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We’re Excited about Our Prayer Leaders for the High Holy Days!

We’ve been busy preparing for the High Holy Days and are very excited about our services this year. Our musical HAL’LU Selichot service this past Saturday night, inspired and coordinated by Amy Robinson Katz, with musicians Carl Cedar, Leeav Sofer and our Hal’lu singing team, was beautiful and soulful. Below is information about our High Holy Day services and prayer leaders. We will also be expanding the role of music in our Shabbat and holiday services throughout the year with prayer leaders Amy Robinson Katz and Carl Cedar.

Rosh Hashanah
Sunday night, Erev Rosh Hashanah services will be led by Rabbi Spitz and Hal Hurwitz. Both days of Rosh Hashana will feature Eryka Velazquez and Hal Hurwitz in the Main Sanctuary along with Rabbi Spitz as well as Jr. Congregation services with Carl Cedar for K-5th graders. On the first day, Carl Cedar and Ariel Sholklapper will lead a family service for all ages, and the teens will have separate services led by teens Max Ginsburg and Josh Velazquez followed by a discussion with Ariel Sholklapper. Ariel will also lead the Tashlich, Mincha and Maariv services on the first day.

Yom Kippur
Along with Rabbi Spitz, Amy Robinson Katz will lead Kol Nidre services in the Main Sanctuary, accompanied by a group of singers. Ariel Sholklapper will lead a Young Adult Experience for 18-35 year olds in the Family Life Center. On Yom Kippur day, Rabbi Spitz, Amy Robinson Katz, and Hal Hurwitz will lead services in the Main Sanctuary. Carl Cedar and Ariel Sholklapper will again lead a family service for all ages, and the teens will have a discussion with Ariel Sholklapper.

rabbi-photoRabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz
Rabbi Spitz has been CBI’s spiritual leader since he was ordained from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1988. This High Holy Day season his message will focus on “Leading a Life of Significance: Why Judaism Matters.” He is encouraging us all to continue exploring this topic over the five weeks following Yom Kippur in small group settings, using materials he has prepared for us. To learn more about “small groups” or to sign up to participate go to


amy-photoAmy Robinson Katz
Amy has served the CBI Community for the past five years starting as a volunteer prayer leader and choir director, and for the past three years she has been our Cantorial Intern. Starting this November Amy will assume a part-time role as Ba’alat Tefillah for our Congregation. Having lead services regularly for CBI Coastal, Prayersong and HAL’LU, she will have an expanded role leading Shabbat services in the sanctuary a couple of times a month as well as our services on the holidays, including Yizkor. In addition Amy will be leading a “Davener’s Workshop” to raise the skills of our lay leaders. Amy is a student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and is working toward ordination as Hazzanit in 2018. An accomplished musician, songwriter and choir director, she has performed at many shuls and venues. Amy is married to Arie Katz, founder of Community Scholar Program, and is mom/stepmom to Emma Seely-Katz, Clara Seely-Katz and 4-month old Ezra.

hal-photo Hal Hurwitz
CBI’s long time lay-leader and (two time) past president, Hal has been a part of leading CBI’s High Holy Day services from our early years. He trained at Temple Beth Emet in Anaheim, where he grew up, with Cantor Philip Moddel. Hal is married to Rhonda and has two married children and four grandchildren.


eryka-photoEryka Velazquez
Eryka has been singing at CBI since she and her family became members. She is in her second year of cantorial school at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. We look forward to having Eryka join us and participate in services when she is in Orange County with her parents Diana and Hugo, and brothers George and Josh.


carl cedarCarl Cedar
Carl has been leading the music program in our religious school, Shabbat evening services and Jr. Congregation for over ten years. This past summer, Carl led our Shabbat Under the Stars outdoor services which were extremely popular. This year he will bring his musicality to our Erev Shabbat celebration on the third Friday of each month. (Join us for the next one on October 21st!) Carl is a Music Producer for the Disneyland Resort. His wife, Nancy, is our CDC’s Administrative Assistant. Carl and Nancy have two sons, Andrew and David.


ariel-sholklapper-headshotAriel Sholklapper
Ariel is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of the American Jewish University. In addition, Ariel has just earned an MBA at the Graduate School of Nonprofit Management, also at the American Jewish University. Ariel has attended the Building Abrahamic Partnerships course through the Hartford Seminary, where he engaged in multi-faith dialogue with Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders from around the world. He is married to fellow rabbinical student Sarah Fort Sholklapper.