Rabbi Elyssa Austerklein


Hazzan Matthew Austerklein

Hazzan Matthew Austerklein, baritone, is Beth El's seventh cantor, He received a Master of Sacred Music degree and cantorial investiture from JTS in 2011. As a student he concentrated in pastoral care, spending one summer as a hospital chaplain at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, and another with the Jewish Board as a chaplain for adults with chronic mental illness. Hazzan Matt is also a proud alum of the College of William and Mary, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2006.

Hazzan Matt enjoys bringing Torah, music, and spirituality into people's lives through many pathways -- leading prayer, teaching classes, building singing community, and pastoral outreach to our members. He is a seasoned performer in Jewish and secular ensemble alike, and is also a founding member of the cantorial band, "The Wizards of Ashkenaz." 

Hazzan Matt is an up-and-coming leader and innovator among American cantors. He recently served on the Cantors Assembly's Executive Council, and served as its representative to the Committee on Jewish Law & Standards from 2013-2015. He has lectured at several universities, and mentored cantorial students across the non-orthodox world, including at JTS, HUC-JIR, Hebrew College, and in the Aleph Cantorial program. Most recently, Hazzan Matt co-founded Ilu Finu, a nationwide contest for Jewish a cappella groups to write synagogue music.

Hazzan Klein is blessed to be the husband of Rabbi Elyssa, and father to their son, George.

Erin Katz Ford, Director of Programming & Education

Erin Katz Ford comes to Beth El after previously serving as a Family Educator and Religious School Director for a congregation in Cleveland. She holds a Masters in Jewish Education from the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies and Bachelors from The Ohio State University. Erin has been at Beth El since 2011 and has a passion for service learning. 

 Arlyne Bochnek, Office manager

Arlyne comes to Beth El after many years as CRUSY's regional Youth Director. Arlyne is excited to be working at Beth El. 

Rabbi Stephen Grundfast, EMERITUS

Rabbi Grundfast received his undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Social Work from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was ordained as a Rabbi in June of 1979 from The Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City.

While in rabbinical school he served as the student rabbi for the Wyckoff -Franklin Lakes Synagogue in Wyckoff, New Jersey. In addition, he also held the position of assistant to the director of Hillel at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. He has taken graduate courses in Jewish Studies at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ and at Gratz College in Philadelphia, PA.  He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis.  In December, 2007 the Jewish Theological Seminary awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree, Honoris Causa.

Rabbi Grundfast’s first full time pulpit was as the associate rabbi of Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, Texas, for nine years. While in Houston he served as the secretary of the Houston Board of Rabbis. He helped found and later served as president of the Rabbinical Assembly, Southwest Region. He also served as president of the Kallah of Texas Rabbis, the oldest on-going interdenominational rabbinical retreat program in the nation. He was also very active in the Soviet Jewry movement, having visited the Soviet Union to meet with Refusniks in October 1984.

In 1988 he and his family moved to Savannah, Georgia where he assumed the pulpit of Congregation Agudath Achim and served there for four years.  Rabbi Grundfast became the rabbi of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Wallingford, PA in 1992 and served until June of 2001. While in Wallingford, he helped found The Main Line Muslim-Jewish Dialogue group in Philadelphia. Rabbi Grundfast was an active member of the Swarthmore-Wallingford Interfaith Ministerium where he served as President during the 1998-1999 year. He also served as secretary of the Rabbinical Assembly of Greater Philadelphia.  Rabbi Grundfast served as rabbi at The Jacksonville Jewish Center for three years from 2001-2004.

Rabbi Grundfast assumed the pulpit of Beth El Congregation in Akron in August of 2004. He is a past-president of the Ohio, Western PA and KY region of the Rabbinical Assembly. In Akron he is a board member of the Akron Jewish Community Federation and The Lippman Day School.

Rabbi Grundfast is married to his wife Judy and they have two children, Rachel (Dr. Justin) and Joseph (Deana). Off the pulpit he loves to spend time with his family, read, play golf, and work out at the JCC fitness center.  His passion is to spend as much time as possible with his grandsons, Gavi and Elliot.

Hazzan Stephen Stein, emeritus

 Hazzan Stephen J. Stein was the Cantor of Beth El Congregation from 1980-2015, making him the longest serving professional in the synagogue's history. During his tenure, he was especially proud of the Torah Reader's Society, which he created, the accomplishments of the synagogue's choirs, the annual concerts that he produced, and his collaborations with the music department at Kent State University and WKSU , which culminated in two recordings of Jewish music (These Lights of Hanukkah and Music for Passover) that were broadcast on public radio stations throughout the country. 

Hazzan Stein has been the executive vice president of the Cantors Assembly since 1998. During this period he has served on the boards of multiple affiliates of the Conservative movement. A past president of the CA, he is only the third person in the organization’s seventy (70) year history to hold this highest-ranking post.  He is a graduate of both the Cantorial School at JTS and Duquesne University.  Hazzan Stein has lectured extensively throughout the country on changing trends in synagogue music and congregational dynamics.

Sat, August 19 2017 27 Av 5777