Chicago Sinai Congregation Contact Information

Jan Kaufman - Executive Director

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Executive Director

Jan Kaufman

Jan Kaufman joined Chicago Sinai as Executive Director in 2019. Before coming to Sinai, Jan was the Director of Institutional Advancement at JVS Chicago. Her responsibilities at JVS included the development and growth of private and public sector fundraising, endowment and donor stewardship, as well as support for the implementation of strategic planning.

Previously, Jan served as the Assistant Executive Director at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Jan began her career as a Director of Development at the nonprofit National Able Network, where she identified and developed new funding opportunities that focused exclusively on workforce development. 

Jan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan. She received a Doctor of Jurisprudence from John Marshall Law School where she was a member of the Law Review. While she was raising her children, Jan continued to find ways to remain active in the law and her community. 

Jan loves to cook and spend time with her husband, three grown sons, daughters-in-law, and grandson, Harry. Jan cares a great deal about Sinai staff and congregants, believing that finding a way to make it work should always be the first path forward.

Fern Katz - Director of Early Childhood Education

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Director of Early Childhood Education

Fern Katz

Fern Rappaport Katz has been with us since 2012. She has an extensive background in early childhood education and special education as both a teacher and an administrator. Fern holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University and a Master’s in Education from University of Illinois-Chicago, as well as an M.A. in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

Before becoming Sinai’s Early Childhood Education Director, Fern was an early childhood director for the JCC of Chicago and early childhood education coordinator and instructor at Governors State University. She has also taught children with special needs as well as religious school in Illinois and New Jersey. 

Fern is past president of Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism and an active member of the Jewish Early Childhood Directors Council in Chicago. She was also active in the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative. Fern has led three schools (including Sinai Preschool) through the process of reaching accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Fern’s article “Trust and Separation: God, Abraham, and Early Childhood Educators” was published in the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education journal.

Fern finds joy in learning, teaching, and in Judaism, and believes we are all on a journey of exploration, discovery, and lifelong learning.

Scott Kumer - Director of Music

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Director of Music

Scott Kumer

Scott has been our Director of Music for many years. Scott received his Bachelor of Music, Summa Cum Laude, from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH, and his Master of Music with highest honors from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he pursued further graduate studies in music history and music theory at the University of Chicago where he served as accompanist to the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, Motet Choir, and University Chorus. 

For the first time in history, Sinai’s choral music program recently enjoyed international exposure. We were invited to share video excerpts of Leonard Bernstein’s music during an internationally-broadcast (2021) “summer solstice” program called TILT, which also featured musicians from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre, and the organist at the historic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

During the COVID pandemic, Scott offered remote lectures to encourage music lovers. Under the auspices of the Newberry Library, Scott and scholar Andrew Schultze co-taught a remote seminar entitled, Familiar Strains, Chords, and Dis-Chords: Musical Echoes from the 1918 Pandemic.  As part of Chicago Sinai Congregation’s weekly remote series called, “Commune in Tune at Noon,” Scott lectured on pipe organs, ragtime, non-linguistic freedom of expression in music, and served as “session host” through whom our professional choir members shared their talents, accomplishments, and personalities with Temple members in a way that had not been conceived of prior to COVID.

In addition, Scott, along with Thomas Weisflog, worked on a two-year project of transcribing great orchestral works for organ four-hands-four-feet. “The Symphonic Organ”, featuring their transcriptions of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, J. Strauss, Mahler, Debussy, and Ravel, was released on the London-based Meridian Records label and has enjoyed critical acclaim. 

Scott is a contributing author to “A Primer for the Visiting Organist” (edited by Fred Moleck, G.I.A. Publications, Inc.), and had the great privilege to assist in the project to rebuild the historic 1928 E.M. Skinner Organ (Opus 634) at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Toby Pechner - Director of Family Worship, Technology, and Songleading

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Director of Family Worship, Technology, and Songleading

Toby Pechner

Inspired by spending summers at URJ Camp Newman in Sonoma, California, and by working at local synagogues, Toby decided  to pursue Songleading full time in 2016 and has been with us since 2020. Working with all age groups, from tiny babies to the elderly, Toby brings his passion for Songleading to people from all walks of life. 

Toby brings the joy of communal singing to congregations, camps, and communities across the nation and even the world, joining Netzer South Africa for camp. Toby loves to bring people together to show how powerful we can be by connecting in song, lifting our spirits through music.

Originally from the Bay Area, Toby attended Columbia College and did Songleading throughout college. He moved back to California to pursue a job in marketing, although quickly realized that Songleading is his true calling. 

Toby lives in Chicago and is an avid golfer, likes attending baseball games, and dabbles in photography. 

Zoe Leff - Administrative Coordinator

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Administrative Coordinator

Zoe Leff

Zoe Leff is proud to be an Administrative Coordinator at Chicago Sinai and has worked with us since 2021.

Zoe is the first point of contact when someone calls Sinai. She adds to the Sinai Team from an extensive portfolio of skills in communications and social media, database management, and event coordination and implementation. Zoe is committed to bringing joy to the Sinai community and to impacting the lives of people she touches. 

Zoe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a focus on media studies from DePaul University. She also holds a minor in Digital Cinema. Zoe’s favorite classes at DePaul were organizational communication, social media literacy and graphic design, so working at Sinai is a perfect fit for her. Prior to working for Chicago Sinai, Zoe was the Event Coordinator and lead hostess for Carmine’s restaurant. 

Originally from Oak Forest, Zoe currently lives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, photography, reading, journaling, and spending time in nature. Zoe is fond of traveling and adores her cat, Ronnie. 

Emma Scintu  - Technology and Communications Coordinator

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Technology and Communications Coordinator

Emma Scintu

Emma Scintu is Chicago Sinai’s Technology & Communications Coordinator and has been with us since 2021. Known for her commitment to ensuring that Sinai’s print and digital footprint remain at the highest level, Emma is resourceful, friendly, and always ready for any opportunity to help our congregants.

Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of Iowa, with a minor in Communications. During college, Emma won a full scholarship to a summer residency at the New York State Summer Writers Institute hosted at Skidmore College, where she worked with authors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Frank Bidart.

Emma loves traveling and exploring new places or things, visiting art museums, experimenting with different cuisines, and snowboarding with friends. In her spare time, Emma is passionate about communications and creative writing, participating in writing workshops, or finding presses to submit her work for publication. 

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