Open Temple

Board of Directors

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 a few 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.

Denise Berger

Treasurer and Secretary

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.

Zach Richter

Zach Richter is an artist and creative director known for his work at the intersection of technology, interactivity and storytelling. Richter came to prominence through his work in Virtual Reality — As the Creative Director on experiential music projects for Beck and Pharrell, and as the director of The New York Times first VR film, “Walking New York” and “Hallelujah,” a revolutionary re-imagining of Leonard Cohen’s most iconic song.

Richter’s work has premiered at Cannes, Tribeca, Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Montréal (MAC), The Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and others.

Most recently, Richter has been the Executive Creative Director of “Supernatural” a first-of-its-kind virtual reality fitness and wellness experience for the Oculus Quest that was named one of Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2020.”

During the height of the pandemic, Zach and his wife Becka welcomed their son, which led Zach on a path to rediscover his Judaism. On a beautiful day with his family in Hawaii, he had a long phone call with Rabbi Lori and he’s been active in classes, high holidays and Shabbat services at Open Temple ever since.

David Lumian

David Lumian feels fortunate that he found Open Temple about five years ago.    
David is an active sailing and paddling instructor trainer who splits his time between Venice and Newport Beach. He serves on several private boards and government commissions, and he has a background in private business management as well as nonprofit development. He is passionate about social justice, peace and the environment. He has visited about 80 countries and lived in England and Nigeria. 
David loves Open Temple and looks forward to contributing his skills and energy in helping OT to be even more awesome than it already is!

Scott Laurie

Scott Laurie is president and CEO of Olson Co., one of the largest private builders in California, whose focus is on affordable, transit-oriented, urban infill housing in partnership with
municipalities. He oversees the company’s administrative and operating groups, including strategic planning, acquisition, finance,
construction, legal and human resources. Before joining Olson in 2007, he was with KB Home for nine years, holding executive positions at the
corporate and division levels as well as serving as Inland Valley president. Scott and his family have been involved with Open Temple for many years, and he is grateful for the opportunity to be of service.