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.

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

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.

 

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, for the past seven years. She converted to Judaism here, and also had her ketubah signing here. She has been an assistant and a teacher with MASA for the past five school years. 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!

 

 

 

 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.

 

 

Diana Cowdery

Diana is thrilled to be back for another year at BHA preschool!  Diana has worked as a garden educator throughout the Hudson Valley and has more than four years of experience in youth education. Diana loves engaging students through song, silliness, yoga, cooking, and creative projects in the classroom as well as in the soil. Outside of the classroom Diana operates a specialty cut flower farm bringing beautiful seasonal and naturally grown blooms to the Hudson Valley community. Diana is passionate about exploring natural environments, working for social justice, and finding the humor and simplicity in daily life. She is confident in her ability to translate these ideals in her work with the exceptional students at BHA.

 

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.