Lisabeth Lobenthal, Executive Director
Lisabeth Lobenthal was born into Jewish Communal Service. Her father served as the Midwest Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Detroit for 35 years and it seemed only natural that some of this passion would rub off.
Her journey began with a North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) trip to Israel which changed her relationships to both Judaism and the Jewish communal world. Lisabeth went on to earn her undergraduate degree in religious studies from the University of Michigan and after spending several summers in Israel and decided to live there after graduating from college. She then returned to the United States to earn a graduate degree in Jewish communal service from Brandeis University.
Lisabeth began her official career at two Jewish Federations where she served in the roles of women's division director, Jewish community relations staff person, and young leadership director. She then spent 13 years serving as the executive director of synagogues including Temple Akiba, Adat Shalom and Temple Isaiah. Lisabeth became the Los Angeles area director for American Friends of Magen David Adom and most recently, she worked with the Jewish Agency for Israel which combined her love of Israel with her dedication to Jewish continuity.
Lisabeth also possesses certificates in fundraising and in temple administration. She was a long-time volunteer on her synagogue board and is dedicated to working with organizations that fight human trafficking.
Jessica Shamout, Director of Jewish Education
As an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, she taught religious school and worked as a youth advisor before she went on to complete a master’s degree in educational administration at the University of Southern California. After attending graduate school, she worked at the University of California, Los Angeles, helping college students with learning disabilities, but couldn’t shake her love of Jewish education and continued to teach various religious school classes and tutor in the community.
Shortly before joining the University Synagogue team, she developed a project-based-learning initiative for seventh and eighth graders at Temple Isaiah in West Los Angeles. Jessica is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), and is actively involved with NewCAJE and the Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN). She has made it her goal to help each child find his or her place in the Jewish community with hopes they will develop the tools to make the world better.
April Schafer, Director of Early Childhood Learning Center
A Michigan native, she attended Michigan State University graduating with a bachelor of science degree in human ecology with an emphasis on youth development. She began teaching pre-kindergarten while she attended DePaul University in Chicago where she received her master of arts degree in elementary education with an endorsement in middle school. She is passionate about leading our youngest members through their Jewish educational journey for many years in a nurturing, loving, creative and soulful environment.