Sign In Forgot Password
Community You Can Believe In


Meet our Clergy... Officers... Board of Trustees... and Committee Chairpersons.


Rabbi Jim Rosen

Rabbi Jim RosenRabbi Jim Rosen, a native of Minnesota, has been the Rabbi of Beth El since 1992. He has a brought to Beth El Temple a broad array of programs and learning opportunities designed to reach families and individuals of all ages and backgrounds. He has provided the vision to create a caring Jewish community of excellence that is inviting and warm to all.

Rabbi Rosen received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary and an M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University. Prior to arriving in West Hartford, he served for nine years as the Associate Rabbi of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. His wife Nancy and children Dani, Ariella and Adina are the gems of his life.

In the field of communal service, Rabbi Rosen has served on a number of national and local committees including the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly, as well as the Chancellor's Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a past President of the Connecticut Valley Region of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Rabbi Rosen has been sought-after as a speaker and written extensively in the areas of Disability and Judaism, Conversion, and contemporary interpretation of Classic texts. His interests include the ethical Mussar tradition in Jewish life, psychology, modern day Israel and the development of alternative models to Jewish growth.

Approachable and eager to meet and learn from all, he is also an avid runner who hopes his knees will last far into the future.

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696, ext. 103

Rabbi Rachel Zerin

Rabbi Rachel Zerin is excited to join Beth El Temple as Assistant Rabbi. She is driven by her passion to cultivate sacred community, and to enable people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to access the wisdom of Jewish texts and traditions as sources of support when confronting life's joys and challenges.

A native of Massachusetts, Rabbi Zerin joins us after serving at Temple Emanu-El in Providence, RI for five years, where she grew youth and family programming, oversaw adult learning, created holiday programs for people of all ages, led spirited services, and more. In the broader community, Rabbi Zerin served on the RI Commission on Prejudice and Bias, worked for the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme’s Summer School at Cambridge University, and was founder of If We Serve, an interfaith service-learning retreat.

Rabbi Zerin was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2015, where she also received her MA in Talmud and completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Prior to that, she studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where she first fell in love with Talmud; and earned her BA in Voice Performance and Religion from Syracuse University.

When she isn't helping people connect to each other and our texts and traditions, Rabbi Zerin is usually spending time with her spunky child, cooking, playing board games, or drinking coffee. She hopes you will join her for one of those activities soon!

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696, ext. 104

Cantor Joseph Ness

Cantor Joseph Ness is the composer, orchestrator, and arranger of hundreds of pieces of music spanning both the liturgical and concert genres. He has been commissioned by major musical figures such as Lukas Foss and Fred Sherry, and continues to compose and arrange for the leading hazzanim of our time. Many orchestras and ensembles have also commissioned him, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, Manchester Orchestra (England), American Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir, The Group for Contemporary Music, and the Washington Festival Orchestra. Ness has conducted many choral-orchestral masterpieces such as “The German Requiem” (Brahms), “The Symphony of Psalms” (Stravinsky), “Choral Fantasy” (Beethoven), and “Elijah” (Mendelssohn), in addition to a wide variety of orchestral and chamber instrumental music.

Because of Cantor Ness’ creative programming and noteworthy performances, Beth El Temple is a three-time winner of the National Solomon Schechter Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts. As part of a series of musical interpretations of biblical stories, he composed “Jacob’s Ladder”. “The Akedah” was performed in 2005, and “Sarah & Hagar” was premiered at the University of Hartford in 2006. In 2008, Cantor Ness arranged and conducted "Shining Through Broken Glass: An Ecumenical Concert Of Memory And Hope, 70 Years After Kristallnacht". The program, which took place in Providence, Rhode Island, featured the Rhode Island Philharmonic, an ecumenical 200-voice adult and youth choir, cantorial soloists and narration by Leonard Nemoy.

In 2010, Cantor Ness appeared in the national film, "100 Voices-A Journey Home". This documentary, based on an historic mission to Poland in 2009 by members of the Cantors Assembly, chronicles a performance by the National Polish Opera Orchestra and Choirs and cantorial colleagues of pre-Holocaust music arranged and conducted by Cantor Ness.

In 2011, Cantor Ness composed liturgical Friday evening services for women’s choir which was performed at the annual meeting of the Cantors Assembly in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696, ext. 107

Dr. Eliyahu Krigel

Director of Education and Family Engagement

Dr. Eliyahu Krigel joined the Beth El team in June 2023 as our Director of Education and Family Engagement. In this newly expanded position, he leads SULAM, our award-winning K-7 supplementary religious school; leads our youth, family and teen programs; serves as liaison to teen and family programs serving the Greater Hartford Jewish community; and administers our B’nei Mitzvah program. 

Dr. Krigel is a lifelong learner committed to bringing inspiration and joy into his work while being dedicated to the educational process. He holds an Ed.D. in Jewish Education from Gratz College near Philadelphia and an M.A. from the William Davidson Graduate School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696, ext. 106


Rabbi Howard Sowalsky

Ritual and Executive Director

Rabbi Howard Sowalsky is the full-time Ritual and Executive Director of Beth El Temple. He has been employed at Beth El since January 2000. Rabbi Sowalsky grew up at Beth El, having been President of Beth El's Jr. USY, President of Beth El's USY, Vice-President of Atid and Senior Affairs for Connecticut Region USY.

Rabbi Sowalsky graduated in 1976 from Union College in Schenectady, New York, having majored in Political Science with a minor in Judaic Studies. Rabbi Sowalsky spent a summer in Israel in 1970, a semester living on Kibbutz K'far Etzion in 1974, and has made other numerous trips to Israel. Rabbi Sowalsky has studied at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, has participated in the National Chevra Kadisha conference, spent three years in intensive Mussar study (and continues to study it daily), and is on his third consecutive cycle of Daf Yomi Talmud study.

Rabbi Sowalsky received his ordination from the Vaad HaRabbonim of America in the Summer of 2006, under the supervision of Rabbi Mordechai Yitzchak Friedman.

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696, ext. 102


Limor Shefer

Hebrew Learning Coordinator

Limor’s focus is on Hebrew as both the language of our past and the language of our present. A popular teacher at Solomon Schechter Day School and at previous synagogue schools, Limor is designing a Hebrew curriculum that will integrate Jewish values, holidays, and prayers. She will regularly assess our children’s progress and supervise our educators in the implementation of this curriculum.

Contact Information:
(860) 233-9696


Leah Katz, President
Phil Schulz, 1st Vice President
Shera Golder, 2nd Vice President
Stuart Wachtel, Treasurer
Jeremy Kempner, Assistant Treasurer
Marsha Fisher, Financial Secretary
Mina Nemirow, Assistant Financial Secretary
Ellen Sanders-Nirenstein, Secretary

Board of Trustees

Jonathan Alter (Past President)
Ron Apter
Lee Ann Benadiva
Alison Bluestone
Sam Borden
Judith Borus
Alisha Cipriano
Sharon Efron
Len Eisenfeld
Marsha Fisher
Gerald Garfield
Loren Gelber
Shera Golder
Leah Katz
Jeremy Kempner
Justin Kudler
Howard Levinbook
Diane Lieberfarb (Past President)
Janel MacDermott
Mina Nemirow
Elliott Pollack
Steve Rabb (Past President)
Glen Rosenfeld
Judy Rosenthal (Past President)
Ila Sabino
Ellen Sanders-Nirenstein
Phil Schulz
Stuart Wachtel

Auxiliary Representatives 

Allan Geetter, Chai Society Co-President
Arthur Freedman, Men's Club President
Michelle Kunzman, Women's Network Chairwoman

Committee Chairpersons

Our committees work together to create a warm and inviting environment for our entire membership to enjoy. (To view our committee leadership, members must first log in.)

Mon, April 22 2024 14 Nisan 5784