Miami & St Louis Cohort


Miami Fellows


headshot of Rabbi Jonathon Fisch

Rabbi Jonathan Fisch joined Temple Judea in 2014. Rabbi Fisch has helped create new programs within and outside the synagogue walls,

ranging from helping brainstorm and develop programing for JPLEX (Sunday School) leading creative worship ideas for the Magaux Early Childhood School, helping plan young adult programs and plan opportunities for young families to celebrate Shabbat through the Family Friendly Friday and Making Shabbat MAGICAL services

Chaplaincy work has become an integral part of Rabbi Fisch’s community outreach. In 2016 Rabbi Fisch was sworn in as the second Chaplain for the Coral Gables Police Department (CGPD) and the force’s first rabbi.
Outside of his work as rabbi and chaplain, Rabbi Fisch enjoys biking, watching movies, eating cookies, and especially his time with his wife, Abby and their two vivacious daughters, Ayla and Yael.


headshot of Rabbi Robyn FischerRabbi Robyn Fisher is the spiritual leader of Beth Or in Miami, Florida, dedicated to breathing new life into our ancient traditions and inspiring her congregants to translate sacred gatherings into healing the world through the pursuit of social justice. She is committed to multifaith relationship building through her involvement with PACT (People Acting in Community Together), MCCJ (formerly Miami Coalition of Christians & Jews), and the Religious Leadership & Civic Engagement (RLCE) project of NYU. In her desire to create a more welcoming and inclusive Jewish community, Rabbi Robyn launched her newest initiative, BeJewQ, to celebrate the intersection of both Jewish and Queer identities. In collaboration with Miami’s artistic community, she launched the Gallery of Light project which illuminates Jewish wisdom through artistic expression.

Rabbi Robyn received her BSBA from American University and her JD from the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to joining Beth Or, she served for 10 years as the Director of Student Engagement and as the Jewish Chaplain on campus at the University of Miami. While at UM, she was a Campus Fellow with the Sholom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. In 2017, she received ordination from Mesifta Adas Wolkowisk Rabbinical Academy and is a member of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami. She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

She is married to Randy Fisher and is the proud mother of Evan, Ally and Kara who bring joy and love and their own sense of Judaism to the world.

 


headshot of Rabbi Ben Herman

Rabbi Ben Herman is Rabbi at Bet Shira Congregation in Miami. A community builder, he loves making connections one person at a time. He has taught classes at the Rabbinical Assembly Convention as well as for the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE).

Rabbi Herman loves spending time outdoors, whether running, biking or hiking. He has done innovative programming such as Hiking and Halacha, Drive In Shabbat with big screen LED TVs, Disney Shabbat as well as beginning a Jewish Muslim Dialogue. Rabbi Herman is married to Karina and they have two daughters: Ariel’s and Leora. He is excited to be a JOIN for Justice Fellow and make a difference at Bet Shira and in the greater Miami Jewish community.


headshot of Rabbi Julie JacobsRabbi Julie Jacobs has served as clergy for Beth David Congregation for 16 years. She maintains a dual role as both Rabbi and Cantor bringing together her strengths in Jewish leadership and musicianship.

After receiving a Bachelor Degree in Music in Vocal Performance from the prestigious Indiana University School of Music in 1996, Jacobs received her Diploma of Hazzan and Master of Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary. In 2003, Jacobs received her certificate of Hazzan-Minister from the Cantors Assembly. Her Rabbinic ordination came as a result of Beth David leadership’s request for her to serve as Rabbi.

Rabbi Jacobs was recently appointed to serve on the Executive Board of the Cantors Assembly. She has also served on the Miami Board of Autism Speaks, and has raised over $100,000 for the non-profit over the past 10 years. Her desire to help others inspired her to create the Tikvah Center at Beth David Gordon School – Miami’s first Jewish Day School program for children on the Autism Spectrum.

Rabbi Jacobs is dedicated to community visioning. Her attention to the needs of the Jewish community at large and her deep love and understanding of peoplehood sparked the concept of the Center for Jewish Life Miami – a new 501c3 dedicated to serving the Central Miami Jewish Community. She is currently spearheading this crucial capital campaign.

In her spare time, Jacobs enjoys spending time with her family. Her husband, Orin and their 4 children, Zev, Reya, Eitan and Caleb are all very involved with Beth David and the Jewish Community.


headshot of Rabbi Fred KleinRabbi Frederick ‘Fred’ Klein is Director of Mishkan Miami: The Jewish Connection for Spiritual Support, and serves as Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami. He is a Miami native and graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. He received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, where he also earned a master’s degree in Bible, and has an MPhil in Jewish history from Columbia University. He received Board Certification from the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, and has done clinical rotations at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, NY, Jackson Memorial Hospital and VITAS hospice. Rabbi Klein has taught at and been involved with the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, Hebrew College of Boston, the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, CLAL– The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is Vice President for the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, former Chair of the Interfaith Clergy Dialogue of the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews, and serves on the Board of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains.


headshot of Rabbi Judy KemplerRabbi Judy Kempler is a rabbi in Miami FL. She spent 10 years as one of the rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, FL before redeploying as a “freelance” rabbi and mother of 3! Rabbi Kempler was deeply involved while at Temple Beth Am, in co-leading its engagement of lay leaders in helping to pass Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to returning citizens in Florida, and also in the RAC’s efforts to close down Homestead.

 


headshot of Rabbi Joanne LoibenRabbi Joanne Loiben is the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom. She grew up in Chicago and attended St. Louis University, where she founded “SLU Jews.” After graduation she attended Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, where she received a Masters in Jewish Education and a Certificate in Advanced Jewish Studies. Following this, she taught 6th grade for three years at the the Davis Academy, a Reform Jewish Day School in Atlanta. When she was ready to deepen her spiritual studies, Joanne began rabbinical school at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. While there, she served at the University Synagogue, where she has organized youth activities, mentored teens in a leadership program and served as the Interim Education Director, along with other rabbinic duties. She was also Assistant Director of Jewish Education at the URJ Camp George in Canada, led a NFTY Tour in Israel and a Birthright Tour, participated in an AIPAC Leffell Fellowship program and received a Masters Concentration in Israel Education from the iCenter.

She loves being outside and enjoys outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, running, stand-up paddle boarding and going to the beach, as well as listening to live music.


St. Louis Fellows


headshot of Rabbi Jeffrey AbrahamRabbi Jeffrey Abraham began as Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Amoona in June of 2020 after six years as Senior Rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in San Antonio, Texas. Rabbi Abraham is the first member of the clergy to be awarded San Antonio Business Journal’s prestigious recognition “40 Under 40.” He previously served as senior rabbi at Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack, New York, right outside of Manhattan for three years where he received dozens of awards for his work in revitalizing and growing his synagogue. Rabbi Abraham was also a contestant on The American Bible Challenge game show with Jeff Foxworthy.

Rabbi Abraham earned his rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Previous to this, he received a Masters in Jewish Education as well as a double bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Letters with a minor in Political Science at the University of Judaism (now known as American Jewish University). He is trained as a community organizer through JOIN for Justice, is a Professional Affiliate with Big Tent Judaism and has worked on a number of Keruv initiatives to reach out to interfaith families.

Rabbi Abraham and his wife, Lauren (also a Master Jewish Educator), are committed to life-long Jewish learning and together with their three young sons (Benny, Henry, and Joey) bring a fresh energy and vibrancy to the Jewish community.


headshot of Rabbi Michael AlperRabbi Michael Alper has served Congregation Temple Israel in St.Louis, Missouri since 2008. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Boston University, and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York City where he earned his Rabbinic smicha as well as a Master’s Degree in Jewish Literature. Prior to entering the rabbinate, Rabbi Alper taught public school in the South Bronx. His lifelong passion for social justice and interfaith work began there. Rabbi Alper uses texts, encounters and excursions with other faith groups, and opportunities to stand in solidarity with diverse communities to model work he has learned with his involvement with the Jewish Community Relations Council, Interfaith Partners for Peace, and the Hartman Institute.


headshot of Maharat Rori Picker NeissMaharat Rori Picker Neiss is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis. She is one of the first graduates of Yeshivat Maharat, a pioneering institution training Orthodox Jewish women to be spiritual leaders and halakhic (Jewish legal) authorities. Previously, Rori worked as clergy at Bais Abraham Congregation, a modern Orthodox congregation in University City, MO, Assistant Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, and Secretariat for the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, the formal Jewish representative in international, interreligious dialogue, as well as Program Coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and Acting Executive Director for Religions for Peace-USA. Rori’s work lies at the intersection of her passion for Judaism, feminism, interfaith dialogue, and social justice. Rori is the vice chair of the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis Clergy Cabinet, a David Hartman Center Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, and co-editor of InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook. She is the former co-chair of the North American Interfaith Youth Network of Religions for Peace and a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders fellow. Rori is married to Russel Neiss, a Software Engineer for Sefaria and social activist. They live in St Louis with their three children.


headshot of Rabbi Garth SilbersteinRabbi Garth Silberstein serves as the rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in St. Louis, MO. Previously, he had served as the rabbi of Kenesset Israel Torah Center in Sacramento, CA. Prior to receiving his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, Rabbi Silberstein earned his BA in acting and biology from Bennington College, worked as an actor, tutor, waiter and non-profit administrator, and studied at the Pardes Institute for Jewish studies. An out-door enthusiast with an interest in food and agriculture, Rabbi Silberstein helped lead the Hazon Cross-USA Jewish environmental bike ride in 2012 and 2013, and founded Organic Yeshiva, which focused on integrating Torah learning with experiential environmental and farm education. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, Aviva, and in his free time enjoys reading, hiking, gardening, cooking and playing board games.


headshot of Rabbi Sharfin

Rabbi Shafrin joined the Kol Rinah community in 2016 and has previously served as Rabbi-in-Residence at The Epstein School, a Solomon Schechter Day School in the Atlanta metro area and simultaneously worked as a rabbinic partner at Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta, GA. He is an avid musician and singer. A Milwaukee, WI native and graduate of Brandeis University, Rabbi Shafrin has deep experience in community organizing, and is an alumni of JOIN’s Jewish Organizing Fellowship, and JOIN training at the Ziegler Seminary in Los Angeles. He received a M.A. Ed. from the Fingerhut School of Education and rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, both housed within the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Shafrin and his wife, Rabbi Jessica Shafrin have two sons, Amitai and Nadav.


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