People

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People

Rabbi Lori Schneide Shapiro

Founding Rabbi/Artistic Director

“For the Jew-ishly Curious and those who love us.”

Founder of Open Temple in Venice, CA, Lori’s rabbinate is dedicated to reaching unaffiliated and intermarried families and seekers. Previously the Director of Jewish Life and Senior Consultant for Interfaith Relations and Outreach at the University of Southern California Hillel, Lori’s transdenominational rabbinate was informed by her studies at the American Jewish University, years living in Israel studying within an Orthodox Jewish framework and graduation from both the Academy for Jewish Religion/California (MA in Rabbinics) as well as the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (MA in Jewish Studies). Rabbi Lori and Open Temple began as a part of a national incubator supporting cutting edge and innovative Jewish programming mentored by Rabbis Without Borders and CLAL. Rabbi Lori and Open Temple were then admitted as a member of Upstart Labs’ 10th Cohort and as a member of David Cygielman’s Open Dor Project. Rabbi Lori is a graduate of the Spiritual Direction program with the Yedidya Center for Spiritual Direction and is a member of Spiritual Directors International. Rabbi Lori is a member of the current cohort of the Interfaith Inclusion Leadership Initiative and is a proud Lion of Judah. Rabbi Lori is a member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and the Sandra Caplan Beit Din. She and her husband, Dr. Joel Shapiro, live in the Venice canals with their two daughters and labradoodle.

Dr. Zach Lasker

Executive Director

Zach has worked extensively in the faith community as a leader, educator, and community organizer. Professional accomplishments include Director of Camp Ramah in California and Camp Bob Waldorf, Executive Director of the Pico Union Project, Director of Melton Research & Projects at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a yoga instructor. He also serves as a Clinical Lecturer in Education at the American Jewish University and in that capacity consulted on the design of Open Temple’s Creative Torah Academy! He has written and spoken on issues of leadership, experiential education, inclusion, and social impact. Zach’s articles and interviews have been featured in publications ranging from the Washington Post and LA Yoga to the Jewish Journal.

Zach earned a doctorate in education leadership from UCLA, a M.A. in Education at the AJU, a B.A. from UC San Diego, and is a 500-hour certified yoga instructor through YogaWorks. Other passions include family and friends, cooking (for family and friends), running, braving the roads as a bike commuter, and theater.

Shira Fox

Cantorial Soloist

Shira Fox is an LA native who most recently served as Cantor and a spiritual counselor for Beit T’shuvah, a recovery-based community/congregation and treatment facility that integrates Judaism and the Creative Arts. In addition to serving as the Cantor of Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills from 2013-2015, Shira has also been an Artist in Residence with Jewish Women’s Theater. She also held the position of B’nai Mitzvah Program Coordinator from 2006 to 2012 for Kehillat Israel, Pacific Palisades, where she invested her passion for Judaism towards a love for teaching kids and Jewish communal work.  Shira grew up immersed in Synagogue music and life as the daughter of an LA based Cantor. She holds a degree in Literature/Creative Writing from SUNY.

Kirsten Hudson

Operations Guru

A New York native, Kirsten is, above all else, an enthusiast and generalist. She believes less in titles and roles than in getting things done. That said, her work (and titles) have ranged broadly, and have included financial analyst, writer and editor, producer, director of production, and (her favorite catchy title) Chief Wrangler. She’s also cleared a lot of clutter. After years of failed attempts, she finally achieved escape velocity from the for profit world, and hasn’t looked back.

Kirsten believes in walking, public transport, and the power of intentional and accidental communities. Kirsten has a big love of science, faith, and startups of all kinds and believes in the laudability of wonder. She is a pragmatically minded optimist.

She and her husband Matt are the proud parents of the glorious Arrow. She holds a BA from Williams College, and did graduate work at Cambridge and Harvard universities.

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Gina Draklich

Accountant / Bookkeeper

Gina Draklich is a freelance bookkeeper who also provides a variety of administrative and marketing services to her clients. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she studied Art History in college and had a twenty-five year career in film marketing before opening her own bookkeeping business. In her free time she likes to paint and walk on the beach. She is also an animal rights advocate and volunteer.

Mary Tucker

Jubilee Fellow

Mary was born in Thousand Oaks, CA where she developed a love for serving spiritual communities through being an active member in her church. She later moved to Jackson, TN to earn her degree in Intercultural Studies from Union University. During this time she served as the president of Union’s chapter of International Justice Mission, and was a part of pioneering initiatives in her community to pursue racial justice. Through these experiences as well as internships with a refugee agency in St. Louis, and two different organizations serving underdeveloped communities in Ecuador, she found her passion for working at Nonprofits doing Community Development work. Mary found her way to Open Temple and back to LA through the Jubilee Year Los Angeles program she is a part of. Mary is excited to be a part of the Open Temple team and to be working and growing with the community.

Jesse Pudles

CTA Artist/Instructor

Jesse was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He started his Jewish exploration at the age of 8 when he began attending Pinemere Jewish Summer Camp. He went on to get his degree in Theatre from Chapman University, where he was a founding member of the Jewish Fraternity AEPi on his campus. Since college Jesse has worked in fields such as organizational leadership, positivity coaching, and executive coaching with both adults and children. He has also recently stared in his first feature film, Groupers, which is being released by Global Digital Releasing. Jesse is so grateful to be a part of the Open Temple Family, and see what he can can offer to the Creative Torah Academy curriculum.

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The Open Temple Band

Open Temple Musicians

Through the creative experience and practice of playing in the band, band members learn active listening, tolerance and social cues. They gain an appreciation of their own importance in the group while respecting the roles of their fellow band members.

When the Open Temple Band performs for the community, there is a self-perception that they are giving the gift of music to their audience. Their hard work, both as individuals and as a group, is rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, acknowledgement of their talents, and an appreciation of their efforts. Participants gain self-esteem and sense of purpose by making people happy with their music.

Avi Sherbill

Avi Sherbill is a certified sound therapist who has over 12 years of sound production experience with a background in addiction treatment and an education in Music Composition from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jordana Reim

As both a spiritual guide and well-being coach, Jordana combines her trained modalities to meet individuals wherever they are on their path. Pulling from 15 years of training, her certifications include yoga, meditation, emotional intelligence, sound healing and Ayurvedic massage. With over 10 years of success in corporate America as an Advertising Producer, Jordana seamlessly bridges the worlds of wellness and western working culture for her clientele. While rooted in Eastern philosophy, Jordana shares ancient wisdom in relatable ways for modern day living. Jordana founded 180 Retreats after immersing herself in transformation, traveling to ashrams, monasteries and even cliffside caves in India, Nepal and Thailand. Leading personal growth retreats, she combines learning of local culture and ritual with reflection, yoga, meditation and nature. Her retreats in 2019 include a spiritual journey through Northern India and a trekking excursion to Everest Base Camp.

Zach Puchtel

Author, Poet, Speaker, Renaissance Man, Open Temple Band Member, Divine Rhymer, Believer in Magic, and college basketball and football player at University of Minnesota and Harvard.

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One who occupies oneself with the needs of the community is as though one has occupied oneself with Torah.

Talmud Yerushalmi, Berakhot