Today is January 19, 2018 -

1300 North Sepulveda Boulevard|Los Angeles, CA 90049|Phone: 310.476.2861


Leo Baeck Temple -
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Clergy Emeriti

Rabbi Emeritus Sanford Ragins


Rabbi Sanford Ragins is almost a native Angeleno.  Chicago-born, he grew-up in Los Angeles and earned a Bachelor’s degree at UCLA.  A member of the first class to study for the rabbinate on the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR, he spent a year of study in Jerusalem before completing his rabbinical program and achieving ordination at HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati school in 1962.  By then, Sandy had met and married Masayo Isono, an HUC-JIR graduate student from Waseda University in Tokyo.  While Sandy served a synagogue in Hingham, Massachusetts and pursued a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas at Brandeis University, Masayo earned a Master’s degree in the University’s Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department.

In 1964, Leo Baeck Temple invited Sandy to serve as its Rabbi while Leonard Beerman was on sabbatical.  He was persuaded to stay on as the temple’s very first Assistant Rabbi for the following year.  He went on to serve other congregations in places as diverse as Nebraska and New York, but he eventually returned to Los Angeles and Leo Baeck Temple and became our Associate Rabbi in 1972.

When Rabbi Beerman announced his retirement in 1986, Rabbi Ragins was chosen as Senior Rabbi of the temple.  It was our congregation’s privilege to have Rabbi Ragins serve in that capacity until his retirement in 2003.

Devoted to many religious and communal organizations, not only in the United States but in Israel and in Europe, Sandy has held countless leadership positions.  He has served three times on the National Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and has held the challenging position of that organization’s Chair of the Ethics and Appeals Committee.  Rabbi Ragins has been a member of the National Board of the Union of Reform Judaism and President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis.

 Sandy has lectured at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, at Waseda University in Tokyo, and at the Institut Kirche und Judentum in Berlin.  He has been a long-time visiting professor at Occidental College in the Los Angeles area.

Sandy’s writings include articles on Judaism and homosexuality, Eastern European Jewish history, and Zionism.  He has published a book on Jewish responses to anti-Semitism in Germany before World War I.

Sandy is spending his retirement hard at work … teaching, writing, and continuing to find ways to bring peace and healing to a broken world.  He enjoys having more time to spend with his family, Masayo, Arona, Marc, Noam, Mindy, Yohanna, and especially with his grandchildren.


Founding Rabbi Leonard Beerman (obm)


Leonard Beerman was a rare blend of disciplined scholar and sensitive humanitarian.  Add to that a commitment to Jewish values, a sparkling wit, and a deep sense of compassion and you begin to get a feeling for the man.

  Born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in 1921, Rabbi Beerman was ordained and received his Masters in Hebrew Letters and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.  His first pulpit upon ordination was with a tiny congregation on the Westside of Los Angeles … and he never found another congregation that suited him!

To view Rabbi Beerman’s most recent Yom Kippur sermons go to these links:   2013     2012     2011     2010

Cantor Emeritus William Sharlin (obm)

William Sharlin

Cantor Sharlin (obm) was born in New York City, where he spent his early years.  During this period, he attended Yeshiva D’Harlem, Yeshiva D’Bronx and Yeshiva University.  From 1935-1939, he attended the Teachers Seminary and the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music in Palestine.  He returned to New York and in 1944, entered the Manhattan School of Music, where he received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Piano and Composition.

In 1949, Cantor Sharlin entered the Hebrew Union College School of Sacred Music, and in 1951 was awarded a Bachelor of Sacred Music Degree and a graduate fellowship at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati School.  In 1954 he became Cantor of the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles (later – Cantor Emeritus) and Chairman of the Sacred Music Department at the HUC California School.

During his lifetime, he composed a number of published works and in 1972, Cantor Sharlin was commissioned to compose the inaugural service of President Alfred Gottschalk at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.  This music was later performed at Leo Baeck Temple’s 25th anniversary celebration and has since been published and recorded.

He retired in May of 1994, from the Hebrew Union College and was awarded a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at the HUC California School.

He was married to the former Jacqueline Drucker, a concert pianist, who has premiered his compositions for piano.  They have two daughters: llana and Lisa.