Meet Our Clergy

Michael Barclay

Rabbi

Author, college professor, and the Recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the B’nai Zion Foundation; Rabbi Barclay has served as the spiritual leader of multiple Conservative Synagogues in the San Gabriel Valley, and was also the Associate Rabbi of the Temple of The Arts in Beverly Hills. He is the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together” (Liturgical Press, 2013). Rabbi Barclay founded EverySoulLA, an arts inspired service and outreach program for young Jewish professionals, has written for multiple periodicals including the Jewish Forward; and is a regular Torah commentator for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

Rabbi Barclay both taught in the School of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and was also the Hillel Director; where his growing programs became the national model for small college campuses. An expert on inter-faith relations and cross-cultural mysticism and meditation; he has taught around the world to small groups of executives and athletes on the importance of having a spiritual foundation as an integral part of their lives.

Most importantly, Rabbi Michael Barclay is married and the father of twin boys; who constantly remind him “to live fully, ethically, and with joy”.

Rabbi’s Teachings

Sam Glaser

Cantor
Joining us for High Holidays, Cantor Sam Glaser is considered one of the “top ten Jewish artists” by Moment Magazine; has released 24 cds of Jewish music, and performs for over 100,000 people annually at venues around the world, including LA’s Greek Theater, the Gibson Amphitheater, and even at the White House.  He is a 7 time winner of the ASCAP award; and has won both the John Lennon and the Parents Choice Award.  He was the Executive Director of the Jewish Music Commission; Producer of the American Jewish Song Festival; and Director of the Cultural Arts Program at American Jewish University.  His soulful original music has become part of the fabric of Jewish life in communities worldwide. Cantor Glaser performs in an average of fifty cities a year and his energetic style and passionate delivery never fails ignite the spirit of audiences of all ages.

Jodi Spindel

Rabbinic Intern

Jodi Spindel is currently the Rabbinic Intern at Temple Ner Simcha and is enrolled in the Modern Rabbi Course at Rabbinical Seminary International. Jodi has been teaching Hebrew and Jewish Studies to children grades three through eleven as well as preparing both children and adults for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, for over 16 years. Founder of Jewish Studies with Jodi Spindel in 2010, Jodi is passionate about helping unaffiliated Jewish families provide foundational Jewish education to their children. Her goal is to support these families in their pursuit of a strong Jewish identity.

Benny Lipson

Cantorial Soloist/Songleader
Born and raised in Los Angeles, multi-instrumentalist Benny Lipson performs in various settings all over town. He’s shared stages with music giants like Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Barry Manilow, and Ben Folds in iconic venues like the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Concert Hall. Lipson holds a Bachelors Of Music from the Frost School of Music at University of Miami, where he studied jazz voice and bass. His Jewish music experience is lengthy, having led and taught in congregations and summer camps in both Los Angeles and Miami.
Currently, Benny spends much time working with his twin brother, Jack. Together they lead a local band cleverly titled “jackbenny” where they write, record and perform original songs. The band and its music strive to spread happiness and unconditional love of diversity by writing socially-conscious lyrics and widely-influenced music. Comedian/musician Reggie Watts (band leader on the Late Late Show with James Corden) deems them “inspiring” and actor Jeff Goldblum labels them “genius.” You can hear their music on iTunes and Spotify.
Benny is excited to join the community at Temple Ner Simcha, where he’ll be leading Shabbat and Bar/Bat Mitzvah services.

Mat Gurman

Musical Director

Guitarist Mat Gurman has been featured and praised by Guitar Player magazine- “…he’s a terrific player…crafty composer…effortless groove…lush and lustrous tone.”

As a Frequent guest of the Tonight Show Band, Mat has backed up k.d. Lang, The Back Street Boys, Tanya Tucker, and the broadway productions of Wicked and Grease. He has arranged guitar and rhythm for Nils Lofgren and Donna Summers appearances on the Tonight Show and had his vocal abilities featured on dozens of skits. His live, Television and film credits are extensive including work with: Lisa Loeb, Steve Alan, Tom Scott, Theodore Bikel, David Cassidy, Beach Boys, Jim Carrey, Star Trek DS-9 (the the holographic guitar player), Clint Holmes, Merv Griffin, Peter Yaro, Howey Mandel, Petula Clark, Melissa Manchester, Rich Little, Mark Lindsay, Jag, Ed Ames, Taylor Dayne, Doug Cameron, BB King (infomercial), Dawson’s Creek, Penn and Teller, To Tell The Truth, Deepak Chopra, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, SAG awards, HBO, Guiding Light, As The World Turns, Brotherly Love, All American Girl, Howie Mandell, Peter Yaro, and more sit-coms than can (or should) be mentioned on one page! Mat’s “Starlicks” instructional video’s d CD’s are available on iTunes and music stores all over the world and are some of the most popular products that Hal Leonard distributes! Mat is also featured on theGuitar on the Edge compilation CD series which boasts “Over one hour of the Worlds hottest Guitarist” alongside veterans Alan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, Steve Morse, Wayne Krantz and Shawn Lane.  Mat is currently the principal guitarist with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

Mat Gurman Holds a B.F.A from California Institute of the Arts (Disney School of the Performing Arts) where he studied Indian and African music, Classical Guitar, Film and composition. He also attended Jazz Theory and improvisation classes at the now famous Dick Groves Music Workshops in Studio City, California. Mat is a veteran of College of the Siskiyous in northern California where he attended workshops and concerts with Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Jon Hendrix and Carmen McCrae under the direction of vocal/Jazz luminary Kirby Shaw.