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Temple Staff

Russell M. Finer,
Executive Director, FSA

“If the rabbi is CEO, I would be the COO,” Russ Finer says. “I oversee the operations of the synagogue. I’m the go-to guy here. And to me, that’s very, very worthwhile.”

Chances are, if you’ve interacted with Beth Ahabah, you’ve talked to Russ Finer, the synagogue’s executive director. Whether it’s managing finances, helping new members, or ensuring the safety of the congregation during the high holidays, Russ probably has a hand in it.

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Natan Berenshteyn,
Music Director and Accompanist

“In the Jewish tradition,” Natan Berenshteyn says, “without music, there is no service. Jewish services are not read—they’re chanted.”

Bringing the musical tradition of our ancestors into worship services is precisely what Berenshteyn does as the music director for Beth Ahabah. “I am involved in everything that has the word music in it,” he says.

It takes a lot of scheduling and logistics—and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing. He plans the “musical menu” for services that feature the children’s choir, adult volunteer choir, the professional choir, and the cantorial soloist, and ensures that everyone has their music in hand when it’s time to start practicing.

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Frances T. Goldman,
Cantor Emerita

“Music is an intrinsic part of Jewish liturgy,” Fran Goldman says.

Despite her recognition of the critical role of music in the worship experience, being a cantor wasn’t initially a career path she considered. When she graduated from college, women in the clergy were generally unheard of. Just a few years later, however, the tide began to change and Goldman took a job as a cantorial soloist with Congregation Or Ami in Richmond.

It wasn’t until she was hired by Beth Ahabah in the early ’80s that she became involved in professional cantorial organizations. She initially followed the movement of women cantors and served on a committee to review certification programs, but ultimately used the synagogue’s support to pursue her own certification in the early ’90s.

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Rabbi Emeritus Martin P. Beifield, Jr.

Photos:Doug Buerlein (Russ Finer, Sarah Beck-Berman), Steven Longstaff (Natan Berenshteyn)

Tue, February 20 2018 5 Adar 5778