Rabbi Neil F. Blumofe is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin, Texas. He holds Rabbinic Ordination from both the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York and the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Neil is active in the greater Austin music community — producing and performing the monthly “Jazz and the Art of” series for the public radio station (KUT). His weekly Liner Notes on various jazz artists can be heard on the radio in Austin every Sunday morning and is distributed across the country. He is on faculty at St.EdwardsUniversity, teaching in both Jewish Studies and Jazz Studies. Blumofe has been a Rabbis Without Borders fellow in New York, is a member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and is a member of the upcoming Rabbinic Leadership Institute at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem (2013-2016). He is also an active Crossfitter.
Vision | “Leadership comes with the discipline of patience and generosity. Character is forged not only in the public workshops of performance – rather more significantly in the small ways of rendering goodness. Like a soloist in a jazz ensemble, playing beautifully and technically inspires others to improvise in turn and to trust from the charts of their personal experience. I believe in learning and growing from our learning and to know and appreciate the gifts and the limitations that we have. I view the synagogue as a sacred laboratory and to share vision, sweat, and possibility with those invested in its existence and improvement.”
Rabbi Carie Carter has served as the rabbi at the Park Slope Jewish Center since 2000. Both she and the synagogue have been on the cutting edge in advancing LGBTQ inclusion in the Conservative movement. Following her ordination at JTS, Carie served as the director of Cleveland Metro Hillel, overseeing several campuses in the greater Cleveland area. Inspired by her work in Hillel and as an educator in pluralistic summer camps and youth movements, Carie is deeply committed to helping people engage with Judaism in their own way, recognizing that “there are many roads to the palace” of Jewish living. She was in the inaugural cohort of NY UJA’s Rabbinic Fellowship for Visionary Leadership and has also studied with the Mussar Institute. She played a central role in establishing the IsraelBrooklyn Shlichut Initiative in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the New York Jewish Federation, connecting Brooklyn Jews not only to Israel, but to one another. Her volunteer work has included Habitat for Humanity, the Human Rights Campaign and T’ruah. She lives in Park Slope with her wife Eden and daughter Noa.
Vision Statement | In a world of individualism and isolation, I, as a rabbi, am committed to creating community: physical and spiritual spaces where each person who enters can bring their authentic selves; where people can be accepted, celebrated and valued as they are; and where striving, honesty and humility guide our actions and our interactions with one another. From this safe place, I help people work together to dedicate time, energy and passion to creating a broader community where no one feels threatened by another; a community where Torah and Jewish wisdom, in its broadest sense, can be a guiding force inspiring us to seek justice and to create lives of connection and meaning for one another.
Rabbi Jeffrey Eisenstat is the founding director of the Reconstructionist Camp JRF (now Camp Havaya) and the movement’s youth program, Noar Hadash. In over 40 years as a rabbi, he has served congregations in Plantation, FL, Philadelphia and State College, PA, directed Hillel at Penn State and has run summer camps, youth programs, family retreats and family trips to Israel. He received his MA in Education from Temple University and is a 1976 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. At RRC, Jeff has taught courses for Rabbi as Educator, Merging Formal and Informal Jewish Learning and Transformative Text Experiences. He has served as a faculty member of the JCCAssociation and as a mentor for the Lekhu Lakhem camp director program. Among his writings are studies in creating family davening experiences and the values of spiritual peoplehood. He has also made some musical recordings. Jeff is married to Rabbi Sarah Messinger. Together, they co-created Congregation Shireinu in Bryn Mawr, PA., where they use their experiential skills in creative prayer and programs.
Vision | According to Rav Kook, each of us has a song in our soul. My song is leading the Jewish people in education, from formal to experiential, from early childhood to our honored elders. I can sing inside a classroom or out in nature and I help others find their Jewish voice. These melodies can burst forth from the bimah with young or old in celebration, or it can be the whisper of a psalm at graveside. But the most important symphony comes when I act as conductor in creating “intentional holy community”.
Rabbi Laura Geller is Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She was the first woman to be selected to lead a major metropolitan synagogue and was twice named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America and was featured in the PBS documentary “Jewish Americans.” Ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1976, she is the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. A frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, she is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. Prior to coming to TempleEmanuel she served as the Hillel Director at USC for 14 years and then as the regional director of the American Jewish Congress. She is married to Richard Siegel, the mother of Joshua and Elana, and the step-mother of Andy and Ruth.
Vision | “My role is to be translator, teacher, guide, nudge, connector and leader. As translator and teacher, I try to make these Jewish tools accessible through teaching, writing, facilitating prayer experience and the example of how I live my own life. As guide, I am present to individuals and families at important moments of celebration and loss through creative engagement with ritual and prayer. As nudge, I am relentless in my intention to empower others to take responsibility for their Jewish lives and the life of our community. As connector, I facilitate relationships among people and among diverse communities. As leader, I try to be bold about articulating, advocating and organizing in the Jewish community, in Israel, and in the larger world to move us a little closer to a vision of a world redeemed.”
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein served for twenty years as the Director of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning which she founded in Toronto. She is currently the Founding Rabbi of City Shul, an out-of-the-box new Reform congregation in downtown Toronto. She was ordained from Hebrew Union College in 1983, and served as Canada’s only female rabbi for the first three years of her rabbinate. She is one of seven women featured in the Canadian National Film Board documentary, “Half the Kingdom.” She is the author of ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens and Seek Her Out. Elyse is also the editor of The Women’s Torah Commentary, The Women’s Haftarah Commentary and New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future. She is the 2005 recipient of the Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators. Elyse loves spinning, skiing (both downhill and cross-country) and singing her heart out. She is a devoted foodie, fast-paced traveler (having taken her kids out of school for 6 months to travel around the world) and family-lover of husband Baruch and sons Noam, Carmi-Yonah, and Micah.
Vision | I have wanted to be a rabbi since my Bat Mitzvah at age 13— though I had never seen a woman on the bima. Being a rabbi is to grab hold of the rich and meaningful chain of Jewish tradition, wind it around in new and thought-provoking ways and help people take a hold of whatever link lands near their heart. To be a liberal rabbi in this century is the deep but motivating paradox of being an agent of change with a reverence for an unchanging text and a slowly-changing tradition. I still believe that the synagogue is the best place to do that; a place where it is safe to wrestle with the angels both within and without.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz serves Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough, MA. A graduate of the CLAL student program, and the first cohort of the Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, Rabbi Gurevitz became Rabbi of CBS in 2012 after six years as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel, Bridgeport, CT, where she was a founder of an interfaith Tent of Abraham program and served for several summers with the management team of Elat Chayim. Growing up in a Modern Orthodox community in the suburbs of London and transitioning to a Reform community and Jewish Renewal chavurah during her college years, Rachel studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College, London and Hebrew Union College, NY and a Ph.D in Cultural Geography (Sociology) at University College London. Rabbi Gurevitz is married to Rabbi Suri Krieger (AJR, NY, 2009) and they have four adult step-children.
Vision | “As a rabbi who seeks to understand and serve my community and bring Jewish wisdom into the context of their everyday lives, I bring the outside world into my teaching and provide bridges for congregants to navigate the different parts of their lives. I have a love of Jewish mysticism and spiritual practice and bring creative, experiential prayer into a mainstream, Reform congregation in ways that open people to trying new things. I am passionate about interfaith work and making our congregation more actively present in the wider community. I work as a partner with my lay leadership, shaping the identity and values of the congregation together, and seeking to make it more of a model of the values and sacred community that we all aspire to be.”
Rabbi Adam Kligfeld is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am, in Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of Columbia University, with a degree in Jewish History and Psychology, Adam was ordained by JTS. He participated in leadership training through STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), as well as at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem as a member of the 5th cohort the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. Adam’s transformation of the prayer life at Beth Am has led to the hosting of two national conferences called Kol Tefilah, focusing on the many ways that music, song, harmony, niggun, meditation and spiritual uplift can transform a congregation’s approach to tefillah. (https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/re-imagining-synagogue-worship/). He recently completed a sabbatical focusing on meditation and mindfulness, as well a deep dive into Hasidic mysticism. Adam is an avid biker, an even more-avid Yankee fan. He is married to Havi Kligfeld and father to Noa, Ayden and Lev.
Vision | I try to promote a religious life that is filled with meaningful rituals that inspire more ethical living. When you pray, it should both energize you and ground you. A life touched by the divine spirit should push you, agitate you and challenge you about the state of the world; but it should also offer comfort and relieve you from what is hard in life. I see paradoxes all around us, and my personal relationships, religious life and rabbinic purpose all push me to live within those paradoxes. I try to grasp hold of life’s complexities with honesty, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a striving to be close: to God, to others, and to my truest self.
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann is founder and now Rabbi Emerita of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, building a progressive Jewish community in Brooklyn for 22 years. Rabbi Lippmann is the former East Coast Director of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and former director of the Jewish Women’s Program at the New 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Rabbi Lippmann was Co-chair and still serves on the board of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She served as the first social justice chair for the Women’s Rabbinic Network. She is the founder of the Soup Kitchen at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and co-founder of the 17-year-old Children of Abraham Peace Walk: Jews, Christians and Muslims Walking Together in Brooklyn in Peace. She also serves on the rabbinic councils of J-Street and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. Rabbi Lippmann was ordained in 1991 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and also received there the degree of Master of Hebrew Letters. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Boston University and an MS in Library Science from Simmons College. Rabbi Lippmann and her wife are long-time Brooklyn residents and believe to be absolutely true what a Kolot Chayeinu member once said in jest: “IT DON’T GET ANY BETTER THAN BROOKLYN!”
Vision | A Jewish home has an open door: I have believed for a long time that Jewish community and any one Jewish community must be open to its margins, to embracing the fringes that we who wear tallitot can well imagine: We gather the fringes of our tallitot as the many become one! I believe in welcoming – hakhnasat orkhim – as a value for all, and never as a way for an “us” to welcome a “you” who thus immediately feels “other.” For Jews as for many peoples, food is often the best way to open up: When we join to break bread, we also break down the divides that can otherwise separate us. And when we break bread and acknowledge the chain of work that begins with God’s gift of wheat and ends with the last person who made or purchased the bread, we are honoring avodah: the labor and service that went into the food we are eating, linking us to workers of all kinds. Eating together can provide a bridge from the outside world to the world within, from work to prayer, from home to shul, from busy to restful. Shabbat is the locus of our rest and determination, our prayer and community, our learning and commitment to doing. “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes,” said the legendary civil rights hero Ella Baker. I say, “We who believe in freedom MUST rest SO it can come.”
Rabbi Jack Luxemburg graduated HUC in 1976. He was the first full-time rabbi of Temple Beth Ami, Rockville, MD where he served for thirty-five years. During his tenure, Beth Ami became noted for the diversity and depth of its spiritual, educational and social program, the scope of its social action and advocacy efforts, as well as for the inclusiveness of its membership. Jack combined forty years of congregational leadership with substantial community involvement — Regional President of the American Jewish Congress, President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (the only rabbi to do so in the history of the agency), Senior Vice-Chairman of ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists in America), and a voice of the Jewish community in the Interfaith Alliance, Rockville, MD. Jack holds a doctoral degree in Pastoral Theology from the Wesley Theological Seminary. He enjoys leading trips to Israel, playing the clarinet in the Temple band, being husband to Barbara and father to Daniel and Michael.
Vision | There is a special type of creative genius demonstrated when taking a received thing and discovering within it something never found before. To me, this is a description of the very essence of our Judaism and of our role as rabbis. As heirs of a received tradition, both spiritual and ethical, a history with aspects both sacred and secular, and a culture that is as dynamic as it is diverse, it is our role to discover the insights, interpretations, inspirations and even innovations inherent in our heritage and still waiting to be discovered so that we can teach a Judaism responsive to the needs, longings and aspirations of our folk and faith at this unique moment in Jewish history. We do this through active study, prayerful introspection and whole-hearted engagement. We explore our Torah and other texts, as well as the constellation of rituals and customs that are expressions of the Jewish spirit. We participate in and evaluate our institutions and communal structures. We immerse ourselves in the concerns of our people here and in Israel, of our local and nation communities, and of the world at large. Within these contexts and in the many others that make up the totality of Jewish experience, I believe there is much waiting to be found, much begging to be learned and shared, and consequently, much still to be done.
Rabbi Marc Margolius is Senior Programs Director at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, a center for training rabbis, cantors, educators and lay leaders in Jewish mindfulness practice and transforming Jewish life. At IJS, Rabbi Margolius directs the Institute’s Kivvun program for lay leaders, Hevraya program for clergy, and Tikkun Middot Project, which integrates Jewish mindfulness with middot practice. He previously served as rabbi at West End Synagogue, a Reconstructionist Congregation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and conceived and directed the Legacy Heritage Innovation Project, an initiative supporting systemic educational transformation in congregations across North America, Europe and Israel. As spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley PA from 1989-2002, Marc helped develop a national model of the synagogue as a Shabbat-centered community constructed around intergenerational learning. He was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (1989). A graduate of Yale Law School, he has long been active in interfaith matters and social justice issues. He lives in New York with his wife Rabbi Ayelet Cohen and has five children.
Vision | As a rabbi, I seek to support Jews in discovering deep resonance between their personal experience and Jewish resources and spiritual practices and help them experience Jewishness as a central aspect of renewing themselves and this world. I have particular interest in exploring Jewish tradition through the lens of mindfulness and how that supports Judaism as a practice of ongoing transformation. I am committed to a systemic model of Jewish spiritual community that embraces diversity as a manifestation of unity, organically integrates all facets of Jewish living and supports ongoing individual and collective transformation.
Rabbi Jack Moline is Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance and Rabbi Emeritus of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia. He was the first Director of Public Policy for the Rabbinical Assembly. Rabbi Moline has chaired the Washington Board of Rabbis, the Interfaith Relations Committee of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the board of Interfaith Alliance, and the Alexandria Interfaith Council. He has served as an officer of the Washington-Baltimore Rabbinical Assembly and has been on the boards the Faith and Politics Institute and Operation Understanding DC. Rabbi Moline is an adjunct faculty member of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Virginia Theological Seminary. Rabbi Moline has authored two books and has contributed to many publications. He is a popular speaker, featured on radio, television and web broadcasts and in synagogues, churches and organizations across the United States and Canada. He prefers to be best known as husband of Ann and father of Julia, Max, and Jennie and Kevin O’Holleran (and grandfather to their perfect daughter). Rabbi Moline is an alumnus of the Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship.
Vision | “I am an intensely private person in an excruciatingly public position. My own expectation, which mirrors others’ expectations, is that I will model an authentic Jewish life in my ritual conduct and moral compass. I strive to be the real deal. It begins with being unembarrassed by my belief in a personal God, a commitment to my life being guided by Jewish law, and a determination to be honest about both –even when personal conviction or shortcomings get in my way. I therefore strive to be generous, compassionate and understanding, and to meet people where they are. I find it equally important to listen and to speak up. The trick is in knowing when to do each.”
Rabbi Barbara Penzner has served as kol-bo rabbi at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in Boston since 1995. She was President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Currently, she co-chairs the Jewish Labor Committee-New England and leads its annual Labor Seder. She was a founding board member of Mayyim Hayyim Mikveh in Newton. Barbara’s spiritual life is shaped by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, she studies Torah with the Shalom Hartman Institute and has developed her leadership through Bend the Arc’s Selah network of Jewish social justice activists. In 2011, Rabbis for Human Rights (now T’ruah) named her a Rabbinic Human Rights Hero for her advocacy for workers’ rights. She is married to Brian Rosman, with whom she shares her love of Bruce Springsteen and the Red Sox. They are the proud parents of Aviva and Yonah.
Vision | The prophet Micah inspires me every day, to “do justice, act with love, and walk humbly with….” That is, Jewish life encompasses working for justice and is sustained by spiritual practice. Justice and practice are held together through building loving relationships. As a congregational leader, my primary vehicle is one-to-one relationship building, between me and congregants of all ages, and among congregants. Relationships are the foundation for a strong, supportive, and welcoming community. Tikkun olam and spiritual practice depend on and enhance one another. I believe that a community that strengthens individual’s practice, whether through prayer, study, mind-body work, meditation, or mussar, will become motivated to care about others and to act to bring justice to our community and our world. A community of activists must be sustained by practices that cultivate a sense of one’s place in the world (humility and gratitude) and that inspire perseverance and hope.
Rabbi Shalom Carnie Rose serves at the Rabbi Bernard Lipnick Senior Rabbinic Chair of Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis, MO. Rose has lived, studied, and taught throughout the world, including stints in Canada, Israel, The Far East, and Europe. Deeply committed to pluralism, Rabbi Rose continually strives to find innovative ways to make Jewish tradition existentially relevant for contemporary seekers. Rose has served as a member of the Federation’s National Young Leadership Cabinet; was selected to participate in the STAR Rabbis: From Good to Great Program; KJL – The Kellogg School of Management’s Education for Jewish Leaders Circle; CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders; the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Global Emerging Leaders Forum; the International Rabbinic Leadership Council, the Rabbinic Leadership Institute of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem; and spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Jerusalem as a Fellow at the Hebrew University’s Melton Centre for Jewish Education. He is married to Pauline and they have four children, Noa, Zakai, Lev & Ellior.
Vision | “I am deeply committed to pluralism and continually strive to find innovative ways to make Jewish tradition existentially relevant for contemporary seekers. I consider myself a dynamic and passionate teacher and preacher who strives to bridge the ways of the past with the needs of the present for the sake of the future.”
Rabbi Francine Roston is a co-founder and rabbi with Glacier Jewish Community/B’nai Shalom which serves the Jewish community of the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana. She is co-founder and leader of a local Interfaith Clergy group, a member of the local human rights group Love Lives Here, and a regular volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of the Flathead Valley and Farm Hands/Nourish the Flathead—providing local, nutritious food to school backpack programs and coordinating the double-SNAP program at local farmers’ markets. From 2005 to 2014, Francine served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, New Jersey when she made news for breaking the “stained glass ceiling” as she became the first woman to lead a Conservative congregation larger than five hundred member units. During her tenure Francine engaged the congregation in innovative learning programs, revitalization of Shabbat worship, building a communal Chevra Kadisha, and developing a welcoming, diverse congregation. Previously she served six years as the solo rabbi of Congregation Beth Tikvah in New Milford, New Jersey. Her first rabbinic position was as an assistant rabbi at a large, suburban New Jersey congregation. She was ordained at JTS in 1998 after receiving her BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. She is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow and teacher of the Community Resiliency Model® helping to create “trauma-informed” and “resiliency-focused” communities.
Vision | I am an independent rabbi. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a rabbi so that I could welcome people into a Jewish practice that was inspiring and meaningful. I am called to promote the creation of healthy, vibrant Jewish communities, Jewish families and Jewish homes. We do not live in the shtetl, however; we live in a large, diverse world and we must continually build bridges to create mutual understanding, respect and care. I strive to be a wise, compassionate guide to my congregation so that together we can create a welcoming, egalitarian, compelling community and be good citizens of the world. Last, I love rabbis. Whenever I have an opportunity to say Kaddish d’Rabbanan, I recite it in honor of my teachers and colleagues. I pray that our sacred work feeds us and that we are able to find healing of body and spirit as we lead with our hearts.
Rabbi Hyim Shafner is the rabbi of Kesher Israel in the Georgetown section of Washington D.C. Prior to that post, he served as the rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. Hyim was the Rabbi of the Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis for eight years and the Rabbi of India for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He has s’micha, an MSW in social work and an MA in Jewish philosophy from Yeshiva University. Rabbi Shafner is the author of the Everything Jewish Wedding Book (2008), a founding writer of Morethodoxy, a periodic columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and a regular contributor to The Journal of Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Vision | I am committed to building communities that strive for spiritual passion, deep learning, and devoted observance, interwoven with an extreme culture of welcoming in which even the implicit barriers to entry are removed. Such communities are open, not only to people but to ideas, because it takes a wide array of spiritual tools to connect with an infinite G-d. With this in mind we must be open to utilizing all the methods that Judaism provides, past and present, to enhance our personal and communal Jewish practice. I see the Jewish people as our immediate family and believe we must be interconnected in a respectful loving way with them, and the general population as our extended family to whom we have a sense of duty and obligation to be a light to the nations.
Rabbi Rona Shapiro is the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, CT where she has served since 2013. Prior to that Rona served as a pulpit rabbi in Cleveland, OH (2007-2013), as Senior Associate of Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project (2000-2007), and as Executive Director of Berkeley Hillel (1990-2000). Rona is the founding editor of ritualwell.org and the author of numerous articles. In 2016, Rona was named one of America’s most inspiring rabbis by the Forward. Rona is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in which she remains active, and a Senior Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Rona was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1990, part of the first wave of JTS-trained women rabbis. She holds a BA in English and American Literature from Harvard College. Rona is married to David Franklin and they are the parents of two daughters, Noa and Hallel.
Vision | For me, being a Jew is a constant source of amazement — it as if I have been given an amazing gift over and over again, in which I always discover something new. My mission as a rabbi is to make this gift accessible to more people and to help demystify Judaism for them. I use the worlds of Torah and prayer to help Jews understand their lives as rich dialogues between their lived experiences, the journeys of their souls, and the wisdom, depth, and stories of our tradition. I am a guide, shining the light a little ahead, even as I do not always know the way; a weaver, weaving their stories and our people’s story together; a midwife listening deeply to help them give birth to their inchoate longings and their truths; and a connector, helping them to connect those truths to our people’s story, helping them connect to one another to build a sustaining and sustainable community, and to connect to the deep needs of our community here in New Haven and in our world.
Rabbi Ariel Stone serves independent Congregation Shir Tikvah, in Portland, OR, which she helped to found in 2002. She also created and guides TischPDX which supports emerging Jewish leadership on Portland Oregon’s East Side. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1991 and completed a doctoral degree in Jewish studies at the Spertus Institute in Chicago under Dr. Byron Sherwin in 2010. She is a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. After serving as an assistant rabbi and educational director at a Reform congregation in Miami, Ariel worked in conjunction with the World Union of Progressive Judaism and with the Joint Distribution Committee to help build Jewish prayer and learning communities in Kiev, Ukraine. She has been active with the Oregon Board of Rabbis where she worked collaboratively to create a Jewish community chaplain position, a community mikveh, a local Hesed Shel Emet to support Jewish burial for all, and a community free loan fund. In 2017 she convened Portland’s Interfaith Clergy Resistance. Ariel is the author of Because All is One, a book on the mystical sefirot and the implications for sacred community and two books on death and Judaism, The Alef-Bet of Death and the companion volume, Dying As A Jew. Ariel enjoys hiking and road biking when not reading.
Vision | “The more Torah, the more life” – Pirke Avot 2.7. I envision a Jewish community freed to innovate authentically through each individual’s secure grounding in the myriad conflicting diversity of the masoret. For me Torah study, its joy and its transformative power, is central and essential. I create the kind of Torah study in which one grows as an individual and in hevruta; where companions in learning build meaningful community; and where community grounds and sustains the individual. Where society is fragmenting, Jewish learning offers wholeness; where life is uncertain, Torah offers a way to face that uncertainty, and friends with whom to face it. I believe in the teaching of my mentor Dr. Byron Sherwin ז״ל that you have to know who you are before you can reach out, and that one must be an heir before becoming a pioneer.
Rabbi 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, writes a column for Moment Magazine, and teaches a class at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Davidson School of Education. For most of her rabbinate, Amy has been involved with the FlorenceMeltonAdultMini-School. She has been a director of a Melton school and has taught Melton classes yearly since 1995. 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 NorthwesternUniversity; a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism, and a doctorate in Education from Michigan StateUniversity. She is married to Kenneth Katz, and the couple has three children Tamar, Gabriel and Nina. Rabbi Walk Katz is an alumna of the Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship.
Vision | “I am an educator who happens to be a rabbi. I aim to use every moment to teach about Judaism. Whether under the chuppa, on the bima, at the bedside of someone who is ill, in a counseling session or at a meeting I teach. I am open to others’ approaches to Judaism and work hard to make sure that those around me do not feel as though they are being judged. I am mindful that as a senior rabbi I must be a visionary leader for the synagogue, I must attend to the individual needs of my congregants and I represent the synagogue in the community.”
Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev is the Scholar-in-Residence at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, NM. Nahum served congregations for fifteen years until 2000, when he left the pulpit to focus on teaching and spiritual direction. Nahum is the founder of two Beit Midrash learning circles in Santa Fe, one predominately Jewish and the other for people from many backgrounds. Beit Midrash is an intensive learning community where traditional Jewish texts are studied in a manner that engages the intellect, heart, and soul of the student. Nahum has a particular passion for studying the spiritual experience of the Hebrew Prophets and mining that experience to inspire and guide contemporary social activism. He is one of the leaders of a multi-faith social justice summer institute for young adults. Nahum has taught Jewish meditation and mindfulness practice for many years. Nahum is also adjunct faculty at a medical residency program where he teaches spirituality and medicine. Rabbi Ward-Lev is an alumnus of the Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship.
Vision | In my rabbinate, I nurture sacred learning communities, circles where people are vulnerable, thoughtful, honest, courageous and kind in engaging sacred text in the pursuit of wisdom, social justice and a growing relationship with the Divine Mystery. I find endless fascination in Jewish texts. As a rabbi, I practice deep listening. I seek to be fully present and attentive to each person and each moment in my life. Spiritual practice, including study, meditation and prayer has become fundamental for me. My life has been profoundly enhanced by friendships with people who practice Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. I am drawn to work in multi-faith settings.
Rabbi Michael Wasserman, together with his wife Rabbi Elana Kanter, founded The New Shul in Scottsdale Arizona in 2002. They have served as co-rabbis there ever since. Rabbi Wasserman is a graduate of Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. He has published numerous articles in professional and academic journals, most recently “The Vendor Trap: Why Selling Spirituality Doesn’t Work” (eJewishPhilanthropy Jan. 9 2014).
Vision | I believe that building vibrant spiritual communities today means not only offering more to contemporary Jews, but asking more of them. Meaning is not a product that one person can provide to another. It emerges out of shared responsibility and shared commitment. The greatest need that contemporary Jews have is to know that they are needed, that true community depends on their own openness to growth and self-transcendence.