Open Temple

Board of Directors

Denise Berger

Denise and her husband were among the founding families of Open Temple and have maintained a connection since the start.  Professionally, Denise merged her background in the business sector with her passion for corporate social responsibility to become a professor and consultant in organizational leadership.  She served as a Managing Director at Aon Risk Services, a global insurance broker and consultant, and then earned a doctorate in education from Pepperdine University. Currently she teaches at Pepperdine and Vanderbilt and is a founder and consultant at Gazelle Advisors, focusing on strategic development including financial excellence, marketing, organizational culture and effectiveness, and equity, diversity & inclusion. She is a board member at Environmental Charter Schools and Lionsraw. AND, Denise is the founder and designer of Aliki Designs – Greek-inspired, handcrafted, everyday elegant jewelry.

Denise and her husband are an interfaith couple who live in Manhattan Beach and are the proud parents of two college age children.

Natascha Shamis

Natascha is a teacher, private tutor and ocean conservationist. She was born in Hong Kong, grew up between New York and Berlin and before graduate school, did a stint in Tel Aviv interning for the Women’s International Zionist Organization. Natascha has a degree in psychology and early childhood education and a masters in mental health counseling.

On a summer night two years ago, Natascha drove to Venice and decided to park her car in the Electric Lodge. She heard music coming from the “house next door” and when she saw a sign for the “Open Temple for the Jew-ishly curious,” she decided to crash the party. It just so happened to be the opening night for the new recording studio. “After being so welcomed that night, I knew it was no coincidence I stumbled across Open Temple, I knew I had found my place.”

Natascha is an active member of both Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation, advocating for cleaner waters and the eradication of single use plastics that jeopardize those who live in and enjoy the ocean. She free dives in a professional mermaid tail and teaches children about the ocean when she is “suited up” in her tail.

Nathalie Shapiro

Nathalie Shapiro is a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist based in Los Angeles California. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bard College, a Masters in Vedanta Philosophy from the Vedanta Academy in India and a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, graduating with honors from Emperor’s College.

Nathalie has been dedicated to the field of health, wellness and spirituality for over 15 years. In her early 20s, Nathalie moved to India where she lived for 5 years to study Vedic Philosophy, Ayurveda, and Yoga. When Nathalie moved back to Los Angeles, she co-founded a non-profit organization to teach self-development philosophy courses free of charge to the public. Nathalie has now dedicated her life to integrating her passion for healthcare with her love for philosophy and self-development. In her clinical work as an Acupuncturist and herbalist, Nathalie specializes in mental health, pain management and women’s health. 

Nikki Lebow

President Emeritus

Nikki and her husband Dave Lebow are active members of the Venice community. Nikki is on the Advisory Board for Miriam’s House as well as the Board of Directors for the Dyslexia Association of Southern California and is an avid fundraiser. She is the President of the Parent’s Association and chairs social events at Park Century where her daughter attends school. Her experience at Open Temple with her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah inspired her to help Open Temple grow so that others could experience the meaningful ritual shared by her family and guests.


Blake Fogel

Founding President

Blake has made a name for himself in leasing, acquisitions, dispositions, asset management and repositioning. As a determined entrepreneur, Blake rose through the ranks at some of the industry’s top firms, eventually becoming a member of the executive team, and then Vice President at Westwood Financial Corp. (WFC).  At the time WFC owned and managed over 8 million square feet of retail space spanning 13 states and 25 markets. Additionally, Blake and his teams have sold over $200 million in assets and acquired over $650 million in new assets. Now, Blake has brought that experience and acumen to the Venice-based Fogel RE, growing his footprint and continuing his impact on the industry.

Blake has been present at Open Temple Happenings since our first Rosh HaShanah, and has a hunger for all things spiritual.

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