Rabbi/Cantor Meeka SimerlyRabbi/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
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 in 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 the future.