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Clergy Bios

Rabbi Jeremy S. Morrison
Senior Rabbi
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Rabbi Morrison constructs Jewish community by fostering qualitative relationships which engage participants in the exploration, development, and ownership of vibrant Judaism. For him, rabbinic leadership means serving as a catalyst to connection: connecting individuals to deeper understandings of how Jewish learning and practice offer us paths to becoming more human; connecting people with one another; connecting congregants through the collaborative work of building a flourishing, and transformative, synagogue.

Upon ordination, in 2001, from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, Rabbi Morrison joined the clergy team of Temple Israel of Boston, as the Founding Director of the Riverway Project: an innovative outreach and engagement initiative for those in their twenties and thirties. By eschewing a primary connection to bricks and mortar, he successfully opened the gates of Temple Israel within the homes of previously unaffiliated adults. Since its inception, the program has brought hundreds of new members to the congregation and has served as a model for similar efforts across North America. The Riverway Project’s neighborhood-based gatherings for prayer, study and socializing, complemented by activities that occurred within Temple Israel’s building, functioned as a proving ground for the collaborative methods that Rabbi Morrison subsequently employed to create initiatives for new members, interfaith families, “empty-nesters,” and older adults. In 2010, Rabbi Morrison became the director of the synagogue’s education programs, and throughout his fifteen-year tenure at Temple Israel he served in pulpit and pastoral roles as an Assistant and then Associate Rabbi.

Raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, Rabbi Morrison received a B.A. cum laude in Comparative Arts from Washington University in St. Louis, in 1993. While in seminary, he worked for the Union of Reform Judaism’s departments of Education and Outreach; served as a rabbinic intern at Temple Beth Am in Manhattan, Temple Beth El in Great Neck, NY, and at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo. In 2017, he earned a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and his dissertation explores the use of craftsmanship metaphors in the Bible and in other ancient Near Eastern texts.

Rabbi Morrison moved to Berkeley in the summer of 2017, to become Executive Director of HAMAQOM |The Place (formerly Lehrhaus Judaica), an organization that builds Jewish communities through ritual and learning, throughout the Bay Area. While at HAMAQOM, he was selected as an ELI Talks Fellowship Speaker.

Rabbi Morrison lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Molly Schmitt, and their children, Ezekiel and Poppy. He began his tenure as Congregation Beth Am’s Senior Rabbi in July 2020.

Cantor Jaime Shpall
Cantor
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Originally from Southern California, Cantor Jaime Shpall joined Beth Am after 16 years of serving congregations, first in Austin, Texas and then in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her beautiful voice and warm personality made her beloved in both congregations.

At Beth Am, Cantor Shpall leads our B’nei Mitzvah program and has been implementing innovations that help build feelings of community and love for Judaism among kids and families alike. Through her work with the URJ’s Communities of Practice – B’nei Mitzvah Revolution, Cantor Shpall has introduced our annual 6th Grade Family Retreat, for upcoming B’nei Mitzvah and their families as well as our 7th grade Beit Midrash class.

Cantor Shpall received Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Music from the University of California, Santa Cruz, during which time she worked on the staff of Camp Swig and taught religious school in our area (even substitute teaching at Beth Am on occasion!). She was ordained in 1997 by the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, and she recently participated in the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Cantor Shpall and her husband, Marcel Bergmann, are the proud parents of twins, Samuel and Ella, who are members of the Zimriyah, Beth Am’s fabulous Jr. Choir.

Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit
Associate Rabbi
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Rabbi Jonathan Prosnit was born on Manhattan's Upper West Side. He earned his bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in New York City. As a Rabbinical student, he has worked in East Liverpool, Ohio; Melbourne Australia; and at Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. Rabbi Jonathan has also interned at Westchester Reform Temple where he worked on their Next Dor project, creating dynamic programs geared toward New York's unaffiliated 20/30-year-olds. Prior to Rabbinical School, Rabbi Jonathan worked as a Community Liaison for a New York State Senator and as an ESL teacher in Santiago, Chile.

Rabbi Jonathan joined the Beth Am team in the summer of 2011. At Beth Am, Rabbi Jonathan works with middle and high school students, the Beth Am Men's group (BAM) and with the Beth Am's social justice and social action networks. He likes to be outdoors and loves to play golf, tennis and basketball. Rabbi Jonathan is married to Erin Gleeson, who is a photographer. They have two sons, Ezra and Max, and a daughter, Winnie.

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker
Associate Rabbi
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After his ordination in 2011 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Heath served as Reform Outreach Initiative Rabbi at Rutgers Hillel in New Jersey (the first initiative of its kind). In addition to his rabbinical degree, Rabbi Heath holds a Masters in Social Work from USC (where he also earned a BA in English) and a Masters in Jewish Communal Service from HUC.

In his Associate Rabbi role at Beth Am, Rabbi Heath has a full range of worship, pastoral and lifecycle responsibilities, with a special emphasis on member engagement. His work involves implementing innovative ways of engaging members of all ages, developing Beth Am’s Small Groups initiative, as well as enhancing Shabbat worship and teaching courses, especially on “big questions” in Judaism. He also has a passion for advocacy and social justice.

Originally from Southern California, Rabbi Heath and and his wife, Amy, are proud parents of a son, Ilan, and daughter, Cayla.

Rabbi Sarah Weissman
Associate Rabbi
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Rabbi Sarah Weissman has been at Congregation Beth Am since 2008. In addition to her pastoral and pulpit duties, Rabbi Sarah oversees the adult education program, and teaches a popular Talmud class and the Adult B'nai Mitzvah class. She also serves as the staff person on the Interfaith Outreach Committee.

Rabbi Sarah was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She grew up in the warm embrace of Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, where she volunteered in the administrative office and grew to love the day-to-day workings of the synagogue. She attended Amherst College in Massachusetts and graduated summa cum laude in 2003 with a degree in religion.

In 2008, Rabbi Sarah was ordained at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. During her tenure at HUC, Rabbi Sarah served several small congregations in the South. She also worked as a teaching and research assistant to Dr. Eugene Borowitz, one of the leading theologians of the Reform movement.

Rabbi Sarah and her husband, Eric Weissman, are proud parents of a son, Maverick.

Sat, November 28 2020 12 Kislev 5781