Temple Avodah, Oceanside NY

However you define your family,
we welcome you to ours

Our Professionals

Rabbi Goren and Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko lead the Temple Avodah Congregation. Photo courtesy of Milch Photography.

We are pleased to introduce the people that make Temple Avodah a warm, inviting and enthusiastic place for worship and for learning. Their dedication to Temple Avodah and the community inspires, challenges, and rewards those whose lives are touched. Rabbi Uri Goren and Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko are a great team, and Temple Avodah is proud to have them as our spiritual and educational leaders. Educational Director Phyllis Pellman and our teaching staff brings out the best in all our students, children, young adults and adults alike, as they demonstrate the very best by teaching the Temple Avodah family. Temple office staff Rochelle Sherman and Leslie Blumenthal keep Temple congregants informed and support the daily activities that make Temple Avodah a vibrant and enjoyable community.

Rabbi Uri Goren at Temple Avodah

Email Rabbi at RabbiGoren@avodah.org

Rabbi Uri Goren has been the spiritual leader and clergy of Temple Avodah since 1997. He was born and raised in Chile. He is a graduate of the University of Chile, where he studied and received his major degree in Occupational Therapy. In 1981, he attended Hebrew Union College. Following his ordination, Rabbi Goren relocated to Brazil, where he helped create the first Reform congregation in the country. His warmth, enthusiasm and strong religious convictions created the perfect foundation for the genesis of a new congregation which grew from 50 families to over 200 families in just four years.

Rabbi Goren came to the United States in 1991, when he became the Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Macon, Georgia. He and his family lived in Macon, Georgia for six years. It was upon the retirement of Rabbi Philmore Berger in 1997 that Rabbi Goren became our Rabbi of Temple Avodah of Oceanside, New York. Rabbi Goren, his wife Peppy, a Spanish teacher in the Oceanside School District, and their two sons, Gaddi and Avi, have been residents of the Oceanside community ever since their arrival on Long Island.

His role at Temple Avodah begins with his leading services, teaching classes and officiating at life cycle events, but extends to so much more. Rabbi Goren is active in facilitating the growth of Reform Judaism in our community, and his goal is to welcome us into the world of Reform Jewish living and to help us see our modern world through Jewish eyes. Through his engaging personality and his emphasis on social, educational and religious ideals, Rabbi Goren enhances how we express our Judaism. His services and sermons at Temple Avodah, whether traditional or eclectic, always speaks to the hearts of those in our community. Rabbi Goren offers Temple Avodah leadership, friendship and a spirit of giving from the heart.

Rabbi Goren engages the entire congregation on many levels. Teacher of both our Religious School children and in our Adult Education programs, he shares his knowledge and vast experience through the services that he leads, in the classrooms that he teaches in, and in his informal conversations at Temple. It is common to see Temple children approach Rabbi Goren to ask him a question and seek his guidance. It is equally common to see Rabbi Goren respond with his tender answers and always, warm smile.

For adults, he is equally known for his emotionally charged sermons that exude his spiritual strength, in part due to his dedication to challenging his physical and mental strengths through the art of Tae Kwon Do, in which Rabbi Goren holds a second degree black belt. Through his work with the Jewish Hospice of New York, Rabbi Goren makes himself available to those in dire need of spiritual comfort and relief, and his devotion to the community is evident in his work with the Interfaith Council where he explores ways in which to strengthen the Oceanside community as a whole.

To truly experience the modern world through Jewish eyes, you need only to attend a heartwarming Service with Rabbi Goren at Temple Avodah. From any of the Erev Shabbat services, to a wonderful Specialty Services (Rock Shabbat, Cookie Shabbat, Exodus Service, Pajama Shabbat, Casual Shabbat Barbeque) to a lecture or class led by the Rabbi, to an informal Temple dinner or social gathering, being together with Rabbi Goren and fellow congregants brings our Temple Avodah family close and strengthens our ties to Judasim and to each other. The congregation of Temple Avodah is honored to call Uri Goren our Rabbi.

Cantorial Soloist Jessica Gubenko

Email Jessica at JessicaGubenko@avodah.org

Jessica, as our Cantorial Soloist, performs all the vocalization in services at Temple Avodah.

Among many contributions to Temple Avodah, Jessica directs our Junior Choir, Teen Choir and our Adult Choir who sing at services and programs throughout the year. Contributions to Temple Avodah include having congregants enjoy a multi-generational Purim Spiel comprised of both the Junior, Teen and Adult Choirs, and Temple Avodah Religious School students, singing at many of our Services and Holidays, and singing at other events throughout the year.

The Junior Choir is comprised of students from third through sixth grades, and our Teen Choir has students in seventh grade through senior year of high school. Under Jessica’s leadership, Temple Avodah has seen the Junior and Teen Choirs grow from a handful of students to over twenty students. The Junior and Teen Choirs perform at Temple services several times a year, and especially at the Temple Avodah’s Rock Shabbat services. With the assistance of Temple members and our own mentor guitarist Tom Wieder, the Choirs perform at a local nursing home each year. Any student that wants to join the Junior or Teen Choir is welcome, and the students and parents of students are invited to contact Jessica; no special knowledge of Hebrew or music is required, only a desire to share your music with the Temple Avodah family is all you need.

Directing the  Adult Choir is another part of Jessica’s Temple life. The Temple Avodah Adult Choir holds a 30+year tradition of bringing song into the hearts of the congregation. Together with an accompanist, the Adult Choir rehearses every week, and performs at various Services and Holidays throughout the year. There is a Choir workshop held once a year which is open to the whole adult congregation to experience what choir rehearsals are like, learn a song, and experience the fun of Adult Choir. This spring, a special Choir event will be hosted by Temple Avodah with a special day of performances. Any Temple member is welcome to join the Adult Choir; no special knowledge of Hebrew or reading music is required, only an enjoyment of singing, and dedication to practice and to Temple.

Working with both the sixth grade small prayer classes, and in one-on-one teaching of Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, Jessica takes pride in the students’ level of preparation. She runs the Adult B’nai Mitzvah program, and teaches Adult Education classes. Past class topics have included: The Rules of Lashon Hara, a book discussion on Eli Weisel’s Night, Jewish Rockers, The (URJ) Union of Reform Judaism curriculum Divrei Shir, and the short stories of Nathan Englander. She also teaches on a variety of subjects in Kesher Kef, Temple Avodah’s own Hebrew High School held here at Temple Avodah.


 Religious School Education Director – Phyllis Pellman 

Phyllis Pellman was born and raised in Brooklyn.  She is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors; her mother was a hidden child in France and her father’s family escaped from Poland to Siberia.  As a child, she spent many summers in Israel with her grandparents who had made Aliyah after the war. Her time in Israel instilled a deep love for the country and Jewish culture. The stories she heard from her parents and grandparents laid the foundation for her desire to help at-risk and marginalized populations.  Phyllis went on to earn a Masters degree in Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania.  She worked as a psychiatric social worker for many years at Queens Hospital.

Raising her three daughters with her husband Elliot, Phyllis became involved in many Jewish communal organizations, leading her to receive a certificate in Jewish Family Education.  She served as the Family Educator at South Huntington Jewish Center for 18 years and as the principal of Temple Israel of South Merrick.

Phyllis loves to travel, read mystery novels and listen to Brazilian music.  She recently became a grandmother and her grandson Harrison is her new favorite extracurricular activity.

You can reach Phyllis by phone at (516) 766-6809, ext. 200, or email Phyllis at AvodahReligiousSchool@gmail.com


Temple Administrative Assistant – Leslie Blumenthal

Leslie brings the unusual mix of a background in Computer Science/Engineering, having started her career at Grumman Aerospace, and at significant work at several Jewish organizations, including the Jewish National Fund, JASA, and is now part of our Temple Avodah family. Her mission at Temple Avodah is simple – to keep us ALL organized, arrange for locations and setups of every event, work on an endless stream of special projects, to tend to the needs of our congregants and to serve as Rabbi Goren’s secretary/administrative assistant.

Leslie is always available to help you with your questions. Having Leslie as a part of our Temple family makes Temple Avodah the warm, welcoming place that it is! Leslie may be reached by calling the Temple office 766-6809 x100 or email Leslie at office@avodah.org.


Temple Office Manager – Rochelle Sherman

As Office Manager, Rochelle Sherman is responsible for the important task of bookkeeping; accounts payable, account receivable, and any financial matters required. Often, handling matters in the Temple’s Office is a task of balancing both the books and the needs of Temple Members and potential members. At the ring of the doorbell, or the ring of the telephone, she welcomes visitors who have inquiries, and congregants who have questions.

She is only a phone call away when you have a question, concern or need an answer about Temple Avodah. If you visit Temple, she is in the office to assist you. The Temple Avodah family is very fortunate to have Rochelle Sherman as its Office Manager.

Contact Rochelle at 766-6809 ext. 101 or email her at mgr@avodah.org



Choir Director – Susan Rogan

Susan Rogan is an accomplished pianist, vocalist, conductor, and composer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Barnard College and a Master of Arts degree in Music Composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. She is also ABD (All But Dissertation) at the Graduate Center at CUNY in Musicology and hopes to complete the dissertation to Ph.D.

In addition to her commitment to Temple Avodah, Susan is a music teacher in the Lawrence School District working alongside temple members Cindy Elias and Sharryn Friedlander. She taught chorus at the Middle School for nine years and is currently teaching music to future musicians at the #2 Primary School.

Susan married to her wonderful husband Jeff 18 years ago and has two sons named Lucas (13) and Leander (7). They live in their newly renovated home in South Hempstead. Additionally, they own a wheel alignment, auto repair and motorcycle repair shop in Island Park, called Limey Lucas Motors.

Temple Avodah is proud to have Susan and her talent for our Choir. To contact Susan, please contact the Temple Office and leave a message for her.