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A Team of Dedicated and Talented Professionals

Jerry Kiewe, Executive Director

Jerry has served as Executive Director of Ohr Kodesh Congregation since October, 2007. Jerry began his professional career serving as staff for the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) in Baltimore, then South Florida and then New Jersey. He went on to serve in various roles at PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, as Executive Director of a Baltimore-based Israel agency, and as Building Director for one of the two JCC facilities in Baltimore. And from 1995-2022, Jerry maintained a part-time position as Educational Director of the Columbia Jewish Community School (CJCS). Jerry has participated in and led numerous Jewish educational trips to Israel, the former Soviet Union, Russia, and Poland. Jerry earned his B.A. in Social Work and Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 1983. He went on to obtain three Masters degrees; in Social Work from the University of Maryland (1985), and in Judaic Studies (1985) and then Jewish Education (1997) from the Baltimore Hebrew University. Jerry resides in Baltimore with his wife, Suzanne, and two young adult children, Micah and Tamar.  An older child, Zephan Blaxberg, also resides nearby in Baltimore, MD. 

Direct Line: (240) 450-3486    Email:

Joanie Smeltz, Director of the Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center

Joanie has been the Director of the Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center since 1991. She received a B.S degree from West Chester University in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Joanie lives with her husband Bruce in Columbia, Maryland. She has three married children and is the very proud and joyful grandmother (“GJ” Grandma Joanie) of six grandsons. The Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center (OKECC) in 2008, under Joanie’s leadership, was chosen as one of 12 pilot schools in the country to be awarded a three-year-grant to elevate the quality of Jewish Early Childhood Education.

Direct Line: (240) 450-3488     Email:

Rabbi Batya Glazer, Director of Lifelong Learning

Batya Glazer was ordained as a Conservative rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1998 where she also studied at the Davidson School of Jewish Education. She has decades of experience in Jewish education at all levels and in both formal and informal settings. She identifies her first experience as a Jewish educator was as an eight-year-old consultant for her mother who taught 3rd graders in Hebrew school. Working in Jewish Community Relations Councils, Batya built relationships through designing and leading educational programming, dialogue, and coalition-building. She is committed to listening deeply and developing an understanding of the concerns and the cultural context of diverse communities and working closely with lay leaders to bring together representatives and diverse perspectives of the Jewish community. Rabbi Glazer has a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University, a Master of Hebrew Letters degree from The University of Judaism, and a Master’s degree and Rabbinic Ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Batya is the proud mother of Elana (25), Noah (23), and Meirav (22).

Direct Line: (240) 450-0676    Email: 

Wilhelmina Gottschalk, Education Director

Wilhelmina Gottschalk has worked at Ohr Kodesh in a variety of roles since 2014, including four years spent as the pedagogical coordinator for the OKC Early Childhood Center (ECC). She has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. As the Alvin Browdy Religious School returns to in-person learning, Wilhelmina is interested in finding ways to emphasize community building and a sense of belonging among the students at Ohr Kodesh.

Direct Line: (240) 450-3487    Email:

Rachel Evenson, Communications and Development Associate

Rachel joined the staff of Ohr Kodesh in June of 2018. She is a graduate of East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC where she obtained her bachelor of science in applied sociology. While at college, she was the president of the student board of Hillel at ECU, and actively worked to grow the Hillel’s participation on campus.  She was involved in Jewish activities in and around Durham, North Carolina, and has a passion for work that will benefit the Jewish community.

Rachel began her employ at Ohr Kodesh as its Ner Tamid Fellow, assisting Youth, Family and Religious School programs and handling many other administrative and design tasks for the congregation. In July, 2021, took on her current role as Communications and Development Associate, in furtherance of the congregation's more ambitious fundraising efforts and her own pursuit of a career in nonprofit management and development. 

Direct Line: (240) 427-5376   Email:

Laura Smolar, Administrative Assistant to the Clergy

A native of Baltimore, Laura is a highly trained administrator with a background working in the nonprofits, including in philanthropy, fundraising, and legislative research. Laura also has over twenty years of experience teaching students with a wide range of learning styles. In addition to her expertise in organizational and administrative management, Laura has an extensive Jewish educational background and experience in Hebrew language instruction. Laura holds a B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and a postgraduate degree in Education from George Washington University. Laura is excited to be working with Rabbi Helfand and Cantor Labovitz and getting to know the members of the Ohr Kodesh community.

Direct Line: (240) 450- 3489    Email:

Aree Pearlman, Logistics and Programing Operations Manager

Aree brings 17 years’ experience in nonprofit management and consulting, specializing in leadership development, marketing and community programming.  She has created Jewish camps and theatre programs, built youth summits, conferences/conventions, and community learning opportunities for major Jewish organizations (JCCs, BBYO, Federation, etc).  Aree is a trainer in diversity, board/staff/youth leadership development, youth philanthropy, the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets, and the Rising Stars Leadership Program.  She has also taught formally in the classroom for K-12 and opened a Nido (infant) room in a Montessori school.

Direct Line: (202) 621-3668    Email:

Ellen Feldman, Financial Manager

Ellen has extensive experience in all aspects of accounting operations, budgeting, analysis, and project management. As a Vice  President and divisional controller at Bank of America, Ellen continually focused on efforts to improve operational efficiency and also successfully implemented many acquisitions and divestitures. In addition to the banking industry, her career has included finance positions in advertising, investment banking, and property management. Ellen studied accounting at the University of Maryland, and has degrees in Economics and Psychology from the University of Rochester. Outside of the office, Ellen is involved with the leadership development and mentoring of young adults and also volunteers her time in Montgomery County schools. Ellen and her family live in Rockville, Maryland.

Direct Line: (240) 450-3484    Email:

Dennis Concepcion, Facility and Technology Manager

Dennis joined Ohr Kodesh in November 2011. Among his immediate priorities will be furthering efforts to upgrade our website and database, streamlining many of our routine event planning and helping to move forward a number of facility improvements. 
Dennis has had 14 years of experience in event management and customer services. His career included the successful delivery of a variety of events for organizations like the American Healthcare Institute and American Society of Appraisers. He also served as the Client Services Manager for a leading national provider of fundraising/membership database software and support services for the not-for-profit community. 

Direct Line: (240) 450-0672    Email:

Katya Davidzon, Shlichah

Katya was born in Ukraine. In 1998, when she was seven years old, Katya`s family made aliya and settled in Afula, a city in northern Israel. Katya started fencing when she was nine years old, and since then has won multiple titles including the Israeli championship for fencing, and is a member of the Israeli national fencing team. In 2010, Katya started her army service and was recruited to the Ordnance Corps, where based on her fencing achievements, she served in a special unit for athletes. During her army service she got her fencing coach diploma from the Wingate institute. After completing her military service she moved to Kfar Saba and started working as a coach at Hapoel Kfar Saba Fencing Club. Katya also has a B.Ed. in early childhood education from Beit Berl College and has been working as a preschool teacher for the past five years. Katya’s interests include bouldering, hiking, music, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. She is very excited to be a shlichah and share her view of Israel with the community.

Direct Line: (202) 735-7437    Email: 

Wed, February 1 2023 10 Shevat 5783