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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. Since 1995, Jerry has also 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, is married and resides nearby in Reisterstown, 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:

Rachel Lang, Director of Teen and Community Engagement

Rachel grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated with honors from Towson University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. After graduating from college, Rachel worked for an educational non-profit in Baltimore City before moving to California. While in California, she entered into the world of Jewish Education when she went to work at Congregation Kol Shofar, in Tiburon, as a Hebrew school teacher, youth group adviser, and eventually the administrative assistant for the education department. Rachel became a member of the OKC staff, as the Director of Youth and Family Programming, in the summer of 2016. She currently lives in Rockville with her family.

Direct Line: (240) 450-0676 Email:

Wilhelmina Gottschalk, Interim Education Director

Wilhelmina Gottschalk has worked at Ohr Kodesh in a variety of roles since 2014. Most recently, she was the pedagogical coordinator for the OKC Early Childhood Center (ECC) for the past four years. In that position she supported educator planning, guided holiday programs, and served as a Judaic resource for the ECC. She has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. This summer, Wilhelmina will continue in her role as Summer Discovery Director at the ECC in addition to being interim education director. She can’t wait to get to know everyone at ABRS in the coming months!

Direct Line: (240) 450-3487 Email:

Rachel Evenson, Ner Tamid Fellow

Rachel joined the staff of Ohr Kodesh  in June of 2018. She is a graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC where she got 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. Today at Ohr Kodesh Rachel assists in all Youth & Family and Religious School programs as well as many more administrative and design tasks for the congregation.

The Ner Tamid Fellowship is a two to three year position that is offered to recent college graduates as an opportunity to learn synagogue administration from the inside, providing mentorship, guidance, and skills development, as well as assistance in applying to jobs or graduate school as the fellow plots out the next step in his or her career.

Direct Line: (240) 450-3483 Email:

Tami Lautman, Administrator for Religious Activities & Communications

Tami has worked at Ohr Kodesh since February, 2009. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.A. in Chemistry. After spending many years (ten of them in Israel) as a stay-at-home Mom to her four sons, Tami went on to work at the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), and at the Jewish Information and Referral Service (JIRS) at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Tami lives in  Rockville with her husband, Mark. 

Direct Line: (240) 450- 3489 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:

Hagar Netser, Sh'lichah (Israeli Emissary)

Hagar is the Shlicha (Israeli emissary) to Ohr Kodesh Congregation. She served in the IDF as a Chief Sergeant in the Education and Youth Corps, creating educational programs and materials for soldiers. After her service, Hagar graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Judaic Studies from Tel Aviv University and started teaching Judaic Studies at Ironi Aleph High School in Tel Aviv.

Before becoming a Shlicha, she was employed at Walla! News as a senior news editor while simultaneously working on her Master’s in Philosophy at Tel Aviv University.

Direct Line: (240) 450-0679 Email:

Thu, May 6 2021 24 Iyyar 5781