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

Education Director
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Babette has been an educator in the D.C. area for over 20 years and joined Shaare Tefila as our Education Director in 2018. Her previous experience includes: one year as the Principal for the Kehila Chadasha Sunday School, three years as the Assistant Education Director at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, thirteen years as a Principal and Teacher at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA, and work as a Teacher at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, VA. Babette received her Master of Arts in Jewish Studies & Education in May 2017 from Gratz College. 

Babette believes Jewish education should be engaging and enrich the spiritual lives of all participants. She sees the relationship between member families and our education programs as a partnership, working together towards strengthening the Jewish identity of all our children.

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 living life Jewishly. 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.

Missy Mandell

Youth and Family Programs Coordinator
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Missy joined Shaare Tefila in 2016 as its Youth and Family Program Coordinator. After studying Education and Hebrew at Brandeis University, she moved to Maryland to pursue a Master’s degree in GW’s new Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts Program. Being a Jewish Educator and living a Jewish life are two things that she is very passionate about. Many of her experiences throughout the last decade have been inspired by how she can share those passions. She has been a staff member for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Summer Programs.  as well as staff member and group leader for USY on Wheels East, Classic and Mission Mitzvah, and as a Regional Youth group (USY and Kadima) staff member and educator. More recently, she was the Assistant Youth Director at Tifereth Israel in DC, worked at the Jewish Food Experience at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, she spent the last two summers as a Rosh Edah at the Ramah Day Camp of Greater Washington, and she teaches Israeli dance at JDS, Temple Shalom and to all ages across the greater DC area. 

Missy has enjoyed bringing programs to Shaare Tefila so far. When she isn’t working, you can find her Israeli dancing, hiking or enjoying being in nature.