Royi Israel Shaffin
Rabbi Royi Israel Shaffin was recently named by The Forward as one of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis. He brings a winning combination to B’nai Zion of positive youthful, energy and experienced, seasoned leadership.
As a prolific writer and award-winning public speaker, Rabbi Shaffin builds Jewish community, attracting people to the beauty and wisdom of their Jewish heritage. As a prayer leader, he aims to elevate prayers to the heavens. As a compassionate pastoral counselor he serves as a listener and spiritual healer. As a teacher, he aims to inspire minds, young and old, to the secrets of the Torah.
Rabbi Shaffin was born and raised in Los Angeles to an Israeli family and has spent a great deal of time in Israel. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. His MA and rabbinic ordination are from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Shaffin also attended the Schechter Institute and Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
He has served as a pulpit rabbi, educational administrator, college professor, and Jewish day school teacher. He has two blogs and writes for newspapers and journals.
Rabbi Shaffin is married to Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin and together they have three daughters.
Stephen A. Leon
Rabbi Stephen A. Leon was born in Brooklyln, 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 Elmwood Park, New Jersey from 1971 through 1986. Rabbi Leon also served as the president of the Bergen County Board of Rabbis for a two year tenure. Rabbi Leon was also on the Board of Directors of the Bergen County Jewish Federation.
For over the past 30 years, from 1986 to the present, Rabbi Leon has been the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Zion in El Paso, Texas. In El Paso, Rabbi Leon served on the board of the bioethics committee of Providence Hospital, of El Paso Hospice, of the Jewish Federation, and the Holocaust Museum. Rabb Leon has numerous articles published in the Paterson News, El Paso Times, and the Jewish Voice of El Paso. Rabbi Leon has been an instructor in the Religious Studies department of the University of Texas at El Paso for the past several years. 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 has three daughters, a grandson and a granddaughter, and currently lives with his wife Sharon in El Paso.
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.