Professional Staff

Rabbi Billy Dreskin

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Rabbi Billy Dreskin grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. His elementary education was acquired at Bond Hill Elementary School, after which he attended Cincinnati Country Day, then Crest Hills Junior High, and graduated from Walnut Hills High School.  After successfully de-matriculating from six weeks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he attended Brandeis University where he studied music, twice receiving the Reiner Prize in Music Composition, and graduating in 1980.  After two years in New York City pursuing an elusive career in musical theater, he entered Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1982.  During his years at HUC-JIR, his musical, “Personals,” opened off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theater (It featured Jason Alexander of “Seinfeld” and was co-written by his friends David Crane and Marta Kauffman who have recently finished their stint as Executive Producers of the hit television series, “Friends.” You can actually find the show’s poster, with his name listed in the credits, still hanging in the Minetta’s lobby!).  Billy is very happily married to Cantor Ellen Dreskin, and is the proud father of Katie, Jonah (z"l) and Aiden.

Associate Rabbi/Educator Mara Young

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Rabbi Mara Young grew up in Westfield, NJ. She attended Tufts University in Boston where she majored in Anthropology and Judaic Studies with a minor in English. She was ordained at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion where she also earned a Masters of Hebrew Literature and a Certificate in Education: Specializing in Adolescents and Emerging Adults. While studying at the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR, Mara was the rabbinic advisor at Occidental College's Hillel. Upon arriving in New York, Mara worked at the Union for Reform Judaism, Columbia-Barnard Hillel, The Jewish Home and Hospital, and Beth Israel Medical Center. Mara is the co-founder and former spiritual leader of a young minyan in Astoria, NY called the Wandering Jews of Astoria. She is an activie member of the Westchester Association of Temple Educators. In 2017, Rabbi Mara was honored as a "Young Pioneer" by the Jewish Education Project. Once upon-a-time intern at WCT, she oversees the educational program at Woodlands, including the religious school, experiential programs, and adult learning. Rabbi Mara is a passionate feminist and encourages learners to leave their own mark on Jewish tradition. Her whole family can be seen around temple, including her husband Mark and young children: Noah and Asher.

Cantor Jonathan Gordon

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Cantor Jonathan Gordon has served as the Cantor at Woodlands Community Temple since 1998, where he contributes to the atmosphere of celebration and participation that is Woodlands’ tradition. Jonathan chants and directs the music of the service with the keyboard and acoustic guitar.  Under his leadership are the many choirs and instrumental groups for both adults, teens, and younger students that meet during the year and perform regularly.  He directs the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program and individually tutors each candidate.

While at Woodlands, he has created additional musical programs, including The Woodlands Coffee House for acoustic music, an annual interfaith concert to honor Martin Luther King Jr., “In Praise of Freedom,” and a community Torah reading initiative.  Jonathan teaches classes in Judaica in the High School Academy, in our adult education program, as well as in the community.  His monthly bulletin article is of general interest, and has been carried by local and even national Jewish publications.  As a performer, Jonathan continues to sing concerts of Jewish liturgical and folk music as well as folk music of many traditions. 

 A native of Chicago, Jonathan, has a Bachelors of Applied Music in Voice from the Chicago Conservatory of Music, a Bachelor’s of Sacred Music and ordination with a Diploma of Chazzan from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Among these formative experiences Jonathan includes two years of service as Conscientious Objector to the war in Vietnam, studies at Antioch College, Ohio, as well as his work as reporter for a Civil Rights newspaper in Alabama and Mississippi, Jonathan studied voice with Antonia Lavanne of the Mannes School, New York, and was a guitar protegee of Dave Van Ronk, folk music legend.

 Jonathan is divorced, and has a daughter, Sarah Mina Gordon, who lives in Manhattan.  Before coming to Westchester, Jonathan served as Cantor of Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden, Ct., for 19 years.  He lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York, while his heart is often in Butternut Bend, his house on the Delaware River near Callicoon, New York.

Director of Youth Engagement, Tara Levine

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Tara is a native of Doylestown, PA. She recently graduated from Temple University's Honors Program with a degree in Strategic Communications and is the immediate past president of Temple's Hillel. Tara previously worked at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia where she was a youth group advisor, youth engagement coordinator, and community engagement assistant. She has taught Confirmation classes and recreated their Rosh Hodesh elective program. Tara is a long-time NFTY-ite, served as a Machon Kaplan Fellow at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and worked as a staff member at URJ Kutz Camp. Tara was also a NFTY songleader and continues to lead services in Jewish communities she is a part of. Currently a student in the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults program at Hebrew Union College, she plans to continue her studies in Jewish Education. She is passionate about Judaism and is committed to helping others find their own Jewish identity within our greater community.

Sh'liakh K'hilah Corey Friedlander

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Corey Friedlander, our Sh’liakh K’hilah (literally “messenger to the community”), can be seen leading services, life cycle rituals, and supporting our community and our clergy. He fondly remembers the influence of his beloved Rabbi Bernard Zlotowitz (z”l) at Union Reform Temple in Freeport, Long Island, where Corey was president of his temple youth group and active in LIFTY (now part of NFTY-NAR). Corey majored in Germanic Languages and Literatures and was a varsity fencer at Yale University, from which he was graduated magna cum laude with honors in the major eight years after entering, taking time off twice to learn the important lesson that being perfect was not a requirement for graduation or for life. During his time off, Corey worked in import-export and, dealing mainly with Latin America, added Portuguese to his knowledge of German and Spanish. Corey is currently a vice president at his employer of nearly forty years, a manufacturer of construction fasteners, having taken time off in the bookselling industry to manage bookstores in Tarrytown and Riverdale and to work as the Director of Professional Development and Education at the American Booksellers Association. Corey feels blessed to have found Woodlands as his spiritual home in 1996 and exceedingly grateful to have participated in the Sh’liakh K’hilah program, a joint two-year training program of the URJ, CCAR, and HUC-JIR that included intensive summer study at the seminary in Cincinnati, additional coursework, and rabbinic mentoring. Corey was certified in 2005 and has been joyfully serving the WCT congregation ever since!