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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.

Jenifer Petrescu
Executive Director

Jenifer is our Executive Director and has served in that role since 2013. Jenifer has her undergrad and graduate degrees from the University of Florida, both in Political Science with a focus on Public Administration. 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 three children: Cristian (9), Stella (7) and Eloise (2).

Ilana McAfoos

Assistant Head of Jewish Learning

Ilana is new to Gainesville but not to being involved in Jewish life. Having recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Master’s degree in Archaeology with a specialization in Medieval Archaeology, Ilana’s background is rooted in Jewish engagement within her community. She has served as the first full-time Director of Programming for her home congregation at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, PA. She has also served as a Youth Services Educator at Beth Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and at the Hillel Jewish University Center in Pittsburgh worked as the Jewish Spirituality and Learning intern. 

Ilana is also no stranger to Jewish camp, having grown up going to Camp Ramah in the Poconos as the child of camp staffers. As she got older, she also became a staff member and served as the Director for the Theater Arts Program. Having participated in USY as a teen, Ilana recognizes the importance of being engaged in Jewish life from an early age and making programs engaging and fun. 

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.  

Originally from Miami, she moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida, and has since been here for almost 10 years, where she lives with her 2 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!”

Sat, September 25 2021 19 Tishrei 5782