Clergy & Senior Staff

Rabbi Josh Whinston

RABBI JOSH WHINSTON first seriously contemplated becoming a rabbi after his bar mitzvah. “I really loved being on the bimah, and the feeling of pride when I stepped off and was embraced by my parents and family,” he says. He would later lead services for his synagogue youth group, and in college at Hillel. “One summer during college,” he recalls, “I was working at a Reform-movement camp, and I received a phone call from an acquaintance. He told me his mother had died and that he wanted me to come to the funeral and lead the shiva minyan after.” It was, he says, “one of the most important, meaningful moments of my life.” His path was set. Rabbi Whinston was ordained at the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles; he has earned master’s degrees in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education and is pursuing a doctorate in Pastoral Ministry. He served congregations in Connecticut, California and Washington state before arriving at Temple Beth Emeth in 2016. Married to Sarah Raful-Whinston, Rabbi Whinston is the proud father of Mollie, Eva and Ori.

Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut

CANTOR REGINA LAMBERT-HAYUT was raised in a secular Jewish home home, where Yiddish was spoken, and an equal emphasis on Jewish and secular education was placed. Throughout her Long Island upbringing, her family often said from early childhood on that she was destined to be a cantor. “I’ve always loved to sing,” she explains. However, it wasn’t until she spent five years as a cantorial soloist at Temple Sinai of Massapequa that she knew in her heart that being a cantor—combining her love of Judaism and music—was the right path. During high school, Cantor Lambert-Hayut attended The Juilliard Pre-College for voice, however life took a decidedly more academic turn when she earned a bachelor’s degrees in Biological Chemistry, from Swarthmore College. After completing her undergraduate studies, she returned to singing and Jewish life. She attended the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion to become a cantor; earned a Masters in Sacred Music. Upon ordination, she served at two congregations prior to Temple Beth Emeth. Cantor Lambert-Hayut is married to Avishay, and has two musically talented sons, Yoav and Alon.

Rabbi Daniel Alter, Director of Education

RABBI DANIEL ALTER is Temple Beth Emeth’s Director of Education. A thoughtful, contemplative man, for whom selfless sharing is a fundamental principle. He was inspired by the values and actions of his role models to become a religious and educational leader who could offer advice to those facing difficult or impenetrable theological questions. “Rabbi” literally translates as “teacher,” of course, and this sort of instruction is a vocation some seem simply destined to pursue. So it is with Rabbi Alter here at TBE, his first post-ordainment position; earning master’s degrees in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education at the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion. He grew up in Beaumont, Texas, raised in a family that was deeply active in the local Jewish community. “I vividly remember lighting Shabbat candles as a child,” he reminisces. “We went to Friday night services most weeks, but once I could read and follow in Hebrew … that’s when Judaism truly came alive for me.” It’s this love of learning that Rabbi Alter shares with, and nurtures in his students, Torah study members, and other program participants.

Melissa Sigmond, Executive Director

MELISSA SIGMOND is an executive with over 25 years’ experience working in-house and consulting for Fortune 500 companies and Wall Street firms, as well as philanthropic organizations (from tech and education focused non-profits to faith-based foundations). After graduating UCLA, Sigmond’s professional life began in Hollywood feature film production, segue to finance, initially for Bank of America, then hedge and venture capital funds. During an intermission from investment banking, she led the undergraduate events at Columbia University, including coordinating the 250th Anniversary celebration, and a series of events at the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life. In 2013, Sigmond shifted her focus and career path in to nonprofit management starting with Senior Planet Exploration Center in New York City, a flagship initiative of Older Adults Technology Services Center (OATS); two years later she was appointed the Executive Director at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, a National Historic Landmark Reform synagogue in Charleston, South Carolina. Subsequently, Melissa joined Temple Beth Emeth, as its Executive Director, in 2018. She is married to the author Aaron Sigmond, and is the mother of Dashiell.

Administrative Staff

Board of Trustees (as of 7-1-2021)