Matt Cohen, Rabbi
Rabbi Matt Cohen joined the Temple Emanu El community in July 2022. Rabbi Matt was born and raised in Beachwood, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He was ordained from The Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2012. Rabbi Matt served Congregation Ahavath Chesed – The Temple, in Jacksonville, Florida from 2012-2018 and Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston, TX from 2018-2022.
Rabbi Matt is an experienced guitarist and singer and has led congregational, summer camp, religious school and youth group worship experiences for nearly 30 years. In addition to his solo rabbinic work on the bema, he has created and co-led worship services with teen and adult congregational bands. He looks forward to recruiting the musical members of TEE!
Rabbi Matt is passionate about his work in the interfaith and civic community. He participated in multiple community boards, social justice initiatives, and interfaith panels in Jacksonville and Galveston. He was a mayoral appointed officer on the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission for four years and presided over the Galveston Ministerial Alliance for two years. Rabbi Matt believes that our children, youth, and teens are the lifeblood of the congregation and enjoys leading educational opportunities both within and outside of the classroom. He has served on the faculty of various URJ Summer Camps for 10 consecutive summers, taught religious school students of all ages, and has led youth trips to Washington D.C, New York City, and Alabama. Rabbi Matt believes that Jewish learning is a lifelong pursuit for Jews of all ages and delights in teaching Mussar, Jewish liturgy, Jewish ethics and values, and discovering the spiritual teachings and lessons from our Jewish sacred texts. He has a deep love for Israel and has had the blessing to lead congregations, Federation groups, and teen trips to Israel.
Rabbi Matt is a blues guitarist by trade and loves to jam with his 12-year-old son, Ayden, who is an accomplished musician. You can find their father-son jams on their Facebook page: The Cohen Fam Jam Room. When he is not with his Temple Emanu El family or jamming with Ayden, you will find him spending quality time with his wife of 18 years, Erin, of Akron, Ohio. Erin is the Regional Development Director of the Cleveland AJC (American Jewish Committee). Rabbi Matt and Erin, along with Ayden, and their two dogs, Lucille and Koa, are so happy to call Cleveland their home once again!
Renee Delafranconi, Executive Director
Renee has been working as Temple Emanu El’s Executive Director since 1997. As a member of the senior professional staff, she functions as the Chief Operating Officer. Renee provides administrative, financial and logistical support to the sacred, social, communal, educational and cultural goals and programs of the Congregation. She is responsible for management of the Congregation’s business affairs, oversees the physical plant, maintains relationships with vendors, and works closely with the Temple leadership and other senior and support staff members.
As a trained social worker, she was the Senior Associate Regional Director for the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), Ohio Northern Region, for 8 ½ years. She received her Master’s degree from the Mandel School of Applied Social Science of Case Western Reserve University and Bachelor of Science degree at The Ohio State University. Renee is a past member of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Temple Administration (NATA). She is also the Immediate Past President of the Cleveland Area Synagogue and Temple Administrators (CASTA). In addition, Renee has facilitated sessions on leadership development throughout North America.
Renee is the mother of Temple Emanu El graduate, Codie, who lives and works in New York. She enjoys reading, working out, and being with family as well as creating deep, meaningful relationships with congregants. Renee lives with her husband, Pierre, on a small farm in Burton.
Eileen Sadowsky, Education Director
Eileen joined Temple Emanu El as Education Director in June 2019 with 20+ years of experience working in Jewish education. She has held a variety of positions ranging from teacher (Hebrew, Judaica, B’nai Mitzvah, Adult & Skype) to Family Educator and Hebrew Program Supervisor in both the Cleveland and Boston Jewish communities. Parent-Child Hebrew was her favorite program to teach. Simultaneously to working in Jewish education, Eileen worked with K-12 students with special needs as an Occupational Therapist in the public schools. Her goal for students in both secular and Jewish settings is to see students become confident in their abilities and proud of what they have learned.
Eileen is originally from Pittsburgh but grew up in the Cleveland area becoming a Bat Mitzvah at Temple Emanu El and continued through the then combined Temple Emanu El/Fairmount Temple Religious School High School. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Eileen spent six months volunteering at a youth center in Lod, Israel before moving to the Boston area where she worked at Temple Israel while getting her Master’s degree in Human Services Management from Brandeis University. Post graduate school, she continued to work in Jewish education as a teacher and youth group leader while doing research at the Health Policy Institute at Brandeis before returning to her work with children in the public schools. Eileen and her husband, David Klapholz, came home to Shaker Heights to raise their children. In her spare time, Eileen likes to knit, read, ride her bike, walk her dog, and hang out with family.
Eleanor Gulling, Director of Early Childhood Education
Eleanor began working at Temple Emanu El in 2017 as part time support in classrooms while completing her post-secondary education. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s of Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University. As a Licensed Social Worker, Eleanor worked with Hospice of the Western Reserve as a home care case manager.
In her role as ECE Director, Ellie oversees the developmentally appropriate early childhood education experience for children ages 6 weeks through pre-Kindergarten with the goal of creating an engaging and nurturing environment.
Eleanor dedicates her free time to creating the best possible life for her fur baby, Audrey.
Mary Beth Laurienzo, Assistant Preschool Director
Mary Beth is a lifelong resident of Cleveland Heights. She has been working with children in the early education field for over 20 years. Prior to coming to Temple Emanu El Preschool, she was a pre-K teacher for a decade at a local childcare center. Mary Beth is an advocate for play based learning and enjoys creating lesson plans. She is passionate about literacy and cultivating a love of reading in young children.
Mary Beth has a Child Development Associate and earned a credential for trauma informed care. She believes in continued education and takes supplemental classes, attends seminars, and collaborates with other educators.
In her personal time, Mary Beth collects books and is a self-proclaimed bibliomaniac. She has been playing pinball competitively for 9 years and figure skates recreationally for exercise. She loves crafting with her Cricut and being creative.
Beth Mann, Youth & Family Program Director
Beth is Temple Emanu El’s Youth and Family Program Director, a position partially funded by the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JEC). She has worked in formal and informal Jewish education in Reform congregations as well as working for BBYO and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Beth has dedicated her life to building strong connections and leadership within the Reform movement and is passionate about the future of the Reform movement by developing community and a sense of belonging among the people with who she works.
Beth has a Bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Cincinnati. Beth is married to Phil, and they are parents to Michael and Morgan.
Steven Blandford, Facilities Manager
Steve comes to us from Long Beach, California, having relocated to Cleveland Heights in July of 2021.
He had been a Head Custodian at Clegg Elementary School in the Westminster School District making him well prepared for taking on the role of Facilities Manager at Temple Emanu El. Prior to working at Clegg, Steve was a custodian for several elementary schools at the Centralia School District offices.
In his free time, Steve enjoys fishing and exploring the Metro Park system here in Northeastern Ohio with friends and his dog, Lucy.
Darcy Hershey, Creative Director
Darcy joined the Temple Emanu staff in 2019 as a part-time Administrative Assistant for the Education and Early Education departments. She also manages the Temple’s graphic design, marketing, and photography needs.
Previously, Darcy was Vice-President of Engagement on the TEE Board of Trustees and chaired a number of annual galas. Due to her vast membership and programming background, Darcy co-staffs the Engagement Committee and continues to be an integral part of the planning and execution of all programming including the gala.
She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. Darcy and her husband, Aaron, are parents to Dylan and Caleb. Her family has been members of Temple Emanu El since 2003.
Judi Roseman, Administrative Assistant
Judi has been an Administrative Assistant for Temple Emanu El since 1994. In her role, she is the support staff person for Rabbi Matt. She coordinates our B’nai Mitzvah program, maintains the lifecycle database for our members and is responsible for the creation of the Bulletin.
Judi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences from Ohio University. She enjoys reading, podcasts and the KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square. Judi is the mother of two adult daughters, Rebecca and Stacie, and grandmother to Rose, Emma, and Aaron.
Daniel Roberts, Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Roberts has been a leader of our congregation for over 35 years. His passion for Judaism and his leadership qualities are constantly demonstrated within the Temple family and in the greater community.
An expert in the field of bereavement, Rabbi Roberts often lectures locally, nationally and internationally on death and dying. He holds a doctorate in this area and is certified as a Fellow in Thanatology. He is currently treasurer of the national Association of Death Education and Counseling. He is currently working on a book about the mourning that some go through when they retire from the work force.
Rabbi Roberts is committed to educational programs especially for our youth. He frequently uses storytelling as a means of teaching and communicating with children and adults. Rabbi Roberts has spearheaded the production of a multi-media presentation on teenage suicide entitled “Inside, I Ache.” He served on the National Committee on Teenage Suicide Prevention was a board member on the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation.
He is a past president of the Heights Interfaith Council and the Cleveland Board of Rabbis and remains active in both organizations. He served on the national Rabbinic Cabinet of the State of Israel Bonds and was Chair of the Task Force on Pre-Marital Education of the Central Conference of American Rabbi’s. He is currently on the board of the Jewish National Fund of Cleveland. He has been highly involved in Social Justice issues over the years.
In his years with Temple Emanu El, Rabbi Roberts has gained the respect and admiration not only of temple members, but also of colleagues regionally, nationally, and in the State of Israel.