Rabbi Michele Paskow leads our Congregation in worship services with our wonderful cantorial duo. Our clergy are available to perform all life-cycle events, including Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, baby-namings, weddings, and funerals. Both the Rabbi and Cantor are committed to the ethos that all are welcome at CBE. This includes the young and the not-so-young; the very Jewish, Jew-ish, Jew-adjacent, and interfaith; members of the LGBTQ+ community; and people of all backgrounds, races, and ethnic identities. The Rabbi holds office hours by appointment.
Rabbi Michele Paskow
Rabbi Michele Paskow has served as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Emet in Simi Valley since 1992. She also teaches Jewish Studies courses at California State University, Northridge.
Michele attended high school for one year in Israel, and later returned for graduate work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She 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, traveling there on the weekends for three years.
Following in the footsteps of her father Shimon Paskow, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks, Rabbi Michele enlisted in the Army Reserves as a chaplain. They became the first father-daughter chaplains ever to serve in the US military. They led tours of Israel together for both congregations until Rabbi Shimon's retirement.
When not absorbed with her work, Rabbi Michelle loves hiking and all outdoor activities. She is the proud mother of two sons.
We are delighted to enjoy the benefits of a cantorial dynamic duo! Kevin Longobart (guitar and vocals) is our Cantorial Soloist and Jerry Alban (piano and vocals) is his musical partner. They bring amazing spirit to our congregation with their talent, enthusiasm, and knowledge of Jewish music.
Kevin has a passion for Jewish music, teaching and composing in addition to playing and singing. He is currently studying to become an ordained cantor.
Jerry is an accomplished pianist and composer (and MG car aficionado), and has worked in Jewish music for many years.
As the newest additions to our team of clergy and staff, we are excited to welcome them to our temple family!
Cantor Emeritus Michael Russ
Michael Russ served as Cantor at Congregation B’nai Emet from 1987 until his retirement in 2023. Prior to that, he was associated with several different temples in the Los Angeles area.
Michael was born in New Haven, Connecticut to parents of Russian-Jewish descent, one of five brothers and sisters – and the parallels to The Jazz Singer don't stop there: his father was also a cantor. Michael had the opportunity to absorb a wide variety of American perspectives as the family moved first to Brooklyn, New York, then on to Dayton, Ohio; Shreveport, Louisiana; San Jose, California; and Jerusalem, before finally settling in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where Michael graduated from California State University, Northridge, with degrees in Theatre and Psychology. Having grown up in an environment of Jewish observance, he then began studying to become a rabbi, shying away from music for a long time. (He even worked as a Good Humor Man at one time!) But when he did sing, his untraditional voice inspired those around him. After years of people nudging, “Could you? Could you?” he decided he would, and did!
Cantor Russ has performed all around Los Angeles, as well as on local television. With a versatile band directed by David Kamenir, his concerts have entertained audiences with a diverse repertoire (covering genres from Broadway to Country to Pop) that always leaves the audience with a smile! For more than seventeen years, Michael also 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.
Cantor Russ has been married to wife Merle for over 40 years. They have two beloved daughters, Adina and Shoshana, and grandchildren they adore.