Klei Kodesh (Leadership)
We call our central synagogue leadership “Klei Kodesh” (instruments of holiness). They each share the common agenda of the synagogue – to transmit the wisdom, ethics, beliefs and practices of Judaism to a variety of seekers. How the Executive Director helps someone register as a member explicates Jewish theology, how the President works with a board committee demonstrates Jewish ethics, and of course, our Rabbi and Cantor provide spiritual leadership to all.
Keneseth Israel’s rabbi since 2012, Rabbi Michael Wolk has long considered the synagogue to be his home away from home. As the son of a cantor and the grandson of a rabbi, his exposure to synagogue life began almost in the cradle. Rabbi Wolk began his Jewish education at an early age in one of Long Island’s premier Jewish Day Schools. His college years were spent at the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), earning degrees in both History and Talmud & Rabbinics, as well as rabbinic ordination.
Rabbi Wolk sees Judaism as an empowering religion because it gave him the ability to stand and speak in front of people with authority, and he strives to similarly empower both children and adults as a teacher and conveyor of Jewish knowledge.
In his free time, Rabbi Wolk is an avid jogger and squash player (although he’s always looking for a partner) and a lifelong suffering fan of the New York Mets. He will also admit to reading the occasional science fiction/fantasy novel. Rabbi Wolk is married to Heidi, and they have a 2-year-old daughter, Klara Rose.
Cantor Sharon Hordes received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Indiana University School of Music. She received her cantorial training through a joint program established by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Gratz College. In June 2002, she became the first cantor to become invested through the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Cantor Hordes served as cantor at Ramat Shalom in Plantation, Florida for six years. She relocated to Louisville, Kentucky — the hometown of her husband, George Schuhmann — to teach Hebrew & Judaica at Eliahu Academy. She became the cantor of KI in 2008. Her eldest daughter, Leah, attended KIP through kindergarten. She is excited that her youngest daughter, Melody, now helps her lead Kabbalat Shabbat for the rest of the preschool every Friday morning.
In 2011, Cantor Hordes performed at Mayor Greg Fisher’s interfaith service in honor of his inauguration. Cantor Hordes recorded her debut solo album of Ladino and traditional Sephardic music, Mi Coraçon Sopira, in 2015. She and her band, Transito, have performed at a variety of venues in the greater Louisville area. Her CD is available for purchase here, or through cdbaby.com.
Cantor Hordes is a member of the Cantors Assembly and the Women Cantors Network. She also serves on the board of the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville section.
Our Executive Director
Yonatan Yussman, Ed.D., is the congregation’s executive director with responsibility for working as a team member with clergy, other professionals, and lay leaders in building and managing the congregation’s resources. He is responsible for day-to-day operations, finances, administrative staff, and facilities, as well as managing relations with congregants and the entire community.
A native Louisvillian, Yussman left Louisville for college. He spent his first year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, then returned to the U.S. to earn his B.A. in psychology from Boston University. After BU, he immigrated to Israel, during which time he served in the Israeli Army, earned an M.A. from Hebrew University and studied for three years at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and later earned an an Ed.D. in educational leadership. He has also about 20 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in pluralistic Jewish Day Schools, and has collaborated with top leaders at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Bar Ilan University’s Principals’ Center and the Hartman Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.
He and his wife Lisa have three daughters, Gefen, 15; Aviva, 13; and Noa, 11.