Clergy and Professional Staff

Rabbi - Dr. Kenneth A. Emert

Rabbi Beni Wajnberg

Rabbi Beni Wajnberg (pronounced Vine-berg) became the rabbi and spiritual guide of Temple Beth Rishon’s congregation in 2018. His biggest passions are people and spirituality. His time and energy are dedicated to accompanying congregants through moments of nakhos and tzuros, joy and struggle. Rabbi Beni uses a balanced combination of Judaism, mindfulness and energetic kindness to guide people as they search for a freshened connection with their purpose in life.  He considers it a privilege to have an intimate spiritual connection with each person at Temple Beth Rishon. Rabbi Beni is committed to inspiring a spiritual renewal and nurturing the relevancy of yiddishkeit for the modern Jew. Environmental preservation is an important issue to our rabbi. His hope is that we will leave the world just as we found it, if not better, for our descendants.

The rabbi came to Temple Beth Rishon from Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City. Half-Argentinian and half-Brazilian, he trained at the Seminario Rabinico in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. He has served as rabbi, rabbinic intern, hospital chaplain, student rabbi and teacher in congregations, hospitals and nursing homes in New York, California, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee, Argentina and Brazil. Rabbi Beni is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the OHALAH (Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal), and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly…Read More
Click here to read Reb Beni’s 5780/2019 Kol Nidre Speech Reb Beni’s Monthly Message

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Dr. Kenneth A. Emert, Rabbi Emeritus

After 22 years as the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Rishon, Dr. Rabbi Kenneth A. Emert retired in June, 2017 to follow other pursuits. Our hearts were saddened to see Rabbi Emert leave his post but we celebrated this milestone with him at a gala send off in his honor, wishing him much luck in the future.

Rabbi Emert brought an extensive educational background to our community. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Hebrew Language and Literature from Queens College, Flushing, New York, Rabbi Emert earned a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew literature from Hebrew Union College where he was also ordained in 1977. In 1982, Rabbi Emert received a Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University and in 1991 earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in Jewish-Christian Studies from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary...Read More

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Cantor Vadim Yucht

Cantor Vadim Yucht was born in the town of Nikolayev, Ukraine. Religion was forbidden in the former Soviet Union, and there were no synagogues or even prayer books  allowed. Owning a Hebrew book was a criminal offense. However, many Jews tried to keep the tradition alive in their homes. On Rosh Hashanah, they ate gefilteh fish and on Passover they made matzah.

Although Jews were discriminated against in employment and educational settings, Vadim Yucht's outstanding abilities won him a place in a government-sponsored Boys Choir School in Moscow. Before he left his home at age 8, he never forgot what his grandmother told him. She advised him to say that he was Christian and not Jewish. By pretending to be Christian, he wouldn't be subjected to the discrimination that Jews typically endured. Cantor Yucht received his bachelor's degree as a choir conductor and music teacher, and he continued his musical studies until he was awarded a master's degree from the Moscow Academy of Music and Culture. At the Academy, Vadim met and soon married his wife Dina who awakened his "Jewish roots." Shortly thereafter, Vadim got called to serve in the Former Soviet Union's Army where he was accepted to its elite Red Army Chorus. He excelled in their program and was rapidly promoted to conductor and musical arranger. Vadim was young, talented, and successful, and yet he was like all Jews in the former USSR: a lost soul not knowing who he was and was prohibited from finding out…Read more
Cantor’s Monthly Message

Cantor - Ilan Mamber

Cantor Emeritus Ilan Mamber z”l

In Memoriam

It is with profound heartbreak and immeasurable pain that we reach out to you with tragic news. Cantor Ilan Mamber suddenly passed away at the age of 70 on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. He was born in B’nei Brak, a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel, to Arthur and Channa Mamber. As a child, he was a member and soloist in various choirs in the "great Synagogues" of Tel Aviv and its surrounding towns. 

Upon his arrival in the United States, Ilan bought a guitar and taught himself to play. In 1979, he received his Master's Degree from Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work and worked in the field of Jewish communal service as a Jewish Center worker from 1977 to 1987. Concurrent to pursuing a career in the Jewish Cantorial field, Ilan became a successful Israeli-American folk singer performing throughout North America. He appeared on Jewish radio and cable television programs and performed at major Jewish art festivals, theaters, university campuses and community centers.

Cantor Mamber served as the cantor at Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, NJ for 31 years, beginning in 1987. During that time, his unique interpretations of prayer and liturgy enriched the lives of every single adult and child congregant. He was the “singing cantor” whose signature guitar was always draped across his chest or poised close by for easy access during Shabbat services, High Holidays services or during the countless hours he spent with the Preschool and Religious School students...Read more


Religious School Principal - Gonen Arad

Gonen Arad - Religious School Director

Gonen Arad is honored and thrilled to serve as the Director of Temple Beth Rishon’s Religious School. He feels truly blessed to be the instructional leader of such an awesome community of educators working together to share their love and knowledge of Jewish faith.  

Gonen has devoted his life to the field of Jewish education. His formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Jewish Education. One constant in his life has been his varied experience with secular and Jewish organizations that seek to engage people individually and as a group to truly understand and live a faith-filled life. He is passionate about connecting with families and facilitating their connections with Jewish identity. Gonen feels that each new family he encounters adds to his own education and allows him to continue to grow as an educator...Read more
Religious School Monthly Message

Director of Early Childhood Education - Hillary Posner

Hillary Posner - Director, Early Learning Center

Hillary Posner is honored to serve as the Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Beth Rishon's Andrew Friedland Early Childhood Learning Center. Having earned her bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University and a master’s in teaching from Iona College, Hillary has devoted more than 20 years to working in education with young children and their families. She is committed to creating a strong, faith-based educational program in our wonderful school where egalitarian values, sound foundational skills and play with a purpose are always in focus...Read more
Preschool Monthly Message

Youth Group Director  -  Jana   Schwatrz

Jana Schwartz - Youth Group Director

Jana Schwartz joined Temple Beth Rishon in 2004 as our first full-time Youth Director. Since then, Jana has infused our Youth Group program with such positive energy that the number of children involved has increased six times over!  Jana’s infectious smile and philosophy of inclusion have greatly enhanced TBR’s youth activities. The Youth Group student leaders and all participants love the program and activities!

Graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a B.A in Sociology, and a minor in Substance Abuse, Jana taught in the Fort Lee School District, assisting students with Special needs prior to joining our staff. Her experience in teaching children prepared her well for handling the dozens of Youth Group kids who visit her office...Read more
Youth Group Monthly Message