Rabbi Jacob Pressman, z'l

Jacob Pressman was born October 26,1919, the son of Dora and Solomon Pressman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated first in class from West Philadelphia High School and elected to its Hall of Honor and in 1940, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania .
Ordained Rabbi in 1945 at Jewish Theological Seminary.
Received a Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Doctor of Divinity from JTS and a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Judaism.

Congregations Served
Student Rabbi, Woodbridge, New Jersey 1943-1944
Rabbi, Forest Hills Jewish Center, N.Y. 1944-1946
Associate Rabbi, Congregation Sinai, Los Angeles, 1946-1950
Rabbi, Congregation Beth Am, Los Angeles, 1950-1985
Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Am, Los Angeles, 1985-2015

Interim Rabbi: Congregation Beth Shalom of Santa Clarita, CA 1998

Institutions Founded or Headed
Board of Directors of L.A. Jewish Federation Council nine (9) years
President Southern California Board of Rabbis
President Western States Region, Rabbinical Assembly of America
Chairman Board of Governors, Los Angeles Jewish Federation Council, 1992 -1996
Founder and first president of Beverly Hills Maple Counseling Center
Founder of B.C.I., now Brandeis-Bardin Institute
Founder of Camp Ramah at Ojai, and its first Director, summer, 1955
Founder of Akiba Academy and on its Board for seven years
Founder and first headmaster of Herzl Schools, grades 7 to 12, from 1972 to 1996
Founder and first headmaster of Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy K-8
Co-founder of Los Angeles Hebrew High School

Co-Executive Director (with wife) of Making Marriage Work, a program of orientation for premarital and post-marital Jewish living.

Significant events
In January 1964 Rabbi Pressman was one of the 15 member committee who determined to break the silence about the plight of Russian Jewry. The committee convened a new American Jewish conference of 24 major Jewish organizations inn Washington D.C. and launched the "Save Soviet Jewry" movement. The committee included the late Senator Abraham Ribacoff, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and performer Theodore Bikel.

On Wednesday, March 24, 1965, Rabbi Pressman joined a planeload of 293 men and women and flew to Montgomery, Alabama to march with Rev. Martin Luther King to the capital building in Montgomery.

Rabbi Pressman delivered the benediction at the 1984 National Democratic Nominating convention in San Francisco.

Spearheaded and chaired many innovative events at Temple Beth Am:
-Israel Expo West, 1972, six-day first Israel Fair on west coast, masterminded by wife Marjorie, 50,000 attended
-Expo ‘76, Chairman: a five day event in tribute to U.S. Bicentennial and Jewish contributions to our country. 10,000 attended
-L.A. Bicentennial, 1981, four-day event with dinner honoring 15 top Angelenos for contributions to improving quality of life in our city.

Beth Am Day School is renamed The Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy at time of retirement.

-Editor and author of the text of The Hebrew Alphabet, paintings by Joe Rose, Triton Publishing Co. 1988

-Weekly Columnist, Beverly Hills Courier
-Numerous Newspaper Articles.

-Dear Friends: A prophetic journey through great events of the 20th century selected sermons dealing with world crisis events, KTAV Publishing House. Has received excellent reviews including a great one in the Women's League Outlook
-This Wild and Crazy World as seen from Beverly Hills by Rabbi Jack - a selection of columns he writes weekly in the Beverly Hills Courier, a local newspaper, and it has a wonderful following.

Awarded prize "Funniest Rabbi in Los Angeles" at stand-up comedy contest 1995 at Camp Ramah dinner.

Hobbies and Interests
-Loves to sing and play piano.
-On his 75th birthday he celebrated with a show in which he performed along with some rabbi friends, Monty Hall and son Joel, at the Westside Room, Century Plaza Hotel, which was a benefit for the Pressman Academy, netting $30,000.
-Also paints, sketches, handyman, (Ed. note from M.P.) true Jack-of-all trades, a renaissance man!)

-Did another show on his 80th at the Gindi Auditorium (University of Judaism) with 500 people in attendance. Joined for cameo appearances by Steve Allen, Dave Barry, Golabek sisters, Monty Hall. Grossed $250,000.
- Celebrated his 85th and 90th birthdays with performances at Temple Beth Am, grossing additional funds for the synagogue and the Pressman Academy Scholarship Fund.

Rabbi Pressman has been married to Marjorie (Nee Steinberg) for more than 70 years, and raised three children (Rabbi Daniel Pressman, Joel Pressman z"l and Judith Pressman), 5 Grandchildren (Aliza, Benjamin, Elijah, Aviva, Rebecca), and 3 great-grandchildren.


Rabbi Jacob Pressman: New Year Wishes
Jewish Journal, October 8,2015

Rabbi Jacob Pressman dies at 95;
led prominent L.A. synagogue for 35 years
By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2015

Rabbi Jacob Pressman,
Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Am, dies at 95
By Michael Berenbaum, Jewish Journal, October 1, 2015

Rabbi Jacob Pressman, Dead at 95, Leaving a Legendary Legacy
By John L. Seitz, Beverly Hills Courier, October 2, 2015

Beverly Hills Weekly - How Rabbi Pressman saved my grandparents
by Karmel Melamed, Beverly Hills Weekly, October 2015

Margie Pressman Eulogy
Judy Pressman Eulogy
Rabbi Daniel Pressman Eulogy
Rabbi Adam Kligfeld Eulogy
Rabbi Harry Silverstein Eulogy
Rabbi Joel Rembaum Eulogy

Download Rabbi Daniel Pressman's Eulogy and Shivah D'var
Shivah D'var


Articles About Rabbi Jacob Pressman
The Rabbi & His Wife, Beverly Hills Courier, Jan 8, 2015
Rabbi Jacob Pressman turns 94: A Community Treasure, The Jewish Journal, Oct 23, 2013
Rabbi Jacob Pressman Takes A Bow, The Jewish Journal, Dec 3, 2008
A Witness to Hate and Hope, LA Times, Oct 23, 1999

Written by Rabbi Jacob Pressman
Jewel of Elul: To Thine Own Self Be True, Sept 29, 2008
Rosh Hashanah 5772 Sermon
Rosh Hashanah 5771
Rosh Hashanah 5770
2nd Day Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5769
Rosh Hashanah 5768

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5768

Rosh Hashana 5767 , New Year's Blessings
Rosh Hashana 5767 , New Year's Drash

Video Interview of Rabbi Pressman about his book, Dear Friends

Remembering Rabbi Jack

My Favorite Memory of Rabbi Pressman is...

…learning from Rabbi Pressman when preparing to lead Yom Kippur services, at Shma Koleinu one should have a “tear in your voice”. And being on the planning committee for “From Yankel to Yankee”, sitting with him as he kept me in stitches with his hilarious jokes and comments. – Norm Green

…coming to Rabbi Jack’s home and interviewing him about his time marching in Selma with MLK Jr. When I told Rabbi Jack he was an inspiration to me, he replied, “Why? I’m just me! MLK Jr. was in inspiration!” – Deb Engel Kollin

…he was a part of our family. He married my sister in 1954, myself in 1957, another sister in 1975; re-married our parents on their 50th anniversary, re-married my sister on her 50th anniversary and married 3 of her children. Rabbi Pressman also buried my husband, father and grandmother. He was an integral part of our lives in so many ways. He was always there, for us, to celebrate the simchas and to comfort us in our losses. – Sherry Steinberg, daughter of Cel and Maurice Miller, sister of Marilyn & Irv Laxineta

…so many! But my 2 favorites – sitting in the old “Mirror Room” and Rabbi Jack singing “Sitting like birds in the wilderness, waiting for dessert to begin”. And when Beth and I co-chaired his 90th birthday event. While frail, when he got on stage his voice and charm came to life and lit up the room. – Rodney Freeman

…going to Beth Am for one of the first times, probably High Holidays around 1999. Hearing his sermon, I wasn’t expecting the elderly, learned man at the Bimah to be so utterly hilarious – yet also to have a message that was full of warmth and an understanding for what it took to live a good life and serve the
mission of Tikkun Olam. I was happy to become a member the following year. – Fred Raskin

…when he would officiate over our Hebrew School services. It always felt like a special and profound occasion when he would teach our classes. – Susie Romano

…being tremendously grateful when Rabbi visited me at Cedars when I was on bedrest with our first child. He came to comfort me and stay at my bedside to bring me love, laughter and healing. Our 2 lb 9oz preemie is now an amazing 13 year old health girl who just had a Bat Mitzvah! I remember saying through the door “I am sorry, Rabbi, I am coming to open the door but I am slow…he said “so am I!” – Elizabeth Cohn

…standing on the bimah during birkat hacohanim. We would sway together and he would always joke about how everyone else was swaying in the wrong direction. – Renne Dvorak Bainvoll

…our conversations when he let me use the TBA library to prepare for my UJ classes; his sermons which were always on point, thoughtful and often clever; his performances at TBA events. He supported the establishment of the Library Minyan and in making egalitarianism the mode of Beth Am. – Rabbi Elliot Dorf

…his ability to connect with children. As he visited with my 4th grade classes on multiple occasions, he would instantly earn the admiration of each student. – Tamar Rosenfeld

…when our father Stanley Balik passed away on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah at home. We called Rabbi and he came right over to our mother’s house and stayed with us until the mortuary took our dad, he showed true love and respect for our family. – Nancy & Steve Kipper

…Rabbi’s sermon after the ’67 war when he got tears while saying the words of “Jerusalem of Gold”.
Phyllis and Sandy Beim

…in 1965, because I refused to take a final exam at UCLA on Shabbat, the draft board took away my student deferment. Rabbi Jack successfully appealed to the board to reinstate my deferment – twice! – Rabbi Mark Hyman

…when Rabbi Jack blessed my father, Charlie Brucker, at his 2nd Bar Mitzvah. Charlie was 83 and Rabbi Jack was 85! – Barry Brucker

…when he analyzed my prepared Bar Mitzvah speech line by line and marking each with notes about whether and where I should raise or lower my voice, how long to pause, etc. He was a master orator and I owe much of my own current ability in the area to his tutelage. – Raphael B. Leib

…I’ll never forget what he said when he blessed us under the chuppah: “If you treat him like a king then he’ll treat you like a queen.” 25 years later, it has been wonderful advice that we will take to heart forever. – Heidi Monkarsh

…he was always the “smartest man in the room” but wore his brilliance with remarkable humility.
Clif, Candace and Kathryn Smith

…being under our chuppah when Rabbi pronounced Mark to be “remarkable”. Rabbi was an important pillar and leader officiating at every life cycle event in the Pilch family. Our seders will never be the same without him. Chason said he is “so sad that his Great Grandpa died” and we had to explain that we were not actually family, but very much feel that we are family. – Jessica & Mark Samuel

…lunch with Rabbi Jack at the Milky Way when the owner, Leah Adler, came over to our table and told Rabbi that Kirk Douglas was there celebrating his birthday and would the Rabbi join her in singing Happy Birthday to him. Rabbi Jack told Kirk he had only heard him sing in a movie once, then he began to sing the song and Kirk sang along, even though he had a speech impediment from a recent stroke. When we left the restaurant everyone stood up and gave Rabbi a standing ovation. – Larry Schwimmer

Rabbi Joel Rembaum

For 25 years, beginning in July, 1985, Rabbi Joel E. Rembaum served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, California. He is now Rabbi Emeritus. Following his ordination as Rabbi in 1970 at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, Rabbi Rembaum returned to his native Los Angeles where he pursued studies at U.C.L.A. in Jewish history. He was awarded a Ph.D. in History by U.C.L.A. in 1975. Rabbi Rembaum also holds the degrees of B.A. and M.A. from U.C.L.A., the degrees of Master of Hebrew Literature and Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, from the Jewish Theological Seminary and the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from the American Jewish University. While an undergraduate at U.C.L.A. he also studied Judaica at the American Jewish University (then the University of Judaism).

From 1970 to 1985 Rabbi Rembaum served on the faculty and administration of the American Jewish University, advancing to the positions of Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Jewish History. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at U.C.L.A. and U.C. Irvine. From 1994-1997 he taught for the Wexner Heritage Foundation, and from 2001-2007 he served on the faculty of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He has received a number of graduate and research fellowships and participated in the Melton Research Institute Seminar in Jewish History. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Jewish Studies and has presented papers to that and other learned societies. Rabbi Rembaum has published a variety of articles in the field of Jewish history and has lectured widely throughout the United States.

As a member of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for twenty years, Rabbi Rembaum authored the paper that served as the basis for the inclusion of the Biblical Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) in the Amidah prayer, the central element of Jewish liturgy. The Conservative Movement's Sim Shalom series of siddurim (prayer books) and their companion Or Hadash prayer book include the addition, and it has been widely accepted in the Conservative community.

Rabbi Rembaum has been involved in Camp Ramah in California since 1955, first as a camper, then as Counselor, Division Head, Camp Rabbi/Professor-in-Residence and member of both the Board of Directors and the Standing Committee of Camp Ramah in California. He served as President of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, National Secretary of the Rabbinical Assembly, President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Chair of the Middle East Commission of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation. He was Chair of Los Angeles' Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet and Chair of the Executive Committee of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of Israel Bonds. In 1997, Rabbi received the Mickey & Edna Weiss Foundation grant for study in Israel at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Soon after his appointment at Beth Am, Rabbi Rembaum spearheaded a reform of the synagogue's education system and worked with the congregation's lay and professional leadership to create the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy. The Academy is known for its unique umbrella educational system, in which a Solomon Schechter Day School, a Religious School and an Early Childhood Center work in a coordinated fashion to offer outstanding educational programming to a combined student body that has grown to well over 600 students. The congregation's United Synagogue Youth chapter grew and flourished and is recognized for its excellence. A massive building project was undertaken and completed, providing the Beth Am community with a new school facility and expanded synagogue activity and office space. New adult and family learning and experiential programs offered a wide range of opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Year in and year out, Rabbi Rembaum has been teaching in all facets of Beth Am's educational programming.

During the Rembaum years a third regular Shabbat morning service was added, as well as new Friday evening worship experiences, including a weekly Carlebach-style minyan. And, social action activity grew, with expanded mitzvah projects, Israel related activities, including regular synagogue trips to Israel, and environmental awareness programs.

Rabbi Rembaum lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Fredi, herself a respected and well known Jewish communal professional. The Rembaums have four children: Yona, Avi, married to Sharon Isaac, Nomi, married to Israel Feuerstein, and Joshua, married to Amsel Zivkovich. They also have eight grandchildren: Itai, Dani and Ella Rembaum; Ilan, Uri and Maayan Eshkenazi; and Noah and Ayla Feuerstein.


Email: jrembaum@tbala.org

Rabbi Harry Silverstein

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Rabbi Silverstein is a direct descendent of the Ba'al Shem Tov and the tenth generation of an unbroken chain of rabbis. His family came to Los Angeles in 1935 where his father , Rabbi Osher Zilberstein, became rabbi of the Breed Street Shule in Boyle Heights and later became the Chief Orthodox Rabbi of Los Angeles.

Rabbi Silverstein received his B.A. from UCLA and in 1953 was ordained and received an M.H.I. degree at the Jewish Theological Seminary, which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1979. He served as a chaplain in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Upon discharge in 1955, he served as rabbi in Lakewood and Lancaster, and was principal of the Hebrew School at B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester. During this time, he served as auxiliary chaplain at George and Edwards Air Force Bases and as chaplain for the Jewish inmates at the Mira Loma facility and the Sheriff's Wayside Honor Rancho.

For 32 years, he was the associate rabbi and director of education at Temple Beth Am from 1959 until his retirement in 1991. He conducted the auxiliary High Holy Days services at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs for 12 years after his retirement.

Rabbi Silverstein earned his California State Teaching Credential and was accredited by the Los Angeles Bureau of Education. He also served as treasurer of the Western States region of the Rabbinical Assembly for twenty years.

He has always been a true rabbi of the people. He says, "I treat each congregant and community member with the same respect and love I show my own family. I serve the members in their religious needs in such areas as Hatch, Match, Detach, and Dispatch."

Rabbi Silverstein instructed thousands of students during his 38 years as chaplain, rabbi, and religious school director. Second and third generations refer to him as the rabbi who gave joy from the fact that four of his students have become rabbis and two students have become cantors. They are all serving in congregations at the present time. His contributions to the yiddushkeit of so many has been both key to the transmission of our heritage and an inspiration for other rabbis and Jewish educators.

In June of 1961 he was married to Kay Prager. They are blessed with three sons: Alan, David, and Robert; and three grandchildren: Natalie, Nathan, and Alexis.

Cantor Samuel Kelemer, z'l

Not long after his arrival in the United States, young Samuel Kelemer was engaged to appear in Carnegie Hall on a "Night Of Stars" program with Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel and other headliners. Watching Jolson drop to one knee and croon "Mammy" inspired Shmiliki who went on stage, dropped to one knee, his arms flung wide and sang "A Brivele Der Mamme" (A Letter to Mother). The house thundered until the boy rose, held his hand up for silence, and delivered "Adam Y'sodo Meafat" from the High Holy Day Service. The same acuity guided him unaided through the first talkies in Yiddish, "A Yiddishe Marnme," "Persecution," and "Kol Nidre," three films that encircled the globe.

Trained by great cantors, including Cantors Weisser, Katchko, and Beimel, he was a scholarship student for advanced studies in voice at the Julliard School of Music. Profoundly educated in the Jewish tradition, Cantor Kelemer received rabbinic ordination from several distinguished rabbis. His gifts led him to prominence in many areas. He served 2s the first National Vice-President of the American Conference of Cantors and has been a member of the National Board of the Jewish Music Council.

Cantor Kelemer served on the faculty of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Judaism and was assistant to Max Helfman in the early years of Brandeis Camp Institute. He has appeared frequently on the concert stage as a lecturer and performer, and appeared in a number of films. He is a prolific composer of liturgical music and of settings for Yiddish poems, and is an authority on the subject of Yiddish folksongs.

He has graced the bima of hundreds of synagogues in guest appearances. Before coming to settle in Los Angeles, Cantor Kelemer served both Conservative and Reform congregations in Miami Beach. In Los Angeles, he faithfully served Temple Beth Am for more than thirty years where he continues as Cantor Emeritus. In 1998 the Jewish Theological Seminary granted him the degree of Doctor of Music Honoris Causa for his more than seventy years of extraordinary service as shaliach tzibbur, teacher, composer, role model, intellectual, poet, concert artist, movie actor, hero and mensch.

The American Conference of Cantors was proud to have Cantor Samuel Kelemer as an honorary charter member and deemed him a Living Treasure.

The Cantor's wife, Linda, resides in Marina del Rey. They were blessed with two wonderful sons, Dov Kelemer, a Film producer/director and David Akiba, a mortgage/real estate broker, wife Stacy and grandchildren Dylan and Amy.

Rebbetzin Marjorie Pressman, z'l

Native of Philadelphia, nee Steinberg; Beloved widow of Rabbi Jacob Pressman z"l, mother of Rabbi Daniel (Helen Tieger), Joel z"l, and Judy, grandmother of Aliza (Craig Chosiad), Benjie (Melissa), Rebecca, Elijah and Aviva (Brian Wallis), great-grandmother of Batsheva, Avital, Nathan, and twins Liam and Charles

Active with Beth Am Sisterhood since 1950, spearheading its Torah Scholarship Fund campaigns which have led all others in the world; coordinator of Sisterhood Fashion Auction; creator and coordinator of three art shows: 1968, 1970, and "Festival of Arts" 1973; installing officer and creator of twenty Sisterhood installation scripts; Chariman of Book Review series which launched Temple Library.

Chariman Temple two night public auction, 1950; cast of Temple shows, "Spring is in the Air," "Let's Go Places," and "Painting the Town." Initiated and served as advisor on Temple Concerts by Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Theodore Bikel. Provided stellar entertainment personalities for numerous programs and annual Temple dinner dances. Creator, advisor and publicity chairman for Israel Expo West, eminently successful first Israel Fair on the West Coast.

In National Women's League was organizer and first branch vice-president for Torah Fund; president Pacific-Southwest branch 1968; Editor United Synagogue National Women's League bulletin; National vice-president.

President Henrietta Szold Hadassah, 1948; Chairman, Youth Aliyah Drive of Los Angeles chapter of Hadassah, 1948; Board of Governors, Bonds of Israel; Chairman "Bonds Between Us" luncheon for Israel Bonds 1972; Board of Conference of Jewish Women; Board of Municipal Leaugue of Beverly Hills; Executive Director, Guardians of Courage, for Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Israel.

Recipient of Woman of Achievement Award, 1960, and Past-President's Award, National Women's League , 1967; National Benefactors Award, Jewish Theological Seminary, 1964; University of Judaism Citation of Honor, 1965; Sisterhood President's Award, 1968; Temple Beth Am President's Award, 1970.

"Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou excellest them all." -Proverbs, 31:29

Eulogy by Rabbi Adam Kligfeld
Eulogy by Rabbi Daniel Pressman
D'var Torah in Memory by Rabbi Daniel Pressman

Obituary from the Jewish Journal by Michael Berenbaum