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
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 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
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.
Director of Early Childhood Center
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!
Associate Director of Early Childhood Center
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.
Director of Admissions and Enrichment Programs Coordinator
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.
Administrative Director of the Early Childhood Center
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.
Child Development Specialist of Early Childhood Center
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.
Ongoing Schools Specialist of Early Childhood Center
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.
Director of Hebrew School Project
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.
HSP Administrative Manager
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.
Joel has been active in Jewish communal affairs for many years. Following a full career as a Foreign Service Officer, with assignments in Korea, Romania, Tanzania, Malta and Berlin (where he headed the American Embassy Office), he was Founding Chairman for Germany of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, New York Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League and President and CEO of the Center for Jewish History. Joel serves on the board of Youth Bridge New York, a JCRC high school leadership program through the lens of diversity, and is actively engaged in Park Slope Jewish Center. Joel is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and Columbia University and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Joel and Carol, their adult children, and grandchildren all live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn.
Director of Finance
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.
Director of Facilities
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.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Ray Antonison is a video creator and visual artist from New York whose background includes writing, social media 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 videographer and editor, Ray has worked on brand launches, filmed models for magazines, and edited videos for Instagram and Youtube channels. Their animation experience includes bicoastal and international work with nonprofits and creators, and they make animations centering LGBTQIA+ and disability representation. Ray enjoys collaging, writing poetry, and visiting the park with their wife.
Community Events Manager
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!
Harry Grupper (he/him/his) was born and raised in New York City and received his bachelor’s in Sociology and Criminology from the SUNY University at Buffalo. Harry has a history of nonprofit fundraising, previously working on the development team for ONETrack International, Witness to Mass Incarceration, and Reuniting of African Descendants. He has a passion for helping to bolster supportive communities, and his deep interest in supporting community based non-profit organizations made JCP a natural fit. In his free time, Harry is an eclectic musician performing original music at venues like the Little Island (which is his favorite spot in the city along with Prospect Park) and recording with his long time friend and producer Dyson Dunkle. Being the son of a Broadway actor and twin brother of a talented musician allowed Harry to cultivate an affinity for creative storytelling from a young age. He takes this skill and passion with him everywhere, in both his music and his work.
Data Administrative Specialist
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.
Assistant to the Executive Director
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.