Clergy & Staff

Rabbi Marc Israel

Rabbi Israel joined the Tikvat Israel community in June 2019. He previously served as associate rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel–Beth El in the Philadelphia suburb of Wynnewood for 6 years. Before that he was the rabbi educator at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase for eight years.

Rabbi Israel graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1992. He earned his rabbinic ordination in 1998 from the Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion, and he joined the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in 2007. He has been a member of the R.A.’s Social Action Commission.

Rabbi Israel is married to Abbey Frank and they have three children. He is a sports fan, an avid supporter of all things University of Michigan and looks forward to attending some Washington Nationals games in his free time.

Contact Rabbi Israel by e-mail  at or phone 301-762-7338, ext. 115.

Rabbi Israel is using Calendly to schedule meetings. To schedule a meeting with Rabbi Israel click here.

Cantor Rochelle Helzner

Cantor Helzner has served the Tikvat Israel/Beth Tikva community since the fall of 1984. She was the first female cantor in a Conservative congregation in the Washington area. Since her appointment, she has inspired our congregation and the community through her davening, teaching and mentoring. Under her leadership, the congregation has established many programs that continue to fulfill the musical, educational and spiritual needs of the community, including a Purim puppet production, and a yearly innovative concert.

Cantor Helzner graduated from Douglass College, Rutgers University, with a degree in music, theater and art. Her cantorial training was received through apprenticeships with such notable hazzanim as Jeffrey Nadel, Arnold Saltzman, Max Wohlberg and Robert Kieval.

Contact Cantor Helzner by e-mail at or phone 301-762-7338, ext. 116.

Aaron Chusid, Executive Director

Aaron joined Tikvat Israel in early 2022. He is an experienced administrator with two decades of work in marketing and communication in the nonprofit sector.

Aaron spent the past 10 years as chief communications officer with the Boy Scouts of America’s National Capital Area Council, where he has led marketing teams, program membership, social media campaigns and media relations. Previously, he spent four years as operations and social media director for a product marketing and architectural technology. He also worked for a year as campus life director with Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Aaron served on the board of directors at Temple Beth Ami, a Reform congregation in Rockville, and chaired the synagogue’s 50th anniversary steering committee. He holds a master’s degree in organizational and interpersonal communication and a B.A. in speech communication, both earned at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Aaron resides in Gaithersburg with his wife and young son.

Contact Aaron by e-mail or phone 301-762-7338 ext. 111.

Debbie Ungar, Director, ECC

Deborah L. Ungar, an experienced Jewish educator, was named the director of the Tikvat Israel Early Childhood Center in Spring 2021. She comes to TI with 16 years of experience as a director of the Silver Spring Learning Center and 25 years in the field of early childhood education. She also taught kindergarten at Park East Day School in New York City for six years.

Debbie earned her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Yeshiva University and her master’s degree in education with a specialization in teaching science from Hunter College.

Debbie and her husband Michael have two adult children. She enjoys cooking and hiking and is an avid reader.

Contact Debbie by email or phone 301-762-7338 ext. 129