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Our Team

Rabbi Andrea Cosnowsky - Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Andrea Cosnowsky was ordained in 2004 at Hebrew Union College and served as the associate rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim from 2005 to 2016.

She is committed to strengthening Etz Chaim’s presence as the center of Jewish life in the western Chicago suburbs. She believes strongly in building community by connecting people to each other and to the traditions of Judaism. Rabbi Cosnowsky actively builds bridges between people of all faiths and participates in DuPage United and the Glen Ellyn Religious Leaders group. 

She teaches an intro to Judaism course at Elmhurst College as an adjunct professor and uses her passion for music, teaching, and learning to help others see the world through a lens of spirituality. Her warm and engaging presence, along with her willingness to embrace families and individuals, including interfaith families, opens the door to Judaism in an accessible manner and invites others to explore their spiritual path.

Born and raised in Ardsley, NY, Rabbi Cosnowsky earned her BA in English Literature at SUNY Empire State College. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Xavier University and a Master’s in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College.

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Rabbi Jessica Wainer - Associate Rabbi

Rabbi Jessica Wainer was ordained from the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 2016 and previously served as the associate rabbi and director of congregational learning for Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, VA.  

She loves to develop creative worship experiences, walk with families through their times of sorrow and joy, and bring Torah to life for people of all ages.

Born and raised in Oak Park, IL, Rabbi Wainer is thrilled to be home to serve the Jewish community of the western suburbs of Chicago. 

In addition to her ordination, Rabbi Wainer earned a Master’s degree in Hebrew Letters in 2015 from Hebrew Union College, as well as a Master’s in Education Administration from Xavier University in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies, with honors, and minored in Hebrew and Psychology from Indiana University - Bloomington.

Rabbi Wainer currently serves as the head of faculty for the Union of Reform Judaism’s Six-Points Creative Arts Academy where she is a founding faculty member. She also previously served on the Central Conference of American Rabbi Taskforce on Women’s Experience in the Rabbinate.

Outside of her work in the Jewish community, Rabbi Wainer enjoys scuba diving, long walks with her dog Tali, playing various musical instruments, and baking challah.

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Aaron Robbin - Executive Director

Aaron Robbin grew up in Deerfield and Buffalo Grove so his position at Etz Chaim represents a kind of homecoming. He left the area to attend the University of Iowa/Bradley University, where he received an undergraduate degree in business. He also has a Master’s in Education from DePaul University, an executive MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology, and a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from M2 - The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. 

Prior to Etz Chaim, Aaron oversaw BBYO’s travel department and sent 1,000 teens abroad each year. Funnily enough, his wife Anne (Richardson) Robbin grew up at Etz Chaim! Now they have two children together, Samuel and Madeline, who are also a part of the Etz Chaim community. 

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Marla Aviva Bentley, RJE - Director of Lifelong Learning

Marla Aviva Bentley, RJE (she/her) is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Etz Chaim and conductor of the CEC Choir. She has worked in the field of Jewish education for more than 20 years. Before coming to CEC, Marla served as the Director of Music at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie. Marla is passionate about fostering Jewish identity through learning, music and Tikkun Olam, the repair of our world. She cares deeply about her congregants and seeing each person as a unique and precious individual created B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. 

Marla serves on the Executive Board of the Guild of Temple Musicians, an affiliate of the American Conference of Cantors, as the Immediate Past President. For 5 years she was the conductor of HaZamir Chicago, a chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir. Marla is proud to serve on the camp faculty of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI). 

Marla is a graduate of the Executive MA program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) where she earned a degree in Jewish Education. She has a Bachelor of Music degree with Honors in Choral Music Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Pedagogy from Oakland University, Rochester. 

A native of Metropolitan Detroit, Marla now calls Deerfield home. She is a lifelong learner and loves to read and listen to audiobooks. Marla also loves to be in nature, camp, sing, bake, and spend time with her husband, Newell, and their children, Hannah and Jaret, and rescue dog, Duke.

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Rabbi Steven Bob - Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Steven M. Bob served as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim 35 years. In July he became the congregation’s Rabbi Emeritus. His delight in Torah, his sense of humor and fun, his
love of teaching and learning, and his ability to connect with people of all ages are some of the gifts he brings to everything he does.


Rabbi Bob was ordained in 1977, after earning his B.A. at the University of Minnesota and his M.A. at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He received the Doctor of Divinity degree from the
Hebrew Union College in 2002. 


In addition to his activities at Etz Chaim, Rabbi Bob is currently an adjunct faculty member at Wheaton College and Elmhurst College, where he is also a founder of the Holocaust Education
Program. He is a leader of the faculty of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute and a recipient of the Samuel Cook Award for Lifetime Achievement in Youth Work from the CCAR and Rabbi Mordecai
Simon Award from the Chicago Board of Rabbis.


Rabbi Bob’s new book, “Jonah and the Meaning of Our Lives,” was published by the Jewish Publication Society in June of 2016. His first book, “Go to Nineveh, Commentaries of Rashi, Abraham
Ibn Ezra, David Kimchi, Isaac Abarbanel and the Malbim to the Book of Jonah, Translated and Explained” was published by Wimpf and Stock in July of 2013. He is recognized as an expert
on Yom HaShoah.


Rabbi Bob's involvement and leadership in the wider community include chairing the DuPage Interfaith Resource Network. He also served as Recording Secretary of the Central Conference of
American Rabbis. Rabbi Bob is a Past President of the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis as well as the Elmhurst Ministerium. Rabbi Bob is a member of the Governing Council of
the World Zionist Organization. Ha'aretz named Rabbi Bob as one of the 36 American Jews who
helped shape the 2008 Presidential election.

Rachel Wood - Inclusion Specialist & B'nai Mitzvah Tutor

Rachel Wood has been a proud member of Congregation Etz Chaim since 1979. She began teaching in the Religious School shortly after becoming a member, first Judaica but then as part of the Hebrew faculty. 

Her varied posts were 3rd grade Hebrew teacher, language lab creator for learners with differences, 6th grade Hebrew teacher, and the B’nai Mitzvah tutor. These days she works as an inclusion specialist not only at Etz Chaim, but also as a mentor to support Jewish institutions as they provide inclusion opportunities for their students. She aids teachers and teaching assistants who have children in their classes with diagnosed learning disabilities. She offers suggestions and materials for children who need to approach learning in a non-traditional manner. On top of that, she supports adults by providing a sign language interpreter as well as use of a CART system (closed captioning).

Rachel is a licensed speech/language pathologist with an emphasis in child development and learning styles. She put that to use in public schools, private practice, and early intervention programs.

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Cameron Trejbal - Program & Communications Associate

Cameron Trejbal (they/them/theirs) was born and raised in Downers Grove and received their undergraduate degree in writing from the University of Illinois at Champaign. They are passionate about facilitating Jewish community and encouraging a sense of belonging in our congregation. In their free time, they enjoy studying Hebrew, singing in the choir, and cuddling their dog, Pepper.

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Barbara Benezra - Member and Clergy Admin

Barbara was born and raised in Chicago. She has been living in the Western suburbs since 1975, first in River Forest, then in Oak Brook and currently in Downers Grove. Barbara earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Loyola University, Chicago.

She worked as a programmer in the days of punched cards and mainframe computers, before becoming the office manager of a medical practice. More recently, Barbara took some time away from the professional world to be a devoted caregiver within her family.

In addition to CEC, Barbara continues to volunteer her time with nonprofit fundraising organizations that support physical and mental health, education, and musical arts. A former doubles tennis player, Barbara is now a dedicated walker. She enjoys spending time with family (proud grandmother to 8) and friends, traveling, reading, entertaining, and attending live events.

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Kenric Rimoni - Community Experience Administrator

Kenric Rimoni brings to Etz Chaim a strong background in process and people improvement, spanning hospital administration, non-profits, and academia. He was graduated in 2015 with his bachelors degree in Business Administration and is currently a graduate student with a passion for counseling and teaching.

Though he grew up in California, went to college in Tennessee, and loved living overseas in Australia, Kenric is now delighted to call the Midwest home with his wife, Kierstynne, who are frequently found adventuring around Chicago discovering cultural food spots and experiences.

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Javier Vega - Maintenance Crew

Javier, a resilient and accomplished individual, started his transformative journey in Mexico City, which led him to the United States two decades ago. Upon arriving, he embraced opportunities in school district custodial services. His dedication and tireless work ethic earned him respect and recognition, and in 2019, he took over leadership of the family-owned J&L Cleaning Services, elevating it while also expanding his junk removal business. With his wife and family, he's been dedicated to serving CEC for the past two years and plans to continue doing so in the future.

Elmer Suarez - Maintenance Crew

Three values that guide Elmer are commitment, family, and community. After graduating from Naperville North High School and attending the College of DuPage, Elmer's determination guided him onto a new path. With his supportive wife and a joyful 1-year-old son, he took on the task of growing the family business—a journey he embraced wholeheartedly. Having been a part of the CEC for over a year now, he is eager to keep contributing his services to the congregation.

Board of Directors

Executive Board

Karen Butterfield (President)
Mimi Paull-Binette (VP)
Liza Papautsky (VP)
Laura Pietrzak (VP)
Rick Schoenfield (VP)
Debbie Schodrof (Treasurer)
Ricardo   Martinez (Secretary)

Board Members

Andrea Alterman-Lachs
Jon Berman
Sam Cox
Jamie Dornfeld
Matthew Duhan
Stuart Feinberg
Patricia Gibbs
Dubravka Juraga

 

Marianne Mintz
Rebecca Munoz
Deborah Prinz
Adam Roubitchek
Susanna Sawyer
Jen Snyder
Gary Titiner
Matt Wills

 

Jacob Cynamon-Murphy (Immediate Past President)
Jacob Margulies (Brotherhood President)
Marsha Swetin (Sisterhood President)

Thu, February 29 2024 20 Adar I 5784