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Our Staff

Lisabeth Lobenthal (LB), Executive Director 

Lisabeth Lobenthal (LB) has dedicated her professional and volunteer life to the Jewish community.  Earning her Bachelors degree in Religious Studies from the University of Michigan and Masters in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University, she began her career in Federation work.  Soon after, she began serving synagogues in the capacity of Executive Director.  Lisabeth took a couple of breaks from synagogue work to dedicate her time to Israel-related organiazations, but returned to her true passion of synagogues in 2015.

She is dedicated to working in partnership with lay leaders, clergy, and staff to build a vibrant, welcoming, progressive community.  She has worked in and been affiliated with both the Reform and Conservative movements and is equally comfortable in both settings. 

Lisabeth is committed to a nurturing work environment, creating a positive and fulfilling experience for members, a culture of philanthropy and fulfilling the vision and potential of the synagogue. 

Her passions and joys outside of work are her partner of 24 years, Patrick Thomi, composer and musician, her adult son, Aaron, her 2 spoiled cats, and jewelry making. 

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 213,


Michelle Onufer, Associate Executive Director 

Michelle is a business professional with a passion for process optimization and improving the user experience. She found her way into Jewish Communal Service after a career in Management; working in software development and UI/UX design.

Michelle is dedicated to fulfilling the strategic vision of this community. With a deep commitment to the experience of others, she will be partnering with lay leaders, clergy, and staff to nurture this progressive community; creating experiences where people experience

the joy of being Jewish.

With a B.S. in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego Michelle's background in Economics and Operations Research blended with her secular and Jewish work experience brings an eclectic mix of skills she is thrilled to share with this vibrant community.

When not at TBESOC, Michelle can be found enjoying the outdoors, riding her Peloton, crafting, or cheering on her kids sporting events.

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 100,

Johannah Sohn, Director of Congregational Learning

Johannah has spent the entirety of her career working in the field of Jewish education; “it is my passion and I believe it is my calling,” she says. Johannah has had the opportunity to work with every age group from newborns to adults and loves helping to make Judaism come alive for everyone! She worked in many Jewish educational settings from religious schools, to camp, to Hillel and even a Jewish day school.

Johannah is a nationally recognized visionary and educational leader known for redefining elementary education through the conception of the Zebrack Design Lab (an innovative classroom environment based on Design Thinking principles). She has extensive experience in strategic planning, change management, curriculum development, and facilitation. As a flexible and adaptable professional with a proven history of working with diverse constituencies, her work includes coordinating, organizing, and inspiring both lay and professional leadership.

Committed to lifelong learning, Johannah has a master’s degree in education from American Jewish University, a doctorate in education from Northeastern University and is a proud alumna of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Responsibilities/duties: Contact  me for any questions regarding educational programs for learners of all ages, b’nei mitzvah programs and adult education. 

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 102, 

Melissa Nguyen, Assistant Director of the ECC

Ms. Melissa was a Director/Owner of a Preschool Facility in Garden Grove for 8 years.  She earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University Dominguez Hills and Bachelor of Arts in IDS in 2009. Ms. Melissa has many years of experience in the classroom with students in Early Childhood Education.  She loves to interact with young children and their inquisitive minds and wishes to continue to work with other educators to provide a great and safe learning environment for the young scholars. She is an educator with the passion to provide the best quality enrichment education to students of all ages. She believes every child has the potential to achieve great academic success when provided with the right learning tools and a strong supportive system.

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 317,

Samantha Hoffman, Director of Teen Programs/Assistant Director of the CJL

Samantha has spent her entire professional career working in youth education. Her favorite settings for education are not necessarily within the four walls of the classroom, in fact her passion for informal education led her to earn a Masters in Jewish Education with an Emphasis on Experiential Education from the Hebrew College.

Beginning with a Bachelors of the Arts in Modern Jewish Studies from Cal State Northridge, Samantha is grateful for her prior roles at Religious Schools, Jewish Day Schools and Jewish Overnight Summer Camps, where she was awarded the inaugural award for Excellence in Jewish Education from the Foundation for Jewish Camps.

When Samantha isn’t working she enjoys spending time with her husband Zach, daughter Dora and dog Kate. Her favorite hobbies include rooting for the New York Yankees and watching Lifetime Movies.

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 107,

Karol Johnson, Communications Coordinator
Karol has a BS in Product Design from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. She has worked in the production industry creating graphics/POP for various companies. Prior to working at TBESOC, Karol worked at Paul's TV (the King of Big Screens) as advertising coordinator/graphic artist. Karol lives in south Orange County with her husband Brett and two kids (Brett and Brielle).

Responsibilities/duties: Contact me for any questions or issues regarding our social media, website and eblast. 

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext. 103,

Daphna Danesh-McCoy, Administrative Assistant

Daphna started with Temple Beth El of South Orange County as a temporary employee in September 2020. She was hired as a full time employee in April 2021. Daphna was born in Newport Beach, CA and resides in Lake Forest with her husband of five years. She attended Irvine Valley College and received a certificate in Word Processing and Administrative Management in 2006. In her spare time she enjoys event planning, baking, cooking, and spending time with her husband and family.

Responsibilities/duties: Contact me for any questions regarding general temple information and the Early Childhood Center. 

Contact information: 949-362-3999 ext 316,

Brittany Roswell, Education Department Administrative Assistant
949-362-3999 ext 303



Juan Rodriguez, Maintenance Lieutenant

In 2003,Temple Beth El of South Orange County hired Facility Services Partners Inc. to provide the custodial support for our facility. At that time, Juan was working at SOKA University as Facility Services’ Facilities Engineer, and ever since has been leading the custodial team here at the temple. Juan loves that no two days are the same at Temple Beth El! He does everything from  fixing, repairing, and maintaining equipment to set ups and clean-ups. Juan and his wife have four amazing children.

Contact information: 949-891-3865,

Thu, December 8 2022 14 Kislev 5783