Clergy : The Rabbis and Cantor of Temple Sinai
Temple Sinai has two full time rabbis (Rabbi Andrew Straus &
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin), and one cantor (Cantor Ilene Keys). We
are blessed to have such spiritual and visionary leaders enrich our
To learn more about them, please see below:
Rabbi Andrew Straus
Rabbi Andrew Straus brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to Temple Sinai. Emphasizing the importance of Jewish education for both young and old both in formal and informal settings, Rabbi Straus has a personal goal of increasing each congregant's love, understanding, and involvement in Judaism as a part of our daily lives. He believes that we have a responsibility to speak out from a Jewish perspective and act to address social justice and other issues in the broader community. He sees himself as a counselor, a shoulder and an ear for congregants, sharing our times of pain and sorrow, joy and celebration.
Rabbi Straus joins Temple Sinai along with his wife Karen and three children. Prior to this position, he served for 13 years as the spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel of Tempe, AZ. He has also served at Peninsula Temple Sholom of Burlingame, CA and Temple Beth Sholom of New City, NY. He received his Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Raised in a liberal, conservative congregation in Poughkeepsie, NY, he gained an understanding of and an appreciation for both traditional and contemporary Judaism – two forces he believes must be blended for Judaism to flourish.
Rabbi Straus is very pleased and excited to be joining the Temple Sinai family, continuing our rich traditions while leading Temple Sinai into the future. He looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm and love of Judaism, learning along with us, and inspiring each of us to do mitzvot and walking the path of life according the values, morals, and customs of our ever new Jewish civilization.
Contact Rabbi Straus
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin came to Temple Sinai in 2005 after serving for three years as Assistant Rabbi at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, NY. While in Buffalo, Rabbi Mates-Muchin was heavily involved with social action, adult education, outreach, and social programming for TBZ's 20-30 Somethings group, as well as fulfilling her teaching, service leading and pastoral roles.
Rabbi Mates-Muchin was ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 2002, having received her Masters in Hebrew Letters in 2001. Her rabbinic thesis, entitled, "The Thought of Confucius and Its Parallel in Early Rabbinic Tradition," was a study of distinct texts from differing traditions that commonly addressed moral and ethical issues regarding the human condition. While at HUC, Rabbi Mates-Muchin received numerous awards for her studies in liturgy, history, bible, homiletics, religion and humanities. She also received awards for pastoral excellence and for excellence in service of a congregation by a rabbinic intern. As a student rabbi, she served in Williamsport, PA and Cleveland, OH, and as a rabbinic intern, Rabbi Mates-Muchin served Scarsdale Synagogue-Tremont Temple for two years.
After graduating from Lowell High School in San Francisco, Rabbi Mates-Muchin attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where she double majored in Religious Studies and Cultural Anthropology. She graduated in 1997 with high honors and as a member Phi Beta Kappa. At UCSB, she met her husband, Jonathan, to whom she has been married since 1997. Together, they have fourchildren.
Rabbi Mates-Muchin and her family are delighted to be a part of the Temple Sinai community.
Rabbi Mates-Muchin will be on sabattical until July 2013. Rabbi Ruth Adar will be our "sabattical rabbi" until Rabbi Mates-Muchin returns. Get to know Rabbi Adar through her bio and contact information below.
Contact Rabbi Mates-Muchin
Cantor Ilene Keys
Cantor Ilene Keys is a native of California and aspired to become a cantor since her Bat-Mitzvah. She studied Jewish music from a young age under the tutelage of her own cantor in Los Angeles, Cantor Nathan Lam. Cantor Keys received an undergraduate degree in Jewish Studies and Hebrew from UCLA, and spent a year in Israel studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After graduating UCLA, Cantor Keys attended the School of Sacred Music-Hebrew Union College where she received a Master of Sacred Music and Cantorial Investiture in 1995.
As a cantorial student, Cantor Keys served Temple Beth Shalom of Arnold, Maryland, Temple Beth-El of Hillborough, New Jersey and Beth Haverim of Mahwah, New Jersey. While studying in Jerusalem, she was actively involved with Kol Haneshama Synagogue, a progressive Israeli congregation. Cantor Keys began serving as cantor of Temple Sinai, First Hebrew Congregation of Oakland in 1995, and is now the longest serving cantor in the congregation’s history.
Cantor Keys has served as board member and past president of the Northern California Board of Cantors. In addition, she has acted as the American Conference of Cantors Representative to the Union of Reform Judaism of the Northern California Council. She is a member of both the American Conference of Cantors and the Cantors Assembly.
Cantor Ilene Keys and her husband David Bobrowsky are blessed with three children: Seth, Stella and Solomon.
Contact Cantor Keys
Rabbi Ruth Adar
Rabbi Ruth Adar came on staff at Temple Sinai in January, 2013 to assist while Rabbi Mates-Muchin is on sabbatical in Israel. She has been a member of the Temple Sinai community for 18 years.
Rabbi Adar was ordained at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles in 2008, having received her Masters of Hebrew Letters in 2006. Her rabbinic thesis, “Money & Menschlichkeit: a Jewish Ethics of Personal Finance,” explored the resources in Jewish tradition for ethical decision making about spending, investment, saving, and charitable giving. As a rabbinic intern, Rabbi Adar served Congregation Etz Chaim in Merced, CA, The Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda, CA, the Motherlode Congregation in Angels Camp, CA, and Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf in Tarzana, CA. She twice received the Professor Stanley Gevirtz Award for Excellence in Bible at HUC-JIR Los Angeles.
Since ordination, Rabbi Adar has served Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson, NV and Congregation B’nai David in Visalia, CA. Her publications include “Ethical Priorities in Giving Tzedakah” (CCAR Journal, March 2010) and “Flying Lessons: Reflections on Studying Talmud” (Davar Aher, Fall 2007). She blogs regularly at CoffeeShopRabbi.com. She has served on the board of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis.
In 2010, Rabbi Adar founded “Coffee Shop Rabbi,” an experiment in Jewish Outreach, learning with unaffiliated Jews in nontraditional settings. She also teaches the Eastbay Introduction to Judaism series for Lehrhaus Judaica. She and her spouse Linda Burnett have two sons.
Contact Rabbi Ruth Adar
Rabbi Samuel Broude, Rabbi Emeritus
Contact Rabbi Broude
Rabbi Steven Chester, Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Steven Chester is married to Leona. They
were married in 1969 and have two children, Adam and Shira. Adam and his
wife Keng are the parents of Rabbi and Leona’s granddaughters, Anna and Abigail.
Before coming to Temple Sinai in 1989, Rabbi Steven Chester served
congregations in Jackson, Michigan (where he also served as prison
chaplain for the Jewish prisoners of the State of Michigan) and
Stockton, California. He has taught Hebrew at Jackson Community College,
Bible at Spring Arbor College and Bible and Judaism at the University
of the Pacific, where he was named Adjunct Professor in the Religious
Rabbi Chester received a B.A. in History from UCLA (1965), a B.H.L.
from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles (1967), a M.H.L. from Hebrew
Union College in Cincinnati (1971), and an honorary doctorate from HUC
in 1996. He was ordained in 1971. His Rabbinic thesis was "Eli Wiesel:
Rebbe for our Generation."
Rabbi Chester retired in June 2011, and along with Rabbi Samuel Broude, is a Rabbi Emeritus of the congregation.Contact Rabbi Chester