Rabbis Daria and Josh Jacobs-Velde
Rabbis’ Office Hours: Please call first to arrange a time. Generally, office hours are Monday and Tuesday: 12-3 pm and Thursday: 1-4pm. Other hours by appointment; RabbiDaria@oseh-shalom.org, RabbiJosh@oseh-shalom.org, 301-498-5151. During the Oseh Religious School year, Rabbi Daria is usually at Oseh on Sunday morning.
We enjoy working together as a team, sharing the spiritual leadership of this community. Our mission includes refining the big picture vision to leading heart-opening prayer experiences, supporting people in times of challenge and much more. Together, we bring a much greater range of strengths and skills to our work than we each would on our own. We share a passionate commitment to Judaism as a spiritual practice that can enrich and potentially transform our lives. We engage Judaism’s potential through a variety of formats, such as music, prayer, meditation, text study, bibliodrama, and connection to the natural world. Each of us has significant training in pastoral care. We bring both a warm and compassionate presence and deep attention to the uniqueness of each person’s story. Our focus is always on nurturing and deepening relationships as the key to growing leadership and strengthening community. Learn more about us:
I grew up in St. Louis, MO in an intermarried family and graduated from the University of California-Santa Cruz with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. Alienated from Judaism as a teen, I re-engaged with Judaism after a spiritual search that lead me through other paths, including Zen Buddhism. Before rabbinical school, I worked for the Reconstructionist movement doing social justice work, studied in ulpanim and yeshivot in Jerusalem, spent time working with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and completing an MA in Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. After rabbinical school at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Daria and I served as co-rabbis at Congregation Ohev Tzedek in Ohio and founded Zmanim (Seasons), which built nature-connected, spiritual Jewish community in Sonoma County, CA. I am a member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association as well as Ohalah, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal.
I have a wide range of interests, including conscious parenting, hiking/backpacking, qigong, playing acoustic guitar, yoga, ecological healing and sustainability, practicing and teaching meditation and contemplative Jewish prayer, Jewish-Muslim dialogue, and learning about local wild edible and medicinal plants. To reach Rabbi Josh, call the office at 301-498-5151 or email RabbiJosh@oseh-shalom.org.
Raised in Greater Boston, I grew up a cultural Jew who celebrated Hanukkah and Passover every year. As a Hebrew school dropout (6 months was enough for me), I found very little meaningful and accessible practices or language when I went to synagogue.
Clearly things have shifted along the way! The question that followed me was “Why be Jewish?” That journey ultimately led me into a deep connection with Judaism. Along the way I lived in Israel and Japan, completed an Ed.M. at Harvard University, a B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis, and was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As I explored this question, I gained experience in multiple avenues of learning and teaching. I also gained experience with learners at many different stages of life, from elementary school to high school, and with adults from varied backgrounds.
I love opportunities to see things from new angles and enjoy bringing new ways of the personal relevancy of Judaism. Some of these modalities include bibliodrama, meditation, teaching Hebrew and teaching the transformational spiritual ethical practice of Mussar.
I also love being outdoors and walking, hiking, cycling, dancing, yoga or just sitting still- being and listening. I deeply love singing, chanting, drumming and opening my heart, by myself and in community, through these powerful musical avenues. To reach Rabbi Daria, call the office at 301-498-5151 or email RabbiDaria@oseh-shalom.org.
Cantor Caitlin McLaughlin completed vocal studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and has a master’s degree in Music (Choral Conducting) from the University of California, Irvine. She has led choral groups in schools and congregations in California, New England and Minnesota before settling in Maryland.
Prior to joining Oseh Shalom, Cantor Caitlin had been a cantorial soloist in the DC area, mostly working within Temple Emanuel in Kensington, and most recently with The Jewish Studio, Adas Israel and Bethesda Jewish Congregation. She has taken part in Jewish music workshops including Shabbat Shira and Hava Nashira at OSRUI, NewCAJE and the Jewish Songwriters’ Collaborative Retreat, and the Davennen Leadership Training Institute.
Cantor Caitlin says, “I knew right away, from my first visit in November of 2021, that Oseh Shalom is a community that loves making music, praying deeply, and doing justice, where I and my family would feel right at home.”
Cantor Caitlin lives in Silver Spring with her husband, Tim, and children Lydia and Ben.
Rabbi Rebecca graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in the same class as Rabbi Josh. In addition to her experience as an interim rabbi in Baltimore, she served as a congregational rabbi/adult education teacher and director of education in New Jersey. Rabbi Rebecca brings a wealth of educational experience to Oseh Shalom. She was a director of admissions and led a large congregational religious school. She also worked in Fairfax County Public Schools for a decade, leading programs, advising students, training teachers in best practice teaching techniques, and crafting curricula and adult education legislation alike.
She’s experienced at connecting with populations of all ages, from improv workshops on bullying and conflict resolution for young children, to Eco-Judaism for teens through Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice, to chaplaincy work for senior citizens in rehabilitation or struggling with dementia. Rabbi Rebecca had this to say about what religious school can offer today’s students:
“I think of Judaism as this gift that everyone gets, but not everyone opens it. At religious school, you get to open it together and say ‘Oh, wow, what’s in here? What does this have to offer?’ There’s something amazing about being able to open that gift together.”
To reach Rabbi Rebecca, email email@example.com or call Rebecca or assistant Jessica Robertson at 301-498-7004.
Benj Brown, Office Administrator
Benj Brown is our Office Administrator. Benj can answer all your questions about services, programs and membership or will find the answers. He is your first stop for questions about membership, our building, programs, events, rentals, services and classes. His background is in event management, interior design & facilities. He has many skills to contribute from his almost 20 years of experience. He looks forward to gaining a better understanding of Recontructionist Judaism.
To reach Benj, Call 301-498-5151, extension 101 or email him at BBrown@oseh-shalom.org
School Assistant Laila McKellar
Have a question about our award-winning religious school? School Assistant Laila McKellar can help. Laila has a deep passion for language, culture, business, and education. Her diverse upbringing inspired her to study International Business at Temple University in Philadelphia. She previously worked as an Administrative Assistant/Student Worker at Temple University and as a teaching intern at Laurel High School as well as in customer service. Laila loves singing, songwriting, dancing, modeling, pilates, gardening, cooking, and baking. Her paramount life objective is to attain fluency in at least eight languages.
Our cantor emeritus, Charles Bernhardt, continues to lend his voice and spirit to our services as he has since 1983. Cantor Charlie draws on many aspects of Jewish musical tradition, including classical chazzanut, chasidic, Israeli, and modern American folk music, in addition to his own compositions as a recorded artist, to create an atmosphere that is both taps into tradition and is exciting.
Rabbi Doug Heifetz served as Oseh’s spiritual leader from 2006-2017. He also has served as the Vice President of Programming for the Washington Board of Rabbis and on the Steering Committee of Interfaith Worker Justice Maryland. Together with Oseh Shalom, Rabbi Heifetz founded the Jewish Geography Facebook app for Jewish connectivity. He has participated in selective year long professional development programs such as Rabbi Without Borders, the STAR-PEER Executive Leadership Program for Rabbis, and Tzey U’lemad.
Rabbi Emeritus Gary S. Fink, D.Min., D.D., came to Oseh Shalom in 1980 as our first full-time rabbi. Under his leadership, Oseh Shalom’s membership grew more than threefold. In 2006, Rabbi Fink retired from the full-time pulpit to focus on pastoral care and end-of-life counseling, working with individuals and families experiencing life-limiting illness and bereavement, while remaining rabbinically and personally connected to our synagogue community.