Serving Hudson County’s Progressive Jewish Community for Over 150 Years

Clergy & Professional Staff

To keep our employees healthy, most are working from home, but our phones and emails are up and running. We look forward to all being together!

Click here for lay leadership.

Rabbi Leana Moritt

Rabbi Leana Moritt officially arrived as the Rabbi of Temple Beth-El of Jersey City in July of 2018. However, as a congregational leader, teacher and chaplain, she is no stranger to Temple Beth-El or the tri-state area’s Jewish community.

Prior to joining Temple Beth-El, Rabbi Moritt served the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation as their part-time rabbi since 2007. There she was known as an engaging teacher of Torah and leader of prayer and chant.

Since 2001, Rabbi Moritt’s work has had a special focus on teaching Judaism to interfaith audiences and adults seeking to spiritually infuse or enter Jewish life.

Notably, Rabbi Moritt was the Director of Jewish Outreach at New York’s venerable 92nd St Y; instructor in the Union for Reform Judaism’s Introduction to Judaism Program; Director and Founder of Thresholds: For the Jewishly Curious; and instructor in the international Melton Adult Education Program. Her students know her for her warmth and ability to transmit a Judaism that is accessible, joyful and traditional yet relevant and modern. Through these and many other teaching venues, Rabbi Moritt has been guiding Jews, interfaith couples, families and Jews by choice toward more meaningful Jewish lives and a deeper understanding of Judaism. Her deep sensitivity to people’s Jewish connections and personal and spiritual needs has earned her the reputation as an expert in the field.

As a trained chaplain, Rabbi Moritt offered pastoral and spiritual care to the homebound elderly for Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest from 2015 to 2018.

Rabbi Moritt’s work also includes the creation and shaping of ritual. She was awarded the Rabbi Chana Timoner Creative Liturgy award by the Association of Rabbis and Cantors in 2008 for her work on innovative get (Jewish divorce) rituals.

Rabbi Moritt is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Rabbinic Fellow. Her other professional associations include the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform); OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal; and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains.

A native New Yorker, Rabbi Moritt is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin Division where she earned a B.A. after earning an A.A.S. in Business Administration.  Following graduation from NYU, she embarked on a successful 10-year career as Director of Production at Arista Records where she oversaw production of albums by many artists, including Whitney Houston, Kenny G, and The Grateful Dead.

Of all her work, she is proudest of the 3 amazing young men who call her Mom, and she currently lives in West Orange with her husband, Rabbi Steven Kushner, and their puppy, Shayna Maidele.

You can reach Rabbi Moritt at rabbimoritt@betheljc.org.

To read a selection of Rabbi Moritt’s sermons and messages, click here.

Cantorial Soloist & Director of Education

Marian Kleinman
morahmarian@betheljc.org

Alone, I cannot lift my voice in song.
Then you come near and sing with me.
Our prayers fuse and a new voice soars
Our bond is beyond voice and voice
Our bond is one of spirit and spirit!
(based on the teachings of Rabbi Pinchas Koretz)

Our Cantorial Soloist: Director of Education Marian Gorewitz Kleinman holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from Gratz College as well as an MA in Creative Writing from The City College of NY. While at Gratz, she earned a recognition award for her academic achievement in the field of Liturgy. With her profound attention to promoting social action and human kindness, she recently published a memoir describing the heroic work of Freide Heller Gorewitz (z’’l), her mother, who was a member of the Belgian Holocaust Resistance during the Shoah.

Marian was the Principal for seven years at Beth Am Temple in Pearl River, NY, and concurrently was the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Agudas Achim in Livingston Manor, NY. More recently, she served for two years as the Cantorial Soloist and Principal at Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation – Emek Shalom in Simsbury, CT. She briefly served on the Board of the Women Cantors Network (WCN), an international association and is a member of ARJE, HavaNashira, NewCAJE, and several others. Her background also includes being the religious school principal, choir and music director at Temple of Israel (Wilmington, North Carolina); NJ and NY teaching certification; and part-time free-lance journalism. She’s taught at several online colleges and community colleges as well as at public school. She’s earned several awards and fellowships including the 1989 Louis Ginsberg Memorial Fellowship.

Marian is delighted to partner with Rabbi Moritt here at Temple Beth-El Jersey City. She derives inspiration from the rich history and warmth of our congregation and by our commitment to social justice pursuits.

She plays guitar and enjoys reading, dance, art, baking, nature hikes, studying Hebrew and chanting Torah, yoga, activities with her family, and gardening. Marian grew up in Rockland County, NY, where her parents were founding members of Temple Beth Sholom in New City and her mother was active in the Jewish community and in the local Hadassah. Marian teaches part-time in the CST Department at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes and has lived in New Jersey for three years. She and her daughter Rosa, a student at Yale, live in New Milford, NJ.

Marian invites you to be in touch! For information about her book and listen to some recordings, visit her website at mariankleinman.com.

Accompanist

Ben Rauch

Ben Rauch has been playing piano/organ for Temple Beth-El for over 15 years.  He has been the accompanist for over 10 different cantors, conductor of the professional quartet, music arranger, and was the cantorial soloist for the Rock and Roll Shabbat with a four-piece band. Prior experience was at the Village Temple in NYC and various other Temples around the tri-state area.  He has written over 10 Purim Spiels (shows), which he directed at Sutton Place Synagogue in NYC, where he also taught Tefillah in their Hebrew School.

As a student of Jewish Spirituality in the Torah, he has studied and continues to study through The Kabbalah Center, Hadar, Partners In Torah, Aish Hatorah, Chabbad, Oorah, The Jewish Renewal Movement, The Conservative Movement of America, and The Union For Reform Judaism.  He recently got married in Israel to the most incredibly wonderful and spiritual woman.

Ben is a singer/songwriter/producer/performer whose most recent single, “Stay At Home,” was released during the Covid pandemic, and the proceeds of the song will go to the Frontline Families Fund to benefit the families of frontline workers who died from Covid. The video of the song starred some of the best Broadway performers with whom he has had the pleasure of working with over the years. His previous single, “The Emoji Song,” won an American Songwriting Award, a USA Songwriting Competition Award for “Best Comedy Song”, The Hollywood Songwriting Competition and four Global Music Awards for “Best Male Vocalist,” “Best Lyrics/Songwriter”,” Best Song,” and “Best Music Video.”  It has also won over 18 Best Music Video Awards in film festivals internationally.  As an American Jew, he felt it was traditional for him to write a good Christmas song, and his song, “Jersey Christmas,” was #19 on the charts.  The song was re-recorded, with the Broadway Tour of, “Jersey Boys” for the “Carols For A Cure Album,” which benefits Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS.

As an actor, he has been seen on TV in “The Big Bang Theory” and in the movie, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”  He was also in the movie, “Jersey Boys,” directed by Clint Eastwood, as the keyboardist/singer for the Four Seasons. His TV credits include:  Mr. Robot (USA Network), Girls (HBO), recurring roles on Gossip Girl (CW).

Ben has been teaching piano, voice, and percussion for over 20 years in NYC and NJ.  He is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique through Alexander Technique International.  His students have a yearly recital at Opera America in NYC.

Visit his website at benrauchsite.com.

Office Manager

Bob Kahan
admin@betheljc.org
201.333.4229 ext. 0 (leave a message)

Bob comes to TBE after stints as Administrative Director of Congregation Mt. Sinai (Brooklyn Heights), Executive Director of Temple Am Echad (Lynbrook) and Events/Office Manager for Temple Israel of the City of New York. Prior to that he was an events manager for two private NYC-based alumni clubs. He was also an award-winning editor at DC Comics for a number of years. An active alumnus of Purchase College (SUNY) he has been mounting events for them since the late 20th century and was instrumental in making his cohort the highest percentage of contributors to the College. When he was much younger he attended and was a counselor at the URJ’s Eisner Camp in Gt. Barrington, MA. He has lived happily in Park Slope, Brooklyn with a succession of cats for years and years.

Youth Group Director

Rosa Escandon
rosa@betheljc.org

In addition to teaching fourth grade Hebrew in our Religious School, Rosa Escandon is our Youth Group Director. Originally from California, she now lives in Brooklyn where she is a teacher and writer. Rosa has worked at several Jewish institutions over the years, including the National American Jewish History Museum, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, and UPenn Hillel, and now she’s excited to be part of the Temple Beth-El team and community. Her virtual door is always open and she would love to hear from you.

 

Building Staff

Vadim Ivanov, Construction Manager

Vadim comes to Temple Beth-El as our Building and Construction manager via Israel and Canada, where he was a Civil Engineer and Team Lead/Manager at Eagle’s Gaze (log homes) Construction in Montreal. Originally from Turkmenistan, he graduated from the school of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the Polytechnic University there. Before emigrating from the FSU, he was a Civil Engineer at Turkmenistan’s Architecture Design Institute and a Kashrut Inspector for the Chief Rabbinate of Russia. There he ensured that the construction/renovation of the kosher catering facilities was carried out in accordance with kashrut laws. Living in Israel, Vadim attained his Civil Engineering diploma and worked as a civil engineer at Spenkrt in Tiberias.

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