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Clergy & Staff

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Rabbi Sonya Starr
Rabbi Sonya Starr is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania where she received her Ordination, as well as her MA in Hebrew Letters in 1994. Her student pulpits included the Jewish Congregation of Fairbanks, Alaska and the Hebrew Association of the Deaf in Philadelphia.

After serving as Rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Torrington, CT and Rabbi Educator at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, CT, in 2000 she came to Columbia Jewish Congregation (CJC).

Rabbi Starr is a member of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and the Board of the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, the home of CJC. She is currently active with The Faith Network of the National Association of Mentally Ill and also ISHUT ("Identity"), which works to determine the boundaries of Reconstructionism and Judaism.

She is passionate about Jewish study believing that learning informs our actions and the meaningfulness of our lives. She focuses on a mix of spiritual practice and community activism guided by Jewish values, especially tikkun olam. Rabbi sees community work as providing a context for "thinking globally and acting locally."

Rabbi Starr lives in Columbia with her family and enjoys working closely with CJC members and the larger community. She says, "I am proud to be a part of a dynamic, intergenerational congregation that values inclusiveness and celebrates our differences."

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Cantor Benjamin Kintisch
Columbia Jewish Congregation welcomes Cantor Ben Kintisch.Cantor Ben has a background in both Jewish music (as a cantor and working with Jewish camps and educational programs) and as a music teacher in Brooklyn schools. He is looking forward to nurturing the culture of singing at CJC along with creating community and elevating spirituality. Outside of his role of Cantor, he is an avid cyclist and gardener. He, his wife Elana and daughter Dalia are excited to be moving to the area where they already have a number of friends and family.

Administrator, Robin Rosenfeld
Robin Rosenfeld joined CJC in 2012 as Administrator. Having grown up in Allentown, PA, she earned her BA in Journalism at the University of Maryland. Her career took her to several Jewish organizations, including Jewish Community Centers in Rockville, MD; Fairfax, VA; Clifton, NJ; Wayne, NJ; Omaha, NE; and Rockland County, NY. Her roles escalated from Youth Director to Program Director to Director of Operations. She loved being a part of these communities and providing leadership to vibrant experiences for members.

Robin has also enjoyed being a Director of Jewish Day Camps and Director of Operations for Camp Pinemere (which she had attended as a girl!) and Camp JRF in the Poconos, and she speaks nostalgically of the fun of ensuring day-to-day smooth running of these special experiences for children. She also brings valuable graphic design skills.

CJC attracted her because of the opportunity she will have to manage operations, which is her strength, to be a part of a diverse and established congregational community and to support members' simchas.

She also is happy to be near family and friends with whom she enjoys the TERPS, the Phillies and her Yorkshire terrier/poodle Simon.

Financial Administrator, Leslie VanHasselt
Leslie VanHasselt graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Economics. Following graduation, she began her career in the Underwriting Division of Wausau Insurance Companies until her move to Brussels in 1989. In Brussels, Leslie began working in the Public Programme Division of Management Centre Europe, the International Headquarters for the American Management Association. She then moved over to in-company training in the HR/Training Division of S.W.I.F.T., The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications in LaHulpe. While in Brussels, Leslie completed her Masters in the Science of Management (MSM) at the Brussels campus of Boston University. Her husband, Marc’s, job took them to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1996 where they lived for three years. In 1999, they moved their family to Baltimore. Leslie came to Columbia Jewish Congregation following ten years as a stay-at-home parent of 3 and PTA volunteer.

Youth Director, David Toller

Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Martin Siegel


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