Skip to content

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is responsible for oversight of the management and operations of the Congregation including financial affairs; the physical plant and assets, making personnel decisions: benefits, terms and conditions as well as evaluations; and working with our clergy on matters concerning the mode of religious worship and services.

Al Courey

I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I’ve been a UCLA biochemistry professor for 32 years. My heritage is Lebanese Christian, but I married a Jewish woman (Jody) 40 years ago, and together we raised a Jewish family before I finally converted to Judaism in 2015.

What you love most about BSS

I love the warm and welcoming members and staff, the commitment to social justice and the inspiring music.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

About 20 years

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

My daughter Sibyl and son Ethan both attended the BSS religious school and became B’nai mitzvah at Beth Shir Shalom.

Favorite Jewish food?

Definitely, Jody’s challah, which she has been making every Friday for decades (it’s largely responsible for the failure of my perpetual diet). I also love my own home-made latkes (sorry if this sounds conceited).

Candyce Kornblum

After a career in academic publishing in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, and a shorter one as a medical office manager, I am now retired. I thus have the luxury of spending time with my two grandchildren.

What you love most about BSS

Its size, its warmth, its music and the fact that you can always “come as you are.”

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Approximately 25 years

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

My son, now 31, grew up with BSS, from Kindergarten through Confirmation. It was (and is) a wonderful family environment, full of joy as well as learning.

Favorite Jewish food?

Chicken soup with matzoh balls, with a nod to covid challah.

David Reznick (Treasurer)

A new job opportunity brought me to Santa Monica in 1979 from Connecticut, where I grew up in a Conservative home. I joined the neighborhood Temple that became Beth Shir Salom with my wife and three children. I recently retired from an almost 50-year career in Real Estate Development. 

What you love most about BSS

It has always been the music that I adore.

How long have you been a BSS member?

Since 1979, with a hiatus for a time in the middle.

Do you have children, and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Both of my boys were Bar Mitzvah’d at the Temple. My daughter was not but made up for it by becoming a Reform Rabbi. All are now in their 40s. I have two grandchildren who graduated from the ECC.

Favorite Jewish food?

I love almost all Jewish food but am particularly enamored of bagels and lox.

Diane Nathan

I grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin as a “small town Jew” where almost all of the 10 to 15 other Jewish families were related to me.  No synagogue there! After graduating from the University of Wisconsin I settled in Chicago where I worked as a Copywriter for the Chicago Tribune and became a volunteer “spy” for the ADL. With an increased sense of Jewish identity, I married a “nice Jewish man/lawyer” and became the only one of three siblings to marry a M.O.T.  After two kids, a Masters’ in Ed. TV from Northwestern U. and an exciting international career, my husband of 56 years and I retired to Marina Del Rey where we hope to live happily ever after.      

What you love most about BSS

Our commitment to Tikkun Olam as manifest through our direct service and advocacy to alleviate injustice and the resulting deprivation of our brothers and sisters of all colors and faiths (or none). 

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Five years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

We are an eclectic Jewish family:  Our daughter’s family (16- and 19-year old sons and husband) belong to the Humanistic Secular Jewish Circle in Seattle, and our son, wife, and 4-year-old daughter are “Observant Jews” who keep Kosher and are members of Chicago’s Mishkan.  On occasion, both families watch our zoom services with us at Beth Shir Shalom.  

Favorite Jewish Food?

Matzo Balls made with schmalz and chopped liver, also made
with schmalz.,of course. Is there any other way?

Guy Zaczepinski

I have lived all over but been in L.A. for the longest stretch of time– about 15 years. Our four kids keep us very busy so I have few hobbies to speak of! I work with a local investment firm for my day job.

What you love most about BSS

A low-key, down-to-earth community in the heart of Santa Monica.

How long have you been a BSS member?

10 years.

Do you have children, and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

We have four kids; three graduated from the ECC, and one is still there. Our older kids are now in the religious school.

Favorite Jewish food?

My wife’s covid challah.

Mitchell Rishe (VP Education)

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. I attended college in Philadelphia but came back to Los Angeles to attend law school. For the past decade I have practiced environmental law at the California Attorney General’s Office. I attended several large synagogues in my youth and early adulthood, but my wife and I joined Beth Shir Shalom to give our children a more personal relationship with their religion and their rabbi.

What you love most about BSS

The music. The social action. And a welcoming community of progressive Jews. And of course, the music (did I already mention that?).

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Six years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

We have two boys. Both attended the religious school and both were Bar Mitzvah’d at Beth Shir Shalom (my youngest in a “Zoom-Mitzvah’ in 2020). Both are now in BeSHTY.

Favorite Jewish food?

As a kid, I looked forward to Sunday brunch and bagels, lox, and cream cheese. But I fell in love with falafel visiting Israel when I was 15. And hummus.

Nelson Weiss

Los Angeles has been home for the past 20 years except for a brief stopover in Portland, Oregon.  For most of this time period I was a wandering Jew in search of a free high holiday service and am grateful to have stumbled upon Beth Shir Shalom and its community.  For fun, I enjoy bicycling adventures with my wife, Virginia, and our 5-year-old Asher.
What you love most about BSS

The music, our ECC program and emphasis on Tikkun Olam.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Five years

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Asher is currently attending ECC’s Keshet class.

Favorite Jewish food?

I have renounced my Ashkenazi roots and am partial to just about any traditional Sephardic dish, especially on Passover.

Seth Ellis (Past President)

A long-time westside resident and Temple member I have filled my days working in healthcare delivery in various roles: clinician, administrator and innovator. Raised in a very traditional community, BSS has broadened my perspectives and expanded my spirituality, for which I am grateful. I hope we can leave Progressive Judaism in a stronger place for the generations to come.

What you love most about BSS

The overall vibe of BSS, our mission, our music and aspirations to leave this world a better place.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

25 years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Our children Joey of blessed memory, and Zach have the whole concept of Tikkun Olam richly and lovingly engrained tin the very essence of their character. Started at home the learning, modeling and living supported by our community at BSS.

Favorite Jewish food?

Noodle kugel, what else! OK- maybe smoked fish, too  🙂

Boris Feldman (VP- Facilities)

I immigrated to L.A. with my family and adopted Santa Monica as my home-town. My career spans from the non-profit sector to currently developing renewable energy projects. As an alumnus of SAMOHI, SMC, UCLA and USC Marshall School of Business, I remain involved locally. I hope my three children get to experience the rich and rewarding culture of the west side.

What you love most about BSS?

The warmth of the community, the great educational facility at the ECC, and the socially progressive spirit of Beth Shir Shalom make this our favorite temple.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Seven years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Anya and Ethan both graduated from the ECC and are now in the religious school. Owen is currently attending the ECC in the Shemesh class.

Favorite Jewish food?

Latkes for the win.

Dani Durkin (Co-President)

I attended BSS services as a child. After a book editing career in New York as well as having lived in France for a few years, I returned to Los Angeles to have a family. My passions are social justice, philosophy, music, poetry, and radical acts of kindness. I like to think, write, and talk things out.

What you love most about BSS

I love the musical spirituality, mix of interfaith families, and relaxed, open-door atmosphere that allows for open-minded Judaism.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

Six years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Beckett started at the ECC before he was 2 years old and now, in third grade, he is in the religious school.

Favorite Jewish food?

Matzo ball soup, latkes, and hummus!

Deb Novak

I am a second-generation Valley girl, attended college in the Bay Area, graduate school in Utah, and upon return to LA decided I would only live west of the 405 to be as close to nature as possible in an urban world. I feel incredibly fortunate to be living in Santa Monica.

What you love most about BSS

The loving community that embodies the core Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, Kavod, Tzedek Tirdof, Lifnei Aver, and G’milut Chasadim.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

We have been members of BSS for 12 years.

Do you have children and if so, what is their connection to BSS?  

Shayna and Eli have attended BSS preschool, religious school, and youth group, all of which have contributed to their strong sense of caring, compassion and contributing.

Favorite Jewish food?

My great aunt’s noodle kugel whose recipe has been passed down through the generations, and my new favorite is Molly Yeh’s ginger and scallion matzah ball soup.

 

Eron Ben-Yehuda (VP- Membership)

Born in Israel, I moved to Los Angeles with my family at age six. I remember practicing my English by reading the billboards along the road whenever my parents were driving us around town. I didn’t find religion particularly meaningful until I joined BSS 17 years ago.

What you love most about BSS

Being part of a warm, loving, and kind community.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

18 years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

One very rambunctious child who attends the religious school. 

Favorite Jewish food?

I eat hummus by the gallon.

Laurie Brumfield

Natalie Rothenberg (Co-President)

I grew up (mostly) in Santa Monica in a blended household with lots of colorful relatives and friends, festive celebrations, and parents who were unaffiliated Jews living Tikkun Olam out loud. Whether working as a babysitter, carny, sales clerk, assistant, executive, entrepreneur, editor, teacher or volunteer, I’ve always thought of myself first as a family-and-friends person.

What you love most about BSS

For me, Beth Shir Shalom is a family of families whose tradition leads us to make good things (and not so good things) better with music, study, social action, thoughtfulness, and great company.

How long have you been a BSS member?

20-ish years.

Do you have children, and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

My kids, now 20 and 15, are graduates of BSS Baby and Me, ECC, the religious school, and Youth Groups. They’re only in BSS sometimes now, but BSS is always in them, in the tunes they hum, values they hold, and lasting friendships they enjoy.

Favorite Jewish food?

Well, it certainly depends which deli you’re in, but pastrami and chopped liver come to mind. Or kreplach from the leftover Passover brisket. Or bagels and lox on Sunday. Or mushroom barley soup. Choosing just one seems fundamentally UN-Jewish.

Paul Diamond

I grew up in New York City and I started my career as a jewelry designer there.  Fast forward to today, and I work in real estate finance.  My hope is these experiences and skills and all those in between bring a fresh perspective to the board. 

What you love most about BSS

The community and the music!

How long have you been a BSS Member?

17 years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Ella and Jeremy have both attended the religious school and have deep connections to Judaism due to Beth Shir Shalom.  

Favorite Jewish food?

Noodle kugel!

Steve Schneider

I was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, went east for education (Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and Harvard Law School) and west for work (a labor and employment law partner in the law firm of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP in Los Angeles). My lovely wife Nancy and I have been married for nearly 50 years; we have two grown daughters and four grandchildren, two here and two in Colorado.

What you love most about BSS

The warm and caring community.

How long have you been a BSS Member?

At least 20 years.

Do you have children and if so, what’s their connection to BSS?

Our daughters Rebecca and Sarah, both now in their 40’s, had their Bat Mitzvahs here.

Favorite Jewish food?

Nancy’s challah, especially her delicious round challah for Rosh Hashana.