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 currently the President of the North Jersey West Hudson Valley Association of Reform Rabbis and 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. Rabbi Moritt lives in Jersey City with her husband, Rabbi Steven Kushner, and their little dog, Shayna Punim.
You can reach Rabbi Moritt at email@example.com.
To read a selection of Rabbi Moritt’s sermons and messages, click here.
Cantor Laura Breznick is excited to return to her roots here in Northern NJ as Temple Beth-El’s newest Cantor and Director of Education. Having grown up in NJ she was very active in NFTY, spending five summers as a camper and two years on staff at URJ Camp Harlam. After high school, Cantor Breznick continued her education at the Hartt School of Music and the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where she received her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance with a minor in Judaic Studies in 2009.
Before entering cantorial school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cantor Breznick was active in the New York City choral scene as a member of the Dessoff Choirs, with performances ranging from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor at Lincoln Center to singing backup for the Kinks’ Ray Davies at Town Hall, and on The Late Show with David Letterman.
During her first year of cantorial studies in Jerusalem, Cantor Breznick had the privilege of traveling to Belarus as part of the FSU Passover Project where she co-led four seders in two days and performed as a soloist at the International Jewish Music Festival in Minsk. She also was involved as a volunteer for KEEP, an English tutoring program in Jerusalem that seeks to help underprivileged Israeli and Palestinian children.
Upon her return to the United States, Cantor Breznick served as student cantor at Temple Emanuel in Roanoke, VA; Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold, MD; and of course right here at Temple Beth-El in Jersey City, NJ. In addition to her student congregational work, she also completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at NYU Langone Medical Center as a chaplain intern, working with patients in the women’s surgical and pediatric units.
During her Cantorial studies in NYC, Cantor Breznick was awarded both the Cleveland Cantors Prize and the Baltimore Associates Scholarship.
Cantor Breznick was ordained from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May, 2016. Her thesis focused on providing colleagues with best practices for working with students of different abilities in an inclusive fashion in congregational life. For her ordination recital, Cantor Breznick focused on Jewish texts of inclusion.
From August 2016 – May 2017 Cantor Breznick completed her training in Clinical Pastoral Education as a full time chaplain resident at Bridgeport Hospital. In addition, Cantor Breznick served as a virtual Hebrew tutor for the Community Synagogue of Rye in Rye, NY from September 2015 – May 2020.
From July 2016 – June 2023, Cantor Breznick went from being a Limited Service Guest Cantor for Temple Sholom in New Milford, CT to its Solo Spiritual Leader and Lifelong Learning Director. During her time at Temple Sholom Cantor Breznick took on several exciting projects.
In October 2018, Cantor Breznick served as the Jewish voice for a panel entitled “Welcoming the Stranger.” The panel, sponsored by the Interfaith Women’s Initiative, brought together female leaders of the three monotheistic faiths to discuss and debate the universal importance of welcoming the stranger in our midst. The panel was broadcast nationwide in December, 2018 on the Jewish Broadcasting Service. You can click here to watch the panel.
In April 2019, Cantor Breznick was honored to lead the women of Temple Sholom in their first ever “Women’s Seder.” You can read all about the seder here.
In November 2019, Cantor Breznick was guest artist for a concert entitled, “A Cantorial Celebration,” where she performed on the bima of the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, CT with colleagues from around the world. The concert was attended by over 600 people and written up in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger. You can read the write up here.
Cantor Breznick also served on faculty at URJ Crane Lake Camp most summers, helping to bring her love of Jewish learning and music to Jewish youth from across the region. Now that she is back in NJ, she is looking forward to continuing to serve on faculty in the coming summers at URJ Camp Harlam.
When Cantor Breznick is not on the pulpit you will find her curled up with a good book, spending quality time with family and friends, and enjoying pasta.
You can email Cantor Breznick at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Ben also co-leads our Tot Shabbat services.
Visit his website at benrauchsite.com.
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 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.
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.