STAFF AT BETH EL
Rabbi Marcelo Kormis joined Congregation Beth El as its spiritual leader in August, 2012. Rabbi Kormis was born in Santiago, Chile. After completing his primary school education, he moved to Buenos Aires to begin his rabbinical studies at the Seminario Rabinico. During his studies at the Seminary, he also studied at Haifa University in Israel (B.A. Bible and Jewish Thought), the Hebrew University (Senior Educators Program) and Machon Schechter (M.A. Judaic Studies). In 2003, Rabbi Kormis received his ordination from the Seminario Rabinico.
Upon receiving his ordination, he returned to Santiago where he served as the head of Judaic Studies at the Instituto Hebreo (main Hebrew Day School in Chile - 1,500 students). Most recently, he served as Associate Rabbi of the Circulo Israelita congregation in Santiago, the large conservative congregation in the city – 900 family members.
Rabbi Kormis works hard to inspire people of all ages to engage in Jewish tradition, to be moved to work for social justice and to experience prayer and life-cycle events in a vibrant and meaningful way. In Rabbi´s Kormis' own words: "I don't imagine my Rabbinate as a job; to me it is a vocation. I serve this vocation with all my soul". In 2008, Rabbi Kormis was chosen among the 100 most influential young leaders of his country by the prestigious national newspaper, El Mercurio. He is married to Fernanda Auba and has three children, Mijael, Ari and Leah.
Hazzan Brian Baruch Shamash enthusiastically joined the Congregation Beth El family in the Summer of 2016 and it is evident that his passion for Jewish music infuses services with enthusiasm, vibrancy and beauty. He has a magnificent voice, a great knowledge of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic music, and the energy and desire to communicate his pride and love of Jewish music and prayer to the entire congregation, from the youngest pre-schoolers to their esteemed founding members. "Hazzan Shamash has unique and original ways of finding the voice in each of us. By incorporating middle-eastern hand percussion instruments, guitar and sign language in the classroom, he helps our hallowed prayers come alive. It is apparent that he strives to pray and serve us with both kavod and kavanah: honor, respect and intent. He inspires us with beautiful music, and has quickly become an integral part of our lives."
The Hazzan holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in music from the University of Maryland and the University of Miami respectively, where he was awarded full scholarships. He bears a certificate of Hazzan-Minister with the Cantors Assembly and is also member of the Jewish Ministers Cantors Association. Prior to coming to Congregation Beth El, he served the South Huntington Jewish Center in New York, B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida and Temple Israel of Greater Miami.
Over the past nineteen years Hazzan Shamash has acquired the experience doing both the hands on teaching and administration of early childhood music programs, religious school music programs, Bar / Bat Mitzvah education programs, Choirs, Adult Education, Adult Bar / Bat Mitzvah, cultivating an ever expanding corps of torah readers and more. He has served alongside some of the most talented and hard working leaders and teachers in the Jewish world producing and maintaining award winning programs that have made a great impact.
With an extensive musical background and constant desire to share these gifts with the greater community, Shamash excels as an energetic leader and conductor of vocal and instrumental ensembles. He also enjoys both composing and arranging music for schools, concerts, and services. As an accomplished recording artist, Shamash can be heard on his well-celebrated album Shalom Aleichem. He was also recently featured on The Spirit of Jewish World Music, The Spirit of Shalom, and The Spirit of Celebration, each with CD distributions of over 75,000 copies. Hazzan Shamash has helped teach our world to pray through his Jewish Follow and Sing-Along Video Learning on youtube with thousands of followers and views.
He and his wife Emily enjoy singing with their three beautiful children Ella, Maya and Ethan. The congregation is privileged to enjoy their musical collaborations during Services. Most recently Shamash has dedicated himself to the proliferation and performance of melodies from his father's homeland Baghdad Iraq.
Hazzan Shamash can make a difference teaching torah, the love of mitzvot, new and old songs and prayers while encouraging all to participate in services. He always makes himself available to teach and learn. He truly loves helping others find their path towards spiritual growth. Please enjoy the additional materials found through the following links here.
Susan Mittag has been the Executive Director of Congregation Beth El in Fairfield, CT since June 2002. She joined Beth El after having spent 27 successful years of her professional career in New York's fashion industry in sales, merchandising and administration. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Education from Brooklyn College.
Since assuming her position at Congregation Beth El, Susan has immersed herself in all areas of synagogue life, happily assuming many responsibilities and befriending and serving the congregation’s members. As Executive Director, she sees her role as one who can be called upon in all aspects of congregational life, from assisting the clergy, lay leadership and committee chairs with events to preparing the weekly kiddush when needed.
As one of her many and varied functions at Beth El, Susan has been involved in Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning and has been a guest at many of them. This inspired her to embark on her own spiritual journey, when she decided to learn to read Hebrew with five other women and begin preparations for an adult Bat Mitzvah. Susan became a Bat Mitzvah in June 2012. The service was attended by family, friends and fellow congregants who all knew Susan to be an exemplary administrator, but were equally impressed with her enthusiasm and performance on the bimah.
Susan feels blessed to have found a home at Congregation Beth El, bringing together her professional strengths as an administrator with her love of Judaism. Beth El has become a main part of not only her professional life but also her social life.
Susan and her husband, Barry, live in Fairfield, CT and are the proud parents of two grown children, Nathan and Rachel. They recently became grandparents to a granddaughter, Louisa, who brings them great joy.
Kate has been in Early Childhood for 18 years, the
majority of that time was spent at Westport Community Nursery School. Kate's credentials consist of an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood, a BA in Psychology, and a Masters in Elementary Education. She has a Connecticut Head Teacher's Certificate and the Connecticut Director's Credential at a Master's Level. In addition she has her certification to
teach Elementary Education and English as a Second Language to adult learners and is also a trained Music Together teacher.
Kate's philosophy in educating young children is to focus on developing curious learners while also helping to build independence in a safe, fun and developmentally appropriate environment. She believes in the child directed learning approach, and findd that if you follow a child in their quest for knowledge, the potential for learning is unlimited and amazing. She also believes that it is important for families and teachers to work together in educating young children. Parents are children's
first teachers and their most enduring source of guidance and learning. As preschool teachers, it is our job to both teach the children and, just as importantly, to support and advise parents during these formative, sometimes challenging, and always exciting preschool years. She feels it is important to have open communication with parents and for parents to feel comfortable coming to her if they have any concerns or want to talk.
On a personal note, Kate grew up in Trumbull and it is where she is raising her family. Kate and her husband Brad have two sons, Logan and Braeden. We love
being outdoors and exploring nature.