Our Staff and Leadership

Welcome From Our Rabbi

Hello! My name is Rabbi Jared H. Saks and I have served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Bet Ha’am since 2011. I currently live in Portland with my husband, our son, and our inimitable dog, Vegas. I am a New Jersey native, born and raised in rural northwestern New Jersey, where I was one of 10 Jewish students in my high school of 1200. Being Jewish has always been a central component of my identity. From displaying my Hebrew name in my public school classroom in third grade for back-to-school night, to leading Shabbat worship at Florida State University through my college year, to exploring Costa Rican Jewish history during a summer studying abroad, living a Jewish life has always been a defining characteristic of my my life.

I was raised at Temple Shalom in Succasunna, New Jersey, where my rabbi, Joel Soffin, had a congregational question:  How can we help? These four simple words became the foundation of what it means for me to be Jewish. I first learned to live a Jewish life through the lens of tikkun olam, the repair of our world. I believe that our covenantal relationship with God requires us to be God’s partners in this world, that God is not the cause of suffering, but that we are God’s agents in alleviating it. My rabbinate is framed by a teaching of one of the greatest Talmudists of the nineteenth century, Rabbi Hayyim of Brisk, who when asked by his disciples to define the task of the rabbi, replied:  To redress the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of the oppressor.”

The synagogue of the 21st century has a lot to offer the Jewish people:  fulfilling worship, meaningful holiday observances, engaging lifelong Jewish learning, social connections, leadership development, and more. But I believe the most unique offering of the synagogue of the 21st century is the ability to use our Jewish values to harness communal power and bring about real change in a world that is so much in need of it and of us. What is the point of retelling our liberation story at Passover if we are not working for the liberation of others? What value does our observance of Tu BiSh’vat have if we don’t commit ourselves to protecting the environment and pursuing climate justice? Why learn Torah texts that teach us of our vulnerability if we are not aiming to support those who are at greatest risk today? In Hebrew, Jewish law is called halachah, literally ‘the way,’ or ‘the path.’ Judaism affords us with a framework with which to walk with God, to be God’s partners in this world, and to work towards the world’s perfections. I’m excited our life’s paths have intersected and look forward to getting to know you as we walk with God and engage in this sacred work.

Religious Leadership

Rabbi Saks

Jared H. Saks

Rabbi

Rabbi Saks

(207) 879 - 0028 ext. 5
ravsaks @ bethaam.org

Staff

Executive Committee

Board of Trustees

Marcella Bobinsky

Board Member

Sam Rothman

Board Member

Sam Rothman


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Donna Landau

Donna Landau

Board Member

Donna Landau

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Danielle Sanokklis

Board Member

Melissa Montefel

Board Member

Steve Smith

Board Member

Steve Smith

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Diane Newman

Board Member

Diane Newman

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Emily Siegel

Board Member
David Soley

David Soley

Board Member

David Soley


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Drew Stevens

Board Member

Drew Stevens

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Mark Stone

Board Member

Allan Townsend

Board Member

Alan Townsend

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David Stein

I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived in McAlester, Oklahoma; Yonkers, New York; and Allentown, Pennsylvania before moving to Scarborough, Maine, in 2015. I graduated from Moravian College with a bachelor of arts in biology and sociology, and received a DO medical degree and a masters in public health from the University of New England (UNE). I practiced internal medicine in Allentown from 1990 until 2015, when my wife Cindy and I moved to Maine where I assumed a position as an associate professor and chair of internal medicine for the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine. I rose to the position of assistant dean for graduate medical education. In August 2019, I began as the program director for the new internal medicine residency at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and as a practicing internal medicine specialist at Portsmouth Internal Medicine Associates. 

My wife Cindy and I will be married for forty years this September. We have two children. Our older son is Joshua, who is a psychiatrist in New York City and is married to Nancy. Our younger child is Alexander, who lives in San Francisco and works as a product manager at Facebook. 

While living in Allentown, we were active in our synagogue where I served as a member of the board of Congregation Keneseth Israel for six years. I chaired various committees. 

For pleasure, I enjoy reading, traveling internationally, playing tennis, and rooting for Philadelphia sports teams.

Catherine Share

I first came to Bet Ha’am when my former partner (who is Jewish) and I were looking for a Jewish home for our family after moving to Maine from Durham, North Carolina in 2006. We joined Bet Ha’am in about 2009. We share custody of our daughter, Maya who is 14. She was called to the Torah as a B’Notai Mitzvah in May 2018. I also have two adult children and two grandchildren.  

I was an active adult member in the Episcopal Church for many years, but left in 2004. Since coming to Bet Ha’am, I have gradually become more involved with congregational activities. But more importantly, I am now on a journey towards conversion, which has been very exciting for me. I am presently taking an online course with the URJ, studying Hebrew with Rachel Stamieszkin, and recently started a weekly Torah study with Ellie Miller. I have barely scratched the surface of my knowledge but as I learn, it only encourages me to study more. 

I am a retired physician from Southern Maine Medical Center. I had a very satisfying career as a general surgeon. But I don’t miss it at all and find myself now involved with all the avocations that I have been carrying around in my head for many years. I am a member of the Garden Committee and have completed my first year teaching the 8th-9th graders on Sunday evening. I plan to continue both commitments. I am also participating in a short lay leadership course with the Maine Center for Small Town Jewish Life. 

I would be honored to serve on the Board of Bet Ha’am. I participated extensively in various committees while working at SMHC. I think that organizational skill will serve me well. I would appreciate your support. 

Tom Rosen

Bio coming soon!

Sylvia Most

I have lived within a 20minute drive of Congregation Bet Ha’am since I was four years old! I was raised at Temple Beth El and was an active member there until I began attending Bet Ha’am 10-12 years ago. I have helped in the Hebrew School, chanted Torah and Haftarah at Shabbat and holiday services, baked treats for the caring committee, helped to formalize a process for incorporating Tikkun Olam initiatives into our communal and religious life, and served on our Board of Trustees. 

My husband, Alan Cardinal, and I have been married for 22 years and we have two grown sons who live locally. My current occupation is a high school math teacher at Windham High School and I also do the bookkeeping for our family’s store, Legion Square Market in South Portland. I have a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Vermont, a master’s in business administration from Northeastern, and in 2013, after failing to make it past ABD status in my quest for a PhD in public policy, I received a master’s degree in teaching and learning from the University of Southern Maine. I have enjoyed extensive leadership experience in both professional roles and in elected and volunteer offices in Greater Portland. 

I devote time to Bet Ha’am because it meets a personal need for connection to Judaism, an opportunity to help in the communityand fulfills my desire for ongoing spiritual growth. When I was younger, G-d spoke to me most directly when I was deep in the mountains. As I have grown older, the demands of home, family, and work have kept me from spending as much time as I might like in the woods. Instead I’ve found that our sanctuary, with its view of the beautiful Bet Ha’am garden, surrounded by music and thoughtful words, brings me to a welcome place of gratitude and contemplation.  

I am grateful for the spiritual center that Bet Ha’am plays in my life and am honored to have been asked to become the congregation’s vice president. 

Sam Rothman

My journey with Bet Ha’am began sometime in the early 2000s when I was still very much a kid. My father, Paul, pushed me to attend the religious school program. I became a Bar Mitzvah at Bet Ha’am in June 2006 and then, a few years later, a confirmand. Like many kids, I was always against going to religious school; however, every time I showed up, I always enjoyed myself. Sticking with the program through confirmation was one of the best things I have done on my religious journey. The community at Bet Ha’am has helped shape my outlook on Judaism as well as provided support in times of need. We have a very close-knit community; that is hard to find these days and, in my eyes, is very special. 

I am a graduate of Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, with a bachelor of science in finance. This has led to a career working in the field of real estate accounting. I am currently serving on the finance committee at Bet Ha’am and look forward to helping the synagogue in this area for the foreseeable future. 

I was lucky enough to travel to Israel on Birthright in December 2018. This is definitely an experience I would encourage any young Jew to do regardless of how religious one might believe one is. The trip helped me reconnect with Judaism after my college years and opened my eyes about what it means to be Jewish. I am eager to share the experience and everything I have learned in our holy land with anyone who is interested. 

With my age and knowledge of finance and technology, it is my hope to bring a new, younger, generational perspective to the board and lead Bet Ha’am in the best direction possible for our community. 

Donna Landau

My son Abraham first introduced me to Bet Ha’am in 1987 because he thought it would be fun to go to school on Sundays with his friend Max. It’s been a long road from baking cookies, chaperoning field trips, and being part of the Kennebunkport religious school carpool. During the interim, I slowly made a Jewish life for myself. I traveled to Israel with Rabbi Dubinsky (Goldfinger) and 40 members of the congregation in February of 2006, and by August of 2007 I was in a bet din with three rabbis about to formalize what had been in my heart all along. 

Volunteer work at Bet Ha’am has included co-chairing the library committee with Sherrie Bergman; coordinating the ushers and greeters; serving on the membership and caring committees; knitting comfort shawls for Rosie Wohl, our Jewish chaplain; and most recently, acting as assistant editor of Chadashot under the direction of Benjamin Gorelick and now, Rachel Lefkowitz. I took courses through the Florence Melton School of Adult Learning, participated in a leadership course with Rabbi Saks, and received a Bet Ha’am Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012.  

Some life accomplishments are as mother to four wonderful adult children, eight amazing grandchildren and two great grand twin boys. I have been a teacher of the deaf, owner and coach of a gymnastics school, State Chair for USA Gymnastics, and calendar editor and administrative assistant for a seasonal newspaper.  

Now that I am officially retired, I am ready to give back to Bet Ha’am, my spiritual home and community, in a different way. After years of saying “no way,” this time when Lisa Munderback, a member of the nominating committee contacted me about being on the board, I was able to say “yes.”  

Steve Smith

I was born and raised in Worcester Massachusetts and my family was a member of Temple Emanuel, a large Reform Congregation. I graduated Brown University in 1964 with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics and Northeastern University in 1966 with a master’s degree in Actuarial Science.

I’m a long-time member of The Society of Actuaries and American Academy of Actuaries. I had a 35-year career in the Life & Health Insurance Industry with major responsibilities in Finance and Product Development. I had many executive positions at Union Mutual/Unum where I worked for 25 years before retiring. I became a ski instructor and did some Actuarial and Financial consulting. I Previously served on the Jewish Federation Allocations Committee, led the United Way Allocations Committee, and was a Board Member of a not-for-profit housing development organization. I am currently President of the Carrabassett Valley Outdoor Association and manage several family financial and technology matters.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Elaine, and we have two adult sons, five adult grandchildren and one great grandson. We try to spend as much time as we can with our family. We moved to Maine in 1973 and raised our family in Cape Elizabeth. Elaine and I are very active as avid skiers, speed walkers, exercisers, and we love to read, partake of good food and wine and to travel having visited over 60 countries and 45 states.

We belonged to Temple Beth El prior to a Reform Congregation existing in the Portland area. Our sons had the good fortune to have their Bar Mitzvahs at Beth El under the tutelage of Cantor Messerschmidt. We’ve been Bet Ha’am members for about 30 years with modest participation in its services and activities. I was on the original Capital Campaign that financed our beautiful sanctuary/social hall. Elaine and I appreciate Bet Ha’am’s diverse membership and its commitment to our community.  I look forward to helping guide Bet Ha’am into the future.

Diane Newman

Bet Ha’am has been my home for worship since 2016.  In this time, I have grown to realize this is not just a congregation, but a family. In times of simchah (joy), times of comfort, support and education, the members and team of Bet Ha’am have been there. I have felt welcomed from day one. 

Members of our congregation have been there for me at life changing moments. It is my desire to “pay forward” the kindness and care received. 

I offer you my experience as a teacher and corporate sales executive helping Fortune 500 companies manage risk. In 1993, I moved to Maine to start my own business, vowing to surround myself with people who share my values. Those who treat others with kindness, who practice ethical, conscious living, and who give back to our community. Here I help families manage the risks of everyday life. 

In my spare time, I am kept by two Cavalier King Charles Spanielstap dance for fun; knit mittens for children in need; love to be in and out on the water; serve meals for Wayside with the other Bet Ha’am volunteers; and am committed to social justice causes. 

It’s my honor to be Mom to two amazing adults and Mema to two grandsons. My husband, Steve, helps support my endeavors and is recruited for many of them. (He is now the official dishwashing operator for the Bet Ha’am volunteers.) 

David Soley

David Soley leads the real estate litigation group at Bernstein Shur. He is the author of the American Bar Association’s nationally acclaimed “Real Estate Litigation Handbook” and is recognized by Best Lawyers in America for his work in real estate litigation. Mr. Soley concentrates his practice in the areas of business, real estate and constitutional litigation. He regularly represents entrepreneurs and property owners in disputes over boundaries, titles, easements, mortgage priorities, partitions, purchase and sale agreements and other real estate issues.

Mr. Soley spent four years as a trial lawyer in Washington, D.C., before returning to Maine. Over the course of more than thirty-six years as a trial lawyer, Mr. Soley has specialized in complex litigation involving some of the largest companies in the United States and Europe. He routinely handles trials in federal and state courts, and has litigated high profile constitutional cases involving drug testing, pregnancy testing, mandatory jury fees, congressional term limits, prison headgear policies, ebola quarantines, no-contact policies applied to suspected victims of domestic violence, and the right of jail inmates to receive prescribed medications. He has also co-authored the American Bar Association’s “The Trial Lawyer’s Guide to Success and Happiness.” He is also actively involved in commercial and hospitality real estate.

Drew Stevens

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and moved to Maine with my wife, Robin, in 2003.  We honeymooned in Bar Harbor and heard about this little city called Portland, ME. We visited Portland in Dec, and the following April we bought a house and moved across country.  We first joined Bet Ha’am when our first daughter was born in 2005 and we now have 2 teenage daughters and live in Cape Elizabeth. As much as I love the quality of life here in Maine, I’ve found the awareness about Jewish culture is quite lacking, and our family has had wonderful experiences introducing friends to Jewish customs and traditions. Now that we can congregate in person again, I’m looking forward to socializing with our Bet Ha’am community in the coming months.

I did my undergraduate study at San Francisco State University and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin- Madison where I studied Educational Psychology. I’m a local realtor and I receive tremendous gratification from helping people navigate a challenging, and often stressful, life transition. I’m the 2021 Cultural Ambassador for Keller Williams Realty Maine, and I sit on the associate leadership council, culture and DEI committees. My wife is a Spanish teacher in Portland Schools, and our two daughters will be attending Cape Elizabeth High School this fall.

At Bet Ha’am, I’ve been involved with the membership committee and I’m really looking forward to working on the board to see how we can make our congregation even stronger. My intention is to infuse enjoyment and connection into everything I work on so people will want to participate even more. I thank you for the opportunity to serve this community.

I’m interested!

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