In the beginning. . .
Beth Ami, a Reform Temple, was founded in 1978 by a small group of families all sharing the same desires. They wanted a temple where everybody knew one another, where we truly were a family. Our little temple grew quickly to 70 families, which is approximately our membership today. As our temple grew, so did our sense of family. We are fortunate to have several of our original families still with us.
First rabbi: Dr Fred Grosse
Rabbi Grosse was the founding rabbi and served from 1978 until 2000. He earned his undergraduate degree at Union College in New York and his doctorate from International College in Los Angeles. As Rabbi, he was humanistic and scholarly, while specializing in marriage and family counseling. He is now CEO of the Institute for Management, Organization, and Motivation based in New Zealand.
First cantor: Seymour Raboy
Seymour was the first cantor until his passing in 1998. His smile and powerful voice could be heard at most services. Seymour was a cantor for over 30 years. He loved to sing and was a member of the Men’s Bach Chorus.
Shelle Witten was the synagogue’s second cantorial soloist from 2000 thru 2006 after Rabbi Grosse moved to New Zealand and Seymour Raboy passed away. Shelle helped lead the congregation in prayer with Rabbi Martin Sharf, who conducted services part-time. Shelle was kind and giving of herself. She loved to sing and loved the music of the traditional Sabbath service. Her warmth enveloped each service.
Cantorial soloist from 2006 thru 2008. She was also the cantorial soloist for two retirement communities and for the JFCS Senior Center. Pat also co-conducted Friday night services in the Rabbi’s absence and helped lead the Shabbat opener for a service or two.
Cantorial soloist from 2008 thru 2017. Although Pam officially became the soloist in 2008, there were several occasions she substituted for Seymour when he was absent. There were also two bar mitzvahs that Pam, accompanied on the guitar by her husband, Bob Johnson, was the soloist, so it was inevitable that she would someday take on the role full time. Pam was often accompanied on the guitar by her husband Bob Johnson from 2008 thru 2016.
Dr Art Abrams
Rabbi Abrams was the rabbi for the Beth Ami Temple from 2007 thru 2017. His warm friendly services made all feel welcome. After retiring from the Temple Beth Shalom synagogue in Sun City, he joined Beth Ami.
Rabbi Allison Lawton
Allison Lawton, our current rabbi, joined Beth Ami Temple in July, 2017. Rabbi Lawton is a graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and completed her undergraduate and graduate work at Pepperdine University. A rabbinical intern at Wilshire Blvd. Temple in Los Angeles, and a rabbinic fellow at Truah (The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights) ( http://www.truah.org ) , she is the founder and rabbi for Mobile Mishkan ( http://www.mobilemishkan.com), a visionary mobile congregation serving the spiritual needs of unaffiliated and disenfranchised Jews in the LA area. Combining social justice with creating sacred space, she always is seeking new and truly unique opportunities for Jews to maintain deep connections to traditions and foster strong commitments to community.
Michael (Mike) Robbins
Michael Robbins, our current cantorial soloist, joined Beth Ami Temple in July, 2017. Mike, a Phoenix native, received his basic Jewish education at Temple Beth Israel under Rabbi Albert Plotkin. Studying voice since his high school choir days, he was one of few tenors in the Beth Israel choir for many years. Mike was the Featured Soloist and a member of the Beth Israel Choir for 18 years.