Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz
"I believe that the rabbi's role is to plant seeds of inspiration and identity and to find imaginative ways to bring spirituality to diverse members of the congregation and community."
Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz became the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Norfolk in 2011. He came to Norfolk from Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, New Jersey, where he served as the Associate Rabbi from 2003 to 2011. He received his Bachelor of Science degree Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Child Development and Child Care, a social work degree. While studying, he worked with special needs students at local Hebrew schools including tutoring for bar and bat mitzvah preparation. After college, Rabbi Arnowitz studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem before beginning his rabbinic studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained in 2003.
He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and he completed the STAR PEER Rabbinic Leadership program. Rabbi Arnowitz serves on the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater and The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. He is a lover of the outdoors and is particularly fond of hiking, swimming, and bicycling, and is an ardent reader of the National Geographic Magazine.
Rabbi Arnowitz is a strong advocate for Jewish camping and day schools - especially Camp Ramah. It was at Ramah in the Berkshires that he first spent time as a camper, went on to become a member of the staff, and where he met his future wife, Tami. Rabbi Arnowitz and Tami reside in Ghent with their four young sons, Elijah, Simeon, Gabriel, and Isaac.
Reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RabbiJeff
Rabbi Arthur Ruberg
Rabbi Arthur Ruberg has been Beth El's rabbi since 1988. He is a graduate of Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia as well as the Jewish Theological Seminary where he received a master's degree in Jewish studies and rabbinic ordination in 1974. He was named Beth El's Rabbi Emeritus in 2011.
Cantor Wendi Fried
Cantor Wendi became our cantor in August, 2015. She hails originally from Houston, Texas and was brought up through the Conservative movement. Being involved in the leadership of Kadima, USY, and her local synagogue Youth Chorale, she found a love and passion for Judaism and all forms of Jewish, Israeli and Sacred music. Love of Jewish music is engrained in her family as both of her parents and two siblings sang in their synagogue choirs. She went to Israel on the Nativ program and then to the University of Texas in Austin for her Bachelors Degree. There she was a member of the prestigious Longhorn Singers. She then launched her lifetime dream of becoming a cantor, graduating from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2004 and becoming the cantor of Congregation Shaare Tefila in Olney, MD in 2005 where she was in her position for ten years.
Cantor Wendi, as she is best known, has her musical roots in choral music and the joy of seeking out new harmonies and groups began in high school and continued through college and JTS. As staff at Ramah Wisconsin, she directed and founded the camp's first acapella group called Ramah-keyla which is still in existence today. She was also a member of the Zamir Chorale in Manhattan under the direction of Mati Lazar for four years performing in both Israel and the United States.
Being a spiritual leader in today's complex world is a challenge Cantor Wendi understands. She addresses balancing the needs of many generations with the use of traditional and modern approaches to prayer and spirituality. She has included this approach in her daily activities as well as special programs. She has formed and conducted her new Beth El synagogue choir, which is involved not only in high holidays but throughout the year. Some examples of innovative monthly services she has created in the past include Friday night Shabbat alive, a Taste of Shabbat in Song, and Healing Through Havdalah. Other multigenerational programs include co-writing and directing the annual Purim Spiel, organizing interfaith Thanksgiving services, co-chairing the annual school retreat, and leading programming for Hazak and Leisure World Retirement community.
She is very involved in the regional Cantor's Assembly chapter and is currently serving on the Executive Council of the Cantor's Assembly in her second of a three year term. She has been a guest speaker and performer for Hadassah and Torah Fund groups all over the United States.
Cantor Wendi and her Israeli husband, Giora Fried, have three boys - Nadav and twins Rafael (Rafi) and Yonatan (Yoni).
She and her family feel very blessed to begin their next chapter here at Beth El and are very excited to be part of helping to bring ruach, joy, and music to their new community!