Open Temple

Board of Directors

Natascha Shamis

President

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.


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-Abraham Joshua Heschel and MLK, Jr.

“The Prophet is an iconoclast, challenging the apparently holy, revered and awesome.

Beliefs cherished as certainties, institutions endowed with supreme sanctity, the prophet exposes as scandalous pretensions.

The prophet’s word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven.”
– AJ Heschel

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.

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. 

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 gave birth to their son and it led him 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.

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