Clergy & Leadership

Rabbi Arturo Kalfus Temple Emanu-El

Rabbi Arturo Kalfus

Rabbi Kalfus has been a congregational rabbi in both larger and smaller congregations since 1983.  He is a spiritual leader who looks forward to engaging his congregation in worship, study, and social connections.  He is passionate about his role as a rabbi, and finds value and importance in his relationships with congregants.  He will get down on the floor with our tiniest tots, and hold a scholarly conversation with our college-bound students.Rabbi Kalfus was ordained in 1992 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.He participated in a program on Language, Culture and Civilization at the Sorbonne of Paris, France and performed doctoral work at Columbia University. He is also a fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and completed professional development courses at the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Institute, Kellogg School of Management and Harvard Business School.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Polish immigrants who survived the Holocaust, Rabbi Kalfus journeyed to Israel and then came to the United States in 1983.  Rabbi Kalfus enjoys, camping, painting, and watching good movies. Rabbi Kalfus is married to Phyllis Meyers, a Jewish educator and special educator, and they are the parents of two wonderful children, Ari, and Lilah.

Rabbi Joseph Klein

Rabbi Klein, Emeritus staff has been Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El since 1997. Rabbi Klein was born and grew up in Toledo OH, graduating from Oberlin College (Oberlin OH) in 1969, majoring in Sociology and Anthropology. He was ordained from the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with a Master of Hebrew Letters in 1975, and then served as Assistant at Temple Israel in St. Louis MO for three years. Before coming to Temple Emanu-El in 1997, Joe Klein was Rabbi of Mizpah Congregation in Chattanooga TN and United Hebrew Congregation in Terre Haute IN.While in Indiana and Tennessee Rabbi Klein was Adjunct Faculty in Humanities at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Indiana State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, teaching courses on Genesis, Hebrew Scripture, First Century History, and New Testament. For ten years he served as the coach of the Rose-Hulman Fencing Club. Rabbi Klein and his wife Barbara have two children: Ellie is married and living in Boston with their twin grandchildren, and Adam is married and living in Atlanta. Rabbi Klein is currently an Adjunct Professor at Oakland University.

Kelly Onickel

Kelly Onickel

Kelly Onickel, cantorial soloist, converted to Judaism in 1988. In 1989 she and her husband Harry became members of Temple Emanu-El. Since then she has been active in the Shir Chadash Choir, sisterhood, membership, religious, and education committees. Prior to Kelly serving as cantorial soloist, she often lead services when Cantor Norman Rose, z”l, Chaplin Ande Teeple, music directors Steve Klaper and Judy Lewis, or Cantor Darcie Sharlien (all who preceded her in this position) were on vacation or on leave. Kelly has a BA in vocal music, and a minor in Judaic Studies from Oakland University. She is currently attending the University of Michigan – Frankel Institution for Judaic Studies, working towards her Masters in Judaic Studies. Working full time from the age of 15 in many different industries, she has developed a very strong and committed work ethic.In 2006 Kelly made the decision to go back to school in pursuit of her passions in music and religion. Although never working in the music or congregational industries prior to Temple Emanu-El, Kelly never stopped singing. She began studying voice with private lessons at the age of five at Eastern Michigan University, continuing her studies throughout her education. She has studied under such opera professionals as Candice DeLattre, and Nadine Washington, and jazz professionals Danny Jordan z”l, Tad Weed, Sean Dobbins, Dr. Miles Brown, Carl Cafagnia, and Scott Gwinell, and Conductors Michael Mitchell and Bradley Bloom. Kelly and Harry have two children; son Kein and daughter Sierra, both graduates of Temple Emanu-El’s religious school. Kelly is and always has been fully committed to the Temple Emanu-El community and looks forward with great joy to the years to come.

Susan Kirschner
Executive Director

Susan is a native Detroiter, who returned to this area from New York in 2001 to assume the executive director position at Temple Emanu-El. Prior to that, she was Finance Director of Manhattan’s historic Central Synagogue. She holds a Master’s in Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin School of Business and worked with arts organizations in New York such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Eliot Feld Ballet before entering synagogue management. She also taught General Management for the Arts at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Purchase.Susan has an extensive background teaching and performing Israeli folk dance, specializing in the first generation of dances choreographed in Israel. She has taught children and adults in metro Detroit and New York, and led workshops in Paris, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. She has been a member of the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) since 1997.

Geoff Berdy
Director of Education

Geoff brings to Temple Emanu-El a passion for Jewish life and learning which includes particular interests in the arts and Tikkun Olam/social justice work. Geoff writes: “what I love about Jewish education is the uniqueness of each individual’s path and contribution to creating community and the opportunity to empower individuals and families to find and make their own meanings from its vast store of tradition and wisdom. To me, a congregation is a family of families, and I am excited and honored to make mine a part of Temple Emanu-El’s.” Geoff would like everyone to know that his door and phone line are always open to schmooze about Judaism, Jewish education, Temple life or really anything for that matter (except the Detroit Lions, enough heartache, enough said on that subject).Geoff spent his growing-up years in Metro-Detroit as well as Israel, England and Columbus, Ohio.He has been in Jewish education in some capacity for about fifteen years, in a variety of settings including: congregational Hebrew schools, camp, day school, Jewish communal organizations and adult education. Geoff’s own Jewish education is also diverse, ranging from time at a traditional yeshiva, study in Israel, at Hebrew College in Boston, courses with Elie Wiesel and a master’s from Harvard with a focus on Judaism and education. He is also a proud Spartan, and met his wife Dina, a social worker, when they were both undergraduates at Michigan State. Geoff and Dina have a two year old son named Lev whose current interests are basketball, watering flowers and challah. They also have a cat named Mr. Bingley whose interests are napping and lounging.

Elieen Brand
Director of Early Childhood Community

Eileen has been Director of the Early Childhood Community since 2007 and has been part of the ECC for most of the past 25 years, as a Nursery Teacher, then as Associate Director of the program, and finally as Director of Student Services, before beng appointed as Director of the ECC. Ms. Brand graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Education, did post graduate work in Early Childhood Education at Madonna College and attended the Jewish Early Education Enrichment Project of the Federation of Metropolitan Detroit in 2002-2004.For Eileen, the memories and experiences with her Temple Emanu-El family continue to be a significant part of her life. Her own children grew up during her Temple career; she witnessed (and enabled) the growth of the pre-school from a Nursery School to an Early Childhood Community and she has seen many children grow up and return to Temple to share their memories.

Temple Emanu-El is governed by an elected Board, consisting of Officers and Trustees. The Executive Committee (Officers, together with our Clergy and Professional Leaders) meets the second Tuesday of the month. The full Board meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, except July and December. In addition, all members are encouraged to participate in Temple leadership through its many Committees and Arms. Members are also encouraged to bring any questions or concerns to the attention of our President Bruce Klein, our Executive Director Susan Kirschner, or any other Officer or Trustee.