Team

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We’re building a new model of Jewish belonging. Meet our dedicated clergy, educators, and professional staff.

Rabbi Deena Silverstone

Rabbi and Director of Jewish Life

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT JCP?
Where to begin?! I love everything about JCP! This community is passionate, creative, warm, and engaged. I admire how our leadership and community members are deeply committed to both ancient Jewish tradition and 21st-century innovation.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY?
I love Simchat Torah, the holiday where we finish reading the Torah and then start all over again! When we celebrate and dance with the Torah, I am reminded of the power of our foundational, eternal story, from which we derive new wisdom each time we read it.
dsilverstone@jcpdowntown.org
917-664-0223

Rabbi Deena is passionate about building community, creating connections between ancient Jewish wisdom and modern life, and accompanying people on their journeys.

A native New Yorker, Deena began working at JCP as an HSP teacher in 2016, and she has been part of the community ever since. Deena has served as the JCP’s Rabbi since her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May 2020. Throughout her rabbinic training, Deena participated in a number of fellowships, including the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics, the NIF Froman Fellowship for Social Justice, the AIPAC Israel Leffell Fellowship, the Tisch Fellowship, and the Be Wise Fellowship. Deena lived in Jerusalem for a year, during which time she participated in the Rabbinical Student Seminar at the Hartman Institute and volunteered as an intern and teacher at Kehillat Kodesh V’Chol in Holon. Deena attended Yale University. She graduated cum laude in 2015 with a B.A. in cognitive science and religious studies with honors in both majors.

In her free time, Deena loves to swim, read, and take long walks through different neighborhoods in NYC.

Rabbi Samantha Frank

Rabbi-in-Residence

What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
My favorite Jewish holiday is Purim—I love the incredible queens who change Jewish history!
What do you love about JCP?
I love that JCP is so welcoming and joyful! I am excited about the approach to Jewish life—it should be liveable and joyful!
sfrank@jcpdowntown.org

Rabbi Samantha Frank is a native of Silver Spring, MD, and a graduate of Tufts University. She loves opening the door to Jewish life for others, and learning through their eyes and questions.

While studying to be a Rabbi at HUC-JIR in New York, she was honored to participate in the Daniel and Bonnie Tisch Rabbinical Fellowship and the Be Wise Fellowship in Jewish Entrepreneurialism. During her rabbinical training, she co-founded the Instagram account @Modern_Ritual, helping the Jewish curious connect to modern, feminist Judaism. In addition to being Rabbi-in-Residence at JCP, Rabbi Sam is the Rabbinic Fellow at Temple Micah in Washington, DC, and a Rabbi at Sanctuary in Westchester.

In her free time, Rabbi Sam loves to take walks in Brooklyn Bridge Park, try her hand at photography, and is on a perpetual search to find the best pasta in NYC. She lives with her spouse in Brooklyn.

Molly Rose Hoenig

Musician-in-Residence

What is a random interest you have?
I love fixing (all kinds of) things. I'm very handy with tools (IKEA expert), I like solving problems, and I will jump at the chance to unjam a printer. I love understanding how things work and nothing is more satisfying than arriving at a solution.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
My favorite Jewish holiday is Passover—it is the one time of year my whole family prioritizes being together and making music together.
mrhoenig@jcpdowntown.org

Molly Rose Hoenig is the Musician-in-Residence at JCP Downtown. Born and raised in New York City, Molly Rose has been teaching and songleading at various Jewish Institutions in and around the NYC area for over a decade, working with children from birth to 13, as well as adults.

Molly Rose is a passionate and dedicated musician and educator, and constantly seeks new knowledge and understanding. She believes that the best leader is one who is flexible and sensitive to the different needs of a community. She loves meeting and connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds, accommodating different styles of learners, and finding a variety of ways of reaching people with varying religious experiences and needs. The aspect of Judaism that most inspires her is the connection it can foster between people and the community it can develop and strengthen.

Outside of work, Molly Rose spends her time with friends, learning new skills, tending to her plants and the birds that have made a nest on her balcony, snuggling with her cat Charles, and irresponsibly misusing her voice at karaoke. She’s also on a quest to find the perfect challah recipe.

Rachel Mintz

Director of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I love the Union Square Greenmarket and Brooklyn Flea.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I have four siblings but I'm also an only child, and I lived in Argentina for seven months.
rmintz@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Rachel is thrilled to be embarking on her 5th year as Director of the Early Childhood Center at JCP. Before her role as the Early Childhood Center’s Director, Rachel Mintz began at JCP as the ECC’s Child Development Specialist & Parent Educator. She was already a familiar face to parents, children, and staff, having served as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) for several years in our ECC classrooms. Her mission as director is to cultivate a best practices, play-based learning environment that focuses on the individual needs of every child while creating a warm, nurturing community. 

Raised in New York, Rachel received a master’s degree in social work at New York University and a master’s in early childhood general and special education from Hunter College. She began her career as an early childhood educator at Skidmore College’s ECC, a play-based laboratory school in Saratoga Springs, NY.  At Brooklyn Heights Synagogue Preschool where she taught for 5 years, Rachel experienced the magic of Jewish early childhood education up-close. Rachel currently serves as an adjunct professor at Hunter College, teaching graduate level courses in curriculum development and early childhood education, and supervises student teachers in the field. She has also worked extensively advocating for young children through the New York City Department of Education. Outside of work, Rachel loves spending time with her husband, 2nd grader, toddler and yorkie!

Denise Kohn

Associate Director of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I love to take runs and spend time in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I once did a 250 foot bungee jump into a gorge in Zimbabwe. I once hitchhiked on the back of a mango truck from the northern coast of Honduras to the southern coast, eating mangos the whole way.
denise@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Denise Kohn received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University, and then went on to live and work in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer. She received a Master’s in Public Health degree from Columbia University and worked in the non-profit administrative world for many years. Denise made a career change and taught at Plymouth Church School while receiving her Master’s in Early Childhood Education degree from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education. She is also actively involved in the Jewish world, having most recently served on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of Kane Street Synagogue, and has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Education Project as well as the Chair of the Beginning Jewish Families Task Force and as a Cabinet member of the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal of the UJA-Federation of New York. Denise lives in Brooklyn with her husband Adam and her three children.

Marisa Goldsmith

Director of Admissions and Enrichment Programs Coordinator

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I've been a vegetarian my whole life and my favorite vegetarian restaurant that I have frequented for the last 20 years is Hangawi. I’m lucky to live near and work in the best city with many amazing vegetarian options.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I love game shows! I've been on two and am in the process of trying out for another one.
mgoldsmith@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Marisa has worked as a teacher and administrator in both public and private schools in New York for the past seventeen years. After graduating with her M.S. Ed from Bank Street College, she worked at the Children’s Aid Society in Greenwich Village as the Director of Admissions and Education. On her free time, Marisa plays softball in a “momball” league out in Long Island, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Sarah Johnson

Administrative Director of the Early Childhood Center

What's one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I love watching movies at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Brooklyn.
What random interests do you have?
Singing has always been a great passion of mine, but I've also started to realize my dream of learning to play the electric guitar!
sarahj@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Sarah Johnson is a Texas native who moved to New York in 2012. She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She also attended St. John’s College in New Mexico for its Great Books program. Sarah first joined the workforce as a manager and projectionist for several independent movie theaters. She then worked as an administrator for MSG at both the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall before joining the JCP family. She loves going to concerts, watching movies, and walking around her Brooklyn neighborhood.

Allison Kreisler

Child Development Specialist of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
NYC street fairs! I love to walk around a street fair on a beautiful spring or fall day in NYC.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Hanukkah. It falls during a time of the year where you get to spend time with family and friends. I love to see the excitement in my children’s eyes as we light the candles each night.
akreisler@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Allison Kreisler received her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college, Allison came back to New York, where she was born and raised, to earn a Masters of Arts degree, in Speech Language Pathology, at NYU. Allison has worked with preschool and school age children for over twenty years. She has extensive experience collaborating with a wide range of teachers, doctors, and therapists of various disciplines, making her an expert in child development. Allison strongly believes that children are the most successful learners when there is a strong home-school connection. She understands the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in which parent education, about all areas of development, plays an integral role in a child’s success in school. Allison has a private practice where she provides speech-language therapy in New York City and Long Island. Allison lives in Port Washington, NY with her husband and two children.

Roxana Reid

Ongoing Schools Specialist of Early Childhood Center

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
I love my neighborhood, the Lower East Side, and having a wonderful meal outside under the twinkling lights of Avenue A is a favorite—not to mention the bagels from Kossair’s Bagels & Bialys.
What do you love about JCP?
I love JCP’s community. It is engaged, energetic and always mission driven.
roxana@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Roxana Reid is JCP’s ongoing schools specialist, enhancing our ongoing school counseling services and adding to the care and attention of our families during the placement process. Roxana has more than twenty years of experience in counseling and helping to place families in ongoing schools.

Daphne Logan

Director of Hebrew School Project

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
One of my favorite things to do in the city is to feed the turtles at Hernshead in Central Park.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
My favorite Jewish holiday is Hanukkah because of the memories I have of the joy that it would bring during winter exams in college.
dlogan@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Daphne brings to JCP a diverse range of experience working in the Jewish world, particularly in interdenominational settings. Daphne is originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and moved to Manhattan to attend the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, from which she graduated in 2019 with degrees in Urban Studies and in Talmud. She also spent a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she was a Nachshon Project Fellow. 

Daphne is passionate about empowering children to love and take ownership over their Jewish lives, and brings this passion to her role as the Director of the Hebrew School Project. Daphne is incredibly grateful to spend each day creating joyful Jewish memories with HSP learners and teachers, and one of her primary goals as director is to cultivate a program in which all learners can access Jewish community, identity, and education in a way that matches their needs and interests. Daphne enjoys writing, traveling, hiking (especially in the mountains!), and arts & crafts.

J.D. Arden

HSP Administrative Manager

WHAT’S ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES IN THE CITY?
My favorite place to spend time is Prospect Park. I love watching birds and turtles and playing with dogs.
WHAT RANDOM INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE?
In 2020, my great-grandfather (whom I never met) came to me in a dream and told me to get a hobby learning to play the mandolin like he had. So I did.
jarden@jcpdowntown.org

J.D. comes to JCP after several years in the Jewish academic and library world. He is a former librarian specializing in Jewish genealogy and reference and is an adjunct professor for LIU where he teaches online classes on tracing family roots and music history. You can watch the educational video series he produced and hosted, “Genealogy Coffee Break”, on YouTube and Facebook. He graduated with a Master’s from Pratt Institute’s Library and Information School and with a Bachelor’s from Brandeis University in the European Arts and Cultural Studies program. He speaks quite a few languages and is learning American Sign Language. J.D. was born in New Jersey and now lives in Brooklyn with his wonderful husband.

Peter A. Retzlaff

Executive Director

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY?
Pesach. Sedars can be as deep and thought-provoking as anyone may want, or they can be less formal and focused on family time. I love that the festivities can be interpreted in countless ways and be equally meaningful in all of them.
WHAT ARE SOME RANDOM INTERESTS YOU HAVE?
Collecting old postcards, visiting bridges, and watching Spike Lee movies.
pretzlaff@jcpdowntown.org
206-854-1865

Peter came to JCP with nearly twenty years of leadership experience in a variety of Youth Development organizations where he was continually inspired by the tenacity and flexibility of young people and the liberatory focus of the work. Most recently, Peter was the Executive Director of Summer Search NYC (2015–2023), doubling the size of the organization in that time. He is excited to apply that successful track-record to a Jewish community organization and grow in his own practice, all while helping to bring JCP into its very bright future.

Originally from Trenton, NJ, Peter lived in Washington state for more than twenty years where, prior to work in the nonprofit space, he owned a restaurant outside of Seattle. For three years, Peter served as a Trustee of Temple Beth-El in Jersey City and Chaired their ‘Kadimah!’ Capital Campaign. Outside of work, Peter can be found running, going to live music events, searching for the perfect pizza, or hanging out at home with his family.

Jeffrey Alton

Director of Finance

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
I enjoy strolling or running along the Hudson on the Upper West Side. It is the combination of the beauty of the river and at the same time feeling the bustle of the city that makes me love being a New Yorker.
What’s something true about you that sounds made up?
I grew up in Arkansas.
jalton@jcpdowntown.org
917-970-0153

Jeffrey Alton brings a broad financial background to JCP, including experience in non-profit finance, commercial banking and investments. He has worked both as a service provider and customer in many areas, sharpening his skills in budgeting, project analysis and retirement plans. His work experience includes positions of increasing responsibility at financial institutions including international banks and private investment firms. Jeffrey is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts. He received a BBA from the University of Notre Dame. Jeffrey lives in New York City with his wife and three daughters.

Edward Kelly

Director of Facilities

What’s one of your favorite things to do in the city?
Have a beer and watch the Mets from Shea Bridge in Citi Field.
ekelly@jcpdowntown.org
212-334-3522

Edward Kelly is a Facilities Manager whose extensive experience has included years at the 42nd Street branch of NY Public Library, the three building Google campus and the Sherry Netherland hotel. Most recently, he served for a year as Correspondence Manager at National Debt Relief performing duties as varied as code writing and creating client introductory documents. He holds an undergraduate degree in Film Production from Hunter College.

Ray Antonison

Marketing Director

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT JCP?
Being part of a wonderful and thoughtful team!
WHAT'S ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN THE CITY?
I love the community where I live, and getting to know the people around me makes a difference. Just going to the nearby park and talking to the people in my neighborhood about where we live and what we love about it makes me appreciate my home so much more.
rantonison@jcpdowntown.org

Ray Antonison is a content manager and visual artist from New York whose background includes writing, social media management, website management, and media creation. They hold a Bachelor of the Arts in Playwriting & Screenwriting and Journalism from SUNY Purchase, and after graduation, began teaching in Brooklyn. As a content creator, Ray has worked on brand launches, fashion merchandising, and all aspects of video production, and their animation experience includes bicoastal and international work with nonprofits and creators. Ray works often with other art mediums, predominately collage, and paints and draws illustrations.

Lara Kingstone

Community Events Manager

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
Brighton Beach has my heart. I love watching the light change at sunset, eating pumpkin samsas by the water and going overboard at the Tashkent Supermarket buffet. I love how the energy changes in different seasons but there are always swimmers braving the waters any time of year.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
I adore Sukkot! I have beautiful childhood memories of decorating the sukkah with my mom, drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows and feeling warm and cozy in our little structure amidst the cool autumn air. It’s a time of transition and connection to the natural world around us and makes me feel really in touch with time and season.
lkingstone@jcpdowntown.org

Lara has spent her career advocating for human rights and combating systemic violence. She holds a Master degree from University College London in Social Global Development. Her main focuses have been human trafficking prevention, working to end gender-based violence at Sahiyo and supporting survivors and working with LGBTQ+ youth experiencing housing instability and aging out of foster care. She has experience in small grassroots nonprofits and Department of Justice-funded projects alike, and is guided by a trauma-informed and culturally responsive lens.

She is deeply connected to Jewish culture and treasures singing niguns, how much candles are centered in our tradition, and values such as Tikkun Olam, questioning and communal support. She is so excited to be involved with such a warm community at JCP and is eager to be part of creating meaning and connection through each unique moment of the calendar.

Outside of work, she loves making collages and other art, biking all over, cooking for loved ones and learning about the history and present of the world!

Carly Siegler

Data Administrative Specialist

What’s one of your favorite places in the city?
My absolute favorite place in the city is Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park in Battery Park City. I previously worked for an incredible company called Battery Dance that hosts an annual festival at Wagner Park every August. Dancers from all over the globe perform on an outdoor stage. It's a small park that holds a lot of big memories for me and also has the most breathtaking views of the Hudson and the Statue of Liberty.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Passover. The story of Exodus is extremely powerful and so resonant in the face of a world that remains unjust and inequitable for so many. For me, Passover serves as a reminder that Jewish tradition instills a real responsibility to advocate for my fellow humans. I also happen to really love matzah.
csiegler@jcpdowntown.org

Carly Siegler was born and raised outside of Philadelphia. She is a 2013 graduate of Ursinus college, with a B.A. in Media and Communications Studies & Theater, and a Minor in French. Carly’s professional background is in the non-profit sector, and she has had the pleasure of serving various arts organizations in both Philadelphia and her adopted home of New York City, where she is currently pursuing a degree in public interest law.

Kalina Venugopal

Assistant to the Executive Director

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT JCP?
I love that JCP is a really tight-knit family.
WHAT RANDOM INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE?
I love sharks! Shark Week is my favorite.
kvenugopal@jcpdowntown.org>

Kalina Venugopal (she/her) grew up in California and received her B.A in Theater Arts from Santa Clara University in 2017. Kalina is an actor who has recently been in projects such as Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (HBO), Bull (CBS) and other projects. Kalina loves being a part of the JCP team, and in her spare time trains for marathons, eats tons of pasta, and is a proud volunteer for the non profit arts organization Film Fatales—which advocates for marginalized directors of all genders for television/film.



Meet the Board

Team