Who We Are
Beth Shalom is committed to interpreting Judaism through the perspective of Progressive Judaism. We live and interpret Jewish traditions while understanding that we live in modern times where we may find new answers to old questions.
Beth Shalom is a community open to all Jews and their families, and those seeking a Jewish spiritual path. We welcome equal participation from all Jews, interfaith couples, LGBTQ people, and all who are not Jewish and wish to embrace Judaism.
The Beth Shalom community is involved in גמילות חסדים (acts of loving kindness), תיקון עולם repairing the world), and engaging in social justice work locally and globally. We are deeply committed to interfaith dialogue, understanding that all religions offer access to God and spiritual growth through their respective traditions. Recognizing the historical roots of the Israelite people in the holy land, we support the modern state of Israel. We are steadfast in our desire for a peaceful solution to the problems facing all in Israel, the Middle East, and the world.
Beth Shalom offers programs including: adult education, child/youth education, summer camps, family outings, community service opportunities and special interest affinity groups.
1982: Bozeman’s first Passover seder included two couples. During the 80s and early 90s, a small and loosely organized group of Jews, led by Stan Rosenberg who became trained by the Rabbinical Aide Camp, began meeting for Shabbat and holiday services. Some of the families journeyed to Butte, MT for High Holiday services.
1993: Congregation Beth Shalom is incorporated and affiliates with URJ. There are approximately 50 member families.
1995: Beth Shalom’s first Bar Mitzvah under traveling Rabbi Stanley. The congregation grew to over 60 families. Student Rabbis who led us during this period included Mike Commins, Robert Nosanchuck, Michael Lotker, and Emily Rosenzweig.
2001: The congregation purchased our current building and opened the doors to the first synagogue in Montana in over 50 years.
2003: Congregation hired Reconstructionist trained Rabbi Anne Jawyer as our first full-time Rabbi.
2004: The Congregation hired Rabbi Allen Secher, who brought almost 40 years of bima experience in Los Angeles and Chicago to the Bozeman community. Rabbi Secher, while living primarily in Whitefish, MT, spent 10 days each month in Bozeman for four years.
2008: The congregation hired Rabbi Ed Stafman, a former trial lawyer specializing in defending death penalty inmates, and who had been recently ordained by Aleph, the Jewish Renewal Movement. Congregation Beth Shalom grows beyond 80 member families.
2010: Membership increases to over 100 families.
2018: Rabbi Ed Stafman retired and was given the honorary title of Rabbi Emeritus. For the 2018-2019 transition year, the congregation hired Rabbi Michael Lotker to conduct services once a month in Bozeman. The congregation also hired Amber Ikeman as its full-time Director of Music and Community Engagement. The congregation is continuing its search for a full-time rabbi for 2019-2020 and beyond.
Policies, Procedures & Committees
Below please find a list of our major committees and committee chairs for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
- Ritual: Janel Carino
- Program: Sara Schwerin
- Membership: Jake Werner
- Communications: Dennis Aig
- Finance: Ed Lewis
- Religious School: Ashley Mansfield and Amber Ikeman
- Building: Ashley Mansfield and Dana Flatow
- Personnel: Richard Wolff
The 2018-2019 fiscal year at Congregation Beth Shalom is a year of transition. As the search committee continues its work finding a permanent resident rabbi, we all continue our work of building a Jewish community based in Bozeman. As we look towards our future, we are also welcoming back some leaders from our past to help guide us. The board has engaged past Beth Shalom Rabbi Allen Secher to lead our High Holiday services, and we will be having monthly visits from former Beth Shalom student Rabbi Michael Lotker, serving as our part-time interim rabbi. These monthly visits will include Shabbat services, adult education, Torah study, social events, and helping to prepare six of our young students for their bar and bat mitzvot. We also hired Amber Ikeman back for the year as our full-time Director of Music and Community Engagement, and she joins Rabbi Lotker on the bimah each month. She also leads an additional monthly service. Ed Stafman, upon his retirement in June 2018, was honored with the title of Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Shalom and continues some of his work in the Bozeman community.
Rabbi Michael Lotker
(406) 556-0528 ext. 202
Website: Michael Lotker
Rabbi Mike Lotker is not your typical rabbi. A Phi Beta Kappa/Magna Cum Laude physicist, he spent the bulk of his first career in the alternative energy business, working in windpower, solar and geothermal energy.
In 2003, Mike was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, where he also received his Master of Hebrew Letters degree. His rabbinic thesis addressed the theology of Jewish-Christian Partnership.
He presently Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Ner Ami in Camarillo, California, Rabbi of Jewish Community of Ojai, California, the Community Rabbi for the Jewish Federation of Ventura County and a chaplain for the Ventura County Fire Department. He is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the Citizens Advisory Body of the Ventura County Community College District and lectures at several area Colleges and Universities. In addition to his studies, Rabbi Lotker published a book for the Paulist Press entitled, A Christian’s Guide to Judaism.
Rabbi Lotker is happily married and has 4 children and 3 granddaughters.
Director of Music & Community Engagement
(406) 556-0528 ext. 202
Website: Amber Ikeman
Sitting alone in Israel’s Negev desert, Amber was first called to Jewish communal work when she was 19. She began song leading for various synagogues, youth groups, and Hillel while pursuing her Bachelor's in Music with a minor in Judaic Studies. Amber subsequently attended the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and applied her knowledge as Youth Engagement Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee for several years. A longing to explore the West led her to a job in Yellowstone National Park, then to Bozeman, where she has served Beth Shalom as Cantorial Soloist since 2015.
In her current role, she leads services, arranges accompanying musicians, co-leads Shalom Kids religious school, teaches b’nei mitzvah students, manages all temple communications, as well as outreach with newcomers and community inquiries. Amber has released two albums of original music, toured all over the U.S., and
received the 2017 Vic Heyman Songwriting Award and the John O’Hara Outstanding
Folk Song Award.
(406) 556-0528 ext. 201
Lisa handles all administrative functions for the temple. She joined Congregation Beth Shalom as Administrator in 2007. She has a BA from Duke University in Psychology. Prior to joining Beth Shalom, she worked as a project manager for a regional broadband and VoIP company. Lisa enjoys teaching fitness classes, working out, and volunteering at her childrens' school. She is married and has two children.
Ed Stafman served as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom from 2008, through his retirement in 2018. He came to Bozeman following eight years of Rabbinic study and ordination in the ALEPH Rabbinic program, which is part of the Jewish Renewal movement.
Rabbi Ed is the immediate Past President of OHALAH, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, consisting of more than 200 rabbis from around the world.
Prior to becoming a rabbi, Rabbi Ed spent 27 years as a trial lawyer in Tallahassee, Florida, specializing in defending death penalty cases. In addition to a law degree and Rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Ed holds a master’s degree in Religion and has completed the coursework (but still lacks a dissertation) for a PhD in Religions of Western Antiquity, which includes early Judaism, early Christianity, and Greek & Roman religion, from Florida State University.
Rabbi Ed is married for 34 years to Beth, a calligrapher, book and graphic artist, a web designer, and a pianist. They have two children, Laura, who holds a PhD in Cancer Biology, and is a physician and 6th year resident in general surgery at University of Alabama, Birmingham; and Logan, who is in his final year at Princeton University, where he is working towards his PhD in computer science.
Although retired from Beth Shalom, Rabbi Ed remains active in interfaith and social justice work in Bozeman and Montana. He continues to appear monthly with other Bozeman clergy on the Interfaith Panel and writes a monthly religion column for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. He will occasionally perform rabbinic functions for Beth Shalom when called upon by the Board or new rabbi. He is also sometimes available for non-members for individual spiritual counseling and life cycle events.
Our Board of Directors
Sara Schwerin moved to Bozeman with her husband and two children in June 2015. Prior to that, Sara lived in New York City, working in the banking industry for approximately 20 years, principally in Mergers & Acquisitions at Citi. In addition to her role on the Beth Shalom board, Sara currently serves on the boards of Big Sky Youth Empowerment (President), MSU’s Leadership Institute (Vice President), and CHAT Southwest Montana, an advocacy organization for gifted learners in Gallatin Valley. She enjoys flying (instrument-rated private pilot), running, hiking and skiing. Sara holds a BA from Dickinson College and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jake lives in Bozeman with his wife Kama and his daughters, Quinn and Lauren. He is a Certified Financial Planner and Financial Advisor with DA Davidson and Company. After attending the University of Oregon, Jake moved to Bozeman in 2000. He has previously been the Board Chair for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Gallatin County and Congregation Beth Shalom. In addition to his current role on the Beth Shalom board, Jake sits on the board of Bridger Bowl. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, mountain biking, rafting and golf.
Seth Cooper hails from Boston and moved to Bozeman in 2013. Before moving to Montana, he lived in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Bristol, UK, working as a Naval Architect and Ship Designer. He holds three engineering degrees and is never afraid to tell you if you are doing something wrong. At home in the mountains, he prefers to spend his time on the trails, slopes, and rivers that surround Bozeman. Seth lives with his wife Cassie and their dog Manny across the street from Cooper Park.
Janel Cariño and her husband Richard Wolff have lived in Bozeman since 2003. Janel grew up in Southern California and has a BA from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She earned an MA (linguistics) from Columbia University Teachers College, and an MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Yeshiva University). She also holds a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and worked as a psychiatrist until moving to Bozeman. In Bozeman, she practiced part-time as a psychiatrist for almost a decade, and now serves as a healer in the human energy field. She has two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in Brooklyn, NY. Janel enjoys studying, gardening, and being a grandmother, and wishes that there were more hours in each day in which to pursue all the activities she likes to do.
Member at Large
Dennis Aig has been a filmmaker and Montana State University professor in Bozeman, Montana, since 1989. He previously served on the Congregation Beth Shalom Board during its major formative years in the 1990s. A veteran of over thirty years of professional media production, he has produced, directed, and/or production managed media in many genres including dramatic features, documentaries, music videos, commercials, podcasts, television specials, and reality television shows. His film work has received over 100 major awards and honors. He received a PhD. in English with a concentration in film from The Ohio State University in 1983. In 2007, he became the head of the Montana State University’s prestigious MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking and then served as Director of the School of Film and Photography from 2013 to 2016.
Member at Large
Steven J. Eagle is a part-time resident of Bozeman. He also is a law professor at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, and specializes in the relationship between private property rights and government regulation. He studied economics at the City College of New York and received his J.D. from Yale Law School. Steven also is a member of Temple Rodef Shalom, in Falls Church, Virginia, where he is a former vice president. He and his wife Carolyn enjoy hiking and music, and they have a son and two grandchildren.
Member at Large
Since 1994, Ed has provided programmatic, organizational, fundraising and campaign/strategic planning consulting to the conservation community and environmental grantmakers across the country. From 1986 to 1994, Ed served as Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. From 1969 to 1986, he was an associate and partner in the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Lewis and Roca. Ed graduated with honors from the University of Illinois with a BA in Political Science, and was a cum laude graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, where he served on the Law Review. In addition to serving on the Beth Shalom board, Ed is currently on the Board of Trustees of Earthjustice (past Chair), National Parks Conservation Association (Vice Chair), and LaSalle Adams Fund, and is a former trustee and Chair of Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC). Like just about everyone else in Bozeman, Ed likes to ski, fish, hike, bike and watch wildlife in Yellowstone.
Member at Large
Ashley Mansfield was born and raised in Texas and found her way to Montana in 2012 with her husband, two children and one in the oven. She holds a master's degree in special education and a bachelor's degree in fine art. She spent 10 years developing, implementing, and assessing innovative educational programs for students with disabilities. Ashley currently works with The Bozeman Schools Foundation bringing magic to all of the teachers and students in Bozeman. She enjoys all things outdoors (except sharks) and all things creative (except cleaning up).
Janet moved to Montana in 1979 and has been involved in Jewish life throughout the state ever since. Whether in Boulder, Butte, Missoula, Great Falls, Bozeman or through Hadassah and MAJCO, her heart and soul (plus time and energy!) desires to see Jewish life thrive and be responsive to Big Sky Jewry. She spent her career working in human services: special education teacher, recreation therapist, Activities of Daily Living specialist in a rehab center, case manager, etc. Janet capped off her professional life working at Intermountain Mountain Children's Home in Helena, Montana, where she resides with her husband, Dave. For ten years, she worked in the Chaplain's Department, educating the Jewish children who are receiving residential treatment services at Intermountain. Janet enjoys hiking, biking, playing tennis, working out and going to hot springs.
Richard Wolff is the immediate past president of Congregation Beth Shalom. Richard also is a retired professor at Montana State University and specialized in telecommunications. He earned a PhD in physics at Columbia University and a BS in engineering physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Richard has also served as president of the Intermountain Opera, Bozeman. Richard enjoys hiking, cycling skiing and the outdoors. He is married to Janel Cariño and has two adult children and three grandchildren.