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Member of the Union of Reform Judaism
  Clergy and Staff Directors
Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein

Rabbi Morley Feinstein grew up on the Westside of Los Angeles and attended Beverly Hills High School.  He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Honors from UC Berkeley.  Ordained in 1981, he was the Assistant and first Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas. From 1987 to 2002, he was Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth-El in South Bend, Indiana.  During his tenure there he received Indiana’s highest citizen honor by the Governor for his efforts in promoting peace and justice.  Rabbi Feinstein brings his deep commitment and passion for Torah, filled with energy and a zest for learning.  He is married to Dr. Margarete Myers Feinstein, a historian.  Rabbi Feinstein is the father of two sons Aaron, a physician, Ari, a graduate of UC Davis with a major in Middle East studies, and twin daughters, Eliana and Renata,  recent graduates of University Synagogue’s Early Childhood Learning Center.

Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 125
Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro
Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro has been with University Synagogue since 2014. She received a cantorial ordination and masters of sacred music from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 2003. Cantor Shapiro most recently served at Temple Sholom in Broomall, Pa. and Congregation Adas Emuno, Leonia, N.J.

Cantor Shapiro was the first female voice to be heard at the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York City. She has also appeared in concert at Town Hall and Symphony Space in New York City; Beit Daniel, Tel Aviv, Israel; The Basilicia of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome, Italy; and at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia, Pa. Cantor Shapiro has also been a leader in interfaith dialogue through Saint Joseph's University Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations and Sacred Heart University's Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding. She has been an invited guest lecturer at the Hebrew Union College, New York University's Ireland House and Trinity College in Dublin.

Originally from West Hartford, Conn., she graduated with a B.A. in English from Macalester College in St Paul, Minn., and then pursued further study at the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies and Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn. Cantor Shapiro is also very involved with the American Conference of Cantors - where she previously served as vice president of member relations and external partnerships, and now serves as chairwoman of the ethics committee.
Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: x127
Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds

Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds received his Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, from which he was ordained in 2009. After his graduation from University of California, Santa Barbara, Rabbi Simonds was the Public Policy Fellow at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. where he worked on policy issues such as health care, hate crimes and the crisis in Sudan. Rabbi Simonds is a member of the ARZA national board, a member of the Commission on Social Action and a member of the CCAR Justice, Peace and Civil Liberties Committee, and founding member of the Israel Policy Forum's Rabbinic Network. He is married to attorney, Ariella Thal Simonds, and they are the proud parents of daughter Noa.

Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 124
Rabbi Allen I. Freehling

Beginning in July of 1972 and during the ensuing three decades, Allen I. Freehling served as our Congregation’s Senior Rabbi. During those 30 years, University Synagogue emerged as a dynamic proponent of Reform Judaism by responding to the diverse needs of literally hundreds of adults and children who were nurtured by an assortment of worship experiences, religious education offerings, and many cultural and social opportunities which were designed and implemented by a cadre of skilled professionals recruited by Rabbi Freehling and a cohort of elected leaders and volunteers who were motivated by his vision and energized by his determination to actualize University Synagogue as never before. Meanwhile, as our Synagogue family grew in size from less than two hundred households to more than a thousand, not only did we become a bastion of liberal Judaism but we also became a “House of Prayer for All Peoples,” where multiple interfaith activities cultivated responses to the needs of individual Jews and Non-Jews were constant, and broad community programming became commonplace. As a result, Rabbi Freehling was increasingly acknowledged as a pioneering communal leader, and a champion of human rights not only in southern California but throughout the state, nationally and globally as well. Thus, when he was designated as the Synagogue’s first “Rabbi Emeritus for Life” in 2002, it seemed only natural that Mayor James K. Hahn and then his successor, Antonio Villaraigosa, should appoint Rabbi Freehling to serve as the Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission – no Jewish clergy had ever been invited to manage a municipal department before. Seven years later, City Council member Tony Cardenas asked the Rabbi to be his Deputy Chief of Staff. Our Rabbi Emeritus and his wife, Lori, now reside in New Orleans. He has three children and is the grandfather of six young people, and the great-grandfather of two youngsters.

Tel:  (310)-699-9104
Cantor Jay I. Frailich
Cantor Jay Frailich has made University Synagogue his home since 1974.  He is a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Fostering a sense of spirit, excitement and appreciation for Jewish music and worship, Cantor has been responsible for commissioning more than 30 major liturgical works and dozens of single pieces during his tenure here.  He is also a gifted teacher who brings his unique blend of knowledge, humor and vision to both children and adults.  In addition to his teaching duties at the Synagogue, he is a professor of Liturgical Studies at the Academy of Jewish Religion.  Cantor Jay and his wife, Sandy, have two married daughters, Lonee (Michael Gantman) and Reena (Robert Stone), and are the proud grandparents of Romee, Indee Rose and Reed.
Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 123
Julie Munjack, Executive Director

Julie Munjack serves as Executive Director of University Synagogue and joined the Senior Staff team in July of 2012. Julie came to the Temple after working for over three years as the Executive Director of CORE Educational Services, an after-school education non-profit organization that provides programming to 3,500 underserved youths daily. Julie completed her Master's Degree in Public Policy with a focus on Business Administration at UCLA in 2009. Julie has established ties in the Los Angeles (and national) Jewish community, experience in program innovation and organizational management, and a reputation as a highly efficient do-gooder, able to bring vision to reality. After graduation from the University of Michigan, Julie had the privilege of serving as the Youth and Camp Director at Temple Isaiah in West Los Angeles and eventually became the organization's first full-time Program Director. She enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling abroad, playing soccer in two area leagues, and competing as a triathlete who raises money for important charitable causes through her participation in races. Julie is a member of the Professional Association of Temple Administrators (PATA) and the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California (JCPSC).

Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 108
Jessica Downey, Director of Congregational Engagement and Religious Education

Jessie, a Southern Californian, received her Master of Education, Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs, from the University of Southern California (USC) in May 2009. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies. Jessie held several positions at Temple Isaiah including Program Coordinator for 7th and 8th grades, 4th grade teacher in the Religious School, and Assistant Director at Camp Isaiah.

Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 122
April Schafer, Early Childhood Learning Center Director

April Schafer is thrilled to join the University Synagogue leadership team as the Director of Early Childhood Learning Center. For the past seven years April has been a director at the highly regarded Chalk Preschool - initially in Chicago, then as the first director at the Westwood location. She then became the director at Chalk's Venice school. A Michigan native, she attended Michigan State University graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology with an emphasis on Youth Development. She began teaching Pre-Kindergarten as well as attended DePaul University in Chicago where she received her MA in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Middle School. She is passionate about leading our youngest members through their Jewish educational journey for many years in a nurturing, loving, creative and soulful environment.

Tel:  (310) 472-1255 x: 141
11960 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles California 90049-4228
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