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Meet Hakafa's Staff

Rabbi Bruce Elder

Rabbi Bruce Elder was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He graduated from Indiana University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor’s degree in History and Psychology with certification in Jewish Studies. Upon graduation, Rabbi Elder moved to Chicago where he worked for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), a Jewish social justice organization dedicated to empowering Chicago’s diverse communities. His work at the JCUA led him to become a rabbi. He entered Hebrew Union College, the Reform movement’s theological seminary, and was ordained in 1996. He served as Assistant Rabbi for Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey before moving back to Chicago in 1999. Rabbi Elder served as associate rabbi of Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, IL and again on the staff of the JCUA until assuming the position of Rabbi at Hakafa in 2002. He currently serves as Chair of the board of Second Nurture. Rabbi Elder lives in Highland Park, IL with his wife, Rona. They have three adult sons: Joshua, Noah, and Eli.

Rabbi Elder can be contacted at

Rabbi Anna Calamaro

Rabbi Anna Calamaro (she/her) was born in Wilmette, IL. She completed her undergraduate studies in 2014 at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus, in Jewish Studies. Anna worked for four years for Metro Chicago Hillel as Director of Engagement and Jewish Life, serving students on college campuses throughout the city. In 2018, Anna received her master’s degree in Jewish Experiential Education from Hebrew College.  Deciding to pursue the rabbinate, she continued her studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and was ordained in 2023. Anna was a Fellow with T'ruah, Bend the Arc, and the Joint Distribution Committee. As a rabbinical student, she served the communities of Congregation Shir Ami in San Francisco, Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, and Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Her passion for empowered reproductive justice and Jewish ritual gave birth to TzimTzum Doula, where Anna supports birthers through Jewish spirituality. Anna's rabbinate is rooted in her commitment to tikkun olam, community building, inclusivity, dialogue, and innovation. In her free time, Anna enjoys taking far too many pictures of her husband, Yaakov, and their adorable son, Solomon. 

Rabbi Calamaro can be contacted at

Rabbi Robert J. Marx, ז"ל 

Rabbi Marx was the founding rabbi (1983) of Congregation Hakafa. Rabbi Marx served as rabbi of Congregation Solel in Highland Park, Illinois from 1973 to 1983 and prior to that was on the staff of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, serving in progression as director of the Ohio Valley Council, the Chicago Federation, and the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues.

In addition to his rabbinical duties, Rabbi Marx was Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University from 1965 to 1971 and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Spertus College.

Rabbi Marx founded, directed, and served as the first president of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a prominent Chicago organization dedicated to bringing the commitment of Judaism to the problems of the inner city. He was the president of the Inter-Religious Council on Urban Affairs, the chairman of the Chicago Academy of Religion and Mental Health, the honorary chairman of the Illinois Committee to abolish Capital Punishment, and officer and founder of the Chicago Conference on Religion and Race. Since its creation, he was a board member of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. He served as the Jewish chairman of Chicago's Black-Jewish Dialogue. Rabbi Marx was a member of the board of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and was chairman of its education committee. He was co-founder of the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues and served on its executive committee.

Many years ago Rabbi Marx convened a self-help group, Parents Who Have Lost a Child, and he continued to help parents who have faced this tragic loss throughout his life.

Rona Elder, Congregation Administrator

Rona Elder has been our Congregation Administrator since 2007. Prior to taking this position, Rona served as Hakafa’s Assistant Director of Education for seven years. And, her position today incorporates both administration of the Congregation and the Religious School. Rona has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Certificate in Jewish Studies from Indiana University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University. She has taught various grades in both Israel and Cincinnati, Ohio. Rona grew up in Columbia, Missouri and Wilmette, Illinois, and is a graduate of New Trier High School. She has extensive experience in Jewish education, was active in the Young Judaea youth movement throughout her life, and has lived in Israel three different years. Rona is married to our Rabbi, Bruce Elder (who she met at Camp Young Judaea Midwest at age 14), and lives in Highland Park. They have three adult sons: Joshua, Noah, and Eli.

Rona Elder can be contacted at

Bibi Patt, Director of Education

Bibi Patt was raised in West Rogers Park by immigrant parents who provided a rich Jewish background and exposure to many languages including Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish, as well as an appreciation for Judaism as a religious and cultural experience. Bibi spent many summers as a counselor and song leader at Camp Shomria and was a leader in the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist Youth Movement. Bibi was also a song leader at OSRUI and led a group of high school students to Poland and Israel through the Shorashim organization. Bibi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Illinois and a Master of Education degree in Community Counseling from Loyola University. She worked as a Career Counselor at the Jewish Vocational Service and then as a High School Guidance Counselor at York High School in Elmhurst, Il. Bibi has been teaching at Hakafa since 1989. She has taught Hebrew, Music, Yiddish Chug, Jewish Music Chug and the Sacred Choices workshops for sixth graders. In 1999, she became Hakafa's Director of Education. She is dedicated to providing students with a solid Jewish religious education as well as exposing students to a rich Jewish cultural experience at our Religious and Hebrew school. Bibi is a vocalist with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and also performs extensively on her own. Bibi is married and has three children.

Bibi Patt can be contacted at

Wed, June 19 2024 13 Sivan 5784