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.
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.
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.
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.
Ellyn Kaufman (Geher — 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!
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.
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.