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 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.

Rabbi Adam Greenwald

is the Director of the Louis & Judith Miller Introduction to Judaism Program at American Jewish University, the largest preparatory program for those considering conversion to Judaism in North America. He also serves as an Lecturer in Education in the AJU’s Graduate School of Education. In 2014, Rabbi Greenwald was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by the Jewish Daily Forward. He previously served as Revson Rabbinic Fellow at IKAR, a Los Angeles congregation often recognized as one of today's most innovative spiritual communities. His writings have also appeared in the Washington Post, and he is a regular contributor to the Ziegler School's widely distributed "Today's Torah" and Jewish Values Online. Rabbi Greenwald is a graduate of UCLA and was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2011.

Alex Braver

is a rabbinic fellow at B'nai Jeshurun and a third-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has also served as a student chaplain, studied at Yeshivat Hadar, and tutored remedial math and English at a charter school in Boston. He graduated from Brandeis University in 2009 with majors in history and politics.

Alexis Pinsky

is a fourth year student in the rabbinical program at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. Alexis was born in and grew up in Atlanta, GA. She attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she double majored in Jewish Studies and Psychology. Alexis graduated from Tulane in three years cum laude with a BS. This year, she is serving as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. In her third year of school, Alexis served as the Student Rabbi at Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg, VA. She has held positions on the board of New Orleans Hillel, and has led services with Hillels of Westchester, New Orleans Hillel, as well as her home congregation of Temple Sinai of Atlanta, GA. Alexis has a passion for Jewish Education and has taught religious school, Hebrew, Torah study, and various adult education programs at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, and at Beth Sholom Temple. She has a great love of Israel, where she has lived, led trips, and traveled extensively. During her time at Tulane, she served as the Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Intern, and spearheaded Israel education and programming on campus. Alexis is thrilled to be a part of the Sh'ma community this year.

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.

Rabbi Alon C Ferency

pursued Israeli-Palestinian economic integration in the 1990’s at Harvard University. After a bicycle trip from Seattle to Boston, he entered the Peace Corps in Cameroon as a Community Health organizer. Then, he worked in the music industry, before receiving a Master’s Degree in Informal Jewish Education from J.T.S., and rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School in 2010. Today, Alon is the rabbi of Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville, Tennessee. There, he serves as a board member of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and served on the Community Health Council, Together! Healthy Knox, and the ethics committee of the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He is also a regular contributor to Conservative Judaism quarterly, and an alumnus of Leadership Knoxville and the Tikvah Fellowship. His sermons are available at; and, you may follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@EclecticCleric).

Rabbi Amitai Adler

is a Conservative rabbi. He is a teacher and writer, and serves as the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Aurora, Illinois. Rabbi Adler lives in Deerfield, Illinois, with his wife, Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler and their son and daughter.

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.

Aryeh BenDavid

Aryeh Ben David grew up outside of NYC, studied psychology at Vassar College, received rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate and now lives in Efrat, Israel with his wife Sandra and their six children. Aryeh founded Ayeka, Center for Soulful Education, in 2006, after almost 20 years of work in formal and experiential Jewish educational settings. Ayeka seeks to provide educators with the language and tools for creating personal and meaningful connection. Aryeh has been involved in the training of staff of countless organizations and lectures internationally.

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.

Rabbi Ben Goldstein

was ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May of 2010. Since that time he has been working as the rabbi for a congregation in suburban New Jersey (yes, that’s right, I said New Jersey). He has been watching television and movies ever since he was old enough to have the core strength to sit up without falling over. Goldstein's love for the performing arts led him to pursue it as a career and he even managed to star in such cinematic triumphs as Jewz N The Hood. After a number of Signs from our Creator (and more than a few casting directors) he realized that actors don’t take themselves nearly serious enough so he needed to find something else to do. Taking a look at the job description of a rabbi (writer, counselor, teacher, performer, student) he thought it sounded like a really great way to spend his life. In addition to being trained as a rabbi, Goldstein has an encyclopedic knowledge of television and movies from the mid-80s to today. That makes him either a fantastic Jeopardy contestant or the world’s most boring cocktail party guest. You can reach Rabbi Goldstein at

Caryn Aviv

is Associate Director/Jewish Educator with Judaism Your Way in Denver, CO. Caryn taught Jewish Studies at various universities for ten years, and has published widely in the areas of contemporary Jewish culture, gender and sexuality in Judaism, and Israel Studies. In her voluminous spare time, she's an aspirational vegan yogini and is studying for rabbinical ordination through ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Cheryl Goldstein

Cheryl Goldstein got her Ph.D. from UCLA in Comparative Literature and works in the areas of literature, psychoanalysis, and Jewish identity. Currently an Assistant Professor of Comparative World Literature at Cal State University, Long Beach she is also a student research clinical psychoanalyst and has a Masters in Rabbinic Literature.

Daliya Karnofsky

performs live and on the web in her original baking series And She Bakes, 2013 recipient of the Fresh Ground Pepper Toobie Award for "Best Original Video". And She Bakes has been seen live at the opening of NYC's Yotel, Sticky! at The Bowery Poetry Club, Abrons Arts Center, Fresh Ground Pepper, and The Plus One Solo Show Festival at NYC's Bridge Theatre. Daliya also performs live and on the web in the unscripted sitcom Naked in a Fishbowl (Cherry Lane, Edinburgh Fringe). Daliya has toured the world as a monologuist, performing in Jerusalem, Miami, NYC, and Vancouver, among others. She has also performed and trained with NYC companies Storahtelling, Witness Relocation, Red Bull Theater, Les Freres Corbusier, la mama e.t.c., New York Neo-Classical Ensemble, and as a member of the T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange with the Old Vic in London. Daliya Karnofsky holds a B.F.A from NYU Tisch and an M.F.A. from the New School for Drama.

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 Dan Horwitz

is a rabbi, educator, consultant and community builder. Committed to lifelong learning, he holds a BA in Politics from Brandeis University, an MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College, a JD and an MA in Sport Management from the University of Michigan, and an MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew College. He received rabbinic ordination from the non-denominational Mesifta Adas Wolkowisk. Dan is happiest when engaged in meaningful discussion with others on topics of Jewish and general philosophical interest, when playing basketball, and when Justin Verlander is pitching. For more information, check out

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 freshman at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She loves sharing her perspective on faith and religion, especially with her own growing Jewish community. She began recording 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 pursued her passion for spiritual leadership through her rabbinic internship at Romemu [], her pastoral internship at St. Patrick's Cathedral and her job as a counselor at Camp Ramah Darom in Georgia. 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.

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). Franny is the Director of Youth Education at Brooklyn's progressive synagogue, Kolot Chayeinu. She is also a new mom to Sunhillow Belle.

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.

Gershon Burstyn

is a writer and editor living outside of Jerusalem. He is the former editor of World Jewish Digest and has written extensively on Jewish affairs.

Idit Solomon

Rabbi Idit Solomon the founder and CEO of Hasidah, a foundation focused on Jewish infertility issues. She previously served for six years as the vice president of Jewish Education and Identity at the Jewish Federation of Columbus. In her rabbinical work, Rabbi Solomon worked in areas spanning from congregations, schools, camps, Hillel, and elder care facilities. She received ordination and a Master’s of Jewish Education from HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. Prior to her graduate studies she worked as a business systems analyst. She is married and has two children.

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.

Jared Gimbel

is the founder of “Present Presence,” an initiative devoted to fostering positive images of communities throughout the Jewish Diaspora to North American and Israeli Audiences. He is currently a Masters Degree Candidate at Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg, and has been a Jewish community activist while living in the United States, Israel, Poland, Sweden and Germany. Jared has served as a tour guide, editor and translator at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Cracow, and was also a fellow at the Paideia Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. In 2011 he wrote his Bachelor’s thesis on non-human species in European mythologies, and his upcoming Masters’ Thesis focuses on perspectives and portrayals of Jewish Life in Finland and in Greece. When he’s not working, he enjoys collecting pop music from many different countries, and is always in the process of learning a new language.

Jesse Paikin is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to his rabbinical studies, he worked at the Union for Reform Judaism as coordinator of Israel Programs for high school and college students. He has also received certification from HUC-JIR in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults. A displaced Canadian who thrives on living in other countries, Jesse is originally from Toronto, and has lived in Montreal, Jerusalem, and New York City. Jesse has worked as a Jewish Educator in a variety of settings, including NFTY in Israel; Kutz: NFTY’s Campus for Reform Jewish Teens; Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, and Temple Kol Ami of Thornhill, Ontario. He is currently an Educator and Senior Youth Group Advisor at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Among other things, Jesse is a voracious music listener, a vegetarian pretending to be a vegan, and a lover of the hidden fedex arrow. He blogs regularly at, and can be found on twitter at @jessepaikin.

Rabbi Jessica Lott

, Maryland Hillel’s Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning, is a Chicago native who received rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. She loves to teach Torah and has done so with people of all kinds - from toddlers to seniors, at synagogues and summer camps, on Israel trips, in interfaith dialogue groups, and on college campuses. Her interest in stories, how we tell them, and what we learn from hearing and telling them is what led her to the rabbinate. A deep investment in innovation and pluralism lead her to Hillel. During rabbinical school she worked at the Hillels at the University of Delaware and at Temple University, as well as at Hillel’s Schusterman International Center. She also went on an AJWS delegation to Ghana, worked as a chaplain in urban medical clinics in Chicago, taught adult education classes, and lead teen trips to Israel. She holds a bachelors in Jewish and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St Louis and a masters in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education from DePaul University in Chicago. In her spare time (ha!) she likes to ride her bicycle, read, do New York Times crossword puzzles, and make up band names.

Rabbi Joshua Bolton

is the Senior Jewish Educator for the Jewish Renaissance Project at Penn Hillel. Josh is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and holds an MFA in Poetry from UMass, Amherst.

Rabbi Josh Snyder

is the Executive Director of Goucher College Hillel in Baltimore, MD. He attended List College's Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he earned degrees in Talmud and Biology. After a brief adventure as a veterinary student, Josh was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2008. In addition to immersing himself in Hillel, Josh finds balance through his wife Neely and three daughters, distance running, rock music, the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Orioles.

Rabbi Joshua Kullock

is the rabbi at the West End Synagogue, the only Conservative synagogue in Nashville, Tennessee. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he moved to the US in September 2013 with his wife and three daughters.

Rabbi Juan Mejia

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

Ordained in 2011 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA, Justin serves as rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville, NC. Rabbi Goldstein was selected as a 2012-2013 Fellow with Rabbis Without Borders. His writings can be found in various books, at the Jew and the Carrot - Hazon's blog at the Forward and at . Find Justin at, on Twitter @RabbiJDG and at

Keren R. 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 (, an Internet based project dedicated to shedding new light on intermarriage in America.

Lauren Henderson

Lauren Henderson is a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She completed her BA in Religious Studies and History at Rice University in 2009, and spent a year learning at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem and two years at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Lauren has had the opportunity to learn and work at IKAR, Cornell Hillel, Adamah Adventures, and with Encounter. She is originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina and currently lives in New York City. Lauren currently serves as the Rabbinic Intern of the Pelham Jewish Center in Pelham Manor, New York.

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.

Maxwell Zachs

is a well-known transgender advocate in the Progressive Jewish community in the UK, having formerly held the position of National Secretary of Keshet and currently chairing the Queer and Transgender Jews Forum, he is also the Patron of the Rainbow Jews Project. Max finished off a year working for the Quakers as a Peace Worker where he had been working on counter-militarization of youth projects to take up a year's fellowship at Paideia- The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Stockholm. Paideia allowed Max to follow his dream of intense and close study of traditional Jewish texts, whilst a Paideia fellow he also completed several academic and literary works including his thesis 'Queer Theory and Babylonian Talmud', his first published novel and a number of plays based on Queer readings of the Torah. Max writes regularly for a diverse collection of publications including: The Guardian, The Independent, Pink News, Huffington Post, Original Plumbing, The Transgender Studies Journal and Kartoon Kippah.

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.

Naomi Less

Singer/Songwriter. Activist. Worship leader. Educator. Naomi Less is a multi-talented professional. Her music repertoire ranges from edgy pop rock to meditative spiritual prayer. Founder of Jewish Chicks/Kids Rock programs, Naomi encourages young voices to speak out. Her music videos and cd, "The Real Me”, share a personal journey of wrestling with self-worth, theology, justice issues and finding one's voice. Naomi is a gifted and certified Center for Leadership Initiatives facilitator, program designer, and Storahtelling-Lab/Shul founding company member and Director of Education and Training. She graduated from JTS Davidson School and Northwestern University and is an alum of the Institute for Informal Jewish Education at Brandeis University and Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Naomi’s on and

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.

Richard Lederman

holds a BA in Religion from Miami University (Ohio) and a Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature from the Annenberg Research Institute, now the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylania. After nearly 30 years as a Jewish communal professional, most recently as Director of Public Policy and Social Action for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Lederman now teaches courses in Bible, Religion and Comparative Mythology at Georgetown University and Montgomery College, Maryland, as well as online Bible courses for Gratz College in Philadelphia. He blogs at

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.

Rabbi Sara Brandes

Rabbi Sara Brandes fell in love with being Jewish while Israeli dancing at Camp Alonim in Los Angeles, CA. Since then, she has worked to build Jewish spaces where Judaism is felt, not just heard, space that are as fun and compelling as the feeling of holding hands, laughing, with hundreds of friends. Sara is California Director at Moving Traditions, and returns to Alonim every summer as Rabbi-in-Residence. When she is not engaging Jewish teens and adults in meaningful Jewish life, she is a yogi, partner of Hyim and mom to Michal and Gavi.

Rabbi Scott Perlo

Scott Perlo left the waves of his beloved Pacific Ocean to be the Associate Director of Jewish Programming at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. His job is extremely cool, and he spends his days reaching out to the young professional Jews and the “Jewish adjacent” population of Washington D.C . Scott was the first rabbi of the Professional Leaders Project and Moishe House, a founder of the Ma'or Beit Midrash and CreateHavdallah, rabbi of Adat Shalom in West L.A., and rabbinic intern at IKAR and Beit Warszawa in Warsaw, Poland. He received his undergraduate degree from University of Pennsylvania and his ordination from the Ziegler School at the American Jewish University in 2008. Scott writes regularly for the Huffington Post, Sixth and I’s blog, Kosher Salt, and has been published in the Washington Post.

Shawn Shafner

is a theatre-maker, educator, and creator of The People's Own Organic Power Project (, 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.

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

is the Executive Director of the Valley Beit Midrash, the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek, and the Founder and CEO of The Shamayim V’Aretz Insitute. Rav Shmuly completed his Masters at Yeshiva University in Jewish Philosophy, a Masters at Harvard in Moral Psychology and a Doctorate at Columbia in Epistemology and Moral Development. Rav Shmuly is the author of Jewish Ethics and Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century and his second book was Epistemic Development in Talmud Study.

Simcha Halpert-Hanson

graduated from Eugene Lang College at the New School with a degree in Poetry and a minor in Jewish Studies. They are deeply invested in the unity of radical queerness and frumkeit as well as the psychological awakening of Ashkenazi Jewry. They are a member of the transgender and Jewish band Schmekel and currently work at the UJA Federation of NY on the Commission for Jewish Identity and Renewal.

Rabbi 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.

Yael Roberts

Yael Roberts graduated Stern College for Women in 2014, with a major in English Literature and a minor in Studio Art. This summer, she is participating in Tent: Museums, and working as a Arts Education Intern at BIMA at Brandeis. She is a 2014-2015 year program student at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. A printmaker and mixed media artist, she had her first solo show, "Correspondences," in January 2014 at Blackburn 20/20 in Manhattan. She was a Kressel Research Scholar for 2012-2013 and a 2013 artist-in-residence at the Contemporary Artists Center in Troy, NY.

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 a 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