Religious Leadership

Student Rabbi Erika Purdy

Erika Purdy is a third-year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, Calif. She began leading services at Congregation Beth Aaron, a reform congregation, in August of 2023. For more than 100 years, Beth Aaron has served Billings, Eastern Montana and Northern Wyoming.

Purdy, who is originally from Dallas, Texas, attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. In 2011, she completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Arlington in political science and French. She later pursued a master’s degree in human rights at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, with an emphasis on genocide and refugee studies.

Most recently, Erika served as the student rabbi with Congregation Havurim in Temecula, Calif. Prior to rabbinical school, she was the director of young adults and community engagement at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. She was also the project administrator for the Jewish Emergent Network and was the TRIBE Coordinator at IKAR. IKAR is a community founded in Los Angeles with a mission of reanimating Jewish life and developing the foundation for a just and equitable society. Before working in the Jewish community, Erika worked with the International Rescue Committee in refugee resettlement in Dallas.

In her spare time, she often attends concerts with her husband, Mason, is at the dog park with their dog, Quinn, or is reading on the couch with their cat, Pendleton.

“Erika brings to our congregation a zest for civic engagement and tikkun olam, the concept in Judaism of actions intended to repair and improve the world,” said Carol Roberts, president of Congregation Beth Aaron. “She is certain to inspire adults in our congregation and youngsters in our religious school.”

Visiting Rabbi Mark Kula

In 2022 and 2023, Rabbi Mark Kula, of Missoula, led services at Congregation Beth Aaron. Rabbi Kula intends to continue to occasionally lead services for our congregation. .

Kula also serves as the rabbi of B’nai Butte in Crested Butte, CO. He is rabbinic advisor to Zootown Jews of Missoula, and a ministerial associate with the United Church of Christ Missoula. He is married to Coreen Duffy, PhD, director of choral activities and assistant professor of music at the University of Montana.

“Rabbi Kula’s passion for music and love of Jewish wisdom brings a vibrant spirit to services,” said Carol Roberts, president of Congregation Beth Aaron. “He excels in conveying Judaism in an inclusive, authentic and joyful manner. He shows a deep leadership interest in pursuing social justice, helping the needy and upholding the sacredness of each person.”