Rabbi Mona Alfi is the spiritual leader for Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento. Concurrent to her time at B’nai Israel she has served as the Chaplain for the California State Assembly and the California State Senate as well as on the Bioethics Committee of the Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. She is on the Commission on Social Action (CSA) as a representative of the CCAR and is on the leadership team for Reform California. For her work on marriage equality and in social justice Mona received T’ruah’s Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award. Mona was ordained at HUC-JIR in New York in 1998 and received her MAHL at the Los Angeles campus. She was raised in Southern California in a family that mixed the traditions of her Ashkenazi mother and her Iranian born Jewish father.
Vision | The two texts that guide my Jewish practice are finding a balance between B’tzelem Elohim (Gen 1:27), a universal belief that every person is created in the image of God, and K’doshim t’hi’yu ki kadosh Ani Adonai Eloheichem (Lev. 19:2), a “tribal” approach that calls upon us to be set apart as a holy people (Lev. 19:2). To be an American Jew is to live in the tension between being part of a pluralistic society while simultaneously living according to a particularistic faith. For me, to live a Jewish life is to be always seeking a balance between the secular and the holy, to always see oneself as living within concentric circles of community and of responsibility. Rituals and acts of social justice are both ways to make us continually aware of the holiness that exists within us and around us. I believe that the purpose of religion is not only to help nourish the holy spark within, but then to take that spark and to use its light to dispel the darkness in the world around us.
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 Tirzah Firestone, PhD, is a Jungian psychologist, author, and the founding rabbi of Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder, Colorado, a Jewish Renewal community dedicated to a passionate renewal of Judaism in the 21st century. Ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 1992, Tirzah continued his legacy by innovating Jewish meditation and ecstatic liturgical forms such as Jewish Zikr, Maggidic journaling, and embodied practices from Kabbalah. Tirzah earned her doctorate in depth psychology in 2015 with a focus on the healing of intergenerational trauma in the Jewish psyche. She is the author of a spiritual memoir, With Roots in Heaven, a study of seven Jewish women mystics; The Receiving: Reclaiming Women’s Wisdom; and a best-selling audio series, Women’s Kabbalah. Tirzah now serves as Rabbi Emerita, teaches and speaks nationally, and is completing a new book on Jewish Ancestral Healing.
Vision | It has been a sacred privilege to serve Jewish seekers these past 25 years, to open the deep wells of our tradition so that people can drink the life-giving waters of our ancient texts and practices. How to be alive on the planet at this moment in time, as Jews with integrity and kedusha is a crucial question for me. While tikkun olam is core to my mission, so is tikkun haYahadut. By this I mean the healing of deep spiritual wounds incurred by our people, caused by ignorance, misinformation, and the distorting effects of our historical trauma. In a chaotic culture, hell-bent on personal gain, I take it as a rabbinic challenge to facilitate true connections to a Living God, and cultivate viable spiritual communities where sanctuary and healing naturally occurs. This is the task of spiritual leaders in our day and this is my aim.
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 Hayim Herring, Ph.D., is an author, consultant and nonprofit organizational futurist who holds a doctorate in Organization and Management. A “C-suite” leader, Hayim has worked with over 300 rabbis and congregations of all sizes and denominations throughout North America on issues including assessment, volunteer leadership development, strategic planning, organizational foresight and innovation. His most recent publications are Leading Congregations and Nonprofits in a Connected World: Platforms, People, and Purpose, with Dr. Terri Elton (2016) and, Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today. Creating Vibrant Centers of Jewish (2012). Hayim blends research and real-world experience to inspire congregations to achieve their greatest impact.
Vision | As rabbis, I believe that we are morei derech hayim – literally, Jewish guides to helping others live life with purpose—for themselves and in community, for today and for future generations. Every encounter with another human being–pastoral, educational, administrative–provides us with an opportunity to share some aspect of our Jewish wisdom, at whatever point along their life’s journey we meet them. Every encounter is also an opportunity to learn from others about their journeys and, in tum, incorporate some of their wisdom into our own understanding of the experience of being Jewish. Especially today, the phrase morei derech hayim calls upon us also to assert our voices publicly on the challenging moral issues before us.
Rabbi Sue Levi-Elwell has spent 30 years working towards creating and sustaining healthy, inclusive, vibrant and open-hearted communities and congregations. She was the founding Director of the Los Angeles Jewish Feminist Center and first Rabbinic Director of Ma’yan. She has served as a congregational rabbi, congregational consultant, and college teacher. She edited and contributed to Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation (2001), The Open Door, the CCAR Haggadah (2002), and served as the poetry editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (2008). Her most recent publication, Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives (2013) was a finalist for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award. Elwell currently serves as Spiritual Director at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife, Nurit Shein, CEO of The Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s pre-eminent LGBT health center.
Vision | One of my greatest pleasures these days is tucking my 5-year old grandson into bed. Exhausted from a day of engaging in the world, he arranges his beloved menagerie around him: the oversized plush elephant, the nearly threadbare calico cat, the tiny monkey whose legs and arms rotate. When we sing the Sh’ma, we join a chorus beyond even his rich imagination. We join our voices to millions of seekers calling for direction, guidance, and strength as we make our way through the world. My hope is that these words and the love that carries them throughout time enable this precious child to awake each morning with a willing and open heart. He does not yet know that the challenges of this world are great, and that each of us must find a way in, acquire language and tools for engagement, cultivate resources to renew and refresh us. But he is learning about the imperative of reliable companions, the necessity of rest, and the power of prayer. My work: hearing souls into speech, walking with others on sometimes perilous paths, opening doors to the eternal and urgent work of being fully present in this world. This is our work, l’olam va’ed. We are heirs to a precious legacy. Kadima!”
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann is founder and rabbi 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 ten 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 partner 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 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 Marc Soloway has been Bonai Shalom’s rabbi in Boulder, Colorado since his 2004 ordination from Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in California. Previously he was an actor and complementary medicine practitioner in London. He chairs Hazon’s Rabbinical Advisory Board, was part of a 2012 rabbis’ delegation to Ghana with AJWS, is a graduate of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality and a board member of Ramah of the Rockies. Marc narrates two films: PBS featured A Fire in the Forest: Life and Legacy of the Baal Shem Tov and Treasure under the Bridge: Pilgrimage to Hassidic Masters of Ukraine, released in 2015. Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, in both films, has been a bridge between Hassidut and contemporary expressions of Jewish life and an important teacher for Marc, giving him secondary smicha shortly before he died in 2014. Marc had the deep honor of co-officiating Reb Zalman’s funeral. With a commitment to a more sustainable community, Marc was listed in The Forward’s most inspiring rabbis of 2014.
Vision | Sustainability, creativity and spirituality define the ways in which I connect to and transmit Judaism to Jews and non-Jews, striving to bring a rich and nuanced past into a vibrant future. In the tradition of my teacher Reb Zalman and others, “neo-Hassidim” integrates the psycho-spiritual depth of the Hassidic masters with an urgent response to the issues and needs of our time, as activists and practitioners; healers and teachers. Most of those we serve and inspire crave that they be seen and heard, witnessed with love and authenticity. Our role is to hear them and to help them tell their own sacred stories along with the ancient narratives of our people, and to live lives of meaning and connection in a frightening and confusing world. Imagination and compassion help my rabbinate breathe.
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 BarnardCollege; 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 MichiganStateUniversity. 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.
Rabbi Shawn Israel Zevit is the lead rabbi at congregation Mishkan Shalom, in Philadelphia, PA, committed to the integration of meaningful spiritual living, life-long learning and acts of caring and social justice. Rabbi Zevit worked for over thirty years consulting to and supporting dozens of congregations, organizations, social justice and sustainability initiatives in the Jewish and larger world. He is co-director with Rabbi Marcia Prager of the award-winning Davennen Leader’s Training Institute (www.dlti.org) and is a spiritual director and associate director for the ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) program. He is also a recording and performing artist (http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ShawnZevit) and has been an organizer for over twenty years of men’s programming and retreats. He is the co-editor with Harry Brod of Brother Keepers: New Perspectives in Jewish Masculinity (Men’s Studies Press, 2010). He is also the author of Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community (Alban Institute). Rabbi Zevit is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and also has simcha from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l and ALEPH.
Vision | Shviti Shechinah L’Negdi Tamid– Striving to be conscious and acting on the Divine potential in all Life- always. This kavannah or guiding principle informs my longing and work as a human being, and thus in my rabbinic roles. I see my work at the nexus of spiritual formation, sustainable living, justice and healing on a personal, interpersonal and communal level. I am committed to helping the people I encounter and work with to awake to what is possible within themselves and in the world. I see “rabbi-ing” as being an active leader, catalyst and supporter in prayer, congregational management, teaching, counseling, organizing for justice and change, and meaningful and creative Jewish spiritual expression.