Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Senior Rabbi
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon became the Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in June of 1999, and brought vigor, excellence, depth, and joy to Arizona's first congregation. Rabbi Cohon's rich heritage and knowledge of Judaism have dramatically enhanced the Temple's congregational life. In the past twelve years at Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Cohon helped initiate the creation of the only Reform Jewish Early Childhood Education Center in Tucson (The Olga & Bob Strauss ECE), the writing of new Torahs in honor of Emanu-El's 90th and 100th anniversaries, and developed the Adult Education Academy, the largest, finest, and most comprehensive program of Adult Jewish education in Arizona, which serves over 1000 students every year. He has also spearheaded an outreach effort to unaffiliated Jews in Tucson, including the enormously popular Taste of Judaism series of courses which has taught over 4000 students, and the Northwest Halutzim Outreach Shabbat series, now celebrating 10 years of monthly Northwest services. He also created the Temple Emanu-El Youth and Teen Choirs, and the Avanim Rock Band. He also recorded 4 commercially-released CD’s of Jewish music, and edited and co-authored the "Promise Hagaddah" and the "Shabbat Reflections" prayerbook.
The "Too Jewish Radio Show with Rabbi Sam Cohon and Friends" airs on Sundays on KVOI 1030 AM and throughout the state, is now on its 10th year, and is one of the top-rated Jewish podcasts nationally at www.toojewishradio.com and on iTunes.
Rabbi Cohon became a certified Conservative cantor in 1987 (he is a member of the Cantors Assembly), and was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1995. He is a third generation rabbi, following his grandfather who taught at HUC for 35 years, and authored the Columbus platform of the Reform movement, and his father, a prominent cantor at Reform and Conservative congregations for many years, and now an Orthodox rabbi.
Rabbi Cohon has been widely recognized for his contributions to the communities and congregations he has served. He is the founding chair of the Tucson Multi-Faith Alliance, and has served on the Metropolitan Education Commission, on the board of Handmaker, and Jewish Family & Childrens' Services, and a variety of national Jewish organizational boards. He has received variety of Jewish and secular awards as well. He brought spirit, joy and quality to Temple Emanu-El, resulting in an increase in membership from 350 to 700 families, as well as dramatically renewed enthusiasm and commitment among congregational members. Rabbi Cohon is married to Dr. Wendy S. Weise, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona, and has two sons, Boaz and Gabriel, and a daughter, Cipora.
WANT TO HEAR FROM THE RABBI?
Rabbi Batsheva Appel, Rabbi Educator
Rabbi Batsheva Appel is a native of Seattle and the rainy Pacific Northwest. Despite having lived in a number of different parts of the United States, moving to Tucson is a big change.
She graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences and Economics and entered the corporate world, first working in a research laboratory and then in sales and marketing. Rabbi Appel was an active layperson in her congregation, singing in the choir, taking classes, and serving on the Board of Directors, when she decided to become a rabbi. She attended Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and was in Israel the same year as Rabbi Cohon. Rabbi Appel was ordained from the New York campus of HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Appel has served as a sabbatical rabbi, rabbi-educator interim rabbi, assistant rabbi and associate rabbi in congregations on Long Island, and in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 2006 Rabbi Appel was named the Director of Rabbinic Services for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life where she was the rabbi for more than 25 underserved congregations of all denominations in an eight-state area in the South. Rabbi Appel comes to Temple Emanu-El after serving as the senior rabbi of KAM Isaiah Israel in Chicago for the past four years.
She is involved in interfaith dialogue and was president of the Hyde Park Kenwood Interfaith Council, which is more than a century old.
Rabbi Appel wrote the chapter on how eating locally is a Jewish choice in the book The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic. As soon as she gets settled here in Tucson, she will be checking out the farmers' markets and CSA possibilities.
She also enjoys reading, walking, swimming, knitting, cooking, and baking.
Rabbi Appel sees Jewish learning as an ongoing passion and thinks "the best learning is transformative, changing who we are and how we act in the world."
Marjorie Hochberg, Cantorial Soloist
Marjorie Hochberg has been the full time Cantorial Soloist at Temple Emanu-El for 14 years. In addition to her role as officiant at Shabbat and Festival services and life-cycle events, she is primary B'nai Mitzvah coordinator and shoulders the primary responsibility for teaching Hebrew, liturgy and cantillation to B'nai Mitzvah students and adults. She teaches Kitah Hey/7th Grade Hebrew school, teaches Hebrew to adults, coordinates the Teen, Adult and High Holy Day Choirs, and as a senior staff member, participates in communications, advertising and marketing aspects of the Temple administration.
At Temple Emanu-El, Marjorie Hochberg is respected as a teacher of young people and adults. In the words of one Bar Mitzvah, “I have become a better Jewish person because of you. And in the words of one parent, “Your kindness and patience are what made it possible for our daughter to go through the process of becoming a bat mitzvah in a positive, deeply meaningful way…You made her feel capable of anything.”
Donna Beyer, Executive Director
Donna Beyer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in elementary education. She is married to Bruce (who is also a past president of Temple Emanu-El) and has two grown daughters, Lisa and Amy (who is a Temple member). In addition to her position as Executive Director of Temple Emanu-El, Donna is Marketing Vice President of Postcraft Company, a family-owned manufacturing company that provides shower curtains and mattress covers to institutions such as colleges, hotels, camps, and cruise lines. She has been active in the Jewish community and is a life member of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. She is a past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council, past member of the Boards of the Coalition for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Center. She was named Woman of the Year in 2000 by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. Donna is currently on the Board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), a national umbrella group over all the JCRCs, and was a co-chair of the JCPA Plenum in Washington, D.C. in 2006. Donna taught in the Temple Emanu-El religious school in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She has held many positions at Temple Emanu-El over the last 25 years, including chair of several search committees, the Religious School Committee, the Dues Committee and the Membership Committee, and she is a past president of Temple Emanu-El.
Lyn Henry, Early Childhood Education Director
Lyn Henry has been the Director of the Strauss ECE since March 2003. Lyn's philosophy of early childhood education is learning through play. She believes that a variety of experiences is enriching and stimulating for children.
Lyn is also a grandmother of one Strauss ECE graduate and one current ECE student. She is both personally and professionally motivated to make sure that all of the experiences, learning, and enrichment opportunities are as positive as possible. She understands the critical role that teachers play and works hard to recruit the best teachers and provide ongoing support and training for them.
Lyn was born in Tucson, grew up in the Catskill Mountains, went to school in Boston, moved to Albuquerque, and then eventually back to Tucson in 1992. Lyn has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in sociology and child development. She also has extensive post-graduate training in child psychology.
She and her husband of 43 years have been members of Temple Emanu-El since 1992 and are the parents of adult sons, Steve and Grant Henry, and grandparents of Eloise and Nathan, both graduates of the Strauss ECE!
Mila Vasser, Program Coordinator
Mila Vasser joined Temple Emanu-El in 1999, then as a mom of a young daughter, and became involved in family programs. Soon after, she started taking Adult Education classes for herself. She was part of Rabbi Cohon's first group Adult B'nai Mitzvah class of 2001. Mila quickly developed into a dedicated volunteer with education and outreach programs, and helped get the highly successful Taste of Judaism series started at Temple. Mila became a teacher in the Strauss ECE while continuing to run outreach programs and creating new ones. Two of her programs, the Babies and Bagels Club and Taste II: Jewish in America, were nationally recognized with a Belin Outreach Award. In 2005 she became a full-time Outreach Coordinator, and as her responsibilities grew, her title was changed to Program Coordinator, which encompasses many areas of Temple life, including family programs, outreach, membership, and many different programs at Temple, in the Jewish community, and in the Tucson community. Before her work at Temple, Mila had a Master's Degree in Russian and was in a doctoral program in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies at the University of Arizona. She taught Russian language, Russian literature, and English Composition at U of A. Mila is a mom to two amazing daughters, Annika, 17, and Sabina, 13.
JCTEY and JJCTEY Advisor Kim Westenskow is a Tucson native who is very excited to be supporting JCTEY and JJCTEY. Kim earned both her BA in Technical Theater and her MPH at the University of Arizona. She is employed full time at the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, assisting organizations with health systems change for the treatment of tobacco addiction. Kim is also the Drama Chug teacher for the Kurn Religious School. In her spare time, she is involved in volunteer work with local social justice groups and hanging out with her 5th grade stepson, husband of two years, and two wonderful dogs.