Click here to email Carol Benedick
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2502
Carol Benedick has been a member of Congregation Beth Shalom for over twenty five years, and, except for spending a year in Israel in 2007-08, she has worked at Beth Shalom since 1999. She initially worked as Program Director. In 2012, she also became the B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator. Carol was appointed the Executive Director in 2013.
Carol has a Master’s degree from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. She also completed the certificate program in Non-Profit Management at the UW. Before working at Congregation Beth Shalom, Carol worked in the Russian – American fishing industry and in Refugee Resettlement at Jewish Family Service.
In her free time, Carol likes to sew, knit, garden and enjoy life with her husband, Joe Orzech, and their two daughters.
Education and Youth Director
Click here to email Rachel Wachtel
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2503
Rachel Wachtel is a creative Jewish Educator who has been committed to lifelong learning and serving as a leader within the Jewish community ever since her summers at Camp Ramah. She honed her teaching skills while completing her Masters in Jewish Education at the Davidson School at JTS and has been working in both formal and informal Jewish educational settings since. She also recently graduated from MTEI, The Mandel Teacher Educator Institute. Before beginning the role as Education and Youth Director, Rachel taught 3rd grade Judaic Studies at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle where she inspired students to ask questions and strengthen their own connection to Judaism. Rachel is deeply committed to the Beth Shalom community as you may have seen her around the Shul Shabbos chefing, leading Kabbalat Shabbat, or teaching the kindergarten religious school class. Rachel’s other passions include Israeli dancing, ballet, cooking, and teaching her dogs, Sadie and Jackson, new tricks.
Early Childhood Director
Click here to email Leah Lemchen
Leah Lemchen is the director of the Early Childhood Center. She and her husband Matt have three daughters. Leah has worked in the field of childcare for twenty five years. Her experience includes supervising the after school program at the Jewish Community Center, teaching extended day Kindergarten and preschool, teaching at an English immersion preschool in Japan, running her own home based childcare and most recently working as a Mentor Teacher at Kidspace Childcare Center in Seattle.
Leah is a certified childcare trainer through the Washington State STARS program. She received a degree in Early Childhood Education from Bellevue College in 1998. Since then, she has worked to keep current in the field of early childhood by taking classes and attending conferences. She and her husband have been involved in the Seattle Jewish Community in a variety of ways since childhood.
B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator
Click here to email Shira Orzech
Shira grew up at Beth Shalom and began working with B’nai Mitzvah through our peer tutoring program. Inspired by her beloved teacher Joyce Shane, z”l, Shira continued her study of sacred music with Cantor Mikhal Shiff Matter in Jerusalem. While studying in music conservatory Shira had the privilege of teaching B’nai Mitzvah as well as parent trope classes and 4th-6th grade tefillah at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. Since returning from Kenya where she received her HIV Testing and Counseling Provider’s license, Shira has enjoyed teaching Prozdor classes, tutoring B’nai Mitzvah, and serving as our Ozerim Supervisor here at Beth Shalom. She is thrilled to be working with our wonderful tutors, the B’nai Mitzvah, and their families.
Click here to email Marjie Cogan
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2512
Marjie Cogan hails from Portland, Oregon, where she spent 12 years in Sunday School at Neveh Shalom. She moved up to Seattle to go to college at the University of Washington. Marjie loved college. “I would have stayed there for the rest of my life if I could have.” In spite of that she did finally graduate with a degree in Drama – Stage Management. Marjie worked for many years as a stage manager, including Julliard in NYC, Intiman, The Group Theater, NW Asian American Theater and New City. To supplement her income, she worked a number of office jobs. Marjie sends out the Cybershul, edits the Shavu’on and the Ruach, and sells and sends out the High Holiday tickets. Give her a call if you need anything.
Lauren grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and moved to Seattle following her graduation from the University of Puget Sound in 2014. She has been to Israel three times, participated in BBYO, and was active in the Jewish community in Boulder, but decided to stay in the Pacific Northwest for the culture and wealth of opportunities. Lauren is excited to be a part of the Jewish community in Seattle and looks forward to meeting all of you!
Lauren studied Japanese and Geology in school, and spent five months abroad in Japan in 2013. She will happily talk your ear off about her areas of study given half the chance. In her free time, Lauren enjoys drawing, writing, toy photography, and playing videogames (especially Pokémon).
Lifecycle Coordinator & Rabbi’s Assistant
Click here to email Heidi Piel
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2508
Heidi Piel has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Montana with an emphasis on Ethics. Her career has primarily been in the field of victim services advocacy and awareness education. Heidi has also been a professional development consultant, a life coach and a Pinkerton detective.
Heidi attends Temple Beth Or in Everett where she taught Religious School, developed and facilitated a variety of Adult Education programs, served as board president and leads Shabbat and other services on a regular basis. She currently coaches students toward their bar or bat mitzvah and co-creates with students their Religious School graduation service.
Heidi lives in Marysville with her sister, brother-in-law and favorite person, her niece Adina (pictured).
Click here to email Emma Shusterman
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2505
Emma was born in Russia in Kazan, the capital of a big Muslim autonomous republic, Tatarstan, located in the center of Russia. She received her Master’s degree in Accounting from the Finance-Economics Institute of Kazan. In 1991, she made aliyah to Israel, and then moved to Seattle in 1996, with her two daughters, to be closer to her parents and her three sisters (all are currently Beth Shalom members) who already lived in this city. She started working for Beth Shalom soon after arriving in the US. During the twenty years that Emma has worked at CBS, the shul and its members have become a tremendously significant part of her life. Her family could not have survived without this support and help. She came to this country without a word of English, but spoke Russian, Hebrew and German. With that she worked as a Shabbat babysitter (with her daughters’ help) and Religious School Ozeret. While improving her English she started to volunteer for the synagogue’s office and then was offered a part time position. From 1999 – 2004 she worked as the assistant to the Rabbi and the Director of Education. Since the summer of 2004 Emma has been the Beth Shalom Bookkeeper. If you have questions regarding your statements, account, stock transfer, donations, credit card payments, etc., please contact Emma, and she will be more than happy to assist you.
Community and Membership Engagement Director
Click here to email Melani Baker
(206) 524-0075 ext. 2504
Melani grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to New York to pursue her undergraduate degree at NYU. Since then, she has been working with youth and the public for over a decade as an environmental educator (most of that time at the Seattle Aquarium). A desire to learn about the intersection of environmental and social issues and to make positive change led her to Antioch’s Master’s degree in Urban Environmental Education. She is excited to be at Beth Shalom to help build community and build bridges between communities.
Melani lives in Wedgwood with her husband, two step kids, and her troubled but adorable rescue dog. If you see her in the neighborhood (most likely drinking coffee at Grateful Bread), say hi!
Susan Monas / Francie Ringold
Click here to email the Rosh Kitchen