Meet Laura Shpiro and Justin Edmondson

Laura wrote last week about the thoughts on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. But we haven’t yet introduced her, and Justin, to the congregation, although they joined a few months ago.  So here’s Laura’s profile of the two of them.  Welcome!

Laura & Justin Shpiro

Justin and I moved from Los Angeles to Ann Arbor in October 2011.  Justin was in Los Angeles completing his post-doctoral fellowship in Theoretical Heliophysics at Jet Propulsion Labs.  I was born and raised in LA, except for the four years I spent at Brandeis, and even attended law school in my beloved city of Los Angeles.  Justin and I met on JDate (and I am a big proponent of the site!), and fell in love pretty darned quickly.  When his fellowship ended, it made sense for him to choose a position at the University of Michigan, where he obtained all three of his degrees.  Plus, Momma Mary Lou (Justin’s mom) lives in Ann Arbor, making the moving to Ann Arbor a no-brainer. Since every region has use for social justice attorneys,  I had little excuse not to pick up and move.  Plus, you know, I love the guy.

Although it took us three years to join AARC, we knew it would be our home within a month of moving to Ann Arbor.  We are rather political, extremely liberal, and believe the answer to a better world lies in tikkun olam.  Indeed, our most heated argument is over who is further left, politically.  Obviously, the answer is that I am.  (The writer of history is she who wields the pen!)

Our first experience with AARC was attending High Holiday services; looking around the room, we knew we had found our home.  The more AARC congregants we meet, the more we fall in love with the congregation.  We’re looking forward to many years together!

Shalom, ahava v’tzedek (peace, love and justice),

Welcome to the Burokers!

BurokersPlease welcome our newest members, the Burokers!  They (well, ok, Sherri) write:

Hello!  We are the Buroker family – Sherri, Lyle, Morgan (13), and Shae  (10).  We also have 3 cats, whom we adore!  I (Sherri) grew up in Miami, FL, and Lyle grew up in Syracuse, NY.  I currently work as a substitute teacher.  I am also a health & fitness instructor, which is where my passion lies.  Lyle works for Ford Motor Credit.

We moved to Canton, MI in 2011.  Previously, we lived in West Palm Beach, FL; Franklin, TN (girls born here); and San Jose, CA.  We are happy to now call this beautiful state of Michigan “home!”  I always say we live like tourists, after moving so much!  We have explored a bit of the lower peninsula, and look forward to visiting up north this summer. I enjoy activities outside (doing my best in the winters), planning and spending time with family and friends, and reading. I am also an active volunteer at our elementary school.   Lyle enjoys riding his road bike and playing golf.  As a family, we love to ride bikes, play games, explore our (and surrounding) communities’ activities, or just hang out.  Morgan and Shae both play travel soccer, with other recreation sports sprinkled in.  They love creative projects, and spending time with friends.  Morgan will be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah this coming August!

We were drawn to AARC because of the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.  We are delighted to get to get to know and grow with this dynamic community.

The Dopp/Berman family gets profiled!

Dopp-Berman Family

Deb & Rich, Ian & Jordan

Deb Berman and Rich Dopp joined AARC several years ago, but haven’t had a member profile yet.  So find out much more about them in this lovely piece at; turns out they were serious gymnasts in college and have been doing fascinating things since.  (Nice throwback Thursday pictures, too.)  Their kids, Ian and Jordan, will have a b’nei mitzvah with us in November 2015.

Welcome Rachel and Bryan

Our newest members are Rachel Baron Singer and Bryan Singer. Here’s Rachel’s introduction:

“Bryan is a postdoctoral student in the Biopsychology Department at the University of Michigan, and I’m currently working towards a Masters degree at Wayne State University in Library and Information Science.

Bryan and Rachel

Bryan and Rachel

We moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor in January 2013 with our pet rabbits, Pierrot and LeFou, and have settled in relatively well, despite our firm refusal to switch allegiances from the Chicago Dog to the Coney.

Because neither of our hometowns had Jewish communities large enough to support more than one synagogue, we were both raised in the Reform movement by default. However, we’ve long identified with the tenets of Reconstructionism, and are very excited to finally belong to a Reconstructionist congregation.

Outside of his research, Bryan’s passions include hiking, photography, travel, and the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, I enjoy writing about film studies, collecting vintage Nancy Drew novels, learning about mid-century modern architecture, and supporting West Bromwich Albion F.C. in the English Premier League (don’t worry, nobody else has heard of them, either).

Pierrot and LeFou

Pierrot and LeFou

We very much enjoyed attending AARC services for the high holidays and look forward to meeting the other members!”


Welcome Back, Ellen!

Ellen Dannin, our once and now-current member, is back to Ann Arbor from State College, Pennsylvania.  She writes:

Ellen Dannin

Ellen Dannin

I first joined the Reconstructionist movement as a member of Congregation T’chiyah in Detroit (and was also then a member of  the National Havurah movement). Over the years, and many moves, I have been a member of Reconstructionist congregations of Dor Hadash in San Diego, the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Havurah, and now back to Ann Arbor after a stint in State College, PA. For many years, I’ve written liturgy, divrei Torah, rituals, and other work focused on Judaism. A year ago, I gave myself a challenge of searching for water in each week’s parasha. I figured that the story of people traveling around a dry area of the world was unlikely to have water as a theme. Little did I know that water in some form existed in almost every week.

In my non-Jewish life, I have taught labor and employment law at various schools and write on privatization, including infrastructure privatization.

I am so happy to be back in Ann Arbor and to reconnect with friends and make new ones.



New member intro: Welcome the Nelson/Spindler family!

In our ongoing series of new member intros, I’m happy to introduce the Nelson/Spindler family:  Cara Spindler, Dave Nelson, and Aziza and Otto.


Dave says:  “I’m the tall one; Cara is the pretty one.”






Some Q & A’s:

What brought you to Ann Arbor and how long have you been here?

Cara and I both came to Ann Arbor as U-M undergrads twenty years ago, and have been here ever since.

Tell us about your prior involvement in the congregation:  

We’ve been skulking around the periphery of the AARC for several years (Otto’s been in Beit Sefer for, I dunno, maybe three or four years now).

What are some things you like to do? 

Um . . . being outside? The kids are very into imagining insane things and playing made up games that I find totally inscrutable (as well as Pokemon–ugh), while my wife and I hope to get to see a movie again some day. And we all read a fair bit.

Many of us already know Dave, Cara, and their kids — if you don’t, say hi the next chance you get!

And welcome to the Bramsons, too!


Candace, Elliot, Eric

New AARC members Eric and Candace Bramson have lived in Ann Arbor over 20 years.  They met at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club in the mid 90s, and still enjoy dancing today.

Eric is an engineer at Ford Motor Company and enjoys photography, biking and bird watching. Candace works for Pfizer doing clinical research and likes learning languages (currently studying French), biking, and running. Their son Elliot, who has attended the Beit Seifer for the last 3 years, is in 4th grade at Angell Elementary and loves legos, stuffed animals, and anything University of Michigan.

The Bramsons look forward to strengthening their connection to the Jewish community and becoming involved in the congregation’s celebrations and activities.


Welcome the Angus family!

Here’s how our new members, the Anguses introduce themselves:

We are the Angus family, Dale, Orna, Aden (12) and Sara (9). We met the Reconstructionist Hav in 2013. I (Orna) grew up in Ann Arbor. Dale grew up in Marysville, MI. We met when he attended EMU. We are an interfaith marriage.

We recently moved back to Dexter in 2010 to be closer to my parents. Dale works for Thule in Manufacturing Sales, and I work at Pittsfield Charter Township as the Deputy Treasurer.

Our children love sports and various activities. Aden enjoys playing basketball & golf, and Sara is a gymnast. They both enjoy school and spending time with friends. As a family we enjoy biking and kayaking in the local parks. We have two dogs Catcher, and Kelly they love to cuddle. The family favorite books & movie would be the Harry Potter Series.. Favorite Foods: (Dale) BBQ, (Orna) Italian, (Aden) BBQ or Buffalo wings, (Sara) Chinese Food.

Welcome to Becky, Brian, Sam, and Joey!

Our newest members are Becky and Brian Ball and their sons, Sam and Joey.

I asked Becky if she’d introduce her family to us, and she wrote this:

I was actually born and raised in Ann Arbor, but my husband is from Rhode Island (we met living in Los Angeles). We’ve been back in Ann Arbor for 12 years, but finally begun to look for a congregation to belong to. My husband teaches special education in Saline, and I teach social studies at Skyline in Ann Arbor (World History, World Humanities, Economics and Government). We are an interfaith family – I am Jewish while Brian was raised Catholic. I love quilting, kayaking and medieval history. My husband enjoys writing and gardening. Sam (8) and Joey (5) both went to preschool at the JCC, but both are now at Eberwhite Elementary. They are obsessed with legos and superheroes. We have four cats and are a vegetarian family. Our favorite movie is the original “Star Wars.” My favorite book is “The Lightbearer,” a novel about the Roman Empire. Brian’s favorite book is “The Great Gatsby.” We live in Scio Township between Ann Arbor and Dexter, and love the natural setting of wildlife and being near the river, but also being close to the libraries and museums of town.

Welcome to Becky and Brian!

Welcome to Becky and Brian!

Sam and Joey

And to Sam and Joey, too.


New Member Profile: Carole and Rose (& Cleo)

Rose Brown and Carole Caplan

New Members Rose Brown and Carole Caplan

Carole Caplan and her daughter, Rose Brown, are new members who have recently relocated to Ann Arbor from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. With their new kitty, Cleo, they are currently renovating a home that sits on a dirt road on 11 acres on the far north side of Ann Arbor. Carole’s dream of living rural is enhanced by the farm being only 12 minutes from all that Main Street has to offer, and by the fact that Ann Arbor is home to the like-minded Jewish, yoga and “green” communities that have been such an important part of her and her families’ life in the Chicago area.

Rose currently attends Washtenaw Community College and is looking to work with horses through the summer before studying Equine Management at MSU in the fall. Carole’s son, Max, is hard at work for IBM in Chicago, and her daughter Elana graduates from Hampshire this spring.

When not working the farm, Carole teaches yoga and meditation, trains yoga instructors, and offers Thai Bodywork sessions as well. Believing that sustainable living starts with physical and mental health that is heavily influenced by our environment, Carole also offers Healthy Home consulting for building and renovating spaces that people can truly thrive in. (

Raised as a cultural Jew in a reform community outside of Detroit, Judaism initially failed to offer Carole the spiritual connection that she had been seeking since a young age. After years of practice and study in Eastern systems, Carole feels grateful to have found her way back to Judaism through Reconstructionism. An active member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL for many years, Carole is both a Wexner Heritage Fellow and a Greenfaith Fellow, and has a passion for helping people explore the important intersection between spirituality and environmentalism.

Carole and Rose are excited to get to know the AARC!