Beth Am Clergy & Music Team
Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows
Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows, A CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, was ordained from Hebrew Union College-JIR in 1998 and has been at Congregation Beth Am since 2001, becoming the Senior Rabbi in 2009. Rabbi Bellows received her B.A. and Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois and her Master of Arts in Divinity from The University of Chicago Divinity School. In addition to serving Beth Am, Rabbi Bellows co-teaches on Leadership, Community, and Change at the University of Chicago Divinity School and has been on faculty at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) Clergy Leadership Program. Rabbi Bellows is an RYT 200 certified yoga teacher, a Relax and Renew® Trainer in restorative yoga, an IJS Jewish Meditation Teacher Training graduate, and a graduate of the Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and the Lakeview Shelter and is a core-team member of RAC-IL. She is proud to be a Northwest Suburban Interfaith Clergy Council member. She speaks on Jewish Mindfulness, Interfaith relations, and bringing compassionate action and social justice to our lives and the world. Rabbi Bellows loves to travel, listen to The Moth and other podcasts, practice yoga, and spend time with her husband Kyle and three college-age children.
Rabbi Bellows can be reached at email@example.com
Rabbi Richard M Prass
Rabbi Richard Prass, before joining Beth Am in the summer of 2007, Rabbi Prass served as both Associate Rabbi and Director of Education at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, New York, and has experience in administration, teacher recruitment, teacher development, curriculum development and instruction. A native Midwesterner, Rabbi Prass heralds from Minneapolis, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was ordained by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in May 2000.
In addition to his experience in leading Temple Israel’s education program, Rabbi Prass was instrumental in energizing and enlarging the Temple’s youth groups. As an Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel, prior to his acceptance as the Temple’s education lead, he maintained a full pulpit, with preaching and lifecycle responsibilities. Rabbi Prass also spent several summers working at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in Wisconsin. He is a member of the Chicago Association of Reform Jewish Educators (CHARJE), serving as the treasurer (2010-2015) and president (2015-present). He serves as the Rabbinic Advisor to NFTY-CAR (2009-present), being granted the honor of lifetime membership in December of 2015. He volunteers at OSRUI, serving on the Rabbinic, Educator, Cantorial Advisory Committee (RECC).
Rabbi Prass currently lives in Deerfield with his wife, Cantor Jennifer Frost, and their children, Lyla Ann, Ruth Adina and David Lev. To reach Rabbi Prass by email – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Music Team
Cantor Heather Aranyi
Cantor Heather Aranyi, M.M., M.Ed. was named by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most sought after singers and conductors in Chicago,” Cantor Aranyi is both a master educator and musician.
In addition to serving Congregation Beth Am, she is on faculty at both The Lyric Opera and Northwestern University. At Northwestern, Cantor Aranyi is a thought leader who is frequently featured on panels and podcasts. She teaches entrepreneurism and innovation. Her transformative work in music and education at Lyric has been the subject of six documentaries.
Heather holds graduate degrees in Voice and Opera from Northwestern University and Early Childhood Development from The Erikson Institute at Loyola University. She was awarded a prestigious McCormick fellowship, was a featured presenter at the 31st Annual Women Cantors Network Conference, and has performed throughout Chicago, Europe, and most recently, successfully debuted in New York City at the renowned Carnegie Hall.
Her upcoming work at Lyric includes writing, producing, singing and starring in an early childhood video with Chuck Bontrager, concertmaster of Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen. She has been a soloist at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Sam Siner has served as Cantorial Soloist for Congregation Beth Am since 2016. He has over 20 years of experience leading Jewish music and prayer for adults and families throughout the country.
Sam attended OSRUI, was appointed the inaugural Head Songleader for NFTY-CAR, trained in songleading at Camp Kutz (Warwick, NY), and worked as Head Songleader at Camp Micah (Bridgton, ME). He has served as the High Holidays Cantorial Soloist for Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community (St. Louis, MO) for the past 10 years. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife Zoe and his daughter Lyra.
Todd Kessler grew up in Northbrook and now lives in Deerfield with his wife, Lauren, and their two sons, Benjamin and Ezra. Upon graduating from the University of Illinois, in 2005, with a degree in Music Theory and Composition, Todd quickly began a career in music that has spanned 18 years and the release of multiple albums and tours around the country, including a spot on season three of NBC’s hit show The Voice. Todd’s work in the Jewish Community began in 2008 when he began working as a Jewish Music Specialist and Tefilah leader at a number of different institutions in and around Chicago. Todd is now the song leader and music educator at Anshe Emet Synagogue, and in addition to his work at Anshe Emet, Todd teaches Jewish Music at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago, performs as a cantorial soloist for Beth Am and at B’nei Mitzvah services around Chicagoland. Todd is extremely excited for the opportunity of being with Beth Am for the High Holidays!
Bibi Marcell has been performing throughout the world for many years, spending most of her time in the Chicago area. She began her singing career in her teens and later joined the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble. In addition to performing extensively on her own, Bibi is currently a featured vocalist with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Between singing engagements, Bibi works as a cantorial soloist at Congregation Beth Am (and other local synagogues) and is Religious Education Director for Congregation Hakafa in Glencoe, Il. She is also the mother of three beautiful children.
Cantor Arnold Schultz
“Of Blessed Memory“
Cantor Arnie Schultz, our founding Cantor served Beth Am from 1981 and become our Cantor Emeritus in 2004.
Cantor Schultz was a founding member of Beth Am, brought our congregation muchruach–spirit and soul. His beautiful voice, matched with his love for Torah, humor, folk music and chazzanut, teaching, and the cantorate itself, provided a foundation upon which our congregation still stands today. He worked indefatigably to bring our two holocaust scrolls to the congregation from London and until five or so years ago, annually taught our 7th graders and all of us, the story and history of the scrolls we continue to honor each week at our Shabbat evening worship. Cantor Schultz was committed to sharing the memory and stories of Kojitin, Czechoslovakia.
Cantor Schultz’s amazing soulful voice still reverberates and remains part of the very fabric of our sacred community.