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 an assistant rabbi for a congregation 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 the chair of the Glencoe Clergy Association and is President of the Board of the JCUA. Rabbi Elder lives in Highland Park, IL with his wife, Rona, and their three sons, Joshua, Noah, and Eli.

Rabbi Elder can be contacted at rabbi@hakafa.org or 847-266-8854.

Rabbi Robert Marx (Emeritus)

Rabbi Marx is 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 has been 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 has been 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 is cofounder of the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues and serves on its executive committee.

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

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, has lived in Israel three different years of her life, and is an active volunteer for the Jewish summer camp where she and Rabbi Elder met and their children attend – Camp Young Judaea Midwest. Rona is married to our Rabbi, Bruce Elder, and lives in Highland Park with their three sons, Josh, Noah, and Eli.

Rona Elder can be contacted at admin@hakafa.org or 847-242-0687.

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 education@hakafa.org or 847-955-9980.

Sara Goodman, Music Director

Sara Goodman was born in Chicago and has lived in the Chicagoland area her entire life. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Art, from Northeastern Illinois University. Sara grew up at Congregation Emanuel in Chicago and spent eleven summers at the URJ’s Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute summer camp. She also spent eight summers in Israel as the Art and Music Director of Shorashim, a travel and camp experience for American and Israeli high-school aged youth. Sara began at Congregation Hakafa in 1988, teaching Hebrew through music, art and games. Since then, she has taught Hebrew across the grade levels and developed various creative-based learning curricula that are utilized throughout the school. Sara is passionate about instilling a love of the Hebrew language in her students. She strives to make the Hebrew learning process a creative, fun, and positive experience for the students. As Music Director of the congregation, Sara teaches music and prayer and helps lead congregational services on Shabbat, holidays, and for many life-cycle events. Sara also privately prepares students to become b'nai mitzva and teaches guitar and Hebrew. Sara lives in Skokie with her four children, Aviv, Elan, Ahava and Abir, her husband, Dan Meir.

Sara Goodman can be contacted at music@hakafa.org or 847-274-7166.