Matti Barzilai is our Mishpacha Coordinator, leading our national award winning Mishpacha Family Alternative Learning program. She brings to Or Ami her vast experience in creating Jewish community and creative programming, developed when serving on the staff at URJ Eisner Camp (Great Barrington, MA) and URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (Zionsville, IN). Matti is currently studying for her Masters degree in Jewish Education at the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education.
Matti grew up in Westchester, NY where she was very involved in the Jewish community. She earned a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from The University of Chicago, where she developed a love for Semitic languages including Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic. She moved to Los Angeles last year and has loved exploring the exciting Jewish community here.
Matti says, “I am so excited to join the Or Ami community and to study and grow along with the families who participate in the Mishpacha program. I have heard such amazing things about this program and feel honored I am able to lead it.”
Julie Bressler serves as our Mishpacha Coordinator. After two years teaching in the program, Julie is thrilled to continue to work with Or Ami's thoughtful and excited parents and children through this innovative family education program. She loves watching families learn together and honor the unique voices of each family member as they use Jewish teachings and values to deepen their connections to one another.
Julie grew up in Alamo, CA where her synagogue was her second home. With a similar communal feeling to Or Ami (and a former Or Ami intern as a rabbi!), Julie took on many leadership roles in the youth group, served as a teaching assistant and worked for the youth and education departments. She earned a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and worked at Berkeley Hillel and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay before entering rabbinical school. She is now in her fourth year of rabbinical school, currently working towards a Masters Degree in Jewish Education. Julie has spent the past three summers at URJ Camp Newman where she loves getting to live in a Jewish space 24/7 and hang out with many of our Or Ami youth and teens!
In her free time, Julie spends time with her friends and family, roots for her Northern California sports teams, visits the beach as often as possible and peruses the unique neighborhoods and hikes around the city.
Diane is our Bar/Bat Mitzvah teacher, working with Or Ami youth and adults since 1997. She loves working individually with her students, teaching them the prayers, Torah and Haftarah portions, and helping them attain confidence standing in front of their family and friends. She helps the whole family feel that their child has accomplished something very significant and special.
Diane says that “she finds Or Ami to be an amazing, caring congregation and truly a community that reaches out to everyone, making them feel that Or Ami is our home. Our clergy are amazing, and have a special way of connecting with our congregants, especially our youth.”
Diane enjoys spending time with her two sons, Joshua (who currently lives in Switzerland) and Daniel (who is an amazing massage therapist), her sister Sheri and the rest of her family. She loves to attend the theater, travel, and play Mahjong.
Lori Levine serves as our Rabbinic and Community Organizing Intern after coordinating our Mishpacha program last year. She is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and a graduate of the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education with her master's degree.
Lori grew up in New Jersey deeply involved in her Jewish community and she graduated in 2010 from New York University with a BA in European and Mediterranean Studies. After graduating, she worked as an educator in New York City.
Since starting rabbinical school, Lori has served as the Student Rabbi in Amarillo, TX and taught religious school at various synagogues around the city. This year at Or Ami, Lori will coordinate our community justice efforts around ending homelessness in LA County and is a faculty member in Triple T. In her spare time, she loves cooking, reading good books, and exploring all LA has to offer!
Tara Fant is Or Ami’s bookkeeper. She has dedicated herself to bringing her warm, people-oriented skills to all of her jobs. She began her business career in Modesto where she ran two family-owned retirement homes focused on helping those who could not help themselves. For Tara, helping the elderly and assuring their safety and happiness was especially rewarding to her.
In the late 90’s Tara moved to Los Angeles to pursue her business career, always focused on working with clients and the public. For eight years she worked for a business management firm, working closely with the CEO and their high profile music and entertainment clients.
Since then Tara has guided companies in security, media and entertainment with office operations, human resources and financial management, working with clients like Disney and Warner Bros, and making sure that that all needs were accommodated properly, whether financial or organizationally.
Now Tara brings her financial skills and warmth to Or Ami, working with the congregation leadership to ensure our financials and your tzedakah are being accurately reported and ethically utilized. She is thrilled to be a part of such a warm and caring community.
Laurel Murray joined Or Ami's staff as our School Registrar and Rabbi Julia's assistant in May 2014. Laurel is impressed by the comfortable, convivial atmosphere she has found at Or Ami. She is also enjoying the wide variety of responsibilities and challenges that come with her job, as she strives to support our exciting learning programs. Laurel is certain that the work will continue to interest and challenge her.
Laurel and her husband, Michael, a Walt Disney Imagineer, live in Westlake Village with their young adult children, Rowena and Duncan. The Murray family also includes three terriers, who enjoy their early morning walks with "Mom" before she comes to work.
Laurel recently performed in a local production of "8", about the court case that found California's Prop 8 unconstitutional, and hopes to discover more opportunities to get back to her acting roots in her spare time. She also enjoys quilting and cooking, and is writing a play for her mother back home in New Jersey.
During the synagogue's third year, in a very small office off Cheseboro Road in Agoura, Or Ami's leadership and Rabbi Kipnes hired Susie Stark to become the synagogue's part time office and rabbi's assistant. As the synagogue has grown, Susie has assumed increasing responsibilities as the synagogue's Bar and Bat Mitzvah program coordinator, membership registrar, and office manager.
Susie loves being part of the Or Ami family because it is such a welcoming community. People who call or drop by the synagogue and speak with Susie sense that special warmth and caring, and therefore assume – correctly – that all of Or Ami shares that same haimishe kindness.
Susie and her husband Allan have two sons Geoffrey and Alex; both boys became Bar Mitzvah at Or Ami. The whole family participated in our Mishpacha Family Learning program for many years. Outside of work, Susie enjoys spending time with her family. She loves her husband's gourmet cooking and wine cellar, reading a good book, and taking her dog Harley on long walks.
Dusty Klass serves as our Rabbinic Intern, following an exciting year as our Mishpacha Coordinator. Dusty will lead our Community Organizing initiative as we work to build community within Or Ami. Simultaneously, Dusty helps us to partner with other religious organizations and Reform CA to work toward increased justice and mercy into our city, county and state.
Dusty hails from Seattle, WA but got hooked on Southern California during her undergraduate years at UC Santa Barbara. After college, she spent two years as the NFTY SoCAL Regional Advisor, a job she gladly would have continued in forever if she hadn't been dreaming of rabbinic school since age 16. She is now in her fourth year at Hebrew Union College.
Dusty explained that she “cannot be more excited to spend this year with Congregation Or Ami. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading our Mishpacha program and deepening Or Ami’s youth engagement campaign. How exciting that I get to partner with our clergy to deepen Or Ami’s justice and community building work.”
We are delighted to welcome Lily Gottlieb, our new LoMPTY Youth Group Advisor, to the Or Ami family.
Lily Gottlieb grew up in North Hollywood and attended the California Institute of the Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. She has been an active member of the Los Angeles area Jewish community, having worked with regional NFTY SoCal as well as teaching in Or Ami’s Mishpacha program this past year. She has also worked at Camp Newman, developing a variety of youth and arts education programs. During summer 2014, Lily is serving as a Madricha for NFTY’s Israel Adventure teen tour.
Lily is eager to begin her work with “the great young people in LoMPTY,” and has lots of innovative ideas to share for the coming year’s events. Her photographic skills will assuredly inspire many budding shutterbugs, and her enthusiasm and commitment to Jewish youth will surely make her a new favorite face around Congregation Or Ami.
We welcome Lily in person in mid-August. Until then, please address any questions about our youth programs to Rabbi Julia, or her assistant Laurel Murray, at email@example.com.
Jennifer Quick is our LoMPTY and SoMPTY youth advisor, leading our 9 th -12 th and 6 th -8 th grade youth groups. Jennifer has worked in Jewish education for eight years and is very excited to be mentoring teens and pre-teens on their Jewish journeys.
Jennifer also runs her own tutoring company as well as teaches yoga to adults and children. Jennifer looks forward to facilitating the teens in creating fun, successful social and cultural events. “I want to empower the teens to feel confident in themselves and their ideas. My goal is for the teens to feel ownership over their youth group and thrive because of this.”
Jennifer grew up in Oak Park and attended San Diego State University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Subsequently, she earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at California State University, Northridge. Jennifer lives with her husband Nathan, their two dogs Lucy and Brody, and their two cats Sophie and Diego. She spends her free time doing yoga, going to concerts and plays, running around Disneyland, traveling, and enjoying all the fun, random activities Los Angeles and the world has to offer.