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Our Clergy and Staff

Rabbi Brent Spodek

Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch and by Newsweek as "a rabbi to watch." He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation.

Before coming to Beacon Hebrew Alliance, he served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York.

Rabbi Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a masters in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. To schedule a time to talk with Rabbi Brent, please use this link or be in touch with Faith Adams. If you are interested in having Rabbi Brent perform your wedding, please first fill out this form

He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children.

Cantor Ellen Gersh

Ellen Gersh is proud to work at Beacon Hebrew Alliance, the synagogue founded by her grandparents. Ellen was born in Beacon to George and Evelyn Pearson, both teachers in the Beacon schools. Ellen has been leading Shabbat services at Beacon Hebrew Alliance since she was a child, even as she’s also been to many other places, including Israel and Boston University's School of Fine Arts, where she earned a BA in vocal performance and music education.  In the late 1970's, Ellen aspired to become a cantor, but the cantorial school at the Jewish Theological Seminary was not yet admitting women. Instead, Ellen enrolled in Columbia University's Teachers College and Manhattan School of Music and studied privately with rabbis and cantors who were willing to train her in the Jewish liturgical tradition.  Prior to returning to Beacon, Ellen served as the Cantor at Greenwich Reform Synagogue in Greenwich, Conn. Ellen has been married to her husband Michael, a teacher at Beacon High School, for more than 25 years. They are the proud parents of two children, Aaron and Lian.

Masa: our religious school

Julia Gross Alexander

Julia Gross Alexander, the Education Director at BHA, has been living in the Hudson Valley, and learning and growing with the BHA community, since 2011. She converted to Judaism here, and also had her ketubah signing here. She has been an assistant and a teacher with MASA since 2013. Julia's special skills include baking, fixing things, and generally being a balabusta. She looks forward to being a part of the BHA family for many years to come!

Wendy Gross Alexander

Wendy Alexander is a drama teacher during the week and the "squishy one" at Masa. She has been teaching in the Bronx and Manhattan for over 20 years and has taught the youngest group at BHA since 2013. They are also a foster parent, and the soon to be adoptive parent of a 17 year old. They are good with she or they pronouns. 

Carole Penner

Carole has lived in the Hudson Valley for nine years, after spending 22 years in Portland, Oregon. She returned to follow her daughter, a musical theatre performer, and to reunite with her two brothers who are both local. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Theatre, as well as Special Education, and has taught Special Education for the past 35 years. Carole is starting her second year as a teacher with Masa, and finds that teaching children about Jewish customs and holidays has helped her to reconnect with Judaism.

When she isn’t teaching Carole is weaving for herself and teaching children how to weave. She is a member of Hudson Valley Performing Lab and is also studying for a Master’s in Restorative Practice. Carole lives in the Village of Wappingers with her dog Mona, and her cat Abner.

Debbie Broshi

Debbie relocated to NY eight years ago, after a long career as a performer and a writer in Israel.


This is her seventh year as a Hebrew teacher at the BHA.

Jonathan Billig

Jonathan Billig is an educator, seeker, and aspirant toward holy connection between humans and with our more-than-human world. He has led programs and managed departments at a variety of amazing natural and environmental spaces, including the Bronx Botanical Garden and Wave Hill in NYC, New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock, and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. His Jewish journey includes an undergraduate degree from JTS, participation in Aleph’s Kesher Fellowship and Romemu’s summer Yeshiva program, and a loving relationship with Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, where he lived and work for six months in 2018-2019. He also co-designed and led the “Synagogue In the Woods” program for Temple Beth Shalom, Mahopac and has taught for a gaggle of synagogues, starting with Greenburgh Hebrew Center in Westchester, where he was a student! He is delighted to be teaching at BHA where he is constantly learning from colleagues and students in dynamic Jewish community. He resides in the Muhheakantuk/Hudson River valley and enjoys hiking, writing poetry, meditating and praying, and connecting with friends and family.   

Our Preschool

 Ilana Friedman

Ilana Friedman is thrilled to be the director and lead teacher at BHA Preschool. She also runs Beacon Craft Workshop, teaching inquiry-based art and science workshops for children. Before moving to Beacon, Ilana received her BA with Honors and also received her Masters of Arts in Teaching at Brown University. She went on to teach third grade for many years at the Brooklyn New School, in Brooklyn, New York. Ilana also works as a potter and took classes at Haystack Mountain and Penland Schools of Craft. She knows first-hand the inspiration and fun that comes from exploring materials and creating alongside others, and this is what she aims to provide when teaching young children. She lives in Beacon with her husband Bryan, and their daughters Samara & Sage.

Helen Lowery is teaching with the BHA Preschool this fall. 

Adonia Larson-Moore is teaching at the BHA Preschool this fall.

Our Administrator

Faith Adams

Faith is our skilled and supportive administrator. Her hours are Tuesday-Thursday 9:30am to 4:30pm and Fridays 9:30am-3:30pm.

Sat, November 28 2020 12 Kislev 5781