Rabbi Michele Paskow leads our Congregation in worship services with Cantor Michael Russ. Our clergy are available to perform all life-cycle events including Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, baby namings, weddings and funerals. The Rabbi holds office hours by appointment.
RABBI MICHELE PASKOW
Rabbi Michele Paskow serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Emet in Simi Valley where she’s been the rabbi since 1992. She also teaches two Jewish Studies courses at California State University, Northridge, JS 200 – Introduction to Judaism, and JS 300 – Humanities in Ancient and Medieval Jewish Society.
She attended high school for one year in Israel, and later returned for graduate work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rabbi Paskow received her B.A. in Hebrew Literature from UCLA in 1986, her M.A. in Hebrew Literature in 1989 from the Hebrew Union College and was ordained a rabbi in 1991 from the Hebrew Union College in New York.
While attending Rabbinical School, Michele was the student rabbi in Morgantown, West Virginia. She traveled there on the weekends for three years.
Rabbi Michele enlisted in the Army Reserves as a chaplain, like her father, Shimon Paskow, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks. They became the first father-daughter chaplains ever to serve in the US military. They have led tours of Israel together for both congregations.
She loves hiking and all outdoor activities. Michele is the proud mother of two sons.
CANTOR MICHAEL RUSS
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Michael Russ is a 5 foot 4 inch curly redhead with a voice straight from heaven that does not fit into the traditional mold. He is of Russian-Jewish descent with four brothers and four sisters and a background reminiscent of the Jazz Singer . . . his father was a cantor as well.
Michael has experienced a wide variety of American perspectives in his growing up years living in Brooklyn, New York, Dayton, Ohio, Shreveport, Louisiana, San Jose, California, Jerusalem, Israel and the San Fernando Valley, California.
Michael graduated from California State University, Northridge majoring in Theatre and Psychology. Growing up in an environment of Jewish observance, he began to study to become a rabbi but shied away from music for a long time, even working as a Good Humor Man at one time! He could sing though, and after people kept asking, “Could you? Could you?” he decided he would and did!
He has been associated with Temple Beth Shalom of Tustin, Temple Solael of Woodland Hills, Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf in Arleta, Stephen S. Wise Temple of Bel Air, Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles and Temple Beth Torah of Sepulveda. He has served as Cantor at Congregation B’nai Emet since 1987,
Michael has performed before many organizations in the Los Angeles area as well as on local television. With a versatile band directed by David Kamenir, Michael Russ’ Concerts have entertained audiences with a diverse venue from Broadway to Country to Pop – and they always leave with a smile! For over seventeen years, Michael hosted a Sunday morning radio show on KCSN 88.5 FM – “L’Chayim” where he played Yiddish, Hebrew and other Jewish music for his listeners.
Married to wife, Merle, for over 40 years, they have two daughters, Adina and Shoshana, and son-in-law, Scott, and several fish that shall remain nameless. He is an avid skier and camper and enjoys walks along the beach, music and parties.