Gerri was raised as an Orthodox Jew but moved into Reform Judaism, valuing community outreach to all people. She was also inspired to see leadership roles created and open as well as encouraged to woman.
The survivor of seven Rabbis and three Cantors Gerri, joined Adat Elohim when she and her family moved out to the Conejo Valley in 1977. While serving as an English teacher and department chair at Westlake High, Newbury Park High and finally, Thousand Oaks High School, she served on our temple board for eighteen years, in every capacity except finance. In 1981 Gerri became Adat Elohim’s first adult Bat Mitzvah. Three women followed in her steps the following year and more members followed in successive years.
Gerri served on the Sisterhood board and has donated her home for countless activities.
Gerri and Michael Lotker, with Bob Grossman, started adult Torah Study on Saturday mornings in 1985. For 18 years, Gerri also took on the role of clergy, every Shabbat in July, while Rabbi and Cantor took their vacations. For Gerri, that meant chanting each portion and preparing a D’var.
Besides leadership in religious practices and membership, Gerry began the first Social Action Committee and began our biyearly blood drives and homeless shelter with four local churches.
Gerri’s battle with cancer and many spinal surgeries have not weakened her spirit, just her gait. Community is everything to Gerri. Past presidents remind her how she has paid it forward for more than forty-two years.
Gerri believes that helping interfaith couples is an important part of her committee. She says, “We must open our home and sanctuary to all who seek to be a part of our community, especially those who wish to raise their children Jewish. Education and loving kindness are our pillars to a healthy family and community. Never underestimate the righteous gentile and the power of acceptance.” She welcomes any member to join her in creating activities that enrich family life in respectful and enjoyable ways.
Gerri has always loved to entertain but she is now a smashing hit with her six grandchildren.
Contact Gerri Wissot at firstname.lastname@example.org