Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz
Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz, the youngest of four children, grew up in the west San Fernando Valley and graduated from Calabasas High School and U.C. Santa Cruz. He studied rabbinics and education at Hebrew Union college-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York.
After ordination in 1999, Rabbi Kupetz became a member of the Stephan S. Wise Temples’s rabbinical staff where he helped to create and lead diverse opportunities for Jewish engagement. Rabbi Kupetz also served as the coordinator of a Los Angeles area 12-step recovery retreat co-sponsored by Jewsh Family Service of Los Angeles.He began his tenure as rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Pomona on July 1st 2004. He enjoys the warm relationships he is developing with congregants and the many opportunities he has to teach about Jewish life.
Rabbi Kupetz is a strong advocate of Jewish residential summer camps and has sharply increased the participation of TBI youth in Jewish summer camping. He has a passion for Israel where he met Karen, his wife, when they were both studying there during their Junior year of college. They have three children: Sam, Eli, and Abby.
Hazzan (Cantor) Paul Buch
Hazzan (Cantor) Paul Buch has served Temple Beth Israel’s since 2003 and is a graduate and ordainee of the Academy for Jewish Religion/California in Los Angeles (www.ajrca.org).
Cantor Buch leads music at religious services and life cycle events, teaches liturgy, scriptural chanting and music in our Beit Sefer (religious school) and mentors students preparing for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. He contributes musically throughout our congregation, and his soulful, energetic approach has been described as both “deeply spiritual” and “cheerleading for G-d.” He participates regularly in our Adult Jewish Learning program and currently leads our Intro to Judaism course.
Cantor Buch comes to the cantorate after a 25 year career in television and film production in Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, OR which he embarked on after his graduation from Boston University with a degree in journalism. A native of Buffalo, NY, Cantor Buch credits his parents, David and Drena (z”l) with inspiring a love for Judaism and especially Jewish music in him at a very young age.
Motivated by his own upbringing in a diverse religious community, Cantor Buch is deeply engaged with community interfaith activities. He is a past-President of the Claremont Interfaith Council and has served on the Faith-Based Roundtable of the Pomona Unified School District. He is also a past chairperson of the City of Claremont’s Human Relations Committee, a member of the Upland Interfaith Council and has servved on an advisory committee at the Claremont School of Theology. He is the immediate past Board Chair of the Rabbis and Cantors Retirement Plan and a national board member of the clergy organization OHALAH.
Cantor Buch is married to Lisa, an urban planner who is part of the management team for the Foothill Gold Line transit project. They have two sons; Sam, who attends high school in Claremont, and is a madrich (teaching aide) in our Beit Sefer, and Benjamin, who is a 8th grader that will become Bar Mitzvah in October 2020 (delayed from March due to COVID-19).
Deborah Pruitt, Preschool Director
From her Jewish beginnings at Temple Beth Israel in Chicago to adult participation at Temple Beth Israel in Pomona, Deborah Pruitt has been involved with the Jewish community. Deborah and her family have been members of Temple Beth Israel since they moved to the Pomona Valley in 1988. At that time, Deborah joined the staff of Temple Beth Israel Preschool and Daycare, where she has been the Director since 1989. She recently celebrated 31 years in this position.
Deborah’s first involvement with young children began the year she lived and worked on a kibbutz in Israel. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Applied Behavioral Science and a M.A. in Human Development. Deborah has worked in the field of early childhood education as a teacher with young children, a Parent Education leader and a community college instructor. Deborah is always happy to speak with parents about their children, working together to provide a quality environment for their development.
Natalie Horwitz, Interim Director of Beit Sefer
Natalie is an experienced Jewish educator with a passion for helping children and their families cultivate meaningful connections to Judaism through Jewish learning and community. She has served the Jewish community for over fifteen years in several innovative institutions in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, most recently as Associate Director of the religious school at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, CA. She brings a unique combination of experience as a classroom teacher, nonprofit professional, and educational leader.
Natalie holds a Joint Master’s degree in Jewish Education and Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), a California Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Politics from Brandeis University. Natalie is currently a fellow of The Mandel Teacher Educator Institute, a national professional training program for leaders in Jewish education. Natalie is married to Michael, a filmmaker and creative professional, and together they are parents to Eliana (aka Elly), a preschooler whose favorite activities include playing soccer and eating challah on Shabbat. To contact Natalie, click here.