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Welcome Rabbi Steve Denker!

Rabbi Steve Denker

Interim Rabbi

Rabbi Steven L. Denker retired in May 2022 after serving as rabbi of Temple Emanu El, Orange Village Ohio for 18 years. During that time Rabbi Denker was instrumental in the congregation’s move from its first location in University Heights, an inner ring Cleveland suburb, to its current home in Orange Village.  Prior to serving in the Cleveland area, Rabbi Denker was, for ten years, Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. After his 1984 ordination at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City he began his full-time rabbinic career as an Assistant and Associate Rabbi at Chicago’s Temple Sholom. Rabbi Denker trained for interim or transitional rabbinic service with the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Interfaith Ministries Network.

Rabbi Denker loves bringing traditional texts to life in today’s world and helping students of all ages and backgrounds discover the eternal meanings in Judaism and the beauty of Jewish life. Favorite teaching topics include Biblical Hebrew, Jewish History, and the Jewish Legislative Tradition. Along with these ‘traditional’ interests, Rabbi Denker derives great satisfaction in assisting congregations and organizations in pivotal moments of transition by helping them to find their best selves as they move toward the future.

He has been an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University, Loyola University of Chicago, and DePaul University, teaching courses in World Religions, Judaism, and Hebrew Bible.  He has served on several committees of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and was co-chair of the Rabbi/Evangelical dialogue group. A lifelong Zionist, Rabbi Denker is active in AIPAC and a member of AIPAC’s Cleveland Council. 

Born and raised in New York City, Rabbi Denker graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, holds a BA from the City University of New York, a Masters of Hebrew Letters and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, where he received several academic awards.  Before entering rabbinical training, he was Director of Community Relations for the New York City Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and had served on the staff of the late Congressman Stephen J. Solarz.

Rabbi Denker is currently a part-time college student, pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology at Cuyahoga Community College. He is married to Lisa Arlyn Lowe, an attorney in private practice.  They have adult children.

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Rabbi Norman T. Roman - Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Norman T. Roman

Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Norman Roman served as the senior Rabbi at Temple Kol Ami for 30 years. Since he joined the Temple in 1986, it has grown in both size and stature. His knowledge and love of Judaism, his spiritual presence and his leadership have been at the forefront of Temple Kol Ami’s existence moving into the 21st century.
Rabbi Roman, born in New York City and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area, was educated at John Carroll University (1971) and ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati (1975). He received the title of “Reform Jewish Educator” from the URJ and the National Association of Temple Educators in 1991.

Additionally, he earned a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from HUC-JIR. He has served at congregations in Cleveland, Santa Monica, California, and Bloomfield Township, Michigan, before coming to Temple Kol Ami. The Rabbi serves on numerous civic committees and boards and is an Adjunct Instructor in Religious Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Rabbi Roman is an accomplished folk singer and guitarist, performing at Temples, Universities and community functions throughout the United States and Israel. He is recognized nationally for his work with Jewish youth and his service as Rabbi-in-Residence at the NFTY Leadership Institute (Camp Kutz) and the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. His love for and commitment to Israel are very strong. He is descended from chalutzim (pioneers) who were early settlers of Zichron Yaakov, and he visits Israel at least once per year.
The Rabbi and his wife Lynne are living in Arizona.

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Janet Christensen

Janet Christensen

Cantorial Soloist

Janet Christensen is a cantorial soloist born and raised in Northern Virginia and Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station. She has guest performed with Jewish artists such as Rick Recht and Beth Schafer. Her teachers and mentors include Cantor Rosalie Will, Robyn Helzner, and Rabbi Amy Perlin. Janet graduated from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids MI, with a Bachelors of Music and continued on for a Masters in Music at Boston University, where she was very active in BU Hillel leading Reform Friday night services. She was the founder of Joco Jobim, a Grand Rapids Bossa Nova ensemble and Klezmatics, a Klezmer trio based in Grand Rapids. Janet Christensen is also a notable composer and arranger. Most recently in 2015 the Detroit Chamber Winds premiered Ocho Kandelikas, a Spanish Hanukkah holiday brass quintet piece.

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Professional Staff

Daniel Mesa

Daniel Mesa

Executive Director

Melissa Mesa

Melissa Mesa

Religious School Education Director

Cheryl Spektor

Cheryl Spektor

Rabbi & Temple Assistant

Gersh Blumstein & Sam Pellet

Audio and stream engineers

Lec Jaku


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