Sharon Amster Brown
Director of Education and Congregational Engagement
(562) 434-0996 ext 115
A member of a very involved and loving Jewish family, Sharon Amster Brown grew up learning that Jewish education and community connection were critical values. As a child, Sharon attended religious school and spent her summers at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, the Reform Movement camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. As a teenager and young adult, Sharon taught religious school, served as a camp counselor and unit head at various Jewish summer camps, and was an active member B’nai Brith Youth Organization and Hillel. These experiences helped Sharon to develop leadership skills and strengthened her Jewish identity, as well as reinforced the importance of belonging to a supportive community. Since assuming the role of Jewish Educator for Temple Israel more than two decades ago, Sharon has fostered these same values in the students who attend Temple Israel’s religious school, lovingly named The Torah Center. Through creative and fun programming—Israeli dancing, Jewish cooking, family learning days, field trips, social action projects, retreats, and music—Sharon ensures religious school encompasses deep Jewish learning as well as memory-making fun and strong connections between children, teachers, and families. Sharon brings similar innovation to the Temple’s adult-focused “Joys of Jewish Learning” initiative, from book discussions to yoga and guest lectures. Her passion for lifelong Jewish learning is evident in the diverse and innovative offerings she brings to our congregation.
Sharon was born in Texas and grew up in Dallas, Chicago, and Orange County. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned a degree in Communication Disorders and Speech Science. Wanting to focus on her passion for the Jewish community and education, Sharon went on to earn a Joint Master’s degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles in 2000. While in graduate school, Sharon served as a programming intern at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and as an education intern at Temple Beth Sholom of Santa Ana. She has proudly served as Temple Israel’s Jewish Educator since 2000. In 2004, Sharon received the distinguished Reform Jewish Educator title, in recognition of her training and experience in the field of Jewish education and administration. In addition to her work at Temple Israel, Sharon serves on the faculty of URJ Camp Newman each summer, where she leads unique learning and worship opportunities for campers of all ages. Sharon also actively participates in the Rhea Hirsch School of Education of the Hebrew Union College Alumni Association and the Jewish Educators Association, as well as in the Association for Reform Jewish Educators. Sharon and her husband, Adam, live in Long Beach. They are the proud parents of Johanna, Brandon, Sadie, and Levi.