Rabbi Stephen Leon

Emeritus Rabbi

Rabbi Stephen A. Leon was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Colombia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, receiving his ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion. Rabbi Leon was the dean of the Academy for Jewish Religion from 1974 through 1986. He also was an instructor in Homiletics, Practical Rabbinics, and Cantillations. At the same time, Rabbi Leon served as the rabbi of Elmwood Park Jewish Center in New Jersey from 1971 through 1986.

From 1986 to the present, Rabbi Leon has been the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Zion in El Paso, Texas. In addition to leading services, overseeing Talmud Torah, and providing adult education courses, Rabbi Leon has presided over countless life cycle events for El Paso families. He served on the boards of the bioethics committee of Providence Hospital, El Paso Hospice, the Jewish Federation, and the Holocaust Museum.


Rabbi Leon wrote numerous articles published in the Paterson News, El Paso Times, and The Jewish Voice of El Paso. He taught in the Religious Studies department of the University of Texas at El Paso. He has appeared on National Public Radio and has made numerous appearances on local television programs. Rabbi Leon has received awards from Israel Bonds, the Israel government Tourist Office, Hadassah, the Bergen County Board of Rabbis, United Synagogue Youth, and others.


In 1999, Rabbi Leon received a grant from the El Paso Community Foundation and visited many places in Europe where Crypto-Jews have lived, including Belmont, Portugal where 300 Crypto-Jews formally returned to Judaism. Rabbi Leon is a trusted friend and teacher for the Anusim and has helped many individuals and families make their return to Judaism.

Leon has three daughters, a son-in-law, a grandson and 2 granddaughters, and currently lives in El Paso with his wife, Sharon.

Debrah Pazos

Executive Director

 

 

Before accepting the position of Executive Director, Debbie had already been a long time B’nai Zion member with strong ties to our community. She is a past CBZ President, a past Sisterhood President, a past President of the El Paso Jewish Academy, a past officer and current member of the El Paso Jewish Federation Board, and is active a number of other El Paso community organizations. As a volunteer, she spearheaded many successful programs at B’nai Zion.

In addition to her experience leading Jewish organizations, Debbie brings to her job decades of experience in managing staff, budgets and complex customer issues from her previous career at El Paso Electric. She combines her private sector skills with her synagogue knowledge to run B’nai Zion as efficiently as possible.

Debbie’s enthusiasm for Judaism and our congregation helps keep our Synagogue invigorated as we move forward together.

Denise Tolentino

Program Manager

Denise was born and raised in El Paso, TX. She received her Bachelors Degree in English & American Literature with a concentration in Cultural Studies and a Minor in Inter-American Jewish Studies from The University of Texas at El Paso. During her years at UTEP she served as vice- president and president of Hillel.

Before graduation she took upon herself to volunteer 11 months teaching English to Secondary and High School Israeli native students at Ben Gurion School through the Oranim Long Term Program in Israel. She spent her evenings providing academic guidance and mentoring to a group of 200 orphan children, and spent her weekends volunteering at the local soup kitchen. During her stay, she worked directly with the Mayor of Ness Ziona, Israel to promote involvement and volunteer recruitment for the city’s programs. 

Not only has Denise volunteered abroad, but has been active within our community. Previous to becoming our Program Director, she served as the Director of Religious Education for the Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso.

These experiences introduced her to new people, big ideas and global concepts that helped shape the person she is today.

Tue, October 24 2017 4 Cheshvan 5778