Clergy & Staff

Meet the heart and soul of Temple Beth Tikvah, Our Clergy, and Our Staff.

Our Clergy

Temple Beth Tikvah’s clergy leaders are Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly and Cantor Emeritus Charles Romalis.

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly

Select Rabbi Meeka’s picture to send a 📧 to: rabbimeeka@templebethtikvahnj.org

Rabbi/Cantor Meeka Simerly was born in Haifa, Israel, and was raised in an “ultra-secular” Zionist environment. After moving to California to study music in 1995, she rediscovered her Jewish roots and fell madly in love with Reform Judaism. Rabbi Meeka became musically and “Jewishly” active in several congregations and organizations, co-leading services, teaching Hebrew, Torah Trope, Love of Israel, and music. Rabbi Meeka earned her B.A. cum laude in music education from San Jose State University in 2004 and received her Cantorial Ordination and a Masters in Jewish Sacred Music from the Academy for Jewish Religion, CA in 2009 (AJRCA). During her second year of schooling at the Academy, Rabbi Meeka was hired as Cantor at Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, CA, where she served for 10 years. During that time, Rabbi Meeka also continued her schooling at the AJRCA, where she earned her second Masters and Ordination as Rabbi.

Just before graduation, Temple Beth Tikvah’s wonderful Search Committee interviewed Rabbi Meeka, and indeed, it was love at first phone call! Rabbi Meeka and her husband Dave packed their belongings, and their 3 Schnauzers, to embark on a 2-week cross-country road trip to start a new chapter in their lives. They arrived in Wayne, NJ in July 2016, and bought a house where they are now as happy as puppies playing in the snow!

Rabbi Meeka’s thesis “Naomi Shemer’s Artistic Expression: Poetry, Prayer, or Both?” was published in the book Emotions in Jewish Music, and her recent book Voices in The Wilderness, Emerging Roles of Israeli Clergy Women (Gaon Books) was published in January 2015. You can find more info on Meeka’s Amazon Author’s page.

Rabbi Meeka loves to read (books, the old fashion way), hike and spend a lot of time outdoors with Dave and the dogs; she enjoys arts and crafts, and yoga.

From the Rabbi: “I am always happy to meet you, so stop by my office to say hello, or schedule an appointment with me for a longer visit. My door is always open!”

Cantor Emeritus Charles Romalis

Cantor Emeritus Charles Romalis

Select Cantor Emeritus Romalis’ picture to send a 📧 to: cantoremeritus@templebethtikvahnj.org

After arriving at Temple Beth Tikvah, Cantor Emeritus Romalis set out to create an atmosphere of joy and celebration through his cantorate and to create a wonderful and meaningful musical legacy second to none. In the process, he also helped ensure that Temple Beth Tikvah serves as a spiritual home to everyone.

Cantor Emeritus Romalis embodies the title Sh’liach Tsibur, a sacred term for what it means to be a cantor: a messenger for the community. He has a gift for focusing on the positive aspects of life and making people feel good and better about their own lives. He truly is the eternal optimist.

During his 50 years as Temple Beth Tikvah’s Cantor, he has worked with people of all ages, including teaching all grades in the Religous School and adult Hebrew Learning. He has been involved in all aspects of clergy leadership and education like youth director, principal of the primary grades, and adult and children’s choir director. He has officiated at many life-cycle events such as weddings, renewal of vows, funerals, unveilings, baby naming, and more.

Cantor Romalis has been a guiding light that has helped Temple Beth Tikvah embrace the diverse and enriching musical traditions of the Jewish people. He has created an extraordinary legacy that will continue to serve Temple Beth Tikvah’s congregation into the future.

Our Staff

Marian Gorewitz Kleinman, Temple Educator

Marian K CroppedMarian is delighted to be the Temple Educator and Administrator at Temple Beth Tikvah. She brings us her passion for Judaism and Israel, and she’s piloting an asynchronous weekly online Hebrew class for students in Grades 4, 5, and 6. She also leads our Wayne Hebrew High, for teens in Grades 8-12 from TBT and Shomrei Torah.

She grew up in West Nyack, NY, and is a cantorial student at The Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY (AJR). She holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from Gratz College as well as an MA in Creative Writing from The City College of NY. While at Gratz, she earned a graduate prize for her academic achievement in the field of Liturgy. She earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Ramapo College of NJ.

Marian was the Principal for seven years at Beth Am Temple in Pearl River, NY, and concurrently was the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Agudas Achim in Livingston Manor, NY. She served for two years as the Cantorial Soloist/Education Director at Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation – Emek Shalom, in Simsbury, CT. Her background also includes being the religious school principal, choir and music director at Temple of Israel (Wilmington, North Carolina); NY State teaching certification in English and Social Studies; and part-time freelance journalism. She’s taught at several online colleges and community colleges as well as at several public schools. She’s written a screenplay and memoir about her mother’s experiences as a member of the Belgian Resistance during the Shoah; she’s earned several awards and fellowships, including the 1989 Louis Ginsberg Memorial Fellowship.

Marian writes poetry, enjoys reading, yoga, baking, gardening, music, dance, art, playing guitar, and activities with her family. She grew up in Rockland County, NY, where her parents were founding members of Temple Beth Sholom in New City and her mother continues to be active in the Jewish community and in the local Hadassah. Marian lives with her daughter in Wayne.

Learning, working, and helping others is my passion, reflected in this text from our TANAKH:  Two are better than one, for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. Ecclesiastes, 49:10

Marian can be reached via email – educator@templebethtikvahnj.org

 

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