Meet Our Staff
Rabbi Sari Laufer – Director of Congregational Engagement
Rabbi Sari Laufer was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles in May 2006. On the way to HUC, Rabbi Laufer graduated cum laude from Northwestern University (Go ‘Cats), and served as an Eisdendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. During her time at HUC in Los Angeles, Rabbi Laufer was awarded several academic prizes in Talmud and rabbinic literature, as well as HUC-LA’s Outstanding Female Student Award. In addition to her classroom studies, Rabbi Laufer learned from her student pulpits (in Bainbridge Island, WA; South Lake Tahoe, CA; and Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA), from her time as an educator at Camp Hess-Kramer in Malibu, CA, and from her summer serving as a chaplain at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. For the past 11 years, she has been an assistant and associate Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City.
A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Laufer was later selected for the PEER program through Synagogue Transformation and Renewal, for the inaugural year of the Rabbinic Fellowship for Visionary Leadership through UJA-Federation of New York, and was a member of the second cohort of CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship.
At Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Rabbi Laufer has worn many hats, but above all she has been a teacher of those young and young-at-heart, bringing her passion for rabbinic texts, social justice, and Judaism’s wisdom and relevance in the 21st century into the lives of those with whom she is privileged to learn and to share.
Sometimes—those students are under the age of 5; Rabbi Laufer is proud of the work she has done with young families in NYC, from Kabbalat Shabbat at RSS to building the early engagement experience from Tot Shabbat to a comprehensive program of holiday, Shabbat, and family celebrations, all centered around her relationships with kids and their parents. Sometimes—those students are teens; Rabbi Laufer has taught 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades in the Religious School, served as faculty for conclaves and teen trips, and built lasting one-on-one relationships with students, lasting through college and beyond. And sometimes—those students are adults; Rabbi Laufer is proud of the work she and her lay partners did on rebooting Sisterhood, building a dynamic and intergenerational conversation for the women of Rodeph Sholom. Rabbi Laufer was a popular teacher in the Saturday morning minyan, and also loved teaching parents and children together in preparation for b’nai mitzvah.
Rabbi Laufer is a sporadic blogger (torahblahnik.blogspot.com), prolific Tweeter (@rabbilaufer), wannabe runner, and aspiring epicure. She is joining the Wise Family along with her husband (and native Angeleno) Ben Cutter, son Jacob (Kobi), born in October 2013, and daughter Orli, who joined the family in October 2016.
Tatiana Soofer – Youth Programs Coordinator and Camp Wise Director
Tatiana is a Los Angeles native who grew up at Stephen Wise Elementary School, and is currently studying Child and Adolescent Development at California State University Northridge. Tatiana is the Camp Wise Director, runs the Camp Wise Youth Events, oversees the after school DK/Kindergarten Extended Program and Homework Club, supervises Madrichim in Religious School, and is the Youth Advisor and 7th grade Rosh Hodesh counselor for Wise Temple Youth. Tatiana has been working in the CYE since 2009 and is eager to continue getting to know all our campers, students and families at Wise.
Ashley Marx, MAJE – Director of Education: Religious School and Camp Wise
Ashley’s work at Stephen Wise Temple is fueled by her passion for creating community and fostering Jewish identity. Ashley has worked in a broad range of educational settings in the Jewish community, including Religious Schools, youth programs, day and overnight camp, and early childhood. Ashley came to Wise after graduating from Hebrew Union College, where she received a Masters in Jewish Education and a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Nonprofit Management. She also received a master’s concentration in Israel Education from the iCenter for Israel Education. Raised in Seattle, Ashley received her BA from the University of Washington in Early Childhood and Family Studies, where she graduated with honors. Ashley has previously worked as the Youth Advisor at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, Washington and while at Hebrew Union College interned with Temple Isaiah, supervising their madrichim program and worked with NFTY-SOCAL. When not sharing her love of learning with our Wise families, you can find Ashley running or enjoying the LA sunshine.
Melanie Fisher – Center for Youth Engagement Administrator
Melanie joined the Temple family in 2005 and has touched the lives of Wise members through her roles as a clergy assistant, Program and Communications coordinator, and even shofar blower. Melanie now calls the CYE home while supporting Religious School, Summer Camp, WTY, and Camp Wise Youth. Melanie is married to Lyle and together they have 2 children: Joshua, in 7th grade at Milken , and Rianna, in 5th grade at Wise School, both of whom can be seen throughout the year singing with Cantors Lam and Lutz. In her free time, Melanie likes to listen to music, cook, go to concerts, attend musicals, and explore our National Parks.
Dana Fridman – Hebrew Coordinator
Dana was born and raised in Jerusalem. She graduated with honors from David Yellin Teachers College in Jerusalem where she received her B.A. in education and she earned her Master Degree in Education at the American Jewish University.
She previously taught English to third through sixth graders in Israeli public schools. Dana learned French and Spanish, served in the Israeli army and received an award of excellence from the IDF for her service. Dana pioneered a new pilot program with Rabbi Melissa Buyer, utilizing an experimental Distance Learning teaching model and was presented a BJE Lainer Award in 2011. She currently teaches Hebrew at Stephen S. wise elementary school and is the Hebrew coordinator and the I-LEARN teacher at the Religious school. Dana also works for Los Angeles Hebrew High school.
Dana believes that each student is an individual and has a unique gift to offer the world. She believes in teaching her students according to their path and it is important for her that her students are happy and learn to think outside of the box, become positive, empathetic, appreciative, creative and self-reflecting. It is also important for Dana to pass on her love and devotion to Judaism, Israel, and Hebrew to her students.
Dana loves music and is a proud mother of Ariel and Daniel
Our offices are below the arbors across from Room 43.
In case of emergency during youth events, please callor 818.934.0824.