For 25 years, beginning in July, 1985, Rabbi Joel E. Rembaum served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, California. He is now Rabbi Emeritus. Following his ordination as Rabbi in 1970 at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, Rabbi Rembaum returned to his native Los Angeles where he pursued studies at U.C.L.A. in Jewish history. He was awarded a Ph.D. in History by U.C.L.A. in 1975. Rabbi Rembaum also holds the degrees of B.A. and M.A. from U.C.L.A., the degrees of Master of Hebrew Literature and Doctor of Divinity, Honoris Causa, from the Jewish Theological Seminary and the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from the American Jewish University. While an undergraduate at U.C.L.A. he also studied Judaica at the American Jewish University (then the University of Judaism).
From 1970 to 1985 Rabbi Rembaum served on the faculty and administration of the American Jewish University, advancing to the positions of Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor of Jewish History. He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at U.C.L.A. and U.C. Irvine. From 1994-1997 he taught for the Wexner Heritage Foundation, and from 2001-2007 he served on the faculty of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He has received a number of graduate and research fellowships and participated in the Melton Research Institute Seminar in Jewish History. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Association for Jewish Studies and has presented papers to that and other learned societies. Rabbi Rembaum has published a variety of articles in the field of Jewish history and has lectured widely throughout the United States.
As a member of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for twenty years, Rabbi Rembaum authored the paper that served as the basis for the inclusion of the Biblical Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah) in the Amidah prayer, the central element of Jewish liturgy. The Conservative Movement's Sim Shalom series of siddurim (prayer books) and their companion Or Hadash prayer book include the addition, and it has been widely accepted in the Conservative community.
Rabbi Rembaum has been involved in Camp Ramah in California since 1955, first as a camper, then as Counselor, Division Head, Camp Rabbi/Professor-in-Residence and member of both the Board of Directors and the Standing Committee of Camp Ramah in California. He served as President of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Rabbinical Assembly, National Secretary of the Rabbinical Assembly, President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Chair of the Middle East Commission of the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation. He was Chair of Los Angeles' Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet and Chair of the Executive Committee of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of Israel Bonds. In 1997, Rabbi received the Mickey & Edna Weiss Foundation grant for study in Israel at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Soon after his appointment at Beth Am, Rabbi Rembaum spearheaded a reform of the synagogue's education system and worked with the congregation's lay and professional leadership to create the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy. The Academy is known for its unique umbrella educational system, in which a Solomon Schechter Day School, a Religious School and an Early Childhood Center work in a coordinated fashion to offer outstanding educational programming to a combined student body that has grown to well over 600 students. The congregation's United Synagogue Youth chapter grew and flourished and is recognized for its excellence. A massive building project was undertaken and completed, providing the Beth Am community with a new school facility and expanded synagogue activity and office space. New adult and family learning and experiential programs offered a wide range of opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Year in and year out, Rabbi Rembaum has been teaching in all facets of Beth Am's educational programming.
During the Rembaum years a third regular Shabbat morning service was added, as well as new Friday evening worship experiences, including a weekly Carlebach-style minyan. And, social action activity grew, with expanded mitzvah projects, Israel related activities, including regular synagogue trips to Israel, and environmental awareness programs.
Rabbi Rembaum lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Fredi, herself a respected and well known Jewish communal professional. The Rembaums have four children: Yona, Avi, married to Sharon Isaac, Nomi, married to Israel Feuerstein, and Joshua, married to Amsel Zivkovich. They also have eight grandchildren: Itai, Dani and Ella Rembaum; Ilan, Uri and Maayan Eshkenazi; and Noah and Ayla Feuerstein.
March 10th, 2021 | 45 mins 39 secs
Rabbi Joel Rembaum in conversation with Rabbi Hillary Chorny shares his insights into the history of the Haggadah and the Pesah seder. Learn about the evolution of traditions both ancient and contemporary as our rabbi emeritus gives an entertaining tour through the upcoming holiday.
August 31st, 2020 | 50 mins 7 secs
Rabbi Emeritus Joel Rembaim leads a class reflecting on sacred texts of our Jewish heritage, a class designed to help you learn how deeply embedded in Jewish heritage is the principle of Divine Compassion. The session will hopefully cause each student to ask: How deeply is Rahamim embedded in my Neshamah?
This class took place via Zoom on August 31, 2020 as part of the Elul+ Pre-Tishre study program presented by Temple Beth Am Los Angeles.