Our Staff

Dede Smith Portrait


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(913) 663-2641

Dede Smith 
Director of Operations

In this new role to B’nai Jehudah, Dede will take on all of the operational administrative responsibilities of the Executive Director role and will build on her duties as her knowledge of our congregation grows. The Board took these last few months to research and strategize how to best administratively lead our congregational team. After a thorough search,  the Board ultimately chose to hire Dede and create this new Director of Operations position for our congregation.
 
Dede comes to B’nai Jehudah with Bachelor’s and MBA degrees from Emporia State University. Her MBA has an emphasis on management and marketing. She is currently completing an Advanced Leadership Certification from UMKC.
 
dayna


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(913) 663-3047

Dayna Gershon 
Director of Formal and Informal Jewish Education

Dayna originally joined our staff as the Director of Machane Jehudah. She has a wealth of experience, especially in informal Jewish youth education. Her work with Machane Jehudah has been remarkable, bringing the program from the idea-stage to fruition. Her creativity, sensitivity, and understanding of Jewish informal learning has made her a valuable part of our congregational community. Dayna is married to Danny Gershon and has two children Max and Drew.

Michelle Cox photo


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Michelle Cox 
Music Director

Michelle Cox began with the congregation as a volunteer musician, and was named as the Lead Vocalist/Cantorial Soloist for Shabbat Mornings in 2015.  She also began teaching 5th and 6th grade Hebrew in 2014, volunteered to chant Torah, helped teach Torah trope to Hebrew school students, and had helped contribute to High Holidays prior to becoming full-time staff in 2017.  Michelle’s responsibilities not only include music, but she also works with each B’nai Mitzvah student in helping prepare by helping them plan the service they will be leading, and conducting Bimah rehearsals to help them feel comfortable.

Michelle earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Music in Vocal Performance at MidAmerica Nazarene University where she graduated with honors in 2017.  She is classically trained & also sings contemporary, is self-taught on piano, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and most recently, violin.

Abby Magariel


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Abby Magariel 
Michael Klein Collection Educator/Curator

Abby Magariel is a Kansas City area native and has worked in informal, hands-on education since 2007. She graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA before completing an MA in Museum Studies at the University of Kansas. Abby spent over ten years immersed in all things Kansas, first at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, then leading the education team at the Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence. She joined The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah in July 2019 as the first Educator/Curator of the Michael Klein Collection, where she weaves objects from the collection of Judaica into life and learning at the synagogue. Abby lives in Prairie Village with her husband David and two sons, Ari and Ezra. 

Jane


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Jane Blumenthal Martin 
Communications Director

Jane Blumenthal Martin is an experienced marketing director who has worked in Kansas City’s Jewish non-profit community for more than 10 years. Her strengths are strategic communications, digital marketing, writing, and planning. She enjoys keeping constituents informed of the many wonderful things happening in our Jewish community, and she is proud to serve our congregation in this new, part-time marketing communications role. An active member of Kansas City’s Jewish community, Jane is a lifelong member of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. She and her husband Joseph have two children, Leah and Daniel.  

Emily Williams


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(913) 378-1267

Emily Williams 
Multi Access Coordinator

Emily Williams is a long-time member of Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Growing up in Kansas City, she was active in NFTY, and is honored to serve the congregation as Multi Access Coordinator. In her role, Emily provides significant technical support to ensure members can access B’nai Jehudah events and services virtually. She also oversees B’nai Jehudah’s Camp Machane Jehudah, and NFTY program, PBnJ. Emily graduated from the University of Kansas with a Master’s degree in Curriculum Design and Instructional Strategies, with an emphasis on secondary education. She has been a camp director, religious school teacher, and religious school director in the Kansas City area and elsewhere. 

Kelley Cowman Portrait


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(913) 378-1204

Kelley Cowman 
Religious School & Events Coordinator

As our Religious School and Events Coordinator, Kelley in her Religious School role, Kelley is very involved with the many logistics involved with Yalla, including school-related communications and being on site during Sunday Yalla! and Wednesday evening Hebrew classes. Kelley will also use her exceptional organizational skills to help with congregation-wide events.

Kelley has been a part of Kansas City’s Jewish community since 1991. She was extremely active in Jewish youth organizations and Jewish leadership initiatives during her youth and is excited to be a part of those types of initiatives for the congregation. Kelley graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Communication Studies and an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Her passion for Judaism and the impact programming can make on young Jewish lives is her drive for success. Kelley resides in Overland Park, KS with her two children; Gracie and Jack. 

michelle


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Michelle Adler-Wexler
B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator

As a third-generation congregant who grew up at B’nai Jehudah, Michelle Adler-Wexler is excited to be our B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator. Michelle’s grandfather was the Executive Director of B’nai Jehudah for many years and wrote a history book about the Temple. Her step-mother, Jeannie Adler, also served as Executive Director until her retirement in 2019. Michelle enjoys working with all of our families in the process of becoming a B’nai Mitzvah. Having been through the B’nai Mitzvah process a few years ago with her own child, her goal is to be there for families to assist them during this special time.

becca


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(913) 981-8876

Becca Browar
Site Director of B’nai Jehudah CDC/ Sasone Inclusion Specialist

Becca grew up in the Kansas City area and started her early childhood career with The J more than 15 years ago as a Barney Goodman camp counselor. She received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science with a focus in Early Childhood Education and Intervention from KU in 2013. After graduating, she spent 6 years providing one-to-one therapy to children with autism. She then spent time working in an administrative role, guiding families through the journey of accessing and starting services for their child with special needs. She dabbled in the HR world as the Human Resources Coordinator for a local behavioral health organization before returning to the J and the community that raised her. After 13 years living in Lawrence, she is happy to have moved back “home” with her husband JP, their daughter, Mackenzie, two dogs, Hank and Milo, and cat, Willie.

L Clark photo


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(913) 378-1261

Leea Clark
Executive Assistant to the Senior Rabbi

Leea Clark is one of our newest staff members who started working at B’nai Jehudah September 2021. Leea is the Executive Assistant to the Senior Rabbi, maintaining Rabbi Kramer’s calendar, meetings, and events. She has worked nearly her entire career in Financial Services and was ready to move on to something new. Leea is looking forward to learning about the Jewish religion and meeting and getting to know our wonderful Congregants. Please stop by her office anytime to introduce yourself, or to just say “hello”.

jean-osbourn


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(913) 378-1262

Jean Osbourn  
Administrative Assistant

Assistant to Executive Director, Facility Rentals, & Cemetery

Jean’s responsibilities include supporting the Executive Director, maintaining the congregation’s calendar and database. She works with members and non-members to rent facility space for an event.

georgina-cuisak

Georgina Cusick-Quintero
Custodian

jamie

Jamie Brink
Cemetery Caretaker