Shabbat Service – Purim 3-2-2018

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Mar 022018

Rabbi Allison Lawton’s favorite holiday of the year is Purim. If you had any doubts about this fact before, consider her special outfit for our Shabbat Purim service on Friday, March 2nd:

Rabbi Lawton holding our Megillah

To Rabbi Lawton’s delight, our Shabbat service included a Purim Shpiel starring some of Beth Ami Temple’s talented members:

Beth Ami Temple actors and actresses who starred in the Shpiel included Bette Nitzky, Stan Nitzky, Blossom Osofsky, Steve Hertzfeld, Susanne Zimmerman, Steve Zimmerman, Shari Brooks, Jeff Brooks, and Barry Markowitz.


Thank you Jewish News for including Rabbi Lawton’s Purim photo in its 3-9-18 issue, page 16.

Tashlich Ceremony 9-24-17

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Sep 242017

A nice group met for a short Tashlich ceremony on Sunday, 9-24-17, to clear out the sins of 5777 and become ready to begin 5778 with a clean slate. Harriett and Paul Finger, Arnie Schwartz, Stu Meckler and friend Edlyn, Bernie Pollock and dog Cosmo, Carol Sinai and Bernie Aronson, Maddy and Jim, and Steve and Jan Hertzfeld enjoyed the ceremony, followed by a good stroll on a beautiful day at Tempe Town Lake with a lunch on Mill Avenue.

Tashlich 2017

Tashlich Ceremony at Tempe Town Lake on 9-24-17.


An update:

Thank you Jewish News for mentioning Beth Ami Temple’s Tashlich ceremony in their 9-29-17 edition, page 16.


Jewish News Article Welcomes New Clergy

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Sep 022017

Thank you to the Jewish News for mentioning Beth Ami Temple’s new clergy and our Open House on Friday, September 8th! We welcome the community to attend and see what makes this “small temple with a big heart” so special!

Paradise Valley Independent Newspaper Features Beth Ami Temple

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Aug 172017

Thank you Scottsdale Independent and Paradise Valley Independent newspapers for helping Beth Ami Temple introduce our new Rabbi and Cantorial Soloist at our Open House on Friday, September 8th! We welcome the community to attend and see what makes this “small temple with a big heart” so special!

Beth Ami Temple to introduce new clergy at community open house

A Night of Music with the Qui Family

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Mar 172017


Phoenix Symphony violinist Lan Qiu and his family will usher in notes of hope when they headline the annual Sounds of Spring concert at Beth Ami Temple, 3535 E. Lincoln Blvd. 3 p.m. Sunday, April 30.

Mr. Qiu, his wife Joy, and sons Ivan and Allen Pan will perform a selection of songs, ranging from baroque, classical, and romantic eras, as well as Jewish music.

Mr. Qiu has played in the Phoenix Symphony’s first violin section since 2003, and prior to that was a member of the China National Symphony Orchestra. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, Asia and North America, and, after earning his American citizenship, Mr. Qiu was honored to play the National Anthem at Chase Field for the Diamondbacks in 2010.

Mrs. Qiu also is a violinist, and both sons play in youth concert groups.

The Qiu family are familiar faces at Beth Ami Temple. Mr. Qiu performs the Kol Nidre every year at Yom Kippur services at the synagogue, where the family holds membership.

“Without music, life is a journey through a desert,” Mr. Qiu says. “For us, music is all about sharing love and healing of souls, the language of the spirit and strongest form of magic.”


Local Singer to Headline Beth Ami Temple Spring Concert

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Apr 042016

Todd Herzog new headshotMar 21st, 2016 · by Paradise Valley Independent ·
Bridging the gap between religion and spirituality, singer-song writer Todd Herzog will be the featured artist performing at Beth Ami Temple’s Spring Fundraiser on May 1.

In addition to being the much-loved and respected Cantorial Soloist at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, Mr. Herzog is also an award-winning singer and the founder of the popular Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest, now in its fourth year.

He has had his music and voice featured in multiple film and television shows as well as having his song “You And I” reach No. 2 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts. Mr. Herzog has worked with top songwriters and performers, including Burt Bacharach and Dave Koz, yet he continues to impact the Jewish community both in town and beyond as traveling around the country performing his uplifting songs at services and artist-in-residence weekends, according to a press release.

The event is to be 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, at Beth Ami Temple, 3535 E. Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley. Tickets are $25 in advanced or $30 at the door.

For further information and/or to order advance tickets,contact Donna Horwitz or 602-997-5623 or Blossom Osofsky, at

For more information on Beth Ami Temple and its programs, please visit

Dr Zuhdi Jasser President of American Forum For Democracy

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Jan 052016

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an American Muslim activist nationally recognized for his belief on the “separation of mosque and state”, as well as being vocal opponent of the ideology of “political Islam” will present “The Battle for the Soul of Islam” as part of the Beth Ami Temple Speaker Series on Sunday, January 24, 2016. The son of Syrian immigrants who escaped the oppressive Baath regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s for American freedom, Dr. Jasser is a devout Muslim and founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. The AIFD is the most prominent American Muslim organization confronting the ideologies of political Islam and openly countering the belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State.

“Dr. Jasser presents a picture of Islam that represents religious tolerance for others and a different perspective,” says Beth Ami Temple Rabbi Arthur Abrams. “It is so important for us to hear about a more moderate view point of Islam.”
Dr. Jasser regularly briefs members of Congress on the threat of political Islam and has been called to testify on the issue of Muslim radicalization in the United States. During the event, Dr. Jasser will provide insight into the historical context of the cauldron in the Middle East that brewed ISIS and lay out the only path forward for the world’s interests: the promotion of a “Liberty Doctrine” in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Awakening of 2011 presented the region with a major opportunity at a transformation away from old Arabic military dictatorships toward liberty. Instead, this created a vacuum that is being filled by Islamist movements. Dr. Jasser looks to build the future of Islam through the concepts of liberty and freedom, and his organization’s mission is derived from a love for America and a love of Islam.

Dr. Jasser’s talk is free of charge but reservations are required. Since seating is limited, Please RSVP to Bobbi Lazarus at  or call 602-956-0805.

Jewish News article: “Synagogues Often Overlook Singles, Childless”

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Nov 162015


Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 10:00 am
DEBORAH MULLER | 0 comments
Amidst the Tot Shabbats, preschool Purim plays, and family-friendly movie nights, it’s difficult for many single, empty-nester or childless Jews who want to attend shul to feel 100 percent comfortable doing so.

There’s no arguing the fact that family is vital, if not central, to Judaism. The religion places a huge premium on marriage and parenthood. In fact, so many aspects of Judaism revolve around family and domestic life – the traditions, the customs, the ways of life – which form the strong pillars required to support the Jewish religion and culture throughout consecutive generations.

But that same strength easily turns into a weakness when the religion ignores the needs and emotions of those without family or spouse.

Going to Friday night services alone is scary and disheartening. Who will lend a hand when you single-handedly try to raise your sukkah’s roof? Are you really asking the Four Questions if there’s nobody else at the Passover table to hear them?

This was the case for Lanee Cohen, a single mother of three from Phoenix, who felt a sense of “otherness” when she attended services after her divorce. She often sat alone during services and felt like a third wheel when her married friends invited her to join them. She received a cursory greeting at the sanctuary’s entrance, but then was cast adrift into the crowded room.

“I was an other, not part of the traditional group. I didn’t fit in with the other families and couples,” says Cohen. “Growing away from our partners doesn’t mean temple should grow away from us.” Cohen is the organizer of a Meet Up group ( that is active in the Phoenix/Scottsdale community. Composed primarily of single Jewish people ages 45-60, the group plans year-round social activities, as well as functioning as a chavurah.

Personally speaking, I was widowed at an early age and had two very young children to raise. While I did not specifically sense I was less welcome while attending temple, I did feel somewhat inadvertently overlooked as the emphasis was put upon traditional nuclear families and Jewish roles for mom AND dad, not mom OR dad.

According to the most recent Pew Research survey, only 22 percent of Jewish singles in America belong to a synagogue compared with 39 percent of married Jews, so there are a lot of prospective members to reach. A few congregations in the Valley have taken notice of this feeling of disconnect and aim to make their synagogues a welcoming place for Jewish singles, empty-nesters and those without children.

Beth Ami Temple in Paradise Valley is a boutique temple catering to those exact demographics. Composed of roughly 45 percent single Jewish adults, the members of Beth Ami Temple are too busy to feel ignored. Social clubs dedicated to a variety of interests such as hiking, dining out, travel, movies and tennis keep members of all ages and marital classification engaged and part of the community.

“Our congregation is very friendly and inclusive. We are focused on the empty nesters whose children are grown,” explains Beth Ami’s Rabbi Art Abrams. “That is when affiliation depends not on child-rearing and education, but on the real need for spiritual and communal motivation and experiences.”

Due to Rabbi Abrams’ mindset, Cohen feels at ease and welcomed at the small congregation. “I can’t tell you how good I felt walking into Beth Ami Temple,” says Cohen. In fact, she feels so welcome that she has brought her Meet Up group to High Holiday and Shabbat services at Beth Ami several times. (Beth Ami is having a wine and cheese open house and reception 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10. Visit

Another congregation doing its part to make singles and people without children feel part of the makeup is Congregation Or Tzion in North Scottsdale. One of their temple groups, the Socialights, is composed primarily of empty-nesters ranging in age from the late 40s to early 70s. Some of the group’s past events have included wine tasting, picnics, scavenger hunts, square dancing and a luau.

“We find ways to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome, whatever their social, marital, or age category is,” says Or Tzion’s Rabbi Micah Caplan. “During Shabbat Services, we take a break from the service and have individuals introduce themselves to one another in a more intimate one-on-one environment.” (For more information, visit

It’s important for all congregations, if not all Jewish people, to make everyone attending their services feel like they are an integral part of the community. No single group or age category should be held above another in esteem.

There are several ways for synagogues to be more inclusive. Rabbis and temple committee members need to be more proactive, inviting those alone to all events – both social and religious – and seeing that they are recognized and greeted warmly and genuinely.

Organize communal meals and help those alone coordinate other activities. Finally, those who live alone by choice or by circumstance have the option to take matters into their own hand. Take the initiative to invite another single person over for Shabbat or to break the fast – or even just to watch the next episode of “Orange is the New Black”!

Whether you are family by blood or by congregation, remember that family relations do require effort and consideration, but, in the end, it is worth it.

Deborah Muller is the publicist for several Jewish organizations around the Valley, including the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, the Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest and Beth Ami Temple.

Jewish Pioneer lecture Friday Dec 11th

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Nov 142015
The wedding of Max Lantin and Lillie Solomon in 1904 was the first recorded Jewish wedding in the Arizona Territory.  
Local historian to speak on “Jewish Pioneers of the Valley”

November 3, 2015 — (Paradise Valley, AZ)  Phoenix resident and renown local historian Dr. Larry Bell will give a lecture on “Jewish Pioneers in the Valley” on Friday, December 11, at 7:30 pm at Beth Ami Temple in Paradise Valley.

Defying stereotypes, early Jewish pioneers in Arizona were not just storeowners and bankers, but cowboys, lawmen, ranchers and entertainers. Additionally, Jewish pioneers did not just settle in Tucson and Phoenix — they landed in the smaller towns of Yuma, Prescott, Bisbee and Tombstone.  

“The presentation will cover the early history of Jews in Phoenix and some of the early pioneers who established our local Jewish community,” states Dr. Bell, whose speaking engagement will take place during an abbreviated Friday night service. The event is free and open to the public.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Bell has served as the Executive Director of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society for the last nine years. He has been involved in restoring Phoenix’s first synagogue as the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, a museum and cultural center open to people of all faiths. The center now hosts a variety of programs including regular exhibitions on Jewish history, a monthly documentary film series, book discussion group, genealogy society, and community archive.  

Dr. Bell is also very passionate about promoting good interfaith relations in the Valley as serves and Vice President of the Arizona Interfaith Movement.

For more information on Beth Ami Temple, visit For more information on the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, visit

Date: Friday, December 11, 2015
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm, followed by light refreshments
Place: Beth Ami Temple (located inside Palo Cristi Church) — 3535 East Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253  
Cost: Free, but kindly RSVP to (602) 956-0805 or