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 | 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 Rabbi Laura Geller is Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She was one of the first women to be selected to lead a major metropolitan synagogue, 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. She is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. She serves on the boards of Encore.org and the Jewish Women’s Archive. Prior to coming to Temple Emanuel she served as the Hillel Director at USC for 14 years and then as the regional director of the American Jewish Congress. Along with her late husband Richard Siegel, she is the co-author of Getting Good at Getting Older (2019). She is the co-founder of ChaiVillageLA.org and the chair of the Synagogue Village Network.
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 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 Lizzi Heydemann is the founding rabbi of Mishkan Chicago, an independent, post-denominational spiritual community in the city of Chicago. She grew up on the South Side of the city and graduated with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Stanford University. She was ordained by the Conservative movement’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. As the head Rabbi of Mishkan, Lizzi leads services, guides the organization’s vision, and hosts Contact Chai, a podcast that features weekly sermons and inspired, down-to-earth Judaism in conversation. Lizzi currently sits on the board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and she is the first rabbi to be a part of the Chicago Commons Project, a program run by the University of Chicago School of Divinity that features a cohort of the city’s faith leaders in conversation at quarterly retreats. She was named one of Jewish Women International’s Women to Watch in 2018. As a songleader, she has taught at the annual Song Leader Boot Camp National Conference as well as at Joey Weisenberg’s Rising Song Institute. She is married to Henry Bernstein, and is the mother of two children, Judah Lev and Adira Hannah.
Vision | About ten years ago, I felt a soul-calling to return to Chicago to create a Jewish space that did not yet exist for people looking to connect with Jewish spirituality and community. Armed with a guitar, a makeshift website, and time for coffee dates with young adults in Chicago, Mishkan was born in a living room in 2011 with 65 people. Today, Mishkan has grown to a staff of 13 and it reaches 4,000 or so people a year. What continues to energize me is helping people grow their minds, souls, and relationships with each other, Judaism, and God through being in Jewish spiritual practice and community. What continues to challenge and engage me is how we keep updating the original vision to be more inclusive, more diverse, more accessible, more oriented toward justice and dismantling racism here and in Israel, more joyful, and more irreverent. Life is short, the planet is on fire, and we’re here… so let’s get to work.
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 28 years. She sits on the boards of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Integrate NYC, and was co-chair and served for 18 years on the board of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She is the founder of the Soup Kitchen at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and co-founder of the Children of Abraham Peace Walk: Jews, Christians and Muslims Walking Together in Brooklyn in Peace. 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 believe 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 HAVE TO rest SO it can come.”
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 Bennett Miller graduated from the University of Cincinnati and was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1974. He earned his D.Min from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1988 and earned a certificate in Non-Profit Management and Fund Raising from New York University in 2008. For 44 years, Bennett served as Senior Rabbi of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ. In 2019-20, Bennett served as Interim Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, NJ. Bennett also serves as national chair of ARZA. He is founding chair of the Clinical Pastoral Education Department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and served as Instructor in Pastoral Theology in the Doctor of Ministry Program at HUC-JIR for twenty years. Bennett and his wife, Joan are parents of Rabbi Ellie Miller and Carrie Nussbaum and are proud grandparents of Sam, Max, Meg, Jack, Gabriel, and Benjamin.
Vision | Torah, the wisdom of the Rabbis and the extraordinary narrative of the Jewish people in its encounter with the Divine, have shaped my life. I grapple with making sense out of a world of chaos, seeing sacred when others view mundane and recognize that the rabbinate is a calling to shape and guide the lives of individuals and communities. I teach the integration of Torah, of our sages, together with the finest learning of western civilization. As rabbis, authority comes from synthesizing generations of discovery along with all that the great thinkers have brought to our world. Today’s rabbi must be equipped with the deepest of personal, spiritual, and theological development in order to respond to the challenges of our time.
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 is not affiliated with any rabbinical or congregational American Jewish movement. 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 congregation in Miami, Ariel worked in conjunction with the World Union of Progressive Judaism and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to help build Jewish prayer and learning communities in Kiev, Ukraine. With the Oregon Board of Rabbis 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, an organization focused upon police abolition. In 2018 she co-created TischPDX, an incubator for innovative Jewish organizing on Portland Oregon’s East Side. Ariel enjoys hiking, snow skiing 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.
Andy Vogel is the senior rabbi of Temple Sinai in Brookline, MA, where he has served since 2004. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (New York) in 1998. Prior to serving Temple Sinai, he was the associate rabbi at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA, and the assistant rabbi at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, GA. Andy has been the co-chair of the local Boston J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet since 2012. He is engaged in Israeli and American human rights concerns and is part of Boston-area T’ruah local clergy organizing. He was a member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s two-year Clergy Leadership Program, and frequently attends the Shalom Hartman Institute’s summer Rabbinic Torah Study program. He is former chair of the Boston Area Reform Rabbis and is a co-convener of the Brookline Interfaith Clergy Association. Andy has a deep interest in music and spirituality, and, in addition to leading tefilah with his guitar for the Temple Sinai community, he is an “advanced beginner” pianist. With his wife Martha Hausman, he is the parent is two daughters, and lives in Newton, MA.
Vision | When I was first ordained, I thought the first role of Jewish institutions was to get people to “do mitzvahs” – not an unreasonable supposition, based in teachings from the heart of Judaism. But since then, I’ve learned through my work in my synagogue-community that relationships provide the true and enduring foundation for those mitzvot, and that the first responsibility of Jewish leaders is to build a strong community so that people can join together to make their lives holy and repair our world. Focusing on relationships within our community has also brought me, as a rabbi, to orient myself and my rabbinate toward helping people find the wholeness they seek in their lives – to repair ourselves, our communities, and our world. We need each other for this task. I see my role as guiding the community toward this wholeness, listening closely to them with an open and compassionate heart, and translating Jewish tradition to address their yearnings, as individuals and as a collective, as we build our community with one another.
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.