Leadership & Staff
Rabbi Andrea Cosnowsky was ordained in 2004 at Hebrew Union College and served as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim from 2005 to 2016.
Rabbi Cosnowsky is committed to strengthening Etz Chaim’s presence as the center of Jewish life in the western suburbs. She believes strongly in building community by connecting people to each other and to the traditions of Judaism, as well as by participating in outreach activities in the larger community. Rabbi Cosnowsky actively works to build bridges between people of all faiths and is active in DuPage United and in the Glen Ellyn Religious Leaders group. She also teaches an Intro to Judaism course at Elmhurst College as an adjunct professor.
Rabbi Cosnowsky utilizes her passion for music, teaching, and learning to help others see the world through a lens of spirituality. Her warmth and engaging presence, along with her willingness to embrace families and individuals including interfaith families, opens the door to Judaism in an accessible manner and invites others to explore their spiritual path.
Born and raised in Ardsley, New York, Rabbi Cosnowsky earned her BA in English Literature at SUNY Empire State College. Rabbi Cosnowsky also holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Xavier University as well as a Master’s in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Frederick Kamil grew up within Temple Israel of West Bloomfield, Michigan and was a camper and counselor at Michigan’s Tamarack Jewish Summer Camp. A graduate of Michigan State University, Rabbi Kamil was president of the campus Hillel and, after graduating, served as a program associate at the Hillel of Eastern Michigan University. From 2010-2015, Rabbi Kamil studied at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati where he received a Master’s in Hebrew Letters and was ordained in the spring of 2015. Rabbi Kamil has been a rabbinic intern and rabbi at Adath Israel in Cincinnati under the direction of Rabbi Irvin Wise.
Rabbi Kamil’s wife, Rebecca, is an Advanced Directive Specialist and Chaplain at the University of Illinois Chicago hospital. The two met over a Shabbat dinner in the summer of 2012 and married in August 2014. Rabbi Kamil enjoys running, backpacking, sailing, playing music, reading, and watching movies.
Cody Gierat is very proud to return to Congregation Etz Chaim after being a former congregant from 2009-14, where he was also heavily involved in the Adult Education Committee. After a formative six-year stint in the Pacific Northwest, he is also excited to return to his roots in Chicago and is even more thrilled with this unique opportunity of leadership as Office Manager to the synagogue.
As an alumnus of nearby North Central College in Naperville, he brings an array of marketing and non-profit experience, along with a highly-enthusiastic personality, as well as the joyous expressions of Jewish spirituality from daily living.
Finally, as he is a movie/sports buff (GO Pack GO & Fight Tigers FIGHT!), but also is an avid coffee consumer, so he hopes you’ll join him for a cup or three whenever you’re visiting the office.”
Mike Sawyer and his wife, Cynde, joined Congregation Etz Chaim in 1985. Their four children attended Etz Chaim’s religious school, and they had their B’nai Mitzvahs here. Three of their seven grandchildren attend our religious school. Mike and Cynde grew up in Chicago’s south suburbs. They moved to Downers Grove in 1979 and in 2001 they moved to DeKalb County. Although they moved away from the immediate area, they did not move away from the congregation where they raised their children and made so many friends.
Mike is retired from AT&T. He is a member of the Jewish War Veterans (JWV), and a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). Mike is also a hospice visiting volunteer and an 11th Hour volunteer. Mike recognizes his success as president at Etz Chaim depends on the many leaders and volunteers who make up the committees and are committed to keeping this congregation an active, positive Jewish presence in the community.
Marla Friedman recently became the principal of our religious school after teaching Hebrew to both children and adults in the school for 18 years. Providing engaging, meaningful and fun Jewish education has been Marla’s top priority since joining our staff.
Marla is originally from Glenview and attended Washington University in St. Louis for her Bachelor’s Degree and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration for her Master’s Degree. Marla lives in Glen Ellyn with her husband, Steve, and their three daughters, Emily, Molly, and Naomi. Marla loves being a part of the Etz Chaim community and is passionate about educating our youth. She welcomes your input and invites you to stop by anytime. Her door is always open.
Rachel Wood has been a member of Congregation Etz Chaim since 1979. She began teaching in our religious school shortly after becoming a member, initially teaching Judaica but then quickly becoming part of our Hebrew faculty. Rachel has taught 3rd grade Hebrew, developed a language lab class for learners with differences, and taught 6th grade Hebrew for 28 years. She has also been our B’nai Mitzvah tutor for over 28 years. Rachel is currently working as a mentor with Matan that supports Jewish institutions to provide inclusion opportunities for their students.
By profession, Rachel is a licensed Speech/Language Pathologist with an emphasis in child development and learning styles. She has worked in a variety of settings including public schools, private practice and early intervention programs. Rachel works with students who have learning challenges as our inclusion specialist. She supports teachers and teaching assistants who have children in their classes with diagnosed learning disabilities. She offers suggestions and materials for children who need to approach learning in a non-traditional manner. Learning opportunities are available for children within the context of their class as well as on an individual basis. The ultimate goal is to provide an environment where all children have the opportunity to be successful learners in our religious school.
Rachel also helps our adult community in meeting their needs including, but not limited to, providing a sign language interpreter as well as use of a CART system (closed captioning).
Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County, a Reform synagogue in Lombard, serves almost 500 families in the western suburbs of Chicago. We have a tradition of having an inclusive community which welcomes everyone- Jews by birth, Jews by choice, non-Jewish family members, singles, LGBTQIA2+ and people of all ages and abilities. We are a caring community that draws strength on our commitment to honor and respect the diversity of our membership.