Rabbi Aaron Alexander is the Associate Dean of the Ziegler School and Lecturer in Rabbinics and Jewish Law. Along with his academic teaching he gives an early morning class in Halakhah that is recorded for Jewish learners worldwide and posted to www.zieglertorah.org. Rabbi Alexander teaches Talmud and Rabbinical Literature throughout Los Angeles to students of all ages and all walks of life, including a regular class at Ikar. He was a founding staff member at Camp Ramah Darom in 1997, where he worked 10 summers and served on the Board of Directors. He is a certified mashgiach (kosher supervisor) by the the Conservative Movement's Rav Hamachshir program and currently serves on its Committee for Jewish Law and Standards.
Alex Braver is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, studying in Jerusalem for the year, and a former yearlong fellow at Yeshivat Hadar, an independent, traditional, egalitarian institution in Manhattan. He graduated from Brandeis University in 2009 with majors in History and Politics.
Alissa Thomas is currently a student at Yeshivat Maharat. She graduated from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies Archaeology and Ancient History. She has studied at Machon Pardes, Neve Yerushalayim, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She has completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bellevue Hospital and is also the present Rosh Beit Midrash for Uri L’Tzedek. She is originally from Los Angeles, California and currently lives in New York City.
Amitai Adler is a Conservative rabbi. He is a teacher and writer, living in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife, Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler.
Andi Arnovitz was born in 1959 in Kansas City, USA, and now lives and works in Jerusalem, Israel. She uses etching, digital information and various printmaking processes, as well as fabric and thread to create large-scale dimensional paper garments. These pieces explore various tensions that exist within religion, gender and politics. She also makes artists books and assemblages. Andi has participated in many international printmaking competitions. She has exhibited her work in England, The United States, Israel, Spain, Poland, Finland, France, Lithuania, Canada, and Bulgaria. She has had many one-woman shows and participated in multiple group shows. Her work is in many private collections in both the United States and in Europe, as well as major universities and institutions. She is represented in Jerusalem by several galleries.
Avram Mlotek is a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and performs regularly with the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene Center for Performing Arts. His writings have appeared in The Huffington Post, The Forward and The Jewish Week. Avram was recently named in The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" as a leading innovator in Jewish life today. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and daughter.
Caryn Aviv is the Posen Senior Instructor in Secular Jewish Society & Civilization at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She publishes widely for scholarly and popular audiences in the areas of contemporary Jewish culture, gender and sexuality in Judaism, and Israel Studies. In her voluminous spare time, she melds her love of Jewish text with her love of theater, by directing Storahtelling Colorado.
Rabbi Dan Shevitz serves Congregation Mishkon Tephilo in Venice, California, just two blocks from the beach. He previously served Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City and as Hillel director and Jewish chaplain at MIT in Cambridge, MA. He teaches Talmud in the Ziegler Rabbinical School of the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism). Rabbi Dan is Av Bet Din (president of the court) of the Southern California Community Bet Din, a pluralistic community court for conversion to Judaism, and has served the community as a chaplain for the Los Angeles Police Department. He is a mesadder gittin – a rabbi trained to write and supervise Jewish divorce documents – certified by the Rabbinical Assembly and serves as Av Bet Din for the Pacific Southwest region. He is a licensed private pilot, motorcyclist, and has apprenticed as an auto mechanic with Tom and Ray Magliozzi in Cambridge (of "Car Talk" on National Public Radio). He has flirted with many instruments over the years, and still can be heard entertaining the children on the accordion every Friday at the Mishkon Tephilo pre-school. He is also a timpanist, which he studied with Aaron Smith, and is principal percussionist of the Palisades Symphony Orchestra, a community orchestra in Pacific Palisades. He lives in Venice, California with his son Noah and Humuhumunukunuku, a Moluccan Cockatoo.
Rabbi Deborah Silver was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Los Angeles, in 2010 and works as the Assistant Rabbi at Adat Ari El, Valley Village. Her interests include music, dance and yoga. Born in England, she is alternately exhilarated, confused and fascinated by life in North Hollywood.
Emily Goldberg is a student at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan. She loves sharing her perspective on faith and religion, especially with her own growing Jewish community. She is the founder and charter of “Common Ground Friends,” the first student-driven interfaith group in South Florida and records her own ideas in her blog, “A Leap of Faith.” In the future, she hopes to pursue interfaith studies, social action, theology, and writing. This past summer she joined a life-long community of Jewish thinkers and leaders, The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. This year, she is pursuing her passion for spiritual leadership through her rabbinic internship at Romemu [www.romemu.org] and her pastoral internship at St. Patrick's Cathedral. She hopes to lead a liberal and innovative Jewish community of her own someday, one where others can be inspired to pursue coexistence and positive change.
Emma Goldberg is a student at Yale University, passionate about using creativity to mobilize social change in the Jewish community. She has developed innovative social media projects for The Great Schlep, a Jewish pro-Obama Super PAC, and also participated in a Theater and Social Justice apprenticeship with the advocacy institute Ma’yan. She is currently serving as the Northeast Regional Organizer for the anti-genocide organization STAND. Emma was named to the NY Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” list and was given Auburn Theological Seminary’s Lives of Commitment award.
Erika Davis joined the Jewish people on August 17, 2011 after years of wandering. She writes blog Black, Gay and Jewish as well as contributing to other Jewish publications. Erika is currently working on a memoir about her Black, Gay, Jewish identity and lives in Brooklyn, New York with her cat Oscar.
Franny Silverman is a Brooklyn-based actor, theatre-maker and educator. She is a co-founder of warner|shaw, and received Indiana University’s Jewish Studies Program’s 2012 Paul Artist-in-Residence for warner|shaw’s The Latvia Project. Franny has created and performed numerous new work for stage and ritual settings around the country as a founding company member of both Storahtelling and Northwoods Ramah Theatre. Performances with other companies include Brave New World Rep, The Culture Project, Estrogenius, Terranova Collective, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Epic Theatre, Passage Theatre Co, the Ontological-Hysteric, Little Lord, CUNY Grad Center, New Worlds Theater Project, NY Fringe Festival and Jewish Plays Project. Franny’s interactive seder installation,UnSeder|DisOrder, was presented by Chashama’s “Process is Fundamental” and she is the director of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb’s song-cycle Mayim Rabim/Great Waters (BRICLab, PS122, Wexner Center, Chicago Cultural Center). She is the High Holiday Artist-in-Residence at Beth El in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and is co-director of What’sUp?! #jewishyouthartjustice, Brooklyn congregation Kolot Chayeinu’s post-b'nei mitzvah social justice course culminating in a production written and performed by students that raises consciousness and money for student-selected non-profit organizations.
Dr. Gail Labovitz is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the American Jewish University, where she teaches primarily for the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and is also an ordained Conservative rabbi. She is the author of a number of scholarly articles, and the book Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of Gender in Rabbinic Literature. She has also worked as a Senior Research Analyst for the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University, and the coordinator of the Jewish Feminist Research Group for the Women's Studies Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Jake Goodman is an LGTBQ activist, Jewish educator and performer. He holds an MA in Jewish Education with a specialization in Infomal and Communal Education from the Davidson School at JTS and a BFA in Acting from Emerson College. Jake has worked increasingly to advocate toward full equality for LGBT people. Jake is a founding member of Queer Rising, a grassroots organization that demands queer rights through direct action, is on a committee to confront homeless queer youth with the Ali Forney Center, and is currently working on a book. Jake is also a proud company member of Storahtelling, previously serving as Associate Director, and serves as senior faculty for the 14th Street Y's LABA fellowship. He has served as educator in various capacities at seminaries, synagogues, JCCs, camps and pre-schools around the country. In the theater world, Jake has performed across the country and internationally at The Berkshire Theater Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Alma in Tel-Aviv.
Rabbi Juan Mejía was born in Bogotá, Colombia. After discovering the Jewish roots of his family, he embarked on a spiritual journey that lead him back to the religion and the people of his ancestors. He holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the National University of Colombia and a summa cum laude Master´s Degree in Jewish Civilization from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in NY. He plans to devote his life to the Torah education of both Jews and descendants of anusim wherever they may be. He lives with his wife and daughter in Oklahoma City, OK. He was recently appointed as the coordinator for the Southwest for the Jewish non-profit organization Bechol Lashon.
Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler works at the Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. She also serves as the Director of the Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism. She received master’s degrees from the University of Judaism and from Harvard Graduate School of Education and was ordained as a rabbi by Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006, where she found deep meaning writing and researching her Rabbinic Thesis on the Book of Job: "Talk to Me: (Or, When More Bad Things Happen to Good People)." She is married to Rabbi Amitai Adler (also an S Blog contributor) and this year became Michael Zachary Joel Adler's mother.
Rabbi Justin Goldstein was ordained in 2011 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA. He currently serves as rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, ME. Justin is a volunteer board member of Maine Interfaith Power and Light, sits on the Advisory Board to the Judaic Studies program at University of Maine. His writings can be found in various books, at the Jew and the Carrot, Hazon's blog at the Forward and at Jewschool.com Rabbi Goldstein was recently selected as a 2012-2013 Fellow with Rabbis Without Borders. Justin lives in Bangor, ME with his wife, Danielle, and their daughter, Naviyah.
Keren McGinity is an internationally recognized gender historian who specializes in American Jews and intermarriage. Dr. McGinity is currently a Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Prior to joining the HBI, she was an Associate Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, also at Brandeis University. Before coming to Brandeis, Dr. McGinity was the inaugural Mandell L. Berman Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary American Jewish Life at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. She currently serves on the Academic Advisory Council of the Jewish Women’s Archive and the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society. Her pioneering book, Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America (published by NYU Press), was selected as a finalist for the 2009 National Jewish Book Award and positively reviewed in the Jerusalem Post, the Forward, Moment and Lilith magazines, as well as in many online publications and scholarly journals. Dr. McGinity’s current book project is titled Unexpected Partners: Intermarriage and Jewish Fatherhood (Indiana University Press, under contract). Dr. McGinity is the founding director of Love & Tradition (www.loveandtradition.com), an Internet based project dedicated to shedding new light on intermarriage in America.
Lee Frankel-Goldwater is a professional environmental educator, writer, and social good project developer as well as a recent graduate of NYU's Environmental Conservation Education masters program. Lee has also studied at the Center for Creative Ecology on Kibbutz Lotan, Israel and at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Currently he has been leading development of the Global Action Classroom, an Earth Child Institute initiative focused on global youth environmental cooperation and helping to create the Global Sustainability Fellows, a program of The Sustainability Laboratory seeking to design a new and innovative, international sustainability masters program. Other projects include: developing mobile applications for encouraging social action, mixed media video design, leading peace and environmental education workshops, and doing his best to live a life in connection with the Earth while helping others to do the same. At heart Lee is a poet, traveler, musician, and philosopher with a deep curiosity for new experiences, unfamiliar cultures, learning languages, and often dancing to the beat of a different drummer. As student of yoga, meditation, and spiritual arts, Lee aims to connect the inner journey with the outer one, hoping, as he can, to share what is learned along the way, enjoying the journey.
Matt Bar is founder and Executive Director of Bible Raps, a non-profit born from Matt's desire to engage his Hebrew School classes on a deeper and more contemporary level than the way they were being taught at the time. Bible Raps launched out of Bar's participation in the PresenTense Institute during the summer of 2007. He continued to further his Jewish education during his 2008 year of study at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Since its inception, Bible Raps has reached tens of thousands of young Jews with Torah-rich performances in schools, Hillels, conferences and camps across the US and abroad. Their teaching materials are being used in countless classrooms and teachers are currently being trained to be certified "Bible Raps educators". In 2011, Bar was also named to The NY Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" list, a prestigious list "highlighting the dedicated lay leaders who are reordering our legacy organizations alongside community activists and social justice crusaders whose startups are chock-full of innovation,". He is also 2009-2010 member of slingshot. Before his current role as Executive Director of Bible Raps, Bar was also featured on MTV and NBC, has opened for Grammy winning group Outkast and performed at numerous clubs and venues as a folk rapper. Matt currently resides in Philadelphia and is working on Bible Raps Album #3 and hoping to put out Hip Hop Lullabies, within the calendar year.
Matt Shapiro lives in Los Angeles, California and works as a spiritual counselor at Beit T'shuvah, a Jewish residential addiction treatment center. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, with a BA in Jewish Studies, and is working toward his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.
Ora Wise has a Masters in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of Jewish Education and is the director of the Children’s Learning Program at Kolot Chayeinu: Voices of Our Lives, a progressive synagogue in Brooklyn. There she implements an arts-based, pluralistic, Jewish culture and history curriculum for students from Jewish families of diverse backgrounds, many of whom are interfaith, multiracial, and GLBT. Wise is also the Curriculum Specialist for the Detroit Future Media Workshops, a program offering trainings for Detroiters interested in building Detroit’s media economy through the creation of grassroots media, and community cultural production. In the past, Wise served as the curriculum specialist and co-producer of the grassroots documentarySlingshot Hip Hop, a film documenting the lives of young hip hop artists in Palestine which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. She also co-founded PEP (Palestine Education Project), a collective of educators, activists, youth, and artists committed to understanding common struggles against racism, militarism and displacement in Israel/Palestine, North America, and beyond.
Rachel Petroff Kessler is the Family Educator at Temple Isaiah in Fulton, Maryland. Originally from upstate New York, Rachel has worked as a Jewish educator in a variety of settings, including Hillel at Binghamton, Kutz: NFTY’s Campus for Reform Jewish Teens, and Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan. Rachel graduated from HUC-JIR’s New York School of Education in April 2010 with a Masters in Religious Education and was a summer fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in 2009.
Rachel S. Harris is Assistant Professor of Israeli Literature and Culture in Comparative &World Literature and the Program in Jewish Culture & Society at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has published on contemporary Israeli literature and culture in the journals Israel Studies, Shofar, and Modern Jewish Studies. She has written on suicide in Israeli literature, and more recently on women in Israeli film. Her co-edited volume bringing together articles on a range of subjects “Narratives of Dissent: War in Israeli Culture and Arts” will be published in the Fall through Wayne State Press. She is also the series editor for the Dalkey Archive Press “Hebrew Literature in Translation Series” and the Hebrew editor of “The Levant Notebook” an online literary magazine bringing together Middle Eastern fiction and poetry in English translation, along with reviews, and opinion pieces on the state of culture.
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is the Director of North American Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. Ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a student activist and leader, she is a noted speaker and writer on Judaism and human rights. While in rabbinical school, she worked as rabbinic intern at the JCC of Manhattan, where she was a taught midrash and introductory Judaism, and at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Her writing has appeared in Sh’ma, Conservative Judaism, and several anthologies, and she is a regular contributor to the blog The Jew and the Carrot and to the Huffington Post. Rabbi Kahn-Troster was also a 2009-2010 D’var Tzedek fellow for the American Jewish World Service. She serves on the boards of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Hazon.
Shawn Shafner is a theatre-maker, educator, and creator of The People's Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org), an arts and education organization that promotes critical conversations about sustainable sanitation for the person, planet and world community. He is the recipient of a 2005 Spielberg Fellowship, and has been creating original ritual theater and educational programs with Storahtelling ever since. Shawn has created and facilitated educational programs for all ages, from early childhood audiences to elderly populations. He is currently artist-in-residence at the JCC Manhattan Preschool, works with underprivileged NYC school students as a teaching artist with Arts for All, and writes curriculum for Think-Build-Live Success, a self-empowerment, life skills and employment preparation program in career colleges. Shawn holds a BFA in Drama from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and has trained as an actor in Russia at the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, the Institute for Contemporary Art in London, and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy. He spent most of 2008 touring nationally as Pablo in Nickelodeon's The Backyardigans Live!, and his NYC acting credits include performances at Madison Square Garden, Theater Row, Joe's Pub, The Club at La Mama, and Classic Stage Company.
Steven I. Rein is the Assistant Rabbi at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, NY. He is also a Captain in the United States Air Force serving Langley Air Force Base as a reserve chaplain.
Todd Hasak-Lowy is a writer, scholar, and translator. He has a PhD in comparative literature from UC Berkeley. He is the author of a short story collection, a novel, and an academic monograph. He lives in Evanston with his family and teaches creative writing and modern Hebrew literature in and around Chicago.
Yoni A. Dahlen is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. He attended Brandeis University where he received a Masters of Arts in Jewish Philosophy. Pursuing a career in academia, his topics of interest include Jewish mysticism, political theology, and the religiosity of Labor Zionism. He currently lives in Jerusalem.
Yoni Oppenheim is a founding Co-Artistic Director of 24/6: A Jewish Theater Company. He directs and dramaturges new and devised work. For 24/6 he adapted and directed A Doll House (The Tank), The Splendor of Space and Karoshi Karaoke for Sabbath Variations Workshop (24/6 at 6th Street Synagogue). Additional directing credits include: Evolutionism or Dammit We Took the Shortcut! (Manhattan Rep), Etta Sings for Change (Duplex), The Perfect Human 2009 (The 6th Obstruction) (14th Street Y), FAST and The Consistency of Flour (Drisha Institute/JCC); Yo Miss!... (LPAC); Crito and Na'im (The Lover) (S.E.E. Theater); Oleanna, The Love of Don Perlimplín for Belisa in the Garden, and Swan Song (NYU Tisch) Assistant Director: Dog and Wolf (59E59); To Paint the Earth (NYMF/37Arts); Earthquake Chica (SPF/Theater Row) Translator: At Night's End for Motti Lerner will receive a reading at the Lark Play Development Center in October. Dramaturg: HAGGADAH…(Witness Relocation /LaMama); Hasidic Tendencies (Linhart Theater). He is currently serving as researcher to playwright Doug Wright on a new play. Contributing Artist: Knut er død: Hamsunjubileet 2008-10 (Teater NOR, Norway). He leads “Improv for Seniors” at the Riverdale Y. Observerships with: Peter Sellars on A Flowering Tree by John Adams at the Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center; Mark Lamos on the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories at New York City Opera, Lincoln Center; Jim Simpson on Walter Woods' Billy the Kid and Lillian Mortimer's No Mother to Guide Her at The Flea Theater. Yoni is a recipient of the John Dana Archbold Fellowship at the University of Oslo; Dorot Fellowship in Israel; and the Spielberg Fellowship in Jewish Theater Education. He is the associate editor of the Foundation for Jewish Culture's catalog “Plays of Jewish Interest” and is the artistic consultant to the Drisha Arts Fellowship. M. Phil. Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo; B.F.A. Drama, New York University – Tisch School of the Arts/Playwrights Horizons Theater School. He has studied at Yeshivat Sha'arei Mevaseret Zion, Beit Midrash Elul, Beit Morasha, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.
Zachary Sitkin is currently a 2nd year Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a Philadelphia native, and was recently married to his beautiful wife Lisa. They are both moving to Israel for the academic year together. Zachary graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor's in Psychology and Religious Studies. He often describes himself as an avid sports fan and rabbinic enthusiast.
Zoe Jick is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where she studied religion. Currently, she works as the New York Regional Director for the World Zionist Organization and she holds a recruitment position for Masa Israel Journey. Zoe also writes a travel food blog, which can be found at www.everywhereeating.wordpress.com