Rabbi Steven Folberg
Rabbi Steven Folberg is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Maxima Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. Rabbi Folberg received his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion In New York City in 1985. He has served on the national Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis as a member at large and has also chaired the CCAR Resolutions Committee. In April 2010, Rabbi Folberg was awarded an honorary Doctor Of Divinity degree in recognition of the 25th anniversary of his ordination. Rabbi Folberg co-authored Bright Lights in Dark Times, a Jewish history textbook for middle school and high school students. He is also proud to be a founding member of The Interfaith Environmental Network Of Austin, an organization that brings together individuals who see environmental stewardship as an essential part of their faith commitment.
Rabbi Folberg is an alumnus of Rabbinic Cohort 5 of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He is fascinated by the work being done on the intersection of Judaism and mindfulness practice, including meditation and yoga. He loves teaching students of all ages and especially cherishes the relationships that have developed between him and so many Temple families over his more than two decades serving Congregation Beth Israel. He is committed to the vision of CBI as a warm, welcoming, intellectually stimulating, nonjudgmental, intentional spiritual community devoted to enriching the lives of its members and working for justice and peace in the world.
Rabbi Folberg is married to Saundra Goldman, a writer, writing teacher and art historian. They adore their daughter, Shira, who was born in 2001.
For recreation Rabbi Folberg enjoys music and tinkering with stereo equipment. He is also a shameless computer geek.
Rabbi Kelly Levy
Rabbi Kelly Levy is thrilled to be joining Congregation Beth Israel this summer! Rabbi Levy was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2014 from the New York campus. Throughout rabbinical school, Rabbi Levy served as a student rabbi in Albany, Georgia, an intern in the Mt. Sinai Hospital Palliative Care Unit, a leader in the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen program, as well as teaching in different religious and Hebrew schools throughout the city. She began her rabbinate in Rochester, New York, where she served as the Assistant and Associate Rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh. During that time, Rabbi Levy focused much of her work on pastoral care, teaching both adults and children, leading worship for all generations, and creating innovative programs for the entire congregation and community.
A native of San Antonio (although she was born across the street at Seton Hospital!), Rabbi Levy is ecstatic to be returning to her roots in Texas. Along with her husband, David and their daughter, Ezri, their dog and cat, Frank and Bean, Rabbi Levy knows that CBI’s warmth, passion, and joy for Jewish living makes this incredible congregation and community the absolute best place to continue her rabbinate. Rabbi Levy’s door is always open and she looks forward to meeting the wonderful people who make CBI a true Kehilah Kedosha, a holy community.
Cantorial Soloist Sarah Avner
Cantorial Soloist Sarah Avner grew up in London, Ontario, and holds an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology from Centralia College. Sarah worked for several years as a Veterinary Technician in Brantford, Ontario. In 1998, her husband Jonathan started a job in Austin and the couple moved here. Sarah soon began volunteering at Congregation Beth Israel and in early 1999 she was hired as the Executive Assistant to the Clergy. In June 2002 she began work in the CBI Religious School office. Seven months later, Sarah, Jonathan and Jacob moved to southern Indiana to be closer to family. While in Indiana, she was the principal of the religious school at a small synagogue.
In 2006, the family moved back to Austin with their three children. Sarah began working as a monthly song leader at CBI’s Shabbat evening services in 2007. She began working in the Religious School office as the Education Coordinator in 2010 while continuing to provide music at Shabbat evening services. Sarah began her current position as Cantorial Soloist and member of the Clergy Team in 2017.
Sarah enjoys walking her Goldendoodle Lacy, swimming laps, and relaxing at the beach on Lake Huron—where her parents first met. She has been a member of the CBI community long enough to be proud of the members of her 8th grade Sunday school classes who have grown to become adults with careers and families, and to remember when members of the current Confirmation class were brand new babies. From teaching our youngest members to find a place for prayer in their hearts to hanging out with teens as they struggle with the some of the most challenging years of their lives to holding members close as they struggle with loss, she knows that every day she gets to spend as a member of the greater CBI community is a gift.