Executive Director, Yolanda Potasinski: firstname.lastname@example.org x811
Director of Finance & Operations, Assaf Astrinsky: email@example.com x812
Director of Development, Gina Schmeling: firstname.lastname@example.org x814
Religious Services Coordinator, Patrice Ruel: email@example.com x813
Assistant to Rabbi Kleinbaum, Tasha Calhoun: firstname.lastname@example.org x875
Clergy Office Administrator, Emily Kanarek: email@example.com x806
Development Associate, Ruth Kleinman: firstname.lastname@example.org x815
Development Assistant, Candice Orr: email@example.com x818
Assistant to Executive Director, Chaz Macrina: firstname.lastname@example.org x810
Programming Coordinator, Jesse Katz: email@example.com x876
Principal, Jennifer Kleinbaum: firstname.lastname@example.org x816
B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Teacher, Miya Rotstein: email@example.com
Aggadah Adventure Project Director, Jonathan Shmidt Chapman
Alef-Bet Shabbat Song Leader, Stephen Figurasmith (Tkiya)
Teachers: Rachel Chang, Leah Singerman, Nora Isacoff, Sharon Golub.
About the Staff
Yolanda Potasinski, Executive Director
Yolanda Potasinski joined the staff at CBST as its Executive Director, in January of 2013. She previously served as President of CBST for five years, during a critical period, while CBST substantially increased its staff and budget, and began to professionalize its board. From 2003 to 2012, Yolanda served as the Executive Director of Habonim - a Conservative synagogue on the Upper West Side. Yolanda is a native of Caracas, Venezuela, where her family found refuge after World War II. Bi-lingual and fluent in both Spanish and English, Yolanda has a passion for building community between people of all walks of life. During her 17-year career in banking administration, Yolanda was an active member and volunteer at CBST. She obtained a certificate at the NYU George Heyman, Jr. Center of Philanthropy and Fundraising. Yolanda has a background that includes both extensive training and hands-on experience in organizational development, fundraising and programming. Yolanda also served as President and VP of Metro-Ase, the NY professional organization for synagogue directors. She resides in NYC with her son and daughter.
Gina Schmeling, Director of Development
Gina joined the CBST staff in October 2020 bringing over two decades of fundraising experience at Jewish, advocacy, and social justice non-profit organizations including WNYC, ACLU, and UJA-Federation of NY. She has worked in tandem with Boards of Directors gaining a visceral understanding of the complexities and diligence required to balance the ideas of highly-driven individuals with the vital priorities of an organization. Serving on the Boards of Hannah Senesh Community Day School, the New Shul, and Eden Village Camp, she has first-hand experience of the essential conversations that identify and shape priorities from both internally and externally supportive perspectives. Gina was co-organizer of New York's Non-profit Tech community for four years, and has served as speaker on the protean subjects pertaining to technology and fundraising. She graduated with a degree in Drama from Stanford University and performed in its first production of Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart." This experience increased her understanding on the impact of the AIDS crisis in its peak years; while at the time, harnessed her thoughts and feelings to support the LGBTQ community in its continuing fight. Gina holds a Master of Arts in Humanities from New York University and was a critical studies fellow at The Whitney Museum. Her passion is distane running and she is a fan of walking meetings and making time for wellness. A native of Chicago, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. She looks forward to meeting you, hearing your story, and helping you support CBST's LGBTQ-Jewish community, joyful Judaism, and the work of tikkun olam - that of brining about a fair and just world.
Assaf Astrinsky, Director of Finance & Operations
Assaf Astrinsky, a longtime member of CBST, joined the staff in May 2013 shortly after returning from 9 years living in Israel. In Israel, Assaf served as the Director of the World Council of Jewish Communal Service (WCJCS) after completing his MBA in Not-for-Profit Management & Jewish Leadership at the Interdisciplinary Center, in Herzliya. Prior to moving to Israel, Assaf was the Director of Finance & Administration at the Center for Jewish History and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York. He also served as Business Manager at the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.
Patrice Ruel, Religious Services Coordinator
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Patrice moved to New York in 2010 in pursuit of his Master’s Degree at Dowling College, Oakdale, NY. He soon began attending services at CBST, and fell in love with both the services and community. But before joining the staff, he would first work at Air France, and family owned business, Patriel C.A., dedicated to customs brokerage. Seeking sunnier skies, he made a move to South Florida, where he accepted a position as the Religious Services Director at a local congregation. His return to New York brought him back to CBST, but this time as a permanent member of its staff. His passion, as well as his sense of commitment and responsibility and his indelible warmth and unmistakable charm, solidify him as one of our most endeared.
Tasha Calhoun, Assistant to Rabbi Kleinbaum
Contact Tasha to schedule an appointment with Rabbi Kleinbaum for your general ritual questions, or to schedule a simcha. Born in Manhattan and raised in both Manhattan and the Bronx, she now lives in New Jersey. Tasha is the longtime Assistant to Rabbi Kleinbaum. She has been a CBST staff member, since November 1994, when she divided her time between CBST and a professional internship with a documentary film production company. Prior to joining the CBST staff, Tasha was an honor student at the University of Rochester and at Hunter College. She is the author and illustrator of the children’s book, "Avery’s Tooth and Treasure." When she is not at CBST, Tasha can be found raising her two beautiful children, Ethan and Avery, and working on her next children's book.
Ruth Kleinman, Development Associate
Ruth Kleinman has been working in the Jewish community for over a decade. She comes to CBST after 6 years at Congregation Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side. During that time, she worked with major donors to the annual and capital campaigns, and was the first point of contact for any donors to the many funds at the temple. Prior to working at CRS, Ruth lived in Israel as a participant in the WUJS program (World Union Jewish Students) in the Peace and Social Justice Track – volunteering weekly at both a community garden and soup kitchen, interning with Jewish Eco-Seminars, and traveling to various parts of the country. Having worked at Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life for 5 years on several campuses, she staffed many Taglit-Birthright Israel trips and wanted to deepen her relationship with Israel while learning Hebrew. As a Hillel staff member, Ruth also supervised student leaders, implemented timely and interesting programming, and connected with faculty and staff. Concurrently, Ruth was the Youth Group Director for 3 years at Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-El in Westchester. She currently serves on the boards of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association and Hillels of Westchester, and co-chairs an annual fundraiser with Project Morry. Ruth is a vegetarian, a life-long NY Rangers fan, and a former camp counselor at Echo Lake. She and her husband Steven live in Manhattan with their son, Zeke.
Chaz Macrina, Assistant to the Executive Director
Chaz joined the CBST staff in 2016 as Assistant to Yolanda Potasinski. With an eclectic background, he has worked almost exclusively in the non-profit sector including: the performing arts, education, social & community services, and served as the Assistant to the Director of Mental Health & Social Services at the LBGT Center in New York City for six years. His other passions include art, theatre, film, photography, writing, and the study of Kabbalah. Chaz was born and raised in Philadelphia and currently lives in Manhattan.
Jesse Katz, Programming Coordinator
Jesse Katz joined CBST as the Project Manager of Talk to Me About HIV. A poet and musician, born and raised in New York City, Jesse has a history of organizing in the local music, literature and arts communities to benefit grassroots social justice causes, relief efforts and raising up emerging creative voices. He runs the New York School style, Frank O’Hara-inspired, literature and music series, “Having A Whiskey Coke With You” and publishes its supplemental zines and mixtapes.
About the Limmud b'Shabbat Faculty
Jennifer Kleinbaum, Limmud Principal
After three years as a Limmud Teacher (while also wearing other CBST hats), Jennifer (she/her) brings her love of teaching and experience building organizational capacity and developing education programs for emergent institutions. Jennifer has worked as the Executive Director of Tenafly Nature Center, Audubon Society of Florida, and Long Island Aquarium. She has degrees in Marine Biology (Cornell), Educational Technology (LIU), and Fundraising (NYU). Jennifer is committed to the CBST mission and since her first service as a teenager, has been drawn to our community emanating love for one another. E-mail Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach her on Tuesdays and Thursdays at ext. 816.
Miya Rotstein, B'nai Mitzvah Coordinator and Teacher (grade 7)
Miya (she/her) grew up in Montreal in a tri-lingual home and graduated from McGill University with a degree in Cultural Studies. She has been developing creative arts based Jewish curricula, teaching Hebrew language, Jewish studies and Torah/ Haftorah preparation to both children and adults in NYC for over 15 years. Miya also works as an artist and personal chef and has been active at CBST since 1999. E-mail Miya at email@example.com
Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, Aggadah Adventures Project Director
Jonathan (he/him) is the writer and director of CBST's Aggadah Adventures as well as an artist, producer, and educator dedicated to the field of Theatre for Young Audiences. Throughout his career, Jonathan has been passionate about innovation, experimentation and advocacy. Most recently, he oversaw family programming at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts where he launched an international performing arts series for families, a concert series for pre-schoolers, and The Big Umbrella Festival, the first international arts festival for audiences on the autism spectrum. Jonathan is also the Founding Artistic Director of Trusty Sidekick Theater Company, where he created over a dozen original theatrical experiences for kids and families in a variety of locations around NYC. He first discovered a passion for education and theater while working as the Assistant Director of True Colors OUT Youth Theatre, an LGBTQ theater and advocacy program for teens in Boston. Jonathan is a graduate of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Boston University, NYU and a long-time member of CBST. E-mail Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nora Isacoff (grade (3-4) (she/her) is thrilled to be returning for her fourth year of teaching in Limmud. She has a PhD in cognitive psychology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in education, during which time she co-authored her first book. When she’s not at CBST, Nora teaches psychology on the undergraduate and graduate levels, writes about psychology and education, and works individually with children and adolescents with special learning needs. At CBST, in addition to her role as teacher, Nora serves as co-chair of Aleinu (CBST’s 20s/30s group) and co-coordinator of the CBST Community Chorus. She spends her free time singing and playing with her dog, Sophie, in Prospect Park. E-mail Nora at email@example.com
Leah Singerman (grade 6) (she/her) is excited to be a part of CBST’s Limmud community. Leah has a passion for education and for using growth mindset to empower students to set and work toward their own personally enriching goals. Leah hails from Austin, Texas and lived in Los Angeles and Boston before making her way to New York. She continues working with Limmud students exploring their own Jewish identities and how those identities can be shaped by tradition as well as current affairs and ways of living. Leah works in education research at NYU Langone Health and Lives in Manhattan. Email Leah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Chang (grades 1-3) (she/her) is excited to be returning to the Limmud community at CBST this year. She is a gradiate of Skidmore College, and is currently working toward a Master's degree in music therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Previously, Rachel has worked as music teacher and co- youth advisor at Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs, NY, and taught and song-lead at Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, NY. Outside of religious school, she also teaches and trains in Goju-Ryu karate. E-mail Rachel at email@example.com
Sharon Golub (volunteer teacher) (she/her) Sharon has been teaching music at PS 11 in Chelsea for twenty-four years and is the Musical Director for all school performances and the Chorus. Prior to that, she taught piano privately. Her background is in classical music, and she played and toured with several rock bands. Sharon has authored two music books called Rock Spell-A-Story (Vol. I & II). Sharon is the former chair of The NYC Music Teachers Association/UFT & Music Educators’ Association of NYC Workshop and Professional Development Committee, where she planned and coordinated professional development workshops for NYC music teachers. Sharon has been volunteering with Limmud for the last four years and serves on the CBST welcoming, hospitality, and election committees.
Stephen Figurasmith, Alef-Bet Shabbat Song Leader (ages 0-5)
This year, CBST is working with Tkiya, The Jewish Music Community Initiative, whose song leaders around NYC us participatory music experiences to reinvigorate diverse Jewish communities.
Stephen (they/them), is a preschool music educator, Jewish song leader, social change agent, and parent. They have a BA in Social Sciences from Hampshire College and are currently pursuing their graduate degree in early childhood. Stephen has taught early childhood music and lead Jewish family programs at several JCCs, preschools, community centers, and summer camps throughout the New York Metropolitan area. Stephen believes that music has a unique power to shape young people’s approach to life, Judaism, and community. They are deeply honored to play a role in facilitating these formative encounters and turning them into genuinely magical experiences.