and go running. I am originally from New York but I’m celebrating my 8th (of many more!) years living in Baltimore with my husband and dog.

Lisa Chinn (4th Grade)

Maddy Chinn (5th Grade)

It is so wonderful to teach 5th Grade Hebrew here at Temple Isaiah. I have loved getting to know the students and teaching about the prayers. I currently work in the infant program at a preschool center and find this very rewarding. I love spending time with my family, watching movies, and eating ice cream!

Dara Glenn (K + 3rd Grade)

Rob Goldman (5th Grade)

I am happy to return to Temple Isaiah’s Religious School after taking a year off. I have been a part of the Temple Isaiah community for 10 years, as the parent of two preschool graduates who are now approaching their B’nai Mitzvah. When I am not teaching Hebrew, I spend my time as an attorney in my own practice, The Goldman Law Firm. Coming from a background in Hebrew education, my father (Z”L) was a teacher, religious school principal, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah teacher for 40 plus years. I enjoy working with students of all levels to build their confidence in learning a foreign language, and continue their preparations to become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Nora Goldstein (4th Grade)

A native of Israel, I lived in New York for a number of years before moving to Maryland. I like to spend time with my daughters and their families, and two of my granddaughters were aides in our Religious School. I enjoy reading, baking, mahjong, quilting, and other needlework.

Maya Green (Inclusion Specialist)

Karen Jablon (6th Grade)

Ellyn Kaufman (Gesher — 7th Grade)

This is my first year teaching at Temple Isaiah and so far, I’m loving the atmosphere here! The support by Rabbi Plotkin and Rabbi Axler are great. I have been a Jewish Educator for 44 years; I started teaching Hebrew to new immigrants in Israel when I was going to school at David Yellin Teacher’s College in Jerusalem. I taught in a preschool while attending classes at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I moved back to the United States in 1977, and taught in Hebrew Schools in the Tidewater, Virginia area.  My family, from Portsmouth and Norfolk Virginia were much happier! I have 2 children — Avi and Mindy — both grown and they are the parents of my brilliant grandsons. I live in Annapolis with my husband (we met on J-Date) and together, we have six grandchildren all over the US. I have taught every grade from pre-K to confirmation and was the Director of Education for Reform Congregations in Alexandria, Virginia and Arnold, Maryland for 25 years. I am currently semi-retired and enjoy being with the inquisitive, and yes, talkative, students in the 7th Grade Gesher class.  We are all learning from one-another and I love their energy!

Rachel Millstein (6th Grade)

Mina Pertman (4th Grade)

As the 4th grade TI Hebrew School teacher I have the most enjoyable and rewarding job there is: teaching Hebrew, my native language!  Having taught at TI for the past 37 years, over the years I loved all my students, ranging from my own children and grandchildren, to children of friends and neighbors, including…recent County Executive (Ken Ulman). I love travelling and hanging out with friends and family, including periodic trips to Israel, to visit my family and childhood friends.

Erica Rutan (K + 3rd Grade)

Sarah Sherman (3rd Grade)

Being from Israel, I have a special place in my heart for religious school; maybe that is why I’m celebrating 31 years of teaching 3rd Graders at Temple Isiah! Many of my former students are grown up with their own families, and some still remember me — TI keeps me connected to my Jewish roots and I’m grateful for this! During the week, I’m an RN; I went to school in Israel and completed my Master’s degree here at Johns Hopkins University. I have three kids of my own, and two grandkids who live in San Francisco. I make a point to include modern Israel in every class (almost) and my students are encourage to think about Birthright and visiting Israel. I love (Israeli) tea, reading (I’m in a book club), and gardening.

Alice Snyder (1st Grade)

This is my second go-round as a 1st Grade teacher at Temple Isaiah. I taught from 1998–2004 while my own children were attending religious school here; this is my fourth year back and I enjoy working with the students, faculty, and staff. I am a retired teacher from Baltimore County where I worked for 34 years. I am enjoying my retirement as I am traveling, taking classes, playing Maj Jong, and spending time with family and friends.

Matt Soifer (Gesher — 7th Grade)

I am in my fifth year teaching 7th Grade — Holocaust and Israel. Our family has been members of Temple Isaiah since we moved to Maryland in 2001. During the week, I work in Glen Burnie selling furniture. My wife Susan has been teaching at the TIPS pre-school since opening day in the new building. Our daughter Terri is on the staff of a Philadelphia city synagogue.

Katelyn Whitebloom (Hebrew Through Movement)

Caryl Winter (1st Grade)

Rabbi Daniel Plotkin – Rabbi Educator

I came to Temple Isaiah in 2016, excited to be a part of a vibrant and warm community and to lead the Religious School Program, and Temple Isaiah quickly became a home for my family and me. It is my goal to help make it the same for all our families, focusing my efforts on creating a Religious School program that fosters a sense of family engagement and community, while also providing a solid base of Jewish literacy for our students.

I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I grew up attending services and Religious School at Congregation Shalom. As I went through their program, eventually serving as a teaching assistant in the Religious School, the Rabbi-Educators played a big role in my own Jewish development that they inspired me to pursue this calling as my role in the Rabbinate. 

I attended the University of Wisconsin where I graduated with a double major in History and Hebrew Studies, continuing to serve in the role of assistant teacher and then lead teacher, at Temple Beth El. In addition, I was a leader in Hillel and a member of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band, where a highlight was the chance to march in the 1994 Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game. After college, I continued on to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, first in Jerusalem and then in Cincinnati. During that time, I served as a Religious School teacher at Temple Sholom, Rockdale Temple and the Valley Temple, in addition to serving as a Student Rabbi at B’nai Israel of Columbus, Mississippi, Beth El of Tyler, Texas, and Beth Israel of Colleyville, TX.

Following ordination in 2002, I moved to the outskirts of Houston to serve as Rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah. During my two quick years there, I met and married my wife Rachel, a Baltimore native who had moved to Houston to work for the Hillel there (she is now the Assistant director at Goucher College Hillel). We then moved on to St. Louis where I served for seven years at the Rabbi of B’nai El Congregation. During this time, Rachel and I welcomed our sons Ari and Joshua into our lives.

We moved back to the Baltimore area in 2011 when I took the position of Education Director at Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia. During my years there, I gained the knowledge and skills I needed to move on to the more expansive role of Rabbi-Educator, the role I initially went to school to pursue. My family and I were indeed fortunate when the opportunity at Temple Isaiah was the first to come our way. Working with Rabbi Axler, Rachel Petroff Kessler, the rest of the staff and the lay leadership is a true blessing for which I am grateful each day.

Outside of my love for what I do at Temple Isaiah, I am an avid sports fan, never forsaking my Wisconsin-based sports teams, but I have adopted the Orioles as my own as well. I enjoy participating in sports, playing both basketball and pickleball (ask me!) whenever I have the time. I am an active reader, especially biographies of American historical figures, having recently completed a project of reading a biography of every U.S. president from George Washington to George HW Bush. I live with my family in Pikesville, where our newest family member is a hyper dog named Shushan.