Our Fellows & Alumni
"RWB is not something I did but someone I am. You gave me a totally new perspective on how to be a rabbi," said one of our rabbinic fellows. Alumni of our student and rabbinic fellows are at the innovative edge of the rabbinate. Together we are imagining new ways to rabbi in the twenty first century.
Rabbis Without Borders in the Field
Rabbinic Fellows — Current and Alumni
Student Fellows — Current and Alumni
Rabbis Without Borders in the Field
Rabbi Without Borders to Teach in Medical School
A key indicator of our success is how the alumni of our programs integrate ideas they have learned in RWB into their rabbinates. Alumni of our first RWB Rabbinic Fellowship report launching a number of new ideas as a result of the program, here is a small sample, in their own words, of idea they have pursued:
Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds, and is being incubated at Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he received the Cora Kahn Prize from the Cincinnati faculty for the most outstanding sermon delivery and oratory. An alumnus of Princeton University, he received multiple prizes for outstanding scholarship in Biblical and Judaic studies.
In addition to My Jewish Learning, his writings about the intersection of religion and science have appeared on the homepages of several sites, including The Huffington Post, Science and Religion Today, and WordPress.com. He was interviewed by BBC Radio’s World Have Your Say about the religious implications of the Higgs Boson, and is also on the planning committee for the new URJ 6 Points Science Academy.
For seven years, he served as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester. He lives in Westchester with his wife Heather Stoltz, a fiber artist, and their daughter Caroline.
Rabbi Jason Miller in Detroit MI, wrote:
• The program helped bring focus to the panoply of work I was already doing in the community and opened doors to many new opportunities. My blog posts http://jasonamiller.com/ and engagement with social media became more cogent and coherent. Most important, it linked me to a network of likeminded colleagues who will impact the future of the borderless Jewish community.
• Since completing the RWB fellowship, I have grown my kosher certification agency by using many of the publicity and marketing tools I learned from my RWB experience. I have also launched a computer consulting company and in that vein have become an expert on how non-profits, synagogues and churches can take full advantage of social media to broadcast their mission and message. I have had several speaking engagements and media interviews on the subject of technology and synagogues in which I am introduced as a rabbi without borders. I have also used the "rabbi without borders" description to explain how the rabbinate is changing as a result of technology and globalization.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz in Bridgeport, CT wrote:
• This is the second year of regular blogging. My readership has grown steadily, and is reaching far beyond my congregation. http://shmakoleinu-hearourvoices.blogspot.com/
• Created two new classes open to congregants, unaffiliated Jews and non-Jews: "Into the Mystic" class—a weekly breakfast Jewish mysticism class which started in a local coffee shop and recently moved a couple of blocks into a local library and "Chantsformations," a monthly Jewish mantra meditation hour in a local holistic healing center. Now in its second year, gradually growing with a core following of regulars. Reaches out to unaffiliated Jews, non-Jews, and Jews from several local congregations.
• More effective use of local media—second year of a monthly column for the consortium of local town weekly newspapers. There was a Thanksgiving edition feature piece on Tent of Abraham interfaith project that I have co-organized with Christians, Jews, and Muslims for the past 4 years.
• Just beginning as an educational consultant on a new home-based Jewish education initiative in Litchfield county, working with unaffiliated families in rural CT to create a curriculum that emerges from their own Jewish stories and utilizes social media in all of its forms to create community learning in the weeks in-between the monthly gatherings.
Rabbi Rachel Ain in Syracuse, NY wrote:
• I have been able to get myself seen as a resource to the local media for Jewish issues. Last year b/c of the encouragement of RWB I wrote a number of articles for the Jewish holidays, and that resulted in even more. I have gained the confidence to call the local paper and suggest news stories and b/c of this I have been in the paper a number of times this fall.
Rabbi Nachum Ward Lev in Santa Fe, NM wrote:
• After 10 years leading a Beit Midrash (study hall) for Jews, I initiated a Beit Midrash for the larger Santa Fe community last year. There are 20 students in this second Beit Midrash, studying Genesis with a host of commentaries. As a result of our RWB conversations, I am much more conscious about articulating for my students the methodology or pedagogy of Beit Midrash, its Jewish roots and its universal implications.
• I just completed working with a multi-cultural team on a DVD on cross-cultural peace building. While our team has been working on this DVD for years, in the last several months, I have been clearer about the Torah that I as a rabbi am bringing to our learning.
• I am working with a major New Mexico Christian retreat center as they feel called to expand their vision of their program and their audience to become a retreat center with global reach—a border crossing endeavor of truly grand proportions.
• I am adjunct faculty for a local Family Practice Residency Program, responsible for training physicians in the area of spirituality and medicine.
Rabbi Ruth Abusch Magder in San Francisco, CA wrote:
• In my new job, as Rabbi in Residence at Be'chol Lashon, an organization which advocates for the growth and diversity of the Jewish people, I feel that everyday is a RWB day. In my work, I am extending the borders of Judaism to include the fullness of Jewish ethnic and racial diversity. For example, I was part of a team cooking for Hannuka at the local Jewish school. But this year, instead of simply adding another set of hands to the latke making, I decided to bring in the customs of a newly returning to Judaism community in the Columbian town of Santa Anna and make fried plantains. It was a great opportunity to introduce some of the history of Annusim (hidden Jews) and to normalize the Latino Jewish experience as part of our rich tapestry. The highlight came when the boy in the class with a Columbian mom pointed out that his family makes this dish at home—his family's hidden Jewish tradition saw the light. • Because I am working in an area that I was not well versed in before I got to Be'chol Lashon, my own borders are being pushed each day. My understanding of who is a Jew, especially what a Jew looks like, has changed a great deal in a short amount of time. Being able to network with the RWB community has been really helpful. You have offered practical and moral support.
Rabbi Dan Ain in New York, NY wrote:
• I am developing a model for a "people's rabbi" in New York City. The project grew out of my participation in RWB and seeks to provide Jewish wisdom and conversation to all people, in the settings in which they are most comfortable. Whether at a cultural center like 92YTribeca, where I serve as Rabbi-in-Residence, at City Winery in Tribeca, where I host a monthly "Rebbe's Table", or at intimate home gatherings, I am engaging one of the most cosmopolitan, globalized and technologically savvy communities on their own turf and in their own language.
• I am now also a Clal Associate. And I am thankful that Clal is providing me with office space and a context in which to incubate my ideas. (As the network for RWB rabbis grows, Clal will continue to nurture and promote the work of the RWB Rabbinic and Student Fellows.)
2013-2014 Rabbinic Fellow
Yitzchok Adler has been the spiritual leader of Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford since 1995; previously he had served communities in Savannah, Chattanooga and Jacksonville. He is the rabbinic administrator of the Hartford Kashrut Commission, the founding chaplain of the Hartford VNA Jewish Hospice, a founding and current member of the board of Directors of the Hebrew High School of New England, and he is a mohel. Within his work at the synagogue, he mentors rabbinic interns from Yeshiva Chovevei Torah and Yeshiva University. Yitzchok Adler is a past president of the Greater Hartford Rabbinic Association; and throughout his career, he has endeavored to build the bridges that strengthen Jewish communities.
Rabbi Ron Aigen, a native of Brooklyn, New York, is spiritual leader of Congregation Dorshei Emet where he has developed the EMET Center for Spirituality, Ethics and Culture. He is a Hartman Rabbinic Fellow and an alumnus of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Aigen has served as President of the Montreal Board of Rabbis and is a Past President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Among his publications are the Hadesh Yameinu/ Renew Our Days Siddur and Mahzor, and most recently, Wellsprings of Freedom: The Renew Our Days Haggadah. He has contributed several chapters in Bar/Bat Mitzvah Education: A Sourcebook (A.R.E.) that describe the Dorshei Emet Pre-Bnei Mitzvah Program that he developed. He lives in Montreal and is married to Carmela and is the is the proud father of three children
Elyssa Joy Auster
During the past two years, Rabbi Elyssa Joy Auster has been the sole rabbi for a Conservative congregation in Florida. Over the prior three years, she held the pulpit of a Reform congregation in Alaska, while finishing her rabbinic studies. She has also served as rabbi, cantor, and Jewish educator in Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, and Maryland. After completing a BA at Brandeis University and a Masters of Theological Studies at Boston University School of Theology (where she studied alongside those entering the Methodist ministry), Rabbi Elyssa went on to pursue her love of God and Torah in the rabbinate. She received rabbinic smicha and a Masters of Jewish Education from pluralistic Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. Rabbi Elyssa has published in "The Forward" and in "eJewish Philanthropy," is a trained mikveh guide, has led Hallel with Women of the Wall in Jerusalem, and has two children's books she wrote and illustrated and hopes to publish. She was a "rabbi on the road" for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, is a recent USCJ two-time grant winner for Young Adult programming, an innovator in prayer services, and a teacher of contemplative Judaism in diverse venues from college campuses to the OHALAH Clergy Association conference. Rabbi Elyssa Joy Auster aims to bring moments of meaning and purpose into our lives. She has a passionate love for the Holy One which manifests through song, yoga, meditation, Torah study, crafting tallitot and tzitzit, painting, and nurturing deep human connections.
Upon earning rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies as well as an MBA in Non-Profit Management, Elan embarked upon his rabbinic career at Temple Emanu-El of Providence, RI in July of 2012. Building upon his varied experiences as the owner of a small business, investment banker, fundraiser, community organizer, and chaplain, he enjoys wearing all of those hats on a regular basis in his current role. He is blessed to share his life with his wife Lizzie and their son Micah.
Danny Burkeman serves as a Rabbi at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY. There he fulfills a variety of Rabbinic functions, with a particular focus on using technology to build community and engaging younger families. Previously he worked at the West London Synagogue in Britain, where he helped develop their online presence and grew their young adult program. Danny grew up as an active member of the British Jewish community and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Currently Rabbi Danny is a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism Executive Board, he is a regular blogger, and has a weekly podcast Two Minutes of Torah. He is married to Micol, a Jewish educator whom he met at HUC in Jerusalem, and is proud father to Gabriella Liat.
Rabbi Darcie Crystal is passionate about bringing Torah to life for urban families who want to explore Judaism. She is privileged to be one of the rabbis of Tamid: The Downtown Synagogue (www.tamidnyc.org), a new congregation serving families living in Lower Manhattan. Since 2007, she has been the NY Campus Coordinator of Leadership Initiatives at HUC-JIR, where she teaches rabbinical students and runs co-curricular programs in leadership, social responsibility, and outreach. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of the Princeton University Hillel/Center for Jewish Life. Following her ordination by HUC-JIR in 2002, she was Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, NY. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Religion and a certificate in Jewish Studies. Darcie lives in Manhattan with her husband, Jonathan, and their three children.
Serena joined Hillel at Stanford as Executive Director as of August 2011. Serena returns to the Bay Area after living in Israel, where she was a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute and worked as a consultant in Jewish education. From 2005-2007, she served as the Executive Director and Rabbi at her alma mater, the Brown University/RISD Hillel. Serena was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow, and also holds a JD and MSW from UC Berkeley, specializing in family welfare. Serena has five sons, ages 8-27,and loves hiking and adventure – most recently, leading a bar mitzvah trek on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Michael S. Friedman grew up in Great Neck, New York, where his family was proud to be dedicated members of Temple Beth-El. Michael holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004. He has served as Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City since July, 2008. Prior to this position, Michael was Director of High School Programs at the Union for Reform Judaism from 2004 to 2006 and as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey from 2006 to 2008. During his years in rabbinical school, Michael spent two years as Rabbinic Intern at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York and a year as Rabbinic Intern at the New York Kollel. Michael has volunteered as Program Coordinator for Project Understanding, an interfaith experience for Jewish and Catholic youth on Long Island, and served as a coordinator of the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen. In his free time Michael likes to play golf, hike, run marathons, and cook.
Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Ordained in 2005 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin now considers herself a New Yorker. As the spiritual leader of the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, she is the first and only female Conservative pulpit rabbi in the borough of Queens. She is passionate about Jewish life and strives to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, where people from all backgrounds are welcomed. Rabbi Fryer Bodzin has had numerous thought pieces published on www.ejewishphilanthropy.com, oychicago.com, the Canadian Jewish News, the Jewish Week and the Huffington Post. She is on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America and on the Board of Directors of the New York Board of Rabbis. She is also an active leader with Faith in New York, a grass roots, faith based community organizing affiliate of the PICO National Network. Rabbi Fryer Bodzin is happily married to her best friend, Aaron Bodzin. In October 2009, they became the first husband and wife team at her synagogue to read Torah, one after another, on the same Shabbat morning.
Rabbi Ilana C. Garber spent nine years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Talmud (2000), a master's degree in Jewish education (2003), and rabbinic ordination (2005). She also received a bachelor's degree in religion from Barnard College (2000). She is the associate rabbi of Beth El Temple in West Hartford, Connecticut. She is a past participant in STAR PEER and in a rabbinic cohort of Advancing Women Professionals. She serves on the Professional Advisory Committee for the Hebrew Health Care Home Health, Hospice, and Assisted Living system, on the board of Mikveh Bess Israel, and as co-chair of the Rabbinical Assembly Women's Committee. She is married to Dr. Adam Berkowitz, a musician, and they have 2 sons.
Matthew D. Gewirtz
Matthew D. Gewirtz began his tenure as the Senior Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun(Short Hills, NJ) in July 2006. Previously he served as Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom(New York City) He was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1997. A regular contributor to numerous professional publications, including the CCAR Journal and The American Rabbi, he is the author of “The Gift of Grief: Finding Peace, Transformation and Renewed Life after Great Sorrow” (Random House). Matthew is married to Lauren Rutkin, a non-profit fundraising consultant and philanthropy advisor, and the owner of VIP, Ventures in Philanthropy. They are the proud parents of Jake, Natalia and Sadie.
Lauren Grabelle Herrman
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, a 2006 graduate of The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, is the founding rabbi of Kol Tzedek, a diverse, exciting, growing congregation in West Philadelphia. Founded in 2004, when Rabbi Lauren was in rabbinical school, Kol Tzedek is revitalizing Jewish life in what was once a Jewish neighborhood and bringing back organized Jewish community, as the last West Philadelphia synagogue closed its doors in the 1980s. With its commitment to inclusivity and focus on social justice, Kol Tzedek has become a Jewish home for Jewish seekers and allies of all ages, ethnicities, classes, religious and sexual orientations. Rabbi Lauren is passionate about many things, including outreach to those who find themselves on the margins of Jewish life; the development of urban Jewish communities; and the intersections between social justice and Judaism. More recently, she became the founding co-chair of LimmudPhilly, an annual festival of Jewish learning. She currently serves on the board of UCGreen, a local greening organization and is actively involved with POWER, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild. She lives in West Philadelphia with her husband Jon, daughter Aviel, and son Nadiv.
A graduate of The Ohio State University, and yes, a rabid follower of Buckeye sports, my route to becoming a rabbi was non-traditional. I spent time as a "man-on-the-street" for a radio station's morning show, a concert promoter, marketing coordinator, and a surfer and bartender exploring Australia. Each position and experience was dependent on developing partnerships and maintaining relationships, and this passion for building connections has ultimately led me to and defined my rabbinate. Since becoming a rabbi at Temple Israel in Memphis in 2008, I am inspired by the words of the English novelist, E.M. Foster, "Only connect!" I find myself constantly seeking to break old paradigms with cutting-edge ways to engage Jews of all ages with Judaism whether it's capitalizing on the advantages of social media, developing an HGTV-esque "How-to" Jewish video series, working with Teach for America Jewish fellows, or coaching and mentoring teenagers in alternative Jewish ways such as the Ragin' Rabbis' boys and girls' basketball teams. This passion, centered upon rethinking out-dated models and being an innovative Jewish thinker, has lead to the design of the URJ Belin Award winner, "Community Six Pack" and the creation of the nationally recognized, TI Fellowship. Yet, while creativity and relationship building excite me, it's being a husband to my wife, Amy, and a father to my two daughters, Zohara and Lyla, that I find most rewarding in life.
Rabbi Andrew Jacobs has been the spiritual leader of Ramat Shalom Synagogue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida since 2002. He loves teaching Torah, sharing his passion for Israel and learning with and from his students. Committed to making Judaism both relevant and accessible, Rabbi Jacobs is always exploring new ways to share Jewish teachings. He recently partnered with FYI Online Learning, a premier online education fir m, to create a cutting-edge online B'nai Mitzvah course which will be introduced in the fall of 2013. His weekly Shabbat services have been live-streamed for several years on ramatshalom.org and many of his sermons, podcasts and other writings are featured on his blog: rabbiandrewjacobs.org. Rabbi Jacobs, a graduate of Vassar College, received his Masters in Jewish Art and Material Culture from the Jewish Theological Seminary in consortium with Columbia University and The Jewish Museum of New York. He received his rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Jacobs has served as the President of the Broward County Board of Rabbis and was recently awarded the "Spirit of Family Award" by Jewish Family Service of Broward County for his commitment to helping children and families overcome challenges. His first children's book, God Looks Like A Hug, was published in 2011 and he is currently working on his second children's book which is due to be published in late 2013. He and his wife, Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs, are the proud parents of Abigail and Jonah.
Rabbi Adam Lavitt was ordained by the Hebrew College Rabbinical School in 2012, where he also received his Master's in Jewish Education and the school's first Certificate in Pastoral Care. He graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Religious Studies and English. Last year, Adam completed his third unit of Clinical Pastoral Education while serving as Rabbi Chaplain at the Jewish Chaplaincy Council of Massachusetts. His interest in building community through experiential, embodied, Jewish education and spiritual practice has led him to found several projects including the Movement Minyan, and Circus Shul. It also fuels his ongoing work re-imagining Jewish education at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Newton, MA, where he serves as Assistant Rabbi. This summer Adam is preparing to be National Havurah Institute's third Liturgist in Residence, and beginning to serve as spiritual leader for an unaffiliated community on the West Side of Providence.
Rabbi Scott Perlo left the waves of his beloved Pacific Ocean to be the Associate Director of Jewish Programming at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. His job is extremely cool, and he spends his days reaching out to the young professional Jews and the “Jewish adjacent” population of Washington D.C . Scott was the first rabbi of the Professional Leaders Project and Moishe House, a founder of the Ma'or Beit Midrash and CreateHavdallah, rabbi of Adat Shalom in West L.A., and rabbinic intern at IKAR and Beit Warszawa in Warsaw, Poland. He received his undergraduate degree from University of Pennsylvania and his ordination from the Ziegler School at the American Jewish University in 2008. Scott writes regularly for the Huffington Post, Sixth and I's blog, Kosher Salt, and has been published in the Washington Post.
Rabbi Shaul Rappeport was ordained in 2004 by the Institute of Rabbinical Training of South Africa and the Ariel Institute of Jerusalem. He served as Assistant Rabbi to the Perth Hebrew Congregation in Australia, immediately after ordination until he got married and moved to the US in mid-2006. Since 2009, Shaul has been the Rabbi of Ohev Sholom Congregation in Williamsport, PA. Shaul is a firm believer in the importance of creating a harmony between tradition and modernity, despite the difficulties that may be encountered along the way. He is also active in interfaith work and was thrilled to have participated in the 2012 Catholic-Jewish Emerging Leaders Conference. Fluent in Mame Loshen, Shaul enjoys all things Yiddish, from Yiddish culture and folklore, to literature and music. He also enjoys a very diverse range of synagogue liturgical music, from Chassidic niggunim to choral masterpieces. Born and raised in Perth, Australia till the age of 12, Shaul then made Aliyah with his parents and brother who still live in Israel. Shaul now lives in Williamsport with his wife Michal and three gorgeous kinderlach.
Rabbi Robert Scheinberg, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, is the rabbi of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, New Jersey. Rabbi Scheinberg has taught Liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Academy for Jewish Religion and served on the editorial committee for Mahzor Lev Shalem, the new High Holiday prayerbook for Conservative Judaism, published in 2010. In 2006, he served on the New Jersey Legislature's Death Penalty Study Commission, which set the stage for the abolition of capital punishment in New Jersey in December 2007. Rabbi Scheinberg plays piano and guitar and is a choral arranger and conductor. He lives in Hoboken with his wife, Rabbi Naomi Kalish, a hospital chaplain and chaplaincy educator, and their three daughters.
Rabbi Peter W. Stein is the rabbi at Temple Sinai in Cranston, RI. His rabbinate is defined by a commitment to lifelong learning and teaching, as well as a profound commitment to social justice pursuits. He is past president of the RI Board of Rabbis and the Cranston Interfaith Clergy Association. He is a founding member of the Interfaith Poverty Coalition, was an active member of the Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality which achieved success in Spring 2013, and the state chair for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained in 1999. He is married to Amy and father to Eliana and Ari.
Rabbi Melissa B. Simon is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shir Tikvah, a Reform synagogue in South Minneapolis, MN. She serves as a board member of the Minnesota Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and as a clergy leader of Minnesotans United for All Families and Jewish Community Action. Rabbi Simon was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, where she received a master's degree in Jewish Education (2008) and was named a Mandel Fellow, studying visionary leadership and Jewish education. Prior to coming to the Twin Cities, she was a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinic Intern and Director of Children's Education at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City Rabbi Simon also served as the Student Rabbi at Denison University and at Temple Beth Sholom in Ishpeming, Michigan. Rabbi Simon is passionate about Jewish education, social justice, inclusive Jewish communities and good cupcakes.
A New Yorker born and bred, Rabbi Lina Zerbarini has returned to Long Island, where she lives with her wife, Dinah Mark, and many animals. She has three grown daughters. A student and teacher of Torah, yoga and meditation, she seeks to build relationships and communities of mindfulness, connection and caring. Lina has spent her rabbinic career sharing the Jewish message of b'tzelem elohim (everyone is in the image of the Eternal) and mission of tzedek, tzedek tirdof (justice, justice shall you pursue) with individuals and communities beyond the synagogue walls. She currently is Director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Sid Jacobson JCC, where she works to infuse and animate the agency's programs and engage the community with the richness and relevance of Jewish wisdom and tradition. Previously, she served as Associate Rabbi at Yale Hillel and as Director for Domestic Affairs and Rabbinic Consultant at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia. A graduate of Barnard College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Lina has continued her professional development and education through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's rabbinic training program and Hevraya, and the Jewish Greening Fellowship. With the goal of strengthening communal ties, she has served on the leadership of Boards of Rabbis in each community she has lived, and is currently Secretary of the Long Island Board of Rabbis.
2012-2013 Rabbinic Fellows
Rabbi Amy Bardack is the Judaic Studies Curriculum Director at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, where she has served since 2002. Amy led a school-wide initiative in Hebrew proficiency which transformed the school into a national model of excellence, and redesigned the Tanakh curriculum through a standards and benchmarks approach. She is the co-editor of a recently published siddur for children, Halleli Nafshi, featuring gender-neutral, child-centered translations and kavannot. An expanded edition for older children is in the works. Amy received her BA from Columbia University and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Before coming to Schechter, she served as Judaic Director of Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos, CA, and as Rabbi of the Conservative Synagogue of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Amy lives in Newton, MA, with her husband, Jared Magnani, and their children, Ilan and Orelle.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat was ordained by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2011. She holds an MFA from Bennington and is author of 70 faces, a collection of Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011) as well as four chapbooks of poetry. Since 2003 she has blogged as The Velveteen Rabbi (http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/); in 2008, TIME magazine named her blog one of the top 25 sites on the internet. She serves as a contributing editor at Zeek, a Jewish journal of thought and culture. She serves Congregation Beth Israel, a small Reform shul in North Adams, MA, and lives in the Berkshires with her husband Ethan Zuckerman and their son Drew.
Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows was ordained from Hebrew Union College-JIR in 1998 and is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove, IL. Lisa did her undergraduate work and received a Master of Arts in Political Science degree from the University of Illinois where she co-edited several published studies on the Chicago City Council. With an interest in religion and its affects on public life, Lisa attended the University of Chicago Divinity School where she earned a Master of Arts degree. She is a graduate of the Rabbinic Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is passionate about bringing a relevant and purposeful Judaism into our busy and complex lives. Towards this end, Lisa serves on the Advisory Council to the Chicago Jewish Healing Network and is Chair of the Healing Network’s Committee on Addition and Recovery. Lisa is a certified yoga teacher and a graduate of Torah Yoga Teacher Training. Torah Yoga and mindfulness practice are an important part of her rabbinate as well as her personal life. Lisa and her husband Kyle live in the Chicago area and have three young children Gabi, Lucy and Nathan.
Rabbi Harry Brechner is the father of two amazing boys, Adar who is 17 and Daveed who is 14. He is married to RaeAnn, who is a counsellor and an incredible life partner. For the past 11 years Harry has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island. Harry is involved in various social action projects and outreach to marginal and vulnerable folk in Victoria. Prior to moving to Victoria, he served as Head of School for the New Orleans Jewish Day School and Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education for Greater New Orleans. Harry worked as the director of the J-CC Ranch Camp in Colorado, a rugged outdoor adventure camp and a western ranch. He also directed Camp Solomon Schechter in Washington State. Harry has a background in early childhood education and child development he has worked as both a pre-school teacher and a special educator. Some of his other sundry experiences include commercial fishing in Alaska, trail maintenance in the Northeast corner of the Cascade Mountains, tying re-bar on construction sites in Seattle... Harry served as a combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces and he has had the opportunity to travel with RaeAnn prior to kids throughout Russia, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Nepal, India and Thailand. Harry also makes a great kosher gumbo and jambalaya.
Daniel J Fellman
Rabbi Daniel Fellman is a native of Omaha Nebraska. He currently serves at Temple Concord in Syracuse, NY. He was ordained in June 2005 at the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. While at the seminary, Rabbi Fellman wrote his thesis on An American Friendship: Harry Truman, Eddie Jacobson, and the Establishment of the State of Israel. Rabbi Fellman is an experienced and wonderful teacher. Among his various teaching experiences he has served on the faculty at the Yavneh Day School in Cincinnati and numerous religious schools. Rabbi Fellman has also served on the faculty of the URJ Kutz Camp for High School students and the Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Rabbi Fellman is an Eagle Scout, was a Japan-U.S Senate Scholar in 1990, and was the founder of the Colorado College Hillel in 1994. He served on the Academic Affairs Committee at HUC-JIR and on the steering committee of the Catholic-Jewish Educators Dialogue of the American Jewish Committee in Cincinnati. He also served as the editor of the HUC Monthly and as a columnist for The Jewish Press of Omaha, Nebraska. Rabbi Fellman and his wife Melissa are the parents of sons Zachary and Jacob.
Rabbi Wendi Geffen has served as one of the rabbis at North Shore Congregation Israel in suburban Chicago since 2002. She is passionate about Judaism, Torah, and the way these ancient wisdom sources can add meaning to our lives and enable us to better our world still today. She sees Tikkun Olam, the Jewish tenet of repairing the world, as a critical part of living a Jewish life, and works to empower the synagogue and larger community around the imperative to pursue tzedek/justice. She is also the facilitator of the Beyond and Back (B&B) program for 22-30 year olds. She was a 2011-2012 American Jewish World Service Goldberg Writer’s Fellow, and her blog “Pri haGeffen” can be found at www.rabbigeffen.blogspot.com. Wendi and her husband Scott are the proud parents of Joshua and Cameron.
Rabbi Justin Goldstein was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2011 and is currently serving Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, ME. While in Rabbinical School, Rabbi Goldstein published in two works: Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Social Justice published by the Jewish Publication Society and God: Jewish Choices for Struggling with the Ultimate a theology sourcebook for teenagers published by Torah Aura. Justin is also a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of Maine Interfaith Power and Light. Justin lives with his wife, Danielle, and their daughter, Naviyah.
Rabbi Richard Hirsh is the Executive Director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and teaches at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. From 1996-2006 he was the editor of the journal The Reconstructionist. He has previously served congregations in Toronto, New York, New Jersey and Chicago, as well as being the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis. He currently serves as co-chair of the Clergy Task Force on Domestic Violence of JWI (Jewish Women International), on the editorial board of Sh'ma magazine, and on the boards of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, and the National Council of Synagogues.
Rabbi Beth Kalisch serves as the Adjunct Rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City and is also working to build new Jewish community among young Jews in Brooklyn. From 2009 - 2012, she served as the Associate Rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. She was ordained from HUC-JIR in 2009, having served as a student rabbi for congregations in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, New York, and the Ukraine; as a Jewish educator at URJ Camp Newman; and as a student chaplain at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A former Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, she has also volunteered in rural El Salvador with the American Jewish World Service and trained as a community organizer with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. She earned her B.A. from Yale University with distinction in Religious Studies.
Ordained in 2004 by the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is the Director of Shutafim:New Mexico Jewish Community Connections, a new program of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. Shutafim (a Hebrew word meaning “Associates”) is designed to assist small, isolated Jewish communities across the state through a strategy of empowerment and support. Lay leaders from selected affiliated communities receive training, teaching, consultation, visits and other resources to reinforce their small Jewish communities and to help them flourish. She also has an active private teaching and spiritual support practice. She served as Director of the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico for almost 9 years before the closure of the agency. The program provided spiritual support and pastoral care services to thousands of unaffiliated Jews. She is the author of Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide, which provides readers with a path through the 49 days of Counting the Omer, and includes meditations, exercises, kavvanot and activities for each of the days, according to the traditional pairings of the Sephirot.
Zvi Jonathan Kaplan
Rabbi Zvi Jonathan Kaplan, an ordained Orthodox rabbi, received his PhD in modern Jewish History from Columbia University. He is a professor of history and Jewish studies, and he has written articles on Moses Mendelssohn, Hungarian Ultra- Orthodoxy, and modern French Jewry. His book, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea? French Jewry and the Problem of Church and State,” was published by Brown University Press in 2009.
Rabbi Lynne A. Kern is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has written hard news and feature stories for the Kansas City Star, the Washington Post and the New York Times. For eight years, she also co-owned and acted as Creative Director at a national advertising agency. Ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2001, she served as a congregational rabbi for five and a half years, as well as founding Timbrels Through Torah: A Women's Institute of Jewish Learning. She is co-writer and co-producer of the documentary theater piece, Stories From the Fringe: Women Rabbis Revealed, which is currently being produced around the country. She is also the co- producer of a documentary-in-the-making called On the Fringe, a film about how women rabbis are transforming Judaism. Out of these two projects was born, The Story Archive of Women Rabbis, of which Rabbi Kern is one of the creators. This will be the first all-video archive collecting and preserving the stories of woman who are rabbis and will be available to the public on-line. Rabbi Kern acts as a scholar-in-residence and consults on programming for synagogues worldwide. She is a founding member of the Jewish Women's Theatre and creates pieces for their salon shows every year. She has been published in newspapers, magazines, anthologies including The Women's Haftarah Commentary. She is currently working on a spiritual memoir.
Rabbi Michael Knopf is the Assistant Rabbi of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, PA. He is dedicated to engaging and supporting spiritual seekers; communicating the transformative power of Torah and prayer; and building welcoming, supportive, and inspiring community. These passions inspired him, prior to his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2011, to help coordinate the nation’s largest preparatory program for conversion to Judaism; to work as a spiritual counselor at Beit T'Shuvah, a Jewish addiction treatment facility; and to serve several congregations and educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Rabbi Knopf is a regular contributor to Haaretz's "Rabbi's Roundtable" blog, Jewish Values Online, and other publications; has a weekly podcast featured on the JCast Network; produces a weekly video message; and is cultivating a national reputation for scholarship in theology and Jewish law. Rabbi Knopf is happily married to his best friend, Adira, and enjoys movies, traveling, and pizza.
Brent Chaim Spodek
Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek is Rabbi of the Beacon Hebrew Alliance. In recent years, he has served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. An experienced leader and creator of Jewish service learning experiences, Brent teaches extensively about spiritual approaches to justice work, Judaism and human rights and other topics in a variety of settings. He holds rabbinic ordination and a masters in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children, Noa and Abraham.
Elana Stein Hain
Elana Stein Hain has proudly served Jewish communities on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the past 6 years - first as Resident Scholar of the Jewish Center and for the past 4 years, as the Community Scholar at Lincoln Square Synagogue. In that capacity, she has founded and developed a new young professionals network called the Amsterdam Minyan, which hosts services and events for people in their 20s and 30s. Elana enjoys the many facets of her role - counseling, sermonizing, teaching, and collaborating on programs with volunteers. Simultaneously, Elana is pursuing a Doctorate in Religion at Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she is writing her dissertation on Talmudic Loopholes and the Role of Intention. During this process, she participated in the Cardozo Interdisciplinary Fellowship in Jewish Law and Legal Theory for two years. Elana loves to combine academic and traditional Torah study and is passionate about teaching and about people. She speaks around the country, has served as faculty at the Wexner Summer Institute, and has written for Text and Context. She was named one of the Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" in 2009. Elana lives with her beloved husband Yonah and "delicious" son Azzan on the Upper West Side in NYC.
Rabbi Jeremy Winaker is the Senior Jewish Educator at the Kristol Hillel Center at the University of Delaware. His position is part of an expanding initiative of Hillel International, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. Through his work expanding Hillel’s relationships with students, Jeremy sits with students in coffee shops and local eateries; teaches Biblical and Classical Literature for the university; offers adult education classes at the Delaware Valley Learning Institute; and shares his views on WDEL’s “The Rabbi Speaks.” Passionate about all that the texts of our tradition can do—giving us purpose, connection, and ethical responsibility— he invites students to engage in conversation. Jeremy’s experience in and out of the Jewish world has taken him from an Episcopal High School and BBYO in Houston, TX to Swarthmore College where he was both a Hillel president and a Hillel drop-out and then to the Jewish Theological Seminary where he was ordained as a Rabbi. For seven years, he worked in synagogues (Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, NY and Adas Israel in Washington, DC), focusing on informal educational techniques honed at Camp Ramah Darom, The Curriculum Initiative, and CLAL. Jeremy loves politics, Israel, cooking, and, most of all, his wife Ali and their children Sophie and Max.
Rabbi Joshua Yuter was ordained in 2003 from Yeshiva University and holds MA's in Talmud from YU and Social Sciences from the University of Chicago as well as a BA in Computer Science from YU. He created and maintains www.JewishGuitarChords.com, was recently named a Top 10 Jewish Influencer in social media and currently serves as the Rabbi of The Stanton Street Shul in New York's historic Lower East Side.
Rabbi Zelony is the Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. She was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2009. She also holds a Masters in Education from the Fingerhut School of American Jewish University and recently completed a certificate in non-profit management with the Rabbinic Management Institute. She works toward ending domestic abuse by raising awareness about the problem in her congregation and community. During her time as a rabbi in Atlanta, she served on the board of Shalom Bayit as well as worked with the Faith Advisory Team of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Rabbi Zelony was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She makes her home with her husband Adiv and their two children Nesya and Magen. She is an avid reader of poetry and enjoys keeping healthy by running and doing yoga.
2011-2012 Rabbinic Fellows
Robert B. Barr is the Founding Rabbi of Congregation Beth Adam and one of the rabbis of www.OurJewishCommunity.org. Known for his irreverent and often witty presentation style, Barr is a popular speaker on a wide range of topics including contemporary Jewish thought, religious fundamentalism, and ethics. Barr is Past President of the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis and is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. His writings have appeared in books, magazines and on the web. His weekly podcasts can be heard on iTunes. Barr was ordained and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Neil Blumofe is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin, Texas, a growing congregation of 600+ families. He holds Rabbinic Ordinations from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York and the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Rabbi Blumofe also holds the diploma of Hazzan (Vocal Cantorial Arts) from JTS. His academic interests include researching reactions and responses to post-modernism (include thinking about the limits of Theology after the Shoah), and exploration of the writings of SY Agnon and their importance in revealing a sustainable Judaism in the 21st century. Blumofe is on faculty at St. Edwards University in Austin and is a jazz composer and a recording musician.
Joshua Boettiger serves as the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Bennington, Vermont. He chairs the local interfaith council, serves on the Board of Vermont Interfaith Power and Light, and is the director for the Vermont Jewish Justice Initiative, through the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. He teaches Jewish meditation in the region, and has also recently taught at Williams College and Southern Vermont College. Rabbi Boettiger received his ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in June 2006 and attended Bard College as an undergraduate. He continues to work as a timber-framer and builder of ritual structures. He is married to Rabbi Vanessa Grajwer Boettiger.
Laura Duhan Kaplan
Laura Duhan Kaplan has served as Rabbi of Or Shalom Synagogue, a lively, participatory Jewish Renewal community in Vancouver, Canada, since 2005, when she was ordained by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Before that, Laura was Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a recipient of the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year Award, and author of many academic books and articles. Laura encourages pluralism in Jewish thought and practice, and facilitates a living experience of spirituality. Her current rabbinic projects include an Exploring Judaism program to welcome new Jews; interfaith work in spiritual direction and education; writings on animals in Jewish thought; and part-time teaching for Melton, the University of British Columbia, and the ALEPH Smicha program. Laura loves companion animals and volunteers with Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue. She lives with her husband Charles and their two teenage children, who have involved their parents in performing arts, environmental activism, and labor Zionism.
Rabbi Meir Goldstein
Rabbi Meir Goldstein is the rabbi at Commack Jewish Center in Commack, New York. Rabbi Goldstein studied social theory and the religions of India as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. After college, he lived in Oregon working on education projects as an AmeriCORPS Vista volunteer and doing street outreach with homeless teenagers. Following that, he worked with Hillel and lived in Israel studying Hebrew. Rabbi Goldstein received a Masters in Rabbinic Studies from the University of Judaism in 2003 and Semicha/Rabbinic Ordination in 2006. Rabbi Goldstein is refreshed through playing his guitar, hiking, cycling, disc golf, and cooking. He greatly enjoys meaningful time with friends and family. He loves to study and to teach. Rabbi Goldstein finds meaning, guidance, and challenges from Judaism; he hopes to empower his students develop their own relationship with Judaism, Torah, and the Holy One.
Rabbi Seth Goldstein has served Temple Beth Hatfiloh and the Jewish community of Olympia, Washington since 2003. In addition to his congregational duties he is actively involved in various community groups and interfaith projects, and was recently named one of 10 Jews under 40 in Washington State who are making a difference in their communities. Seth has a BA with honors from Wesleyan University, a MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary and rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and he participated in the PEER (Professional Education for Excellence in Rabbis) program through STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal). He lives with his wife, Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, two sons, Ozi (10) and Erez (4), one dog, four cats, one guinea pig and (hopefully soon) some chickens.
Pamela Jay Gottfried
Pamela Jay Gottfried is a rabbi, parent, teacher and author. Since her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993, she has taught in day schools and synagogues, and currently teaches adult learners in the Brill Institute of the Marcus JCC of Atlanta. She is the author of Found in Translation: Common Words in Uncommon Wisdom. She also serves as the visiting rabbi at Congregation Sha’arey Israel in Macon, GA and spends her summers working as a ceramics teacher at Camp Ramah Darom.
Rabbi Doug Heifetz serves as the solo rabbi of Oseh Shalom, a 300- household Reconstructionist congregation in Laurel, Maryland. He received his ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2005. Before seminary, he worked as a union organizer for low-income workers. He seeks and teaches Jewish wisdom, as well as insights from the human evolutionary past, with the goal of creating a more compassionate, balanced, reflective and healthy world. He often speaks and writes about immigrant rights, global warming, food, health and the spread of chronic disease. He eats thoughtfully and heartily, runs fast, and lifts heavy objects. He recently broke a state record in power lifting. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two young children.
Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann just concluded two years serving as the firstRevson Rabbinic Fellow at IKAR, a dynamic and progressive spiritual community in Los Angeles, and just began serving as rabbi at Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in her hometown, Chicago. Motivated by apassion for great music, spirited davening, and rich Jewish conversation,Lizzi conceived of Mishkan, an outreach project on Chicago's Northside designed to bring those experiences to young Jews outside the walls of the synagogues. Lizzi has been a director, educator, or rabbi in residence for the Brandeis Bardin Collegiate Institute, the Lishma summer yeshiva program, the Jewish Farm School, has worked with the IKAR davening team, the Nava Tehila Levites in Jerusalem, and taught at the Ziegler Rabbinical School. Check out her music at www.soundclick.com/rabbilizzi.
Dana Evan Kaplan
Dana Evan Kaplan is beginning a new position as rabbi of the Jamaican Jewish community and will also be teaching at the United Theological College of the University of the West Indies. Previously, he was rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Albany, Georgia. He has rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and holds a Ph.D. in American Jewish History from Tel Aviv University. He has written and edited several books and contributes to the press on occasion, most recently on the debate over the future of Reform Judaism in the Forward.
Rabbi Drew Kaplan is the rabbi/director for Southern California Jewish Student Services (SoCalJSS.org), working with students and other young adults in southern California, primarily in Orange County and Long Beach, including serving as the rabbi for Long Beach Hillel. He graduated from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in 2009 and holds a BA in Jewish Studies from Indiana University.
Amy Wallk Katz
Amy Wallk Katz is the rabbi of Temple Beth El in Springfield Massachusetts. In addition, she serves on Chancellor Arnold Eisen's Rabbinic Leadership Cabinet, has a column in Moment Magazine, and teaches a class at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Davidson School of Education. For the past 15 years, Amy has had some involvement with the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School. Amy received rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Her post-secondary education includes a bachelor's degree in Jewish Studies from Barnard College; a master's degree in Journalism from Northwestern University; a master's degree in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism, and a doctorate in Education from Michigan State University. She is married to Kenneth Katz, and the couple has three children Tamar, Gabriel and Nina.
Shoshana Mitrani Knapp
Rabbi Susan Mitrani Knapp answered the call to the rabbinate after a career in business and Jewish communal service. In teaching, hospice chaplaincy, chant circles, spiritual counseling, lifecycles & interfaith work, she brings a personal Judaism of the heart. She sees her role as spiritual midwife helping to create pathways for Jews to own their spiritual inheritance. After her ordination from JTS & six years at Conservative synagogues, Rav Shoshana now creates opportunities for Hamakom- God to dwell wherever Jews are willing to explore the yearnings of their hearts to create meaning, connection & healing. She lives with her husband Fred in the New York City area, and delights in her two grown children, Helaine and Josh.
Jack Moline is a native of Chicago and a graduate of Northwestern University (School of Speech, 1974). He was ordained as a Rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1982. In 1987, he became rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation of Northern Virginia, in Alexandria. In addition to his congregational responsibilities, he is Director of Public Policy for the Rabbinical Assembly, past Chair of the Board of Interfaith Alliance and former board member of the Faith and Politics Institute. He is a long-suffering supporter of the Chicago Cubs. He prefers to be best known as husband of Ann and father of Jennie (and Kevin), Julia and Max.
Rabbi Michelle Robinson was ordained in 1999 as part of the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Since then, she has found her home at Temple Emanuel of Newton, Massachusetts, a thriving and vibrant Conservative community. Her rabbinic passions include outreach, community building, and facilitating personal connections to the beauty of prayer. Her innovations include the Yoga for the Soul minyan, which combines traditional prayer and yoga movement in an uplifting service of the heart, and rabbinic leadership of the synagogue’s musical Kabbalat Shabbat service, which brings together hundreds of congregants each week to connect to prayer and each other with spirit and joy. She and her husband Mike are the proud parents of Maya, Noa, and Eli.
Rabbi Rone is currently serving as President of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, and has been an active volunteer with that organization since 1994. Until 2005 he was the Executive Director of the Synagogue and Rabbinic Division of North America for State of Israel Bonds. He also served as the Director of Chaplaincy and Associate Executive VP of the New York Board of Rabbis. Upon ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1967 he served in a variety of pulpits and chaplaincies throughout North America and Israel. He is married to Nina Rone and they are the proud parents of six adults and grandparents of seven children.
Hanan Schlesinger divides his time between Israel and the USA. He serves as the Executive Director and Community Rabbinic Scholar for the Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas, which he founded in 2010. In this capacity he teaches adult education classes on Judaism and spearheads interfaith projects throughout the greater Dallas area. In Israel he serves as the president of the Memnosyne Institute’s chapter in Israel, which he founded at the beginning of 2014. In this capacity he is active in a number of interfaith and peace building initiatives, bringing together Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian. Although born in the United States, he has spent most of his life in Israel, having immigrated at the age of 20. Following his B.A., he spent over 10 years in advanced Jewish study, primarily at the Har Etzion College of Jewish Studies and the Hebrew University. The first part of his professional carreer was devoted to teaching Jewish studies to young adults, primarily in various colleges of Jewish studies and seminaries in the Jerusalem area. In 2005 Rabbi Schlesinger came to Dallas to serve as the head of the Community Kollel, and he spent eight years serving the Dallas Jewish community. He returned to Israel in 2013. Rabbi Schlesinger is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the International Rabbinic Fellowship, as well as Beit Hillel, an Israeli rabbinical association. He has been the recipient of a Rabbis Without Borders fellowship, sponsored by CLAL - the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He and his Israeli–born wife Ayala reside in Alon Shvut, Israel, and have four grown children and six grandchildren.
Rebecca Yael Schorr
Rebecca Yaël Schorr’s claim to fame is that she is the first known female rabbi ever to share the pulpit with her father at Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Orange County, CA. (Paging Dr. Freud...) Serving her childhood congregation has been a wonderful, and challenging, experience as Rebecca recently shared with Dick Gordon on NPR’s The Story (thestory.org/archive/the_story_615_Relative_Rabbis.mp3). A self-identified "early adopter," Rebecca firmly believes that Twitter and Facebook have intrinsic positive values in creating and maintaining community, and hopes to bring this vision to her new position as editor of the CCAR Newsletter. Blogging as "Frume Sarah" since 2004, Rebecca, who released her first CD, Soul’s Delight, at the end of 2010, is grateful to her three kids Benjamin (11), Lillian (8), and Jacob (4)] and her husband, Warren for providing continuous material for sermons and the
Rabbi Beth Singer is a co-senior rabbi at Temple Beth Am, along with her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Singer. Rabbi Singer was ordained at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, in 1989. She served as associate rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, for 6 years and then for 2 years at Temple de Hirsch Sinai in Seattle. For the past 14 years the Rabbis Singer have grown a vibrant Jewish community in Seattle’s North end where Jews and the people who love them come together to learn and live Torah. The Singers live a block away from Beth Am and spend their free time raising three great kids.
Marc has been the rabbi of Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, Colorado since he was ordained in 2004 at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in California. Before training as a rabbi, Marc was an actor, storyteller and practitioner of complementary medicine in his native London. He was twice co-chair of the Limmud Conference in the UK and was a founding board member of Limmud Colorado in 2008. Marc co-chaired the Hazon Food Conference in 2010 and 2011 and was part of AJWS’s Second Young Rabbis’ Delegation, a service project in Ghana in 2011. Marc is a graduate of the fifth rabbinic cohort of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, on the board of the newest Jewish camp, Ramah of the Rockies and a member of the social action commission of the Rabbinical Assembly. Marc is the narrator of a new documentary film tracing the life and legacy of the Baal Shem Tov, to be released some time in 2011 or early 2012. His rabbinic work has included a great deal of dialogue across the Jewish denominations, as well as with Christians and Muslims, and most recently with a Native American tribal leader from the Osage Nation. Marc is thrilled to be a fellow of Rabbis without Borders.
Rabbi Brian Strauss is a 2001 graduate of the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Since ordination, Rabbi Strauss has served as an Associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston.He is a member of the United Jewish Communities Rabbinic Cabinet and the United Jewish Communities National Young Leadership Cabinet.He has served on the Rabbinical Assembly Resolutions and Convention Committees. He is a past President of the Houston Rabbinical Association. He is a member of the Clear Channel Radio Local Advisory Board to give input on creating a better Houston community. He is a frequent guest speaker at many local schools and organizations and has published in national and local publications. He was selected as the winner in the men’s spiritual leader category in the city wide "Gen Next" contest recognizing Jewish professionals in the Houston area. He is married to his wife Lisa Shapiro Strauss who is also a native of Dallas and a past fellow in the Wexner Heritage Program. They have three children Joshua, Noa and Ari (ages 10, 7, and 6).
Zach currently serves as Senior Rabbi of Cedar Road Synagogue: The Modern Orthodox Shul for Unity and Community in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also a faculty member of the Torat Tzion Kollel and a lecturer at Siegal Collge. He hails from Sharon, Massachusetts and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he received a BS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. Zach worked as an engineer before moving to Jerusalem. While in Israel, he studied and taught at Machon Pardes and received semikha from HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Zach continued with his studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah to pursue an additional semikha and professional training. While at YCT, Zach served as visiting rabbi at several shuls in New York and New Jersey. Additionally, he interned at the Heschel High School, worked as an education consultant for RAVSAK, and has served as coordinator for YCT’s Meorot Fellowship.
Rabbi Elianna Yolkut received her rabbinic ordination from the American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2006 and holds a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Sociology from Brandeis University. Following rabbinical school Elianna served as the Assistant Rabbi and Religious School Director of Adat Ari El, a Conservative synagogue in Los Angeles, CA, and as an adjunct faculty member at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and the Fingerhut School of Education at the American Jewish University. Upon moving to New York in 2010 she worked as the Director of the Center for Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Project Downtown. Currently Elianna serves the Jewish community as a freelance rabbi (www.keepingkavannah.blogspot.com) through a portfolio of teaching, speaking, writing, and guiding individuals and families through lifecycle events. Elianna hails from St. Louis, MO and continues to be an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. She is the proud aunt of two nieces and a nephew. Elianna and her partner make their home in New York City.
2010-2011 Rabbinic Fellows
Rabbi Charles Arian has served as a Hillel director, a university administrator, and a think-tank scholar specializing in Christian - Jewish relations. He is currently the rabbi of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, Ct., and also chairs that city's Ethics Commission. He is an amateur winemaker and a self-described "bourbon geek." He spent a year as Scholar in Residence at a Trappist monastery in Northern California.
Rabbi Larry Bach serves as the Rabbi of Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso, Texas. In addition to facilitating the pastoral and liturgical life of his community, he pursues social justice through Border Interfaith, a congregation-based community organization which he helped to found, and explores spirituality through Chasidic text, meditation, and embodied practice as an alumnus of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's Rabbinical Leadership Program. He has found that outwardly-directed social justice work and the inwardly-directed spiritual practice complement and support each other, and he is interested in exploring the intersection of the two. Larry received his rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1998.Larry is married to Alanna, and is the father of Helaine, Simona, and Esther.
Rabbi Justus Baird has served as the Director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City since 2007. He oversees the seminary's multifaith programming which strives to prepare religious leaders for a religiously diverse world. Rabbi Baird has taught, preached in, and consulted with seminaries, churches, synagogues, mosques, and interfaith organizations around the United States. He oversees Auburn's international multifaith teen leadership program, Face to Face/Faith to Faith and serves as a faculty member for the Multifaith Doctor of Ministry Program at Auburn and the New York Theological Seminary. Rabbi Baird was ordained at Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resource Management from Harvard Business School. Before becoming a rabbi he co-founded Questia.com and more recently founded an early stage alternative family-based Jewish education program called Yerusha.
Rabbi Laura Baum is a rabbi at Congregation Beth Adam, an independent congregation in Cincinnati, OH. She serves the brick-and-mortar congregation and leads OurJewishComunity.org, an online congregation that reaches tens of thousands of Jews around the world. Using tools such as social media and other technology, Rabbi Baum seeks to bring a contemporary Jewish voice to people wherever they are. A graduate of Yale University and Hebrew Union College (HUC), Rabbi Baum is also an MBA student at Xavier University and an adjunct instructor of Human Relations at HUC.
Rabbi Steven Bayar graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA and MA in Religious Studies and was ordained by RRC in 1981. He has served congregations in Greenbelt, Md., and Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. before coming to Bnai Israel Cong., Millburn, N.J. in 1989. He is the Co Author of, Teens & Trust (Torah Aura), To Save the World (Ktav), Rachel & Mischa (Kar-Ben). The author, of Ziv/Giraffe Curriculum (Righteous Persons Foundation), and is the Co Founder of Ikkar Publishing and has written over 50 curricula being used in over 1,000 schools, camps and informal settings worldwide. Rabbi Bayar also co- authored And You Shall Teach Them: Transmitting Jewish Values from Generation to Generation, due out August 2010.
Rabbi Rebecca Ben-Gideon heads the Madison Jewish Community Day School in Madison Wisconsin. She is also Director of Adult Learning at Beth Israel Center and a part-time rabbi for the Hillel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A graduate of Harvard and JTS, Rabbi Ben-Gideon has taught students across the country and has served on the faculties of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School and George Mason University.Together with her husband, Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon, she is in the process of coaching their three children to say "Go, Badgers!" with proper Wisconsin pronunciation and spirit.
Rabbi Eve Ben-Ora is the Jewish Educator at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Previously, she served as the Director of Jewish Education at the Houston Jewish Community Center. During that time, she was the Director of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School as well as one of the teachers. In 1999 she was named FMAMS Distinguished Director. Rabbi Ben-Ora has served as Associate Rabbi and Director of Education and Programs at Congregation Emanuel in Denver, Colorado. She has been the President of the Jewish Educators Council and The Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council in Denver. Rabbi Ben-Ora was ordained at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She has a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and a Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, Rabbi Avi Schulman, and they have three children.
Rabbi Benjamin (Ben) Berger is a graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, a modern and open orthodox rabbinic training program in New York City. While in rabbinical seminary, Ben worked closely with Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, as director of the Limdu Heitev Religious Leadership Initiative, and spearheaded an archival project of Rabbi Greenberg's recorded lectures. As Senior Jewish Educator at Ohio State University Hillel, Ben is charged with broadening the reach of Hillel through content based engagement with students. Ben teaches on a variety of subjects and venues on campus and spends much of his efforts cultivating one on one and small group relationships enriching Jewish students' lives with Jewish text and conversation. Ben is married to Rachel Weiss-Berger, and together they have three daughters, Tovah, Avital and Eliana.
Rabbi Michael Bernstein serves as the rabbi of Congregation Gesher L’Torah in Alpharetta, Georgia. He spent this past year on Sabbatical in Israel as a Melton Senior Educator. Previously, he served as the rabbi of Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania and Congregation B’nai Jacob in Longmeadow Massachusetts. Michael was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and attended Wesleyan University as an undergraduate. He is married to Tracie and they have three children, Ayelet, Yaron, and Liana. Michael views Judaism not as a set of answers to every question, but as a lens to find deep significance in our lives and inspire acts that help repair a broken world.
Rabbi Rena Blumenthal is the Assistant Director of the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life and Rose & Irving Rachlin Adviser to Jewish Students at Vassar College. She is a 2003 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College who previously worked as a psychologist for fifteen years in New York City and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski is the executive director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning in NY. Previously he served as executive director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in NA. Raised in Argentina he earned a law degree at the University of Buenos Aires Law School (1986) and was ordained as a rabbi at the Seminario Rabinico Lantinoamericano (1991).He earned a doctorate in Jewish Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1997) were he taught for over a decade. He is the founding rabbi of congregation Sulam Yaakov in Larchmont, NY. He published Isaac Abravanel on Miracles, Creation, Prophecy, and Evil (2003) and is the coauthor of the forthcoming Nafsheinu, the first Mayer Briggs Manual for Rabbis and Congregations.
Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW is a psychotherapist, spiritual Director, and lecturer, who assists institutions in creating caring communities. The author of Mourning & Mitzvah: Walking the Mourner's Path (Jewish Lights, 1993 & 2001), she has contributed chapters to many publications on Jewish spirituality and healing, and is a frequent columnist for the Los Angles Jewish Journal. Her work has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish, and several African dialects. Ordained as a Reform Rabbi in 2008 from HUC/LA, Anne is a faculty member of both the Academy for Jewish Religion, LA and Yedidya’s Morei Derekh- Jewish Spiritual Direction Program. She serves on HUC’s Kalsman Institute of Judaism & Medicine’s advisory board. A New Orleans native, she worked for the Ecology Center of Louisiana for several years in the early years of the environmental movement and spent three months doing relief work in the Gulf South following Katrina. She lives in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in Aleph: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal and received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She is the director of C-DEEP , The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Shefa composes and performs spiritual music, has produced ten albums, and her liturgies have been published in several new prayerbooks. She teaches workshops and retreats on the theory and art of Chanting, Devotional Healing, Spiritual Community Building, Meditation, and trains Chant Leaders in Kol Zimra, a two year program for rabbis, cantors and lay leaders. She is also on the faculty of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Shefa combines her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Native American spiritual traditions to make her uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion. She is the author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land, and In the Fever of Love: An Illumination of the Song of Songs published by Ben Yehuda Press.
Rabbi Ben Greenberg is the Orthodox rabbi of Harvard Hillel, Co-Director of the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Harvard and the Orthodox Jewish Chaplain of Harvard University. Ben has written popular and scholarly articles for First Things, Conversations and Milin Havivin and for his blog A Yiddishe Thought. In 2009 he published a compilation of thoughts on the Torah readings, all 140 characters or fewer entitled Twitter Torah. He received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and while at YCT he taught in communities all over North America and led a relief mission to Southern California during the wildfires of 2007. He lives with his wife Sharon in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rabbi Sherre Hirsch was headed to medical school when, driven by a desire to deepen her understanding of her faith, she began studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After a detour through Asia, where she studied eastern philosophy, Rabbi Hirsch was ordained in 1998. She spent the next 8 years as the first woman rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Since leaving Sinai in 2006 she has been sharing her unique blend of the spiritual and the everyday with a larger audience, appearing onseveral TV shows including "The Today Show", "ABC News", and "Inside Edition." Rabbi Hirsch also serves as the spiritual life consultant and teacher for the Canyon Ranch Spas in Arizona and Massachusetts. Her first book, We Plan, God Laughs: What To Do When Life Hits You Over The Head (Doubleday), was published in April 2008. The book reflects a theme in Hirsch’s own life and she expertly guides readers through a spiritual and introspective journey toward reaching their divine potential. Her second book is set to be published in the spring of 2011. Rabbi Hirsch spends her free time practicing yoga, shopping for shoes, and dancing in the living room with her husband Jeff and four young children: sons Emet and Levi and daughters Eden and Alia.
Rabbi James Kahn is Senior Jewish Educator at University of Maryland’s Hillel. Rabbi James is a wandering Jew, arriving at Maryland via Boston, Jerusalem, Manhattan, Miami, Chicago and Adelaide (South Australia). A newly minted rabbi, James studied at Boston’s Hebrew College, a pluralistic rabbinical school. He is a lover of early Chasidism, and of all things chocolate (a great combo!). He is blessed to travel through life with his wife Paula, son Julian and dog Noa.
Rabbi Kobrin was ordained in May, 2009 by the Zeigler School of Rabbinical Studies at American Jewish University. She is currently the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin Texas. She has shared her passion for Jewish life with children, teens, and adults at synagogues, Hillels and schools throughout the country. She was co-founder and co-coordinator of Minyan Malei Shirah, a soulful and song-filled independent Friday night minyan in Los Angeles. Rabbi Kobrin is a contributing author in the book God: Jewish Choices for Struggling with the Ultimate (2008). Rabbi Kobrin and her husband, Rabbi Rick Brody, have two children, Noa (age 5) and Adin (age1).
Rabbi Sari Laufer is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. A born and bred New Yorker, Rabbi Laufer graduated cum laude from Northwestern University, and served as an Eisdendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism before starting rabbinical school. Rabbi Laufer was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles in May 2006. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Rabbi Laufer was also named the first Sara and Simha Lainer Beit Midrash Scholar at HUC in Los Angeles. Her work in the Beit Midrash, as well as on her capstone project—a look at gender roles and family dynamics in the Babylonian Talmud—led to several academic prizes in Talmud and rabbinic literature, as well as HUC-LA’s Outstanding Female Student Award. At Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Rabbi Laufer is a teacher of those young and young-at-heart, bringing her passion for social justice, rabbinic texts, and Judaism’s wisdom and relevance in the 21st century into the lives of those with whom she is privileged to learn and to share. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Ben Cutter.
Rabbi Tsafi Lev, ordained at JTS in 1998, enjoys writing (fictional short story) and open water swimming. He is married to his camp sweetheart, Cheryl. They are blessed with four boys. Tsafi is the Director of Jewish Studies at the New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, CA, and a Lecturer for the Fingerhut School of Education Master of Arts in Education program at the American Jewish University.
Rabbi Juan Mejía was born in Bogotá, Colombia. After discovering the Jewish roots of his family, he embarked on a spiritual journey that lead him back to the religion and the people of his ancestors. He holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the National University of Colombia and a summa cum laude Master's Degree in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in NY. He plans to devote his life to the Torah education of both Jews and descendants of anusim wherever they may be. He lives with his wife and daughter in Oklahoma City, OK. He was recently appointed as the coordinator for the American Southwest for the Jewish non-profit organization Bechol Lashon.
Rabbi Leana Moritt is the founder of Thresholds: For the Jewishly Curious, a pioneering and inclusive Jewish engagement organization providing education, consultation, and support and counseling to interfaith families and those entering Jewish life (www.JewishThresholds.org). She created Thresholds after nearly ten years at New Yorks 92nd Street Y as Director of Jewish Outreach, Jewish Life educator and leader. Rabbi Moritt also serves as the rabbi of the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation in New York City, where she has led this pluralistic congregation since 2007. A creative liturgy award winner and experienced chaplain, she holds dual rabbinic ordination from Academy for Jewish Religion in NY and Aleph: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Prior to her career as a rabbi, she spent 10 years in the music business as Director of Production for Arista Records and loves to talk about how the Milli Vanilli platinum record hanging on her wall led her to the rabbinate.
Rabbi Gil Steinlauf is the senior rabbi of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC. Prior to coming to Washington, Rabbi Steinlauf served as the rabbi of Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and as the assistant rabbi at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Columbus Ohio. He is a graduate of Princeton University and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1998. He writes, blogs, and teaches frequently on the subject of finding Jewish spirituality in the postmodern world. He completed the STAR: Good to Great program, served on a rabbinic cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, is on the Washington chapter board of the American Jewish Committee, and currently serves on the Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is married to Rabbi Batya Steinlauf, and has three children: Elana 14, Noah 11, and Meirav, 10.
2009-2010 Rabbinic Fellows
Ruth Abusch-Magder has a passion for all matters culinary and domestic especially as they relate to Jewish life. She was ordained from Hebrew Union College and received her doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale. She is a frequent writer and teacher on Jewish matters. In 2006, she was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute and worked on creating new approaches to experiential adult education. This past year, she was a scholar-in-residence at the University of Chicago Hillel. She is the director of the Department of Continuing Education for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Ruth and her family currently resides in Evanston, IL, and are looking forward to moving to San Francisco in August 2009.
Rabbi Dan Ain is the Rabbi of The New Shul, an inclusive, independent and progressive community in Greenwich Village. Ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Ain is an attorney and a writer. His most recent article, "Faith, Technology and the Afterlife," forecasts an ideological clash between our burgeoning technological beliefs and traditional Jewish faith. Rabbi Ain is using his rabbinate to engage community in a spiritual practice that pulls from the richness of tradition, while also challenging prescribed ritual in order to yield new and authentic observance.
Rabbi Rachel Ain, a 2004 JTS graduate, serves as the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas, a 350 family, Conservative synagogue in the suburbs of Syracuse, NY. Locally, she is president of the Syracuse Rabbinic Council, Co-Chair of the Central New York PJ Library initiative, she is involved with ACTS: The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, a faith based, grass roots organization committed to improving the urban and suburban communities by working together, and she sits on the advisory council of Real Life, Real Talk, a program for parents to have discussions about healthy sexuality with their children. Nationally, she is a graduate of the STAR: PEER fellowship program, sits on the board of professional advisors of the Jewish Outreach Institute, and is currently serving on a task for Camp Ramah in New England. She lives in Jamesville, NY with her husband, Rabbi David Levy, and their two sons, 3 year old Jared and 1 year old, Zack.
Rabbi Michael Balinsky is the Executive Vice President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, an organization representing two hundred rabbis of all denominations. Previously he was Director of Faculty Development for the Florence Melton Adult Mini-Schools and was a Hillel director for twenty- two years, over nineteen of those as the director of the Louis and Saerree Fiedler Hillel Center at Northwestern University, after two and a half years as the Associate Director of Hillel at the University of Michigan. He is a long time member of the Jewish Catholic Scholars Dialogue in Chicago and is an executive member of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. Rabbi Balinsky is a graduate of Yeshiva University where he also received his ordination. He is married to Dr. Myra Rapoport and they are the parents of three daughters.
Rabbi Yonah Berman is the Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount, QC. A native of Teaneck NJ, Rabbi Berman studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel and received his BA in Psychology from Yeshiva University. After graduation, he returned to Israel and served in the IDF in a front-line tank unit, where he was awarded for his performance during training. During his studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, Rabbi Berman held internships at CLAL, the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale and Beth David Congregation in West Hartford, CT.
Helaine Ettinger serves as the rabbi of the Jewish Congregation of Kinnelon in New Jersey. She is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1991. She lived for nearly five years in Kfar Saba and was an active member of the Masorti congregation, Hod v’Hadar. While in Israel she taught in the Masorti movement’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah for the Special Child program. Since returning to the United States in 2001 she has been a founding member of Rimon a program of collaborative adult Jewish education amongst over 50 synagogues and Jewish agencies; a Board member of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union; and a teacher in the Florence Melton Adult Mini School. From 2001-2003 she was a rabbi of the MetroWest Jewish Health and Healing Center, an innovative center exploring ways to bring meaning and healing to people’s lives. She is married to Henry Bloom and the mother of Lyla, Yael, and Shai Bloom.
Rachel Gurevitz, Ph.D.
Rachel Gurevitz is the Associate Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel, Bridgeport, CT. An organizer of interfaith dialogue for adult and teenage groups with Christians and Muslims, exploring sustainable living and sustainable food practices, in her congregation she is helping individuals to nourish and deepen their own path to positive Jewish living. With music, meditation, and creative innovation she has worked with numerous adult and teen groups to craft unique and meaningful pathways into prayer. It is the language and theology of Jewish mysticism — that there is no-thing but God - that informs her work to connect and more deeply integrate the life of the spirit with the multiple spheres in which we live our lives, inspired and guided by a Jewish wisdom that can be shared in accessible, meaningful ways. Rachel was ordained at Hebrew Union College where she completed the rabbinic studies she began at Leo Baeck College, London. Prior to this, she received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University College, London, researching, consulting and publishing on environmental and sustainable development education from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
Rabbi Jason Herman serves as the spiritual leader of the West Side Jewish Center in New York City and also serves as the Executive Director of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. He is a graduate of the Huntsman Program at the University of Pennsylvania and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and has previously worked as an investment banker.
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is Director of Education and Outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, where she has worked to teach the American Jewish community about the intersections between the core values of Judaism and human rights. She was ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also received her MA and BA in Midrash, and is a graduate of Barnard College. A teacher of Jews of all age and a committed activist, while in rabbinical school, she served as president of the Rabbinical School Student Organization, and as an intern at the JCC of Manhattan and at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. She is a contributor to the Judaism, food, and sustainability blog The Jew and the Carrot (www.jcarrot.org), and her writing has also appeared in Conservative Judaism, Shema, Jewschool.com, and Jvoices.com. Rachel lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, with her husband and daughter.
Darby Jared Leigh
A life-long "truth seeker," Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh is a native New Yorker who loves mountains. Rabbi Leigh is a fire-juggling Generation Xer who toured as a leading actor with the Tony award-winning National Theater of the Deaf. He received a B.A. in religion, summa cum laude, from the University of Rochester and an M.A. in religion from Columbia University. He also spent a year at Gallaudet University, where he received the President’s Scholar Award. Rabbi Leigh provided consulting services for the Oscar-nominated documentary Sound and Fury and for Hands ON, an organization that provides sign-language interpreting for Broadway and off Broadway productions He has also taught on issues related to deafness for organizations including the NYC Fire Department, and the NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. Leigh served as a Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at C.B.S.T. in NYC, and as the student rabbi for the Ottawa Reconstructionist Havurah in Canada. Rabbi Leigh is honored to serve congregation Bnai Keshet as their Sabbatical/Assistant Rabbi. He lives in Englewood NJ with his wife Dr. Randi Leigh and their two daughters, Rayna and Ariza.
Rabbi Phil Lieberman currently serves as Dorot Assistant Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU, and as rabbi of Congregation Kol HaNeshamah in Englewood, New Jersey. Prior to pursuing rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Phil studied economics at the University of Washington and then at the London School of Economics, and was a member of the American Stock Exchange, where he traded index options for a number of years. His graduate work, in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, focused on Jewish life in Islamic lands. He is also an active EMT member of the Englewood Cliffs Volunteer Ambulance Corps. In the fall, Phil will take up a position as assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rabbi Jason Miller was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2004 where he was the first Gladstein Rabbinic Fellow and also received a Master's Degree from the William Davidson School of Jewish Education. He is currently the Rabbi of Tamarack Camps, a Jewish camping agency. Additionally, he serves as the director of ATID (Alliance for Teens in Detroit), a Conservative Jewish high school program for teenagers in Metro Detroit, and leads Congregation T'chiyah. He serves on several committees of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and is a board member of JARC, a community-based Jewish residential services agency for individuals with developmental disabilities. Rabbi Miller writes and lectures about modern technology's effect on Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on the global Jewish community.
Rabbi Tamara Miller is presently the Director of Spiritual Care at George Washington University Hospital. A graduate of the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York City, Rabbi Miller considers herself a non-denominational pluralistic rabbi with roots in Orthodoxy and wings in the Jewish Renewal movement. A congregational rabbi for over a decade, Rabbi Miller served in congregations on both coasts and for the past eight years nurtured an outreach congregation in the greater Washington area, "The Capital Kehillah" which was housed at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue in the District of Columbia. Rabbi Miller also served as the Director of Jewish Living and Learning at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. The divorced mother of three daughters, one son and nine grandchildren, Rabbi Miller ponders the question of legacy and lineage. Which one of her offspring will continue the family's rabbinic line? Rabbi Miller's own father was an orthodox rabbi as were her grandfather and great grandfather before her.
Geoffrey A. Mitelman
Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is the Assistant Rabbi of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester. Ordained by HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 2007, Rabbi Mitelman received The Cora Kahn Prize from the Cincinnati faculty for the most outstanding sermon delivery and oratory. Rabbi Mitelman is an enthusiastic scholar; having won multiple prizes in Judaic and Biblical Studies at Princeton University, and his interest in the intersection of Judaism and psychology led him to his rabbinic thesis, "Rabbinic Thought through the Lens of Emotional Intelligence." His greatest passion is exploring how traditional Jewish texts can teach us about personal growth and societal improvement.
Rabbi Hillel Norry is not your typical rabbi. You’re just as likely to find him in the kitchen preparing gourmet vegetarian meals or on stage playing the harmonica in the annual Purim play as you are to find him in the sanctuary leading a congregation in prayer and learning. Rabbi Norry came to Atlanta in 2002 from New York City, where he was responsible for revitalizing Congregation Shaare Zedek by attracting many young families and singles. While in New York, he also served as the Rabbinic Consultant for the Ed Norton and Ben Stiller film, "Keeping the Faith." He is a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and has served as an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Professional and Pastoral Skills. He’s currently serving on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, a 25-member committee which is the central halachic authority that speaks for the Conservative movement and offers parameters to guide local rabbis. Having grown up as a camper at Camp Ramah in Canada, Rabbi Norry continues to serve as a Scholar in Residence at different Ramah camps whenever he can. Rabbi Norry, his wife, Johanna, and their children, Natanya and Zamir, live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Eliot H. Pearlson
Rabbi Pearlson's Judaic education is varied and diverse. Although serving in a Conservative synagogue, Rabbi Pearlson has studied in "Litvishe" Yeshiva programs like the Greater Miami Mesifta and The Talmudic University and even Lubavitch Yeshiva- Tomchei Tmimim and Yeshiva University. In addition to his religious studies, Rabbi Pearlson has undergraduate degrees in Jewish Studies and Biochemistry, a Masters in Rabbinic Literature and did his graduate studies in Microbiology at the University of Florida. Rabbi Pearlson was granted orthodox Rabbinic Ordination at Yeshivat Hatfutzot-Mt. Zion Israel. Among Rabbi Pearlson's community outreach efforts has been the 'adoption' of an African American Church. In addition to a pulpit exchange with their minister, Temple Menorah also has sponsored their Afternoon Computer Lab for Children at Risk. As a Jewish activist, Rabbi Pearlson has been arrested defending Jewish causes in Auschwitz-Birkenau, New York City and Miami — and as his supporters note: "Arrested, but never convicted".
Rabbi Marcia Prager is Director and Dean of Ordination Programs for ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and rabbi for the P'nai Or Jewish Renewal communities of Philadelphia PA, and Princeton NJ. Her book, "The Path of Blessing" (Bell Tower 1998 /Jewish Lights 2003) is an exploration of the six words that begin every bracha. She is the creator of the unique P'nai Or Siddurim for Shabbat and other innovative approaches to prayer and liturgy. Her work as a teacher of Jewish spiritual practice includes developing and co-directing "DLTI," the Davvenen Leadership Training Institute. She and her husband Hazzan Jack Kessler travel widely to teach in an array of Jewish and interfaith settings.
Carnie Shalom Rose
Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, the Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis, MO, is the son of Rabbi Neal and Carol Rose of Winnipeg, Canada (and now of St. Louis!) and a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary (1995). He is married to Pauline (Zimnavoda) Rose and Abba to four remarkable children — Noa Dina (10), Zakai Adin (8), Nadiv Lev (6) and Ellior Liat (4). Carnie is one of four Rabbis in his nuclear family (his father and two of his brothers are Rabbis — and a brother-in-law is a Rabbinical Student!). Rose has lived, studied and taught throughout the world, including stints in Canada, Israel, Japan and several European communities. Deeply committed to making Jewish Tradition existentially relevant for contemporary seekers, he continually seeks to bridge the ways of past with the needs of the present for the sake of the future. A dynamic, passionate teacher and preacher, Rose is presently engaged in advanced academic work in the fields of applied Jewish Mysticism, Change Management and Pastoral Counseling.
Rabbi Amy Joy Small, an innovative Reconstructionist rabbi, created Deborah's Palm Center for Jewish Learning & Experiences in 2014 to help Jews and fellow seekers access the riches of Jewish tradition for meaningful spiritual living. Her passion is helping others find their way through the enduring heritage of Jewish learning and living. Deborah’s Palm Center, based in Morristown, New Jersey, offers diverse Jewish experiences for adults through classes, study groups and cultural programs throughout the region. Programs emphasize the questions we face in our everyday lives, exploring Jewish ideas, texts and practices that convey Judaism’s rich wisdom. Rabbi Small was ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1987 and has served congregations in New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana. She is a past president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders and a Senior Rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute. She is the Board President of The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ, and serves on the Board of Governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ. She was a Vice Chair for the National JNFA Rabbinic Cabinet, and served on many national and local boards for Jewish and interfaith organizations. Rabbi Small was previously Dean of Academic Administration and Director of the Education Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and among her interfaith activities, she co-taught Building Abrahamic Partnerships at the Hartford Seminary.
Eric M. Solomon
Rabbi Eric M. Solomon is the spiritual leader of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, NC. A member of the Social Action Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Solomon serves on the board of Hazon and the rabbinical board of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. In North Carolina, Rabbi Solomon helped found Raleigh’s Interfaith Coalition to Save Darfur, took part in the steering committee to form Congregations for Social Justice,and has participated in numerous interfaith panels and programs. He is an alumnus of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun’s Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinical Fellowship.
Alana Suskin is an educator and writer. She is currently the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shaare torah in Gaithersburg Maryland. She has taught and written on Judaism and feminism, Judaism and economic justice and other social justice topics which have appeared in a variety of journals, anthologies and blogs. She is also a managing editor for Jewschool.
Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev, Scholar-in-Residence at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, New Mexico,is the founderof The Beit Midrash of Santa Fe, an intensive Jewish learning community. He teaches Spirituality and Medicine to Family Practice Residents at the University of New Mexico Medical School. He is a Companion/Advisor at Casa del Sol, a spiritual retreat center in the high desert. He has been deeply involved in inter-faith and multi-cultural work for many years. He is currently a member of a multi-cultural team that is completing a DVD to train cross-cultural peacemakers. Nahum offers classes and workshops on "new paradigm" Judaism, and has published several articles on Judaism in a new era. He is a spiritual director. He is currently developing a workshop for Jewish people on Healing from Historic Trauma.
2014-2015 Student Fellows
Eric Abbott is a third year rabbinic student at HUC-JIR. He grew up in Warwick, RI and later attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he earned a B.A. in Judaic Studies. While in college, he was heavily involved with the UMass Minuteman Marching Band, the Commonwealth Honors College, Hillel, Alpha Phi Omega, and Residential Life. After college he returned home, where he worked as a teacher and service-leader at his home congregation and also worked as a manager at a rock climbing gym. In Eric's free time he enjoys rock climbing, being outdoors, and reading.
Sarah Barasch-Hagans comes from a long line of Alabama Jews, but was raised in St. Louis and is proud to call it home. Before moving to Philadelphia to begin her studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Sarah lived in New Orleans, where she was a founding member of Jews Pursuing Justice. Sarah works at Kol Tzedek Synagogue, interns for the innovative Jewish website Ritualwell, and is excited to to be beginning an internship at T'ruah on the campaign to end solitary confinement.
Benjamin Barer is entering his first year of Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, where he has worked for the past year and a half for the Center for Global Judaism and the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education, in partnership with Andover Newton Theological School. Benjamin will continue on as Managing Editor of State of Formation, an international blog for emerging religious and ethical leaders. At Hebrew College, Benjamin hopes to grow into a Jewish leader who can passionately convey the importance of Jewish tradition while opening student’s minds to the myriad ways in which modernity can challenge, and be challenged, by that tradition. Benjamin blogs at whatibelievein.wordpress.com.
David Ian Cavill
David Ian Cavill (please, call him Cavill - rhymes with travel) serves Kehilat Romemu as Director of Operations and has a professional background in non-profit operations and management. He is pursuing rabbinic ordination at the Academy for Jewish Religion, is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s undergraduate joint program with Columbia University, and attended Yale Divinity School where he earned the degree of Master of Divinity. Cavill currently lives in the Bronx which is the most up and coming of any borough in NYC. He is outdoorsy and enjoys hiking and camping but is also at home on the sofa watching cooking shows and the Netflix catalog. In 2014 Cavill completed a certificate in mixology from the Columbia School of Bartending and is grateful to have a skill to fall back on.
Philip Gibbs is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary from Marietta, Georgia. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012 having participated in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities focusing on Talmud and gender studies. He tries to balance his love of Jewish learning and critical scholarship with his passion for the outdoors, social justice, and music.
Beth Kramer is a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York. A dynamic full-time Jewish educator of eighteen years, Beth is further expanding her horizons and deepening her engagement with Judaism by entering the rabbinate, something she had secretly dreamed of doing since her adolescent years growing up in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Beth holds a Master’s in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, is a graduate of the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators. Through the years has been recognized with various awards for excellence in Jewish education and community leadership in Rockland County, NY. She presently works at Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, NJ as Director of Education. Beth lives in New City, NY with her husband Ross Mazer and their two daughters, Shoshana Eden and Jordana Rae.
Daniel Ross Goodman is a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York. He holds a law degree, and his articles on law and religion have appeared in South Texas Law Review and in various New York State Bar Association publications. His articles on art, religion, literature, and film have appeared in The Weekly Standard, Journal of Religion & Film, Religious Studies Review, Bright Lights Film Journal, Moment Magazine, Public Discourse, and Harvard Divinity School Bulletin.
Max Yadin was born and raised in the metro-DC area, where I graduated from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Before graduating, I spent time with the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, which dramatically transformed my sense of Jewish peoplehood, as well as Jewish engagement with diverse global communities. I have an undergraduate degree in International Relations with a focus on the Middle East from Colgate University, but also completed coursework in gender studies and philosophy. I started rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary immediately after finishing my BA, and am excited to work with and learn from all kinds of people. Most important, I'm looking forward to my wedding at the end of August and starting a new chapter in my life.
After growing up in Philadelphia, Eli moved to Israel in 1997, where he attended Machon Meir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He then went on to study at varied seminaries, such as Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, Kollel Meretz (in Mevaseret Tzion), Yeshivat Har Etzion—the “Gush” (in Alon Shvut), Bar Ilan University Kollel and Diaspora Yeshiva. He is eclectic and believes in taking the good from everyone. His academic career led him from Herzog College in Alon Shvut where he received his B Ed. in Jewish philosophy and Bible studies, to Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, where he completed his master’s degree in Jewish philosophy. He is currently concluding his doctoral thesis at Bar Ilan University on the worldview of Rabbi Mordekhai Leiner of Izbica and his close circle (Hassidut Izbica-Radzin). Jewish thought in general, and mysticism, existential and postmodern thought, in particular, intrigue him. He started his rabbinical training at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel, and this fall will be entering his third year at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, where he hopes to receive ordination by 2016. He has also taught at Yeshivat Darkaynu in Alon Shvut and at the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College in Melrose Park, PA. As a rabbi he aspires to lead an inclusive congregation, help bridge gaps within the broader Jewish community and work in unison with other faith traditions for the betterment of our global society. Eli loves watching the Philadelphia Eagles on Sundays, spending time with family and still secretly hopes to one day hone his beat boxing talents and take them to the next level.
2013-2014 Student Fellows
Nicole Amermenta Auerbach
Nicole is a third-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in New York. She spent this summer learning Clinical Pastoral Education at JTS, and offering pastoral care at nursing home in Manhattan. In addition to enjoying pastoral work, Nicole is passionate about pursuing social justice through community organizing. This past year, she completed a cross-seminary community organizing course run by JOIN for Justice, and participated in a Rabbinical Student Delegation to El Salvador with the American Jewish World Service. Prior to rabbinical school, Nicole worked as an attorney for 10 years, first as a federal public defender, and then as a media lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues. Nicole holds a BA in Women’s Studies from Harvard College, and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, Josh, and her two daughters Catherine (age 9) and Vivian (age 6).
Susan LandauSusan Landau, a fourth-year rabbinical student at HUC, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University with a degree in Sociology, and minors in Hebrew and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Susan serves as student rabbi at Sarah Neuman nursing home in Westchester, NY, and at B’nai Israel, a congregation in High Point, NC. She is one of the coordinators of the HUC Soup Kitchen, which is open every Monday. A passionate Reform Jew, Susan also has a strong background in Jewish pluralism and interfaith dialogue.
Sandra Lawson is a entering her third year as a Rabbincal student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Prior to moving to Philadelphia she worked as a personal trainer, an Adjunct Professor, and served as the Investigative Researcher for the Anti-Defamation League's Southeast Region, becoming the go-to person when Law Enforcement in the South needed information on hate groups. As a black queer Jew she hopes to use her Rabbinic training to bring attention to Jewish diversity, environmental issues and poverty. Sandra also holds a Masters degree in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University.
Leah Loeterman is a rising fourth-year rabbinical and Jewish education student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She attended Brandeis University where she majored in International Relations and Judaic Studies, and studied Peace and Conflict Studies for a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Originally from Los Angeles, Leah spent summers at Camp Ramah in California and interning at Sinai Temple, where she grew up. Leah is looking forward to joining the Park Avenue Synagogue community as the rabbinic intern this year. In addition to rabbinic work, Leah is passionate about art history, and discovering ways to find deep religious meaning and significance through the medium of art.
Brandon is a fifth-year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Originally from California, he left the sunny west coast behind him in favor of exploring different Jewish culture and weather patterns. He served two years as the Reform Rabbinic Fellow at Columbia/Barnard Hillel at Columbia University and is currently a member of the steering committee of the Brooklyn-based Shir HaMa'alot, an egalitarian, independent havurah in Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. In September 2013, he began serving as the rabbinic intern for congregation Har Tikvah in Brampton, Ontario. Brandon's favorite part of both New York and Jerusalem is the availability of candied nuts.n Heights. In September 2013, he began serving as the rabbinic intern for congregation Har Tikvah in Brampton, Ontario. Brandon's favorite part of both New York and Jerusalem is the availability of candied nuts.
A native Texan, Salem dearly misses Tex-Mex and her family but not the oppressive humidity of Houston. Her feelings about Austin, where she received a degree in Classics from the University of Texas, are more nuanced. After a brief stint in Raleigh. N.C., as a high school Latin teacher, Salem moved to Washington, D.C., and raised money for a variety of nonprofits. For seven years, she volunteered for and served on the board of the DC Rape Crisis Center. She also joined the Young Professionals Board of the ADL and volunteered for the Washington DCJCC, Jews United for Justice, and Sixth & I Synagogue, where she was married. She tries to sweat once a day, usually before dawn, by running or doing Bikram yoga. Salem is a second year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, where she lives with her husband and their two cats.
Nick Renner is in his last year of rabbinical school at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA. Nick has served as rabbinic intern at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the University of Delaware, and Hillel’s Schusterman International Center. Originally from Chapel Hill, NC, Nick is a 2007 graduate of Duke University. He played in Duke’s jazz program, and has played in bands in Durham, Netanya, and Philadelphia. Outside of rabbinical school and music, Nick also loves to cook.
Ariel, a native Philadelphian, has come home after many years as a social worker to study at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she is a second year student. She is a graduate of the dual-degree program of JTS and the Columbia University School of Social Work with a MA in Judaic Studies and a MSSW. Dedicating most of her career to Jewish Communal Service, she worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Hillel Council of Greater Boston, and Union of Reform Judaism and Jewish Federations of North America both in New York. She is a LCSW and was a social worker at Hospice of Wake County and Jewish Family Services of Durham-Chapel Hill in NC. Ariel completed the Ohr Ayn Sof Jewish Contemplative Meditation Program with Rabbi David Cooper, and was in the first cohort of mikveh guides at the Libi Eir Mikveh in Raleigh, NC. Ariel finds her Jewish spiritual practice to be essential to her growth and learning and in addition to maintaining a consistent practice she twice annually attends week-long silent Jewish Meditation retreats. With a passion for pastoral care and working with elders, during her first year at RRC she served as a Hospice Chaplain Rabbinic Intern through Jewish Family and Childrens Service in Philadelphia and will be a Rabbinic Chaplaincy Intern at a senior adult community in the coming academic year.
Alissa Thomas is a student at Yeshivat Maharat. She graduated from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in both Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Classical Studies Archaeology and Ancient History. In addition to her studies, she is working to become a certified chaplain and has completed units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital and New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. She is currently working on her final units. Alissa is a UJA Federation of New York Wiener Educational Center fellow and frequently teaches as a scholar-in-residence. She is originally from Los Angeles, California and currently lives in New York City.
2012-2013 Student Fellows
Emily Barton is a rabbinical student at JTS. Raised in northern Vermont, she received a B.Com. and B.A. from McGill University. Upon graduation, she attended the Culinary Institute of America. Before rabbinical school, Emily spent several years working as a pastry chef and over a year as a chaplain in a Level One trauma center in Seattle. She is the rabbinic intern and in-house caterer at Congregation Shaare Zedek in Manhattan.
David Bookbinder is student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbincal School and the the Chair of College Initiatives at Uri L'Tzedek. He believes that the Torah mandates us to pursue justice in all its forms and that the only way we can succeed, and truly heal our world, is by creating a united trans-denominational Jewish community. David comes originally from the Conservative movement and as a "denominational traveller" feels that the best way to live our Judaism is to find that path which best suits us while acknowledging the validity of other streams. David and his better half, Kara, originally hail from Los Angeles, California and studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They then moved to Israel to study at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, where they experienced an open, warm, loving community of Jews from all over the spectrum. If Pardes was a rabbinical school, and in the US, David would totally be going there. As a future Jewish leader David hopes to bring together people of all faiths and traditions as a united global community to fulfill the statement in Micah: to do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Daniel Chorny is a rabbinical student entering his fourth year at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The son of Aviva and Rabbi Ammos Chorny, he grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, where he went to Jewish Day School for his primary education. After moving to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania in 2000, Daniel completed high school and attended the Pennsylvania State University. There he received a BS in business Management with a Minor in International Business. Upon graduation, he spent a year at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he was accepted to JTS rabbinical school, which he began in 2009. He spent his second year of rabbinical school at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he participated in the Rav Siach Program through Melitz, and then returned for his third year in New York City. He married Hillary Chorny, née Blank, in January, and they currently live in Washington Heights with their cat, Oscar, that they adopted from Jerusalem."
Yosi grew up in New York City. He spent a year of study at Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa and then attended the University of Binghamton where he majored in Philosophy and Judaic Studies. After university, he spent two years studying in the kollel at the Paredes Institute for Jewish Studies and a year at Yeshivat Hadar as a full time fellow. Yosi is currently studying for smicha with Rav Elisha Anscelovits, focusing on Issur v'Heter, Hilchot Shabbat, Hilchot Niddah and Hilchot Aveilut. While continuing to study for smicha, he will spend a second year at Yeshivat Hadar as an Edcuation Fellow. After completing smicha, Yosi hopes to teach Torah to young adults.
Lila Kagedan is a consultant, advocate, educator, and practitioner in the areas of global health, applied and theoretical ethics, religion and education and is a student at Harvard University. Lila works as an educator and curriculum writer as well as an ethicist and consultant for a variety of NGOs and academic institutions and has lectured and consulted extensively in Canada, India, The Middle East, South and Central America, The FSU, Europe and the United States while also working in clinical environments in the area of women’s health, family planning and ethics in global health and local settings. Lila has taught Talmud and Jewish studies in a variety of formal and non-formal settings and has written extensively on medicine and halacha and Jewish ethics as well as on topics relating to women and Judaism/Jewish practice. Lila is currently the director of Sulam Brookline an innovative after school rigorous Jewish school that works within the public school system in Brookline, MA providing day school caliber Jewish studies for which she received a Presentense fellowship. Lila spent many summers on staff at Camp Moshava in Canada and studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem .She received an HBA and M Ed. from the University of Toronto and an MTS from Harvard University. Lila has completed 1 unit of CPE at Massachusetts General Hospital and has trained in the JOFA Kallah Teacher Training program. She is currently enrolled at Yeshivat Maharat and is also studying for private Orthodox ordination.
Jessica Minnen is originally from Paducah, Kentucky. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004, and spent several years living and learning abroad in Paris, Stockholm, and Jerusalem. In 2009, Jess graduated from the dual MA program at Baltimore Hebrew University. Since 2008, she has led summer social justice programs for teens with the American Jewish Society for Service, and now sits on the AJSS Board of Directors. Jess currently works as the Assistant Director of the Jewish Journey Project, a new congregational education initiative. She will be ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2013.
Jeremy Pappas is entering Year 3 at JTS Rabbinical School. He is currently spending his 18th consecutive summer at Camp Ramah in Canada, where he serves as the Program Director. He is originally from West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit — yet invested all his rooting interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers! He loves being a tourist in New York City, but cannot wait to return home to the Midwest one day. Next year, he will serve as the rabbinic intern at NYU Hillel. When he is not busy with school and work, he is busy planning his upcoming wedding, b’h, to Abbie Fagin this coming October in Cleveland, OH.
Alexis Pinsky is a third year student in the rabbinical program at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. Alexis was born in and grew up in Atlanta, GA. She attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she double majored in Jewish Studies and Psychology. Alexis graduated from Tulane in three years cum laude with a BS. She has served the Jewish community in many capacities throughout the years. She served on the board of New Orleans Hillel, and has led services with Hillels of Westchester, New Orleans Hillel, and her home congregation of Temple Sinai of Atlanta, GA. She also has taught Hebrew and religious school programs at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan and at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans. Alexis has a great love of Israel, where she has lived and traveled extensively. During her time at Tulane, she served as the Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Intern, and spearheaded Israel education and programming on campus.
Ariella Rosen is entering her third year in the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut and Camp Ramah in New England, and attended List College, the undergraduate joint program between JTS and Columbia where she studied midrash and psychology. In her spare time Ariella enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, reading, working in the special needs community, and just generally being outside.
Lori Shaller lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, Matt Pelikan, a restoration ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, and their cat Pitzi. She is studying in the Aleph Rabbinic Ordination and Hashpa’ah Programs. She has been an educator for more than 20 years and currently writes English and History curricula and teaches teachers in content area institutes. She enjoys being outdoors walking, running, cycling, hiking and gardening, and she is an active member of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center.
2011-2012 Student Fellows
Dahlia Bernstein is a 4th-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Hailing from Long Island, New York, Dahlia is a graduate of the Joint Program between JTS and Columbia University, where she earned two bachelor's degrees: one from Columbia in Anthropology and the second in Talmud and Rabbinics from JTS. Between college and rabbinical school, Dahlia worked for the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in their Intergroup Relations Department. She is doing a unit of chaplaincy through Metropolitan Jewish Hospice and will be the rabbinic intern this coming year for Orangetown Jewish Center in Orangeburg, New York. Dahlia currently lives with her husband, Aaron Friedman (List College '05) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Catharine Clark is entering her final year of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to beginning her studies, she was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York and a law clerk for The Honorable Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana. Catharine recently worked as a student rabbi at Shaar Shalom in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and she looks forward to serving Temple Adath Sharon in Sharon, Massachusetts this coming year as a Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellow.
Tamara is a second year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is also Associate Dean of Students at Gratz College. Among her past positions, Tamara has been Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs at theUniversity of Florida, Program Director of Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project at the JCC in Manhattan, and Spiritual Leader the GWCJL in Washington, Connecticut. Tamara served on the boards of Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Joshua Venture. She edited the Ma’yan Haggadah and has published several articles on Jewish women’s issues. She lives in Philadelphia with her partner Gwynn Kessler and their son Tobias.
Mark Elber was born and raised in New York City. He did his undergraduate studies in Philosophy at U. of Penn. and then his graduate studies in Kabbalah mostly at Hebrew U. in Jerusalem and also at Penn. He is a certified teacher of Jewish meditation through Chochmat HaLev and the author of "The Everything Kabbalah Book." A published poet, songwriter, and translator of Israeli rock songs, he’s expecting to be ordained this year through Aleph: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal. He lives in Huntington, Long Island.
Eliana Falk is near completion of her studies as a rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She is passionate about Jewish pluralism and respectful intra- and inter- faith dialogue. She has served as the communications director of the Connecticut office of the ADL and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. For the past 5 years, she has been a fellow with the Center for Christian Jewish Understanding based in Fairfield, Conn., and has been involved with interfaith clergy associations in the areas in which she has held student pulpits. She also served as education director at Congregation Or Shalom in Orange, Conn. She is beginning her fourth year as the spiritual leader of Beth El Synagogue, Southbury, Conn. and is married to artist Alan Falk.
Jonah Geffen is a Rabbi-in-training and educator in the field of Peace and Conflict Resolution. He holds an MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, and will receive Rabbinic Ordination and an MA in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2013. He is also a trained mediator, and received his BA in History and Jewish Studies from Indiana University. Jonah’s passion for peacemaking and belief in a compassionate, heart-centered Jewish practice has taken him from the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding where he co-authored the book Peacemakers in Action, to the Kivunim: New Directions Israel program as Coexistence Educator, to the Encounter program in Bethlehem as Facilitator and Teacher in the Peacemaker’s Beit Midrash. He has also served as Rabbi for the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation in Georgia. Born and raised in Manhattan, Jonah is a die hard Hoosiers and Giants fan. Jonah spent the past year in Israel studying in the Kollel of the Conservative Yeshiva, and along with his wife Julia and daughter Bina, gained fluency in the language and culture of the playgrounds of Jerusalem.
Jordan Hersh is a third-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a fellow of the Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership. He spent a year studying at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem prior to beginning his rabbinical training where he met his wife Shulie. After getting married they both returned to Israel where Jordan recently finished a year of study at the Schechter Institute of Rabbinic Studies, the Conservative Yeshiva and was a participant in the Shalom Hartman Rabbinical Students Seminar. During this time he also served as rabbinic intern to Rabbi Maurico Balter and his community in Be'er Sheva. In addition to his rabbinical education, Jordan is also pursuing an M.A. in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Languages at JTS.
Evan is a student in the Aleph Rabbinic Program and also a candidate for smicha in the Hashp’aah (spiritual direction) program. Prior to beginning study with Aleph, Evan was an active lay leader of the Washington DC Jewish Community, co- leading High Holiday Services at Beth El of Montgomery County, creating adult Jewish education programs, serving five years as the president of the Hillel at George Washington University and raising funds for the local Federation. As a lay leader, Evan participated in many CLAL sponsored educational programs and is thrilled to be able to study again with the inspiring CLAL faculty. Evan has been recognized by Israel Bonds with its Young Leadership Award, by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington as Campaigner of the Year (1999), by Hillel International with the Exemplar of Excellence Award (2005) and by ORT America with its community leadership award (2008). Evan earned both a JD and LLM (taxation) from George Washington University Law School and his private law practice focuses primarily on assisting persons with disabilities, advising fellow attorneys and families on their choices in the management and application of assets of children with disabilities and of seniors. Evan is married to Jodi M. Krame and has two adult children, Zachary and Sarah, both in Atlanta.
David Evan Markus
David Evan Markus is excited to join Rabbis Without Borders and grateful to CLAL for this opportunity. A native New Yorker, David is a third-year rabbinical and hashpa’ah (spiritual direction) student in ALEPH, the post-denominational Renewal seminary, and associate spiritual leader at Temple Beth El of City Island (Bronx, New York). In his day job, David serves as the New York State Judiciary’s deputy chief counsel under Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; previously David served as senior counsel to the Leader of the New York State Senate, deputy director for voter protection on behalf of a winning presidential campaign, and professor of public policy at two New York universities. Often juggling the secular and spiritual, David has done pastoral counseling on the floor of the State Capitol, crafted wedding liturgy from restaurants near his government office, and held policy forums in houses of worship — having a blast trying to live fully and authentically in both worlds without making the Constitution explode. David earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his Bachelor of Arts from Williams College.
Daniel Millner is from Glencoe, IL. He graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with a BA in Jewish and Religious Studies. Daniel then studied for two years at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat, Israel. He is currently a second-year rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Upon receiving ordination, Daniel would to pursue a career as a chaplain in the United States Navy.
Aaron Potek was born and raised in St. Louis Park, MN and majored in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. Aaron became very involved in Jewish life on campus, from coordinating matzah ball soup deliveries for sick Jewish students to founding the Jewish Engineering Association to performing with the Hillel’s first improv group, and upon graduating he decided to pursue a career in the rabbinate. After studying in Israel for two years, one at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem and one at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut, he enrolled at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York. He hopes to work as a University Hillel rabbi once he receives smicha.
Lyle is entering his 5th year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College-JIR where he is also pursuing his MA in Religious Education. Before moving to the Upper West Side, he called Long Island home. After graduating from Hofstra University in 2004, Lyle went to live in Israel as a madrich on Carmel, a first year college program with the Reform Movement at the Leo Baeck Education Center and University of Haifa. In the Summer of 2010 he traveled to Israel with the Auburn Theological Seminary and the American Jewish Committee on a Protestant/Jewish seminarian dialogue trip. He currently teaches 12th grade at Congregation Rodeph Sholom and has spent the last two years as the Reform rabbinic intern at Columbia/Barnard Hillel. This year Lyle will serve as the student rabbi at the Har Tikvah Congregation of Brampton Ontario.
Eva is a student in the ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal Rabbinic Program. A native Californian, she currently resides in Westchester County, NY where she works as a speech and language pathologist and a Jewish spiritual director. Eva integrates her background in Jewish chanting, art, meditation, yoga and movement into her prayer leadership, teaching and rituals. When not studying, working or being ‘mom’ to her two beloved daughters, Eva enjoys connecting with friends, gardening, music, traveling, and cooking with her husband, Larry.
Raised in Woodmere, NY, Andrew attended modern Orthodox day schools, Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway and North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. He then studied for a year at Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Zion after which he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish History from New York University. He taught English for a year to kindergartners in the Japanese countryside, taking the train into Tokyo on Sundays to teach Hebrew School at the JCC there. After many conversations with Rabbi Antonio DiGesu and others in the Far East, he decided that he could best serve the Jewish people as a Rabbi in underserved communities, leading to his decision to attend Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Jennifer Schlosberg is a rising senior rabbinical student at JTS, where she received the Neubauer Fellowship and the Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship. Jen graduated from the University of Hartford, where she majored in psychology and held the position of student body president. After college, she worked as a Jewish outreach professional for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life on campuses in Ohio and California and then Hillel’s Schusterman International Center in Washington, DC. During rabbinical school, Jen served as a chaplain intern at Jewish Home Lifecare and at Bellevue Hospital, a gabbai for Women’s League Seminary Synagogue, a service leader for both toddlers and seniors, and was active in Keshet — the LGBTQ student-ally group at JTS. She has served as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York and at Dix Hills Jewish Center in Dix Hills, NY. She looks forward to serving as the student rabbi for Congregation Ahavath Israel in Kingston, NY this coming year as a Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellow. She enjoys advocating for the special needs community and spends her spare time taking pictures and twirling her fire baton (ask about her havdalah routine!)
Joshua Stanton is a rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. He is also founding co-Editor of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue at Auburn Theological Seminary and co-Director of Religious Freedom USA, which works to ensure that freedom of religion is as protected in practice as it is in writ. Josh has been the recipient of leadership awards, including the Bridge-Builders Leadership Award from the Interfaith Youth Core, the Associates of Jewish Homes and Services for the Aging’s Annette W. and Herbert H. Lichterman Outstanding Programming Award, the Volunteer Hero Award of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the W. MacLean Johnson Fellowship for Action, and the Hyman P. Moldover Scholarship for Jewish Communal Service. A member of the commentators' bench of Odyssey Networks, Josh is a regular blogger for Rabbis for Human Rights and has had articles and interviews featured in newspapers, radio and television broadcasts, academic journals, and publications in over nine languages. These include pieces for the Washington Post's On Faith, Patheos, The Revealer, Sojourners, Sightings, Religious Education, German National Radio, Swedish National Radio, the Pakistan Christian Post, Gulf Times, and the Daily News Egypt.
Victoria Sutton is a second-year student at Yeshivat Maharat. Prior to that, Victoria spent the past year studying Talmud at Mechon Hadar. She graduate of Barnard College with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. She also holds a Grand Diploma in Pastry Arts from the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. Victoria also serves as a Victim Intervention Advocate at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she is trained to provide emotional support in the Emergency Room to survivors of rape and domestic violence.
2010-2011 Student Fellows
Born in Israel, Daniel moved to the Chicago area in 1981. He taught in local religious schools during high school and while attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. He was a DeLeT Fellow at Brandeis University and completed his Master’s Degree via distance learning at Siegal College in Cleveland, OH focusing on Jewish Identity formation in middle school students. Daniel was a Judaic Studies teacher at the Davis Academy in Atlanta, GA, before entering HUC-JIR, where he is entering his fourth year in New York. He is currently in his second year as Rabbinic Intern at Temple Emeth, in Teaneck, NJ.
Ellen Bernstein founded the first national Jewish environmental organization, Shomrei Adamah in 1988 and has written several books on Judaism and ecology including The Splendor of Creation. She also worked at the Philadelphia Jewish Federation for several years as Director of Jewish Continuity and Outreach. She is currently a rabbinical student at AJR and continues to write and speak.
Aderet Drucker is a fourth-year rabbinical student at The Jewish Theological Seminary and holds the prestigious Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership. She recently spent her third year of school studying in Jerusalem, while she served as the rabbinic intern to Rabbi Mauricio Balter and his community in northern Israel. This Fall, Aderet begins a two-year position as the rabbinic intern for Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York while she also serves as the rabbinic presence to the members of Congregation Shomrei Torah in Tallahassee, Florida. Aderet has completed training in community organizing, a 400-hour unit in hospital chaplaincy at Bellevue Hospital and was a recent participant of the Shalom Hartman Rabbinical Students Seminar in Israel. Aderet and her husband, Brett, are excited to celebrate their three-year wedding anniversary this summer, in August of 2010.
Ilan Glazer is a student in the ALEPH:Alliance for Jewish Renewal Rabbinic program, an ordained Maggid (Jewish Spiritual Storyteller), certified Storahtelling Maven, a Jewish Environmental Educator, Sacred Hebrew Chant leader, ritual facilitator, and a talented percussionist. Ilan recently finished 10 months in Jerusalem at the Pardes institute for Jewish Studies and the Nava Tehila Bet Midrash, and now moves on to a new position as the Spiritual Leader of a synagogue in North Jersey.
Bradley is a second year Rabbinical Student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He is originally from Great Neck, New York and attended North Shore Hebrew Academy for elementary school, RAMAZ for high school, and then spent a year in Israel at Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim. He then attended New York University, where he studied Psychology and Jewish History. Some of his professional experiences include: Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Fellowship at Binghamton University, and a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education as a chaplain intern at North Shore University Hospital.
Heidi Hoover is a rabbinical student entering final year at the Academy for Jewish Religion. For her Master's thesis, she is creating a specialized Passover haggadah for converts, which will explore traditions and issues surrounding conversion to Judaism, both for Jews by Choice and for their friends and relatives. This year will be her 5th year as rabbinic intern at Temple Beth Emeth, a Reform synagogue in Ditmas, Brooklyn. She is married to Mike Rose, a creative director and technology blogger (TUAW.com), and they live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn with daughters Hannalina(9)andShoshana(5).
Daniel Kirzane is a 3rd-year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. Originally from Roanoke, VA, Daniel attended the University of Virginia; he graduated in 2007 with a double- major in Religious Studies and Jewish Studies. Following his undergraduate studies, Daniel dedicated a year to national service with the AmeriCorps organization City Year: Washington, D.C. With City Year, Daniel taught an HIV-prevention curriculum in DC public high schools and planned and participated in a number of community beautification projects. Currently, he serves as the student rabbi of Temple Israel in Steubenville, Ohio and is the Student Coordinator of HUC's weekly Soup Kitchen.
Elinor Knepler is entering her final year of studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. She is returning to the US after spending two years in Israel, studying at a number of different institutions, including Matan, Hebrew University, the Conservative Yeshiva and the Hartman Institute. She took advantage of her time in Israel to travel throughout the country, as well as to Spain, Turkey and Egypt. A proud Midwesterner, Ellie hails originally from Chicago and received her BA with distinction from the University of Wisconsin. During her time in rabbinical school, Ellie has especially enjoyed hospital chaplaincy and working with elders. When she isn't working or studying, Ellie loves reading, yoga, singing, traveling and being in nature.
David Levin is a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He is a second-career student following a career in finance and real estate. David was most recently affiliated with Temple Bat Yam in Ft. Lauderdale, where he served as an Officer on the Board of Directors and headed the Social Action Committee. Urban legend held that the only way the Temple community would permit David not to accede to be Temple President was if he was accepted into rabbinical school. The following summer David left for Jerusalem to begin his first year at HUC-JIR. David earned an AB in Economics from the University of Chicago (1979) and an MBA from New York University (1981). David divides his time between New York and Philadelphia where his fiancée resides
Rori Picker Neiss
Rori Picker Neiss graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College in 2007 with degrees in Religious Studies and Political Science. She has worked as the Acting Executive Director for Religions for Peace-USA, Program Coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, and Assistant Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee and isco-editor of "InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook," a practical guide for embracing the growing religious pluralism in America. Rori has studied in the Beit Midrash at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and is entering her first year at Yeshivat Maharat.
Rabbi Ari Saks is in his second year as rabbi of the historic Congregation Beth Mordecai in Perth Amboy, NJ. In his first year as rabbi he launched many innovative programs to infuse passion and energy in this small Jewish community, including religious programs like the Cantorial Showcase and "White Out" Friday Night. He also reaches beyond the borders of the synagogue to attract 20s and 30s through joint programming with Jersey Tribe; to engage unaffiliated families through book reading at Barnes and Noble and tabling at Menlo Park Mall; and to learn some serious Torah at nearby Yeshivat Panera. Rabbi Saks also believes strongly in using social media and technological resources to reach out to people and to teach Torah, such as an "Online Yizkor" on the congregation's Facebook page; writing a daily blog/journal to keep his community informed of his journey as a rabbi; and his weekly Online Parashah Class. Through these efforts, the synagogue has increased membership by nearly 15%, significantly reduced the deficit, and increased it's online reach at least fourfold.
Rabbi Saks is also very interested and engaged in interfaith work as a Deputy Commander of the Perth Amboy Chaplain Corps and member of Metuchen/Edison Area Interfaith Clergy Association (MEAICA), while working closely with neighboring St. Peter's Episcopal Church to run interfaith worship and "events for their communities". Rabbi Saks will soon be co-teaching a seminar with Reverend Anne Marie Jeffery of St. Peter's to help interfaith families engage in "deeper learning and understanding of their spouse's faith".
Gail Swedroe will be a Year Four rabbinical student at JTS after returning from a year of study in Israel. Originally from San Jose, California, Gail graduated from UC- Santa Barbara with a BA in Religious Studies where she found great meaning in learning about the similarities between different religious traditions. Following college, she worked as a Hillel Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow at Stanford University having lots of coffee and conversations with students about their Jewish identity and life; Gail loved making Judaism meaningful and relevant to students who were not involved in the Jewish community. While in rabbinical school, Gail has been privileged to serve as a chaplain intern at Stanford Hospital, a community educator at BIMA teaching a workshop entitled Movement as Midrash, and is looking forward to serving as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Beth El in South Orange, NJ this upcoming year. When Gail is not doing rabbinical work (or even sometimes while she is), she enjoys dancing, yoga and musical theater.
Aaron Weininger is entering his fourth year of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he is also pursuing a Certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Complementing his studies in the classroom, he represents the rabbinical school on the national advisory board of Addressing Evaded Issues in Jewish Education and has served as a chaplain intern in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. Drawn to the diversity of Jewish life on campus since he was a student leader at the St. Louis Hillel of Washington University, he has been working for the past three years with the students at Colgate University for the High Holy Days. This fall Aaron will be joining Park Slope Jewish Center in Brooklyn as its rabbinic intern.
Ruth Balinsky graduated Barnard College in 2007 with a bachelor in Psychology and Jewish Studies. She was raised in Chicago, where she has spent the past two summers staffing Or Tzedek, a social justice program for Jewish teens. This summer Ruth plans to return to Or Tzedek as the Rabbinic Teen Leader Fellow. Ruth has a strong background in social justice work, and recently completed the Grace Paley z''l Organizing Fellowship with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. This coming fall, Ruth will begin her second year of the Scholars Circle at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.
2009-2010 Student Fellows
Rachael Bregman is currently at Temple Beth Tefilloh in Brunswick (on the coast south of Savannah) Georgia as the first female and the first resident rabbi in over 50 years. There she strives to offer Judaism all who are interested in her gifts. She grew up at with a little bit of everything-as a member of Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, active in NFTY, and at Camp Ramah in New England, a Conservative Movement summer camp. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Boston College, a Catholic school, took a year off from Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) to study at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, a liberal Orthodox Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and took time out along the way to hike the Appalachian Trail. During her four years in Rabbinical school in New York City, she ran the Soup Kitchen at HUC, served as the student rabbi at the Manhattan Hebrew Association for the Deaf, joined the first cohort of student rabbis as CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, worked as a chaplain for both Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Hospital as well as became a student chaplain in the US Navy, a pastry chef at Mara's Homemade Restaurant and had many adventures traveling the world in search for true justice in places like Rwanda, Uganda and even St. Paul Minnesota. She currently lived two miles from the beach and is happily married to Dan.
Gadi Capela will start his second year of the rabbinical program at the Jewish Theological Seminary in fall 2009. Gadi was born and raised in Israel to parents who returned from Yemen in the early 50's. In 1995, after completing a four-year army service as a rescue officer, Gadi moved to New York to study at Yeshiva College, completing a BS in business and an AA in Talmud. Between 2000 and 2008 Gadi worked as a business analyst and a management consultant. During that time he also completed an MA in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. When he is not studying, Gadi loves to travel.
Zach Fredman is a rabbinical student at JTS. He grew up in St. Louis and did his undergraduate at NYU in 'Conceptions of God,' after which he spent a year traveling in India. Aside from rabbi-ing he dabbles as a guitarist, pie-maker, creative-play instructor, buddhist, and expert in the lost midrash on Esther.
Moshe is a Rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He is currently on a leave of absence from the Yeshiva and is teaching Tanach, Talmud, Jewish Ethics and Jewish Philosophy at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School. Moshe has been teaching both formally and informally for the past 6 years at the Young Israel of Staten Island, Jewish Foundation School, Hebrew Institute of White Plains, Polonies Talmud Torah School at Congregation Shearith Israel and Camp Yavneh.
Sandra Ariela("Ari") Shachar Hendin
Entering her last year of studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Ari Hendin has chosen to focus her rabbinate on Jewish Education. Informed by her first career as a psychologist with a specialty in family and health psychology, Ari is interested in applying Jewish concepts, values and practices to enhance physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being both within the Jewish community and within broader American society. She is excited about learning ways to accomplish this by participating in the CLAL Rabbis Without Borders fellowship program.
Michael S. Jay
Michael S. Jay is a 3rd year Rabbinical student at JTS, a lawyer, the Director of Rimon (a collaborative adult Jewish learning initiative), the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex, a father to Sammi, and a husband to Sheri. The Rabbis Without Borders initiative of educating rabbis how to craft their teaching of Jewish wisdom so that it will bring meaning and purpose to individuals’ lives is a core value that Michael believes is necessary to bring to his rabbinate.
Elyse Seidner-Joseph received smicha/ordination from Aleph in January 2013. She is the founder and spiritual leader of Makom Kadosh:The Jewish Fellowship of Chester County, an independent Jewish community serving Jews, those in relationship with Jews, and spiritual seekers of all kinds. Multi-faith work is an important part of her rabbinate. She created and leads a local clergy reading/support group, Daughters of Abraham reading group, and an annual Women’s Multi-Faith Seder, and volunteers weekly at the St. Agnes Day Room. A retired/disabled gastroenterologist, Elyse makes her home in the beautiful Brandywine valley with her husband of 30+ years, Kenny, a clarinetist-teacher.
Daniel is originally from West Orange, New Jersey. After studying Judaic Studies in Binghamton University, he served as the Youth Department Supervisor at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County New Jersey. Daniel will be beginning his fourth and last year as Rabbinical Student in Yeshivat Chovevei Torah this coming September. Some of his professional experiences include: Rabbinic Intern, Congregation Shearith Israel, Nashville, TN., instructor for the 92nd street Y's Derekh Torah program, and the chair of the Research Committee for Fuel For Truth, a non-profit dedicated to educating young Americans about Israel and the Middle East.
Simcha Raphael, Ph.D. is Adjunct Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies at Temple University, and works as a psychotherapist, affiliated with Mount Airy Counseling Center, in Philadelphia. Ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as a Rabbinic Pastor, he is currently in the Rabbinical Ordination program of the Academy for Jewish Religion. Simcha is author of Jewish Views of the Afterlife. His website is www.simcharaphael.com.
Rabbi Joshua Ratner is the Associate Rabbi and Engagement Director at Yale's Slifka Center for Jewish Life and the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Haven. Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2012, Rabbi Ratner was a Joseph Neubauer Fellow and also earned a Master's Degree in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care. He also worked as an attorney for five years prior to entering rabbinical school. Rabbi Ratner is passionate about the interplay between Judaism, public policy, and American culture. He has received training in congregation-based community organizing and was part of the original rabbinical student cohort of Rabbis Without Borders fellows. He and his wife, Dr. Elena Ratner, are the proud parents of Dimitri, Eli, and Gabriella
Michael Ross is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. This fall he will be leading Chavurah B’Yachad in Salt Lake City throughout the High Holidays. During this past year, Michael has worked as the education director for Or Shalom, in Berwyn. He has served as a rabbinic intern at Beth Israel in Media and Kesher Israel in West Chester. He facilitates a weekly Torah Study group and a weekly meditation sitting at Congregation B’nai Jacob, in Phoenixville, where his wife Rabbi Rachel Brown serves the community. Michael taught in the Gratz Community High School program, and co-edited the recent JRF children’s siddur, "Kol HaNo’ar: The Voice of Children." Michael was a news journalist for 20 years. He was one of the managing editors at the Oakland Tribune.Michael holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Judaism, and a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University
Ariana Silverman was raised in Chicago, received her A.B. in History from Harvard University in 2000, and from 2000-2001, served as a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. She has worked for the Sierra Club, Hazon, Temple Beth Israel in Steubenville, OH, and Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. She is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program.
Kaya Stern-Kaufman is a 4th year Rabbinical Student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale NY. She lives in the Berkshires in Western Mass. with her husband and two teenage children. She is a Jewish Educator and one of the founders and leaders of The Berkshire Minyan- an independant traditonal/egalitarian minyan that meets at Hevreh of S. Berkshire- the largest Reform Synagogue in the county. Kaya holds an MSW in clinical social work, having worked primarily with children and families in the field of sexual abuse.Kaya is also certified as a professional feng shui consultant and dowser.
Seth Winberg is a student at YCT Rabbinical School. Originally from Canada, he earned a BA at York University and an MA in Medieval Jewish History at Yeshiva University. He previously studied at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Conservative Yeshiva.