Sign In Forgot Password

About Our Staff

Rabbi Benjamin Barnett

Prior to joining Havurah Shalom in August 2017, Benjamin Barnett served as the Rabbi of Beit Am, a pluralistic Jewish Community in Corvallis. Originally from the Chicago area, he received his BA in English from the University of Michigan and his rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.

In leading a diverse congregation, Rabbi Barnett draws from years of living and learning in Jewish communities across the religious spectrum. Prior to entering rabbinical school, he worked with mentally ill adults, led wilderness expeditions for teenagers, and lived, worked and studied in Israel. He is a devoted practitioner and teacher of Jewish contemplative prayer and meditation, practices through which he strives to cultivate wisdom and compassion, and to respond maturely to the challenges of life and community. He works to build relationships across religious and cultural lines in the name of creating a less violent world. He and his wife Rachel moved to Portland this summer with their children: Lev, Arava, and Judah.

Deborah Eisenbach-Budner

Deborah Eisenbach-Budner became Havurah Shalom’s first Education Director in 2001. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of Havurahniks of all ages, enabling them to connect more deeply with Judaism. She has created and nurtured a wide variety of educational programs, generated innovative holiday and Shabbat experiences, and contributed to the vibrant growth of the community. Read more.

Ilene Safyan

Havurah Music Coordinator Ilene Safyan is a Pittsburgh transplant, and almost an Oregonian. (She’s been here for over 30 years!!) During that time, she’s been involved in music throughout Portland’s Jewish community, serving as cantorial soloist for Congregations Havurah Shalom and Neveh Shalom and teaching at schools throughout the area. Read more.


Rachel Pollak

Rachel Pollak, Havurah Shalom’s Office and Facilities Manager, moved to Portland in 2007 from Los Angeles and got to know the Portland Jewish community through the Melton School, where she was operations manager for four years before becoming director in its final year of operation. She earned her BA in English and political science at American Jewish University in Los Angeles (back when it was the University of Judaism), and her MA in English in 2012, right here at Portland State. She started at Havurah in January 2017.

Teri Ruch

Teri Ruch, Communications & Engagement Manager, came on board at Havurah in January 2014. She received her BA from Rice University and her MA from Johns Hopkins. After teaching English and writing in the D.C. area, she and her husband, John Schultz, moved to family-friendly Portland, where they raised their children, Talia and Josh.


Joey Wolf, Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Joey built a career based on mediating Torah – imaginative teaching, cogent ideas, responsibility for the earth and its people – over 30 years at Havurah Shalom. Involvements and leadership roles in T’ruah - The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, American Jewish World Service, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Jewish Voice for Peace, Americans for Peace Now, Black Parent Initiative, and as a co-founder of the local Muslim-Jewish Dialogue attest to his priorities towards building bridges.

His relationships within the community have encouraged honest reflection and a commitment to justice and are reflected in the kindness, truthfulness and good humor of the people around him. He stands at a crossroads where traditional elements of prayer and study stimulate a new celebration of human spirituality. Mining Jewish ideas and minding Jewish practice are for him ongoing sources of enthusiasm, and he honors this wonderful community for its pursuit of what it means to be Jewish in the world. Taking care of that world and the people who remain on the fringes are an abiding concern for him, as are the ancestral queries and adventures that have led him on the path of learning over a lifetime.(Above photo taken by Torsten Kjellstrand.) You can read more about Rabbi Joey, who retired in April 2017, here in The Oregonian.

Sat, July 21 2018 9 Av 5778