Rabbi Marcelo Kormis
As the focal center of Conservative Judaism in the area, our beloved Rabbi Marcelo Kormis works hard to inspire people of all ages to engage in Jewish tradition, to be moved to work for social justice, to establish close ties with Israel, and to experience prayer and life-cycle events in a vibrant and meaningful way. In his own words: “I don’t imagine my Rabbinate as a job; to me it is a vocation. I serve this vocation with all my soul.”
Rabbi Kormis joined Beth El as its spiritual leader in August, 2012, after serving as Associate Rabbi of the Circulo Israelita congregation in Santiago, the largest (900 families) conservative congregation in the city. Prior, he served as the head of Judaic Studies at the Instituto Hebreo, the main Hebrew Day School in Chile with 1,500 students. He studied at the Seminario Rabinico in Buenos Aires (ordained 2003), as well as Haifa University in Israel (B.A. Bible and Jewish Thought), the Hebrew University (Senior Educators Program), and Machon Schechter (M.A. Judaic Studies).
Rabbi Kormis serves as both University Chaplain and adjunct lecturer at Sacred Heart University, and as the Jewish Chaplain for the Fairfield Police Department. He is a member of the Fairfield Board of Rabbis, the Fairfield Clergy Association, the Town of Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration Committee, and the Greater Bridgeport Tent of Abraham Interfaith Group. In addition, his videos and classes on social media are followed by hundreds of viewers weekly, and he hosts a podcast series with a Priest and an Imam entitled: “An Imam, a Priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar….”
The Rabbi and his wife Fernanda Auba have four beautiful children, Mijael, Ari, Leah, and Clara.
Dr. Samantha Stinson, Education/Ritual/Music Director
Samantha Stinson brings a decade of experience in academia, vocal performance, and cantorial leadership to her role as our new Director of Education, Ritual, and Music. She earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, compiling an anthology of Yiddish Art Song as her dissertation. During her time in Cincinnati, she served as cantorial soloist with Isaac M. Wise Temple and Temple Shalom. From 2014-2018, she served as lay rabbinate leader, b’nai mitzvah tutor, and cantorial soloist for Temple Beth El of Potsdam NY, and taught at the Crane School of Music and St. Lawrence University. Samantha also holds degrees in music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music.
With her background in Arts outreach and education, Samantha has designed programs in theatre arts and Hebrew School for children ages 2-18. She believes in fostering creativity and curiosity in each student by providing a nurturing, kind religious school environment. Most importantly, she continues to be inspired as an educator by her twin 5-year-old daughters, Amalia and Abigail, and as a cantorial artist by her husband, baritone Jonathan Stinson.
Kate Luedtke, K’tanim Preschool Director
Kate Luedtke brings over 20 years experience in Early Childhood to her role as leader of our wonderful K’tanim family. At the Westport Community Nursery School, she developed and managed the Kindergarten program, after having served as the school’s Curriculum Coordinator, and the Head Teacher of a 3’s classroom, a 4’s class, and a mixed aged group of 3’s/4’s. She has also made a positive impact on the Stratford Public Schools working with their School Readiness program, and put her extensive experience to further use in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).
In addition to having earned a Masters in Elementary Education and a BA in Psychology, her credentials also include a Child Development Associate (CDA) Degree in Early Childhood, a Connecticut Head Teacher’s Certificate and the Connecticut Director’s Credential at a Master’s Level. She is also a trained Music Together teacher.
Born and raised in Trumbull, Kate still lives there with her husband Brad and two sons Logan and Braeden.
Susan Mittag, Executive Director
Having spent 27 successful years in New York’s fashion industry in sales, merchandising and administration, Susan Mittag joined Beth El in June 2002, bringing together her professional strengths as an administrator with her love of Judaism. She is immersed in all areas of synagogue life, from assisting the clergy, lay leadership, and committee chairs with events to preparing the weekly kiddush when needed.
An integral part of Bar/Bat Mitzvah planning at Beth El, Susan was inspired to embark on her own spiritual journey, learning to read Hebrew with five other women and becoming a Bat Mitzvah herself in June 2012. The service was attended by family, friends, and fellow congregants who all knew Susan to be an exemplary administrator, but were equally impressed with her enthusiasm and performance on the bimah.
Susan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Brooklyn College. She and her husband, Barry, have two grown children, Nathan and Rachel, as well as two beautiful grandchildren.
Beth El’s Board of Directors ensures that all voices of our congregation’s membership are heard in the governance and fiduciary oversight of every aspect of the synagogue, including worship, religious education, and programming. General board meetings are held monthly at the synagogue and are open to all congregants.
Additionally, all committees welcome congregant input, and most are currently accepting new members. Please feel free to contact Board members or committee chairs directly at any time by clicking on their names below.