Leadership

Leadership

Clergy

Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman joined Temple Israel as spiritual leader in July 2020. She is dedicated to the development of meaningful Jewish community rooted in our Jewish wisdom traditions and inspired by the contemporary call for tikkun olam — repairing the world.

Before moving to New Hampshire, Rabba Kaya served as interim rabbi at the Rutland Jewish Center in Vermont, from October 2017 through June 2019, and before that as interim rabbi at Congregation Agudat Achim in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Contact Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman at 603-436-5301 ext. 12 or by email.

Learn More About Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

“Water from the Well” blog

Administration

Heather Tomlinson,
Administrative Director

Heather Tomlinson, Temple Israel’s Administrative Director since 2017, manages the temple office. Her duties include communications, scheduling, event preparation, and administrative support for volunteers and staff. Her background in writing and publishing, which includes authoring several young adult fantasy novels, adds to her creative flair and skill in preparing The Doorpost newsletter, weekly bulletins, event flyers and other temple communications.

Heather grew up in southern California and Sanbornton, NH, and graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in French. She enjoys quilting, playing mah jongg (as taught by Temple Israel member experts!), and sailing. She lives with her husband and son in the Seacoast area.

Contact Heather Tomlinson at 603-436-5301 ext. 10 or by email.

Elian Tackeff,
Head of School

As Head of School at Temple Israel Portsmouth, Elian Tackeff’s mission is to create meaningful Jewish experiences that foster love, excitement and community for all children and their families. With more than 25 years’ experience in Jewish community life and education, Elian has served in nearly every role: from being a parent, teacher, youth advisor and volunteer to chairing the Education Committee, serving on the temple board and now leading as Head of School. In addition, she’s taught in the Religious School since 2001, has served as the Assistant Teacher in the Temple’s Early Learning Center since 2007, and has been the Youth Group Advisor since 2004.

Elian grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, and came to the United States at age 17 to attend UNH, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration. When she’s not at TIP, Elian likes to take long walks by the ocean, garden, read and cook. She lives in the Seacoast with her husband and son  and loves spending time with her adorable five-year-old grand-dog, Bertram the Frenchie.

Contact Elian Tackeff at 603-436-5301 ext. 14 or by email.

Learn More About the Religious School

Tammy LaBonte,
Early Learning Center Director

Tammy Labonte, known as Miss Tammy to Early Learning Center children and families, joined Temple Israel as Director of the Early Learning Center Preschool in 2018. Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She is certified by the North American Montessori Center and has 20 years of experience working with young children. 

Miss Tammy’s desire to teach started in a Head Start program. She has  also been a director of a large center, worked with special-needs preschoolers for a school district, and served as a Montessori lead teacher before coming to the Early Learning Center. She is committed to making the Early Learning Center Preschool a broad and stimulating learning environment that shares the richness of Jewish values to provide your child’s early foundation

Contact Tammy Labonte at 603-436-5301 ext. 23 or by email

Learn More About the ELC

Board of Directors

The Temple Israel Board of Directors is responsible for planning, budgeting and operations, as well as  maintaining the synagogue’s positive public standing in the community. This team of 16 dedicated congregant volunteers works tirelessly to promote Temple Israel’s mission: to provide a thriving synagogue for people interested in Jewish life, culture and tradition.

The Board of Directors generally meets at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, with Executive Committee meetings scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are open to members of the congregation. Please check with the Temple Israel office for any changes to the regular schedule.

If you’re interested in serving on the board or a committee, please contact Amy Hyett,  President of Temple Israel. Elections to fill board seats are held at the annual meeting in May.