Clergy and Staff

Clergy and Staff



Jonah Layman

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Rabbi Jonah Layman’s Blog

Rabbi Jonah Layman grew up in the Philadelphia area, a son of a Conservative rabbi. He graduated magna cum laude from Temple University with a B.A. in History and with honors from Gratz College with a Bachelor of Hebrew Literature in 1984.  He met his wife Lenore when they were both studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem during their junior year.  Upon graduating Jonah began his rabbinical studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he received both rabbinic ordination and an M.A. in Jewish Education in 1989.   Jonah served a congregation in Lowell, MA from 1989 to 1994 and became rabbi of Shaare Tefila Congregation in August 1994.

Rabbi Layman served as president of the Washington-Baltimore region of the Rabbinical Assembly and as president of the Washington Board of Rabbis.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem having graduated from its Rabbinic Leadership Institute in 2010.  He serves on the Inclusion Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly and he is active in the Greater Olney Interfaith Ministerium.

Rabbi Layman is passionate about his Jewish beliefs and enjoys sharing that love with everyone.  His goal has always been to make Shaare Tefila a comfortable home for all who enter.

Rabbi Layman and Lenore have 4 children and though he has been living in greater Washington since 1994 he still avidly roots for the Philadelphia sports teams!

Hazan Adina Klein Ackerman


Jill Goldwater

Executive Director
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Jill Goldwater came to Shaare Tefila in May 2005.  She grew up in Los Angeles and went to college at UC San Diego (Biology) and graduate school at the University of Southern California (radiation biology) and Yale University (Public Health).  When she and her husband, Stephen, moved to Colorado she ended up going into business management and eventually became the first Executive Director for Congregation Bonai Shalom, a conservative congregation in Boulder, Colorado.

Her husband’s job moved them to New Orleans in 1995 and there she became the Director of Planning and Allocations at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.  As exciting as New Orleans was, it was time for the family to move back north and Jill’s job as Director of Accreditation and later as Director of Human Resources for Hillel’s International Center brought them to the Washington, D.C. area.

Though her formal training is in the sciences she truly enjoys working with, and in, the Jewish community.  Jill and her husband, Stephen, enjoy traveling around the world.  They have two grown, married children who are of great joy to them.  When Jill isn’t working at Shaare Tefila you can find her knitting something – a true passion.

Sara Miller

Office Administrator
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Sara has been living in Potomac, Maryland for the past 24 years with her husband Jeff.  She has a B.S. in Elementary Education and Languages from CCNY and an M.A. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Special Ed and Counseling. During the five years she lived in Israel, she taught ESL and supervised Hebrew Reading and Math teachers in the Greater Jerusalem area. At the time she was the youngest Olah in a supervisory position with the Department of Education of the State of Israel. Upon her return to the U.S. she worked at the Melton Research Center at JTS as a curriculum specialist in Biblical Hebrew instruction. Afterwards she served as a consultant to the Jewish Conservative afternoon schools for the Board of Jewish Education in Los Angeles.

Following her career in education, Sara became a sales account executive, marketing advertising promotions and business gifts to businesses and organizations in L.A. and then in the Greater Washington area.

Sara & Jeff are proud of their son, Daniel, who has served in the U.S. Army for the past eleven years and continues to do so.

Sara enjoys being a part of the Shaare Tefila family doing all she can to keep things running smoothly. In her free time she enjoys working in her garden planting and cultivating plants that deer and rabbits won’t eat (not an easy task).

Beth Adler

Early Childhood Center Director
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Beth Adler has been a preschool director for almost 20 years, working at preschools in Maryland and New York.  While at these schools, she has advocated for the rights of children to be seen as competent young citizens.  She believes that education is values-based and relies on relationships between parents, children and teachers to reach its highest quality. She has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.  She also attended The Art and Craft of the Principalship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She lives in Silver Spring with her husband. They have 4 children.

Babette Cohn

Director of Education and Programming
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Babette has been an educator in the D.C. area for over 20 years and became our Director of Education and Programming in 2018. Before coming to Shaare Tefila her experience included work in the religious school setting across a diversity of communities, comprised of multiple aspects of program coordination, including curriculum and workshop development, registration, communications and logistics. Additionally, during her time as the Area Conference Supervisor for La Leche League of Virginia she directed statewide educational conferences on breastfeeding and parenting, offering programming that supported health care professionals, as well as the interests of families. Babette received her Master of Arts in Jewish Studies & Education in May 2017 from Gratz College.

Babette believes Jewish education and synagogue programming should be engaging and enrich the spiritual lives of all participants. She sees the relationship between member families and the programs that are offered as a way to strengthen the Jewish identity of everyone in the community.

Living in Fairfax, VA since 1996, Babette and her husband Jonathan raised Rebecca, Gabrielle and Sam. She is proud that all three of her children have expressed strong connections to their own Jewish identities and are all committed to Jewish practice. Babette is an avid knitter and enjoys cooking and finding ways to use the multitude of vegetables in her weekly CSA farm share. In her down time she also likes to read and watch TV shows that give her something to think about.