Desert Outreach Synagogue
"Come join us. You already belong!"
Meet our team
Rabbi Dr. Jules King
Rabbi Dr. Jules King was ordained and received his סמיכה S'micha/ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion California in Los Angeles, CA, along with also receiving his Master's Degree in Rabbinical Studies from AJRCA. Rabbi earned his doctorate at the Claremont School of Theology in the D.Min., Spiritual Renewal, Contemplative Practice, and Strategic Leadership program.
Rabbi Dr. Jules is our Founder and also serves as our spiritual leader and teacher, and one who shares in our joys and in our sorrows, giving uplifting and enlightening sermons to encourage, inspire, to help us make informed choices regarding Jewish beliefs and practices along with creating and developing community.
Rabbi Dr. Jules holds various other degrees and has spent many years in small to large organizations, Fortune 500 companies along with serving in both healthcare and mortuary science. Rabbi is an accomplished musician, pianist, organist and sang in the nearly 300 voice Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles in recent past. However, most importantly he brings with him a sincere devotion, dedication, and passion to his rabbinate and a desire to enhance and improve the lives of those we all interact with to make the world a better place.
Rabbi Dr. Jules resides in the greater Palm Springs area. He is also the father of two children. He is active and busy with work, school, life and enjoying his journey with the fast-growing congregation of Desert Outreach Synagogue and the Coachella Valley community! "Come join us! You already belong!"
Rabbi Rachel Axelrad, Associate Rabbi
Rabbi Rachel Axelrad was ordained from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California in 2020. She has 20 years of experience as a Shaliach Tzibur in multiple service formats. Her experience also includes providing pastoral care to individuals in need of spiritual support, whether in hospital, nursing homes, hospice, or in supporting mourners for funerals and memorial services. Her expertise is focused on working with adults of ages, especially seniors, whether active and independent, or frail. She has a special interest in working with dementia patients. Her chaplaincy experience includes a 1-year internship at Pomona Valley Hospital, where she worked with patients and families in various stages of crisis. She considers pastoral care to be a critical element of a rabbi’s role in the community, and is always available to congregants in need of spiritual support.
Prior to joining the rabbinate, she worked as a CPA and Systems Analyst in various corporate environments. She met her husband of 44 years at Pomona College in Claremont, where she concentrated in Russian Area Studies. She and her husband have two beautiful princesses, and are expecting a grandbaby soon. They have been residents of the Inland Empire—Claremont and Upland—for over 40 years, and have fallen in love with the desert atmosphere. She and her family are currently in the process of relocating to the Palm Desert area. She is very happy to be a member of the Desert Outreach team.
Cantor Lori Reisman Patterson
The Cantor began her very eclectic Jewish education at the behest of her father, who was raised the youngest of nine children in Brooklyn New York, by his orthodox father who was a rabbi and his mother who remained in New York with the family long after his father had made Aliyah to Israel. Believing every child should decide their own level of religious observance based upon knowledge not ignorance, their home was filled with traditions based upon orthodox, conservative and reform traditions. Interestingly enough, in later years, all 3 siblings settled upon different Jewish denominations for their own families. One Orthodox, one conservative and Cantor Lori Reform Judaism. Enrolled in the Hebrew academy of Cleveland, an orthodox Jewish day school, she began singing Christmas music with The Singing Angels of Cleveland. At 15, she studied opera at the Cleveland Institute of music, while becoming known as the national anthem singer at major league events for the MLB, NFL and NBA.
Studying opera at Boston University for two years, she transferred to NYU to study musical theater at Tish school of the arts and graduating from NYU. After pursuing her passions in the theater, she became mom to Sean, Kayla, Brooke and Brandon. Lori continued singing for organizations such as Jewish Federation and the IDF.
In 2010, Lori moved to California and enrolled in AJRCA Masters of Sacred Jewish music program. Interning at Congregation Or Ami for the next five years, she studied under the mentorship of Cantors Doug Cotler, Nathan Lam, Don Gurney and Perryne Ankor. In 2015, Lori became ordained as a Cantor upon graduation from AJRCA and married her soulmate, Joe Patterson, becoming mom to Megan and Tyler. Cantor Lori Reisman, under the domain Cantorforhire.com provides lifecycle event services for destination weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, shiva's, funerals, unveiling's and baby naming's.
Cantor Lori is thrilled to be the Cantor for High Holidays for the third year in a row for Desert Outreach Synagogue, and will also serve as the Cantor at DOS for Shabbat services also. Believing strongly that a coordinated effort and strong relationship between Rabbi and Cantor is paramount to creating a magical, inspirational Jewish experience for the congregation, she is thrilled to once again be teaming up with Rabbi Dr. Jules King to bring high holy days to the congregants of Desert Outreach Synagogue.
Lois and David Israel
Lois and David are both Seattle natives and moved to Palm Desert permanently in November 2018. They have two sons, Joshua and Michael.
Lois worked in Corporate Banking for 15 years. She studied accounting at Seattle Central Community College. She had her own bookkeeping service for a number of years while the boys were young. She then worked for 16 years as an office manager/bookkeeper for a family with a Construction Company and Horse Riding facility.
David worked in Warehouse Management for 10 years. He then enjoyed a 25-year long sales career in the Woodworking Tool Industry. He especially enjoyed being a Regional Sales Manager for many of those years.
Lois and David have a passion for animals. They owned and operated a Pet Sitting Business in the Seattle area from 2008 – 2018. Their passion continues here in the desert and has opened a Pet Sitting Business in the Valley.
Lois enjoys baking and David enjoys cooking. They both enjoy long daily walks together. We are looking forward to making new friends and being a part of this loving community.
Ryan Lester-Wilson began his professional career as a computer programmer, writing application software for both the Healthcare and Financial Services industry. In the 1990's he moved into Network Administration and Information Systems management. Ryan worked in that area until his retirement.
He spent over 10 years on the Board of Directors of a synagogue in the Inland Empire, serving as the V.P. of Finance, Treasurer, and Member-at-Large.
Ryan, his life-partner of 30 years Randy, and their 24 year-old son moved to Palm Desert in 2019. They are blessed to be members of Desert Outreach Synagogue. Ryan is honored to serve our kehillah kedososha, sacred community, in this new position.
Randy Lester-Wilson is a student at the Academy for Jewish Religion-CA in Los Angeles. He is currently enrolled in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Randy is a retired teacher. He taught students with Special Needs for thirty-four years of his thirty-five years. He received his M.A. in Education: Special Education Option at CSU San Bernardino. Randy has joined our team and will help to lead our Educational program for Desert Outreach Synagogue.
Randy’s spiritual journey has taken him from his religious roots as a Lutheran, to that of a fundamentalist Christian, to serving as ordained clergy with the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. He officially converted to Judaism in 2003 and is proud to be a Jew-by-Choice.
Randy has also served as Sh’liach K’hilah/Synagogue Associate for another congregation in the Inland Empire prior to moving to the desert. He also served as chair of the Bikkur Cholim/Caring Community Committee, and intermittently led Friday night Shabbat services. He was the “Spiritual Leader” of a small congregation in the Hemet area for over 4 years.
Randy and his life-partner of thirty years, Ryan, moved to Palm Desert in 2019. The two of them consider their twenty-five year-old son, Sean, to be their pride and joy. In spite of the COVID pandemic, Sean graduated in May 2020 from CSU Monterey Bay.
Randy and Ryan raise exotic pets. They are Independent Designers for “Origami Owl/Living Lockets” and Certified Consultants with “Scentsy.” In addition, the two are Health Coaches and have lost a combined weight of over 150 pounds. Randy and Ryan are involved with both the Alzheimer’s Association and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk.
Randy is looking forward to playing a more active role providing educational support for Desert Outreach Synagogue. He is honored to join the dynamic team of our beloved congregation.
Stu Berger, Director
Stu Berger is originally from Connecticut, where he earned a Master’s Degree at Yale University as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. He worked at Yale Psychiatric Institute and Yale-New Haven Hospital before moving to San Francisco with his husband Tim Leary. There, he worked with homeless veterans at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, as well as at an Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for San Mateo County. Upon retiring in 2015, he & Tim moved to Palm Springs. He currently is on the Palm Springs Homelessness Task Force and volunteers for the Well in the Desert organization. For the last two years he wrote and secured Grants from the Kaiser Foundation to provide mental health services to the clients of The Well. He is very honored to be a part of Desert Outreach Synagogue.
Tim and Stu (on right)
Penny Carpenter, Director
Penny has been living full-time in the Coachella Valley for 21 years. Originally from Great Neck, Long Island, NY, she was confirmed and went to Hebrew School at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck which was headed by the very famous Rabbi Jacob Rudin. Additionally, she has lived in Camden, SC, and Rancho Murieta near Sacramento. Her parents had a second home in our Valley and from the time she first set foot in the Palm Springs area in the Seventies, she said that she wanted to live here someday. “Someday” came and she has never regretted her decision.
She still actively participates in her avocation-turned-vocation horse show officiating career. She travels and officiates at competitions all over the U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska) and in Canada. She served as Hospitality Coordinator for the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden for 30 years. Currently, she participates in the sport’s governance as a committee member of the United States Equestrian Federation and the United States Hunter Jumper Assoc. She also sits on the Board of the Pegasus Therapeutic Horseback Riding charity here in the Desert.
Her pride and joy are her two accomplished children, their partners, and her three wonderful grandchildren.
Ira Distenfield, Director
Details coming soon.
Dorian McWain, Director of Music
Dorian McWain, 2nd grew up in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York where he studied Applied Music at the local community college. He went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Music Business at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia where he became a member of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. After college he spent time assisting music programs at two Unitarian/Universalist churches in the Utica, NY area.
In 2008, he relocated to San Diego, CA where he performed several seasons with the San Diego Master Chorale and the Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship choir. Several years later he relocated to Palm Springs, CA where he's since been an active member of the music community. Dorian plays oboe and English horn in a few local ensembles including the Desert Winds Freedom Band, Temecula Valley Symphony and the Coachella Valley Symphony.
Dorian is honored to direct the music program at Desert Outreach Synagogue and excited to share the awesome power of music with its members.
Kurt Jordan, Principal Accompanist
Kurt Jordan developed an intense interest in learning the piano after having seen The Phantom of the Opera with his parents at age 10. He studied under the guidance of Joann Algier throughout middle and high school, during which time he discovered a love of music using multiple pianos. This passion was further explored at Azusa Pacific University while studying with Dr. Robert Sage. Kurt performed several recitals of material he arranged for two and three pianos, the recordings of which have received radio play in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Boston, Austin, and Beirut. In 2009, Kurt had the honor of performing the West Coast premiere of Alvin Curran's 7.5 hour long piano song cycle, Inner Cities 1-13, as well as the U.S. premiere of movement 14 at Burning Man in 2013.
Kurt graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2010 with a BA in Music Theory and Composition. Kurt is involved as accompanist for many musical groups and organizations throughout the Coachella Valley including: Harmonic Voices, Melodiam, Modern Men, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, Black Tie Opera, Cathedral High School Chamber Singers, The Arrangement, BloomTones, and Songshine, a non-profit organization that teaches speech therapy through music for people with Parkinson's Disease and stroke, as well as working at College of the Desert as an accompanist among many other things.
Founding Leadership Team
Edie Keller Z"L
Here’s what we’ve been working on