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Clergy & Team

Shalom and welcome to Congregation Beth El, where our vibrant community thrives under the guidance of our dedicated clergy and staff team. We extend an open invitation for you to join us, get to know us, and share in our rich traditions and fellowship. Whether you're a long-standing member or stepping through our doors for the first time, we embrace the opportunity to connect, learn, and grow together. Please feel welcome to introduce yourself – your presence enriches our community in countless ways.

Clergy & Team

Our Clergy

Rabbi Ron
Shulman

Warmly embraced by Congregation Beth El in August 2017, Rabbi Ron Shulman serves as our Senior Rabbi. With his warm, sensitive nature and thoughtful insights, Rabbi Shulman encourages us to discover personal meaning through Jewish celebration, exploration, and active participation within our synagogue community.

Before joining Congregation Beth El, Rabbi Shulman held positions as Senior Rabbi of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, MD, and as Rabbi of Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. He is ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York and holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the same institution. Additionally, Rabbi Shulman earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, where he also served as a Lecturer in Professional Rabbinic Studies.

A Brandeis University graduate, Rabbi Shulman furthered his education with certifications as a Fellow in the Kellogg School of Management for Jewish Leaders at Northwestern University and as a Policy Conflict Resolution Fellow at the University of Maryland. Actively engaged in the community, he serves on the San Diego Jewish Academy Board of Directors and has held leadership roles such as past president of the Baltimore Jewish Community Relations Council. He is also recognized for his contributions to publications, including original prayers, reflections, Torah columns, and educational curricula.

Having grown up in Encino, California, Rabbi Shulman and his wife, Robin, have a longstanding affiliation with Camp Ramah in Ojai, California, where they served on the educational and religious staff.

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Rabbi Avi Libman has served as Congregation Beth El's Rabbi for the past 20 years.  During his tenure, he has assisted in growing the religious school and teen programs, created a thriving Young Adult community and countless life cycle events. 

 

Prior to joining Beth El, Rabbi Libman served as a Chaplain in the Naval Chaplaincy Corps.  He credits his tenue to the warm embrace he and his family have received from its membership.  Rabbi Libman is passionate about helping members find their spiritual, intellectual and social path of Jewish expression.

Rabbi Avi
Libman

Our Team

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Michele Alexandria

Rabbinic Office and Lifecycle Event Coordinator

Michele Alexandria, Rabbinic Office and Lifecycle Event Coordinator at Congregation Beth El since July 2019, collaborates closely with Rabbi Shulman and Rabbi Avi to coordinate religious and lifecycle events. Previously, she worked as a Professional Organizer, enhancing operational efficiency for small businesses. With a passion for spiritual coaching and emotional healing spanning 24 years, Michele is a trained Professional Spiritual Life Coach and Emotional Healing Facilitator. She welcomes all congregation members and is dedicated to contributing to their spiritual journey at Beth El.

Joy Contreras

Membership Relations Manager

Joy Contreras, our Membership Relations Manager at Congregation Beth El, brings 12 years of experience in Jewish communities in Los Angeles and Columbus. Originally from Akron, Ohio, Joy is thrilled to now call San Diego and Beth El her new home. At Beth El, inclusivity and participation are paramount, with a warm welcome extended to individuals from diverse backgrounds. Joy recognizes the significance of membership at Congregation Beth El, where giving to others enriches lives with purpose and perspective. She eagerly anticipates contributing to the vibrant community and fostering meaningful connections among its members.

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Michelle Gurr-Barbour

Program Manager

Michelle Gurr-Barbour, Program Manager, focuses on youth engagement, collaborates closely with the vibrant youth department and dedicated Madrichim program, nurtures the Chai program and provides essential programming support as needed. With two decades of experience working with children and teenagers and academic credentials in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Michelle is eager to engage with the adult community, fostering deeper connections and a stronger sense of community within Congregation Beth El. She extends a warm welcome to all members of the congregation and anticipates contributing to vibrant programming and community-building efforts at Beth El.

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David Lipsitz

Ba'al Tefilah

 Ba'al Tefillah  David Lipsitz brings a wealth of experience and passion for music to the community. While his academic background lies in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, David's true calling in music was discovered through his involvement in numerous singing groups.

 

Having had the privilege of lending his voice and leading services in over 100 synagogues worldwide, David's goal this year is to infuse our synagogue community's daily experiences with the richness of music.When not captivating audiences in San Diego, you'll likely find David conquering summits in remote ranges around the globe.

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Jason Lobenstein

Director of Administration

Jason Lobenstein returns to Congregation Beth El as the Director of Administration, feeling both proud and humbled by the opportunity. With previous roles as Community Engagement Director and Youth Director, Jason is enthusiastic about collaborating closely with the rabbis, Board of Directors, volunteers, and staff to provide meaningful Jewish experiences for the community. In his new role, he oversees day-to-day operations, membership, event logistics, and facility management, while also welcoming congregants to his office for discussions or concerns. Jason looks forward to forging new relationships and creating cherished memories within the community at Beth El.

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Craig Parks

Assistant Director of Experiential Learning and Music

Craig Parks is thrilled to join Congregation Beth El in San Diego, bringing 30 years of experience in Jewish experiential education. His passion lies in fostering connections and strengthening relationships through music, education, and community engagement for individuals of all ages. In collaboration with Rabbi Avi, Craig will work closely with Viterbi Torah School and Thursday Night Teens to inspire and empower students. Members can anticipate a diverse array of activities, from congregational bands to serene meditation sessions and dynamic drum circles. Craig also specializes in leading groups for parents of children with special needs and teenagers. Don't hesitate to reach out and join our vibrant community, where music, learning, and togetherness thrive.

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Dvora Vinick

Director of Community Engagement

Dvora Vinick, Director of Community Engagement at Congregation Beth El, is dedicated to nurturing a strong sense of community among our synagogue family. Through thoughtful programming, social action initiatives, and compassionate support, Dvora fosters an inclusive environment for all members. With a background in psychology and social work, she brings a wealth of experience in supporting individuals and families. Grateful for the warmth of the Beth El community, Dvora is committed to fostering lasting relationships and invites all to join in building a supportive community at Beth El.

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