Humans of Beth Am

God made man because he loves stories. – Elie Wiesel
Humans of Beth Am is intended to bring to light the tapestry of unique stories that exist within our community, and illustrate how people’s genuine, and sometimes vulnerable stories, can be such a powerful tool for creating connection. Please use these stories to reach out, spark dialogue, and build community.

Michael Rubin

Michael Rubin's life path began at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital. He grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Willet street in the Co-Ops across from the Bialystoker Synagogue, an orthodox community founded in 1878. The synagogue was originally built in 1826 as the Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. A door off the balcony purported to conceal a hiding place for escaped slaves. The synagogue bought the building in 1905, and is now designated as a New York City Landmark and contains a very active and growing congregation. Michael went to a Solomon Schechter Day School........READ MORE

Natalie Weiss

Meet Natalie Weiss, our new (but very familiar) Director of Admission and Membership.

Natalie started her exciting journey on July 1, 2020, in a position that TBA leadership created for the first time ever-- a bridge between the school and the shul. Not only is Natalie enthusiastically embracing the challenge of defining this new role, she's embracing an even bigger challenge-- navigating a very relationship-oriented position during a time of social distancing.......READ MORE

Sophia Yassinger

Some say that to be Jewish is to ask questions. Sophia Yassinger—one of TBA's teens--is a bright and passionate seeker and not afraid to challenge life's toughest questions.

Sophia is a rising sophomore in high school at Marlborough in Los Angeles. Her very first experience in a school setting was at the Early Childhood Center (ECC) of Pressman Academy, where she built some of her strongest and most lasting friendships......READ MORE

Michelle Becker

Michelle Becker has always been extremely proud to be Jewish and committed to the community.

Born in Skokie, Illinois, her family moved to the Pico/Roberson area in Los Angeles when she was a year old. But when her father read a tiny ad in the paper about Thousand Oaks, a developing community, it ultimately became their home.

Her parents were committed to providing a strong Jewish life for Michelle, and her sister Bev. They immediately became members of Temple Etz Chaim, a small but growing Conservative Temple, which initially held services in a Church.....READ MORE

Dr. Michael Berlin

As with many journeys from Brooklyn to Hollywood, there's a story.

Dr. Michael Berlin had assumed while growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn that everyone in the world was Jewish, Irish, or Italian. While walking home from Hebrew school during Hanukkah or Christmas time, he would see windows filled with either menorahs or Christmas trees all along the block. As a young boy, Michael felt surrounded by Jews and the feeling of Jewishness. He had the kosher deli and the appetizing store, where he could buy pickles from the barrel for 5 cents each. He'd buy Wise potato chips and cover the outside of the bag with deli mustard to dip the chips in. There was sturgeon and whitefish, and the local Jewish bakery and candy store. He felt very comfortable and safe, and that being Jewish was a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. It was only years later that he came to realize how segregated his predominantly white neighborhood was (and isn't proud of it)....READ MORE

Henry Morgen

Henry Morgen was born and raised in Tucson, AZ, where he spent his first 22 years of life. He grew up in a reform community but only started to feel connected and excited about Judaism through Jewish summer camp at Camp Swig in Saratoga in his teens. One summer, he decided to change his perspective from not believing in God to being Agnostic. He reached the conclusion that regardless of what he believed, it would be best to behave as if there really was a God. This perspective resonated with him and made him feel more positive about the interactions he had with others...READ MORE

Michael Steuer

Michael Steuer and his wife, Laura Wasserman, made their way to the United States from the Netherlands in 2004. Michael grew up in a small Jewish community in Amsterdam where he went to Jewish day school from 2 -18 years old. He was active in local Jewish organizations including youth movements, students organizations, and so forth. He is the child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors. Growing up as a Dutch Jew in Amsterdam, the Shoah was/is something that is ever present. All the younger generations, including his classmates, were the children or grandchildren of survivors....READ MORE

Vared & Dov Hopenstand

Vered and Dov Hopenstand first came to Temple Beth Am 41 years ago for a baby naming party they were having for their daughter, Dafna. They ended up joining a few years later, thanks to the persuasion of Rabbi Joel Rembaum. Vered had been teaching many courses at the University of Judaism (before it was American Jewish University) and was teaching a literature class in one room. Rabbi Rembaum was teaching a class next to her, and next to him was Rabbi David Wolpe. They would all talk, and Rabbi Rembaum told her that she should come to TBA and she did...READ MORE

Rabbi Jackie Redner

It has been my honor and privilege to serve as rabbi in residence at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services at 3200 Motor Avenue in Culver City for the past 14 years. For me, Vista is like a hidden treasure in the Jewish community. The work done within its gates is holy. The children we serve on our campus or in our various programs may have special needs, may suffer from severe abuse or neglect, or are with us because of parental drug use or incarceration, and of course homelessness and poverty. Most find us in a time of despair. In my first few days on campus...READ MORE

Dr. Barbara Breger

Barbara Breger (also known as Dr. Barbara) is a 3rd generation San Franciscan. She has been in Los Angeles since the mid-80's, but will forever be proud of her roots...READ MORE

Bernie Goler

Bernie Goler's nickname is Memphis because he is from there and proud. Bernie gets excited meeting other Southerners out here in California, and especially when they are Memphian's!....READ MORE

Lia Mandelbaum

Lia grew up in Tampa, Florida, a predominantly southern Baptist community. While it was a white, affluent environment it wasn't very accepting of others and she didn't always want her Judaism broadcasted. She felt like she was "floating" with many identities trying to find her truth....READ MORE

Inez Tiger

Please click HERE to access.At the age of 26, Inez Tiger had been a 3rd grade teacher and administrator at a school in Koreatown, and found herself at a crossroads with her career path. The 1992 Los Angeles riots were happening and there was a major outbreak of violence, looting, and arson due to racial tensions between the LAPD and the city's African Americans. The racial tensions in LA triggered a lot of fears she experienced while growing up in South Africa...READ MORE

Naomi Cohen

Naomi Cohen is originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts; the city where you will find 163 colleges within a 100-mile radius. She was born in Cambridge and spent a couple years in Miami, and then moved on over to the Golden State at the age of 10. She lived in Orange county from 10-18 yrs. old, and then headed to San Diego for both college and law school.......READ MORE

Jane Willoughby

Jane Willoughby is a real mover and shaker in the Temple Beth Am community. She is currently the Director of Programming for the Sisterhood and Educational Programming for the Library Minyan. When she and her husband, Ingram, joined Beth Am in August of 2018, Jane wanted to be very intentional in finding ways to get involved and meet people......READ MORE

Jerry Krautman

Jerry Krautman has been a member of Temple Beth Am since 1995. His wife, Jackie Weiss, who is originally from England, became a member after they got married in 2011. They met online while she was living in England, and they dated over skype. You will always find them in the front row of Library Minyan services.....READ MORE

Arielle Elkoby

If you're looking for Arielle Elkoby, know that she's on the first floor of Pressman Academy in the office right behind the fish tank. Behind her desk, you'll find the office of ECC Director, Angie Bass. Although she's the Assistant to the ECC Director, she is basically the assistant to the whole 1st floor....READ MORE

Susan Nemetz

Temple Beth Am has been Susan's home away from home for the past 27 years. She was born and raised in Toronto Canada, which she describes as a safer and smaller New York City but with gentler and kinder people...READ MORE

Ronna Sundy

Ronna Sundy is everywhere at Temple Beth Am. She's been the event coordinator and chief bottle washer for 22 years, often meeting with temple members planning their major simchas and other lifecycle events.

Ronna grew up in a tight knit Jewish community in Chester, Pennsylvania. She went to Akiba Academy,....READ MORE

Rolando Germon

Rolando is one of our friendly gatekeepers of the upper lot of La Cienega Blvd., standing with a clicker in one hand and a walkie talkie in the other. You'll often find him running around navigating cars like a big jigsaw puzzle....READ MORE

Edy Reyes

Edy Reyes has been an important member of the community as one of our security guards since 2017. He is one of the first friendly faces you see when you enter our building. Before working at Temple Beth Am, he worked at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 9 years as security and other various roles. He found it to be an interesting job and met all sorts of celebrities and even got to walk the red carpet...READ MORE

Larry and Diane Herman: Is this our final stop? Who knows?

The Jewish community in Mozambique was growing during this time with Diane and me serving as the lay leadership. We reestablished the formal community as Honen Dalim -- Comunidade Judaica de Moçambique, restored the historic synagogue dating from 1926, celebrated a number of bar and bat mitzvas, a wedding, births, conversions, and welcomed the return of the community's Sefer Torah. ...READ MORE

David Kaplan: Making a Minyan

I believe in prayer and I think it's important for people to have a place to pray. That's why I serve as gabbai for the daily morning service at Temple Beth Am, as well as for the afternoon/evening service... READ MORE

Henny Moed Roth- Just a Jewish Girl

"The most important factor in our lives is our family. Cherish them, good and bad, for better or for worse. In the final analysis, family is all that matters." -Henny

David and Neftali Galdamez

My grandfather, Neftali Galdamez, is my role model because he's everything to me. He's my grandpa, my dad, my best friend and my therapist...READ MORE

Aaron Asher

It is a Judaism that has maintained traditions of soft matzah, eastern melodies for Torah readings, unique Ketubot, and encouraged dialogue with their religious neighbors and easy conversions to Judaism. Slowly but surely I found my heritage in Judaism again, one that finally felt familiar yet ancient, and so much bigger than me...READ MORE

Ida- Seeking Her Special Friend

I am an upbeat and romantic 63 year old European woman, born in Budapest, Hungary, and am filled with vitality and curiosity. Yet I always strive to be a caring and compassionate friend. I consider myself to be an intelligent, well-read, attractive, and a kind, sensitive individual...READ MORE

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld

Who am I? I am, in no particular order, a person who thrills to speak publicly, and who is nervous every time. A rabbi who models religious belief and practice who yet toils in achieving internal peace in both—and thus thinks that teaching that very grappling is one of the best things I can teach about Judaism...READ MORE

Essia Cartoon-Fredman

The closest I've ever felt to a South African shul here in Los Angeles is the Library Minyan at Temple Beth Am, to which both my husband and I belong and regularly attend. My real Jewish identity came when I came to America and started to teach in Jewish day schools....READ MORE