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Calendar of Events

All Congregation B'nai Israel events can be found HERE!

Listen to Services

We hope you will join us for Shabbat services in the B'nai Israel sanctuary, but if you are unable to be with us, we invite you to participate in our congregation's services through our internet broadcast. Click here to access.

Clergy and Staff

 

Rabbi David Kaiman

Rabbi David Kaiman has served as rabbi at Congregation B'nai Israel since June 2003.  Rabbi Kaiman was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY in June of 2003 with an MA in Hebrew Letters and concentration in religious education.  Rabbi Kaiman has served as a rabbi and educator at congregations in Florida, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Maryland.  Rabbi Kaiman also spent several summers as an educator at Camp Ramah including two years with the Tikvah Program for Special Needs Jewish Education at Camp Ramah in New England. Prior to entering seminary, Rabbi Kaiman spent 21 years as a corporate manager in industry where he was active as a community leader for religious and secular organizations. Rabbi Kaiman also is proud to be a graduate of the University of Florida in Gainesville and a Gator.  Married to Rebeca Shalom, LCSW they have two grown sons and two wonderful daughter-in-laws. 

Contact Rabbi Kaiman at rabbi@bnaigainesville.com or (352) 376-1508 x104. You may also wish to explore The Rabbi's Page.

Jenifer Petrescu, Executive Director

Jenifer is our Executive Director and has served in that role since 2013. However, she is not new to B'nai Israel. Jenifer worked in the Day School as a teacher for seven years as she earned her undergrad and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, both in Political Science. In 2010, Jenifer took a job as Program Coordinator with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, a statewide membership organization for local education foundations serving all of Florida's public school students.  Having grown up in California, Jenifer moved to Florida to pursue her academic studies at UF and is now an avid Gator fan but still roots on her hometown San Francisco Giants whenever she gets the chance. Jenifer and her husband Vlad have two children, Cristian (6) and Stella (4).

Debby Kinman-Ford, Day School Director
Debby has served as the Director of the Day School since 2005, and she brings years of experience in both education and Jewish community programming. Under Debby's direction, the Day School has become a bright and cheerful space of learning, where Jewish values are interwoven throughout the curriculum. Additionally, Debby is an active member of B'nai Israel who goes above and beyond with her volunteerism. She is involved with several community organizations throughout Gainesville and carries her passion for Tikkun Olam to her families at the school. She has two wonderful daughters and a delightful son-in-law, all of whom live in Gainesville. 

Melanie Gonzalez, Financial Administrator

While not new to B’nai Israel, Melanie is eager to step into the Financial Administrator role here at the synagogue!  Previously, Melanie was the Student Services Coordinator for the Day School for four and a half years.  She absolutely loved working with the incredible teachers, an unbelievable staff, and the wonderful families in this community and is so very grateful for the friendships and skills that she gained there.  

Melanie is from Miami, was raised in a (loud) Cuban household, and then moved to Gainesville, where she has been for almost 10 years and where she lives with her 4 cats. She spends as much time outside, hiking or camping, as possible.  Melanie loves animals and enjoys working with Gainesville’s rescue community.  She is an avid Harry Potter nerd and has memorized every Gilmore Girls episode.

B’nai Israel truly has become a second home to her, and she appreciates how warm this community has been in welcoming and teaching her.  She cannot wait to get to know more of you during her time here.  Please feel free to stop by and say, “Hello!”

Shauna Sikron, Coordinator of Jewish Learning

Shauna is so honored to begin her third year as the Coordinator of Jewish Learning. She has been passionate about education and Jewish learning throughout her life. After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Anthropology, she volunteered in Americorps with the education department of Point Reyes National Seashore, where she wrote a junior ranger guidebook of the park. Soon after, she traveled to Israel where she eventually made aliyah and lived for several years in the Negev. There, she worked for an Israeli non-profit that settled college students in peripheral communities and completed her M.A. studies on Zionist development aid in the Negev. Throughout her studies in Israel, Shauna tutored English in a high school, where she discovered her love for being an educator in the Jewish context. Now back in Florida, she loves being a part of the B'nai community and exploring her North Florida roots with her husband, Itamar and daughter, Nava.

Caroline Birdrow, Programming Specialist

Starting her second year at B’nai Israel, Caroline will be coordinating adult programming and serving as administrative support. Prior to her most recent move to Gainesville, she has lived in New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, Lexington (VA), and Baton Rouge. In Lexington, Caroline graduated from Washington and Lee University after completing her studies in mathematics and poverty/human capability.  Caroline has experience working with a variety of community organizations and diverse populations.  Her focus has been on education and hunger relief, as she has tutored local high school students and served at a community kitchen.  She is happy to work with the team for another year and to continue connecting with the wonderful community at B’nai Israel!