Cohort 6


Leora Abelson (she/they) serves as rabbi at Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue in Jamaica Plain, MA. Leora grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and lived in Middletown, CT; Nairobi, Kenya; and Chicago, IL before moving to Boston to attend Hebrew College Rabbinical School, where she was ordained in 2017. Leora previously served as rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, MA and as Interfaith Chaplain at Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care in Rosendale, MA. Leora has been active in movements for social justice, including working with the Jewish Council for Urban Affairs in Chicago; the interfaith, Community of Living Traditions in Stony Point, NY; and as a strategy team member with the Jewish Voice for Peace HavurahNetwork.  Leora was drawn to the rabbinate by a longing for a Jewish communal home that is aligned with a commitment to building a more just world with anti-oppression values, as well as good singing, of course!. Leora lives with her partner Ray-ray. She is a proud auntie and grammar nerd, shyly plays the violin, and loves the ocean.   


Lauren Ben-Shoshan serves as rabbi of Temple Bat Yam and Northern Tahoe Hebrew Congregation with Rabbi Evon Yakar. Born in Washington DC, Lauren graduated from the College of William and Mary with degrees in history and religion. Lauren was ordained in 2011 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion where she also earned an MA in religious education through the Mandel Educational Fellowship. Lauren’s academic passions include grief and the intersection between technology and ethics. In recent years, she pursued software engineering to dive further into understanding this area. Lauren’s personal interests include admiring high art and creating poorly made, freestyle cross-stitch. Lauren lives with her husband Alon, their four children, and one very fluffy dog named Truffle in Truckee, California, where they all love snow sports, kayaking, and traveling as much as they can.


Ariana Capptauber is the thirteenth rabbi, and the first female rabbi, of Beth El Temple in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Ariana has shepherded the congregation through the pandemic and the transition back to in person activities, bringing new initiatives to services such as Pride Shabbat, Disability Shabbat, and “Wear your Colors” Shabbat on important football weekends. She led the creation of vibrant new Purim Spiels, and films weekly messages on her YouTube channel. Passionate about justice, Ariana has led initiatives to aid in the resettlement of Afghan refugees, establish a Green Team to build sustainability and strengthened interfaith community partnerships. Ariana received ordination and an MA in Midrash from the Jewish Theological Seminary. During rabbinical school, Ariana served as a chaplain on Rikers Island, and as the rabbi of Congregation Eitz Chaim, in Monroe, NY. Prior to pursuing the rabbinate Ariana served as a Avodah Jewish Service Corps member and a New Israel Fund Shatil fellow. She holds a BA in English Literature and Peace and Justice Studies from Tufts University. Ariana enjoys writing “modern midrash” into her sermons, and has written an (unpublished) novel about Serach bat Asher, a midrashic character who lived during the time of the exodus. She lives with her husband Baruch, her son Yonah and their cat Kitzel.


Emily Cohen is the spiritual leader of West End Synagogue on the upper west side of Manhattan. Born in Virginia, Emily experienced a California-accented, Southern-Jewish upbringing. As part of the growing population of American Jews raised by one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent, Emily’s interfaith roots lead her to look to the edges of the Jewish community and to center the voices least heard. Emily graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2018 and, after ordination, served as the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Resident at Lab/Shul in New York City. There she developed study salons, trained as a Storahtelling Maven, and took part in social justice initiatives around NYC. In 2021, Rabbi Emily was honored as one of the New York Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36.”A lifelong artist, Emily’s “side projects” have included Passover parodies (“The Hamilton Haggadah”), a podcast (“Jew Too? Tales of the Mixed Multitude”), and composing Jewish music. As time allows, she writes for numerous Jewish publications and sings with a secular chamber choir in Manhattan. At Macalester College, where she studied history, music and Mandarin, Emily was a founding member of the Multifaith Council. Emily lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their very spoiled cat.


Josh Dorsch is the Senior Rabbi at the Merrick Jewish Centre on the South Shore of Long Island. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Josh grew up attending, and then staffing, Camp Ramah in the Poconos and was very active in United Synagogue Youth. He received a BA from Columbia University in political science and is a retired competitive table tennis player. After being ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Josh earned two master’s degrees, one in Jewish education and the other in midrash and scriptural interpretation. He also served as a chaplain at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He served as assistant rabbi at Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle, NY and then as the rabbi of Tifereth Israel in San Diego, CA. While in San Diego, he served as president of the San Diego Rabbinic Association and on the advisory board for the Jewish Studies program at San Diego State University. Josh is married to Stephanie. They share a dream of passing down a love of Philadelphia sports teams to their three children.


Michael Fessler is the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, New York. He grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin (where Camp Herzl was an early formative influence) and in Columbia, Maryland. A Brown University graduate with a degree in biology, he worked for a short stint at a tech startup before his growing interest in Jewish learning and community-building led him to rabbinical school. During rabbinical school, Michael worked in Hillel, congregational, and chaplaincy settings. Upon graduation from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2001, he took part in the Melton Senior Educators program at Hebrew University. He then served for twelve years as rabbi and co-rabbi of Congregation B’nai Tikvah-Beth Israel in Sewell, New Jersey in partnership with his spouse, Rabbi Miriam Hyman, creating diverse entryways into Jewish life and learning. Moving to the Hudson Valley in 2014, he spent six years as Associate Director of Online Content for the Reconstructionist movement, work that placed him at ground zero of the Jewish community’s massive shift to online activities starting in March of 2020. He began serving at rabbi of Temple Beth-El in late 2021.  Michael and Miriam are the proud parents of Ariella, Adora, and Tamar. When he’s not tending to the household menagerie (one dog and three cats, at current count) he enjoys board games, reading, cooking, and baking. He is still wistful at the demise of his pandemic, sourdough starter.


Adam Gindea is the Chief Programming and Engagement Officer at the Center for Jewish Life at Beth David in Miami, FL. Growing up in the Five Towns of Long Island and studying in a yeshiva day school, Adam continued his Jewish education receiving a BA in Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA in Religion from Columbia University.  Pursuant to his undergraduate studies, Adam received a certificate in Jewish education (Melamdim Program) at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.  While living in Israel, Adam received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Pirchei Shoshanim and studied safrut (scribal arts) under the tutelage of Rabbi David Gottesman. Adam was also ordained as a mashpia (spiritual director) from Aleph’s Hashpa’ah program. During his time as an experiential Jewish educator and classroom teacher in a day school, Adam also owned and operated a kosher BBQ food truck bringing together his love of kosher food and building community through shared personal experiences. From 2017-2023 Adam, along with his wife Jessie, designed, implemented, and grew Base Miami (now under the auspices of Moishe House), using their home as a pluralistic central meeting place for Jewish learning and life.


Lauren Henderson serves as the rabbi of Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, GA. Originally from Spartanburg, SC, Lauren earned her BA in Religious Studies and History from Rice University in 2009. She then studied at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in LA before transferring to the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY. She was ordained from JTS in 2016 with an MA in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care. Lauren was part of the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellowship at Mishkan Chicago from 2016-2018 and then served as Mishkans Associate Rabbi and Director of Family Learning and Spirituality from 2018-2020. She is married to Joel Dworkin, and they are the proud parents of Rafi and their dog, Sophie.


Ben Herman is the rabbi at Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento. He grew up in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin and the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ben has a passion for community organizing, being a clergy fellow for JOIN for Justice and working with Sacramento ACT and Western Service Workers. He was a clergy fellow with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Ben served as an intern at the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs in Chicago and as a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital in New York. In his free time Ben enjoys running, recently completing his first marathon. He also enjoys podcasts and was a guest caller on the Wait,Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news quiz. Ben is married to Karina and they have two children: Ariela and Leora.


Jordan Hersh is the rabbi at Beth Sholom Congregation in Frederick, MD. After graduating from SUNY Buffalo, Jordan studied at the Conservative Yeshiva and Machon Schechter, both in Jerusalem. He was ordained by JTS in 2014, where he was a Gladstein Fellow in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership. Jordan has participated in the Hartman Rabbinical Student Fellowship in Jerusalem, Rabbis Without Borders, and the Join for Justice Community Organizing Fellowship. Jordan is also a chaplain in the Maryland Army National Guard, currently with the 115th Military Police Battalion. Jordan often creates music with his wife, Cantor Shulie Hersh, and their two sons. In his down time, you can find Jordan taking peaceful walks with his family, playing with his children at a local park, out for a run or a bike ride, playing guitar or hiking along one of the region’s many trails.


Esther Hugenholtz is the rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation, in Coralville/Iowa City. She was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she obtained her M.Sc. (Master of Science) in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of non-Western Societies from the University of Amsterdam.  Furthering her Jewish education, she studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel and was an E. Levinas Fellow at Paideia, the European Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm, Sweden. Esther pursued rabbinical training at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and was a rabbinic fellow at the American Jewish University. Esther was ordained at Leo Baeck College in London in 2013. After ordination, she served for four years as the associate rabbi at Sinai Synagogue in Leeds, UK before coming back to the U.S. Esther has been involved in interfaith and justice work on the local and state level and works in close collaboration on projects with the University of Iowa. In her free time, Esther enjoys composing liturgical music, songwriting, writing, photography, cinematography, needlecrafts and baking and is a wife to one and a mother to three.


Jamie Hyams is an out-of-the-box thinker with an entrepreneurial spirit.  She is the founder of Kehillat Haverim, a community of friends in the Bay Area of California, living their lives under the umbrella of Jewish values.  An avid cyclist, Jamie has combined cycling and Jewish life in innovative ways including The Foothill Century: The Only Kosher Ride in the West! and Team JCC which participated in the AIDS/Lifecycle raising funds for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Jamie has served as the rabbi for Congregation P’nai Tikvah in Las Vegas, NV and is a rabbi-member of Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville, CA. She is the Director of Development at Hebrew Free Loan in San Francisco.  Jamie received her BA in History from Lewis and Clark College, her BFA in Textile History from California College for the Arts, and smicha, with an MA in Rabbinic Studies from the Academy of Jewish Religion, CA.  She lived in Israel for three years and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  Jamie has worked at many Jewish institutions including Hillel at Stanford, the Contra Costa JCC, and the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Jamie and her husband have two grown sons, Sam and Will.  She and her husband Michael live with their dog and three cats in San Ramon, CA.


Danielle Parmenter is the founding rabbi of Darchei Noam, a pluralistic community rooted in both Jewish tradition and spiritual innovation located in Ambler, PA. She leads, in partnership, with Hazzan Arlyne Unger. Danielle’s Jewish journey began in college when she fell in love with the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Mordecai Kaplan, and Arthur Green. After obtaining a BA from Emory University and an MA in Judaic Studies, specializing in Medieval Jewish philosophy, from Boston University, she was drawn to the rabbinate. Danielle was ordained in 2014 by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Upon graduation, she served for five years as the Rabbi of Congregational Learning at Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, PA. Danielle is a trained spiritual director and served three years on the board of A Way In a national Jewish mindfulness organization. She lives in Gwynedd Valley with her husband Scott and two children, Henry and Annabel.


Jill Perlman is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, CA. She previously served as the rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA. She received both her BA from Brandeis University as well as a joint-MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Jewish Communal Service with a concentration in Jewish Education. She received a MA in Hebrew Literature in 2009 and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2010. Jill served as the president of the Boston Area Reform Rabbis and as the president of the Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association. She is a Tisch Fellow, which identifies and supports transformational rabbis; a Brickner Fellow, which empowers rabbis as social justice leaders; and an American Jewish World Service Rabbinic Fellow, which supports rabbis in effectively honing their voice and power to advocate for global human rights. Jill currently serves on the executive committee of the Northern California Board of Rabbis, the leadership team of Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism-California (RAC-CA), and the steering committee of Clergy for Reproductive Freedom under the auspices of Planned Parenthood-Northern California. She is a contributor to Prophetic Voices: Renewing and Reimagining Haftarah (CCAR Press). Jill and her husband, Jeff, are the parents of three children, Lev, Eli, and Maya.


Scott B. Roland is the rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood, OH, having started there in 2016. He was ordained in 2013 by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. Prior to and during rabbinical school, Scott honed his skills as a Jewish educator and youth professional. He earned his BA from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and his Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew College. Scott serves as the vice president of the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis and is on the Security and Overseas Connection Committees of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. He is a member of the Camp Committee of the Mandel JCC. Scott also serves as co-chair of the Education Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Gross Schechter Day School. Scott grew up in a rural area of Northwest New Jersey. He is married to Aviva and, together, they are the proud parents of three human daughters and two canines. He is a serial hobbyist and enjoys being outdoors, learning new things, and creative challenges.


Hannah Spiro is the rabbi of Hill Havurah, an independent congregation on Capitol Hill. Hannah is a DC-area native and a 2017 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Hannah serves on the board of directors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and on the steering committee of the Washington Area Rabbi-Imam Summit.  The rest of the time, you can find Hannah parenting two little ones with her spouse in Northeast DC, practicing aerial acrobatics, learning daf yomi, and watching Survivor.
Nathan Weiner is the Director of Jewish Outreach and Engagement for the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. A 5776/2016 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Nathan serves all arms of the Federation system, bringing meaningful Jewish engagement and resources to Jews and fellow travelers across the religious spectrum. Prior to his Federation work, he served as the rabbi of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton, NJ (USCJ) for seven years. Raised in the Conservative Movement, Nathan spent many years as a Jewish educator. After graduating from The George Washington University, he went on to become the director of teen education at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA (URJ). During his time as a rabbinical student at RRC, he worked as a teacher, hospital chaplain, and as a campus Jewish leader. Nathan is an author of Jewish educational materials for Behrman House, the Center for Jewish Ethics at the RRC, and a creator of liturgical resources for RitualWell. He is a board member of the Rabbis and Cantors Retirement Plan. Also, he is a former board member of the Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, NJ and the Jewish Community Foundation, and is the immediate past president of the Tri-County Board of Jewish Clergy. Originally from Brockton, MA, Nathan lives in Merchantville, NJ with his husband, Samuel Warren. In his spare time, he is an avid automobile enthusiast.

Josh Weisman is the rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro, CA, an independent community that reflects the diversity of the East Bay, where he was raised. He was ordained at the pluralistic, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College near Boston. Following ordination, Josh served at Kavana Cooperative in Seattle as part of the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellowship. While at Kavana, he co-founded the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, which brought over 175 Jewish climate action events to thousands of people nationwide over three years. After Kavana, he was the Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel at the University of Washington and Jconnect, Seattle’s largest Jewish young adult program. He then went on to become a Senior Program Officer at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. Prior to rabbinical school, Josh was a grass-roots organizer in the Bay Area for a decade, including four years as a congregation-based community organizer working with synagogues, churches, and schools to advocate for just solutions to problems impacting their communities. Josh writes and teaches on justice and Judaism, with a focus on climate. He lives in San Leandro with his wife, Pella Schafer Weisman, and their two children.


Michael Werbow is the rabbi of Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington, DC.  Originally from Buffalo, Michael grew up immersed in Jewish communal life. His trajectory to the rabbinate started in USY then, once in college, with NATIV, the Conservative movement’s college leadership program in Israel. He worked with campers with developmental disabilities in the Tikvah program at Camp Ramah in New England and served as the youth director at Temple Emunah in Lexington, MA. He attended the Ziegler School of Rabbinic in Los Angeles, where he was ordained in 2006. Michael also earned a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College. During rabbinical school, he was a coordinator of the Shtibl Minyan, an independent minyan in Los Angeles. Since ordination, Michael has held rabbinic positions at Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh, PA and at Temple Beth Sholom in Sarasota, FL. In both of those positions, he was active in local interfaith efforts and held leadership positions in the area rabbinic organizations, including serving as president in both Pittsburgh and Sarasota. Michael is married to Melissa, a Jewish educator, and together they are raising three wonderful children: Maya, Lev and Asher.  


Josh Whinston is the rabbi of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, MI. He began seriously contemplated becoming a rabbi after his bar mitzvah. He led services for his synagogue youth group, multiple URJ camps, and in college, at Hillel. Josh was ordained in 2009 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in LA where he earned an MA in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education. He served congregations in Connecticut and California before coming to Ann Arbor in 2016. Josh has participated in the Brickner Fellowship with the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism in Washington D.C. and is a Global Justice Fellow with American Jewish World Service. His writing appears in The Sacred Table (2011) and The Social Justice Torah Commentary (2021). In his spare time, Josh loves backcountry camping and canoeing, reading, and relaxing with his family. Josh is married to Sarah Raful Whinston, and the proud father of Mollie, Eva and Ori.


Michael Wolk is the senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC. A native of New York, Michael is a graduate of the Joint Program between the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University.  He was ordained by JTS in 2012.  Michael spent the first eight years of his rabbinate at Keneseth Israel Congregation in Louisville, KY. Michael has taught for the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.  He is an afficionado of the music of early 20th century cantors and loves every chance he gets to visit Israel.  Rabbi Wolk is married to Heidi and they have two children – Klara Rose and Julia.


Evon Yakar is the rabbi serving both Temple Bat Yam (since 2011) in South Lake Tahoe and North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation (since 2017) in Tahoe Vista, CA.  This joint effort of both Tahoe congregations brings together the Tahoe Jewish Community.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and was ordained by HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 2007. Evon has worked and been a member of synagogues with 1000+ households and small communities with fewer than 100 households.  He has worked with entrepreneurial endeavors like Adventure Rabbi in Boulder, CO, and with California-based, Camp Tawonga’s, year-round, B Mitzvah program.  Through these experiences, Evon has blended conventional synagogue experiences with innovative approaches to Jewish life. Evon enjoys many recreational activities, from skiing, hiking and cycling to water sports and playing ice hockey. Evon lives with his partner, Rachel, their children Caleb and Jonah and, of course, their beloved new puppy, Solstice (Soli). 

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