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 (Emeritus) 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 Chairman 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.
From September 2008-June 2009 Rabbi Mickey served as our Rabbi when Rabbi Brown was on Sabbatical. In July 2009, Rabbi Mickey was named assistant Rabbi. Since that time, Rabbi Mickey has taught adult education including two very successful Adult Bat Mitzvah classes, led services, given sermons at High Holiday services, officiated Bar/Bat Mitzvahs as well as other life cycle events at Beth Am. In addition, since 2009, Rabbi Mickey has been taking our confirmation classes as well as other congregants who wish to join them every 2 years on a trip to Israel. Rabbi Mickey served once again as our Rabbi from January-June 2014 when Rabbi Brown took another sabbatical.
David Plass (President)
"Temple Beth Am has been home away from home ever since my kids started in the Hebrew School. Here we are, almost 10 years later, and I am proud to be able to serve on its Board of Trustees. I intend to keep its traditions alive, improving its operations and nurturing its growth during my tenure as President."
Phone: (516) 378-3477
David and his family have been members of Temple Beth Am since 2004. He and his wife Sue were married in 1994 and moved to Merrick in 1996. Both their children were Bnei Mitzvahed at Temple Beth Am: Aaron in 2009 and Brianna in 2012. Aaron continued through confirmation and graduated Hebrew High School in May 2014.
When David first joined the board he was asked to help with the website. He now updates it on a regular basis to publicize all the events, fundraisers and congregational meetings at the temple. He also initiated the weekly “email blast” and sends out about 500 emails a week to the congregation. After getting a request from the main office, he built a website for the temple calendar. Another of his projects, a website for Cantor Dan to easily distribute Bnei Mitzvah recordings, has been used by dozens of his students.
During his first year on the board David served on the Nominating Committee, finding eligible candidates for the board. Subsequently he was Vice-President of Education for two years, keeping his existing role as webmaster.
David graduated from MIT in 1990 and completed his Masters of Science at NYU in 1995, both in computer science. He has been a software developer in many industries including finance, medical imaging, music publishing, and currently works for Google. Besides contributing his time to Temple Beth Am, he also serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 577 of North Bellmore, and volunteers for the Robbie Levine Foundation’s annual Robbie’s Run.
While David did not grow up in the Merrick/Bellmore area, he has always felt “at home” at Temple Beth Am due to its similarity to the synagogue he attended through high school. He is committed to both continuing the Jewish traditions of the temple, and continuing to improve the efficiency of its operation, with the goal of keeping it sustainable for years to come.