RABBI OREN HAYON
Rabbi Oren J. Hayon grew up in Columbus, Ohio and received his B.A. in English from Rice University (1994). Following his graduation, Rabbi Hayon worked briefly for a small management-consulting firm in Houston before moving to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry. After several years of work on studio and independent film projects, he left for Jerusalem to begin his rabbinical studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Hayon received his M.A.H.L. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, 2003) where he was awarded the Cora Kahn Prize for best sermon delivery and oratory. He was ordained in 2004.
Upon ordination, Rabbi Hayon served Temple Emanu-El in Dallas as an Associate Rabbi (2004-2011). He performed the full range of rabbinic leadership in that large, vibrant Reform congregation of over 2,700 member families. His pulpit roles included frequent officiation at Jewish life-cycle events as well as leadership of Shabbat and holiday worship and celebrations and teaching. He redeveloped their young adult program so that it became the source for 45% of their new members (2006-2010). He was actively involved in pastoral care; revised the curriculum and supervised clergy involvement in their conversion program and educational classes; created and implemented programs for families facing interfaith challenges; and crafted and disseminated annual adult learning goals and themes, coordinating classes and programs.
Before arriving at Emanu El he worked as the Greenstein Family Executive Director and rabbi at the Hillel at the University of Washington. As Executive Director he was responsible for their annual $1.2 M budget, overseeing a staff of 15 and working directly with a Board of Directors of 34 from across Seattle. As rabbi at the nationally recognized Hillel he provided the full range of rabbinic responsibilities - worship services and creative programming for Shabbat and holidays, education, interfaith outreach, programmatic and learning opportunities, pastoral and life-cycle functions.
Additionally, Rabbi Hayon serves on the Board of Trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and will be installed as the CCAR's Vice President for Member Services this spring. He is an editor, translator and contributor of Hebrew texts and poetry for CCAR Press. He is a contributor to the Mishkan HaNefesh, the upcoming High Holy Day machzor, and LaKol Eit, a new Rabbi's Manual.
Rabbi Hayon is excited to make his home in Houston with his wife Julie and their two daughters.
RABBI PAMELA Silk
Rabbi Pamela B. Silk, a native of Stamford, Connecticut, was raised in the Detroit area. She attended the Interlochen Arts Camp and Academy for high school. She received her Bachelors Degree in Science in 1997 from the University of Michigan and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2003.
While a student at HUC-JIR, she served as student rabbi in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and Sumter, South Carolina, as well as Congregation B’nai Jehudah in Kansas City. In addition to her pulpit work, she completed 400 hours of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak Michigan. From leading a creative writing workshop for inmates in a Michigan prison, to visiting elderly and disabled shut-ins in Kansas City, Pam has always been passionate about caring for those that society often leaves behind.
Pam was the recipient of the Mae & Edmund Hecht Rabbinic Award presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. She also was a rabbi on the 2011 Israel Mission. Pam is married to Jeffrey Silk and they have two children, JJ and Ava.
RABBI SAMANTHA KAHN
Rabbi Samantha O. Kahn is an experienced preacher, facilitator, innovative programmer and educator. Along with serving as a partner in fulfilling the range of rabbinic duties and responsibilities of Congregation Emanu El, she holds as central to her portfolio engaging our youth and young adults. Rabbi Kahn, a native of Miami, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida, majoring in Political Science and Religion. She earned rabbinic ordination in May, 2011 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. There she also received a Master of Arts in Jewish Nonprofit Management, Masters of Hebrew Letters and a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service.
Rabbi Kahn was a Fellow of the Schusterman Rabbinic Fellowship Program. She served as Rabbinic Intern and Communal Service Intern at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, California. She served as Director of MATCH, a Los Angeles Teen Philanthropy program. She served as student Rabbi at Temple Shalom in Yakima, Washington, Rabbinic Pastoral Intern at Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Arison Israel Program Associate for Hillel at the University of Miami and Hillel Second Generation. She is married to Matt Kahn, a long time Emanu El member and a passionate Jewish communal professional, and they have two children, Roey and Stella Mae. They love to travel, read and watch HBO shows.
RABBI ROY WALTER
Rabbi Roy A. Walter served as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Emanu El from 1978 – 2011. He came to Emanu El following his ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1970, and served eight years as Assistant and Associate Rabbi. Rabbi Walter is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. He holds a B.A. degree from Tulane University and Bachelor and Masters of Hebrew Letters degrees from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. In 1970, he was ordained a Rabbi. In 1995, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Walter has served locally on the Boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Houston Metropolitan Ministries, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and as President of the Houston Rabbinic Association. He is on the faculty of St. Thomas University where he teaches under the auspices of the Jewish Chautauqua Society and as a Herzstein Lecturer. He also serves on the Board of the Institute for Spirituality and Health.
He is a past president of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis and has served on the Board of ARZA, on the Executive Board and the Liturgy Committee of the CCAR, and as a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the UJA. In addition, he has been a member of the Board of Governors and Board of Rabbinic Overseers of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and is currently a member of the President’s Rabbinic Advisory Council. He served two years as the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) representative to the Joint Commission on Social Action between the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) and the CCAR, and served as the Co-Chair of the Rabbinic Alumni Endowment Campaign of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Rabbi Walter served as President of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Inc. from 1996-1998 and has been named a Life Board Member. In 1995 Rabbi Walter served on the Blue Ribbon Committee for Hiring Practices of the Houston Independent School District and he was the rabbinic co-chair of the Commission on Jewish Continuity for the Jewish community of Greater Houston.
Rabbi Walter served as Chair of the Poetry Selection Committee of the CCAR which chose poems that were published in the 50th Anniversary Edition of the CCAR Journal from all poems published in past CCAR Journal. He is co-author of Gates of Prayer for Young People published by the CCAR and of My Prayers: A Children’s Book of Prayers for Everyday Occasions.
Rabbi Walter is married to the former Linda Cohn of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have three children, Benjamin, Michel, and Aaron and two grandchildren, Ethan and Hannah.
David Lamden, a Cleveland, OH native, was raised in Tucson, AZ where he received his Reform Jewish education and spent many years attending Reform Jewish camps. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Judaic Studies, he served as a camp counselor and song leader at Camp Charles Perlstein (now Camp Stein) in Prescott, AZ, and URJ Camp Swig (now URJ Camp Newman) in Santa Rosa, CA.
Upon graduation, he relocated to Columbus OH, where he served for six years as Education Director/Family Jewish Educator at Congregation Beth Tikvah. David then became Religious School Director/Program Director and Technology Coordinator at Temple Israel, a position he held for eight years.
Recruited to Phoenix to become Executive Director of Temple Solel in Paradise Valley AZ, in 2007, David served in that capacity until July 2013 when he assumed the position of Executive Director at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, FL. In November 2016, David assumed his role as Executive Director of Congregation Emanu El.
David was advanced to Senior Member in the National Association for Temple Administration (NATA) in 2011 and in November 2014 received his Fellow in Temple Administration (FTA) designation. He serves on its Board as well as its Web Site Committee Chair, in 2013 served as Co-Chair of the Association's National Conference, and is Co-Chairing the 2016 National Conference.
David is happily married to Jennifer, the father of two adult children and the proud owner of two standard poodles and two cockatoos.
Jason Plotkin, a native Houstonian, attended Westbury High School before receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Radio & Television with an emphasis on Public Relations and Promotions in 2005. Jason arrived at Emanu El following seven years as an athletic administrator at the University of New Orleans, the last three as the Director of Athletic Media Relations. During his tenure, Jason ran the day-to-day operations of the athletic media relations including responsibilities associated with the web site, social media and game management. In addition to his duties with UNO, Jason worked media relations for Super Bowl XLVII, the 2012 NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four, as well as multiple NCAA postseason events. Previous work experience includes a stint as the athletic director at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center and serving as the first full-time sports information director in Dillard University history.
Jason was the recipient of the Creager Memorial Award in 2005 from SHSU given to the senior male student that has “made the most outstanding contribution to overall student life” and continues his involvement at the college level by serving as a member of the Houston Hillel Board of Directors. Jason is married to the former Aliza Herman, and together they have a beautiful son named Isaac.
EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER DIRECTOR
Paula brings over 18 years of preschool experience to Becker Early Childhood Center. For thirteen of those years, she worked at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Houston. She taught in the classroom, headed up a Special Education Department, was the Coordinator of Lower Elementary School, served as the Lower School Principal and as the Director of Admissions. Paula received her Masters in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling from the University of Houston and her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Houston graduating Magna Cum Laude.
She currently holds an American Montessori Society Certificate and has completed the Rice Literacy and Cultural Project offered by Rice University. Paula has completed and received many certificates from other continuing educational programs including the Baylor-Rice Science Program for Elementary Teachers, Neuhaus Language Enrichment Program and the Texas Certification for Elementary Education.
Professional associations in which she is involved include Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Kappa Delta Phi Education Honor Society, Union of Reform Jewish Early Childhood Directors, National Association of Education for Young Children, Southern Early Childhood Association.
For questions or concerns about the philosophy of the school, school policies, a concern about your child's development, referral information or financial concerns, please contact Paula.