Rabbi Morris Zimbalist
Rabbi Morris Zimbalist is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove, Illinois. Through his leadership and vision, Rabbi Zimbalist has partnered with lay-leaders to advance Congregation Beth Judea’s commitment to embrace every synagogue member’s religious and spiritual journeys with warmth, compassion, and kindness. Rabbi Zimbalist has advanced Congregation Beth Judea’s involvement in Israel education and advocacy; interfaith and tolerance dialogues with the local Christian and Muslim communities; inclusion initiatives for all people seeking to engage with the congregation irrespective of cognitive, emotional, and physical challenges; and strategic planning to ensure a vibrant future for the congregation and for the member on their Jewish community in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.
Rabbi Zimbalist was one of the founding rabbis and educators of jCo-Op, the newest collaborative Hebrew High School program in the northwest suburbs, meeting the needs of students from both Congregation Beth Judea and Congregation Beth Am. He also serves as the treasurer of the Community Mikveh for the Conservative Movement in Wilmette. In addition, Rabbi Zimbalist is one of 22 Conservative rabbis in the world certified by the Joint Bet Din of the Conservative Movement as a Messader Gittin – one who can help facilitate Jewish divorce, including writing the writ of divorce itself.
Prior to moving to Chicago, Rabbi Morris Zimbalist served for five years as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Synagogue Initiative Director for AIPAC. As part of the regional team, Rabbi Zimbalist engaged rabbis and synagogues of all denominations from southern New Jersey through northern Virginia in pro-Israel political activism. At that time, he also assumed the pulpit of Bet Chaverim Congregation as its first rabbi and launched the first religious school for the congregation. Rabbi Zimbalist was also privileged to serve in the pulpit of two congregations in New York, totaling 14 years.
Rabbi Zimbalist earned his Bachelor’s degree from Boston University in psychology with a minor in political science, and he has published articles on genetic links to mental illness and adoption within the Jewish community. He earned his Master’s degree and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York in 2002. He resides in Buffalo Grove with his wife and two children.
Cantor Elizabeth Bat-Sarah
Cantor Elizabeth Bat-Sarah loves to partner with Jewish professionals, lay leaders, and the greater Jewish community to create and sustain meaningful, educational, vibrant, and spiritually uplifting religious services, life-cycle events, and educational opportunities. Cantor Bat-Sarah is inspired by working with Jews of all ages. She also is committed to interfaith work, Israel advocacy, LBGTQ+ community, and inclusion of all people regardless of ability. In her work with B’nei Mitzvah students, she believes that students must be taught in personalized ways to meet their needs, feel good about their accomplishments, and maintain rewarding levels of achievement.
For five years, as Cantor/Educator in Salt Lake City, Utah, she balanced the pastoral and educational needs of a religiously diverse congregation while ensuring the highest level of educational opportunities for the religious school students. Both the congregation and religious school grew under her leadership. Prior to her time in Utah, Cantor Bat-Sarah lived in Los Angeles where she balanced the demands of a family with personal spiritual growth, education, and commitment to the greater community. She served in a variety of Jewish settings including a Hebrew-immersion preschool and a nursing home.
Cantor Bat-Sarah was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and raised in San Diego, California. She earned a B.A. in Social Anthropology with minors in Spanish and Russian from San Diego State University. She became Jewish in 1989 and has served the Jewish community as a cantor, religious school director, chaplain, teacher, and song leader. In 2014 she fulfilled a longtime dream and was ordained as Hazzan at the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA, a trans-denominational seminary in Los Angeles.
Cantor Elizabeth is married to Lev Mallinger. Between them they have six children, a dog, and two grandsons. She loves attending concerts and live theater, but has lately devoted more time to baking, gardening, and knitting.
Lisa Neiman has been Beth Judea’s Executive Director since July 1999. Lisa began her career at the synagogue in 1993 as an Administrative Assistant after graduating from Illinois State University. Her commitment to Jewish education has been demonstrated by her teaching Alef classes for four years in Beth Judea’s Hebrew School, as well as working as a youth advisor for two years in Beth Judea’s USY.
Lisa’s responsibilities include directing all synagogue administration, coordinating the use of the synagogue’s facility, managing day-to-day affairs and being available to assist all congregants in any aspect required. Lisa is a member of the North American Association of Synagogue Executives.
Lisa resides in Long Grove with her husband, Jason, and their daughters Jordyn and Lindsey.
Marc Sender is someone who is very well versed in all the workings at Congregation Beth Judea. Having been a product of the Congregation Beth Judea Religious School himself, graduating in 1996, he has been involved with numerous facets of the synagogue nearly his entire life. Marc has considerable knowledge of our youth program as well having been an active member of the youth organization himself while growing up. Since returning from college Marc served as a Youth Advisor at Beth Judea for three years while also beginning teaching in the religious school. Marc has now been teaching at Beth Judea for over 10 years and has been serving as the Youth Director since 2010.
Marc graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in elementary education and multiple endorsements in middle school education. Marc has taught in public school, teaching various grades between 3rd and 8th, before making the switch to working in Jewish nonprofit full time. Marc’s responsibilities at Beth Judea include coordinating the three youth programs; Kadinkers (3rd-5th grade), Kadima (6th-8th grade), and USY (9th-12th grade). In addition, he also serves as our young family coordinator working with our youngest age group.
Marc currently resides in Vernon Hills with his wife Shira, their three children (Lauri, Teddy, and Naomi) and their dogs. Marc’s whole family (minus the dogs) are regularly seen around Beth Judea and look forward to continue spending as much time as they possibly can over the coming years around Beth Judea. So much time, in fact, that Marc likes to refer to Beth Judea as his second home.