Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Devorah Marcus, Senior Rabbi

rabbidevorahmarcusSince joining our Temple Emanu-El family in July 2013, Rabbi Devorah Marcus has led our congregation with enthusiasm, joy, humor, and song. She brings an emphasis on building our community, deepening the ties between congregants, and encouraging everyone to be life-long learners and pursuers of peace and justice in the world.

Growing up in Orange County, CA, Rabbi Devorah attended Camp Swig (now Camp Newman) from an early age and was raised in a Reform Jewish household. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois in 1998 with a degree in Speech Communications and two minors in Music and Religious Studies. Following college she served as a youth coordinator at a congregation in northern California for two years before pursuing an opportunity that allowed her to move to Milan, Italy to serve as a music teacher. After returning from Milan, she began pursuing her dream of becoming a rabbi and started her rabbinical studies in the summer of 2003 at Hebrew Union College. Rabbi Devorah received Smichah (Rabbinic Ordination) on May 18, 2008 in Los Angeles the morning after she and her husband, Sebastian Eickholt, were married in Newport Beach. It was a fabulous weekend!

Here at Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Devorah has continued her work of building community and creating life-long learners. Through classes such as “Pirkei Avot” and “Torah for the Table,” she works to help congregants of all ages feel a sense of belonging to their Judaism and to each other. In her own words, “As your rabbi, my role is to create bridges to connection, relationship and community. In this way, we all become God’s partners in living deeper lives and making sure no one is ever alone. By finding ways to bring Judaism’s relevancy and meaning into every moment of our lives, we partner with God to make the classroom our world, and to make the world our classroom.”


Benj Fried, Rabbi Educator

benj portrait

After an extensive search, we are excited to welcome Rabbi Benj Fried as the first Rabbi Educator at Temple Emanu-El. He received his ordination from Hebrew Union College in May of this year.

Rabbi Benj was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area where he was a singer and soloist in his synagogue's High Holy Day choir. During his undergraduate years at Stanford University, he did research in Organic Chemistry and Neurobiology, and received his B.S. in Biology. He was involved with Hillel on campus, and discovered his interest in working in the Jewish community. Following his years at Stanford, he attended Harvard Divinity School, receiving his Master’s Degree in Theological Studies, and began rabbinic school at Hebrew Union College in 2012.

While in school, Rabbi Benj served as student rabbi at Congregation Shir Ami in Castro Valley, Shir Ha-Ma'alot in Irvine, and Temple Judea in Tarzana. During the summer months, he worked for the Religious Action Center, URJ Camp Kalsman, and pursued a graduate certificate in nonprofit management. In 2016, he received his Master’s of Jewish Education from HUC and wrote a curriculum guide using Hassidic stories as a gateway for teenagers to cultivate their spiritual lives and develop values and integrity. His rabbinic thesis, entitled "Playing with Leviathan," seeks to use chaos theory as a basis to construct an innovative God concept.

Rabbi Benj’s goal is to help bring Jews of all ages closer to community, Jewish learning and a life of meaning.  He will be working with the Adult Education Committee to enhance our learning experiences, with our Youth Groups and our Torah School.