Rabbi

Rabbi Gary Spero

Torrance, CA

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About Rabbi Gary Spero

hired 1 time on Thumbtack

I am an experienced rabbi who is available for all life cycle events, including:

* weddings (Jewish, interfaith, mixed marriage, same sex, LGBT)
* funerals
* bar and bat mitzvah preparation and ceremonies
* baby naming
* tombstone unveilings
* Torah study and Kabbala
Semicha/Ordination Preparation

Animal Appreciation services and parties (give your dog or cat a 'Bark Mitzvah' or 'Cat Mitzvah') with Rabbi Gary

In the past nine years as a rabbi for Congregation Beth Torah of Torrance, CA, I have built close ties with the local Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities. I specialize in crafting personalized and meaningful services, infused with spirituality.

I also work with those wanting to convert to Judaism and have sat on several Beit Dins to finalize conversions. I have a BA in Hebrew literature from Yeshiva University's LA campus in 1986 and ordination from RSI in NYC in 2003, having studied closely with Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, z"l.

Location

Torrance, CA 90504

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Reviews

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  • 5/5 stars May 28, 2013

    My experience with Rabbi Gary Spero as wedding officiant was more than I had hope for. It was a pleasure working with him, but even more a blessing to have him marry my husband & I. He's truly committed to what needs to get done to give you an awesome ceremony & has your best interest at heart..

  • 5/5 stars May 26, 2013

    Rabbi Spero made our wedding absolutely amazing, our Jewish family loved him, our Catholic family adored him. He was kind and welcoming to all and made my Husband and My special day calm and loving. He was also very funny, he had our wedding of 300 guests laughing and crying durring the ceremony. Thankyou so much Rabbi Spero for making our ceremony perfect. We're still receiving compliments on the services :)

  • 5/5 stars January 14, 2013

    My wife and I are so grateful that we were guided to Rabbi Gary as we planned our intimate ceremony. He is an extraordinarily kind, present, and insightful person and contributed greatly to a wonderful day. We had one planning meeting with Rabbi Gary, he learned about us and then helped us create a ceremony which reflected our spiritual views and our commitments to each other, he is a wonderful listener, very grounded and creative. He is also very reliable and responsive. We were blown away by the beauty of the ceremony as were our guests. We just cannot say enough good things about this wonderful man. Thank you Rabbi Gary!

  • 5/5 stars January 12, 2013

    Suzanne and Jason were married by Rabbi Gary Spero on June 17, 2012 in Huntington Beach California. Rabbi Gary really made us feel so comfortable throughout the whole wedding process. Rabbi Gary is a very warm person with a great personality and fabulous sense of humor as well. Our family and friends expressed over and over to us that Rabbi Gary officiated a wonderful and heart felt wedding service for us. We were very blessed to have had Rabbi Gary officiate our wedding ceremony and we would definitely recommend Rabbi Gary to anyone who is getting married in the future.

  • 5/5 stars January 7, 2013

    Rabbi Gary did a wonderful job at our wedding. My wife and I wanted a ceremony that was short and sweet, and he provided exactly that. He was well spoken and delivered a very touching ceremony tailored specifically to my wife and me. He even came out to Catalina Island to perform the ceremony. We got countless compliments after the wedding on how well he did.

    Gary S. from Rabbi Gary Spero replied to this review on January 7, 2013:

    Thank you!!! Gary

  • 5/5 stars April 30, 2012

    Our experience with Rabbi Gary exceeded my expectations. All of our guests appreciated the thoughtful yet succinct explanations of all of the traditional elements of the ceremony (the huppah, the glass, the kettubah, the wine, the prayer shawl, the seven circles, the rings, etc). Most importantly, he is a kind person who accepted us as we were - a same-sex inter-racial inter-faith couple - and always made us feel cared for. I would highly recommend that anyone seeking a Rabbi for their life events or celebration to have a meeting or a chat with Rabbi Gary!

Question and answer

Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A. I craft and officiate at very personalized weddings for all couples, Jewish, interfaith and same sex. I have decades of experience training and officiating at bar and bat mitzvahs for students of all ages. I create very personalized and meaningful funerals, memorial services, shiva minyans and unveilings. I have officiated at baby namings, bris ceremonies and taught a variety of topics. Please call me to assist you in whatever needs you might have.

Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.

A. Most recently I created and officiated at an interfaith same sex wedding in Santa Ynez, CA and officiated at two funerals in Thousand Oaks. I have officiated at many dozens of weddings, funerals and life cycle events.

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. Meet with the Rabbi and discuss your needs. Not all rabbis will officiate or co-officiate at interfaith or same sex weddings. I am comfortable either as solo or joint clergy in any house of worship or other venue. I don't charge more for interfaith and same sex weddings than I charge for Jewish weddings. Whomever you choose, make sure you are comfortable working with them.

Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A. Experience is important. I was the leader of an independent conservative congregation in Torrance for nine years and have worked with congregants in every aspect of life from births to terminal illness and funerals. I have done animal appreciation services where all manner of pets and service animals attended as well as a special blessing and ride for bicyclists and motorcyclists. I love Judaism, particularly the High Holy Days which teach us to make the most of each day of life. I also enjoy studying about other religions and participating in community interfaith events and discussions. My ordaining Rebbe's motto was "The truth is one but the paths are many. Never 'instead of', always 'in addition to'", which I have always tried to live by. Nobody wants to be just tolerated, but rather to be welcomed, respected and loved for our diversity. I have a Bachelor's degree in Hebrew literature as well as Rabbinic ordination. i love teaching and have been working with students for over 30 years. I make sure to always translate anything said in Hebrew to English and to explain why we do each element of the ceremony. I consistently get very positive feedback from both Jews and non-Jews for meaningful and understandable services and ceremonies. Your special day should reflect what is important to YOU. i routinely include readings and poems from other cultures and religions to reflect what is most important to you.

Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A. I always strive to make my ceremonies very personal and customized. I can blend readings and rituals from many diverse religious and cultural traditions. Where I am asked to follow Jewish rituals I always have both Jews and non Jews telling me that my explanations of why things are done is unique. I never use Hebrew without translating what is being said into English. I am welcoming to all and open to all suggestions and ideas.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. I enjoy making every event special and treating people from all backgrounds and beliefs with respect and kindness. It is very satisfying to hear from Jews and non-Jews that for the first time they truly understood the reason and meaning for the different components of weddings, funerals ad other events. Working with individuals and families to make their event visions come true is truly pleasureable.

Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?

A. Years ago I married a couple where the groom was born and raised in the United States and the bride was from Tunisia. It was a fun wedding as I could integrate elements from each culture. During the ceremony, which was outdoors, a large fly divebombed into the kiddush cup of wine with a splash. While waiting for replacement wine (I now ask couples to cover their cups outdoors with foil or cling wrap) I learned that in Tunisia a fly is a symbol of evil forces and the bride's family was very concerned about this event. I explained to the attendees that in Palos Verdes a fly is simply another guest wanting to join the party and was greatly enjoying the sweet wine! The couple has been married for years and no evil came about as a result of the drunk fly.

Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.

A. Generally for customized weddings and funerals I request an honorarium of $300 - $500 plus any travel/hotel expenses if more than 140 miles from Torrance, CA.

For Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation I request $50 per hour for working with a student and $500 to officiate at the ceremony.

For baby namings and memorial stone unveilings I request $250 plus any travel/hotel expenses if more than 140 miles from Torrance.

I am willing to co-officiate with other clergy and to officiate in any house of worship, hotel, or other venue or setting, indoors or outdoors.

in case of severe economic hardship please speak with me. I do not charge more for interfaith or same sex weddings and events than I do for standard Jewish services. Your satisfaction and good memories are my goal. I always customize services to meet your needs and will not reject your ideas, (although I dont jump out of perfectly good airplanes or swim with sharks!).

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