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.
Sheila May has been the Director of Congregation Beth El's K'tanim Preschool since the school's inception in 2007. Six congregants had a dream to start a preschool at Beth El for their young children. These six women along with three educators and Sheila's extensive experience as a director, worked hard to create and start K'tanim Preschool. Sheila taught preschool programs and a monthly Tot Shabbat beginning in September 2006. In September 2007 K'tanim Preschool opened their doors with 16 children in two classes, one for two-year-old and one for three-year-old children. Sheila is very proud of her accomplishments and is thrilled to be the director of K'tanim Preschool.
Sheila has a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood and elementary education and a Master's degree in special education, combined with 30 years experience in preschool education. She brings a breadth and diversity of experience to her position at Congregation Beth El. Sheila originally hails from Long Island, NY, and has been a Connecticut resident since 1975. Her philosophy for the preschool is treating every child with dignity and respect and encouraging curiosity, creativity, social skills and a love for Judaic customs. The K'tanim Preschool emphasizes the total development of each child, building a solid foundation for learning and fostering a positive self- image. Sheila lives in Newtown with her husband Bill and has two married daughters and five grandchildren.
Congregation Beth El
1200 Fairfield Woods Rd Fairfield, CT 06825
Ph. 203-374-5544 Fax 203-374-4962