Our Rabbi and staff strive to inspire our Beth Israel
Congregation with their passion and love for Judaism.
Rabbi Jon Cutler
Rabbi Cutler, a native of Philadelphia, earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Temple University in Religious Studies. He earned a Master of Hebrew Letters and received his ordination as a Rabbi from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA. He then earned his Doctor of Ministry (Counseling) from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
On September 1st, 2015, Rabbi Cutler become the rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County and continues to serve the members of Beth Israel.
Rabbi Cutler’s extensive pulpit experience includes serving four congregations in his civilian career – Congregation Bet Tikva, Flemington, NJ (1993-1999); Congregation Tiferes B’nai Israel, Warrington, PA (1999-2007); Darkaynu, Warrington, PA (2009-2015); and an interim rabbi at Congregation Beth Hatikva (JRF) in Summit, NJ (2013-2014).
Rabbi Cutler retired (2017) as a Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserves after serving 32 years. He served on active duty for five years - Philippines, Camp Lejeune, NC and Japan.
As a reservist, his last assignment was Deputy Chaplain for the US Marine Corps (2015-2017) at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. He served as the Force Chaplain for Naval Sea Systems Command and as Deputy Force Chaplain, Commander Navy Installations Command in Washington, DC (2013-2015) and Deputy Command Chaplain for the US 6th Fleet, U.S. Forces Europe and Africa (2012-2013). In addition, he was mobilized to East Africa, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa as the Force Chaplain and Director of Religious Affairs (2011-2012); mobilized to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Al Anbar, Province, Iraq as the only Jewish chaplain for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (2008-2009); ministered to military and civilian personnel at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, after the September 11 attacks; and during Desert Storm with the First Marine Expeditionary Force and the only Jewish chaplain for Marines and Navy in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (1991).
Rabbi Cutler served as a hospice chaplain for Abramson Center for Jewish Life. He is an adjunct professor teaching Judaic Studies at Gratz College in Melrose Park, PA, Philosophy and Religion at Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, PA, and Counseling Psychology (graduate program) at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA.
He is a recipient of various awards, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), and the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards).
He is married to Thierry Steenberghs and has a son (Thomas), daughter in law (Crystal), a granddaughter (Ariel), and a step-son (Cedric).
Ali Katz, Religious School Director
Ali Katz, our Religious School Director, has always lived in the Philadelphia area and fell in love with Chester County while in college. She holds a Bachelor's degree in elementary education from West Chester University and a Graduate Gemology degree from the Gemological Institute of America.
She has taught all grades of religious school for more than twenty-five years, including two years here at Beth Israel. Prior to joining the Beth Israel community, Ali worked in local public schools as a substitute teacher in both special education and traditional classrooms.
Ali and her husband, Jeffrey, live in Malvern with their son, Danny. The Katz family is looking forward to getting to know everyone at Beth Israel and becoming a part of this wonderful community.
Chrissy Howard, Pre-School Director
Chrissy Howard, Director of Beth Israel Preschool and Kindergarten, holds Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She has acquired teaching certifications in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Delaware and has worked in Early Childhood Education for the entirety of her career spanning 15 years.
At the start of her career in education, Chrissy pursued the opportunity to work in a private school setting in order to use her education, experiences, and creativity to impact Early Childhood Education. The time in her field has given her the opportunity to create and implement educational experiences for young children that foster social-emotional development and a “hands on” approach to learning. Chrissy has devoted time to create curriculum that will provide children with the opportunity to create, explore, construct, and learn in a nurturing preschool environment. She has developed a passion and enjoys building a sense of community with the families attending Beth Israel Preschool while instilling the importance for excellence in Early Childhood experiences. By working alongside families, Chrissy helps to build a solid foundation as the child moves forward with their educational experiences. While working at Beth Israel Preschool, Chrissy has been given the opportunity to embrace the Jewish religion and traditions. Teaching these holidays and values in the preschool setting can provide a rich cultural experience that will benefit the child as they grow in a diverse society. Chrissy strongly believes that providing a nurturing social environment fosters independence and positive self-growth for children. When provided the opportunity to socialize and learn with their peers in a group setting, they are given the foundation to become life-long learners in a social-emotional world.
Lizzie Horne, Rabbinical Intern
Lizzie Horne is entering her final year of rabbinical school at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is passionate about building a feminist and anti-racist rabbinate.
After interning with Rabbi Arthur Waskow at The Shalom Project her first year, Bryn Mawr College Hillel her second year, Temple University Hillel her third year, and both Lions Gate Continuing Care Retirement Community and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association her fourth year, Lizzie is excited to join the team at Beth Israel of Chester County.
Prior to graduate school, Lizzie served as an American Jewish World Service Fellow in India working to combat domestic violence, sexual violence and child marriage; as Director of Enrichment at a school in the New York City public school system; and as Project Manager of Stardust Arts, a nonprofit that sits at the intersection of art and social justice. Lizzie moonlights as a community organizer, and spends the rest of her time outside of school soaking up as much of the outdoors with her partner, Eric, as possible.
She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in broadcast journalism and a certificate in African American studies.