Beth Werlin joined Temple Micah as executive director in August 2021 after 20 years of championing the cause of immigrants as a lawyer and in top positions at a major immigration rights organization. Not surprisingly, it was Temple Micah’s combination of Jewish spirituality and social justice that appealed to her. “I loved my life as a lawyer and also supporting staff, boards, and leadership,” Beth said of her years at the American Immigration Council, where she served as executive director from 2016 to 2020. “But the pandemic and Trump gave me a lot of food for thought. I needed a break from immigration and decided it was time to look for a new environment and new setting that would be exciting and moving.”
Beth grew up in the Boston area where her parents, a public school teacher and a government lawyer, brought Judaism and her family history to life, including stories about immigrating from the “old country” and her grandmother’s escape from Vienna in 1939. Her upbringing instilled a belief in the importance of making religious faith and social justice part of her life’s work. “I always felt that my Judaism and being from an immigrant family were closely connected,” Beth said.
While casting about for a new environment, Beth looked at a range of nonprofits. “When I saw the job position for Temple Micah, a light went off — I knew this was the job for me,” she said. “Micah just fit all of that altogether.” As a proud mother of Sarah Rose and Aaron, both still in school, she was eager to meet and interact with the synagogue community’s boisterous family atmosphere.
Beth earned a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School, where she first got involved in protecting the rights of immigrants and asylum-seekers. After a stint at the Justice Department, she joined the American Immigration Council as a litigator and policy advocate, rising eventually to the position of executive director. In that job, she oversaw management, hiring, fundraising, budget, programs, and outreach.
Beth and her husband Michael are longtime members of Adas Israel, where they recently celebrated her daughter’s bat mitzvah. Beth is also a runner, avid sports fan, and challah baker. It obviously has not taken her long to fit right in at Temple Micah.