Devorah Marcus, Senior Rabbi
Since 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.
Benj Fried, Associate Rabbi
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.
Martin S. Lawson, Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Lawson is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanu-El in San Diego. He served as rabbi of the congregation for thirty-six years, retiring in June 2012. He was born in Muskegon, Michigan and was raised in Miami Beach, Florida. Rabbi Lawson is married to Anita Satlof-Lawson and they are the parents of a daughter, Bethami, and son, Joshua and his wife, Nicole and proud grandparents of Zoe and Talia Lawson.
He was Assistant Rabbi at The Temple, in Atlanta, until 1976 when he came to San Diego as the Assistant Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El. In 1978 he became the Senior Rabbi and in 1993 was honored with a contract through retirement. Rabbi Lawson was a founder of, and an Instructor at the San Diego High School of Jewish Studies which has now become the Community Jewish High. He is also a founder and former Director of the San Diego Jewish Academy, a community Jewish Day School having almost 800 students. He was the Chairperson of the San Diego Task Force on Holocaust Commemoration for the Jewish Community Relations Council of the UJF. Rabbi Lawson was the first Chairperson of the UJF Synagogue-Federation Committee. He is on the National Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Communities.
In May 1999, he received the Doctor of Divinity degree, Honoris Causa, from the HUC-JIR. He is a past President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis and also has served three times as President of the San Diego Rabbinical Association, and received the first award for Rabbinic Leadership from the UJF of San Diego County.