Meet Our Staff
Rabbi Zöe McCoon (she/her)
Rabbi Zöe McCoon recently joined the Temple Beth Torah community in July 2021 after being ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH in May 2021. She brings with her a love for Judaism, community building, music, bringing justice into the everyday, and supporting others on the many different journeys on which they might find themselves.
Rabbi Zöe was raised in Flint, Michigan, where she attended Temple Beth El of Flint. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. After graduating in December 2015, she joined the Hazon Detroit team as they sought to lay the foundations in the area - serving as a JOFFEE educator (Jewish Outdoor Food, Farming, and Environmental Education) in congregations around the metro-Detroit area while learning all about urban farming at Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. She returned to Hazon Detroit the summer after her first year of rabbinical school to serve as the Rabbinic Intern.
During her time at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Zöe has served as the solo student rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom of Marquette, MI and of Temple Beth Israel of Bay City, MI. In addition, she has served as an educator and musician at I.M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati where she has taught 6th grade Hebrew and Zimra (music) for Pre K-5th grade as well as co-led YoFI Shababa (a Shabbat morning experience aimed at the congregation's youngest children and their families) and Healing Services. She also served as the Rabbinic Intern at MSU Hillel and the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan where she participated in student engagement, led Jewish spiritual and educational programming, and co-led weekend long retreats.
One of her proudest achievements, during her time in rabbinical school, Rabbi Zöe partnered with the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Hebrew Union College, Xavier University, Women Helping Women, the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati, and many other community faith organizations to create a seminar to discuss how faith communities can better address gender-based violence in their midst. This brought together her volunteer work and training with Women Helping Women around supporting survivors of sexual assault, partner violence, and stalking with her concern for building healthy supportive spiritual communities.
Please let the Rabbi know! If a member of your family or a friend from the temple is ill or in the hospital, please call the temple office to let Rabbi Zöe know. Hospitals in the area are no longer permitted to tell us when they have Jewish patients.
Rabbi Emeritus Avi M. Schulman
A native Californian, Rabbi Avi Schulman graduated with highest honors from the University of California in Santa Cruz. His research thesis, “The Havurah Movement: Experiments in Creating Alternative Jewish Communities,” was in fulfillment of his individual major entitled Modern Jewish History and Thought.
Following college, he worked at Hillel Foundations at San Jose State University, Cal State University Hayward, and the University of Southern California. Upon acceptance to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Schulman studied at campuses in Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati. He was ordained in 1984. His senior thesis, a biography of the noted Reform Rabbi Maurice
Eisendrath, was published in 1993 by the UAHC Press.
Rabbi Schulman has served in a variety of rabbinic positions: Assistant Rabbi at Temple Israel in Dayton, Ohio; Hillel Director at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Associate Rabbi at Temple Sinai in Denver; and Rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Missouri City, Texas. He was president of the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council as well as the Houston Rabbinical Association. Rabbi Schulman is a graduate of the
rabbinic leadership program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In recognition of his contributions to Judaism and the Jewish people, he was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity honoris causa by HUC-JIR.
In 2007 Rabbi Schulman became the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah. He is renowned for his passion for learning; his love for teaching children, teens, and adults; his creativity and innovations in worship; and his leadership both in the synagogue and in the broader community. Upon his retirement in 2021, he was named Rabbi Emeritus.
Temple Administrator, Mara Sheade
Mara was born in New York and moved to California in high school. She received a Master’s in Social Work, with an emphasis in Gerontology, from UC Berkeley. After working in social services, she pivoted to a career in technology, working as a Quality Assurance Analyst and as a Technical Writer. A published poet, she trained with California Poets in the Schools, an artist-in-residence program, to become a poet-teacher. In addition to schools, Mara has taught poetry/creative writing in a variety of community settings, including libraries and Senior Centers, as well as facilitated writing groups.
Mara currently volunteers as a Literacy Tutor for the Alameda County Library and in the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop.
She’s been a member of TBT for over 15 years and has held various board positions for WTBT (including co-President) as well as TBT. Both of her children attended Gan Sameach preschool and had their b’nai mitzvot here.
Gan Sameach Preschool Director, Annie Jacob
Annie completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science from Delhi University. She then did her course work in Early Childhood Studies from Ohlone College, Fremont, and has thrived in the field for the last fourteen years. Annie obtained her Site Supervisor Permit and trained and honed the fine skills of her fellow colleagues and run a successful and flourishing childhood center. She is also a certified Professional Growth Advisor to early childhood teachers.
Annie is an ardent believer of “learning through play” by creating a rich and stimulating classroom environment. This curriculum helps in fostering the child’s emotional, social and mental growth. She believes in parental participation in classroom activities, and partnering with teachers to make the child a successful individual.
Annie is married and has two daughters. Her hobbies are solving crossword puzzles, cooking, and gardening.