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Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in June, 1995. In July of 2002 he began his tenure as the Senior Rabbi of Am Shalom.

Prior to Am Shalom, Rabbi Lowenstein spent seven years as the Associate Rabbi, with a full range of rabbinic responsibilities, at Temple Sholom of Chicago, the largest Reform congregation in Illinois. Rabbi Lowenstein has a wealth of experience in rabbinic and pastoral service. He is a talented chaplain, preacher and youth worker with experience in Jewish camping, and has worked with senior members of the temple on issues regarding adulthood and aging. During rabbinical school, Rabbi Lowenstein was spiritual leader for congregations in Ohio, Michigan, and Oklahoma. He has also developed and taught high school and religious school courses in many areas of Jewish life.

Rabbi Phyllis Sommer served Am Shalom as Associate Rabbi since 2003, and became Director of Congregational Learning in 2014. She is a native of Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2003, and in addition to Am Shalom has served congregations in New Iberia, Louisiana and Billings, Montana.

Rabbi Phyllis is passionate about Jewish life and learning... and baking... and technology... and reading... and quilting... and posting regular (!) updates on Facebook... and pretty much everything! She spends part of every summer on faculty at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, where she also leads a well-attended spring quilting retreat for adults. She has blogged the Exodus at, and the ins-and-outs of balancing her life as Rabbi, wife, and mother of four as Ima On and Off the Bima: Real-Life Jewish Parenting and Living (

Rabbi Pam Mandel has served as an associate rabbi at Am Shalom since 2012.  Rabbi Mandel is involved in all aspects of congregational life, though she works closely with our families with young children.  She coordinates the Tot Shabbat and Young Families programs.  She is passionate about finding creative ways to bring these families closer to Torah and one another.  She is also excited about spiritually engaging her peers.  She helped develop the Am Shalom Young Adults group, which keeps young adults who grew up at Am Shalom connected to Judaism and their temple family. 

Cantor Andrea Rae Markowicz is the Senior Cantor of Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois. Ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, she has an extensive background in secular and liturgical music, as well as Jewish and Israel education. She holds a Master of Sacred Music from HUC-JIR, a Master of Music from The Cleveland Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music from University of Michigan, both in Voice Performance. Cantor Markowicz is a proud member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), Reform Cantors of Chicago (past president), Actors Equity Association (AEA), and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA).

Before joining the clergy team at Am Shalom, Cantor Markowicz was a Cantorial Soloist/Intern at various congregations including Central Synagogue of New York City, Temple Beth Or in Montgomery, AL, Temple Beth Shalom in Annapolis, MD, and Agudath B’nai Israel in Lorain, OH. While living in Israel, she developed close ties with independent congregation Beit Tefilah Israeli in Tel Aviv, participating in various Shabbatot over the last 9 years; as well as Ohel Avraham in Haifa, an Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) congregation for which through DOMIM-aLike, she is pioneering the first musical partnership. She also continues to collaborate with composers and performers of new Israeli progressive liturgical music.

Cantor Julie Staple

Cantor Julie Staple is excited to be the first associate cantor of Am Shalom. Ordained in the spring of 2018 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York, Cantor Staple holds a Master of Sacred Music from HUC-JIR, a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies with minors in Music and Folklore/Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. 

During her years at the HUC-JIR, Cantor Staple served as student cantor at Congregation Rodeph Sholom (CRS) in New York City and Temple Beth-El of the Northern Valley in Closter, NJ. Some of her favorite performance moments include leading the CRS Children’s Choir in concerts with Itzhak Perlman and Mandy Patinkin. While in college, Cantor Staple sang and toured with Hooshir, Indiana University’s premier Jewish a cappella group, and led worship at the Helene G. Simon Hillel center. She has also performed and recorded with IndyKlez, Indiana’s premier Klezmer band. 

In Cantor Staple’s last two years of cantorial school, she discovered her passion for working with individuals with dementia. She assisted Rabbi Michael Goldman of Seivah: Life Beyond Memory in creating the first Memory Minyan, a Shabbat experience for individuals with dementia and their caretakers. These unique experiences gave Cantor Staple a vast array of knowledge in teaching, leading prayer and life cycle ceremonies, synagogue life and pastoral care.

Cantor Staple is a proud member of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) and Reform Cantors of Chicago (RCC). She lives in Deerfield, IL with her husband, Harrison Staple, and their two cats, River and Beatrice. 

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784