Kehillat Israel is an inclusive Jewish community, which honors diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. Grounded in Jewish cultural and religious tradition, and guided by the core Reconstructionist principle to value both the wisdom of the past and the need for evolving belief and practice, KI seeks through prayer, learning and Tikkun Olam to create a sacred space in which its members of all ages may find meaning, purpose and joy.
In 1950 a small group of young Jewish people in Pacific Palisades were seeking a community with their fellow Jews and lovingly planted the first seed that would blossom and grow into Kehillat Israel.
Under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Abraham Winokur z”l, our founding rabbi, KI was first called “The Jewish Community of Pacific Palisades,” then “Congregation of Pacific Palisades (JCPP)” , “Kehillath Israel” and finally “Kehillat Israel” in keeping with the modern Hebrew pronunciation.
By the time Kehillat Israel reached nearly 400 families over 15 years ago, we had outgrown our old facility and the community responded by building our new, beautiful synagogue, facility which was dedicated on October 26, 1997. Since that time, we have more than doubled to over 1,000 diverse households representing all walks of life and a wide variety of Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds.
Through it all we have strived to maintain that same atmosphere of warmth, caring and community that inspired those early members to create the KI we love.
Rabbi Bernstein became our Senior Rabbi in July 2014, after serving four years as Associate Rabbi. An Atlanta native, Rabbi Bernstein has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology from Northwestern University, where she also earned a certificate in Women’s Studies. She is also an alumna of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Her rabbinic training included one year as a visiting graduate student at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
In addition to working with our B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmation students, she leads our Friday morning Torah Study and teaches our Jewish Meditation class, also on Friday morning. She teaches adult enrichment courses throughout the year and leads the annual Women’s Retreat.
Before coming to KI, Rabbi Bernstein was the rabbi of Temple Israel in Duluth, Minnesota for 14 years. As the only rabbi for several miles, she represented the Jewish community in the Greater Northland region. She served two terms as president of the Arrowhead Interfaith Council and six years on the Board of Trustees of the College of St. Scholastica, where she was also on the founding board of the Oreck/Alpern Inter-religious Forum. She was a scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Chautauqua Society and lectured widely throughout the Northland.
Outside of her rabbinical work, Rabbi Bernstein performs as a member of Three Altos, a vocal trio.
Rabbi Bernstein makes her home in Pacific Palisades with her partner, Judy Griffith, her daughter, Eliana, and their rescue Chihuahua, Olivia.
Rabbi Nick Renner is the Assistant Rabbi at Kehillat Israel. A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Rabbi Renner received his MA along with the title of Rabbi from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. He was a recipient of the Aaron and Marjorie Ziegelman Scholarship at RRC. During his time in rabbinical school, he worked at the Mekom Torah high school program, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, University of Delaware Hillel, Hillel’s Schusterman International Center, and Congregation Shirat Ha Yam.
For the past two years, Rabbi Renner has served on the Alumni Advisory Board of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. He participated as a Bronfman Fellow in 2002.
Rabbi Renner earned his BA in International Comparative Studies from Duke University, focusing on the Middle East. He won the ICS Distinguished Thesis Award upon graduation for his thesis regarding the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. During his time at Duke, Rabbi Renner played in the university’s jazz program and in numerous other groups.
Over fifteen years, Rabbi Renner has played guitar and bass in a range of musical groups, in styles including rock, funk, blues, hip hop, jazz, and folk. He has played both live and in studios in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, the Israeli city of Netanya, and most recently Philadelphia. He is excited to bring his love of music to Kehillat Israel.
Rabbi Renner lives in Brentwood with his wife Kimmy. Outside of Judaism and music, he also enjoys cooking and reading.
Clergy Assistant at 424.214.7466
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Click here to read a wonderful article about our new Assistant Rabbi.
In his over a quarter century as cantor of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation, Chayim Frenkel has built an impressive career marked by a series of exceptional musical accomplishments. Blessed with a rich, warm tenor voice and an ability to nurture others’ talents, Chayim has become a driving force in the world of modern Jewish music and cantorial practice, following in the very large footsteps of his late father, Hazzan Uri Frenkel.
Chayim has commissioned and produced numerous recordings, including “Nishmat Tzedek – A Righteous Soul,” an orchestral and choral suite in honor of his brother Tzvi, of blessed memory. Chayim’s dear friend, the acclaimed Cantor Meir Finkelstein, composed the work. The composition had its world premier at KI in 1994. Chayim and Meir expanded their recording into a book and compact disc package as a gift of healing to those who have lost loved ones in the ongoing terrorism that plagues our world.
In 1995, Chayim served as executive director of Cantor Finkelstein’s moving oratorio, “Liberation,” commemorating the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
In 1998, Chayim served as co-chair of the Cantors Assembly’s celebration in honor of the State of Israel’s 50th anniversary. As part of these festivities, he performed at Carnegie Hall and produced a concert in New York’s Central Park, attended by over 10,000 people.
Cantor Frenkel sits on the board of directors of two worthy organizations: Promises Foundation and the local chapter of American Jewish Congress.
He lives in Pacific Palisades with his beloved wife, Marsi and two beautiful daughters, Mandi and Molli.
Contact Executive Assistant to the Cantor and B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator at 424.214.7464
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Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D., is Rabbi Emeritus of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, California. He is a nationally recognized expert in the field of moral education and is the recipient of numerous community awards, including the Micah Award for founding the largest full-service homeless shelter in Los Angeles. He is also a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award from the Youth Law Center in San Francisco.
Steven has contributed to a wide variety of publications as an author and composer. He has written numerous books, including Raising Children in a Contemporary World (1992); Raising Ethical Children (Prima Publishing, 1994), and Children of Character: Leading Your Children to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life (Canter & Associates, 1997), A Non-judgmental Guide to Interfaith Marriage (Xlibris Corporation, 2002), and There’s an Easter Egg on Your Seder Plate: Surviving Your Child’s Interfaith Marriage (Praeger Publishers, 2008). His latest book is Becoming Jewish – The Challenges, Rewards, and Paths to Conversion (2011 Rowman & Littlefield).
Steven holds two bachelor’s degrees, in philosophy and political science, from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California; certification in aging and human development from the University of Georgia; a Ph.D. in religion from Sierra University; and two honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees. He was ordained in 1976 by the Hebrew Union College.
He also is past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Steven has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations, including Chrysalis, Global Children’s Organization, I Have a Dream Foundation, and The Center for the Improvement of Child Caring.
Contact Clergy Assistant at 424.214.7466
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