Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz, Ph.D.
Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz became the Rabbi of Temple Beth El in August 2008. In addition to her work at Temple Beth El, Rabbi Katz serves on Chancellor Arnold Eisen’s Rabbinic Leadership Cabinet, the Rabbinic Cabinet for the Masorti Foundation and the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America. She has a column in Moment Magazine, teaches classes at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Davidson School of Education, and is on the editorial committee for Siddur Lev Shalem, the new prayer book for the Conservative Movement. This past year Rabbi Katz has been invited to serve as a mentor for the Clergy Leadership Incubator, a two year training program on transformational leadership for early career rabbis.
Rabbi Katz has participated in some exceptional programs of professional development. She was a fellow in Rabbis Without Borders, the Teacher Educator Institute, the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, From Good to Great: A Leadership Program for Rabbis, and the Kellogg Management Education for Jewish Leaders. Each of these experiences has helped Rabbi Katz to refine her thinking about Jewish education, the synagogue in the 21st century, and rabbinic leadership.
Cantor Elise Barber
Cantor Elise Barber joined Temple Beth El in 2011. She received her ordination as Cantor and Master’s degree in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in Newton, MA. She received her B.A. in Theatre from American University and enjoyed a professional acting and singing career as a child and well into her twenties. Cantor Barber was a member of the first national Broadway tour of the musical Titanic and also sang in West Side Story Suite with the New York City Ballet. In 2006-2007, Cantor Barber lived in Israel and studied at the progressive modern Orthodox yeshiva, Pardes, as well as in ulpan.
Cantor Barber has led services and taught at a number of synagogues in New York and Massachusetts. She has been steeped in Jewish music as a member of the Zamir Chorale of Boston from 2007-2010, and is dedicated to Jewish pluralism, interfaith programs, and environmental action. Her passion is to help people experience Judaism’s joy, depth, and sense of community.
Cantor Barber has worked with organizations such as Hazon, Atid Yarok, Rabbis for Human Rights, Encounter, and Journeys on the Hill. Her husband, Rabbi Benjamin Weiner, is the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst, and together they are the proud parents of Efraim Dean Weinbarber.
Reverend David Aminia
Reverend David Aminia was born in Iran and moved to Israel in the mid-1960s. While there, he studied in ulpan for eight months. Rev. Aminia then emigrated to the United States and completed high school in Bolton Landing, a small town in upstate New York. He studied mathematics and computer applications at the Florida Institute of Technology.
In 1989, Rev. Aminia came to Temple Beth El to serve the congregation as Ritual Director. He studied Haftarah trope with Rabbi David Rosenfeld and Torah trope with Professor Hayim Cohen of Beer Sheva University. After serving the congregation with distinction for many years, he was honored with the title of Reverend.
Rev. Aminia is involved in all aspects of ritual life at the synagogue. He oversees the daily minyan, reads Torah, tutors B’nai mitzvah students, supervises kashrut, helps coordinate cemetery activities and tracks over 2,500 yahrzeits. His presence has been essential to ritual life at Temple Beth El for decades.
Rabbi Emeritus Herbert Schwartz
Rabbi Herbert N. Schwartz was born in Chicago in 1943, received his B.A from University of Michigan (1964), his M.Ed. from Kent State University (1973), Master of Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary (1968) and was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1970. Subsequently, he received an Honorary Doctorate from that institution in 1995. Rabbi Schwartz married Sharon Karp in 1965 and together they have three children - Rachel, Doniel and Alisa.
Rabbi Schwartz has served three congregations: Ohev Tzedek of Youngstown, Ohio, B’nai Jeshurun, of Cleveland, Ohio, and our own Temple Beth El in Springfield, MA (1983-2008). He regarded himself first and foremost as a pastor and he helped steward his communities through the tumult of the the Vietnam war (Youngstown),through the transitions from urban to suburban Jewish life (Cleveland), and through a quarter of a century of rethinking modern American Judaism (Springfield).
He was ever dedicated to civil rights and interfaith relations and represented the Jewish community to Springfield’s general community. He served on Baystate Medical Center’s Pastoral committee and the Committee on Community Health for the City of Springfield. He championed Health Centers in the Springfield School System and worked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in such areas as needle exchange, smoking cessation, and violence prevention. Rabbi Schwartz’s inclusive view of the congregation encouraged expanding education to all ages, and was pivotal in the creation of the Sandi Kupperman Learning Center, reaching beyond the boundaries of the classroom to include all that Jews experience. Under Rabbi Schwartz’s leadership, the Katz Family Library was revitalized with the intention to strengthen the Jewish home. Finally, a spiritual dimension was added as Beth El welcomed instrumental music, meditation and healing services to the temple’s more traditional offerings, with the goal of allowing all the generations to interact with one another.
Rabbi and Sharon retired in 2008, following the example of his beloved friend and partner Cantor Morton Shames and his dear Presidents who have all maintained an abiding interest in one another as well as the welfare of Temple Beth El and its members until this time.