Rabbi Annie Tucker grew up in Lexington, MA and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Psychology and Jewish Studies. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, she received a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001, continuing on in the Seminary’s rabbinical program where she was ordained in 2006 with a concentration in pastoral counseling. At graduation, Rabbi Tucker received the Bernard & Sydell Citron Scholastic Prize awarded to the outstanding graduating student of the Rabbinical School. She also was granted the Lamport Prize in Homiletics.
From 2006-13, Rabbi Tucker served as Associate Rabbi of The Jewish Center, a Conservative congregation in Princeton, NJ. During that time she was integrally involved in the synagogue’s education and youth community, serving as lead professional on their religious school change initiative for which she earned an Ateret Kavod award for innovation and creating dynamic programming such as an annual confirmation class service program in New Orleans and women’s trips to Israel, Jewish Spain, and Eastern Europe. Additionally, she served as chaplain for the Greenwood House Hospice.
Since becoming Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah’s senior rabbi in July 2013, Rabbi Tucker has introduced new opportunities for adult learning, created initiatives to engage young professionals, children, and families, and is working closely with Cantor Pavel Roytman to energize and deepen worship. Her sermons and writings have been published in The American Rabbi, Chicago Jewish News and Sacred Journeys.
She also serves on the Rabbinic Advisory Group to the JTS Department of Community Engagement and The Rabbinic Advisory Board of Solomon Schechter of Chicago and is co-chairing a local day of study sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC). Rabbi Tucker also serves as spiritual advisor of FJMC’s Midwest Region.
Rabbi Tucker loves teaching, writing, and working with individuals of all ages, and she is always available for a cup of coffee or a brisk walk. You may contact her at 847.256.1213 x12 or via email.
Rabbi Allan Kensky retired from the pulpit in June 2013, after 11 years of distinguished service to BHCBE. As Rabbi Annie Tucker assumed the pulpit, Rabbi Kensky was named Rabbi Emeritus.
Born and raised in New York City, Allan Kensky received his early Jewish education at the Hebrew Institute of Long Island in Far Rockaway, New York. He earned a BA in political science from Queens College. In 1967, he entered the JTS Rabbinical School where he specialized in the study of rabbinic texts at the JTS Herbert Lehman Institute of Talmudic Ethics. While at JTS, he also studied political science at New York University, which awarded him a master’s degree in 1971.
Upon his ordination in 1971, Rabbi Kensky assumed the pulpit of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While serving as spiritual leader of Beth Israel for seventeen years, Rabbi Kensky pursued doctoral studies in midrash at JTS; he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1990. His doctoral dissertation was a critical edition of the Midrash Tanhuma on the Book of Exodus.
In 1988, Rabbi Kensky moved to Philadelphia, and for three years served as scholar-in-residence at Har Zion Temple. About the same time, he began leading a seminar for JTS Rabbinical School students designed to impart strong professional skills to aid them in their spiritual development. He was associate dean of the Rabbinical School from 1991 to 1999 before serving as Dean from 1999 to 2002.
Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah was honored to have Rabbi Kensky as our spiritual leader since August 2002.
Rabbi Kensky is the father of Meira and Eitan who is married to Jennifer Broxmeyer. His late wife, Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, was Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago until her passing in August 2006. In July 2008, Rabbi Kensky married Dr. Adina Kleiman, a psychologist in private practice, who has been welcomed warmly into the BHCBE family.
Rabbi Kensky can be contacted via email.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Rabbi Cohen split his childhood among Wilmington, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and finally Chicago where he attended Solomon Schechter for 8th grade. He then went to Ida Crown for high school and attended Camp Ramah in Wisconsin during the summers. Rabbi Cohen had his first formal teaching opportunity in 2004 when he taught Jewish teens at the high school program at Beth Am Shalom, and has been teaching at various Jewish institutions ever since.
In 2006, Rabbi Cohen graduated from the joint-program between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University with degrees in Hebrew Bible and 20th-century History magna cum laude. He then spent a year abroad working for the Masorti Movement as part of a program to reach out to Jewish university students throughout the United Kingdom. It was during this year that Michael was inspired to become a rabbi, and returned to JTS as a rabbinical student in 2007.
Rabbi Cohen continued to teach during his time at rabbinical school, working at Temple Israel Center with Nancy Parkes in addition to commitments in Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. To complement his ordination from JTS, where he received the Rabbi Sidney Greenberg prize for excellence in homiletics, Rabbi Cohen earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of Education where he concentrated in congregational education. It was during his practicum at the religious school at Congregation Rodeph Shalom with Tirza Arad that Rabbi Cohen saw the great potential of religious school education and decided that he would like to invest himself in helping that institution fulfill its promise. While at Rodeph Shalom, Rabbi Cohen ran a “Chevrutah Initiative” designed to help teachers support each other and improve their pedagogy.
A product of the Jewish camping world, Rabbi Cohen has been working to increase the presence of informal and experiential education in the Academy and the Hebrew High. He also oversees the various Youth services that are offered every shabbat at BHCBE. Rabbi Cohen is married to Anna Cohen Rosenblum M.D., who is a resident in orthopaedics at the University of Chicago. She also plays the trombone. In his free time, Rabbi Cohen enjoys cycling, squash, photography, and board games.
Rabbi Cohen can be contacted by phone at 847-256-0755 or via email.
Cantor Pavel Roytman is a native of Nikolaev, Ukraine. At the age of seven he was accepted as a piano student to a specialized music school for gifted children. He continued his studies in piano and conducting at the Kaliningrad Music College (Russia) and later at Petrozavodsk State Conservatory.
While in Petrozavodsk, Pavel joined the Klezmer Shpil Orchestra as a soloist. Between 1991 and 1994, Pavel and the Klezmer Shpil Orchestra performed extensively throughout Russia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. In 1993, the orchestra made its first recording–“Yiddish Songs” by Klezmer Shpil.
In 1994, Cantor Roytman immigrated to the United States where he obtained his Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from DePaul University and Master of Music in Musicology from Northwestern University. Throughout this time he also studied chazzanut with such well-known masters of cantorial art as Hazzan Shlomo Shuster, Hazzan Henry Rosenblum, Hazzan Cory Winter, and Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi. Cantor Roytman was certified as a cantor through Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006.
In Chicago, Cantor Roytman has performed as a conductor and a soloist with Kol Zimrah Jewish Community Singers and Queen of All Saints Basilica Choir. He has served as a conductor for Milwaukee Jewish Community Chorale and as an executive director and conductor for Zemer Am, the Chicago’s Annual Festival of Jewish Choral Music.
Cantor Roytman received a first prize in the category of Voice/Cantorial Singing in the 2nd Annual Golden Hanukkiah Competition of Jewry Arts, sponsored by the World Congress of Russian Jewry held in Berlin in 2004.
He also has made multiple appearances at the Greater Chicago Jewish Folk Arts Festival, Chicago YIVO Society, Illinois State Fair, the International Klezmer Gala in Stockholm, and the International Jewish Music Festival in Tsfat, Israel.
Cantor Roytman is a member of the American Conference of Cantors and Chicago-Milwaukee Association of Synagogue Music.
Cantor Roytman can be reached by phone at 847.256.1213 x13 or via email.