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Mark Flaxer serves as Executive Director and COO of Temple Beth Sholom. Born in Orlando, Florida, Mark earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Florida.
After graduating college, Mark moved to Atlanta, Georgia and began his career in public and private-sector companies. He has worked at The Walt Disney Company, Macy’s Southeast, SED International, and eventually used his entrepreneurial spirit to create and grow several companies.
Mark has been active in the Atlanta Jewish Community as a member of Temple Emanu-El since 1992. There he served as a Board member, Executive Board member, and finally as Executive Director and COO. He was a member of SEDAR; involved in the PAL Program through Jewish Family and Career Services; and with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Mark was also active with Just People Inc, a program focused on services for adults with developmental disabilities. Mark was a youth and high school lacrosse coach and referee certified by US Lacrosse and the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Mark is married to Staci, and they have two daughters attending college at the University of Southern California. Mark and Staci made the move to Miami Beach to join Temple Beth Sholom in November 2016.
Director of Congregational Engagement
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Mark Baranek was born in Toronto, Canada and attended the Associated Hebrew Day School of Toronto followed by the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. He completed his undergraduate work in International Relations at York University in Toronto. Later, he achieved his Master’s Degree in the Horenstein Program from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
In 1983, Mark launched his career as Assistant Director of Education at Temple Emanu-El. He then spent eight years as Director of Education at Temple Samu-El or Olom in Kendall. In 1997, Mark came to Temple Beth Sholom as the Director of Education and Youth; encompassing education programs from “birth to college.”
Mark has been active in the community for many years. He has been a member of the Coalition on Advancement of Jewish Education since 1988 and was on the national board for two years as the Southern Regional Representative. He is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Council of Education Directors and Hebrew Educators Alliance. Mark holds a permanent principal’s license from JESNA and a continuing Hebrew teacher’s license from the Miami Board of License. He continues to grow professionally by attending conferences both locally and nationally.
Mark has visited Israel twenty-six times and has chaperoned numerous teen and adult groups. He lived in Israel in Jerusalem and on Kibbutz Tel-Yitzchak. Mark served seven times as a bus captain on the March of the Living, a two-week journey to Poland and Israel.
Mark has been a volunteer basketball coach at Miami Senior High School since 1988. His teams have won seven state championships during that time. Numerous players have gone on to play at the college level and even the NBA. Three of his players are active in the NFL. Mark loves his work and gets the most satisfaction from seeing the smiling, nurtured and positively impacted children of Temple Beth Sholom.
Director of Early Childhood Education
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Margie Zeskind holds a Master of Science Degree in Pre-K/Primary Education. She started her tenure as the Director of Early Childhood Education at the Foundation School in July 2007.
Prior to this position, Margie was the Director of the Helene and A.B. Wiener Early Childhood Department for the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education in Miami, Florida. There she provided professional resources and consultation for staff development, mentoring and leadership development for early childhood education directors and educators for twenty-one Jewish early childhood programs. Prior to this position, for nine years, Margie was a Jewish Early Childhood Educator and a Religious School Educator at Temple Beth Am, a reform synagogue in Kendall.
She authored two simultaneously awarded National Covenant Foundation Grants for the Jewish south Florida early childhood community. Additionally, she is co-author of the, “I Went To My Cousin’s Crispening,” and “The S.A.G.A. Approach,” which is a resource guide for Jewish early childhood educators working with issues surrounding religious diversity, funded by The Jim Joseph Foundation. She is one of the co-developers of the Kesher L’ Yisrael Initiative that was designed for early childhood educators to partner with children and families to build connections to Israel, the land, the people and the state.
School of Living Judaism
Yael Dadoun has had a strong connection to Jewish education since she began teaching at her local synagogue right after becoming a bat mitzvah. She has always made time to stay closely connected to the Jewish world while attaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Theatre from Hunter College in New York City.
Having graduated with a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, she continues to invite people of all ages to explore their Jewish journeys with her. Yael has worked in the Jewish world for over ten years as a teacher, Youth Director and Program Developer. Prior to Temple Beth Sholom she taught at Congregation Kol Ami in New York for eight years and served as Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Ohev Sholom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for two years.
Having been born into a Moroccan-Tunisian-Israeli family she is passionate about integrating Israel meaningfully into the lives of her students in order to create a
well-rounded Jewish experience.
Ilana Saposnik Gilat
Director of Advancement
Ilana graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, with a concentration in painting and minors in both Business Administration and Art History. During college, Ilana worked at the Hillel Foundation at the University of Florida and participated in one of the first Birthright Israel trips in 1998. After graduation, Ilana was a Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow at the Hillel Foundation at the University of Texas, Austin.
For several years afterwards, Ilana’s career focused on the for-profit sector. She served as a regional property manager for a national student housing developer on college campuses, focusing on marketing, sales and property management before circling back to her true passion, the Jewish community.
Before moving to Miami in 2012, Ilana was the Create a Jewish Legacy Program Director at the Jewish Community Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida. Most recently she worked at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and successfully launched and ran the Create a Jewish Legacy initiative in Miami. Ilana joined Temple Beth Sholom in June 2014 as the Director of Advancement; helping grow, nurture and sustain the Legacy Endowment Campaign.
Director of Communications
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Over the past seventeen years, Nerissa has immersed herself within communications, marketing and events. Nerissa attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1999 from the University of Maryland, in 2001 she received a certification in Digital Design at the Denmark Design School in Copenhagen and in 2002 received a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Pratt Institute.
The majority of her career was spent working within marketing and advertising in New York City servicing clients including American Express, Pepsi and Diaego. Nerissa began transitioning into the non-profit space in 2008 when she was recruited to join the Board of Directors of International Special Events Society as the Vice President of Communications. Nerissa spent three years developing their volunteer-based communications department and oversaw all communication outlets, along with managing her own thriving event design and planning business located on Madison Avenue in the Flatiron District.
In 2012, Nerissa moved to Miami Beach to continue her focus in non-profit communications and joined the National Parkinson Foundation as the Director of Marketing. There she was tasked to oversee all marketing for national programs. Nerissa joined the Temple Beth Sholom team as the first Director of Communications in July of 2015. When Nerissa is not working she enjoys spending time with her husband Michael and their son Eli Asher.
Director of The Tribe
Director of Shalom Baby
Director of Shalom Family
Greg has been the Director of The Tribe since July 2014. He came to the position with more than five years experience as a Jewish professional. In addition to being Membership Liaison at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco and Site Manager at Eden Village Camp in Putnam Valley, New York; Greg cultivated his expertise in creating a thriving Jewish community outside the walls of a synagogue as a lay leader in Wilderness Torah in the San Francisco Bay Area. His positions as Hebrew school teacher and Jewish teen educator are too innumerable to mention here. Greg has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Psychology and Neuroscience and an Elementary Education certification from Brandeis University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California. Greg lives in Hollywood with his wife, Rachel Dawn, and his daughter, Hazel Glow.
Director of Finance
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Lorna has been leading the finance department since 2001, working closely with the budget and finance committee and professional staff on all budgetary and financial matters of the Temple. Prior to joining Temple Beth Sholom, she worked at Congregation Bet Breira for fifteen years with Executive Director Emerita, Alice Miller. She decided to make the commute from Kendall to Miami Beach to be part of the Temple Beth Sholom team.
Lorna was born in Cuba, the daughter of an overseas engineer and educator, and lived in several countries before making Miami her final destination. She attended Southwest Senior High and later Florida International University where she majored in Business Administration. Lorna and her husband, Luis, have raised two amazing children, Melissa and Daniel, and are now the proud grandparents of Brianna.
Director of Member Services
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Sharon Hoffman is a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High School and attended
Miami-Dade College. She has been working at Temple Beth Sholom since 2006 and has been the Director of Membership since May 2008. In January 2011 Sharon assumed additional accounting responsibilities for billing and receivables. Sharon previously worked in accounting for a Miami apparel company.
Sharon has one daughter, Jamie, who was a bat mitzvah and confirmed at Temple Beth Sholom. Jamie is a graduate of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and currently resides in New York City.
Director of Building and Facilities
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Michael Svayg is the Director of Facilities and Building Operations. He came to Temple Beth Sholom in 1997 from Cleveland, Ohio where he managed the Building Operations for Suburban Temple for over 17 years. Michael was born in Chernovits, Ukraine and came to the United States in 1980. He earned his B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from Chernovits State University and a Master’s Degree from Kiev University in Plant Operations of Military and Civil Buildings and also holds an Equivalency Degree in Civil Engineering from Cleveland State University. While in Ukraine, Michael was a Head Manager of Plant Operations and an Assistant General Director of The Republic Gas Company. Michael is married to Michelle, and they have four children and five grandchildren.
Hakol Coordinator & Executive Assistant
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Lois Kotzen has been working at Temple Beth Sholom since 1990. She is a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High School, attended the University of Florida and George Washington University. She is also a graduate of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and had her adult bat mitzvah at Temple Beth Sholom. Lois’ children are Rabbi Andrew and Michal Koren, Stacy and Robert Budowsky and Dean and Dr. Rosa Kotzen. She also has six grandchildren. Max, Avishai, Shiri, Ethan, Mia and Rex.
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Rita began working here at Temple Beth Sholom as our bookkeeper in June 2013. Born in Cuba, her parents moved to Spain and eventually relocated to Miami, Florida when Rita was three years old. Following graduation from high school she began her career in accounting by working for an international insurance company. She then moved on to work for both American Express Financial Advisors and Automatic Data Processing prior to eventually joining our team at the Temple. In total, Rita has been in the accounting field for almost twenty years. When Rita is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Alex, stepdaughter, Izabella and two French Bulldogs, Stella and Joy.
Assistant to the Executive Director
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Alice began her career as a teacher of special education students in upstate New York. Coming from Temple Beth Orr in Broward County as a Clergy Assistant, Alice has been with Temple Beth Sholom since August 2008. Prior to that she worked for the late Art Ginsburg a.k.a. Mr. Food, at his corporate offices and studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. There she was in charge of providing recipe customer service, recipe testing, prep and food-styling for his nationally syndicated television news food segments, as well as for numerous cookbooks as part of the publishing division.
You can often find her spending her free time in her kitchen, creating new recipes to try out on her family and friends or baking something scrumptious for all to enjoy. Alice loves dance exercise including aerobic dancing, Jazzercise, hip hop and Zumba.
A native New Yorker, born in the Bronx and raised in New Rochelle, Alice holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education from C.W. Post College in Greenvale, New York and a Master’s Degree in Developmental Reading from SUNY-Albany, New York.
Alice is mom to Max (and his wife, Meagan) Palombo and Shari (and her husband, Stuart) Debowsky and has two “delicious” grandchildren, Ben and Lizzie. Before moving to Miami, Alice and her family lived in Norwalk, Connecticut, Sharon, Massachusetts and Coral Springs, Florida.
Assistant to Cantor Segal
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Scott Wenders is a graduate of Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School and attended Miami Dade College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Business Management and Supervision. He was previously the Tenant Support Services Assistant at the Hazel Cypen Tower assisted living facility at the main Miami Jewish Health Systems campus. Scott is the Assistant to Cantor Lisa Segal and Bnei Mitzvah Coordinator.
When Scott is not at work he enjoys reading western novels by William W. Johnstone and The Wall Street Journal. Other interests include keeping up to date on the telecommunications, banking and retail industries.
Assistant to Clergy Office
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Noemi joined Temple Beth Sholom in May of 2015 and has spent the last fifteen years working within various Jewish organizations. She was born and raised in Chile and moved to Miami when she was twelve years old. Noemi attended ITT Tech were she graduated with a Degree in Computer Science and is currently back to college pursuing an Ocean Engineering Degree. She loves staying active and practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In her spare time she enjoys outdoor activities, especially surfing.
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Miriam started working at Temple Beth Sholom in April 2015. Born in Bolivia she made Miami her home in 1982. Miriam received her Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from FIU and a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Barry University. She has been in the accounting field for over 20 years. Her primary joy is being mother to her son, Christian.
Ariane joined Temple Beth Sholom in May of 2002. She was born and raised in Miami Beach, where she graduated from The Hebrew Academy. After High School, she spent a year studying abroad in Israel, and then traveling throughout Europe. When she returned to the States, she continued her education at Florida International University and received a Bachelor of Arts from IFAC. She has one son, Marley, who has been an active member at Temple Beth Sholom for 13 years. He recently had his Bar Mitzvah in February 2016. She considers Beth Sholom her home away from home.
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Bio to come
Social Justice Fellow
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Maci Morse, born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, was raised in Jacksonville Florida where she received her Jewish education at The Martin J. Gottlieb Day School until High School. Maci was active in the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) youth groups through her participation and leadership in Kadima and United Synagogue Youth (USY). Her extracurricular activities also included several different community service projects from serving meals at a homeless shelter to volunteering at Neve Michael’s Center for at-risk women and children while on a Jewish Federation trip. Maci continued her education, after attending a local public high school’s advanced academic program, to Florida State University where she received her Bachelor’s of Social Work in May of 2016.
Maci is certified in Early Childhood Education by the Department of Children and Families. From 2012 to 2016, she spent her time off during the school-year at Florida State University substituting at Michele Block Gan Yeladim of the Jewish Community Alliance. Maci spent the 2014-2015 school year teaching Judaica and Hebrew at Temple Shomrei Torah of Tallahassee, Florida. Additionally, Maci spent her final semester of her undergraduate studies interning at PlayBig Therapy and Learning Center, where youth of all ages receive a variety of therapies (Play, Occupational, Physical, Art, and Speech and Language) for trauma and Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as other developmental disabilities.
Click for a complete listing of teachers and staff members within our Early Education Program (Foundation School) and the Religious School (School for Living Judaism ). Below is a list of Temple Beth Sholom Security & Maintenance Staff.
Rudolph (Rudy) Wilson
Head of Security
Rudolph (Rudy) Wilson joined the Temple Beth Sholom security department in 2007 and is now the Head of Security. He is a graduate of DeVry Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology. Rudy worked as a Field Engineer in both the mid-west and tri-state regions before relocating to Miami. When Rudy is not at work he enjoys spending time with his wife, Sarudzayi and twin boys Joshua and Benjamin.
Howard Broad joined Temple Beth Sholom as our security guard in 2014. He came to Miami from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1976. He holds a Degree from West Virginia University in Sociology with a minor in Business Administration. Prior to joining us, Howard worked within multiple industries in a sales capacity. Howard has one son who lives in Miami.
Heriberto Cardona came to the U.S in 1997 from Colombia where he was working for a funeral home. He joined the Temple Beth Sholom maintenance department in 1998 as an outstanding floor supervisor. Heriberto is married and has two children and two grandchildren.
Jesus Parra came to the U.S. from Colombia where he was working as a clerk in a bank in Bogota. He joined the Temple Beth Sholom maintenance department in 2003. He has three grown children in Bogota.
Antonio Rojas came to the U.S. in 1993 from Colombia, where he had been a professional boxer for many years. He started working for the Temple Beth Sholom maintenance department in 2006. He and his wife, Maria Claudia have three children.
Alvaro Campos came to the U.S. from Colombia in 1998, where he had been working for a building maintenance company. He continued to pursue this field over the years, joining the maintenance department at Temple Beth Sholom in 2014.
Jeannette Santamaria, joined our maintenance department in 2015. She came to the U.S. from Nicaragua having worked for the Miami Herald for fifteen years prior to joining the Temple staff. She is married and has two grown children.
Alba Giraldo hails from Bogota, Columbia and joined our maintenance department in 2010, prior to working in the hospitality industry in Miami for over fourteen years. She is the proud mother of one son who lives in Columbia.