Welcome | About TBE
Meet our Clergy
TBE’s spiritual, educational, and pastoral leaders
Joel Sisenwine has been the Rabbi of Temple Beth Elohim since the year 2000, a period of great growth and energy in the life of our community. A native of Philadelphia, Rabbi Sisenwine graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. There, Rabbi Sisenwine received the prestigious Wexner Foundation Fellowship for Jewish Leadership, as well as the nationally recognized Truman Foundation Fellowship for public service.
Following studies at various institutions of higher learning, including Tel Aviv University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, he was ordained a rabbi from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1995.
Rabbi Sisenwine has distinguished himself as a leading voice in the local and national Jewish community. He is currently the rabbinic chair of the Reform movement’s Commission on Worship and Religious Living, and also serves on the President’s Rabbinic Council of the Hebrew Union College. He was also as a founding member of the region’s Reform Beit Din, and has served on several local and national leadership boards, including the Jewish Community Center, the Rashi School, and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Sisenwine is the author of various articles and publications. He shares life with his wife Heidi, a teacher at the Rashi School, and his three daughters. He can occasionally be seen on the basketball courts of the JCC, the bleachers at Fenway Park, or enjoying time with his family.
Cantor Jodi Sufrin was raised in Toronto, Canada. Her home upbringing and early experiences as lay cantor at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto pointed her in the direction of the cantorate. For many years, Jodi sang with her older brother Kerry, z”l, specializing in the field of Israeli folk songs. She also pursued a career as a folk singer, serving as warm-up artist for Canadian songwriter and performer, Dan Hill. Fortunately, for all of us, her parents discouraged her from following this path.
Following her graduation from the University of Toronto with a dual major in French and Italian, Cantor Sufrin entered Hebrew Union College, School of Sacred Music in New York City. In 2008, Cantor Sufrin received an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College.
Since her ordination in 1983, Cantor Jodi Sufrin has served as cantor at Temple Beth Elohim. In the mid 1980s, Cantor Sufrin participated in a group of clergy and lay leaders that laid the foundation for the Rashi School. For many years, she and her husband co-chaired cantorial concerts to benefit the school. Cantor Sufrin also served on the ritual development committee for the Mayyim Hayyim mikveh.
Cantor Sufrin is married to Cantor Roy Einhorn of Temple Israel in Boston. They have two daughters, Laura and Jessica, sons-in-law Jared and Ben, and two grandsons Kai and Jomei.
Rabbi Rachel Saphire was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio and attended Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), where she graduated magna cum laude in 2004 with a degree in Family Studies and Social Work. At Miami, Rabbi Saphire became extensively involved with the Hillel Foundation and was awarded the Nicky S. Spivak Award for Community Enhancement. Following graduation, she entered rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. After an initial year in Jerusalem, Rabbi Saphire studied for the rabbinate at HUC-JIR’s historic Cincinnati campus. Upon her Ordination from HUC-JIR in June 2009, Rabbi Saphire was awarded the Robert L. Adler Prize for her contribution to the community and the Israel Bettan Memorial Prize for the most creative and imaginative pulpit presentation. She also received a Masters in Hebrew Letters from HUC in 2009.
Rabbi Saphire has served our congregation since she was ordained. Her accomplishments at TBE include creating a thriving community of Families with Young Children, reimagining the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process, forming a diverse Israel Connection Team, initiating a community of 20s-30s, transforming family and youth worship and ritual experiences, and organizing TBE’s social justice initiatives to be a national leader in the Jewish community.
Rabbi Saphire finds time for other passions such as spending time with family, volunteering with interfaith organizations, playing sports, watching ESPN, cooking, crafting, and writing. Rabbi Saphire and her husband, Doug, live in Needham with their two children, Ella and Oren. They are grateful to be a part of the Temple Beth Elohim community.
Rabbi Philip Sherman came to Temple Beth Elohim in 2013. He holds a B.A. from Indiana University, and also studied at Charles University in Prague. He was ordained in June 2013 at Hebrew College in Newton, Ma., where he also received a Masters in Jewish Education.
Rabbi Sherman grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From a young age, he enjoyed being active in the Jewish community. He was president of Emtza Region USY, and he spent 15 summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin as a camper, counselor, and Rosh Eidah. While a student at Hebrew College, he held various positions in several Boston-area synagogues as well as MIT Hillel, and served as student rabbi for the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe in Stowe, Vt. He also spent a summer as a chaplain at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
At TBE Rabbi Sherman enjoys engaging the adult community in Jewish living and learning, teaching classes, finding meaningful prayer opportunities, singing and leading prayer with our Yaldeinu (families with young children) community, and exploring different spiritual practices our tradition has to offer.
He and his wife, Leah, live in Natick with their children. They consider themselves blessed to be part of the TBE community. True to his roots, he is still an avid Minnesota and Indiana University sports fan.
Cantor Shanna Zell is a singer/songwriter turned cantor who believes in creating a warm, uplifting community of song open to all seekers and lovers of Judaism.
She received her BA in both European Cultural Studies and English & American Literature from Brandeis University. After Brandeis, Shanna worked for the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92Y where she assisted in programming for multi-denominational Jewish 20/30s and received an award for her “lasting contribution” to the institution.
Before embarking on her cantorial journey, Shanna performed live shows with her band – Shanna & the Zellots – a powerful pop-rock ensemble. She released one full length album (2005) and one EP (2011), both comprised of original music. Blending her experience as a songwriter and passion for Jewish music, Shanna often finds herself bringing driving rock rhythms into the synagogue.
Since Fall 2013, she served as cantorial intern for Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn where she was a prayer leader, b’nai mitzvah tutor, Rosh Hodesh girls’ group organizer and co-facilitator of the 20s/30s “Brooklyn Jews” community. In February 2016, she co-organized an Indigo Girls Tribute Concert to raise funds and awareness for Planned Parenthood NYC. In December 2016, Shanna presented a senior recital entitled, “Sacred Brooklyn,” an exploration of the sounds of liberal Jewish Brooklyn, which is also the topic of her master’s thesis.
During her time at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Shanna served as a member of the Worship Working Group and as student liaison to the Reform Movement’s Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living. She was a Be Wise Fellow, working with the institution and classmates to digitize the Sacred Music Press. From 2014-2016 Shanna served as a UJA Federation PENS fellow, meeting monthly with other fellows to explore issues facing local and global Jewish communities as well as innovating for a bright Jewish future.
Shanna loves keeping her finger on the pulse of the underground music scene, exploring new neighborhoods and eating sushi. She is thrilled to be serving as the Assistant Cantor at Temple Beth Elohim.
David Wolff is very excited to join the Temple Beth Elohim community as cantorial intern from September through December 2019. Simultaneously, he serves Temple Beth Am in Framingham as cantorial soloist. He is also a cantorial student at Hebrew College in Newton, where he will be ordained in June 2020. Prior to cantorial school, he received a BA in Music from Amherst College, and a Masters in Music Education from the University of Michigan. He was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a professional singer and elementary music educator for 6 years. David taught primarily in a low-income elementary school in Montgomery County, Maryland, where he directed a choir of 200 fourth and fifth graders. He has performed professionally in operas, musicals, concerts, and choirs for many years. In the Washington, D.C. area, he was the high holiday cantorial soloist at Congregation Beit Chaverim in Prince Frederick, Maryland, and a member of the professional high holiday quartet at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. When he is not praying, singing, or teaching, he loves to hike, and has backpacked much of the Appalachian Trail.