Rabbi Emily Barton


Rabbi Barton has been the rabbi of Tifereth Israel Synagogue since July 2017. She received her Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, in New York, New York, where she also earned a Master of Arts in Bible, a Master of Sacred Music and was a Gladstein Fellow in Entrepreneurial Rabbinics.  A former pastry chef, who worked for several years on both coasts of the United States, Rabbi Barton also worked as a chaplain for a year and a half in a Seattle trauma hospital shortly before rabbinical school.   Rabbi Barton holds a B.Com in International Business and a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University as well as a Baking and Pastry A.O.S. from The Culinary Institute of America.  She has served communities in Manhattan and the Bronx, Baltimore, upstate New York, Seattle and Beersheva, Israel.  Rabbi Barton enjoys leading Jewish communities through spirited, songful worship, and teaching Torah to adults and children in a variety of settings, including in the kitchen!  She is passionate about helping all Jews, young and old, navigate Jewish tradition and their own spiritual and religious journeys.

Lay Cantor Patrick Courtney


Patrick Courtney has served as the Lay Cantor of Tifereth Israel Synagogue since 2014, after having previously served the congregation as both Youth Director and Administrative Assistant. A native of Texas, Patrick has also lived and contributed to Jewish communities in California and Kentucky. Building on a self-taught foundation, Patrick has since studied Jewish prayer, ritual, and music with several rabbis, cantors, and professional Jewish musicians. Patrick has a deep interest in mystical Judaism and Jewish techniques of meditation and mindfulness.

Patrick’s Jewish story is relatively non-traditional; he grew up in a mixed-faith family, and his wife, Kara, is an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination and leads a local Christian congregation. As a result of this unique experience, Patrick has a deep interest in and commitment to interfaith dialogue and education. He teaches a class at Kara’s church and is a regular guest speaker at other houses of worship when he’s not serving as a teacher and songleader at Beit Sefer Shalom. He also sits on the board of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, an organization dedicated to inspiring and equipping people of faith to become leaders in finding solutions to climate change. Patrick and Kara have a two-year-old son, Aedan, and a second child due in the fall of 2016.


Cantorial Soloist Deirdre Farr


Cantor Emeritus Pinchas Spiro, z”l


Cantor Spiro received his Cantorial Ordination from the Jerusalem Cantorial Institute. He previously attended the Julliard School of Music and graduated from Syracuse University. Cantor Spiro’s musical talents placed him in the forefront of Jewish musical liturgy in the United States. Cantor Spiro served congregations in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Cleveland as well as authoring numerous books in the field of Jewish liturgical music. Among the major works that Cantor Spiro introduced to Tifereth Israel and the Des Moines community include: Retell the Story, a Hanukkah musical, the oratorios Haggadah and Havdalah, and the premiere of the Kristallnacht Oratorio Stars in the Dust.


Staff & Volunteers

Barbara Berven, Executive Director


Kristin Davis, Administrative Assistant



Executive Committee

Will Rogers, President
Jacob Lederman, Vice President
Margo Nechtow, Secretary
Aaron Beckerman, Treasurer

Board of Trustees

Harvey Giller, Past President

Robin Bear
Barbara Leventhal-Beckerman, Women’s League Representative

Gloria Bernstein
Jill Cantor

Marni Duitch
Josh Engman, Cemetery President

Deirdre Farr

Mollie Giller
Dory Goodman
Matthew Homonoff

Jody Jacklin

Nashi Khalastchi
Frank Marcovis

Michael Mintzer
Brian Pearl

 Justin Schoen
 Toni Urban
John Zieman