Leadership Team


Senior Rabbi Dr. Jules King (Email)

   Rabbi Dr. Jules King was ordained and received his סמיכה S’micha/ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion California in Los Angeles, CA.

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Rabbi Rachel Axelrad, Associate Rabbi (Email)

    Rabbi Rachel Axelrad was ordained from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California in 2020. She has 20 years of experience as a Shaliach Tzibur in multiple service formats.

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Rabbi Andrew Bentley, Associate Rabbi (Email)

    Rabbi Andrew Bentley has been serving as a rabbi in the Coachella Valley since 1998.

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Cantor Lori Reisman Patterson (Email)

    The Cantor began her very eclectic Jewish education at the behest of her father, who was raised the youngest of nine children in Brooklyn New York, by his orthodox father who was a rabbi and his mother who remained in New York with the family long after his father had made Aliyah to Israel. 

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Arava Talve (Email)

    Arava Talve has helped lead hundreds of students to the Torah in preparation to become B’nai Mitzvah.

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Lois and David Israel (Email-Lois) (Email-David)

  Lois and David are both Seattle natives and moved to Palm Desert permanently in November 2018. They have two sons, Joshua and Michael.

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Ryan Lester-Wilson (Email)

   Ryan Lester-Wilson began his professional career as a computer programmer, writing application software for both the Healthcare and Financial Services industry. In the 1990’s he moved into Network Administration and Information Systems management. Ryan worked in that area until his retirement.

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Chaplain Randy Lester-Wilson (Email)

    Chaplain Randy Lester-Wilson graduated from the Academy for Jewish Religion-CA in Los Angeles. His studies included Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Randy is a retired teacher. He taught students with Special Needs for thirty-four years of his thirty-five years. He received his degree in Chaplaincy and his M.A. in Education: Special Education Option at CSU San Bernardino. Randy has joined our team and will help to lead our Bikkur Cholim program for Desert Outreach Synagogue.

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Stu Berger, Director (Email)

    Stu Berger is originally from Connecticut, where he earned a Master’s Degree at Yale University as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. He worked at Yale Psychiatric Institute and Yale-New Haven Hospital before moving to San Francisco with his husband Tim Leary. There, he worked with homeless veterans at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and was able to secure some permanent housing for those in need. He went on to work at an Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for San Mateo County, where he provided individual, couples and family therapy as well as initiated and led various groups at the Clinic.

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Penny Carpenter, Director (Email)

    Penny has been living full-time in the Coachella Valley for 21 years. Originally from Great Neck, Long Island, NY, she was confirmed and went to Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck which was headed by the very famous Rabbi Jacob Rudin. Additionally, she has lived in Camden, SC, and Rancho Murrieta near Sacramento. Her parents had a second home in our Valley and from the time she first set foot in the Palm Springs area in the Seventies, she said that she wanted to live here someday. “Someday” came and she has never regretted her decision.

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Dorian McWain, Director of Music (Email)

    Dorian McWain, 2nd grew up in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York where he studied Applied Music at the local community college. He went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Music Business at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia where he became a member of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. After college he spent time assisting music programs at two Unitarian/Universalist churches in the Utica, NY area.

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Kurt Jordan, Principal Accompanist (Email)

    Kurt Jordan developed an intense interest in learning the piano after having seen The Phantom of the Opera with his parents at age 10. He studied under the guidance of Joann Algier throughout middle and high school, during which time he discovered a love of music using multiple pianos. This passion was further explored at Azusa Pacific University while studying with Dr. Robert Sage. Kurt performed several recitals of material he arranged for two and three pianos, the recordings of which have received radio play in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Boston, Austin, and Beirut. In 2009, Kurt had the honor of performing the West Coast premiere of Alvin Curran’s 7.5 hour long piano song cycle, Inner Cities 1-13, as well as the U.S. premiere of movement 14 at Burning Man in 2013.

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Founding Leadership Team

Stuart & Ellen Markus Bill & Helen Baker Carlos King Steve & Susan Bogorad Dennis & Trudi  Licht
Ed Winston Jay & Diane Wagman Ed & Julie Winston Helen Varon Edie Keller Z”L