Leadership

Our Clergy

Rabbi Ron Koas

“I believe that the main role of a rabbi is to teach; education is the key for building a strong and vibrant Jewish community”

Rabbi Ron Koas became the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth El, Norfolk, VA in July 2021. Raised in Israel, Rabbi Koas served as a Captain in the Israeli Defense Forces and studied at the prestigious Beit Tzvi Theatre Academy before deciding to enter the field of education. He received his bachelor’s degree in Education from Levinsky Teachers College and his master’s degree in Educational Administration from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received his Rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical Academy.

Rabbi Koas was selected to represent Israel as a shaliach, or emissary, for the Progressive Zionist Movement in Melbourne, Australia, where he coordinated and facilitated synagogue, school, and youth group community programs. Following his three-year term in Australia, Rabbi Koas moved to the United States, serving for six years as the Director of Education at the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan. He simultaneously served as Editor-in-Chief of the Hebrew-language newspaper supplement “Here and There”, and made guest appearances on the Israeli “Voice of the Heart” radio-broadcast talk show.

Rabbi Koas came to Norfolk from Marlboro Jewish Center, NJ where he served eight years as Associate Rabbi and Education Director.

Rabbi Koas is a lover of the outdoors and is particularly fond of hiking and water activities. His favorite place is the Tel Aviv Beach and his favorite food is Shakshuka.

Rabbi Koas has three children: Daniel, Yair and Talia.

Rabbi Koas believes that we all need to work together toward a vision of inclusion, striving to make our synagogue a place where everyone feels welcome to experience the power and beauty of Jewish tradition. What he loves most about his work is the opportunity to get to know people of all ages, help them discover the meaning and direction that Judaism can provide, and show them how beautiful Judaism can be.

Rabbi-Arthur-Ruberg

Rabbi Arthur Ruberg

Rabbi Arthur Ruberg became Beth El’s rabbi in 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.

Prior to coming to Norfolk, Rabbi Ruberg served congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as associate rabbi and religious education director. He also directed Camp Ramah in the Poconos, one of the youth leadership summer camps associated with Conservative Judaism.

Rabbi Ruberg is married to Miriam Brunn Ruberg. The Rubergs have two children — Jeremy, who lives in New York with his wife Rebecca, is following in the “family business” by graduating from the Jewish Theological Seminary and is now an assistant rabbi at the New City Jewish Center in New York, and Adina, a graduate of Ohio State University who lives in Chicago with her husband, Ben Kozberg, and their sons.

Rabbi Ruberg welcomes calls and e-mails from those who want further information about Congregation Beth El – its religious and educational approach, ongoing activities, and programs.

To reach Rabbi Ruberg by email, write to RabbiAR@bethelnorfolk.com.

Cantor-Wendi-Fried

Cantor Wendi Fried

Cantor Wendi became our cantor of Congregation Beth El in Norfolk 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 ingrained in her family as both 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 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 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 and addresses by 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 formed and conducts the Beth El singers, which is involved not only in High Holidays, but throughout the year. Some examples of innovative services she has created in the past include Shabbat Unplugged, Healing Through Havdalah, and Shul Lab. Other multigenerational programs include co-writing and directing congregational Purim Spiels, organizing interfaith concerts and services, presenting to our seniors during Lunch and Learn, and teaching in our Teen Midrashah.

She is very involved on the regional and national levels in the Cantor’s Assembly and has been on  the Executive Council of the Cantor’s Assembly.  She is now heading up a national project called Davening Song Lab which will bring clergy and lay people alike closer to their davening experiences. 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, met and fell in love at Ramah Wisconsin and have three boys – Nadav and twins Rafael (Rafi) and Yonatan (Yoni). Their oldest son, Nadav will spend his first full month at Ramah this summer! Their twins Rafael (Rafi) and Yonatan (Yoni) are look to follow in his footsteps in a few years.

She and her family feel very blessed to be at Beth El and are excited to help bring ruach, joy, and music to the community!

To reach Cantor Wendi by email, write to cwf@bethelnorfolk.com.

Beth El Board of Directors
(2020-2022)

President – Deb Segaloff

Deborah (Deb) Bernstein Segaloff was born and raised in the Meadowbrook Terrace neighborhood of Norfolk, nicknamed Little Israel in the 1970s and 80s. As a young child, she attended the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater on Thompkins Lane and was active in many Jewish youth organizations. Deb has worked as a Jewish professional and lay leader for over 25 years, including past president of the Hebrew Academy and past chairman of the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Deb also served on the Council of Human Rights for the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2 terms. Deb enjoys her family—daughters Sabine and Emma and her husband Peter, as well as painting, cooking, walking, reading, and her involvement with Beth El. She values and appreciates the warmth and caring of the Beth El community.

Our Staff