Board of Directors

Rusty Russell – President

Rusty RussellLike many members of Temple Beth El, I come from a mixed religious background. My father’s grandfather Adolf Israel was Jewish, but he married a Catholic, so his son my grandfather also became Catholic and changed the family name from Israel to Russell. My mother’s parentage was also mixed. After my parents left the Catholic Church, they told me that I should join the religion of my choice. Because I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, by age thirteen I knew that “the religion of my choice” was going to be Jewish. Everywhere I have ever lived, most of my friends have been Jewish. Since I married Judy Lehr in 1976, most of my family has been Jewish as well. In 1989-1990 I spent a semester on the faculty of Tel Aviv University, and I have returned to Israel for research purposes many times since. Increasingly, my whole world has been Jewish. After living for many years as the most Jewish Gentile that my Jewish friends and family had ever met, I finally converted to Judaism at Temple Beth El in 1996. Joining Temple Beth El has turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I will always be grateful to Temple Beth El for giving me so many wonderful friends.

Aimee Perlstein – Vice-President

Aimee has been a member and involved with TBE for almost 30 years. With her husband Adam, and two sons Jeremy and Brian, she has been active in the Religious Education Committee. She joined the Board of Directors as the CDC Representative before accepting new position. She converted to Judaism in 1995. She has been an upper grade elementary teacher, staff developer and mentor for 24 years in the Riverside Unified School District. She has two sons who both had their Bar Mitzvahs here at TBE. One was confirmed and the other is going through that process now. Jeremy is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara and Brian is a sophomore at Riverside Stem. She enjoys live music, scrapbooking and hiking in the mountains.

Harry Freedman – Past President

HarryHarry has been a part of TBE since his family moved to Riverside in 1960. He, his wife Sandy, and son Josh have celebrated many lifecycle events at TBE, and are very grateful to be a part of the  TBE community. This is Harry’s third stint on the Board since the 1980’s – he previously served as Youth Liaison, Finance Director, and Treasurer.


Tim Beld – Treasurer

TimTim was a born and raised in Riverside. He converted to Judaism in 1983 at Temple Beth El. Tim has been a member of TBE ever since. He has served the Jewish community in the past by sitting on the board of B’nai Brith as President and was treasurer of TBE for 6 years in the early 90’s. He is proud to be joining TBE’s board again.


Jerry Sturmer – Finance

jerryJerry Sturmer grew up in Anaheim, where he studied with and sang under the direction of Cantor Philip Moddel.  After graduating from CSU, Fullerton, he began his career teaching, first in Los Angeles, and then in Rialto.  After 14 years teaching history and music he transitioned into administration in 1992, both at the site and district levels.  Jerry has been married to Nancy for over 35 years, and their son Daniel has sounded the shofar at Temple Beth El since 1994.  After singing with the Temple’s choir for more than 20 years, Jerry decided it was time to increase his contribution to our community by joining the Board first as Secretary, then Vice President, and is now proud to accept the office of President.

Jason Winston – Secretary

JasonJason Winston has been a member of Temple Beth El for about eight years and has lived in Riverside since 1998. He has worked professionally as a writer, editor and educator and has been producing the TBE newsletter, Chai Lights, since 2006. Jason was born in raised in Los Angeles and was Bar Mitzvah’d at Maarev Temple in the San Fernando Valley. He and wife Anna, a fellow board member, have three children and are very active in youth group and their chavurah. Jason is also a student of Mussar, a Jewish spirituality practice, and plans to bring his knowledge and enthusiasm for this tradition to TBE in a variety of ways in the coming years.

Kevin Akin – Senior Chavurah

KevinKevin Akin has been a Temple Beth El member since 1983. He and his wife Margie sent their four children through the TBE religious school. Kevin previously served on the Board for seven years during the 1980s and 1990s. He urges anyone willing to work (in any way) for social justice to call or e-mail him.


Martha Miller – Religious Education


Eric Sbar – Religious Practices


Sherri Cruz – Fund Development


Eric Lesser – Facilities Management

Eric has been a resident of Riverside since 2002 when he moved from the San Fernando Valley to be closer to visit his mother and her vineyard in Temecula wine country.  A member of the temple since 2012, Eric served on the Board as Buildings and Grounds Director (now Facilities Management) between 2014 and 2017.  He is now back on the Board–focusing on the upgrade project for the temple’s bathrooms as well as other projects.  Professionally, Eric is a Landscape Architect and arborist.  He designed the Temple’s Central Ave lawn conversion landscape installed in 2016.  He is a classical ‘cellist and performs in several community orchestras. 

Andrea Shuirman – Youth Groups

Andrea grew up in Orange and moved to Riverside to attend U.C. Riverside. She and her husband, John, have been members of Temple Beth El since 2005. Their two teens have grown up in Temple Beth El and have celebrated many simchas with the congregation. Andrea is serving her second term on the TBE Board.


Lore Magnus – Sisterhood Representative






Dan Straus – Social Action

Dan grew up in Milwaukee and attended religious and Hebrew school at Temple Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun. He joined the faculty at UC Riverside in 1976 as one of the founding faculty members of the UCR-UCLA Biomedical Sciences Program. Over the years he taught human genetics and molecular biology to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. He is currently a Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences in the UCR School of Medicine. He and his wife Darleen, a Professor Emerita of Botany at UCR, have two children and one grandchild. At TBE Dan has served as President of the Senior Chavurah and Chair of the Social Action Committee.

Missy Sbar – CDC Representative