Previous Religious Leaders
Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman
Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman served as the spiritual leader of Mount Sinai Synagogue in Cheyenne, Wyoming from 2010 to 2013.
Ordained in 1984 through the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, Ohio), he served as Rabbi for — Temple of Israel in Wilmington, North Carolina; Temple Beth Or in Everett, Washington; and Congregation House of Israel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he was also Chaplain for Levi Hospital, Levi Hospice, and Levi Towers (B’nai B’rith) Retirement Community. Before that, he was a Director of Hillel (serving Jews on college campuses) at Tulane University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Colorado. A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi Karz-Wagman practiced for five years as an attorney, after graduating UCLA School of Law.
Rabbi Karz-Wagman’s community activism includes: organizing and teaching for Holocaust Education Committees; creating groups to celebrate diversity and fight prejudice; as well as leadership roles for — Israel advocacy; domestic violence; interfaith education; and United Way.
His wife, Barbara previously worked in fund raising and non-profit management for American Red Cross, Arthritis Foundation, Jewish Federations, and Levi Hospital, as well as management and sales positions for Bank of America. They have two sons — Daniel, a San Francisco based musician, audio-visual technician, and graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston; and Noah, who earned a degree in economics from the University of Washington.
Rabbi Margaret J. Meyer
Mt. Sinai has been fortunate to have Rabbi Meyer here to lead our 2010 Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Rabbi Meyer has served as a congregational rabbi in Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Illinois for the past 24 years. In addition, she has been a Visiting Lecturer at Jackson State University in Jackson, TN, at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH, and at other institutions. She has published widely; her most recent work is “The Righteous Gentile in Jewish Tradition,” in Courage to Bear Witness, Ed. Phelps, ed., 2009. Rabbi Meyer presently serves as an Executive Board Member on MARCC (Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati) and has long been active in community affairs. She has also served as a chaplain and as a mentor.
Rabbi Meyer received her B.S. from Miami University in Oxford, OH and a Master of Arts in English Literature from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH. She received her rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, OH.
Rabbi Arinna Moon Shelby
In March 2008 Rabbi Arinna Moon Shelby was hired to be the rabbi at Mt. Sinai Congregation after an almost twenty year hiatus in that position. She was not only the first woman rabbi at the synagogue, but the first woman rabbi to hold a pulpit in the state of Wyoming.
Rabbi Shelby spearheaded an increase in programming at Mt. Sinai – monthly Shabbat dinners, movie nights, lectures, and the 2010 Tu B’Shevat Seder, to name a few. She organized and taught many classes, including Introduction to Judaism, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Continuing Biblical Hebrew, and Torah Study with the Rabbi. She worked closely with various committees and the Sisterhood and was involved in the larger community as well. She met with her peers from the faith community in Cheyenne and greatly increased Mt. Sinai’s presence in that community. She facilitated Mt. Sinai becoming a support community with the CIHN (Cheyenne Interfaith Hospitality Network).
In addition to her scholarship and outreach endeavors, Rabbi Shelby also gifted us with her beautiful singing voice. She taught us new songs, and new ways of singing the songs we already knew. Her sermons were always thoughtful and interesting, as were the lively discussions she led at Shabbat services.
In August 2009 Mt. Sinai hosted the first rabbinic bet din ever held in Wyoming. Organized by Rabbi Shelby, the bet din also included Rabbi Sara Gilbert from Greeley and Rabbi Ted Stainman from Ft. Collins.
Rabbi Shelby divided her time between Cheyenne and Los Angeles, where she works as a hospice chaplain providing spiritual care for patients and their families at the end of life. She is a member of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and a member of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din of Southern California.
Rabbi Shelby received her Master’s degree in Psychology from Antioch University Seattle in 1986 and her Rabbinic ordination from The Academy for Jewish Religion California in 2008.
Uri Neil served as Mt. Sinai’s Cantor for 19 years, driving up from Denver two weekends a month, with extra trips for holidays and life cycle events. No one who has met Uri can ever forget his warmth and enthusiasm. Services were always a joy when Uri was leading, and his singing was unforgettable. Many from the Cheyenne community learned Hebrew from Uri, studied for their bar and bat mitzvah with him, and were wisely counseled by him. He nurtured others along the path to conversion. He also led study groups on Saturday afternoons – everyone was welcome to attend, and the discussions were often wide ranging and always interesting.
Uri also served as an Adjunct Professor of Hebrew at the University of Denver Center for Judaic Studies since 1979. His years of service and commitment to his students were honored in 2004 when Uri was awarded Adjunct Professor of the Year at the University of Denver.
In early April 2007, shortly after leading the Passover Seder at Mt. Sinai, Uri suffered a stroke. His students and those that have come in contact with him through his many Bar and Bat Mitzvah services, serving as Cantor in Cheyenne, and through the many organizations he has dedicated countless time and energy to as a volunteer, have responded. As a way to express their positive thoughts for his continued healing, students and members of the community have established the Fund for Hebrew Education in honor of his 28 years of service at the University. The Fund for Hebrew Education will be used to further Hebrew Education at the University of Denver.
Uri Neil was born in Haifa, Israel but moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. Degree from the School of Law. After ten years as a practicing attorney, he found his true calling and passion as an instructor which led him to the Center for Judaic Studies in 1979, and as a Cantor, which led him to Mt. Sinai.