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Rabbi Sabine Meyer, Ph.D. 

Rabbi Meyer was ordained as a Reform rabbi by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and spent 10 years serving various congregations in the greater Los Angeles area and as the director of the Union of Reform Judaism’s Introduction to Judaism programs in Southern California, Arizona and Seattle.

Prior to her ordination Rabbi Meyer spent 15 years teaching in the Judaic Studies and German Language departments at “the other USC.” During her tenure as URJ Introduction to Judaism director, she guided countless Jews-by-choice on their conversion journeys. A passionate and gifted teacher, Rabbi Meyer also served on the faculty of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles and the West Valley Melton Consortium where she taught a variety of courses on Bible, Jewish history, and Jewish denominations. 

Rabbi Meyer is excited to be serving our community, “I want to help strengthen the TOL community from within, and that will ultimately strengthen the Jewish community as a whole,” she says.  “I think the challenge here is to connect people to Jewish life. That begins with doing Jewish things together, with a major emphasis on equipping our congregants to be Jewish in their thoughts and actions in their daily lives and anywhere they go." She also senses a positive energy she would like to help build and increase. She says, “I feel like this is a community primed to become more engaged. Together with our lay leadership and our engaged volunteers we can raise this community and make it happen." 


Rabbi Emeritus Sanford T. Marcus

Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Tree of Life Congregation.  He served as the spiritual leader of the synagogue for twenty years prior to his retirement in 2006.  While in Columbia he served as adjunct professor of Jewish History at the University of South Carolina for twenty-two years and has been active in organizations promoting interfaith and interracial cooperation.  From 2013 to the present he serves as part-time rabbi of Temple Sinai, Sumter, SC.

He is married to Ruth Marcus, and has three children – Dr. Jonathan Marcus, Janet Marcus & Rene-Louis Adda, and Julie & Alex Gometz.  He has five grandchildren, Emma (17), Leah (15), Owen (13), Ella Gometz (9); and Bradley Marcus Adda (5).

Rabbi Marcus has volunteered to teach courses at the Shepherd Center for seniors almost every year since its inception, served as President of the Greater Columbia Ministerial Association, been a board member of the Cooperative Ministry, member of The Luncheon Club, the Jewish community coordinator for relief and recovery in Sumter after Hurricane Hugo, a mentor for new arrivals from the Former Soviet Union who settled in Columbia, member of the governor’s task force for at-risk youth, visiting lecturer at Columbia College, Midlands Tech, Benedict College, the Lutheran Theological Southern  Seminary, and has been a panelist for various programs at  USC on Israel, gay rights, theology, and the Holocaust. He has served as guest speaker at numerous civic clubs, public and private schools, and church groups in the Midlands.

Rabbi Marcus grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College.  After college he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and attended its Officer Training School.  Shortly after being commissioned as a second lieutenant he and Ruth were married in 1962.  After receiving additional training in Intelligence he and his new bride, Ruth, spent almost three years in Japan, where he was involved in intelligence activity in the Far East, studied the Japanese language, served as lay leader for 400 Jewish service men and women in the Yokota, Johnson, Fuchu and Tachikawa Air Base area.  While there he met and studied with Rabbi Hiroshi Okamoto, who had been recently ordained at the Hebrew Union College and had returned home.

In 1965 Rabbi Marcus entered the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati where he studied for five years.  Ordained in 1970 he later received a masters degree in Family Relations at UNC-G, and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree honoris causa.

During his career Rabbi Marcus served congregations in Gastonia, NC; Ottawa, Canada; and Columbia, SC.

In his spare time Rabbi Marcus enjoys religious study and regular involvement in his community, hiking, gardening, traveling, photography, working out, nature study, and learning new things about life and the world in which we live.


Acting Education Director - Elisa Westfall

Just who is YOUR Tree of Life Interim Education Director? Elisa Westfall is happy to try on a different hat by helping the Tree of Life through the 2021 school year. Elisa has taught Judaic Studies at TOL for 15 years while also serving as the Religious School Board Chair. During the week, she is a Nationally Board Certified 6th grade ELA teacher at CrossRoads Intermediate School in Lexington School District 5. Elisa earned both her BA and MA in Education from the home of the “Fighting Koalas,” Columbia College! She can be found at the Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center in the summers where she serves at the director of Camp Gesher. 

Elisa and her husband Paul are the proud parents of two daughters who attend Tree of Life Religious School and another daughter who has been confirmed and is now a madricha at the school.  

The 2021-2022 school year will be different, but Elisa's goal is to keep the heart, soul, and laughter thriving both in and out of the classroom as we all work together, as a team, at the Tree! 

Contact Elisa Westfall at 

Office Administrator - Alicia Rosen

Alicia Rosen has been the Office Manager at Tree of Life Congregation since March 2021. Alicia is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, where she was a member at Temple Beth El, where Tree of Life’s own Erin Boxt is now the rabbi. She’s a University of Tennessee graduate with her Bachelor's of Science in Social Work. Alicia volunteered and lived in Haifa, Israel for a year and a half and considers Israel to be her second home and a place near and dear to her heart. In her spare time, Alicia enjoys playing board games, lounging in the pool, and spending time with her husband, daughter, sister, and dog.

Contact Alicia Rosen at

Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782