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Our Rabbis

Rabbi Jason Rosner

Clergy Statement

Some years ago, I founded the Knights of the Afikoman at a Passover Seder with the ritual dubbing of all the children (and a few adults) who participated in the Afikoman search. Then they skipped around the room, mimicking a horse parade. “What is so important about the Afikoman that you’re knighting us,” asked one child. With their barriers lowered and their curiosity piqued, the children were excited to learn about the Afikoman despite the late hour.

As a Rabbi I believe it is my role to spark curiosity about the Jewish tradition in others in order to create opportunities for learning and reflection. I have built my entire Rabbinate around this principle. Sometimes inspiring curiosity comes through levity and play, sometimes through the thoughtful setup of a ritual space, and sometimes through a carefully crafted sermon or class. Judaism places a high value on curiosity, asking questions and approaching situations with an open mind. The Talmud models this intellectual curiosity in its examination of the origins of laws, customs, and human behaviors by asking where they come from, why we do them, and what we learn from them. According to a study by researchers at the UC Davis Center of Neuroscience, curiosity “changes our brains, and could help scientists find ways to enhance overall learning and memory in both healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions.”

It was curiosity that set my feet on the path to the Rabbinate. As a small child my grandmother brought me to board meetings of the National Council of Jewish Women, where she advocated action to curb global warming. She intended to pique my interest in both Jewish causes and communal service by encouraging me to ask questions of the other board members after the meetings. She was a career school teacher and understood that curiosity led one to be open to learning and appreciating new points of view. I hope to continue her dual legacies and fulfill the instruction in Genesis to be Stewards of the Earth and also to encourage small children to ask questions. 

Thanks to her example, when I encounter a subject that I find intimidating, I approach it with curiosity and study it until I understand it well. This has led me to explore a wide range of topics that have enhanced my ability to serve the Jewish community. There are so many areas of expertise involved in the Congregational Rabbinate that early in my career, I sought out organizational positions to build these additional Rabbinic skills. 

One such area is pastoral care in difficult settings like hospice, rehab centers, and the military. Knowing that I have this range of experience, a board member recently remarked “Rabbi, it has been difficult for me to talk about this but my mother is not doing well. Normally I’m squeamish about illness and death but you worked in hospice, so I feel comfortable talking to you about it.” 

As a Rabbi and a representative of the Jewish Tradition, I continue to be inspired every day by how curiosity and asking the right questions can break down barriers and strengthen human connections. I will close with an example from a first-time synagogue visitor that I consider the highest praise. “Rabbi,” they said during a Shabbat dinner, “I wasn’t sure if I should come tonight. I was intimidated since it would be my first time in a synagogue. Being here though, that you dedicated twenty minutes to talking with me about who I am and why I’m here, that you were curious to get to know me, well, it has made me feel you accept me for who I am. Now I want to come back.” Sure enough, the next time we held a Shabbat dinner, they came back. 


Biography

Rabbi Rosner joined the TBE clergy in July 2023. He has served in congregations, as a hospice chaplain, and has a background in pulpit work and fundraising. In addition to rabbinic work, he enjoys teaching about Jewish history, specializing in historical context and making the culture and religion approachable without sacrificing depth.

From 2019 to 2023, he was the Senior Rabbi and Executive Director of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock where he was noted for expanding the synagogue’s membership, visibility, and ecological offerings.

Rabbi Rosner is a board member of the Sandra Caplan Community Beit Din and a board member of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. He is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Boards of Rabbis of Orange County and Los Angeles.

Rabbi Rosner was ordained by Hebrew Union College - JIR in Los Angeles, from which he also holds an M.A.H.L. He was granted an M.Litt. in Medieval History from the University of St. Andrews, a B.A. from C.S.U.L.B, and has additionally studied at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, the Conservative Yeshiva, and Uppsala Universitet. Rabbi Rosner served as a Chaplain Candidate and 2Lt. in the United States Air Force Reserve from 2010 to 2015.

What else does he like to do? He is dedicated to the pleasures of picnicking, pickling, and cooking. He loves hammocks, cats and the blend of people who make up the rich tapestry of Southern California life. Rabbi Rosner is married to Rebbitzin Noémie Taylor-Rosner.

Rabbi K'vod Wieder

Clergy Statement

As your rabbi at Temple Beth El of South Orange County, I want to meet you where you are – on your Jewish, human, and spiritual journey. I strive to create sacred spaces that are inclusive, welcoming, accessible, and soulful. I welcome all forms of ritual expression – from traditional to creative, whether considered Reform or Conservative – as long as they are authentic and meaningful. I hope that you will know that my door is always open and that I want to be present in your life – to learn together, to celebrate together, and to walk with you through the difficult moments.

My purpose is to share life’s journey with others in ways that help them awaken in ever deepening awareness to God’s presence in this world. I seek to translate Jewish tradition as a technology of the spirit – a framework for perception and doing that allows individuals and communities to be in relationship around living lives of purpose and meaning. In this calling, I strive to reflect every person’s inherent worth and Divine image so they can be empowered to be co-creators in God’s world, honoring relationship and connection as the cosmic fabric of reality in which we participate.

Biography

A native of Orange County, K’vod received his BA in psychology from UC Santa Cruz in 1993 and his MA in Transpersonal Psychology (counseling) from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in 1996. He received an MA in Jewish Studies from the American Jewish University and was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2012. He is a member of both the Central Conference for American Rabbis (Reform) and the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) For the last 26 years, K’vod has been teaching classes, leading retreats, and counseling students in meditation, prayer, and creative forms of Jewish spirituality in the United States. He has served as the assistant director of Chochmat HaLev – a Jewish meditation center in Berkeley, program director for Sonoma County Jewish Federation, director of the B’nai Tzedek Teen Philanthropy Program for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, program director for Elat Chayyim Center of Jewish Spirituality, and trained and interned with Jewish Funds For Justice and One L.A in the area of congregation-based community organizing. In 2001, K’vod created and implemented the first county-wide post-bnai mitzvah program in Sonoma County, and won the Etz Chayyim award for Informal Jewish education at the National Conference for Informal Jewish Education in 2005. K’vod joined Temple Beth El of South Orange County in 2011 to serve the synagogue’s vision of Progressive Judaism. In collaboration with staff and congregants, he has initiated some of TBESOC’s strongest initiatives, including the 8th Grade Tzedakah Board, Small Groups, Pathfinders, Can We Talk?! Building Relationships Through Disagreement, and the Center for Meditation and Jewish Spirituality. 

Cantor Emerita Shula Kalir-Merton, Interim Clergy

Shula Kalir-Merton Cantor Shula has served as Temple Beth El’s Cantor since 1988. She was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, and is the daughter of the late Rabbi Joseph Kalir and Hilda Kalir, both holocaust survivors from Germany. Shula received her early education in Israel and her secondary education in Goteborg, Sweden, where her father held a rabbinical pulpit. After attending Boston University and the Hebrew Teachers College in Boston, Massachusetts, she moved to the west coast to work in the field of Jewish Education and to exercise her passion for Jewish music. She performed as a vocalist on the local Jewish scene, in several tours of college campuses in the western states, and concerts throughout Europe. Upon the suggestion of Rabbi Krause, who had heard her perform, Shula entered the Cantorate. She completed the four-year course of cantorial studies in just three years under the tutelage of Cantor William Sharlin in Los Angeles. Cantor Shula has one grown son.

Remembering Allen Krause (z"ll), Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi Krause served Temple Beth El of South Orange County since July 1984. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1967, he spent his undergraduate years at the University of California, Los Angeles and did doctoral work at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley. He also was a recipient of the Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellowship to study at Harvard University. In 1992, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by the HUC-JIR. Rabbi Krause devoted much of his life to human rights issues. In the 1970s, he was active in the Save Soviet Jewry movement, which led to his journey to the FSU to visit and bring support to Jewish Refuseniks. In 1983, he created the Ad Hoc Rabbinic Committee to Rescue Ethiopian Jewry, which mounted a national petition campaign to influence the American government to take action to save this threatened Jewish community. Here in Orange County, Rabbi Krause was a leader in interfaith activity and the founder of the Religious Diversity Forum. He was also the founder of the Morasha Day School, which for many years met the needs of the Jewish community in South Orange County. Rabbi Krause served as president of the Orange County Board of Rabbis and the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. He also served on the Executive Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and chaired the CCAR Task Force on Rabbi/Cantor Relations. Rabbi Krause and his wife Sherri have two grown children.

In Memory of Rabbi Allen Krause
from our sister congregation in Ra’anana, Israel Rabbi Tamar Kolberg and all members of Kehilat Ra’anan (Ra’anana, Israel) send their heartfelt condolences to Sherri and the children, to Rabbi Peter Levi and the members of Temple Beth El. Rabbi Krause was a devoted friend of our congregation for many years and was one of the moving spirits behind the vision of building a permanent home for us. It is through his endeavors that the Samueli family funded this project and they have remained solid friends ever since. Rabbi Krause was a strong supporter of Israel even when he found reasons to be critical of its policies – this is the essence of true friendship: being able to uphold a solid relationship while also knowing that in every partnership different opinions can be discussed and evaluated. Loving Israel and believing in the idea of a Jewish homeland does not negate giving up dreams of peace, of working towards a more inclusive situation for all those who live in Israel and the Middle East. Above all Rabbi Krause was a true “mench” – a human being who touched so many of our lives with his deep understanding and a keen sense of the “other”. We will miss Rabbi Kraus’s physical presence when we celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of Beit Samueli this coming June, and yet his spirit, his love, and his compassion will certainly be with us all. May all of you find comfort in his life long activities; his love of family; of the members of his congregation; his devotion to so many great causes and especially his love of Am Yisrael and Judaism. We send our love to Sheri, Gavriela, Roger, and Stephen and all of our friends at Temple Beth El – May his memory be blessed! Rabbi Tamar Kolberg Kehilat Ra’anan, Israel

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784