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Meet the Beit Din

 

Oversight of the United Messianic Jewish Assembly is conducted by the UMJA Beit Din, a group of z'kanim (elders) who have been selected based on experience and wisdom within the Messianic community.  

Our Beit Din members are experienced as overseers of their own congregations, dedicated to the vision of the UMJA and to the edification of the Messianic Jewish movement.  The Beit Din work together to plan UMJA events, oversee new chartered congregations, grant s'michah (ordination) to qualified applicants,

and provide support and counsel to the Messianic community.  

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RABBI KEN "MACCABEES" MACNEIL

UMJA President, Beit Din 

Rabbi Ken was born and raised Jewish in the Boston area, and has been involved with the Messianic movement for 30 years. He's been active with the UMJA since 2015 when he received his s'michah (ordination), and accepted the role as President in 2022. A man of diverse experience, he served in the Marines, worked as a private investigator, a commercial pilot, and holds a B.S. in Aviation Science and Management.  Ken ministered as VP of the Brazilian Youth Challenge with chapters in Boston and Florida.

 

Rabbi Ken mentored under three revered Rabbis over six years, including a private Yeshiva and understudy from an Ultra Orthodox Yeshiva graduate, and brings it all to the table for the UMJA.  He also attended Ulpan course, courses affiliated with Jerusalem's Hebrew University, and looks forward to seeing the UMJA grow globally with the blessing of HaShem.  He and his lovely wife Sharon live in Central  Massachusetts where he leads Messianic Jewish kehilla Kadosh L'cha. 

RABBI GREG LEHTIMAKI

UMJA Vice President, Beit Din

Rabbi Greg was born in Germany and was raised in a religious family in various US states.  At seventeen he joined the military and served alongside the IDF and in the US Army.  He has a B.S. in Business and Human Resource Management (Summa Cum Laude) and a M.S. in Executive Leadership (honors).  He became a believer in Yeshua in 2010 and embraced the Messianic Faith. After retirement from the military and the DOD, he began his ministry and founded Beit HaShaar in Columbus, Georgia.

 

Rabbi Greg received his s'micha (ordination) as a Ro'eh from the UMJA in 2015 and s'micha as a Rabbi from Y'Sharim USA/International in 2016. He is honored to be a member of the Beit Din of the UMJA. He is also an associate member of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA). Rabbi Lehtimaki has been happily married to his b'shert (soulmate) Lois for 39 years. They have 2 children and 12 grandchildren.  They live a Torah observant life to the glory of God and pray that their ministry will build up HaShem's kingdom to accomplish His will and purposes.

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RABBI RICHARD CHAIMBERLIN

Beit Din

Rabbi Richard and his Colombian bride Miriam became believers in Yeshua in 1975.  He has been editor and publisher of a quarterly Messianic magazine called Petah Tikvah since 1983 (when everything was done by typewriter) and became Rabbi at Petah Tikvah Kehilah, the Door of Hope, a Messianic Jewish fellowship in upper New York state, since 1984.

 

Richard and Miriam are pioneers in Messianic Judaism and have been valued members of the UMJA since 2013.  They have one grown daughter, born in West Germany where he was stationed in the army.  She taught at Hillel School (a Jewish elementary school) for three years and now teaches in public school. They also have two grown grandchildren.


RABBI YOSEF KOELNER

 

Rosh Yeshiva 

Yosef (Harvey) Koelner was born in Chicago and raised in an Orthodox Jewish home. His extended family is among the early Chalutzim (Pioneers - early settlers of Israel) and are founding members of Kibbutz Kfar Giladi and Kibbutz Galon. Rabbi Yosef’s education includes a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Illinois State, a Master of Ministry with Jewish studies from Messiah Biblical University; a MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College, and a Doctorate of Practical Ministry from Wagner Leadership Institute. While living in Israel, he graduated from Ulpan Alef (Hebrew language studies) Katsrin, Israel, and studied at an Orthodox Yeshivah in Tzfat.  He served as Rabbi of Temple Aron HaKodesh for 28 years, and currently serves as Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilat Bet Avinu, a predominantly Spanish speaking congregation.

 

Rabbi Yosef travels extensively throughout Latin America presenting seminars on Jewish Studies. He is ordained by both the UMJA and El Concilió  Judío Mesiánico Internacional (Messianic Jewish International Council).  Rabbi Yosef is a newly appointed member of the Beit Din and we are honored to have him as our Rosh Yeshiva for the first Yeshiva of the UMJA. Rabban Gamaliel Yeshiva will be beginning this spring, 2023. (For more information, go to our Resources and Education tab.)

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RABBI GARY BERESFORD

Beit Din

Rabbi Gary was born in Johannesburg to Jewish parents who immigrated to South Africa after WWII.  His school years were spent in the city of Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean.  In 1967, while visiting Jerusalem with his father, he was overcome by the Holy Spirit at the Western Wall, and returned to Judaism. He has known Yeshua since 1985.  He has a Masters degree through the Hebrew University and American Institute for Holy Land Studies, and worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically on the Hodyot Scroll.  He traveled globally in the 1990's speaking to the rights of Jews who believe in Yeshua gaining citizenship in Israel, and worked as head of the solar energy division of the leading company in Zimbabwe.

 

Rabbi Gary was ordained in 1996 through Beth Israel, Tampa, which became the International Federation of Sephardic and Ashkanazi Jews, and by the IAMCS, and CTOMC, where he served on the Beit Din.  In 1999, he and Shirley, his wonderful wife of 40 years, served as Associate Rabbi in Sarasota, until the need for a congregation in Bradenton opened up, where they now serve.  His vision is to see Jewish and Gentile believers uniting under the Messiahship of Yeshua and keeping the mitzvot, thus becoming One New Humanity.    

MARY BETH CHILDREE 
UMJA Secretary 

Mary Beth and her husband Thomas of 46 years, live in rural Alabama on a small farm. She has worn many hats which include a homeschool mom for 32 years, mother of 12, foster and adoptive mom, hospice nurse, short term international medical missions, business owner and most importantly, a child of the King!


Her family's place of learning and worship is Beit HaShaar, with Rabbi Greg Lehtimaki. Her studies center on Torah and learning the Hebrew language.  She is honored to be of service to the Beit Din and the UMJA at large.

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TERI (YARDENA ZAKA) SIERS
UMJA Treasurer 

Teri has been a Messianic believer for 10 years and a believer  in Yeshua her whole life. 

She strives to live a Torah observant life. She has a loving and sincere spirit that allows her to be a true servant for God. 

She is a devoted and faithful member of Beit HaSha'ar Messianic Fellowship in Columbus, GA.  

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16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.

As each part does its own special work,

it helps the other parts grow,

so that the whole body is healthy

and growing and full of love. 

Ephesians 4:3-16 CJB

You're part of the team too!

"3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to

one glorious hope for the future...
7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ...13 until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son...15 growing in every way more and more like Christ...

May the Ruach HaKodesh move through the nations

gathering his people together, enveloping us in his love, and wrapping us in the spirit of unity, to the glory of the Father, King of the universe, in Yeshua's Name. Amen.  

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