Meet our staff

Our staff

The Oseh Shalom staff includes our Rabbi, Cantor, School Director, Office Administrator, and Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant. Our wonderful Office Administrator is your first stop for most questions about Oseh but feel free to contact any of our staff directly.

Rabbi Doug Heifetz

Doug Heifetz-sm2

Rabbi Doug Heifetz

Rabbi Doug Heifetz became the rabbi of Oseh Shalom in 2006. He collaborates with a team of dedicated lay leaders to offer a rich, accessible range of creative and traditional Jewish opportunities. He speaks and writes about spiritual, Jewish and social topics of interest, often including tikkun olam, social and economic justice, cultivating gratitude, environmental sustainability, wellness and health, and political reconciliation.

He has served as the Vice President of Programming for the Washington Board of Rabbis and on the Steering Committee of Interfaith Worker Justice Maryland. Together with Oseh Shalom, Rabbi Heifetz founded the Jewish Geography Facebook app for Jewish connectivity. He has participated in selective year long professional development programs such as Rabbi Without Borders, the STAR-PEER Executive Leadership Program for Rabbis, and Tzey U’lemad.

A 2005 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rabbi Heifetz benefitted from the constant support and nurturing of the College’s students, faculty and staff. He lived in Israel for over a year during his studies at the RRC; served as bet midrash intern, assisting rabbinic students in Jewish text and Hebrew study; and was elected student representative to the RRC Board of Governors.

He received several honors and awards recognizing his scholarship and commitment to social action. As a student rabbi, he served for two years as the spiritual leader of JRF Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Rabbi Heifetz received a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University, where he completed an internationally oriented liberal arts program, focused on Middle Eastern Regional Studies.

He also obtained a Certificate in Peace and Justice Studies. After graduation, he worked as a union organizer in Washington, D.C. and Kalispell, Montana, helping low-income working people to pursue social justice.

He lives in nearby Silver Spring with his wife, Elaine Lippmann, a public interest attorney, and their two children, Dalya and Judah. He is a dedicated Crossfit athlete who recently broke a Maryland state record in a powerlifting competition.

To reach Rabbi Heifetz, call the office at 301-498-5151 or email him directly at:

Rabbi Emeritus Gary Fink


Rabbi Emeritus Gary Fink

Rabbi Emeritus Gary S. Fink, D.Min., D.D., came to Oseh Shalom in 1980 as our first full-time rabbi. Under his leadership, Oseh Shalom’s membership grew more than threefold. In 2006, Rabbi Fink retired from the full-time pulpit to focus on pastoral care and end-of-life counseling, working with individuals and families experiencing life-limiting illness and bereavement, while remaining rabbinically and personally connected to our synagogue community.

A native of Baltimore, Rabbi Fink received his Bachelor of Arts degree with high honors from the University of Maryland in social psychology. He was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he received a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew Letters and was awarded a prize for highest academic standing. While at Oseh Shalom, Rabbi Fink earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Thanatology (the study of death and dying) from Hood College, and a Doctor of Ministry degree at the Howard University School of Divinity, concentrating in pastoral care and counseling. To mark his 25th year as rabbi, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 2005. Rabbi Fink and his wife Stephanie have a two grown children, a daughter Alia and a son Ari. To reach Rabbi Emeritus Fink, email

Cantor Charlie Bernhardt

Cantor Charlie Bernhardt with guitar

Cantor Charlie Bernhardt

Our cantor, Charles Bernhardt, has been singing at Oseh Shalom since 1983. His voice and guitar add spirit and joy to our services and life cycle events. Cantor Charlie draws on many aspects of Jewish musical tradition, including classical chazzanut, chasidic, Israeli, and modern American folk music, in addition to his own compositions as a recorded artist, to create an atmosphere that is both comforting and exciting.

“I cannot remember a time when I was not singing,” Cantor Charlie said. “For thousands of years, Jews have used music in their worship of God and to express the broad range of emotional reactions to the gift of life. We have been blessed with such a variety of Jewish music that I try to use as much of it as I can in our services.”

Recently retired from his “day job,” Cantor Charlie spent nearly 40 years as a union representative for employees of the federal government. Following his leadership, Oseh Shalom takes part in the nationwide “Labor on the Bima” program each September in which the Jewish community and the labor movement celebrate their common bonds of social justice, human dignity and fair treatment in the workplace.

Cantor Charlie lives with his wife Marilyn in Marriottsville, MD.  They have four grown children and two grandchildren, along with five grand-dogs and three grand-cats.  To reach Charlie, call the office or e-mail:

Religious School Director Renee Richards

Religious School Director Renee Richards

Religious School Director Renee Richards

Renee Richards, Oseh Shalom’s Religious School Director, was born and raised in Newark, Delaware, where she was a member of the Reconstructionist synagogue, Temple Beth El. After graduating from high school, she went on to Syracuse University to pursue a degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Religion. Renee later moved to Savannah, Georgia, to work as a newspaper reporter and TV News Producer. Returning to the Mid-Atlantic area, Renee continued her advancement in TV news by becoming the youngest executive producer of a top 20 morning program, The Morning Edition, with Don Scott and Marty Bass at WJZ in Baltimore.

In 2006, Renee returned to school to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an educator. She received her special education certification and has worked as a middle school teacher for 6 years in the Howard County Public School System. Renee has also been an active educator here at Oseh Shalom, teaching 6th grade and tutoring several students for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. She has worked to develop curricular standards, year-long experiential themes and electives that focus on Jewish identity and pride. Renee is currently enrolled in Towson University’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute, where she is working on advanced certification in Jewish Education. Here is a message from Renee:

There is an old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” However, there is an even older saying that can be found right here in Judaism, “And you shall teach your child….” It is such an important saying that we find it in our Torah, Talmud, Friday Evening Service and Saturday Morning Service. Oseh Shalom Religious School’s goal goes beyond simply working with families in performing the mitzvah of teaching our children. The school also aims to create a culture of Jewish Leaders who have confidence in their Jewish identity. Working as our own ‘village’, together we shall ‘teach our children’ and know they will have the necessary foundation to lead our traditions and values for generations to come.

Renee is a long time member of Oseh Shalom. She is an avid triathlete with her husband, Brian, and two daughters, Serena and Peyton.

To reach, Renee, email or call her at 301-498-7004.

Office Administrator

Our Office Administrator is your first stop for membership information, facilities questions and just about anything else to do with Oseh Shalom. Call 301-498-5151 or email

Audrey Klein, Bookkeeper

Bookkeeper: Questions about dues, donations or other money issues? Talk to Audrey Klein, our outstanding bookkeeper. She’ll solve your problems quickly and efficiently. Call 301-498-5151 or email

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