The Semmelman Family

Posted on May 1, 2015 in Member Spotlight

Elliot and Keri Gee Semmelman live a life of love and love the life they live.  If you have attended any Temple Beth David events in the last seven years since they joined, you have probably been semmelman familygreeted very warmly by them and their precious daughter Aubree as they are very active in our synagogue.

Their love for each other overflows into their love for our synagogue.  Elliot has been on the Religious Practices Committee, written for the Megillah, and led several Friday night services when asked by the Rabbi. Keri Gee has actively served on several committees, enjoys Sisterhood, and is finishing a 2-year term on the Board as VP of Membership with the help of a wonderful Membership Committee. She is credited with innovating our temple logo/branding, the monthly Member Spotlight feature (writing many of them), and the recently launched Hobby Chavurot. They also enjoy being in two general Chavurot.

Elliot is the youngest of three children who came from a Conservative Jewish household.  His parents met as toddlers in Germany and reunited as teenagers after immigrating to the U.S.  His father went on to become a dental technician and a Cantor for High Holy Days until his passing over 20 years ago. His mother was Director of a Jewish nursery school and in more recent years remarried. Now she, her husband Phil, and one sister live close by, and the Semmelmans enjoy spending time with them.  Elliot’s oldest sister made aliyah to Israel as a teen yet visits often.  While Elliot attended Jewish day school in Los Angeles, his joy for Judaism can be traced back to his summer experience at “Camp Ramah” in Ojai.

Keri Gee, a twin, is the youngest of five children who all were B’nei Mitzvah at Temple Israel in Long Beach. At Los Al High School she was Senior Class President and a mascot, and spent summers, during college, working at Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu. She has served as an active board member for numerous Jewish and secular organizations such as Jewish Family Service, Bureau of Jewish Education, Gamma Phi Beta Alumnae, and Education for Successful

Parenting. Most of her siblings live out of the area, and though her loving parents have passed – her mom 20 years ago and her dad just two – she’ll forever remember how fun it was to have a dad who invented many things such as the ice cream flavor Chocolate Malted Krunch and most notably parts of the Apollo spacecraft. Her mom was equally creative in her roles as a teacher, businesswoman, and talented writer.

Though Elliot lived in L.A. and Keri Gee in the O.C., they connected online via “J-Date” and had their first date on December 25, 2004. Eleven months later they wed. Elliot knew he had found a winner when Keri Gee could talk sports, having played on many high school teams and city leagues. (Her initial career goal was to be the first woman coach of the Rams!)  Elliot had coached kids’ basketball and also worked as a fitness instructor for two major health club chains. In addition to sharing a love for sports, the couple also shares a passion for writing. Elliot wrote stories for the Jewish newspaper “Heritage” in L.A. and his multiple “Letters to the Editor” (mostly argui`ng against Dennis Prager) were published in the L.A. Times and the Jewish Journal.  Keri Gee has written nearly 90 poems and short stories, and last year finished her first book. She hopes to have it published later this year.

Elliot graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology and is a Computer Programmer/Analyst. Keri Gee completed Journalism (PR) and Recreation degrees at CSULB and is Director of Marketing and Development for The Raise Foundation – an Orange County non-profit dedicated to preventing child abuse. She is also a public speaking coach and a happiness historian, and in 2005 she was named PR Person of the Year in Orange County by the Public Relations Society of America O.C. Chapter.

Their favorite titles, however, are that of “daddy” and “mommy.” You may have recently seen the proud parents grinning at Aubree’s zest for life when she was a flower girl in the congregation-wide ceremony where they and eight other couples renewed their vows

Above all, the love the couple has for one another is beautiful. Keri Gee says Elliot is “a very supportive partner and father whose eyes smile.”  Elliot says he most admires “Keri Gee’s dedication to all of her passions including being the best she can be at home and in the community.”

During their wedding nearly 10 years ago, Elliot said to her, “You are the love of my life and the life of my love.”   We are blessed that the Semmelmans have chosen to share their love and their joy of life with all of us here at Temple Beth David.