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Summer Seminar and Symposia Faculty Biographies

Rabbi Richard F. Address was ordained at HUC-JIR (Cincinnati) in 1972, and received his Doctor of Divinity from HUC-JIR in 1997. In May 1998 he received his certificate in Pastoral Counseling from the PostGraduate Center for Mental Health (NYC) and in May 1999 graduated from HUC-JIR (NYC) with his Doctor of Ministry. Rabbi Address has served the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in a variety of capacities. Following congregation work in California, he joined the UAHC staff in August 1978 as the director of the UAHC Pennsylvania Council and Federation of Reform Synagogues of Greater Philadelphia. He continued as senior regional director of the Council through December of 2000. While serving as regional director, he was named, in July 1997 as director of the new UAHC Department of Jewish Family Concerns. This department, which sees as its mission the creation of “caring congregations”; brings together the work of a variety of programs in areas such as aging, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, special needs, AIDS, gay and lesbian inclusion and the impact of emerging medical technology on the lives of our members.


Merri Lovinger Arian Merri Lovinger Arian serves on the faculty of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. She teaches both cantorial and rabbinic students, offering courses in Music Education, Conducting, Congregational Singing, Worship, and Contemporary Congregational Repertoire. Merri previously served as Director of Music for Synagogue 2000 (S2K), a leading trans-denominational institute developing models for revitalizing synagogue life, and has more recently served as Synagogue 3000's consultant on liturgical arts at HUC-JIR in New York. In that role, Merri supervises rabbinic and cantorial students in creating worship collaboratively at the College-Institute.  She holds an MA in Teaching, a BFA in Music Education, and a Certificate in Music Therapy. Merri edited R'fuah Sh'leimah : Songs of Healing. Her recordings include Nefesh : Songs for the Soul, a CD for S2K, and NFTY in Harmony, an album with an accompanying songbook of original choral arrangements. She has written on "Music, Prayer and Sacred Community," and on the educational value of youth choirs.


Box 'n BagelsBagels 'n Box incorporates the hip, modern, beatboxing talent of Jay Stone with the classic Jewish prayer singing of Jon Murstein.  Bagels 'n Box is a partnership of two childhood friends that share both a love for Judaism and a passion for its music who are eager to share them with others through this website, CD albums, and, most importantly, live performances.  Bagels 'n Box is made up of Jon Murstein and Jay Stone.

Jon Murstein began his Jewish music career as a member of his synagogue's choir at the age of 8.  Under the mentorship of Cantor Yehuda Shifman, a 5th-generation cantor, Jon began to derive great joy from the traditional services and the opportunity he was afforded to participate in them.  Shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, Jon decided that his passion for Jewish music was too compelling not to pursue and formally trained with Cantor Shifman's nephew Aaron (himself a cantor in Ohio).  In 1997, Jon was hired by B'nai Torah Congregation to serve as cantor for the High Holy Days, leading the Family Service for 350 congregants and making him one of the youngest professional cantors in the country at the age of 14.  His infatuation with Jewish prayer has never waned.  When he's not singing, Jon works in governmental and other tax-exempt bond finance.

Jay Stone ( most recently won national acclaim for his nationwide TV debut as an American Idol Finalist in Season 9.  After discovering his love for beatboxing almost 10 years ago, he has since performed with a capella groups, shared the stage with artists from DJ Mei-Lwun to Coolooloosh and performed as far as Kathmandu, Nepal.  Jay has also served as a dedicated Israel advocate following his Birthright Israel trip in 2007.  Immediately upon return, he joined the leadership team of the Bay Area Tribe.  In 2009, he was selected by Birthright Israel to serve as one of 10 International Ambassadors on Birthright Israel's "Decade Alumni Trip," where he performed his "Sh'ma Israel" beatbox for a crowd of 10,000+ people, including Israeli President Shimon Peres.  Jay recently completed his MBA at NYU Stern and fuels his second passion, the environment, in his work as a Sustainability & Climate Change consultant.  


Felice Miller Baritz Felice Miller Baritz has been the principal of the Kol Ami Religious School since 2004. She had also worked as a head teacher in the Kol Ami early childhood program. As an active volunteer at Kol Ami, Felice has been involved in running various events and working on many committees.

Felice brings 20 years of creative energy and experience from the business world working as director of product development for licensing at Elle Magazine and as a marketing consultant. Felice was the founder and president of The Studio Group, Inc.

Felice holds a B.S. degree in special and elementary education from Boston University and has done work in early childhood education and intervention. She is a certified North Star life coach. A committed community volunteer, she has served as PTA president and is active in the White Plains school district. She lives in White Plains with her husband Marc and sons Jake and Andrew.


Ilana Benson Ilana Benson has been with Yeshiva University Museum for the past ten years, and currently heads their education department. She designs and implements lesson plans, gallery activities, and hands-on workshops for elementary, middle, and high school students and students with special needs.  She has a B.A. from Barnard College, and studied at JTS and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  She holds an M.S. in Museum Education and Early Adolescence Education from Bank Street College.

Prior to joining YU Museum, she served as a Gallery Educator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and worked in the corporate world as a computer systems analyst.


Eugene B. Borowitz is the much honored "dean" of American Jewish philosophers. For his contributions to Reform Judaism, the Union for Reform Judaism awarded him its Eisendrath Prize at its 2005 biennial convention. The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion recently appointed him "Distinguished University Professor," the Jewish Publication Society included him in its Scholars of Distinction series by publishing a selection of his papers over the past fifty years, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture awarded him its medal for lifetime Jewish Cultural Achievement for his work in the field of Jewish thought. His nineteenth book, A Touch of the Sacred, a Theologian's Informal Guide to Jewish Belief, done with Frances W. Schwartz, has just been issued by Jewish Lights Publishing.

Dr. Borowitz serves as the Sigmund L. Falk Distinguished Professor of Education and Jewish Religious Thought at the New York School of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he has taught since 1962. He is a prolific author, having written hundreds of articles on various aspects of Jewish religious thought. He is the only Jew to have been President of the American Theological Society. In 1982 Harvard University Divinity School invited him to inaugurate its newly established List Professorship of Jewish Studies. He wrote the comprehensive article on Judaism in the Encyclopedia of Religion. His 1974 work, The Mask Jews Wear, received the National Jewish Book Award in the field of Jewish thought.

Rabbi Borowitz is widely known in the Jewish community as the former Editor of Sh'ma, a journal of Jewish responsibility, a magazine of Jewish social concern he founded in 1970 and edited for 23 years. He is active in Jewish publishing as a Life Trustee of the Jewish Publication Society. He has served as visiting professor of religion at: Columbia University, Princeton University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, City College of the City University of New York, Drew University, Temple University, Teachers College of Columbia University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Woodstock College (the Jesuit graduate school of theology). He has addressed many national and international Jewish gatherings as well as various academic and interfaith conferences.

Rabbi Borowitz received his bachelor's degree from Ohio State University. He was ordained and received the first of his two earned doctor's degrees from Hebrew Union College, the other being from Teachers College Columbia University. He has received honorary doctorates from Colgate University, Lafayette and Gratz Colleges. He has served congregations in St. Louis, Mo. and Port Washington, NY and was a Navy Chaplain during the Korean War. Prior to his academic position he was National Director of Education for Reform Judaism at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, editing its books, curricula and educational periodicals.


Joel Chasnoff Joel Chasnoff has performed his unique brand of humor in eight countries, including the Montreal Comedy Festival, a U.S.O. Comedy Tour of Japan and Korea entertaining American Marines, and nine performances for Birthright Israel in Jerusalem. On tour, he's been the warm-up act for both Jon Stewart and Lewis Black of The Daily Show.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Joel decided to relax a bit by serving in a combat unit of the Israeli Army. As a tank gunner in the Armored Corps, Joel spent many a chilly night not sleeping in his tank as he and his platoon mates lay in ambush against Hezbollah in South Lebanon. Joel's memoir about his year in the Israeli Army, entitled The 188th Crybaby Brigade: A Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah , was published by Simon and Schuster in February 2010. Joel's writing has also appeared in The Idiot's Guide to Jokes and the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Big Book of Jewish Humor .

A portion of all proceeds from Joel's book and stand-up performances is donated to Joel's charitable foundation, Project Elijah.


Michelle CitrinMichelle Citrin is a Brooklyn based singer/songwriter and producer.

Whether playing in front of a sold-out crowd of thousands on the beach of Tel Aviv, or an intimate set at a coffeehouse in Melbourne, Australia, Michelle Citrin's soulful voice, skillful guitar playing, humorous in-between-song banter and unpretentious demeanor has captured the eyes and ears of her audience all over the world. Recent performances include the URJ Biennial, Limmud UK, LA, NYC, PBS Chanukah special, "Lights," as well as the 100th Anniversary of Tel Aviv Birthright Mega Event.

In 2008, Michelle co-created and starred in the hit YouTube sensations, "20 Things to do with Matzah” and “Rosh Hashanah Girl,” which to date, have received millions of hits, ranking in the top 20 most viewed music videos of the year and have been featured on Good Morning America,, CBS Evening News and The New York Times.

Michelle’s versatility and talent for writing catchy and meaningful songs has led to rave reviews and accolades including being named as one of Billboard Music's "Top Songwriters" as well as VH-1’s Song of the Year finalist. Most recently, Michelle has been chosen to score the upcoming Broadway production of “Sleepless in Seattle.”

In addition to performing regularly, Michelle leads workshops on developing self-expression and tapping into inner creative spirit. She sits on the Artist Board for and serves on Synagogue 3000’s Next Dor Committee. In January 2011, she will be releasing her first full length album, “Left Brained, Right Hearted”.


Dr. Norman CohenDr. Norman Cohen is Provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he is also Professor of Midrash.  Renowned for his expertise in Torah study and midrash (finding contemporary meaning from ancient biblical texts), he lectures frequently to audiences of many faiths.  Dr. Cohen was a participant in Bill Moyers’ Genesis:  A Living Conversation series on PBS.  His books include, Self, Struggle & Change:  Family Conflict Stories in Genesis and their Healing Insights for our Lives, Voices from Genesis:  Guiding us through the Stages of Life, The Way into Torah, Hineini in our Lives, and Moses and the Journey to Leadership:  Timeless Lessons of Effective Management from the Bible and Today’s Leadership (October 2006), all published by Jewish Lights.

Steven M. CohenSteven M. Cohen is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner. In the past, he served as Professor at The Melton Centre for Jewish Education; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Queens College, CUNY. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University, Yale University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

He has written or edited a dozen books and hundreds of scholarly articles and reports on such issues as Jewish community, Jewish identity, and Jewish education. With Arnold Eisen, he wrote The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America. Steven is also the co-author with Charles Liebman of Two Worlds of Judaism: The Israeli and American Experiences, as well as Cosmopolitans and Parochials: Modern Orthodox Jews in America with Samuel Heilman. His earlier books include American Modernity & Jewish Identity and American Assimilation or Jewish Revival? He co-authored A Journey of Heart and Mind: Transformative Jewish in Adulthood, a monograph on Jewish identities of Great Britain, and, most recently, Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary. His current research interests extend to emerging forms of Jewish community and identity among younger Jews in the United States.

Steven serves as Director of the Synagogue Studies Institute of Synagogue 3000 and Director of the Florence G. Heller-JCCA Research Center. He is married to Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen (HUC-JIR/New York '10) and they reside in both Jerusalem and New York.


Elisheva Diamond

Elisheva Diamond, M.A. is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Long Island University. She is currently investigating the contribution of early caregiving deficits, dissociation and body awareness to the the development of disordered eating and self-injurious behaviors. She is the executive producer of "Hungry to be Heard ". She has received specialized training in the treatment of eating disorders and facilitated a support group for Orthodox women with eating disorders. Together with Dr. Sarah Weinberger-Litman, she has adapted Bshvili , Dr. Catherine Steiner Adair's Jewish companion guide to her primary prevention program Full of Ourselves, for the orthodox community. Additionally she has presented her work on interpersonal trauma at numerous psychological conferences. Elisheva is a member of Orthodox Union's Board of Governors. 


Arnold EisenArnold M. Eisen, one of the world's foremost experts on American Judaism, is the seventh chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Since his appointment in 2007, he has increased JTS's impact on the communities it serves by transforming the education of religious leadership for Conservative Judaism; articulating a new vision for JTS; guiding the formulation of a new strategic plan to implement that vision; and developing innovative programs in synagogue arts and practices, adult education, pastoral care, Jewish thought, interreligious dialogue, social media, and the arts. Chancellor Eisen has become a leading voice for Judaism and the "vital religious center" of North America.

Chancellor Eisen served in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, the Department of Jewish Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and the Department of Religion at Columbia University. The chancellor earned a PhD in the History of Jewish Thought from Hebrew University, a BPhil in the Sociology of Religion at Oxford University, and a BA in Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania. An award-winning writer and advocate for the Jewish community, the chancellor's publications include (from the University of Chicago Press) Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community and (from Indiana University Press) Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming; The Jew Within: Self, Family and Community in America (with Steven M. Cohen); The Chosen People in America: A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology; and Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America, a personal essay.

Chancellor Eisen sits on the board of directors of the Tanenbaum Center, the Covenant Foundation, and the Taube Foundation, and chairs the steering committee of the Academic Consortium. He is a lifelong member of the Conservative Movement, and married to Dr. Adriane Leveen, a scholar of Hebrew Bible. The couple has two children, Shulie and Nathaniel.


Dr. David EllensonDr. David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, is a distinguished rabbi, scholar, and leader of the Reform Movement. He is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1977. He is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rabbi Ellenson's extensive publications include Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish History (1989), Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (1990) (nominated for the National Jewish Book Council's award for outstanding book in Jewish History, 1990), and Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World (1994). His latest book, After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity, a compilation of essays on Jewish values and identity, the challenge of emancipation, denominational responses, modern responsa, and contemporary works of legal and liturgical creativity, was published by Hebrew Union College Press in 2004.


Dr. Shira D. Epstein is an assistant professor in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Among the courses she teaches are Skills for Teaching, Curriculum and Instruction, and Perspectives on Gender and Education. Dr. Epstein coordinates the day school track, supervising student field work and teaching the year-long Practicum.

A lecturer and workshop facilitator, Dr. Epstein has given presentations and papers on curriculum design and arts education at the Network for Research in Jewish Education Conference, National Reading Conference, Brandeis University 's Institute for Informal Jewish Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Avoda Arts. She received a grant from the Jewish Women's Foundation of New York to support her research on training Jewish educators to teach "healthy relationship building" in formal educational settings and has lectured on this topic at the First, Second, and Third International Conferences on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, NCJW, Day School Leadership Training Institute, and Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals. In addition, she has extensive teaching, curriculum-development, and staff-development experience in varied Jewish settings, including Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, West End Synagogue Hebrew School, Foundation for Jewish Camping, and Jewish Educational Services of North America.

Dr. Epstein's research interests include "gender and Jewish education" and "drama as pedagogy." She authored a curriculum for Jewish Women International (JWI) titled "Strong Girls, Healthy Relationships: A Conversation on Dating, Friendship, and Self-Esteem" (2006) and serves as an educational and curriculum consultant for Storahtelling's Storahlab Summer Training Institute. Published articles include "Bringing the Text to Life and Into Our Lives: Jewish Education and the Arts" (Backenroth, O., Epstein, S., Miller, H., Religious Education, Fall 2006) and "Reimagining Literacy Practices: Creating Living Midrash From Ancient Text Through Tableau" (Journal of Jewish Education, Summer 2004).

She is the cochair of UJA-Federation of New York's Task Force on the Jewish Woman Steering Committee and is the representative of youth programs on JWI's National Leadership Council.

Dr. Epstein has a doctor of education degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University (2003), and was a Wexner Graduate Fellow (1999-2003). She holds a master of arts degree in Educational Theater from New York University (1996) and a bachelor of arts degree in Women's Studies, with a concentration in the Education of Girls, from Brown University (1994).


Debbie FriedmanOver the course of her 35 year career, legendary American Jewish composer, singer, and recording artist, Debbie Friedman z"l, has released over 20 albums (selling in excess of 500,000 units) and performed in sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and in hundreds of cities around the world. Her work has been lauded by industry critics and she has been honored by numerous national and international organizations with their most prestigious awards.

Debbie is credited with creating a whole new genre of contemporary, accessible Jewish music. From the beginning of her career, she has taken the prayers, teachings and melodies of the Ancient Jewish Texts and set them to contemporary music. Because of her own powerful commitment, her belief in the expression of the values found in the text, as well as the quality and beauty of her songwriting abilities, her music is beloved by people of all ages and religions.

Debbie’s songs have universal appeal in part, because they speak to each listener in an intimate and personal way. One of the most famous, Mi-She-Beirach (the prayer for healing), is sung in synagogues and churches across the nation. Indeed, Debbie’s music is now performed in more synagogues around the world than any other living composer. An overview of her 35 year career is encapsulated on the CD Songs Of The Spirit: The Debbie Friedman Anthology.

For more than three decades, Debbie Friedman has given the world music that is transformative; offering joy and comfort, healing and inspiration. It is music that makes one’s soul sing.

Jen GlaserDr. Jen Glaser is senior faculty at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem and adjunct faculty of the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is co-director of the Israel Centre for Philosophy in Education – "Philosophy for Life", and immediate past president of ICPIC (the International Council of Philosophical Inquiry with children). During the 2010-2011 academic year Jen was on Sabbatical, where she was a visiting scholar in the Graduate Program for Philosophy and Education at Columbia University, Teachers College and in the Davidson school of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Jen's main areas of research include philosophy of education, conceptions of personal identity and group membership, authenticity and integrity, hermeneutics, pluralism, children's philosophical thinking, children's theological and the connection between philosophical inquiry and the teaching of Bible. She has published extensively in the area of personal identity and group membership (collective identity, belonging), civic education, critical thinking, philosophical inquiry with children, deliberative democracy and social justice. Jen has wide experience in formal and informal education.  She holds a PhD. in philosophy from Melbourne University, Australia, and a teaching degree from the University of Sydney. 


Ruth Goodman is director of the Israeli Dance Institute, the Jewish Dance Division of the 92nd Street "Y", the annual Israel Folk Dance Festival, and the Parparim Ensemble of Israeli Dance and Song. Ruth conducts workshops and seminars throughout the Americas and holds a Master of Arts degree in Dance Education from Columbia University Teachers College.


Eva Grayzel is a nationally recognized Master Storyteller and expert on interactive storytelling techniques, specializing in Jewish Folklore. She co-produced an award-winning video ‘The Secret In Bubbe’s Attic,’ released two storytelling CD’s: ‘Absolute Chanukah,’ and ‘A Story A Day,’ and is the author of ‘You Are Not Alone: Families Touched By Cancer.’ Jewish educators, parents, adult learners, and children of all ages have been enjoying Eva’s performances and workshops for more than 20 years.

A graduate of Moriah Hebrew Day School and Barnard College/Columbia University, Eva was an educator in Hebrew schools for 13 years while performing nationally. After surviving late-stage cancer, Eva expanded her programs to include Bikkur Cholim workshops. She has been the Artist/Scholar-in-Residence at synagogues nationwide. In her signature style, Eva offers creative, new strategies to enrich Jewish learning for students, educators, clergy and families. Her dynamic presentations energize audiences of all ages.


Lisa D. Grant is Associate Professor of Jewish Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York school.  Her research interests include adult Jewish learning, professional development of Jewish educators, and the role Israel plays in American Jewish life. She is the lead author of A Journey of Heart and Mind:  Transformative Learning in Adulthood (JTS Press: 2004), with Diane Schuster, Meredith Woocher, and Steven M. Cohen, and author of Aytz Hayim Hi, a two-year curriculum guide for Adult Bat Mitzvah published by the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism.

Lisa joined the HUC faculty in July 2000.  Prior to that, she served as Research & Evaluation Manager at the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  She earned a Ph.D. in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000.

Lisa is presently involved in research on research projects involving adult Jewish learning, the professional preparation and identity formation of rabbi-educators, and Israel education in Reform congregations.

Lisa also is active as a teacher of Jewish adults.  She has developed and taught courses and programs for adults, families, and teachers in a wide range of settings.


Dr. Robert Harris is Assistant Professor of Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in biblical literature and commentary, particularly medieval Jewish biblical exegesis.  An expert in the history of medieval Biblical exegesis, Dr. Harris's dissertation was titled "The Literary Hermeneutic of Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency." Dr. Harris has published several articles and reviews in both American and Israeli journals. Dr. Harris regularly delivers papers at academic conferences, such as the Medieval Congress and the World Conference for Jewish Studies; many of these addresses have resulted in scholarly publications in various academic journals.  Dr. Harris's forthcoming books include Discerning Parallelism: A Study in Northern French Medieval Jewish Biblical Exegesis and Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency's Commentary on Amos and Jonah (with Selections from Isaiah and Ezekiel).

Dr. Harris has served as a rabbi in several congregations in the United States and Israel, including the Pelham Jewish Center in Westchester County, New York, and Moriah Synagogue in Haifa. He has led adult education classes at the Lower Westchester YMHA, and has also taught at the Solomon Schechter School in White Plains, New York. Dr. Harris spent 1995 at the University of Jerusalem.

Dr. Harris is a graduate of the Joint Program between JTS and Columbia University, receiving a BA in ancient studies from Columbia and a BHL in Talmud from JTS. He also received a MA in Judaica, a MPhil in Bible, and a PhD from JTS.


Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman was ordained as a rabbi in 1969, received his Ph.D. in 1973, and has taught since then at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York. From 1984 to 1987, he directed its School of Sacred Music as well. In 2003, he was named the first Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. He teaches classes in liturgy, ritual, spirituality, theology and synagogue leadership. For almost forty years, he has combined research, teaching, and a passion for the spiritual renewal of North American Judaism.
Rabbi Hoffman has written or edited over thirty-five books, including My People's Prayer Book (Jewish Lights Publishing), a ten-volume edition of the Siddur with modern commentaries, which was named a National Jewish Book Award winner for 2007. His Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights Publishing) and his Art of Public Prayer (Skylight Paths) are widely used by churches and synagogues as guides to organizational visioning and liturgical renewal. In 2011, he received a second National Jewish Book Award for co-authoring Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary (Alban Institute).

His articles, both popular and scholarly, have appeared in eight languages and four continents, and include contributions to such encyclopedias as The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion, The Oxford Dictionary of Religion, The Encyclopedia of Judaism and The Encyclopedia of Religion in America. He syndicates a regular column which appears, among other places, in The Jewish Week, and The Jewish Times; and writes a blog entitled "Life and a Little Liturgy".

For many years, Rabbi Hoffman served as visiting professor of the University of Notre Dame, and has lectured at such places as the Jewish theological Seminary of America, the University of Southern California, and the Yale Divinity School.

In 1990, Dr. Hoffman was selected by the United States Navy as a member of a three-person design team, charged with developing a continuing education course on worship for chaplains. He is a past-president of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the professional and academic organization for liturgists, and in January 2004, received that organization's annual Berakhah Award, for outstanding lifetime contributions to his field. He holds honorary doctorates from Gratz College and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

In 1994, he co-founded "Synagogue 2000," a trans-denominational project to envision the ideal synagogue "as moral and spiritual center" for the 21st century. As Synagogue 3000, it has launched Next Dor, a national initiative to engage the next generation through a relational approach featuring strong communities with transformed synagogues at their center.


Deborah Howard, Esq., M.S.O.D., founder and President of Guiding Change Consulting, Inc., is a change catalyst, writer, coach, educator, and life-long learner who brings insight and clarity to empower individuals, teams, and organizations to make positive change. She helps them maximize their potential, enhance their effectiveness, and create and maintain work environments that are inclusive and just. She has over ten years experience helping leaders, teams, and organizations with professional and personal development, leadership, team building, conflict management, diversity, strategic planning and overall organization development. She provides consulting, facilitation, executive coaching, training, and other organization development and strategic services to a wide variety of clients including non-profit organizations, corporations, government agencies, hospitals, unions, educational institutions, legal services organizations, and foundations.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Harvard University, she went on to receive a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Deborah's background and training also includes to a Masters Degree in Organization Development from American University/NTL, a Certificate in Culturally Competent Human Services from the Temple University Multicultural Research and Training Institute as well as coursework in human interaction and diversity at the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science of which she is a member. Deborah is also the author of Repairing the Quilt of Humanity: A Metaphor for Healing and Reparation and publisher of


Dr. Anita JacobsDr. Anita Jacobs’ professional objective is to provide understanding and practical instruction on the use of authority, energy and people awareness to influence others in formal and informal interactions.

Dr. Jacobs is the president of the National center for Effective Speaking and specializes in programs with substance and a “sense of human”. Dr. Jacobs is an award winning speaker (Certified Speaking Professional.) She focuses on improving people skills and quality of life for national and international business people, civil servants, and non-profit volunteers, professionals and educators.

Anita has served as the executive director of Jewish organizations including: American Friends of Reuth Medical Center; the Jewish National Fund of Greater New York; the New Jersey-Israel Chamber of Commerce; Atlanta Bureau of Jewish Education and was the United Jewish Appeal National Campaign Training Director. Anita was awarded the 2000-2001 Melton Senior Educator Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During this time, 21 ordinary woman shared their extraordinary stories with her. Her newest book, Portraits in Passion: Vision and Values of American-Israeli Women, describes these amazing women and lessons we can learn from their lives.


Amy Kalmanofsky is an assistant professor of Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses on biblical literature, religion, and feminist interpretation of the Bible.

Combining her love of the Bible and horror movies, Dr. Kalmanofsky's research applies horror theory to biblical texts and examines the ways the Bible is designed to terrify its audience. Just as there are monsters in the movies, there are monsters in the Bible. Dr. Kalmanofsky studies the nature and construction of the Bible's monsters and considers their impact on biblical theology. Her article "Israel's Baby: The Horror of Childbirth in the Biblical Prophets" will appear shortly in Biblical Interpretation. Currently, she is completing her book Terror All Around: The Rhetoric of Horror in the Book of Jeremiah (forthcoming T&T Clark/Continuum).

Deeply committed to the ongoing interpretation of the Bible, Dr. Kalmanofsky applies gender theory to the Bible. Feminist interpretation, she believes, enables the Bible to remain relevant and continues to open up the text to new interpretation and meaning. Dr. Kalmanofsky contributed three articles to the Women's Torah Commentary (URJ Press, 2007). Her article "Their Heart Cried Out to God: Gender and Prayer in the Book of Lamentations" appears in the volume A Question of Sex: Gender and Difference in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007). Dr. Kalmanofsky chaired For There Is Hope: Gender and the Hebrew Bible, a conference to honor the memory of Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky held at JTS.

Dr. Kalmanofsky is equally committed to the critical and religious study of the Bible and is at home in academic and adult education settings. Recent lectures include Sacrifices of the Fathers and Sacrifices of the Mothers; Fatal Attractions: The Problem of Desire in the Biblical Text; and Women in Power and Powerful Women in the Bible. This summer she will be on the faculty at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City.

Dr. Kalmanofsky received her BA from Wesleyan University. She also received an MHL and rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1995 and a PhD from JTS in 2005.


Jo Kay is the former Director of the New York School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She received her BA in Education from Brooklyn College, and her MA in Hebrew Culture from the School of Education at New York University. In 1987, she was chosen as a Melton Fellow, studying in the Senior Educators Program for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  In 1996, she studied at the Fingerhut School of Education at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles for a "Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Family Education," after which she participated in the Teacher Educator Institute of the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE).

After years of experience as a teacher in public and religious schools and summer camps, Kay created the award winning PACE (Parents and Children for Education) Family Education Program. A past Director of Judaic Studies of the Rodeph Sholom Day School of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City (for ten years) she next served as the Education Director of the Rodeph Sholom Religious School (for nine years).  Beginning during her tenure at Rodeph Sholom, Kay continues to serve as a consultant and faculty member in Jewish Family Education at the Whizin Institute for Jewish Family Life at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. She has also served as a consultant for the American Friends of Rechov Sumsum (Israeli Hebrew Language Sesame Street of Children's Television Workshop), and as a consultant for the Shalom Sesame Video Series and Family Materials.

Her most recent publications include Make Your Own Passover Seder, Jossey-Bass Publishers (Jan. 2004); "Family Education: Who We Teach," The Ultimate Jewish Teacher's Handbook, Ed. Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, (ARE Publication, 2003); "Commentary on Cases in Jewish Family Education," Casebook in Jewish Family Education, Eds., Rachel Brodie and Vicky Kelman, (Torah Aura, 2001) and Torat Hayim: Parashat Yitro (online Torah study posted 1/25/03 by the UAHC).

In 2001 Kay was named a recipient of the "Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education."


Shira Kline - aka ShirLaLa, is a celebrated New York based performer and music educator. Traveling across the country and internationally with her kiddie-rock band, Shira delivers a dynamic, interactive program of joy and spirit, story and song. Raised in the world of music and the tradition of Torah, Shira has worked for over a decade with a diverse array of Jewish communities to enliven rituals, holiday celebrations, and love for Jewish life and prayer. Blending words, story and music she creates a rich experience for children and adults alike. ShirLaLa has taught and performed in hundreds of venues including the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, The Toronto Ashkenaz Festival, The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue, the Alyeska Resort in Alaska, and Limmud Conferences in U.S., England and Australia. ShirLaLa’s three “outrageously hip Jewish kiddie rock” albums have sold over 20,000 copies. Find them at along with “Blog Sameach,” an educational resource center for parents and teachers full of original coloring pages, recipes, stories, project ideas and more. Shira is on the faculty of the Hava NaShira Music Institute and is also a founding company member of Storahtelling: Ritual Theatre Revived with which she is a maven, ritual leader, actor, writer, director and musician. Recently, she joined the musical forces of Synagogue 3000 and the Next Dor Conversation. Shira’s newest eco-music recording “Earth Worm Disco,” found at, nourishes the brain, body and heart. A Parent's Choice award winner, Earth Worm Disco is original and imaginative music, stories and games that connect children to environmentalism.


Dori Frumin Kirshner Dori Frumin Kirshner is currently the Executive Director of Matan .  Prior to joining the Matan team, Dori was at UJA-Federation of NY for seven years, in both planning as well as fundraising capacities.  Dori served as the Director of The Jewish Leadership Forum, a department which seeks to cultivate and engage the "next generation" of philanthropic leaders, raising $3 million annually from fewer than eighty donors.  Dori began her professional career at The Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan as a bi-lingual educator (Hebrew and English), upon completion of her MA in Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.  Dori received her BA in sociology and Judaic Studies from Emory University in Atlanta, GA ..    Dori is married to Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner and lives in NJ with her husband and two children.


Dr. Jeffrey Kress is Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Senior Research Associate of The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education.  Dr. Kress coordinates The Davidson School's concentration in informal and communal education and teaches courses in developmental issues in Jewish education.

Dr. Kress has published his work in a variety of journals, including Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Journal of Jewish Education, Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, Journal of Special Education, and Journal of Primary Prevention. His most recent book, coauthored with Drs. Bernard Novick and Maurice Elias, is Building Learning Communities with Character: How to Integrate Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002). He has conducted research in the areas of program implementation, particularly how innovations take root in new settings and can be best maintained; adolescent identity, with a focus on religious and spiritual development; and the creation of lasting educational programs through program development and implementation.

Dr. Kress received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. He completed an internship in clinical/community psychology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's Community Mental Health Center, and then worked there as a program development specialist for the Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving program.


Fred LazinFred Lazin was born in Boston and grew up in Sharon Massachusetts. Fred was a Cum Laude graduate in Government and History, University of Massachusetts in Amherst and received his MA and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty at Ben-Gurion University in Israel in 1975. At BGU, he established an Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies and the Department of General Studies. He chaired the Department of Behavioral Science and served as the Director of the Hubert H. Humphrey Center of Social Ecology and the Overseas Student Program (OSP). In 1991 Fred became the Lynn and Lloyd Hurst Family Professor of Local Government. He recently completed two terms as Chair of the Department of Politics and Government at BGU.

Fred's current research project involves a study of the role of the American Jewish Committee in the struggle for Soviet Jewry, its lobbying efforts in Washington and its ties with Israel. He is also researching the role of Christian clergy in the struggle for Soviet Jewry.

Fred is married to Rachel Dabi Lazin. They have three children.


border=Marjorie Lehman is assistant professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Dr. Lehman's scholarly interests are focused on the Ein Yaakov, an early sixteenth-century collection of Talmudic Aggadah. Although this collection became enormously popular in the years following the passing of its original anthologizer, Jacob Ibn Habib, it has been overlooked by scholars interested in the history of Aggadah and aggadic exegesis. By writing about and teaching classes on the Ein Yaakov, Dr. Lehman intends to increase scholarly interest in this collection. She is presently writing a book entitled, The Ein Yaakov: Reinventing the Study of Talmudic Aggadah. A portion of this work has appeared in Prooftexts (1999) under the title, "The Ein Yaakov: A Collection of Aggadah in Transition."

Dr. Lehman has also done research on the study of women and festival observance in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmudim. She is approaching the rabbinic material from the perspective of gender and ritual theory. A preliminary article appeared in Studies in Jewish Civilization 14: Women and Judaism (Creighton University Press, 2003) and is titled "Women and Passover Observance: Reconsidering Gender in the Study of Rabbinic Texts." A second article, "The Gendered Rhetoric of the Sukkah," appeared in Jewish Quarterly Review (Summer 2006). An examination of the use of gender theory as a pedagogical tool in the classroom, titled "Rediscovering ‘Women' in the Talmudic Corpus: The Impact of Gender Studies on the Teaching of Talmudic Literature," appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education (2006). In addition, an expanded look at the sukkah through the lens of gender and space, titled "Reimagining Home, Rethinking Sukkah: Rabbinic Discourse and its Contemporary Implications," will appear in Jews at Home: The Domestication of Identity, ed. Simon J. Bronner (Oxford: Littman, 2009).

In 2006, Dr. Lehman was invited by Professor Tal Ilan of the Freie Universität in Berlin to participate in the scholarly production of a feminist commentary to the Talmud. She will be working on Tractate Yoma. This is a groundbreaking endeavor because it is the first time that scholars in the field of Talmudic literature have gathered together to apply an array of feminist approaches to the texts of the Talmud. It is also the first time since WWII that significant scholarship in the field of Talmud is being spearheaded and funded by a German academic institution. Professor Judith Hauptman of the Talmud department at JTS is also contributing to this scholarly endeavor.

A dynamic, stimulating, and passionate teacher, Dr. Lehman is also known at JTS for being continuously self-reflective about her pedagogy. Her article "For the Love of Talmud: Reflections on the Study of Bava Metzia, Perek 2" appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education (2002). She has also published in the area of Talmud and Jewish education. Her article "Reenacting Ancient Pedagogy in the Classroom" was published in the March 2008 issue of Spotlight on Theological Education. Most recently, she coauthored an article titled, "Making a Case for Rabbinic Pedagogy," in The International Handbook of Jewish Education, eds. Lisa Grant and Alex Pomson (New York: Springer, forthcoming). She has also collaborated with members of JTS's Jewish-education faculty, including a project with Dr. Jeffrey Kress, assistant professor of Jewish Education, on cognitive developmental theories as a lens for analyzing Talmudic sugyot in order to enhance scholarly understanding of the role of dialogue in the sugyot of the Babylonian Talmud. Their first article on this subject, titled "The Babylonian Talmud in Cognitive Perspective: Reflections on the Nature of the Bavli and its Pedagogical Implications," appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education (2003).

Dr. Lehman's love of teaching is not limited to the classroom. She has lectured widely to adults and children in various settings, including The Jewish Museum, the Jewish Educators Assembly, the 92nd Street Y, United Synagogue of America, the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI), KOLLOT, Camp Ramah, and various synagogues throughout metropolitan New York. Dr. Lehman serves as the co-chair of the board of the Association of Jewish Studies Women's Caucus. Prior to her position at JTS, Dr. Lehman was assistant professor of Talmud and the director of Rabbinic Civilization at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.

Dr. Lehman received a bachelor of arts degree from Wellesley College (magna cum laude) and a master of arts, master of philosophy, and doctorate in Religion from Columbia University.


Naomi Less, an accomplished singer-songwriter, musician, actor, and experiential educator, has recently launched Jewish Chicks Rock, her project aimed at helping develop more resilient Jewish girls who successfully navigate adolescence without falling prey to at-risk behaviors. The work is focused on positive empowerment and self-esteem messaging in Jewish rock music. Naomi incorporates messages of hope, strength, and confidence to young girls in her music. (For more information, visit Naomi at or

Naomi is a founding company member of Storahtelling: Jewish Ritual Theater ( She frequently performs at synagogues and Jewish communal events across the country and serves as Storahtelling's director of Education and Training. Before joining Storahtelling's professional team, Naomi garnered over a decade of training experience in Jewish camps through the National Ramah Commission and then the Foundation for Jewish Camp, where she served as vice president of Programs. Her passion for helping educators to better nurture spiritual, social, and emotional development in teens, with special attention to adolescent girls, is the basis for her current educational consulting work for both The Davidson School's Addressing Evaded Issues in Jewish Education project and the Florence Melton CommuniTeen High School program.

Naomi studied vocal performance, choral conducting, and communications at Northwestern University, and earned a master's degree in Jewish Education from The Davidson School of The Jewish Theological Seminary. She has completed two post-masters certificate programs: the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's educators' course and the Institute for Informal Jewish Education's Professional Leadership Seminar.


As a Partner in Leading Change, Larry Levine works with leaders, lay and professional, to plan and execute complex change strategies for “leading and learning in turbulent times.”  He has been a professor of management at the Harvard Business School, a manager at Kodak, and a corporate consultant at Digital Equipment Corporation.  He holds a BA from Tufts University and an MA from Boston College.

Levine brings eight years of experience working with 18 Jewish Day schools and an additional 18 years working with government, high technology, manufacturing, financial services, and other not-for-profits like universities and independent schools.  Clients have included IBM, NASA, Harvard University, LL Bean, Fidelity Investments, Hewlett-Packard, Shell Oil, and

His approach includes focusing on the HoS-Board Chair partnership, HoS transition, transferable best “principles,” success modeling (appreciative inquiry), developing sustainable leadership practices, and working with the Tree of Life as a diagnostic framework for achieving wholeness and congruence in all aspects of organizational life.

School projects have included board development, strategic planning, redesigning school administration, designing and conducting annual retreats for boards and staffs, and developing heads and chairs to find their voices and take their places as powerful leaders. He coaches some of most accomplished and up-and-coming heads in the Day School Field.  He has been a consultant to the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) for three years in the area of group dynamics for both fellows and mentors.
He has published articles and book chapters on organizational culture, consulting roles and skills, listening, knowledge management, and team creativity.

Levine is a passionate Boston Celtics fan, a swimmer, father, singer-songwriter, and a lover of learning. 


Rabbi Ellen Lewis is a psychotherapist in private practice in Bernardsville, New Jersey, and Manhattan. In addition, she serves as the rabbi of the Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey, Washington, NJ, where she has been "part-time, full-service" since 1994. In her rabbinic career, she has administered or taught in camp settings (the Henry S. Jacobs Camp, Utica, Mississippi) as well as in congregational religious schools of 2300 families (Temple Emanu-el, Dallas, Texas), 400 families (Temple Sinai, Summit, NJ) and 85 families (the present). She has taught 6th and 7th graders since her first student pulpit in 1977.

Rabbi Lewis has studied how emotional education can help Jewish professionals to feel comfortable and confident in their leadership. That interest has led to her developing models of clinical supervision for rabbis and cantors. In her private practice, she works with Jewish professionals in individual and group supervision. Rabbi Lewis has provided clinical supervision to students in analytical training at the Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis (ACAP), where she has also taught classes in Modern Psychoanalytic Theory and Psychoanalysis and Religion. For eight years, she was a clinical supervisor of fieldwork at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Blaustein Center of Pastoral Counseling, HUC-JIR, NY.

She has written about pre-marital counseling ("Preparing for the Huppah: Pastoral Premarital Counseling," (in Jewish Pastoral Care, 2nd edition: A Practical Handbook from Traditional & Contemporary Sources ed. Rabbi Dayle Friedman, Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005) and has contributed articles to the CCAR Journal ("Reflections on Life in a Small Congregation" Summer 2000, "Supervision, Therapy and the (Modern) Rabbi" Winter 1999, "Luncheon Address: Twenty Years of Women in the Rabbinate" Summer 1997).

Rabbi Lewis was ordained in 1980 at Hebrew Union Collge-Jewish Institute of Religion, from which she also received her Masters in Hebrew Letters (1979) and Doctor of Divinity (2005). She received her psychoanalytical certification and training in New York at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies and has served as supervisor and clinical instructor on the faculty of the Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis. Rabbi Lewis is also certified as a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She received her AB in Classics from Brown University (1974), followed by a Samuel T. Arnold Fellowship dedicated to a year of independent study on Women in Israel.


Lesley Litman Lesley Litman is the Director of the Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and works with the Experiment in Congregational Education as the coordinator of its Boston-based initiative.  In addition, she has a consulting practice in Jewish education most recently with a focus on Israel education.  She is currently consulting to The iCenter and the BASIS project in San Francisco in the area of curriculum design and professional development. Lesley has extensive experience as a Jewish educator in a wide range of Jewish educational settings including congregations, day schools, informal education and the Reform Movement.  Lesley served as the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Israel in Boston.  Prior to her work at Temple Israel, she was the Regional Educator for the URJ and the URJ's national specialist in Hebrew and Day School education. Lesley was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava where she was the first treasurer and headed up the kibbutz's search for an industrial project.   She is a doctoral candidate in Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary.


Sheldon Low Sheldon Low is the newest face in Jewish music performing rock concerts, 'Light Up Shabbat' services, and leading Artist-in-Residency weekends in Jewish communities throughout the United States.  Over the last four summers, Low has been a huge hit with teens performing a national summer tour at dozens of Jewish summer camps throughout the country.  Low has also recently been featured as the headliner and head songleader at various national youth group conventions and Jewish festivals.

Low's hit debut album, On One Foot (June '06), on Independent label, Jewish Rock Records, includes a host of special guest vocalists and musicians including Rick Recht, Beth Schaeffer, Hadar Orshalimy, and a choir of BBYO and NFTY teens.  Low's sophomore album It's All Challah to Me (Oct '07) once again captures his ability to create infectiously fun pop songs, this time for a kid audience.  Low's first Shabbat album, Light up Shabbat (Oct '09), features some of Low's greatest crafted melodic creations to date.   Low's newest album, Look At Me , a collaboration with The PJ Library and recorded with Rick Recht, boasts incredibly fun songs for young children.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Low is a third generation songleader who from an early age developed a strong Jewish identity attending Solomon Schechter Day School, Camp Ben Frankel, USY, and his synagogue, Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel. In high school, Low was fortunate to meet and be mentored by nationally touring Jewish artist and owner of Jewish Rock Records, Rick Recht, who continues to deepen Low's passion for Jewish music and education. After high school, Low earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University in Medford, MA.  Nine months after starting work as an engineer, Low was signed to Jewish Rock Records and is currently the Artist in Residence at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.


Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs is assistant professor of Jewish Education in the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Dr. Lynn-Sachs coordinates the synagogue school track, supervising student field work and teaching the synagogue school practicum. Other courses she teaches include Skills for Teaching and Staff Development and Supervision.

Dr. Lynn-Sachs’s areas of interest include educational leadership, congregational studies, sociology of education, and sociology of religion. Her recent research project, titled "Inside Sunday School: Cultural and Religious Logics at Work at the Intersection of Religion and Education," was a comparative, ethnographic study of the aspirations for religious education programs in a Catholic church, a Protestant church, and a synagogue. She has presented her work at conferences of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Network for Research in Jewish Education.

Previously, Dr. Lynn-Sachs has been a researcher and consultant for the Experiment in Congregational Education, a congregational educator at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario, and a mentor and supervisor for education students at both JTS and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a founding member of the Synagogue Studies Academy and serves on the advisory boards of the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals and the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning.

Dr. Lynn-Sachs received a bachelor of arts in Literature and Society from Brown University (1993), a master of arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC (1996), and a doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies from New York University (2007). She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow while at HUC and a Beam Family Fellow at New York University.


Barbara Mann is associate professor of Jewish Literature and serves as the Simon H. Fabian Chair in Hebrew Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Her areas of expertise include Israeli and Jewish literature, cultural studies, modern poetry, urban studies, literary modernism, and the fine arts. Dr. Mann is currently writing a book about conceptions of space and place in modern Jewish studies.

Dr. Mann is the author of A Place in History: Modernism, Tel Aviv and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space (Stanford University Press, 2005) in addition to numerous scholarly articles. Recent representative essays include "Ut Pictura Poesis: Himmelreich and Modernist Poetry in the Yishuv" (Open Museum of Photography, Tel Hai, Israel, 2005) and “Visions of Jewish Modernism” (Modernism/Modernity Fall 2006). She is co-editor-in-chief of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History.

Dr. Mann has lectured and presented scholarly papers at seminars and conferences in the United States, Israel, and Europe. From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the faculty at Princeton University, where she also served as a faculty fellow in Princeton's Center for the Study of Religion. She was awarded a Fulbright-Hayes Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship in 1999, in addition to numerous other honors. Dr. Mann will be on leave in fall 2007, when she will be a scholar in residence at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Dr. Mann received her bachelor's degree in Jewish Studies and English Literature from Boston University in 1984. She earned her master's degree in English Literature from New York University in 1986. In 1997, she received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.


Rabbi Noam Marans joined AJC as associate national director of the Contemporary Jewish Life department in 2001. The department is dedicated to addressing critical issues regarding American Jewish identity, focusing on the Jewish family, Jewish education, and Israel-Diaspora relations. Since joining AJC, Rabbi Marans has created seminars for visiting Israeli leaders; the programs serve as an introduction to American Jewish political, religious and educational life. During the first 16 years of his career, Rabbi Marans was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Ridgewood, N.J. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science at Columbia University and is a 1985 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School. Rabbi Marans has spent several years studying in Israel, including graduate work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a past president of the Bergen County Board of Rabbis.


Rabbi Marc Margolius currently directs the Legacy Heritage Innovation Project, an initiative of the Legacy Heritage Fund to support systemic educational transformation in congregations across North America, France, Germany and Israel.  In addition, he is Director of National Retreats and the Hevraya Resource Bank for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, a center for the study and dissemination of Jewish contemplative practices among rabbis, cantors, and laypeople. 

Previously, Rabbi Margolius served as Director of Jewish Life and Identity for the Jewish Community Centers of Philadelphia.  As spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Am Israel (Penn Valley, Pennsylvania) from 1989-2003, he helped develop a national model of the synagogue as a Shabbat-centered community built around intergenerational learning.  His work has been published twice in Sh’ma’s annual anthology of outstanding High Holiday sermons.

Rabbi Margolius is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Yale Law School and he has been, for a long time, active in interfaith and interfaith matters, as well as social justice issues.   As an attorney, he specialized in civil rights and poverty law.  He has served as a staff attorney for the Commission on Law and Social Action of the American Jewish Congress, Pennsylvania Region, where he was active in church-state separation issues. 

Dr. Joseph McDonald is a professor at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University.  He is also currently a member of the design team of the new University Neighborhood High School, located on the Lower East Side, and opening under the auspices of the Manhattan High School Superintendency in September 1999.  He also advises a second new high school set to open in September 1999 in Manhattan d the Mt. Sinai Medical School.

His educational background includes a BA from the University of Scranton (1969), EdD, Harvard University (1986) and an MAT, Harvard University (1972).  Dr. McDonald is a member of the NY State Academy of Teaching and Learning and teaches courses such as Inquiries in Teaching and Learning, Doctoral Seminars in Curriculum and Instruction, Teacher Education, and Assessment and Evaluation.  Recent publications include School Reform Behind the Scenes (Teachers College Press, 1999) and Redesigning School (Jossey Bass, 1996).


Josh Nelson Josh Nelson is one of the most popular performers and producers in modern Jewish music. A multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Josh's music is celebrated and integrated into the repertoire of congregations, camps and communities around the world.

Josh has performed over one thousand shows in a variety of venues. Highlights include: international conventions for each of the major youth movements in the USA (NFTY, USY, BBYO, etc.), URJ Biennial Conventions, Limmud Conferences, JCCA National Conventions, JCC Maccabi Games, CAJE Conferences and JCCs across the country. Josh serves as the music director for the URJ Biennial Convention, faculty for the Hava Nashira Music Institute, and a musical artist in residence for the JCC Maccabi Artsfest


Peter Nelson Peter Nelson is Director of the New York Office of Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit that supports educators across the US and internationally.  Facing History provides professional development and resources to help teachers for grades 6 - 12 in the humanities.  The goal is to investigate choice making and responsibility by having students think about decisions made in the Holocaust, American Civil Rights movement and other histories including today and how such an inquiry can affect our own behavior - our decision to be upstanders or bystanders.  Peter Nelson was a teacher in the New York City public schools for 13 years before joining Facing History and Ourselves.  He has a B.A. in Psychology from S.U.N.Y at Binghamton and an M.A. in Philosophy from the C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center. 



Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., is the Assistant Professor of Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He has taught at the College since 1995, and served as Dean from 1998-2006. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, he earned his doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, where his research focused on legal change in Talmudic and Midrashic Literature. He currently serves on faculty for the Wexner Foundation, as a member of the the International Council of the New Israel Fund, a member of the Rabbinical Placement Commission, the RJ Advisory Board and the URJ Press Editorial Board. He has served as a member of the CCAR Ethics Committee, the Joint Commission on Sustaining Rabbinical Education, the birthright Israel Education Committee and in a variety of other leadership roles within the Reform movement and greater Jewish community. A native of New York City who graduated from Johns Hopkins University's Electrical Engineering program, Rabbi Panken is also an instrument rated commercial pilot (land, sea and glider) and sailor, and lives with his wife and two children in the New York area.


Hazzan Ayelet Piatigorsky was born in 1973 in Canada to Uruguayan emigrant parents. She was raised on the coast of British Columbia, and at 17 entered the University of Toronto, completing her Bachelor of Music degree. She was a recipient of a Merit Scholarship to further her education at the Manhattan School of Music where she earned her Master of Music degree. What followed was a 7-year performance career in a wide range of musical styles - from early music to opera. Hazzan Piatigorsky has appeared in leading roles in Puccini's "Madamma Butterfly", Mozart's "le Nozze di Figaro" and "Cosi fan tutte", and Rossini's "la Cenerentola". She has sung with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Kurt Masur, recorded major motion picture soundtracks and performed with early music groups, among them Early Music New York, (dir. by Frederick Renz).

In 2004 Hazzan Piatigorsky commenced her Cantorial studies in Israel and continued at the Jewish Theological Seminary in the H.L. Miller Cantorial School. She received her investiture in May of 2008, and became the Cantor of West End Synagogue, where she devotes herself to the education and vibrancy of the congregation.

As both a pianist and guitarist, Hazzan Piatigorsky uses instruments to enrich services, and bring joy in song and prayer to the entire community. She is passionate about empowering the congregation to read Torah, and draws all ages to this great mitzvah. Hazzan Piatigorsky lives in Manhattan with her husband and jazz pianist, Misha Piatigorsky, and her two children.


Nessa Rapoport was born in Toronto, Canada, and lives in New York City. She is the author of one of the first novels of Jewish women’s spiritual quest, Preparing for Sabbath;and of a collection of prose poems, A Woman’s Book of Grieving. With Ted Solotaroff, she edited The Schocken Book of Contemporary Jewish Fiction. Her memoir of family and place, House on the River: A Summer Journey, was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and nominated for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir.

Her essays have been published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the Forward, among other national media, and on Her column, “Inner Life,” appears in New York’s The Jewish Week and is available in the archive of

Rapoport co-wrote the screenplay for the Emmy-nominated film, “Saying Kaddish,” featuring Tovah Feldshuh and Phyllis Newman. A contributor to the CD anthology “In Other Words: The Jewish Writer Reads Her Work,” she speaks frequently on issues of writing, culture and imagination.

Married to the painter and sculptor Tobi Kahn, she wrote the meditations that accompanied the traveling museum exhibition of his ceremonial art, Avoda: Objects of the Spirit. A book including the images and meditations, Objects of the Spirit: Ritual and the Art of Tobi Kahn, by Emily Bilski, was published in 2004 by Hudson Hills Press.

From 1980 to 1990, Rapoport was a senior editor at Bantam Books, where she specialized in memoirs. In 1991, she began to work in the nonprofit sector. Currently, she is senior program officer at the Charles H. Revson Foundation and research associate in the office of the president of New York University.


Bill Robinson, PhD is currently the Chief Planning and Knowledge Officer at The Jewish Education Project.  Previously, he worked as Director of Education and Research at Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, Director of Education at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ, Managing Director at Slifka Center at Yale, Planning Consultant to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and Staff Researcher at the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education.  Bill has an Interdisciplinary PhD in the Social Sciences from Rutgers University.  He is also the proud father of Jessica Shaye.


Judith RosenbaumJudith Rosenbaum brings her love of women's studies and Jewish studies, teaching and research, to her work as Director of Public History at the Archive. A former JWA Research Fellow, Judith develops and directs JWA's major educational projects, including Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, the national Institutes for Educators, and the Go & Learn lesson plan series. She earned a BA in History from Yale University and received her PhD in American Civilization, with a specialty in women's history, from Brown University. She has taught women's studies and Jewish studies at Brown, Boston University, the Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Hebrew College, and Gann Academy: The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston.


Jean Bloch Rosensaft Jean Bloch Rosensaft is Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Director of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York.  She joined HUC-JIR after serving as Assistant Director of Education at The Jewish Museum in New York, where she curated the exhibitions Chagall and the Bible and Justice in Jerusalem Revisited: The Eichmann Trial .  Prior to The Jewish Museum, she coordinated educational publications and school programs at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Jeannie is a Founder and Vice-President of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.  She serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Collections and Acquisitions Committee and Second Generation Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Museum in Germany, where her exhibition Rebirth After the Holocaust: The Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950 is permanently installed. She is a Trustee of Park Avenue Synagogue and chairs its Gallery Committee.  She serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Moment and Reform Judaism magazines.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College (1973), Ms. Rosensaft pursued graduate studies in art history at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.  Ms. Rosensaft has written and lectured widely on the Holocaust, Jewish cultural history, and modern art, and is the author of Chagall and the Bible (Universe Books, 1987). 


Alex SinclairAlex Sinclair is a thinker, researcher and practitioner in the field of Israel education. He is a lecturer in Jewish Education at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, a researcher at Makom - the Israel Engagement Network of the Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, and an adjunct assistant professor of Jewish education at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

At JTS, Dr. Sinclair teaches online courses, and runs the annual Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar. He is also a Tanakh Education Consultant for the Melton-AVI CHAI Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks project. Between 2001 and 2007, he was a full time member of the JTS faculty.

Dr. Sinclair grew up in London, England, and was active for many years on both a lay and professional level in the Masorti Movement there. He did his undergraduate work in Classics and then Hebrew Studies at Balliol College, Oxford, and then a Ph.D. in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He has published articles in scholarly journals and in more popular formats, and has taught and facilitated teacher education in day school, camp and synagogue school settings.

Dr. Sinclair lives in Modi'in, Israel.


Robert Sherman currently serves as the CEO of The Jewish Education Project.  Prior to assuming that position in July 2007, he was the Executive Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.  Mr. Sherman has also been Headmaster of the San Diego Jewish Academy and the Maimonides Academy, two community Jewish Day Schools.  Mr. Sherman was awarded his MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary and his BA from the American College in Jerusalem. He is married with three children.


Peri SmilowPeri Smilow is a nationally recognized touring artist. As a performer, composer, educator and activist she has the unique ability to deeply move people of all ages, to forge connections and understanding and to use her extraordinary musical gifts, passion and commitment to community to create social change.

Peri’s music and message of tikkun olam have been heard throughout the US, Canada, England, Singapore and Israel. She was the Artist-in-Residence at the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s international Connections Conference in Israel (2009) and at the Limmud Conference in the UK. She has appeared as headline performer at numerous URJ National Biennial Conventions and CAJE conferences. In 2007 Peri was commissioned to compose a new piece of music to celebrate the release of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary.. She has also been a visiting artist-educator at the Reform movement’s summer camps and has served as visiting faculty at the Hava Nashira National Songleader Institute.

Peri has released four recordings of original contemporary Jewish music including Songs of Peace, Ashrey and The Freedom Music Project: the music of Passover and the Civil Rights Movement featuring an electrifying 18-voice choir of young Black and Jewish singers celebrating the freedom music of their traditions. The Freedom Music Project was nominated Best Gospel Album of the Year by the Just Plain Folks Music Awards and has been featured on NBC and ABC TV, National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered, and on Voice of America radio internationally. The Freedom Music Project will be available for touring in 2011.

Peri’s newest release, BLESSINGS, is intimate and uplifting. It draws on Peri’s experience as a cancer survivor, wife and mother and celebrates the importance of her relationships with loved ones, friends, community and faith. Blessings was co-produced by Grammy-award winning producer Ben Wisch (Marc Cohn Walking in Memphis).

Each year Peri commits a portion of her time to work on an on-going basis within a single community to create congregational change through music. In this capacity she has enjoyed residencies at Temple Ner Tamid (Bloomfield, NJ) and Temple Emanu-El (Edison, NJ). Peri is currently working with Congregation Beth El of South Orange, NJ where she is helping to spearhead an exciting new congregational music initiative funded by the Legacy Heritage Fund.

In addition to her life in music, Peri holds an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has spent 25 years working with kids as an educator and “non-profit entrepreneur” in under-served urban communities. Peri is married to NY1 TV journalist and former URJ Kutz camp songleader Budd Mishkin. They share their love with their daughter Allie.


Benjamin Spratt Benjamin Spratt was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May 2008, concentrating in Jewish Philosophy. In his years at seminary, he was the recipient of many awards and prizes in Talmud, philosophy, homiletics, and Bible. Born in Salt Lake City, UT Rabbi Spratt spent his early years exploring his Jewish identity. His Jewish journey took him through the Conservative, Renewal, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist worlds of Judaism before finding a home within the Reform movement.

Rabbi Spratt graduated magna cum laude in 2001 from the Honors College of the University of Oregon as a member of Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology and Religious Studies. He earned distinguished honors for his thesis on early Jewish mysticism. Rabbi Spratt has served as a religious school teacher for 15 years, a religious school director, a chaplain at Lenox Hill Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, and most recently as the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Rodeph Sholom for four years.


Dr. Jonathan Woocher is President of JESNA, North America's organization for Jewish education advocacy and excellence. JESNA is a program innovator and continental resource in a wide range of areas including day school and congregational education, Jewish youth, recruitment and development of Jewish educators, research and evaluation, and media and technology.

Prior to assuming his position at JESNA in 1986, Dr. Woocher was Associate Professor in the Benjamin S. Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service at Brandeis University, where he taught courses in Jewish political studies and communal affairs and directed the program in Continuing Education for Jewish Leadership. He received his B.A. from Yale University, summa cum laude, in Political Science, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Temple University in Religious Studies. He has also studied at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Before going to Brandeis, he served as Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of Jewish Studies at Carleton College in Minnesota.

Dr. Woocher is the author of the book Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews, published by Indiana University Press. His monographs and articles on Jewish community, education, and religion have appeared in numerous books and journals, including the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Judaism, The Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Agenda: Jewish Education and Avar Ve-Atid: A Journal of Jewish Education, Culture and Discourse. Dr. Woocher is also a co-editor of Perspectives in Jewish Population Research, published by Westview Press.


Sarah L. Weinberger-Litman Sarah L. Weinberger-Litman , is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. She earned a PhD in Experimental Health Psychology from the City University of New York. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and a second postdoctoral fellowship at the Spears Research Institute where she examined religious and spiritual influences on health and illness. Her recent research focuses on the role of spirituality in eating disorders and addictive behaviors. She is the associate producer of "Hungry to be Heard," a documentary exploring eating disorders in the Orthodox Jewish Community.


Cyd Weissman is the Director, Innovation in Congregational Learning for Greater New York, for The Jewish Education Project where she leads a team to support the creation of Jewish learning environments that positively nurture the lives of learners.

Cyd also teaches Organizational Dynamics, Curriculum Design, and Accompanying Families on their Spiritual Journey at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College.
Her recent publications include: "Professional Development Requires A Discipline for Seeing Wholes" in What We NOW Know About Jewish Education; and "Vision by Evolutionaries and Revolutionaries." She was a researcher and writer for the Avi Chai Foundation's newest book Learning and Community: Jewish Supplementary Schools in the 21st Century. Cyd also serves on the board of ACRE (Alliance for Continuing Rabbinic Education). Most recently, she created the documentary, "A Major Shift in Jewish Education: To Nurture the Whole Person."

Follow her blog about the Coalition of Innovating Congregations, leading congregations in New York, who are changing the landscape of Jewish education:

Leah Zimmerman holds an M.S. from the Bank Street School of Education in New York City, and has been Director of Education at Congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn, NY and Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles, California, where she continues to direct the children’s learning program. She has worked in formal and informal Jewish contexts as a mentor, teacher, education director, and tutor, integrating Jewish learning with the arts and family and community education. Leah has also worked as an Elementary school teacher in the public schools in New York City and Round Rock, Texas, where she learned how meaningful learning takes place by listening givingly to her kindergarten and second grade students. Leah also studied at The Actor’s Institute in New York City and has been featured in solo and ensemble performances in diverse theater and cabaret venues. Leah lives in Claremont, California with her two beautiful daughters, Leila and Bella, and her husband, Jeff.

Mentor Biographies

Sheila Adler has been a mentor in the Leadership Institute for the past 8 years and is the former Educational Director of Bet Torah Religious School and Community Hebrew High School where she served for 36 years. She is also a consultant with the Center for Training and Development where she develops and delivers seminars on communication and management skills for major corporations and educational Institutions. Sheila received her M.A. in Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary where she was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate. She is past president of the Westchester Association of Hebrew Schools Principal's Council and past president of the Jewish Educators Assembly. Sheila has directed and participated in several leadership initiatives for training principals in Jewish Education under the auspices of Brandeis University, JESNA, JTS and HUC. She created the Educational Leadership Institute for High School Teens and served as its Coordinator in Westchester. She has also been an active member of the United Synagogue National Commission on Jewish Education.

Mindy B. Davids, RJE is the Director of Religious School and Educational Innovation at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City. She holds a double Masters degree in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and has completed the coursework toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Fordham University. Mindy serves as the President of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE) and on the Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) Commission on Jewish Life Long Learning. She also serves on the national board of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA.) Mindy served for ten years as a member of the clinical faculty of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education (RHSOE) at the HUC-JIR Los Angeles and now teaches courses at the HUC-JIR New York School of Education.


Grace Gurman-Chan is Educational Director at United Synagogue of Hoboken. She has been a Regional Youth Director for New York Federation, Assistant Director of Eisner Camp, Youth Group Leader, Seminar Leader and has been privileged to teach infants through adults in the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements for 30 years. She has studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and Seton Hall University. She is committed to uniting the Jewish soul with those of our ancestors though meaningful and exciting learning. Presently she is a recipient with her Congregation, of a Legacy Heritage Grant, entitled "My Jewish Neighborhood", a program that encourages some of our most wonderful Jewish Learning to take place in the home with family and friends.


Saul Kaiserman is the Director of Lifelong Learning for Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York and the editor of the weblog New Jewish Education. From 2005-2007, Mr. Kaiserman was a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, where his area of focus was on leadership and educational change in congregational settings. He holds a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Davidson School of Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Mr. Kaiserman was a founding staff member of the TEVA Learning Center for Jewish Environmental Education and currently serves as vice-president of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and on the Education Advisory Board for the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation. His published writing includes the article "Synagogue Schools and Congregational Agendas" which appeared in the January 2007 issue of Sh'ma: An Online Journal of Jewish Responsibility.

Lynn Lancaster is the Director of the Forest Hills Jewish Center Religious School in Forest Hills, NY. She has been working with the Re-Imagine Project over the last eighteen months and is currently piloting a number of initiatives. Lynn has participated in the two-year certificate program in Jewish Family Education through SAJES and was part of the first cohort of the PLI program. She has also sat on the BJE Advisory Board in Nassau. She received her BA in Comparative Religion from SUNY.

Lauren Resnikoff serves as the Director of Education at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, NY.  Prior to joining the professional staff at Temple Sinai, she served Temple Beth David in Commack, for 15 years, first as the Religious School Director and thereafter as the Director of Lifelong Learning.  She received a MS with distinction in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology in Westbury, New York and a MA in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College.

Rabbi Jodie Siff is the Assistant Rabbi at the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Plandome, NY. She received her Rabbinic Ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Jodie serves as a Steering Committee Member for Kolot: Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies and is the co-author of the article in Sh'ma, A Journal of Jewish Responsibility entitled "When a Child Leaves Home."

Yonni Wattenmaker, RJE is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, after having served for 10 years as the Director of Education at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford, NY. She is also a member of the Clinical Faculty at the New York School of Education at Hebrew Union College, sits on the boards of both NATE and the URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, and is co-founder of My Faith/Your Faith, a Manhattan-based interfaith program for high school students. Yonni received her Master of Arts in Religious Education from HUC following a BA in Judaic Studies from The George Washington University.

Susan Werk is the Educational Director at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell, NJ. She received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She received the 2008 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. She has been a board member of the Conservative Movement Jewish Educational Assembly and her local Metrowest Principals Forum. Susan has also been the recipient of the JEA Hoffman Award for her creative God curriculum, The Ramah Award for outstanding contribution to the Ramah camping movement and the Leo Brody Jewish Communal Service Award for professional excellence given by the New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Service. Susan Co-authored "Figuring It Out Together: A Program of Family Study and Experiences" published by "The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Commission on Jewish Education."

Ira Wise is the Director of Education at Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT. He is also on the summer faculty of Joseph Eisner Union Institute Camp in Great Barrington, MA. Ira has a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at the Hebrew Union College Angeles. He is a founding board member of Crossroads Diversity in Elmwood, NY and Bridgeport, CT and was chair of the CAJE College Program. Ira is also the author of I Can Learn Torah, Volumes 1 & 2, Torah Aurah Productions, 1991, 1992.

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