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Rabbi Debbi Till

Professional headshot of Rabbi Debbi TillRabbi Till grew up in Toronto and graduated from the University of Toronto, continuing her studies in New York at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion where she earned her master’s degree in Hebrew Literature and Rabbinic Ordination. She joined our clergy in 2016 and became the leader of our congregation in 2020.

Ordained in 1998, Rabbi Till spent the early years of her career as an Associate Rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California, and Temple Sholom in Chicago. In 2004, she moved to Rochester to serve as director and faculty member of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester; and in 2010 was named the Federation's Director of Community and Israel Relations.

Rabbi Till brings breadth and depth to Temple Sinai, along with a special commitment to areas that are particularly important to us: learning, social action, and interfaith understanding. She is a unifier who believes that something wondrous occurs when people come together to study and find themselves connecting not only to tradition, but also to one another. At the Federation, she worked across synagogue and Jewish organizational divides to collect thousands of books for students in need and thousands of pounds of food for the Brighton Food Cupboard. She also convened interfaith groups to address critical matters such as racism, poverty and illiteracy.

As a service leader, Rabbi Till believes she has the sacred task of trying to make prayer accessible, inclusive, familiar, meaningful, joyous and participatory for people of all ages and stages.

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Cantor Renata Braun

Professional headshot of Cantor Renata BraunCantor Renata Braun was born and raised in Ukraine and began her music studies at the age of four, ultimately receiving a master's degree in choral conducting from Donetzk State Conservatory in Ukraine.

In 1999, six years after immigrating to the United States, Cantor Braun received a master's degree in sacred music and was invested as a Cantor from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. In 1999, she was selected as the only United States representative of synagogue music at The Annual Festival of Jewish Culture in Berlin, Germany, where she coordinated and performed a "solo" concert of Eastern European and American cantorial music.

Cantor Braun brings diverse passions and a wide range of musical styles to her Cantorate. She enjoys playing her guitar in a small setting where the children and adults are participating with her, as well as singing an uplifting and inspirational cantorial composition in a large congregation. 

In her past positions, Cantor Braun has directed adult choirs, youth choirs, and temple intergenerational bands. She has welcomed talented singers and musicians in the congregation to sing and play with her during Shabbat and High Holy Days services, helping them find their Jewish voice.

One of Cantor Braun's passions is her love for children. Cantor Braun has a strong desire to inspire b'nei mitzvah students and to keep them engaged and involved in the Jewish life of the congregation and the entire Jewish community. 

Cantor Braun is married to Dr. David Braun. They are blessed with two wonderful sons, Daniel and Jonathan. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, doing yoga, Zumba and traveling.

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Rabbi Emeritus Alan Katz

Professional headshot of Rabbi Alan KatzRabbi Alan J. Katz served as rabbi of Temple Sinai in Rochester from 1986 to 2020 at which time he became Rabbi Emeritus.

A graduate of Lehigh University, he attended Hebrew Union College where he earned an MA in Hebrew literature (1975), rabbinic ordination (1976), and a Doctor of Divinity (2001). He also studied in the graduate program for pastoral counseling at Iona College for two years. 

Rabbi Katz has served on numerous community organizations including the Rochester Board of Rabbis (past president), the Jewish Community Federation (board member and chair of the Department of Community Relations), the Federation's Levine Center to End Hate (steering committee), the Commission of Christian-Jewish Relations (past chair), the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, the Pastoral Care HIV/AIDS Committee, the Brennan Goldman Commission, the Interfaith Forum of Rochester, and the advisory board for the Hickey Center for Interfaith Study and Dialogue at Nazareth College. He has also taught courses in Judaism and Christian-Jewish relations at Nazareth College. 

In 1986, Rabbi Katz was one of three signatories of the Rochester Agreement between the Rochester Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Community Federation, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester. Along with Bishop Matthew Clark, he co-led the Rochester Interfaith Mission to Israel in the summer of 1998. In 2005, again with Bishop Clark, he co-led a mission to Rome to celebrate 10 years of the Rochester Agreement, during which the group met with leaders from the Vatican as well as Pope Benedict. 

Rabbi Katz has visited Israel 44 times as of 2019, including two years of study at Hebrew University and at Hebrew Union College. He has served on the National Rabbinic Cabinets of the United Jewish Appeal and the State of Israel Bonds. Presently, he is on the National Rabbinic Council of ARZA/World Union (American Association of Reform Zionists and the World Union for Progressive Judaism). In 1995, he received the State of Israel Peace Award. He has served on the steering committee of Partnership Together between Modiin and Rochester, including four years as co-chair. He often taught in Modi’in public schools on the subject of American Jewish life.

Many of Rabbi Katz’s activities include reaching across racial, ethnic, and religious lines to create understanding and friendship. He is part of the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue group and the Commission on Jewish-Muslim Understanding (CJMU), and has fostered relationships between Temple Sinai and AME Baber Church, the Parcels Historic Church, and the Islamic Center of Rochester. 

On October 4, 2001, Rabbi Katz was invited to Washington, DC, to deliver the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives at that very critical time in our nation’s life.

Rabbi Katz is married to Jan, who, after several decades as a Jewish educator, entered Hebrew Union College's rabbinic program and was ordained as a rabbi in May 2021. They have three children, Tamar, Rabbi Noam, and Ben, and are blessed with 12 grandchildren.

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Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784