Rabbi Arnold Rachlis is the spiritual leader of University Synagogue in Irvine, California. Born in Philadelphia, Rabbi Rachlis received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. from Temple University and ordination and a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Rabbi Rachlis has taught at Temple University and Spertus College and has published scholarly articles, opinion pieces and poetry in a variety of publications, including Judaism, Reconstructionist, National Jewish Monthly, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, Jewish Journal, Maj’shavot Pensamientos and A Psychology – Judaism Reader.
Rabbi Rachlis has served in Washington, D.C. as a White House Fellow, an honor annually accorded to only a dozen national leaders, and as a Senior Foreign Affairs advisor in the State Department. He was appointed a regional panelist for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and was also selected as a Fellow in Leadership Greater Chicago. Rabbi Rachlis was chosen by the White House to give the invocation for President Obama’s Town Hall meeting and he was also selected as one of the 25 most influential leaders in Orange County.
Rabbi Rachlis has served as Chair of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, a coalition of over a thousand synagogues and Jewish organizations across the country.
The former rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois, Rabbi Rachlis was the youngest rabbi ever elected president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. His service to the community includes the boards or advisory boards of Jewish Fund for Justice, U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, Americans for Peace Now, China Judaic Studies Association of Nanjing University, University of Illinois Fund for Gerontology Research, National B’nai Brith Hillel Commission, the American Jewish Committee, New Israel Fund, Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, of which he was a past president. He has also served on the executive committee of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and as a member of the Orange County Board of Rabbis.
For nine years, Rabbi Rachlis hosted Of Cabbages and Kings on ABC-TV, as well as a syndicated cable television show on contemporary Jewish issues, Hayom. He has appeared as a guest on National Public Radio, CBS, CNN and PBS, and has been interviewed frequently by such publications as the New York Times. He was profiled in the award-winning documentary film, The Legacy, and has served as a Judaica consultant for Compton’s Encyclopedia.
Cantor Ruti Braier has served as our Cantor and musical inspiration for University Synagogue since 1995. Cantor Braier was born in Argentina, lived in Israel and moved to Southern California in 1982. She studied Judaica at Midrasha L’morim, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, holds degrees in music from the “Conservatorio de Musica” and in music therapy from the University of El Salvador, both in Buenos Aires, and studied with a number of well known cantors in Los Angeles.
The Cantor has toured as the lead singer of two musical rock groups in Argentina – “Shachar” and “Manginot Bashira” – and was a finalist on television’s “International Star Search”.
For almost two decades, she served at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles as School Music Director and leader of Family Services, and for several years was Cantor for High Holiday services at Congregation Beth Or in Los Angeles.
The Cantor’s creativity and amazing musical talent have resulted in the establishment of numerous children and teen choirs, including the University Synagogue Children’s Choir and the Young Cantors’ Ensemble.
Since the Cantor has come to University Synagogue, we have established an incredibly rich and inspiring musical tradition. University Synagogue is enriched by our Cantor’s ability to integrate multiple musical styles from classical Hebrew liturgy to modern Israeli music to American pop, folk and jazz. Cantor Braier’s beautiful singing, which can be heard on her CD “Shabbat Alive”, adds a wonderfully spiritual dimension to our services, one that is truly unique.
To sample the music from Cantor Braier’s CD “Shabbat Alive” CD – click here.
2017-2018 Board of Directors
President – Michael Stone
Executive Vice President – Susie Rothfeder
Secretary – Nadine Hoffman
Treasurer – David Wyle
Past President – Sari Schreiber
Communications – Cindy Reynolds
Education – Barbara Ganser
Tikkun Olam – Jerri Klein Kaplan
Members at Large: