Our Rabbi - Rabbi Séverine Sokol
B’nai Chaim welcomed Rabbi Séverine Sokol as our Rabbi in July of 2011. She previously served as Rabbi and Director of Education for Congregation Kol Am in Chesterfield, MO since 2005. There she was very active in the St. Louis Jewish community as a member of the Jewish educator’s council, contributing writer for the Jewish newspaper and leading projects with the local Holocaust museum.
Rabbi Séverine's path to becoming a rabbi is a story of dedication and perseverance to achieve a dream. Raised in Lyon, France, she graduated from college in France and went on to the Leo Baeck College - Centre for Jewish Education in London where she earned her Master’s Degree in Hebrew and Jewish Studies before her studies for the rabbinate. She studied in London because no Reform rabbinical school exists in France. During that time she also studied in Jerusalem and did student rabbinates throughout England and France. In 2003, she was ordained, becoming only the 2nd French female rabbi and the first of Sephardic origin.
Following 2-years as rabbi and director of the religious school for a congregation in Nottingham, England, she moved with her husband and new daughter to his hometown of St. Louis. She has been involved in a great many innovative and educational projects particularly of an international flavor. Together with her husband she was responsible for a number of other projects related to the arts in the St. Louis area.
To read some of Rabbi Sokol's sermons, please click here.
Our Rabbi Emeritus - Rabbi Joel Schwartzman
In May of 2013, B’nai Chaim held a joyous Shabbat/Shavuot celebration at which the new Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Joel Schwartzman, was formally installed. The title of Rabbi Emeritus was bestowed on Rabbi Schwartzman in recognition of his years of service and dedication to B'nai Chaim.
Rabbi Joel Schwartzman is a retired Chaplain, Colonel, from the U.S. Air Force chaplaincy, having served over twenty three years. He served two Denver synagogues from 2000 to 2011, one as an Associate rabbi for a year, and Congregation B'nai Chaim for a decade as senior rabbi and now serves as Emeritus. He has served as president of Housing Justice, a faith based affordable housing advocacy group, and the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council. Rabbi Schwartzman served on the board of the Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action (CCGAA). He is a member of the Mayor's Clergy Council for Denver's Road Home and of the Interfaith Worker Justice Council. He has served for a decade on the Jewish Community Relations Council, its Advocacy Group and Israel Advocacy Group. He has twice given invocations before U.S. Presidents, having offered the invocation when President Obama first came to Denver to sign the Recovery Act bill. He was honored with the Amos Award from the Denver Lutheran community. He recently published an article in the Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal about the art work he helped place at the United States Air Force Academy’s Jewish Chapel. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew Union College for his thirty (plus) years in the Reform rabbinate.
Rabbi Schwartzman and his wife, Ziva, are the parents of Dr. Micah and Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman. Rabbi Ilana is rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami here in Salt Lake City. Ziva and Rabbi are the grandparents of Solly and Abie.
To read some of Rabbi Schwartzman's sermons, please click here.
Our Religious/Hebrew School Director - Michelle S. Weinberg
My name is Michelle S. Weinberg. I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. I went to Miami University and received by BS Ed.
I moved shortly after graduating to the Atlanta, Georgia area. I received my Masters Degree in Education from Georgia State University in Atlanta. I taught in a Solomon Schechter Jewish Day School for three years, met my husband in Atlanta, and continued teaching in a school system in Woodstock, Georgia, in Cherokee County, that reminds me a lot of Douglas County where I am currently teaching the first grade at Cherokee Elementary in Parker.
I began teaching Hebrew School and Sunday school in Hamilton, Ohio while attending Miami University. In 1983, I continued teaching Hebrew and Sunday school at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia until 1997. I have been tutoring for B’nai Mitzvah since 1984!
After moving to the Highlands Ranch area in 1997, I taught fifth and sixth graders for two years in the Judaic Department at Hertzl Jewish Day School, which is now the Denver Campus for Jewish Education before joining the staff at South Elementary in Castle Rock in the Gifted and Talented Program. I taught at both Temple Sinai and the HEA for several years. Then, in 2000, I became the Principal of Congregation Beth Shalom and continued there until 2011.
My husband Jeff and I are the proud parents of two adult children, Alison, who is 33 and is studying Psychology, and Eric, who graduated from DU with his Masters in Accountancy and is 26 years old. Eric is the senior accountant with Western United Energy Surplus in Brighton, CO. Eric is engaged and will be married this summer!
I am looking forward to another wonderful year at B’nai Chaim. Please check our calendar and website often as things change from time to time. I do write an article each Sunday and it is updated by the evening! MSW
Our Temple Administrator - Rosa Kougl, (303) 697-2668