Board of Trustees

Temple Beth-El is supported by a Board of Trustees, who together serve as the modern equivalent of our kohanim.  

Image of Paul sqPaul Klein (President)

Paul has been involved with Temple Beth-El for over a decade in various capacities.  Paul has dedicated his extensive experience in jewelry, the arts and business management to his passion of building community on City Island and beyond.  By day, Paul works as a professional jeweler and owns Kaleidoscope Gallery on City Island; Paul creates the Temple’s signature logo sailboat “Star of David” as a piece of jewelry.  Paul also serves as Vice President of City Island’s Chamber of Commerce and is deeply involved in promoting City Island and the Bronx.  Paul has lived on City Island since 1994 with his partner, Bill Rainford.  Originally from Baltimore, Paul earned a degree in business from the University of Maryland.

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Ellen Ruth Topol (Vice President)

Ellen Ruth earned her doctorate in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University (focusing on women’s issues). She achieved both her Masters in Education and Bachelor of Arts degrees from New York University. She is an educator with more than 42 years in the public and private sectors teaching reading, writing and computer literacy. Her private practice uses a narrative inquiry approach to facilitate transformation. Since 2004, Ellen Ruth has studied at the School of Images (Imagery, Dream, and Morphology) with her mentor, Catherine Shainberg, based on the teachings of 13th-century mystic, Issac the Blind and his descendant Colette. Ellen Ruth is a serious student of spiritual exploration focusing on Tibetan Buddhism, Jewish Mysticism, and Kabbalah. Her first Buddhist teacher is a woman, Lama Tsultrim Allione, one of the first Buddhist Tibetan nuns. Recently, she began studying with Lama Surya Das to more deeply connect with her Jewish roots and Buddhist study. She practices T’ai Chi and studies Chinese Dietary Therapy. As a poet, she focuses on transformation and spiritual themes.She adores learning and exploring all spiritual paths. She loves to sing and, recently, has begun an exploration of singing and its positive effects on aging.

Avra Tietze (Treasurer)

Avra has enjoyed being a member of Temple Beth-El since 2007. She was hooked when, at her very first service, there was dancing in the aisles. Avra is licensed massage therapist, acupressurist, and reflexologist. She is an authorized teacher for Jin Shin Do(R) Bodymind Acupressure (R). Avra resides in Westchester County with her husband Michael and has two grown sons, Maxwell and Harrison. Avra always looks forward to crossing the bridge to City Island and is eager to help others find their way to this most special synagogue.

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Elaine Belasco (Membership)

Elaine joined Temple Beth-El in 2002 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2010.  Originally from Brooklyn Heights, Elaine moved to the Bronx in 1991 and to City Island in 2001.  After teaching elementary school for almost 35 years, Elaine retired in 2000 and now tutors at a regional tutoring center.  A passionate ballroom dancer, Elaine competed nationally for eight years and taught dancing classes.  She also enjoys spending time with her grandson, theater, and music.

mail.googleBob Berent (Secretary)

Bob has been with Temple Beth-El since completing military service in 1964.  Over five decades, Bob has served this community in every imaginable capacity, from porch sweeper to President.  With his wife Cheryl and accordion, Bob leads Shabbat services in the absence of clergy, with a mix of tradition, sea shanties and inspired participation. Bob earned his M.S. from Bank Street College of Education and was a creative and dynamic teacher for 30 years. In the 1970s, he authored and ran an innovative, award-winning interdisciplinary approach to teaching (“The Railroad in America”) that helped his school become one of 20 “Beacon Light Schools” in the New York City system. When not at shul, today Bob and Cheryl sail Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound on their good ship Maccabee.


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Barbara Gold (Programs)

Barbara and her husband Carl have been members of TBE for ten years. They have been moved by the open hearted, open minded spiritual community that TBE is. Having always wanted to be a helping professional, Barbara completed an MSW and two post-masters clinical certificates. She has been in the private practice of psychotherapy for adults and couples in Manhattan for over 25 years. Barbara has passions for music, gardening and visiting with family and friends. She has studied the piano for over 20 years and wishes to expand her repertoire into Jewish music of all types. Involvement with TBE has brought new frontiers to Barbara’s life. Her spiritual quest has found a home with our community which encourages all to accept the truth of what they feel and know. Barbara feels that it is an honor and a privilege to serve on the Board of TBE. She looks forward to building a meaningful future for TBE together with the other members of the Board.

Violet Smith (Oneg)Violet Smith

Violet came a long way from St. Louis (with a short stop in Larchmont) to City Island: she fell in love with City Island as soon as she reached the middle of the bridge. Her family of five daughters and three stepsons continues to grow. She has 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, nine of whom are native clamdigger City Islanders (well, almost: they were born in a hospital). Of the 15 grandchildren, nine live elsewhere in the Bronx or across the country. Violet retired after teaching for nearly 40 years. Locally she’s involved with the Hutchinson River Project and Friends of Pelham Bay Park. As a Christian, she believes that God loves and hears everyone’s prayers no matter how they worship. Violet was drawn to Temple Beth-El when one of her grandchildren died: a friend put his name on the memorial list to be prayed for each Friday night for a year. She came and continues to come because it is a blessing for Violet to be in and serve this holy place.

For TBEElisa Weindling (Tikkun Olam)

Elisa is a relative newcomer to Temple Beth-El, but is very glad to have found a new spiritual home here. Elisa was a teacher, mentor, and teacher-coach for over 25 years. She has led workshops at national conferences for the Coalition for Essential Schools, as well as locally in the greater New York area. She was a lead writer for the New York City Children of the Rainbow diversity curriculum, and has been cited for her social-emotional teaching expertise in the acclaimed book, The Soul of Education. Elisa currently spends her time teaching Hebrew school, leading workshops in Gentle Parenting and Jewish Parenting, tutoring, and raising two wonderful daughters. Elisa has been and continues to work as an activist for peace, human rights and environmentalism.  She is an eager learner and explorer in the path of spiritual Judaism and enjoys the challenging struggles and the jubilant successes in the journey of integrating all of these aspects of her life.

Helen Lerner (Trustee at Large)C741065F-12DB-49C0-963A-E5A1EBD5AE6C

Helen grew up in Mount Vernon and attended Skidmore College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She then earned a Masters and Doctoral degree at Teachers College. She taught for 38 years at Lehman College and ran the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program there.  After retirement, Helen has been working at the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center for 2.5 days a week as a nurse practitioner She also volunteers at the Bronx Zoo, giving tours and giving talks at different animal exhibits. Helen and her husband, Bob, a physician, have three daughters and six grandchildren. They have been members of Temple Beth-El since 2012.

Ken Binder (Facilities)

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Helaine Cutler (Trustee at Large)

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