Sign In Forgot Password

Clergy Biographies

Rabbi David Schuck Rabbi David Schuck joined the Beth El team in 2015 after serving as the spiritual leader of the Pelham Jewish Center for eleven years. He is an adjunct lecturer in the Professional and Pastoral Skills Department of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a former faculty member in the rabbinical school of the Academy for Jewish Religion where he taught Professional Skills. Rabbi Schuck grew up in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle East History from Rutgers University. Rabbi Schuck was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2004 where he was awarded the Lillian M. Lowenfeld Prize in Practical Theology and the Israel H. Levinthal Prize in Homiletics.

Rabbi Schuck was privileged to visit Russia on a rabbinic mission with the UJA Federation of NY, as well as participate in the Young Rabbis Delegation service-learning trip to Ghana with the American Jewish World Service. He has served on the UJA Federation’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal for the Former Soviet Union as well as the boards of the Westchester Jewish Council, Pelham Guidance Council, the Westchester Inter-Religious Clergy Network, and the Mount Vernon Soup Kitchen.

Rabbi Schuck grew up in the Conservative Movement as an active USYer and spent many years as a counselor, group leader, and yoetz for USY Israel Pilgrimage and USY on Wheels. Rabbi Schuck lived in Israel for a few years throughout college and in his early twenties, including two years as a participant and a counselor for United Synagogue’s Nativ program. Rabbi Schuck spent two summers as the Scholar in Residence at Camp Ramah New England. After college Rabbi Schuck lived in Kalwa, India, a small village outside of Bombay, where he served as a Jewish Service Corps Educator through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Rabbi Schuck lives in New Rochelle with his wife Tali Aldouby-Schuck, their children Noam, Nadav, and Zeev, and their dog Obi. Despite the obvious challenge, he is a loyal Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles fan, and he did not consider the rabbinate until it was abundantly clear that he had no future in baseball. When he is not teaching or talking Torah, you can find him watching baseball, making yogurt, or planning a camping trip but staying in a nice hotel instead.


Assistant Rabbi Zachary Sitkin joined the Beth El clergy team in 2016 on a part-time basis, and recently became its full-time assistant rabbi. Rabbi Sitkin had served as Rabbi at Congregation Eitz Chaim in Monroe, NY, and participared in a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  Rabbi Sitkin’s love for Judaism was sparked by his participation in his local and regional USY chapters in high school, and was further cultivated when he left for Israel on the Nativ gap-year program, where he studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and worked on a Kibbutz in the South.  Rabbi Sitkin attended the University of Pittsburgh and received dual Bachelors degrees in both Psychology and Religious Studies.  While at Pitt, Rabbi Sitkin co-founded a Beit Midrash, led the conservative minyan on Shabbat, and beat-boxed in Hillel’s a cappella group, the VoKols, where he met his wife, Lisa.  Rabbi Sitkin received his rabbinic ordination and a Master of Arts in Talmud and Rabbinic Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.  Throughout his time at JTS, Rabbi Sitkin served as the rabbinic intern at the Pelham Jewish Center in Pelham Manor, NY and as the Robert Kraft Rabbinic Fellow at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel in Manhattan.  When not learning Torah (yes, he really does that for fun!), you can almost always find Rabbi Sitkin shooting hoops on the basketball court, watching movies, or singing a tune out of many niggunim.  Rabbi Sitkin and his wife, Lisa, are so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to meeting all of you!



Rabbi Melvin N. Sirner was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He pursued undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in political science and psychology, whereupon he began his formal rabbinical studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. While at the Seminary, Rabbi Sirner was the recipient of the Lamport prize in Talmud, and the Rabbi Israel H. Levinthal Award in Homiletics, and was awarded the degree of Master of Hebrew Literature. One year of academic training was spent in Jerusalem, where Rabbi Sirner studied at the Israel branch of the Seminary, along with the Graduate Department of Judaica of the Hebrew University. In 1972 he received his Rabbinic ordination.

During his college and Seminary years, Rabbi Sirner taught and led youth groups at various Synagogues in the New York area. He spent 11 summers on the staff of the Ramah camps, the national educational camping programs, sponsored by the Conservative Movement. Rabbi Sirner has pursued part time graduate study in guidance and counseling at Teachers’ College of Columbia University.

Upon his ordination in 1972, Rabbi Sirner came to Beth El Synagogue of New Rochelle as its assistant Rabbi, serving under the late Rabbi David I. Golovensky, 1972-1975, and continuing as Associate Rabbi from 1975-1976. In 1976, upon Rabbi Golovensky’s retirement, Rabbi Sirner was selected as Senior Rabbi of Beth El Synagogue.

Active in a broad range of community endeavors, Rabbi Sirner is currently a member of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of UJA. He has served as the President of the Westchester Board of Rabbis (Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and Reconstructionist) as well as on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly. He is currently an officer of the New York Board of Rabbis.

For the last several years Rabbi Sirner has served on the Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet at the Jewish Theological Seminary. In the local community Rabbi Sirner was a founding member of the Interrreligious Council of New Rochelle. He currently chairs the Pastoral Care Committee of Sound Shore Medical Center. An enthusiastic participant in the Meals on Wheels program in New Rochelle, Rabbi Sirner is a supporter of its H.O.P.E. Soup Kitchen. He is also active in activities of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Rabbi Sirner is married to Lenore Richman Sirner, a medical social worker. They are proud parents of three children – two daughters and a son.


melvin_sirnerRabbinic Intern Sam Blustin is a 4th year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. For the last year, he's had the pleasure of working with Beth El families in the religious school as the Rosh T'fillah, teaching prayer through music. In addition, this past year he served as the songleader/prayer leader at Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, bringing his love of music and prayer to congregants of all ages. Sam is a Ramahnik as well, working the past two summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin as the head songleader.

Sam's two big rabbinic passions are creating meaningful, musical davenning experiences and working with young professionals and young families to bring meaningful Jewish experiences into the home. He is excited to expand his role next year to serve the greater congregation, and to bring my passions to serve the Beth El community. He can't wait to meet everyone at Beth El!



Associate Cantor Uri Aqua has been affiliated with Beth El Synagogue Center since 1987. A native of Rehovot, Israel, Cantor Aqua earned a Certificate of Teaching from Lifshitz Teachers Academy in Jerusalem, studied at Hebrew University and obtained both a B.A. degree and a M.A. degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan.

Cantor Aqua’s musical career began in elementary school when he was selected as a soloist in his school choir. In high school, he performed the role of Chazzan for Shabbat and High Holiday prayers with the guidance of established Chazzanim from Jerusalem. Cantor Aqua continued to perform as a Chazzan even as he served in a combat unit in the Israeli Army.

Following his army service, Cantor Aqua opened his own song and dance company under the title of Uri Teman. The company performed throughout Israel.

Upon his arrival in New York, Cantor Aqua began to work as a Chazzan in various synagogues throughout the area. He simultaneously began to perform and to teach Israeli Dance. In 1987 he joined the staff of Beth El Synagogue. In addition to his work there, he currently teaches dance in synagogues, schools, and community centers throughout the New York area, and performs when possible.

Cantor Aqua enjoys being a part of the Beth El community and is pleased to be able to contribute his talents to enrich Jewish life here.


Farid DardashtiHazzan Farid Dardashti is Hazzan Emeritus since July 2011. He joined Beth El Synagogue in the summer of 1997. He is descended from a long line of classical Iranian vocal artists and hazzanim. As a teenager in his native Teheran, he was the featured artist on a weekly TV show. Later, he studied at the Mannes College of Music in New York City and graduated from the H.L. Miller Cantorial School (Cantors’ Institute) of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

During the past thirty years, Farid Dardashti has established himself as both a distinguished hazzan and as a popular concert artist, bridging the worlds of East and West with international Jewish music, folk music, and a classical, opera, Broadway and popular repertoire.


melvin_sirnerJack Klebanow is excited to be part of Beth El’s prayer team, helping to build community and to create deep, aesthetic and spiritually moving experiences.  Jack is a multi-instrumentalist with a broad musical background, including composing and arranging as well as performance in classical, pop and Jewish repertoires. Important music teachers have included Laurence Honan, Luise Vosgerchian, and Al Goltzer. 

Jack has had a lifelong passion for Jewish prayer and study. He is grateful for having learned from so many dedicated and gifted teachers including Rabbis Jerome Malino, Tuvia Posen, Shimon Green, Barry Klein, Lawrence Perlman and Rabbi Schuck.  Meditation is also at the heart of Jack’s spiritual practice.  

Originally from Danbury, CT, Jack graduated with a BA in Government from Harvard University, studied political philosophy at the University of Chicago and has had a successful career as an entrepreneur and business owner. 


melvin_sirnerDeborah Sacks Mintz is a transformative prayer leader and musician, who has served innovative institutions around the country as a teacher of Torah and communal Jewish music. As the Community Singing Consultant of Hadar’s Rising Song Institute, Deborah serves as a resource to those seeking to cultivate the grassroots musical and spiritual creativity of the Jewish people.

In addition to composing new Jewish music, Deborah can be found regularly performing and recording with a myriad of musicians and ensembles. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Deborah is pursuing rabbinical ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Wed, November 20 2019 22 Cheshvan 5780