Our Clergy and Staff

Rabbi Isaac Serotta

Rabbi Isaac Serotta has been the spiritual and scholarly leader of Lakeside Congregation since 1998. During his tenure Lakeside has grown from under 200 member families to nearly 300, without losing the congregation’s welcoming, close-knit community feel – a congregation where “Rabbi Ike” knows most members on a first-name basis.

Rabbi Serotta is committed in both word and deed to social justice. He is a strong advocate for civil rights, women’s rights, voter’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant and refugee rights. He is also active in interfaith dialogue, with service as past president of the Southeast Lake County Clergy Association and similar roles with the Greater Milwaukee Interfaith Council as well as the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He teaches regularly in interfaith study groups. Rabbi Serotta has served as the rabbinic vice president of the American Reform Zionist Association (ARZA), is on the board of the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, and is past president of the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis as well as the North Shore Chavurah of Rabbis. He has served continuously on the camp faculty at the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), the Reform movement's summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin for over 20 years.

At Lakeside, he leads weekly Torah study, teaches adult classes, works closely with the confirmation class and is actively involved in day-to-day activities from worship to social action to Shabbat services with our preschool (Lakeside Children’s Center), and so much more.

Rabbi Serotta studied for the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York. He was ordained as a rabbi in New York in 1988, and has served as a rabbi for congregations in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisconsin before coming to Highland Park. Prior to rabbinic training, he received a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education, taking courses at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and the University of Southern California. He grew up in Miami, Rabbi Serotta attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rabbi Serotta is easily approachable to both adults and children. He is passionate about sports, music and movies. Congregants consider him to be scholarly, highly personable and uncommonly kind and caring. He is married to Ceilanne Libber, and their three children have grown up at Lakeside Congregation.

Click here to e-mail Rabbi Serotta.

Vanessa M. Ehrlich, RJE, Director of Lifelong Learning

Vanessa Ehrlich brings decades of experience and an extraordinary passion for Jewish education to Lakeside Congregation. As our Director of Lifelong Learning since 1989, she expertly manages every aspect educational, social, recreational and enrichment programs for our lifelong learners. During her tenure, Lakeside’s Religious and Hebrew school have achieved accreditation from the National Association of Temple Educators three times – unique among North Shore congregations.

Vanessa’s belief that a Jewish education is a lifetime journey serves as the basis for our congregation’s robust Adult Education program, enriched significantly by her deep knowledge of contemporary issues in faith and religion. In addition to being integrally involved in the identification of quality speakers to support adult learning, Vanessa herself also teaches classes, conducts book groups, and takes an active role in our Adult B’nai Mitzvah classes. Moreover, she takes a leading role in planning educational trips that provide members opportunities to expound their knowledge and appreciation of Jewish history and culture in a variety of settinds.

Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Jewish Education from Spertus College, and continues her own educational quest by attending and planning ongoing professional growth courses for Chicago-area teachers and principals. Vanessa has proudly served as a summer camp faculty member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) every summer since 1989, and is an active board member of the ARJE (formerly National Association of Temple Educators)

With husband Arthur, Vanessa instilled the commitment to education in her own three children, all of whom became B’nai Mitzvah and confirmands at Lakeside Congregation. At home in Deerfield, she enjoys a relaxing swim, a challenging needlepoint project, or digging into a good book. 

If you want to explore the many educational opportunities at Lakeside, stop by Vanessa’s office. The door is always open, and the learning never stops!

Rick Schuster, Executive Director

Rick brings a unique blend of senior management experience and sustained passion for Lakeside Congregation to his role as Executive Director. Rick plays a crucial role in many of the vital operations governing Lakeside Congregation including overseeing administrative and support staff, strategic planning, budgeting, technology, facilities, maintenance, and implementation of new policies and procedures. Starting out with a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, he has followed a diversified career path with ownership and executive level positions focusing primarily on the sales, marketing and strategic planning aspects of closely-held enterprise. 

Rick served on Lakeside’s Board of Directors for nearly 12 years – including a term as Lakeside president – and then remained active on several committee assignments after leaving formal board appointment. He was very instrumental in establishing the popular Sunday morning Adult Enrichment program.

Rick and his wife Mary live in Deerfield. They have been Lakeside members for over 25 years and their two grown children, Ann and Ben, are confirmands of the Lakeside religious school program.

Click here to e-mail Rick Schuster.

Margaux Friend, Associate Executive Director

Margaux works with Lakeside’s Executive Director to oversee the day-to-day operations of the synagogue and ensure that clergy, staff and lay leadership have the support to function effectively in meeting congregants’ religious, social and community needs. In addition to handling the daily management of Lakeside’s fiscal and administrative affairs, communications, and safety of congregants, Margaux seeks to engage community members to become active participants in their own Jewish lives, build deep relationships, and connect to others through social, learning and spiritual practices of substance and meaning.

Margaux has over a decade of experience working with congregations, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and social service organizations. She has a Bachelor’s degree in history form Northland College, is a proud OSRUI alum, and participates as a member of the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) and the Chicago Association for Synagogue Administration (CASA). She is both a member and sustainer of Jewish Women International and JWI's Young Women's Leadership Network, focusing on educating the public on how to prevent and end gender-based violence. Last year Margaux took part in the Northwestern University and Spertus Institute Certificate in Jewish Leadership program, learning with Jewish leaders from all around the world. She is currently a member of NATA's Journal Editorial Board and was just named as one of Chicago's 36 Under 36!

Margaux lives nearby with her husband Ron, their three children and house full of laughter and love.

Rikki Carl, Graphic Designer

Rikki joined us in 2016 as Lakeside’s Graphic Designer and Administrative Assistant. Rikki has a Fine Arts degree focused on graphic design, and is a freelance designer when not working at Lakeside. Having grown up on the North Shore, she has a great connection to the Jewish community and has a background in Jewish studies. Rikki is devoted to helping others and bringing a creative and fun environment to Lakeside!

Click here to e-mail Rikki Carl.