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!

Cantor Rebecca Pohl Apt


Born and raised in Olney, MD, Cantor Apt grew up as the daughter of a Conservative Rabbi and has been leading services since before she can remember. After graduating from the Joint Program between Columbia University and Albert A. List College, where she received degrees in Music and Midrash, respectively, the H.L. Miller Cantorial School was the obvious choice. She received a Masters degree in Sacred Music and was invested as a Hazzan in 2013.

She has worked as High Holiday Cantor in Ambridge, PA, Albany, NY and Kol Bo in Columbia, MD; as Cantorial Intern at Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, VA, as B’nai Mitzvah tutor and Torah Reader at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and Student Cantor at Temple Beth Ahm of Aberdeen, NJ. 

Since graduating from Cantorial School, she has been a Music teacher and B’nai Mitzvah tutor at B’nai Israel Congregation Talmud Torah in Rockville, MD, led a children’s choir at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, MD and as the Youth Services Coordinator/Junior Congregation Leader at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC. She currently serves as B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator and Teen Program Coordinator of the Hill Havurah in Washington, DC,  and as part-time Cantor of Bet Chaverim in Columbia, MD. Cantor Apt has extensive experience with Jewish A Cappella choirs, plays piano and guitar, and loves singing Broadway Showtunes in her spare time!

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.

Aviva Janus

Religious School Director (Chavaya)
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Aviva Janus is originally from Stony Brook, New York. After receiving a B.S. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she spent six years living in Jerusalem.  There she attended Machon Pardes, completed ulpan, and worked at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel helping to settle new immigrants. She and her family moved to Maryland in 1999. She has taught at several area Hebrew schools – Bnai Israel, Ohr Kodesh, Beth Chai and the Maryland School for Jewish Education. Aviva considers herself extremely fortunate to be mentored by such excellent Jewish educators. Aviva has served as the Education Director since the opening of our building in Olney.  She was instrumental in pioneering our Hebrew tutoring program where students learn individually with a tutor for prayers and Hebrew reading.  Aviva is passionate about helping other Jewish families learn and grow in their knowledge and feel the richness of our shared tradition. In her spare time, Aviva is an avid hiker and cyclist and she enjoys baking challah.  She and her husband are the parents of five children.

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.