Rabbi Michael S. Beals
Rabbi Michael Beals has been with Congregation Beth Shalom since August 2004. He is a 1997 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi Beals is also a graduate of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles (MA Hebrew Letters), The American University in Washington DC (MA International Relations), and University of California at Berkeley (BA Political Science). He received the Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Beyond his accomplished education, Rabbi Beals has also worked in a variety of roles from serving as a management analyst developing multi-cultural training programs to working with young and old in programs of music therapy, Shabbat programming, and providing pastoral counseling and support to the sick and elderly and to the families that support them.
During Rabbi Beals tenure our Hebrew School has grown, we’ve established a nationally recognized Keruv Initiative – to welcome and support interfaith families, and re-established an active and involved Sisterhood and Men’s Club. Also during his tenure, we have transformed our 1950s spiritual home to a modern, accessible, spiritual center and participated in the inaugural Sulam for Strategic Planning Program and Sulam for Emerging Leaders, both sponsored by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).
Rabbi Beals is proudly accompanied by his wife, Elissa, a trained house-call veterinarian and his children, Ariella and Shira. They are avid cat and dog lovers.
Cantor Elisa Abrams
Cantor Elisa Abrams was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Throughout her childhood, she was an active member at Adat Ari El in Valley Village, where she and her twin sister were named, attended religious school and confirmation/seminar, and tutored B’nei Mitzvah students. At the age of eight, she joined Cantor Ira S. Bigeleisen’s youth choir and took a liking to Jewish music and liturgy. Over the course of her Jewish education, her passion for everything Jewish grew and when Cantor Bigeleisen, her teacher and mentor, invited her to sing in a cantorial concert, she realized that she couldn’t imagine pursuing a career other than the cantorate. From that day on, her dream was to study music in college and then attend cantorial school.
Cantor Elisa studied music at the University of California in Santa Barbara from 2003 to 2007, where she became involved in the university’s Hillel community, and also taught religious school at a nearby reform synagogue, Congregation B’nei Brith. After graduating from Santa Barbara, she was accepted into the five-year program at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Upon graduating from college in 2007, she moved to Jerusalem for her first year of cantorial school, where she took courses in Nusach, Judaica, and intensive modern Hebrew at the Conservative Yeshivah and Ulpan Beit Ha’Am. Shortly after her return of her first year of Cantorial School, she added on a second master’s degree in Jewish Education through The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.
In May of 2012, Cantor Elisa graduated with a dual masters in Sacred Music and Jewish Education, as well as Certificate of Hazzan. In August of that same year, Cantor Elisa joined the staff of Congregation Beth Shalom as its Cantor and Director of Education. She is the first female Latina Cantor in the State of Delaware.