Rabbi Laura Geller came to Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in 1994. She was the first Reform woman rabbi to be selected as the Senior Rabbi of a major metropolitan congregation. Rabbi Geller has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America for two years in a row, and receiving the California State Legislature’s Woman of the Year Award. In 2015 she was named one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis by Forward Magazine. Featured in the PBS Documentary called Jewish Americans, she is the author of many articles in journals and books, is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, and served on the Editorial Board of The Torah: A Woman's Commentary, in which she has two published essays. Most recently, she has spearheaded a groundbreaking new project called Next Stage: Temple Emanuel's Boomer and Beyond Initiative.
Prior to being chosen as Senior Rabbi in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. Among her accomplishments at AJCongress was the creation of the AJCongress Feminist Center, which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. She came to AJCongress in 1990 after 14 years as the Director of Hillel at the University of Southern California.
Rabbi Geller is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. Rabbi Geller was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, and is the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. She is married to Richard A. Siegel, and she is the mother of Joshua and Elana Goldstein, grandmother of Avery Peter Goldstein, and the stepmother of Andy and Ruth Siegel.
Rabbi Jonathan Aaron is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Emerson College in 1983. He later attended Hebrew Union College, where he received a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education in 1993, and a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters in 1994, and was ordained as a Rabbi in 1996. Since ordination, Rabbi Aaron has served Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in several roles; first as an Assistant, then Associate Rabbi, and now as Co-Senior Rabbi. He has also been Director of Education, and served as the Head of Temple Emanuel Academy Day School for almost a decade.
Throughout his time with Temple Emanuel, Rabbi Aaron has continually combined Judaism with the arts, in the areas of music and theater. He has written liturgical music that is used regularly in our services, especially in our core service, The Roven Family Shabbat Unplugged, which has been a staple of our congregation for more than 15 years. He wrote a full length intergenerational musical, Hyrcanus, which he also directed at Temple Emanuel. He has also written, or co-written, numerous contemporary prayer experiences, including services of Healing, Selichot, and Shabbat, as well as scores of Purim shpiels. He is especially known for his storytelling of folktales and biblical stories, which gives joy to children (and adults) of all ages.
In the community, Rabbi Aaron serves as a sworn-in Police Chaplain in the Beverly Hills Police Department, and is on the Board of Directors at The Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills. He also has been a visiting professor at Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion, where he has taught speech to second-year rabbinical students for more than 10 years.
Prior to joining Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Rabbi Sarah Bassin served as Executive Director of LA–based NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. Under Rabbi Bassin’s leadership, NewGround was named one of the 50 Most Innovative and Inspiring Organizations in the Jewish Community by the Slingshot Guide. Governor Jerry Brown named the high school leadership program developed by Rabbi Bassin as California’s Faith-Based Organization of the Year in 2013. In addition, Rabbi Bassin was named as one of online magazine Splashlife's list of 30 people under the age of 30 to watch in civic leadership. An avid leader in Jewish innovation, Rabbi Bassin is a member of the ROI Community of Jewish innovators, and she is an alumna of the prestigious Joshua Venture Group Fellowship. She currently serves on the Boards of the Joshua Venture Group and NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
Her breadth of rabbinic, teaching and community service experience includes work with the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College as their mentorship program coordinator, with USC as a Teaching Assistant in Jewish History, as a Rabbinic Intern with the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and as Hospital Chaplain at UCLA's Santa Monica Health Center.
Cantor Lizzie Weiss
Cantor Lizzie Weiss grew up at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She was very involved in all things music. From intergenerational productions at the Emanuel Arts Center, to Junior Cantors, to the High Holy Day Professional Choir, Cantor Weiss developed her Jewish identity with her experiences in Jewish living at Temple Emanuel, Camp Swig/Newman and all under the wing of her Uncle Rabbi Kenneth J. Weiss, and brother Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss.
Cantor Weiss is known for her powerful voice and welcoming presence. She values creating accessible and uplifting musical experiences for people of all ages, and strives to bring contemporary pieces along with nostalgic melodies to her congregants.
After graduating from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in drama, Cantor Weiss moved to New York and was cast in the Broadway National Tour of Disney’s High School Musical. After a few years on the road, Cantor Weiss landed back in Los Angeles, and entered cantorial school at the Academy for Jewish Religion, under the mentorship of Cantor Nathan Lam and Cantor Perryne Anker. While in school, she served as Student Cantor at Congregation B’nai Tzedek for three full years, and four High Holy Day seasons. She spent her final year of cantorial school as Student Cantor at Temple Emanuel coordinating and tutoring for the B’nai Mitzvah Program, and singing at Shabbat Morning@Emanuel and various Friday-evening services. Cantor Weiss received her cantorial ordination in May 2015.
When not on the Temple Emanuel Bima, Cantor Weiss can be found singing in Jewish and secular concerts, alike, throughout Los Angeles, and continues to teach private voice lessons to kids and young adults.
Rabbi Meyer Heller has served the Temple for more than 35 years. Today he lives with his family in Oregon.