MICHAEL KANCHER, Executive Director
SHERYL SACHAROFF, ED.D, Director of Education
Dr. Sheryl R. Sacharoff was named Director of Education at The Steinmetz Family School of Chai at CRJ in 2009 after previously holding several other roles within the school, including touching the lives of numerous CRJ students to this day as a tutor in the b’nai mitzvah program for more than a decade. Her experience as an educator for more than 36 years has fueled her passion for helping children to become creative and critical thinkers who are self-confident and caring individuals. Previous roles she has held include educational director of a residential program for at-risk adolescents, teacher of special needs students in an inner-city public middle school, and Modern Hebrew I and II instructor at Rollins College. Sheryl has also taught in adult education at Congregation of Reform Judaism and currently in addition to her role as Director of Education is delighted to oversee CRJ’s Chai’er Learning adult education program.
Sheryl earned her Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s Degree in Education from University of Massachusetts Boston and a Bachelor in Education from Bridgewater State College. Dr. Sacharoff is a member of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. Her involvement in Orlando’s Jewish community includes chairing the Yom HaShoah Commemoration for the Maitland Holocaust Center, speaking at community programs, as well as being an active member of Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s Jewish Teen Education Network (JTEN). Through her involvement with JTEN, Sheryl has obtained two grants for teen educational programming at CRJ.
Sheryl is married to Dr. Alex Sacharoff, a Past President of CRJ, and they have two incredible sons.
LAUREN OBACK, Director of Youth & Experiential Education
Lauren’s passion for informal education and youth engagement began as a child. This passion grew and developed into her career in 2007 when studying exceptional student education. Prior to joining the Congregation of Reform Judaism community, Lauren served as Director of Youth and Family Programming and Camp Director in Parkland, FL and Coral Springs, FL.
In addition to running 6 fabulous youth groups at CRJ, Lauren is also the Director of YALA – CRJ’s confirmation program for teens is 7th-12th grade.
Lauren is looking forward to enhancing CRJ’s already full programming calendar, as well as bringing new, innovative and diverse programming for congregants of all ages!
Lauren and her husband, Michael, have been married for almost 4 years and have a dog named Lola. They enjoy cruising, traveling, tennis and spending time with their family. Spare time is spent enjoying sushi, anything and everything Harry Potter and video games!
BLAINE SMITH, Youth Director
Blaine is entering his third year at CRJ. The past two years he has worked as a youth advisor with all of CRJ’s youth groups. His experience in Jewish youth engagement started at Congregation Kol Tikvah in south Florida, where he worked anywhere from a camp counselor to a fourth grade religious school teacher. He learned many tools on the way that he looks forward to using in the upcoming year.
Blaine grew up in Oviedo, Florida. While growing up, he was a member of Temple Shir Shalom, which is where he became a Bar Mitzvah. After he graduated from Oviedo High School, he attended Florida Atlantic University, where he studied political science. Throughout his undergraduate years, he worked at Congregation Kol Tikvah as a youth advisor and felt very passionate about it as soon as he started.
This upcoming year, Blaine is excited to keep up the growth of all of the youth groups and will bring some new creative ideas to the youth groups. He hopes to continue the wonderful growth the youth department has seen over the past 2 years.
When Blaine is not at CRJ, he enjoys going to the gym, playing basketball and hanging out with friends. He is a big fan of cruising, hibachi and all sports.
JULIE BEGANI, Events and Marketing Manager
Julie Begani has been in the Orlando Community for over 14 years. As a graduate of the University of Central Florida she was very active in Central Florida Hillel which opened many doors within the Orlando Jewish Community. She went on to work for multiple agencies in Orlando including the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center. Julie came to CRJ in 2012 as the Program Director before transitioning into her current role as the Events and Marketing Manager where she focuses on marketing, membership, and fundraising for the temple.
Julie is married to Christopher and they have two sons, Benjamin and Joseph.
KAITLYN DUNN, Early Learning Coordinator
Kaitlyn, born and raised in Central Florida, grew up attending the JCC in Maitland. Through her exposure to Judaism, she cultivated such a strong connection that as a young adult, she began the process of converting to Judaism. Kaitlyn was eager to continue her Jewish education after completing the conversion process and joined a B’nai Mitzvah class, where she completed her Bat Mitzvah.
Growing up, Kaitlyn always had a passion for education. She began teaching and growing two youth theatre programs 6 years ago at the J and a private school in Longwood for children ages 2-12. After two years of growing these programs, she began working as a classroom assistant at a preschool, working with infants – age 4. She graduated from the University of Central Florida, GO KNIGHTS, earning a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education. Kaitlyn is excited to bring her experience with theatre, education, and Judaism to life in CRJ’s Early Childhood Program. It brings her such joy to foster a love for Judaism in future generations.