Administrative Staff

Debra Lytle, Synagogue Director

Originally from New York, Debra moved to Arizona in 2002 to attend the University of Arizona and study Judaic Studies, Sociology and Public Health. She started working at CAI in 2013 as a part-time receptionist, she’s since been promoted to Administrative Assistant, Congregational Services Coordinator and in January 2017 to her current position as Synagogue Director. Her duties include: responsibility for the synagogue's membership, dues, congregational events, room rentals, Kiddush and Third Meal sponsorships, event planning, High Holy Days tickets and seating, as well as managing administrative matters. She directly supervises the Facilities Manager, Food Service Coordinator and the Receptionist. She works closely with the Membership Dues Committee, the Community Engagement Committee, the Synagogue Life Council and with any fundraising efforts.


Rabbi Ruven Barkan, Education and Youth Director

Rabbi Barkan joined us as Education and Youth Director in August 2015 to head up CAI's Religious School and USY programs. A relationship builder, he focuses on developing a vibrant Jewish educational environment to nurture our congregation's youth and their families. With integrity, kindness and compassion, Rabbi Barkan is committed to making the treasure of learning Torah accessible to everyone. Rabbi Barkan was born and raised in Tucson and still has family here. Accepting this position is a "homecoming" for him after studying, teaching and serving in Jerusalem, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Savannah. Engaging, enthusiastic, open and accessible, Rabbi Barkan promotes building a solid foundation of tradition, and exploration for all to form a strong sense of Jewish identity.


Lynne Falkow-StraussLynne Falkow-Strauss, Preschool/Kindergarten Director

Lynne — daughter of Cantor Maurice Falkow (of blessed memory), who served the congregation from 1948 to 1989 — grew up in Congregation Anshei Israel. Upon graduating from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Child Development and Family Relations, she was hired to teach in the synagogue’s preschool. After three years, Lynne was promoted to Preschool/Kindergarten Director, a position she still holds. The school has twice received the "Solomon Schechter Award for Excellence" from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Lynne recently celebrated her 45th year with CAI.


Robert DietzSusan J. Kirschner, Finance Director

Susan came to CAI as Finance Director July 1, 2016. She has been involved in synagogue financial management and administration since 1996, and brings skills in financial management, budgeting, payroll, purchasing, membership development, fundraising/development and multi-fund endowment oversight. She has an excellent understanding of not-for-profit operations including working with independent auditors, investment advisors, insurance brokers and the banking community. She is proud of her interpersonal skills and the ability to work closely with lay committees and the Board in establishing and implementing sound and sustainable financial planning.


Yvonne Ethier, Communications and Marketing Director

Yvonne joined the staff in 2001 as Program Assistant and was promoted to the newly-created position of Communications Coordinator in 2004; then to Communications and Marketing Director in 2012. She is responsible for relaying Congregation Anshei Israel’s mission, values and programs to both its members and to the community. Yvonne handles the layout, production and distribution of the synagogue newsletter, event flyers, a variety of other publications, advertising, community calendar updates and intergrated marketing. She also assists committees and affiliates with their publicity, creates content for/maintains CAI’s web site, creates content for/monitors its Facebook pages, and creates copy and graphics for e-blasts and other digital communications.

Max Ellentuck, Food Services Coordinator/Ritual Coordinator

Max, a graduate of the University of Arizona with honors in Judaic Studies and Sociology, has served as Ritual Coordinator since 2006. As our Mashgiach, it is Max’s responsibility to ensure that the laws and standards of Kashrut, as set by Rabbi Eisen, are upheld. As the Hevra Kadisha Coordinator, Max liaisons with mortuaries and coordinates the volunteers who perform the Tahara (ritual washing of the deceased). He oversees food preparation for synagogue functions.