Chi joined Temple Chai as the Shalom Center Coordinator in 2021. She brings her passion for service, volunteer experience with life cycle events, and administrative professionalism to this role.
Chi has had many careers ranging from cow milking, to accounting, to being an art teacher. She also makes custom stained glass and mosaics for homes, gardens, and businesses.
Chi is originally from Michigan, where she earned her BA in Business and Entrepreneurship from Michigan State University. She lives in Phoenix with her husband, Matthew, their foster child, and two dogs. Chi is honored to be supporting the wonderful Caring Community volunteers that help keep Temple Chai more than just a place of worship, but a community.
Chi can be reached at email@example.com
After earning a law degree from Hasting School of Law, Rabbi Simon attended Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, where he was ordained in 1983. He spent over 20 years as a pulpit rabbi, primarily in Massachusetts and Florida. He also spent six years as the Regional Director of the UAHC (now URJ) Midwest Council. In 2009, Rabbi Simon became one of the first Rabbis to be trained as an Interim Rabbi by the Interim Ministry Network and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He did additional work to earn the Advanced Certification of Professional Transition Specialist. Rabbi Simon is also a trained mediator, which has helped him greatly, first as a pulpit Rabbi and now as an Interim Rabbi, because it taught him to be a better listener. Like a good mediator, he doesn’t see himself as telling people what they have to do, but as a facilitator guiding individuals and congregations to find solutions to their problems. Prior to coming to Temple Chai, he had served as an Interim Rabbi in Florida, New Jersey, Utah, Oklahoma, New York and California.
Rabbi Simon’s wife maintains their home base in Florida. They have 3 adult children and two grandchildren. The Rabbi’s favorite scripture verse is from the Book of Isaiah: “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.” It reminds him that a synagogue needs to be a very inclusive and welcoming place.
Rabbi Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leah Lyndon comes to the Temple Chai Early Childhood Center with over a decade of experience in the field. Leah has worked with children of all ages at, in a variety of capacities. After moving to Arizona in 2012 Leah began her journey at ASU studying speech pathology but ultimately knew this was not her path and landed a job at a preschool. This led to a life-time passion of working with children and families.
In 2015 Leah went on her Birthright trip to Israel, which changed her path yet again, leading her to the realm of Jewish Early Childhood Education. From that time on Leah has held positions including Lead Teacher and Camp coordinator at the Martin Pear Jewish Community Center Early Child Center. Also, at the Jewish Community Center Leah worked at Shemesh Camp at The J as their Kindergarten through Fourth grade Supervisor planning trips, implementing quality systems, supporting staff, and building relationships with students and families. For a brief time, Leah also worked at Jewish Family and Children Services as a Youth and Family Specialist supporting families and children in behavioral goals, along with working with foster care families. Leah received her degree in Early Childhood Education in 2019 and plans to continue to pursue further degrees in the future.
Leah is engaged to her fiancé Stephen, and loves spending time with him and her their dog Luna. In her spare time Leah can be found relaxing at home watching a funny movie, or whipping up something in the kitchen! Leah is thrilled to be joining the Temple Chai team and is can’t wait to meet all the children, and families.
Leah can be reached at email@example.com.
Jessica Sarah Knight is an experienced education professional who has served in a variety of education related capacities at the private, federal and classroom levels. Most recently she served at the Martin Pear Jewish Community Center as the Director of Early Childhood Education and served at Southwest Human Development as Program Manager for Quality Initiatives and Grants Management supporting child development managers and teachers in curriculum instruction and teacher training as well as supported planning and development of monitoring of program quality initiatives.
Previously she worked at Chanen Preschool as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher with hands-on experience in planning and conducting classroom instructional curriculum and activities for children to encourage development of their academic, social, emotional, physical, intellectual, language and communication skills. Before teaching at Chanen she recently worked as an Interim Support Person for Fairfax County Public Schools, and prior to that as an early childhood co-teacher at the Tampa Jewish Community Center.
She has served as a program manager and consultant for ICF International and Education Services Inc., managing a variety of projects and budgets related to national and state level Office of Head Start initiatives while gaining analytical and logistical planning experience for federal programs, initiatives, and national level conferences.
She has an extensive background in education stemming from her beginnings as a certified ESL teacher for children and adults, having served in classrooms in the United States, Guatemala, Mexico and Japan to include serving as a U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) teacher. She has served in the U.S. Department of Education as a program manager for evaluation and grant review processes and as an associate manager for two Presidential Initiative Comprehensive grant competitions as well as at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Head Start.
A former elementary school teacher, Ms. Knight holds a M.S. in Community Services from Michigan State University and a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Colorado College, where she majored in multicultural classroom education.
Jessica has been married to Ray for almost 21 years and they have 4 children, Zen (16), Rain (15), Zia/Rey (9 year old twins). She is originally from Chimayo, New Mexico and has lived in many places, moving 9 times as her husband is in the Marine Corps. She is so excited about this opportunity and looks forward to getting to know our children, families and community.
Jessica can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Spector has been an active congregant of Temple Chai since 1996. She came on board with 19 years of experience in the ad specialty business. As part of the accounting team, Ann processes all incoming payments and assists with keeping membership accounts up to date. Her children Heidi and Alex were students at the Temple Chai religious school and had their bar/bat mitzvahs here. Ann and her husband Norm enjoy theater, traveling and taking long walks. At home, they enjoy spoiling their cat Lily and dog Luke.
Ann can be reached via email and email@example.com
Deb Behrendt joined the Temple Chai staff as Shalom Center coordinator in 2021. Prior to that, Deb was a long-time educator, teaching English in high school and middle school. She has been an active participant in Temple Chai activities since 2015 including volunteering as part of the Caring Community.
Deb is currently in seminary school to become a Chaplain with her second master’s degree in theology at Chicago Theological Seminary. She has been an active member of the Jewish community for many years, serving in B’nai Brith, Hadassah, and is currently an active volunteer with Hospice of the Valley supporting their Shabbat Blessings program. Deb is passionate about supporting community and helping others.
Deb is an Arizona native and considers herself blessed to have much of her family close. Her mother, sister, and son all live in the greater Phoenix area and family gatherings happen often!
Deb holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in Educational Leadership. She lives with her wife, Rachel and their dog Maddie in North Scottsdale. In her spare time she loves to practice mindfulness, meditation and hosting game nights!
Deb can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Kelly is the Business Office Manager for Temple Chai.
Virginia can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Joan Neer has been working at Temple Chai since 1993 when she began teaching Hebrew and Judaica in the religious school and was the Chai Kids (Jr. Youth Group) coordinator. She provides administrative support for the rabbis and cantor and coordinates the b’nai mitzvah program. Joan is also the Judaica Shop manager. Joan and her husband Michael have 3 children and 4 grandchildren who live in Colorado, Washington and California, and visit with them as often as possible. They also have 4 Havanese dogs (Punnie, Pippin, Pitzie and Yoshi) whom they adore. Joan and Michael enjoy traveling, hiking and gardening.
Joan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda Campbell joined the Temple Chai senior staff as Principal of Administration and Curriculum just over 4 years ago and she has been a part of the teaching staff for almost 20 years. Prior to her current position, she spent years teaching 5th and 3rd grade Hebrew and Judaica here at Temple Chai. During that time, Amanda developed curriculum, served as grade-level cooridantor, ran programs for children and parents, and served on many committees involved in programming, child-development, and teacher-training. While working in Judaic education, Amanda also taught high school and middle school English in the Paradise Valley school district.
Amanda grew up at Temple Chai, starting here as a student in 1st grade and continuing through her bat mitzvah, confirmation, and madrichim years. She now is happy to have her own children growing up is part of the Temple Chai family. Amanda earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a Concentration in English Education from the University of Arizona and then earned her masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. She is currently enrolled in the Hebrew Union College’s Executive Master’s program and is working toward a masters in Judaic Education and Administration.
Amanda can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Mary Passell has been the Director for the Temple Chai Early Childhood Center since 2012. Mary has a BS in Family Studies and Child Development from the University of Arizona as well as an elementary teaching certificate from Arizona State University. Mary has also been AMS certified in 3-6 year old Montessori education. She is an alumni of the JECELI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute) Cohort 3, holds a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training, and is trained in Mindfulness Meditation. As well as being the Director of the Temple Chai ECC, she also teaches yoga and mindfulness to the children at her school. She has presented on Mindfulness at various conferences, including Mindfulness for Educators at the ECE-RJ Peace in our Time conference. Mary will receive an Executive Master’s degree in Jewish Educational Leadership in May 2021.
Mary can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.