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Our Rabbis & Professional Team

Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky is​ the Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chayim.  He was the founding Rabbi of Ruaj Ami, a start-up congregation in Santiago, Chile, which he helped grow from five founding families to 130.  He received ordination, and also a Masters in Jewish Education, from the Hebrew College Rabbinical School where he was a member of the inaugural class in 2008.

Chaim’s rabbinate focuses on community building. This expresses itself in big ways when he focuses on creating a Shabbat community full of joy or when he facilitiates cross-cultural understanding between Jews and Muslims (or even Jews from different backgrounds). It expresses itself more intimately when he sits with families after a loss or celebrates with them on the bimah at a baby naming.

He also enjoys exploring how different modes of music can enhance spiritual experience.  Luckily, he has landed in a congregation that prides itself on its love of song.

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Chaim completed his undergraduate studies at Vassar College, focusing on Russian Studies.  He has also lived and worked in the former Soviet Union and Israel.

Chaim met his Israeli-born wife Keren Henigman in Chile where they were married, and their three children- Yaniv, Noam, and Lielle- were born. In 2015, the family moved to Palo Alto where they are enjoying life, community, and the weather on (North) America’s West Coast.

You can reach Rabbi Koritzinsky by phone at 650-813-9094 x213 or by email at

Rabbi Ari Mark Cartun is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto, CA where he served as Rabbi and Scholar-in-Residence from 1996-2015. He was the Executive Director of the Hillel Foundation at Stanford University from 1975-1996, and a Visiting Scholar, Stanford Program in Jewish Studies 1996-1997. Before moving to Palo Alto, he was a rabbinical student intern at Reform Temple Sinai, Washington, DC, 1974-75. Before that he was active as a member and then rabbinical student staff member for NFTY (Reform youth group) and BBYO: locally, regionally, and as faculty and program director for their national camps.

A member of the Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform Rabbinical associations (from each of whom he has received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity), Rabbi Cartun has devoted his rabbinate to bridging gaps between denominations within Judaism. As part of that, he was co-founder of the Feast of Jewish Learning, and, before that, of the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School, now called Hausner Jewish Day School.

He has done the same for interfaith relations. While in DC as part of the program of Inter/Met, an Interfaith Apprenticeship Seminary, he was also a staff lobbyist for the Interfaith Commission of Greater Washington, D.C. At Stanford he continued his interfaith work as Founder and President of the Stanford Associated Ministries, 1980-88. Today he continues to engage in Jewish-Christian issues education with Pastor Danielle Parish of Spark Church, which meets at Etz Chayim. Together they podcast on topics of interest to both religions, and led a joint tour to Israel in February-March, 2017. Another such tour is being contemplated.

Rabbi Cartun is a scholar of Bible and Jewish liturgy, and has published papers and practical guides on these and other topics, as well as a siddur and a machzor. During the academic year 2014-5 Rabbi Cartun taught introduction to Philosophy at Kehillah Jewish High School, and in 2015-16 taught an introduction to Zohar for Lehrhaus Judaica.

With co-author Jeffrey Brandstetter, he is finishing a book on Judaism explained with computer metaphors: Mindware for G0dwrestlers: Jewish Thought in the Age of Thinking Machines. 

You can reach Rabbi Cartun by email  at

To read Rabbi Cartun's 5778 Yom Kippur sermon, click here.

Executive Director Ellen Bob joined the staff of Etz Chayim in February, 2011.  A native of Minnesota, but a graduate of Los Altos High, she has spent most of her life living on the Peninsula. You may recognize her from bob and bob fine Jewish gifts, crafts and books where she chatted with customers, recommended books, gave advice about bar and bat mitzvahs, wedding and baby namings and pretty much everything else, while running the business with her mother for 27 years. She has also worked in community journalism, web-copy writing, retail consulting and summer camp development.

She holds a double degree from Brandeis University in Linguistics and Near Eastern and Judaic studies.  Ellen is happy to bring everything she has ever learned to her position here, where she enjoys helping members create the congregation and celebrations they desire. Contact Ellen for information about any of our programs, activities, membership, donation opportunities or random advice at 650-813-9094 x206 or

Director of Learning Abra Greenspan has worked in Jewish education since she was a teen, including teaching positions at congregations in California and Japan. She has also worked in informal and alternative Jewish Education at summer camps, the Hillel Foundation at Stanford University, Berkeley-based Lehrhaus Judaica and the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center.  Abra also taught English as a Foreign Language to students abroad and in the United States. She holds a BA in Religious Studies and an MA in Japanese Language and Literature from Stanford University, and an MS in Jewish Education from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. She completed a course of study through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and received a Reform Jewish Educator credential from the Association of Reform Jewish Educators.

She is a 2018 winner of the Helen Diller Family Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Established in January 2001, the awards recognize and honor educators offering pre-collegiate programs in Jewish education who have made an extraordinary impact on the youth of our community.

Abra’s philosophy and style center around paying attention to who is seeking Jewish learning, what they are seeking, why, and how. She looks for creative and innovative approaches to the individual needs and situations of families. A hallmark of her mentoring and leadership is helping teachers identify those aspects of Judaism that ignite their passion and giving them the space to create lessons around that passion.

Abra believes that feeling connected to the Jewish community is at the heart of Jewish life and strives to create learning opportunities that build connections and relationships. Abra is married to Kiyotaka Hayashi and they have two adult children. Contact Abra at 650-813-9094 x214 or

Director of Finance and Administration Donna Munic grew up in Illinois and received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She and her husband, Fred, moved to the Bay Area immediately after graduation and have lived in the Willow Glen area of San Jose for the past 39 years.

Donna has shifted careers several times in her life.  She spent 13 years working as a design engineer and program manager, primarily in defense.  She briefly owned a candy store/manufacturing business, where she was able to indulge her passion for chocolate on a 24/7 basis.  She spent several years as a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling her children for a total of 12 years.  She spent several years in accounting, mostly for non-profits, before joining Etz in 2009.  Contact Donna at 650-813-9094 x205 or at


Office Administrator Lea Sandoval Kingsbury was born and raised in Mountain View.  She originally joined our staff in 2007 when she worked as the administrative assistant for the Religious School.  She now supports all programs and staff at Etz Chayim.  Lea studied psychology in college, is an avid reader and artist.  Before coming to Etz Chayim, she worked in the main office and youth education office at Beth Am.  She enjoys interfacing with members and guests and helping them in any way she can.  Contact Lea at 650-813-9094 x201 or at

Sun, September 27 2020 9 Tishrei 5781