The people of Temple Beth Am are made up of dedicated individuals and groups that offer a spirited place for worship and for cultured education. While Temple Beth Am addresses and faces the challenges of community reform Judaism on a daily basis, we deliver a menu of warmth and enthusiastic leadership. Our family of adults, young adults and children reciprocate amongst each other a spiritual leadership that we are proud of throughout our community.
Rabbi Ronald N. Brown
||Two or three months after my arrival at Temple Beth Am, an elderly gentleman approached me following the Shabbat morning Bar Mitzvah. With a thick yiddish accent he said: "Had it not been for the Bar Mitzvah, I would never set foot in a reform congregation, but you're not so bad!" "What synagogue do you attend?" I asked. "Ohav Sholom (orthodox) ... next door." About six months later the scenario repeated itself almost verbatim. This time the woman said to me "I've never been to a reform synagogue, but you're really not so bad!" "Where are you from?" I asked. "Cure of Ars (Roman Catholic) ... next door." From the two stories, I learned that we have something unique to offer ... people from various backgrounds have found a home at Temple Beth Am. I hope that in time you too will tell your friends: "It's not so bad there ... we really feel like we fit in."
Phone: (516) 378-3477, ext. 14
Rabbi Dr. Ronald N. Brown assumed the spiritual leadership of Temple Beth Am in September 1984. However, his roots in the Temple go back many years. His father, Jack Brown served as Beth Am’s first Cantor.
Dr. Brown was ordained and received his PhD from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. He has published numerous scholarly articles in the field of rabbinic literature.
In the years that Dr. Brown has been in Merrick, he has initiated several unique programs including “Thanksgiving“ (a joint project between Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews to help the needy) and “by invitation only” (a social gathering for singles). He created the first synagogue network system in New York to help the unemployed. Dr. Brown was also instrumental in starting the first of its kind Merrick Hebrew High School, which is a combination of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues in our community. In 1999, Rabbi Brown established the North American Boards of Rabbis (N.A.B.O.R.) which unites boards of rabbis across the country under one umbrella organization. NABOR is the largest organization of its kind which brings Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform rabbis together to discuss issues of common concern.
As a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Board of Rabbis, Dr. Brown has been invited by the governments of Ireland, Israel, and the Czech Republic to represent this rabbinic body on religious and political issues. Dr. Brown taught at the Academy for the Jewish Religion in Manhattan and has authored an historical novel, Sacred Fires. He and his wife, Tsipora, have collaborated on short stories for children. Dr. and Mrs. Brown are the parents of Jack and Jennifer.
It is an honor to have Rabbi Brown lead our congregation now and in the future.
Rabbi Paul Kushner
||It is a privilege to be part of the Beth Am family. This unique temple has achieved a balance of Jewish tradition and contemporary concerns. Temple Beth Am offers a full range of religious, educational, social and social action activities for all ages. The dedication of both clergy and lay leadership attains the highest standards of synagogue life.
Phone: (516) 378-3477
Rabbi Paul Kushner is a native of Brooklyn and was raised almost in the shadow of Ebbets Field. He holds various academic degrees: Bachelor of Science from Columbia University, Bachelor of Religious Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Bachelor of Hebrew Literature, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Divinity from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He pursued post-graduate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1963.
After serving congregations in Florence, South Carolina, Aberdeen, Maryland, Kendall Park, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York, Rabbi Kushner became the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Shalom in Bellmore, New York, in 1973. He held this position until he came to Temple Beth Am. He has also served as an Auxiliary Chaplain of the U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Director of the Rabbinical Advisory Council of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York, Associate Director of the Department of Religious Affairs of UJA-Federation, and North American Director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
While at UJA-Federation, he was secretary of the Federation's Committee on Medical Ethics and is the co-author of Jewish Ethno-Psychiatry: A Training Manual for Psychiatric Residents. In addition, he was an instructor in liturgy and Hebrew language at HUC-JIR. Rabbi Kushner was a visiting lecturer at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Lloyd Harbor, New York and lectures frequently at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.
Rabbi Kushner has always been active in professional organizations. He has served as President of the Brooklyn Association of Reform Rabbis, the Long Island Board of Rabbis and the Alumni Association of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is one of very few rabbis who enjoy full membership in both the Central Conference of American Rabbis (reform) and the Rabbinical Assembly (conservative). He also led the Brooklyn Reconstructionist Havurah for several years. He has functioned as a commentator on Jewish news for WOR and WABC radio and television.
On a personal note, Rabbi Paul and Shoshana Kushner have been married for over 50 years. They have five children and, at last count, eleven grandchildren.
Cantor Daniel M. Rosenfeld
||I came to Temple Beth Am in 2004. In short, I found a home. I can't begin to enumerate the myriad elements of this community which endeared me to it both immediately and to this day. As a Cantor, I've been privileged to serve with as fine a staff of rabbis as any I know anywhere. And most importantly, I've been privileged to serve a congregation with whose members I've bonded deeply from the beginning. It is always with a sense of pride and contentment that I speak of Beth Am to my family, friends and colleagues outside of our immediate community. To me, Temple Beth Am represents the best of what the Reform Movements offers, an open accepting community with a solid connection to tradition coupled with a forward-looking commitment to the future. May it always be so.
Phone: (516) 378-3477, ext. 16
Cantor Daniel M. Rosenfeld ("Cantor Dan") has served as the Cantor of Temple Beth Am since the fall of 2004. As the Cantor of Temple Beth Am, he has overseen a number of interfaith programs and events including the direction of the Temple's adult choir combined with that of the 7th Day Adventist Church of Manhasset, New York.
Over the course of his career he has taught in several institutions, both private and public. He served on the faculty of the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism in Baldwin, New York where he instructed Cantorial and Rabbinic students in music theory and the history of Reform Jewish worship. While serving at more than one congregation in New Jersey, he taught courses on basic Judaism as part of the senior citizens network of Monmouth County.
Throughout his career, Cantor Dan has appeared on stages in the New York area such as the Thomas Cultice Summer Opera’s production of Dido and Aeneas performed at Mannes School of Music and in original off-broadway productions such as Trilogy of Poe, composed by Vittorio Furgeri and performed at the Harry Warren Theater. Cantor Dan has directed musical theater productions, and has also sung in numerous choral ensembles including the former 92nd Street Y Chorale and also as a professional soloist in various choruses. Through his years of vocal experience, Cantor Dan has developed a diverse repertoire including classics of the Yiddish theater, opera, oratorio, the romantic era, and contemporary art song. He has also composed and arranged settings of the prayers sung in Jewish worship.
Cantor Rosenfeld has received his masters in sacred music from Hebrew Union College in 1996 and his Bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1982. He continues to enjoy serving as an instructor, teacher and Cantor at Temple Beth Am.
||In our Torah it is written and in our prayers we recite "and you will teach them diligently to your children." It is this scriptural basis that provides the inspiration for our school. Learning is not the mere acquisition of subject matter. Real learning is a process of growth and transformation of personality and values. Our Religious school programs help nurture a strong Jewish identity and sense of commitment to Judaism within our students and their families. We strive to establish significant ties with the larger synagogue community, the home and the Merrick Jewish community. Ultimately, it is our goal to develop within each of our students a sense of Derech Eretz (the proper way of treating other human beings), a love of Judaism, and a body of knowledge that will allow each student to see the world through Jewish eyes.
Rabbi Mickey Baum
Phone: (516) 378-3477, ext. 19
Rabbi Mickey Baum ("Rabbi Mickey") was appointed Director of Education at Temple Beth Am in July 2007. He has been involved in Jewish education since 1987. He attended Hofstra University and was ordained from Tiferet Yisrael Yeshivah in 2006. He started teaching at Temple Beth Am in 1995. Through the years, he has taught all grades (K-12), helped train Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and has led P.A.C.T. (Parents and Children Together) workshops as well as teacher training sessions. Rabbi Mickey has taught adult education and adult bar/bat mitzvah classes. He also currently serves as the Vice President of LITE–Long Island Temple Educators. Prior to becoming director of education, he taught at Temple Emanu-El of East Meadow where he also served as youth director and was also youth director at the Suburban Temple of Wantagh.
In his role as director of education, he is thrilled to be able to combine his energy with his passion for Judaism. “Our curriculum provides a wonderful balance of study time and hands-on activities to allow our children to learn “the 3 h’s”–Hebrew, holidays and heritage. In our Torah it is written and in our prayers we recite “and you will teach them diligently to your children.” It is the scriptural basis that provides the inspiration for our school. Learning is not the mere acquisition of subject matter. Real learning is a process of growth and transformation of personality and values.
Temple Beth Am’s religious school is a caring community where everyone learns and participates in a wide variety of age appropriate programs and activities. It is our goal to develop within each of our students a sense of Derech Eretz (the proper way of treating other human beings), a love of Judaism and a body of knowledge that will allow each student to see the world through Jewish eyes.
Pamela Brandenberger (President)
"Temple Beth Am has been my family's spiritual home and a very important part of our family's life for many years. Now, as the only Reform Jewish congregation in Bellmore and Merrick, it is even more important that we nurture and support it, as a beacon for the community and for the spiritual and emotional support it provides for all who seek it. "
Phone: (516) 378-3477
Pam and her family have been members of Temple Beth Am since 1985, but her connection to Beth Am started long before that. Forty years ago she and Peter were married in our sanctuary by Rabbi Saperstein. Their children have attended all the educational resources Beth Am has to offer, starting with Torah for Tots and ending with High School Graduation in 12th grade.
From the start Pam was enthusiastic about being involved in all aspects of Temple life. Sisterhood was her starting point. Over the years she held numerous positions including chairing school holiday celebrations, onegs, cheer cards, Judaica shop, birthday uniongrams and membership. In addition she held offices as corresponding secretary and vice-president and was a member of two presidiums before she served as President of Sisterhood from 1990-92.
On the Temple level she also has held various positions. Pam edited the Temple Message in the 1980’s, and then went on to chair the Ritual Committee and School Committees and serve as a vice president of the congregation. She also was one of the founding members of the Bingo crew for many years. She was a member of the Temple Nominating committee and two Cantor search committees including when we hired Cantor Rosenfeld. Pam has been a member of the Temple board and has been back editing the Temple Message for the past few years. She and Peter just finished their term as Co-Presidents of Chai Society.
Pam attended Hofstra University where she and Peter graduated in 1972. After many years being active with the Winthrop Avenue School PTA, she took a job at Nassau BOCES and is currently at the Rosemary Kennedy Center working with developmentally disabled and autistic high school children. Besides her passion for knitting, she and Peter volunteer at the Last Hope Animal Shelter in Wantagh where she is a shift supervisor and trainer.
Beth Am has always been very important in her life and her family life. Because her connection to the temple goes back so far, she thinks of Beth Am as her second home. She is very committed to keeping Beth Am as the premier reform congregation in Bellmore and Merrick.