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Marty Gilbert, Executive Director

Marty Gilbert grew up in Brooklyn, New York and has spent the majority of his adult life in East Brunswick, New Jersey. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English. Marty enjoyed a successful professional career as a general manager for various retail companies including Borders, Barnes & Noble and Target before becoming the Temple Administrator of Temple Emanu-El West Essex in Livingston, NJ, in 2014. Since 1971, the Gilbert family have been members of Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick, a congregation that Marty’s parents were founding members. During the past 35 years, he has served on a variety of committees and has been a member of the Board of Trustees. In 2014, Marty combined his lifelong passion as a Jewish lay leader with a new vocation as a synagogue professional. Marty and his wife, Lori, have already become part of our Etz Chaim family. They have three grown children living in the New York metropolitan area.

Debbie Deutsch, Director of Education

Debbie Deutsch received her B.S. in Special Education from Florida State University and her M.Ed. in Education Administration and Supervision from George Mason University. After enjoying a fourteen-year career as an educator, Debbie became our Preschool Director in 1995, and Religious Education Director in 2011. Here at Etz Chaim, she has created a warm and caring environment in which children progress at their own pace in a hands-on developmental program. Debbie hails from Bowie, Maryland and has the unique distinction of being one of our three-generational families at Etz Chaim. She is the ideal person to initiate our children into Judaism and its wonders!

Lauren Chernau, Assistant Director of the Preschool

Lauren Chernau received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Georgia. She taught in the public school system for 10 years before joining the Etz Chaim Preschool team in 2007 as a teacher. Lauren became the Assistant Director of the preschool in 2021. Lauren acts as a support for the faculty and families of the preschool focusing on curriculum consulting and teacher mentoring. In addition to being the assistant preschool director, Lauren is the Director of our preschool summer program called Camp Ruach! Lauren is a long-time member of Etz Chaim, dating back to the start of the synagogue. She lives in Sandy Springs with her son Mason, and she has two other grown children, Madelyn, and Grant.

Leah GreenDirector of Engagement and Youth Programming

Leah Green grew up in the walls of Etz Chaim and has spent most of her life residing in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is a Georgia College and State University graduate with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Economics.

For three years, Leah worked as a madricha in the Etz Chaim Religious School, an experience that she credits with sparking her interest in working with children.  She spent the last year as an assistant teacher for a three-year-old class at Wood Acres. 

Leah is excited to bring the same creativity and enthusiasm she learned in her professional life back to the synagogue where she was raised.


Aram Blankenship - Facilities Manager

Betsy Fitzwater - Office Manager

Christine Bezdek - Bookkeeper

Bernice Isaac - Communications Administrator/Digital Content Coordinator

Karen Chauvin - Administrative Assistant

Tiana Plendl - Department of Education Administrator

Allison Barchichat - Department of Education Financial Administrator

Sun, October 1 2023 16 Tishrei 5784