Professional Staff: Michael Garlin, Executive Director

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Michael GarlinMichael Garlin started with Congregation Beth Shalom in 2014 as the Executive Director.  Michael was raised in Morton Grove, moved to Plantation, Florida as a child and back to the Chicago area in the early 90’s.  Michael graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Urban Recreation, received his Master Degree from Nova University in Human Services and received his CPCC as a life coach in 2008 from the Coaches Training Institute. 

Michael has worked for the JCC’s of Chicago, Jewish Council for Youth Services, Temple Jeremiah, and AIPAC in many different capacities.  Michael is a member of NAASE (North American Association of Synagogue Administrators) and is currently the Vice President of CASA (Chicago Association of Synagogue Administrators). 

Michael and his wife enjoy traveling and as a hobby love to visit many of our National Parks.  Michael is also a rabid Cubs Fan and can find much of his memorabilia in his office at CBS.

Michael resides in Buffalo Grove with his wife Mindy an HR Professional at UL and their daughter Marisa who is a senior at Stevenson High School.  Michael and Mindy also have a son Brad who resides in Chicago and is in the software technology industry.

Professional Staff : David Barany, Director of Education

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David BaranyDavid Barany is a native of Oakland, California, David earned an MAED from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. He has BA's in Rabbinic Literature and Political Science. Before joining Congregation Beth Shalom, David was the assistant director of the Marshall Jewish Learning Center where he worked for eight years. He moved to Chicago from Los Angeles in 1992 to take the position of Education Director at Anshe Emet in Chicago. He also served B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Glenview and Congregation Solel in Highland Park in that capacity. David has developed curriculum and consulted in a variety of settings and wrote the “I Have Some Questions about God Teacher’s Guide” published by Torah Aura. He has served on planning committees for both the national Conference for Advancement of Jewish Education and the Midwest CAJE conference. 

He is married to Melissa and has two children, Avi and Kyra.

Professional Staff : Raquel Gershon, Ritual Director

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Raquel Gershon is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, having earned degrees in Sacred Jewish music/ Jewish education and psychology.  She also holds an MA in special education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Raquel has taught Jewish music and tefillah in synagogues & day schools in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota and for the last 18 years, in Dallas, TX.  She has served as high holiday cantor at congregations in Danbury, CT, Maywood, NJ, Mercer Island, WA and Tucson, AZ.  Before moving to the Chicago area, she was the cantorial soloist at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX and musical director/bnai mitzvah tutor at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, TX.

Raquel is also an award winning composer of Jewish music and has produced two CDs of her original songs, Jerusalem On My Mind & Candlesticks of Silver. Her songs have been performed at the Shalshelet festival of new liturgical music, at the North American Jewish Choral Festival and at CAJE, the conference of Alternatives in Jewish Education.  She has sung at numerous community events in her previous communities as well as at the AIPAC national summit.

Raquel has taught hundreds of students and is thrilled to be working with our students at CBS. She is the proud mother of three grown children, Benji, Eliana, & Yonatan. 


Professional Staff: Leann Blue, Director of Jewish Life and Learning

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Leann's Bio PicLeann Blue is a graduate of both Emory University (Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in religion) and the Benjamin S. Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service of Brandeis University (Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service).

After graduation, Leann put in 3 years with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism as Regional Youth Director of Seaboard Region and then Hagalil Region. It was at International USY Convention in 1988, that Leann was leading a delegation of teens from New Jersey to Chicago, when she met the CHUSY Region Fieldworker, Michael Blue, and the rest is history. 
Upon moving to the Chicago area in 1989, Leann worked as Youth Director for North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park for six years. In 1995, Leann joined the staff of Congregation Beth Shalom as Youth Director, leading the chapter during many award winning years. 
In 2001, while still Youth Director, Leann began focusing on Adult Education and family programming, and in 2002, she took on her current role of Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation Beth Shalom. Some of the programs she has developed are the CBS Shabbaton, Lamazel!, Megillah Mania, Making Sukkot Simple, Ideas Cafe and CBS University.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Leann now calls Chicago home with her husband, Michael, and three boys, Adam, Marc and Paul.

Professional Staff : Matt Rissien, Director of Youth Activities

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Matt RissienMatt Rissien grew up in Overland Park, KS going to the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, a K-12 Jewish day school. He became involved in a number of extra-curricular activities in the Jewish community, eventually becoming president of Kansas City Council BBYO his senior year. He attended the University of Kansas, where he graduated with a major in religious studies with a minor in Judaic studies. Throughout college he was very involved in KU Hillel, Chabad on Campus, student senate and was the spirit chair for Student Union Activities, an organization which puts big programs on campus. He was also the Jewish heritage chair for the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. His Junior year, he created his own student organization which raised money to put on a week of cultural Israel events called Israel Week, which is still around to this day. Upon graduation, he received the Campanille Award; an award given to one individual by the chancellor for outstanding student leadership and achievement.

Before coming to Beth Shalom, Matt worked as a residential fellow at the American Hebrew Academy, a co-ed pluralistic college preparatory Jewish boarding high school in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Professional Staff : Susan Karlinksy, Controller

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Susan Karlinsky joined the staff of CBS in 2012 as our first Controller.  Susan grew up in Skokie and attended Niles North High School and earned a degree in Accounting from Bradley University.  She is a CPA, and has worked both in the public and nonprofit sectors for many years, including over 16 years managing a private family foundation in our community. 

At Congregation Beth Shalom, Susan is responsible for accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and all donation funds.  Susan works closely with our professional staff and our lay leadership on budgeting and financial reporting.  In addition, she is the staff liaison to our Social Action Committee and teaches “philanthropy” in our Gesher High School program here at CBS. 

Susan lives in Vernon Hills with her husband Sheldon (also a CPA).  They have twin adult sons, Aaron and Marc, who live in Chicago.  She is involved with her neighborhood homeowner’s association and volunteers with a few nonprofits in the area.  She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Professional Staff : Harvey R. Gold, z"l, FSA, Executive Director Emeritus

Harvey Gold

Harvey R. Gold joined the staff at Congregation Beth Shalom in July, 1972 as the Youth Director and the Executive Director. In 1975, he became the full time Executive Director. Previously he worked as the Youth Director at Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie and B’nai Zion in Chicago. Harvey has spent his entire life in the Chicagoland area, gone to Chicago schools and he received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Roosevelt University in 1970. He is a member of NAASE (North American Association of Synagogue Executives), a past Board member of NAASE and a member of CASA (Chicago Association of Synagogue Administrators).  Harvey was a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) Midwest Region Board and Youth Commission.  In March, 2003, Harvey was honored as the guest lecturer of the Erma Lee Ettinger Lecture Series at the NAASE Convention held in New Orleans.  In March, 2007 he was honored by the USCJ Midwest Region at their annual concert for his 40 years of service to the Conservative movement. In 2011, Harvey was honored for his 40 years of service to Congregation Beth Shalom by the writing of a Sefer Haftarah in his name.

 In June 2014, Harvey R. Gold retired and was honored by Congregation Beth Shalom for his 42 years of service. In December, 2015 Harvey passed away but his legacy in our community lives on. 

Professional Staff : Rabbi Sander J. Mussman, Educational Dir. Emeritus

Rabbi MussmanRabbi Sander J. Mussman, R.J.E., served as Director of Education of Congregation Beth Shalom of Northbrook, Illinois from 1972 - 2002. During his years of devoted service, Rabbi Mussman, in addition to being Director of Education, filled in for a period of 19 months as the spiritual leader of the synagogue. Prior to his coming to Beth Shalom, he was the Director of Education of North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, Illinois, Congregation Bnai Emunah, Skokie, Illinois, Director of Adult Studies, Houston Jewish Community Center, Houston, Texas and Congregation Bnai Shalom, Chicago, Illinois as well as a social worker for the Illinois Department of Welfare, Chicago, Illinois.

Rabbi Mussman received his education at the Chicago Jewish Academy, College of Jewish Studies, graduate work at the Hebrew Theological College, Chicago, Illinois (Rabbinical Seminary), Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, graduate program at De Paul University, Chicago, Illinois and the Chicago Teachers’ College. Rabbi Mussman attained his Rabbinical Ordination in 1959. 

Maria Catezone, Office Manager

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Maria has been with CBS since September, 2001.  She manages the office as well as catering, holiday Kiddushim and the kitchen.  Additional responsibilities include overseeing donation opportunities (memorial plaques, leaves, bricks), various High Holiday duties, ordering office supplies and paper goods, and day to day happenings at the synagogue.

Maria lives in Glenview.  She enjoys playing with her dog, Bailey, going to dinner, the movies, travelling and spending time with her family and friends.

Brenda Wasserman, Executive Assistant/Shabbat Kiddush Coordinator

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Brenda began working at CBS in October 2014.  Her roles include assistant to the Executive Director, IT administration, maintaining the CBS calendars, schedules and set ups, membership tasks, high holiday tasks, working closely with the Board of Trustees, office tasks and the Shabbat Kiddush Coordinator.

Brenda has been a writer all of her life so it was a natural fit for her to study Journalism at both the University of South Florida and the Florida International University School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Brenda worked at several newspapers and even assisted in launching The Chicago Tribune's Interactive Division.

Brenda loves to sing and dance so growing up in a musical family was always fun. They performed together at many venues including fundraising events for local and regional charities. Brenda also loves to read, go on road trips (it's the journey that counts!) and spend Shabbat and other holidays relaxing with family and friends.  She lives in Deerfield with her husband and two daughters.

Eleanor (Eli) Castellano, Assistant to the Clergy

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Eli has been at Congregation Beth Shalom since 2011.  She supports Rabbi Melman, Rabbi Averbach and Cantor Stoehr.

Eli grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ, has her BA in Theatre Arts from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and her MA in Acting from East 15 in London, England.  When she’s not at Beth Shalom, she is a stage and voice over actor in Chicago, working for numerous theatres, including BoHo Theatre, where she is a proud Company Member, Raven (Jeff Nomination - Best Supporting Actress for The Trip to Bountiful), Redtwist and Promethean, among others.  Voice over credits include Litehouse Salad Dressings (national), Microsoft, Hasbro and Abbott Laboratories.

She and her husband, Justin, are the proud parents of a fabulous little boy named Zev and a snuggly kitty called Sully and love trying new foods, seeing theatre, traveling and spending time with friends. 

Deanne Friedman, Communications Manager

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Deanne began working for Congregation Beth Shalom in 2011 as the Programming and Communications Assistant. In her role in communications, she managed the website as well as prepared the weekly e-newsletters, The Shalom Byte and The Shabbat Byte. She also helped in many other areas of CBS communications. In Deanne’s other role with programming, she assisted Leann, the Director of Jewish Life and Learning, in all areas of coordinating classes and programs for CBS University and Adult Education. OnMarch 1, 2017, Deanne began her in her new role as CBS Communications Manager. She will be working on all areas of communication, social media and the Congregation Beth Shalom website and bulletin.

Deanne has a Master’s of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She sits on the Board of Directors of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute where she was once employed and where her children have all attended overnight camp.

She and her husband Jeff, an attorney, love to travel with and without their three daughters. Deanne also loves to read, shop, playing with her dog and laughing with her family and friends.

Bernie Balbot, Programming Assitant

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Bernie is thrilled to be joining the staff at Congregation Beth Shalom. With a passion for arts and humanities programming, he looks forward to developing and assisting the Adult Education and Programming department.

Bernie originally hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he received his B.F.A in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University. In his final year, he trained at the Moscow Art Theater School (MXAT) and was encouraged to consider Chicago as a next move following graduation; he’s been here ever since.

His work as an actor has been seen on stages throughout the United States. Recent credits include work with Writers Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Arizona Theatre Company, and Northlight Theatre.  When he’s not on stage, he’s equally content reading for several literary boards, working as a teaching artist, and creating summer camp programming.

Currently residing in Ravenswood, Bernie enjoys time spent on a yoga mat, fly-fishing, or visiting friends and family now spread across the country.

Maxine Burke, Donations Assistant

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Maxine joined the staff of Congregation Beth Shalom in January, 2007 in the part-time position of Donations Assistant, which includes processing donations and entering them in the monthly Bulletin, relieving at the reception desk and assisting wherever necessary.

She grew up on the West side of Chicago and attended Marshall High School, and upon graduation, she worked as an administrative assistant to attorneys in the Trust Department of The Exchange National Bank of Chicago for 12 years, and was the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of the Retail Division of Culligan International for 15 years.

She and her husband Allan live in Northbrook, and their oldest son, Howard, teaches at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem and is also a musician.  Their younger son, David, lives in Vernon Hills, has 2 daughters, ages 11 and 13, and teaches business and marketing at Highland Park High School.

Maxine and Allan enjoy traveling, theatre, music, being with family and friends, but most of all, their granddaughters!

Estelle Miller, Receptionist

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Estelle has been the receptionist at CBS since 1998.  She greets visitors, manages the telephones, takes donations, assists members and staff as needed. 

She lives in Highland Park with her husband Ed. She has three daughters and 8 grandchildren.  Estelle and Ed enjoy going out to dinner and spending time with their family and friends.

Debbie Moore, Education Administrative Assistant

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Debbie began to work for the religious school in 2016. Her primary responsibilities are to assist the Director of Education in coordinating school registration, classes, activities, field trips, and all other educational administrative and programming needs. In addition, Debbie helps administer the SKIP and MyCBS programs, and is part of the CBS communications team.

Debbie grew up in the Skokie area. She attended Vandercook College of Music and the University of Northern Iowa. She has certificates in Jewish Music Education, Demonstration Classroom Techniques, and is currently working on an OHEL certification for developing Online Hebrew Educational Learning. Debbie is a former Director of Education and a synagogue communications specialist. She has been working and teaching in synagogues for over 40 years.

She currently resides in Lake Villa with one of her 3 daughters and her family. She has 6 grandchildren, with 2 in Texas, 1 in Atlanta, and 3 that live with her. Debbie is a member of the Saints, a volunteer theater usher organization for the Chicago area.

Stephanie Gelb, Librarian

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Stephanie has been here since July 2014. Her primary responsibilities are to acquire and manage resource material that both meet the needs of the clergy, staff, and congregation as well as uphold the mission of both the synagogue and resource center.  She also collaborates with the religious school for class visits, author programs, reading incentives, and book clubs.

Stephanie grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she went on to obtain her master’s degree in Library and information sciences, becoming a school media specialist in the Evanston district.  After three years of working in a school setting, she moved to the Chicago Public Library where she spent six years as a Children’s librarian at the Northtown Branch in West Roger’s Park.   

She currently resides in Highland Park with her husband, Hylton, their daughter Regan and dog Fendi. She loves doing anything that involves spending time with her family.


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