Meet Our CLERGY AND Staff
Rabbi Martin P. Beifield Jr.
Sophia and Nathan Gumenick Senior Rabbi
Rabbi Martin P. Beifield Jr. began his rabbinical career in 1975 as the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, the oldest Ashkenazic synagogue in North America. He served Temple Beth Or, in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 1978 to 1987, helping the congregation begin many new programs in the areas of outreach to intermarried couples, social involvement in the community, and adult education. Rabbi Beifield was active communally in interfaith work, at North Carolina State University, and Planned Parenthood, and was appointed to the UAHC’s original Outreach Commission and the CCAR’s Committee on Justice and Peace. He did graduate work in American History towards a doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and, under the auspices of the Jewish Chautuaqua Society, has taught courses in Bible and Judaism at Shaw Divinity School and Meredith College.
In 1987, Rabbi Beifield became Rabbi of Keneseth Israel in Allentown, focusing on greatly expanding the congregation’s youth and family programming. He regularly taught a course at Muhlenberg College on the “Holocaust and Its Impact”, served on the Social Action Commission of Reform Judaism, and was a founding board member of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College and chair of its Program Committee.
As only the fifth senior rabbi in the Congregation’s last one hundred years and only the tenth in the Congregation’s history, Rabbi Beifield has overseen the rapid expansion of Beth Ahabah’s programmatic and educational activities, beginning Introduction to Judaism and Adult Bar / Bat Mitzvah classes, regular Torah Study, a family Shabbaton, and a Shabbat study retreat. Rabbi Beifield serves on the Board of the Jewish Family Service, the Richmond Community Jewish Federation, and RISC (Richmonders Involved in Seeking Change), an interfaith and interracial organization working for social justice.
Rabbi Jesse Gallop
Rabbi Jesse Gallop was ordained in 2008. For five years he has served as a solo rabbi for Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn, Virginia. In Ashburn, Rabbi Gallop worked with the growing community as its student rabbi helping the community to move into its first building. Upon his ordination, Rabbi Gallop was invited to be the congregation’s first rabbi where he worked with the community to develop a youth group for the congregation, 8th-10th grade confirmation program, and Tot Shabbat. Rabbi Jesse Gallop served the community pastorally, by leading worship, and by teaching and overseeing the religious school.
Rabbi Gallop is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and holds a BA in Social Science from the University of Denver (2001) and a MA in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (2007). Rabbi Jesse Gallop’s rabbinical thesis was “Two Covenants, One Holy Community: The Role of the Gentile in Judaism, and How the Covenant of Noah Still has Meaning in Today’s World.”
Before rabbinical school, Rabbi Gallop worked in informal Jewish education. He directed programs within the Reform movement (NFTY) and also for Young Judaea (a Zionist youth program), and was the Assistant Director of a Jewish camp. He has also volunteered for many years working with at-risk youth and teenagers.
In July 2010, Rabbi Gallop began serving as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Ahabah. Along with general congregational duties he will also be focusing on serving the needs of the congregation's teenagers, 20's and 30's, interfaith families, and social justice.
Russell M. Finer
Russell M. Finer, FSA, is the Executive Director of Congregation Beth Ahabah after having served in similar capacities at Congregation Shirat Hayam of the North Shore in Swampscott, Massachusetts and Temple Beth El in Springfield, Massachusetts for 25 years. Russ credits his long tenure to viewing the synagogue as his own business and devoting his “all” to ensuring its success. He earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts and has completed course work toward a Masters in Public Administration at Northeastern University. A longtime coach of youth baseball and basketball, Russ is also actively involved in many civic and religious organizations. Interacting with congregants, colleagues and agencies on so many different levels is his favorite part of synagogue life.
Russ was married to Pam (of blessed memory) for 33 years and is the proud parent of Rachel (married to Aaron Levy), Accreditation Manager for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education; and Daniel, Decision Support Analyst for Peoples Health in southeast Louisiana.
Ramona Brand, M.Ed., has worked professionally as an educator since 1983, working in public, Jewish, and Theater Arts Education. Ramona graduated from Hamilton College in 1981, with a B.A. in Theater and English and went on to earn her Masters in Education from Lesley University in 1983. Ramona is a member of NATE, the National Association of Temple Educators.
Ramona began her career as the Director of Reading and Math Recovery Program in Jamaica Plain, MA. She then spent several years teaching 3rd grade at Day Schools in both Massachusetts and Michigan. Additionally, she taught Religious education in a variety of venues from 1991 until 2001. From 1992 – 1996 she served as Director for the theater program Talk To Us at the University of Michigan. From early 200 until late 2001 she served as the Director of Programs for Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor MI f and was then offered the position as Principal of the Jewish Cultural School in Ann Arbor, MI. She simultaneously served as the Director of Education at Wild Swan Theater, a family theater company.
Since arriving at Congregation Beth Ahabah in 2008, she has focused on expanding the experiential learning opportunities for the students at Beth Ahabah through engaging school wide programs, enhanced curriculum, interesting field trips and by providing increased professional development for the teaching staff. Her goal at Beth Ahabah is to bring the creativity of her theater arts background and her passion for Jewish education together to fashion an exciting and creative atmosphere for the Religious School; "creativity with content" is her personal motto.
Ramona and her husband, Harlan Loebman, have six children, Alan, Hannah, Ryan, and Sofia Piracha and David and Miriam Loebman. They enjoy a very lively household in Richmond’s Short Pump area.
|Dr. Jack D. Spiro
|Frances T. Goldman
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
|James S. Yoffy
Museum & Archives President
William B. Thalhimer III
Hebrew Cemetery Chair
Carol Ann Callahan