Current Fellows

2022 Cohort of Jewish Organizing & Empower Fellows


Headshot of white woman with long, curly brown hair and round pink glasses. She is wearing a black and white striped t-shirt and sitting outside on the grass.

Sarah Binney (she/her)

Sarah became interested in the intersections of Judaism and social justice while organizing a student-run Jewish community at McGill University in Montreal. After graduating in 2019 with a degree in Linguistics and Spanish, she moved back to her home state of Massachusetts. Before JOIN, Sarah worked in Public Health at the state level. Her JOIN placement is at Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong where she will be organizing local disability advocacy groups in Southeast Massachusetts. She loves celebrating Shabbat, taking long walks on the esplanade, and making pickles.


Headshot of a white person with long, brown hair wearing a blue buttoned shirt smiling at the camera. In the background are trees and the outline of a house.Michaela Caplan (she/her)

While at Dartmouth College, Michaela was involved with IfNotNow and a variety of student-led organizing efforts. She took a year off from school to volunteer as an EMT at the Indigenous-led Standing Rock pipeline protest, an experience that solidified her dedication to power-building and organizing for transformative change. After graduation, she worked as a field organizer and as a regional field director on the Bernie 2020 campaign. She then worked at a Covid respite hospital for houseless people and then as a field director for a progressive MA-based congressional campaign. Most recently, she has been working as the Communications Coordinator at Community Change, Inc., and will be continuing this work while also joining T’ruah as their Boston Organizer. Michaela is excited to be part of the Empower Cohort and to explore the intersections of disability justice, Judaism, and organizing. She is also looking forward to forming community with other organizers navigating disability and chronic illness. In her free time, Michaela loves writing, walking her dog, and making lentil soup.


Headshot of white woman with short curly brown hair smiling away from the cameraMiriam Cohen (she/her)

Miriam grew up in a small town in Maine and graduated from Yale University in 2020 with a degree in American Studies and Education Studies. In college, she organized with a student group that advocated for better financial aid and for local labor issues. Miriam started working for Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light in October 2021, organizing religious communities around climate justice. She is developing Mass IPL’s new project to convene interfaith teams that will coordinate their local faith communities in climate justice work.


 A close-up of a white, redhead, pierced-up queer in galactic drag makeup smirking and holding up a bright orange chicken of the woods mushroom with their dirty hand. Sarah Fadem (they/them)

Sarah (they/them) is working as a JOIN and Empower fellow with a placement at SEIU 509, organizing within higher education. They have done a wide variety of organizing within the youth climate, racial justice, student and labor rights, and anti-occupation of Palestine movements over the last six years. Sarah is interested in learning and practicing anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist action, and has spent much of the last two years since graduating from Bennington College invested in street protest. Their free time is joyously spent cooking fancy vegan meals for their collective house, biking around the city, and dancing at queer functions.  


 photo of Emma Gelbard, a white person with short brown hair and glasses.

Emma Gelbard

Emma Gelbard recently completed JOIN’s Access to Power Fellowship, and is excited to spend this JOIN and Empower Fellowship year with Disability Policy Consortium MA. After graduating from Cornell University in 2015 with a degree in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies, as well as concentrations in Art History, Creative Writing, and Fine Arts, Emma moved to Boston. In Boston, Emma has spent the past several years working as an artist and organizing for immigration justice with Never Again Action. Emma’s art focuses on how strange it is to have a body, and how wonderful it is to share stories with it – powerful stories are what brought Emma to community organizing. 


Headshot of a white person with short, curly brown hair smiling away from the camera

Claire Goldberg (they/them)

Claire recently graduated from Columbia University with a major in Urban Studies and Architecture. For their thesis, they mapped the anarchist collectivization of Spain in the 1930s. Originally from the Bay Area, Claire first learned about the power of organizing at a Jewish Socialist summer camp. In college, they organized with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). This past summer they used digital mapping and data analysis to support abolitionist organizing in NYC. Claire is thrilled to work as the volunteer coordinator for North Shore Family Promise.


White woman with medium length brown hair wearing blue overalls smiles at the camera in front of the ocean and trees

Zoe Grodsky (she/her)

Zoe works for the Cumberland County Food Security Council in Portland, ME. Zoe began her position as the Food Fuels Learning Coordinator in October of 2021, working towards food equity and access in the Portland Public Schools. Zoe graduated from Middlebury College in February of 2021, where she studied Sociology and Education with a focus in social movements and environmental justice. Outside of work, Zoe loves making amateur pottery and exploring the many beaches and forests of Maine!


Headshot of Annessia Jimenez, a bi-racial female with medium length very curly brown hair. Wearing a black shirt with a grey cardigan smiling at the camera.Annessia Jimenez, she/hers

Annessia works as a Community Organizer at Worcester Common Ground, a community development corporation that works to improve the neighborhoods in Central Worcester. They work to provide low-income residents with affordable and safe housing. Annessia’s work focuses on creating positive relationships with tenants, local businesses, and the city to create a better community for everyone. Annessia graduated from Suffolk University in Spring of 2020. In recent years, she has become very interested in worker rights and safety, starting when she helped to organize a union at the independently owned movie theater she worked at. Since then, she has seen how powerful community organizing can be and is excited to continue making a difference.


Headshot of Benji Kemper, a white male with short brown hair, smiles at the camera

Benji Kemper (he/him)

Benji works for the Center for Living and Working  in Worcester, organizing for the rights of people with disabilities.  Benji graduated from Brandeis in 2020 with a degree in Business.  At Brandeis, Benji coordinated Language and Cultural Enrichment, an afterschool program for middle school English Language Learners.  Benji taught 6th grade social studies as a Teaching Fellow at Breakthrough Miami where he encouraged students to think critically about history and politics.  Benji enjoys watching and playing sports, tutoring, and reading.


Headshot of Thomas Moser. A white male with brown hair and a goatee who is wearing glasses, a black undershirt covered by an unbuttoned white plaid collared shirt, and a suit jacket smiles at the camera. Thomas Moser (He/Him)

Thomas is joining NewVue Communities as a part of the Jewish Organizing and Empower Fellowship, to help with vaccine initiative campaign in Fitchburg MA, and take his first steps to further develop his leadership skills in the career of community organizing. Thomas first got involved with NewVue by joining their Arts Stewards program in the Summer of 2019, shortly after graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College with a degree in Liberal Arts with Art Concentration that same year. Before transitioning to NewVue, Thomas held a career in Human Services, advocating for adults with special needs. Thomas also has a background in creating public art to help develop safer and more lively outdoor spaces in Fitchburg, as well as utilizing his personal art to help spread messages of Art-Activism “ARTivism” both through museum exhibition and shows that he helped co-contribute & co-organize with members of Arts Collectives from Fitchburg, Clinton, Framingham, Worcester, and beyond. Additionally, Thomas has also taken his coordinating efforts in the direction of helping work as a volunteer with Fitchburg creatives and organizations to co-found an affordable art studio space that can uplift local community members.

Other contributions and hobbies that Thomas has enjoyed over the last few years have been cooking food for people in need of free meals, experimenting with new recipes, gardening, and finding a way to balance an enjoyment/understanding of all other forms of creative expression. 


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Register

Registration is closed for general cohorts.

If you are registering with a organization’s dedicated cohort please email us at dontkvetch@joinforjustice.org so we send you the correct registration link.

If you are interested in taking the course but are not connected to an organization hosting a cohort, please join our waitlist for a future round of the course.


Registration for the JOC / POC Cohort

A core part of the course is your live cohort sessions held on Zoom. This year cohort meetings will be held on Tuesdays [February 15, 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and April 5]. The Jews of Color and People of Color cohort meets at 6pm-7:30pm ET/ 5pm-6:30pm CT / 4pm-5:30pm MT / 3pm-4:30pm PT.

JOC/POC Cohort Registration

 

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Don’t Kvetch, Organize!: Conservative Movement Cohort

 


The course examines how community organizing can be used to build a more just world and strengthen our communities. Over the course of six weeks (Oct 5 – Nov 18), participants will delve deeply into the fundamentals of social justice and community organizing, and grapple with how they relate to Jewish traditions and values. Most importantly, you will learn how to make a real difference on the issues you care about.

Register Today!

Who is the course meant for?

  • People who made new commitments to justice work in 2020 and are looking for a way to deepen their engagement.
  • People who would like take action in their community on issues exacerbated by the pandemic, with an eye towards larger systemic change.
  • People who organized around the election and are eager to continue the push for real change under the new administration.
  • People who have been doing social justice work but feel like they’re not getting very far and wonder if there is a way to be more effective.
  • People who want to learn how they can have a meaningful impact on issues they care about, without it taking over their whole life.
  • People who want to explore how Judaism or their Jewish identity can strengthen and be strengthened by their commitment to having a meaningful impact in the world.

Cost

  • The course costs $100 for members of the Conservative Movement.
  • Anyone who needs additional financial support please reach out to Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay at struskay@jtsa.edu

Course Components

  • Self-paced videos taught by experienced organizers and movement trainers that participants can watch on their own schedule.
  • Six live cohort meetings, led by Course Instructors, where participants can build relationships with one another, reflect together on what they’re learning, and push their learning even further.
  • Weekly discussion forum prompts and optional live discussion meetings.

Coursework will take roughly 3 hours total each week. Materials will be accessible to most screen readers, and all pre-recorded materials are closed captioned. Real-time captioning for live cohort meetings can be made available on request. Please contact dontkvetch@joinforjustice.org with further access questions.

“One key message that I am taking away from this course is the idea that Judaism is a radical tradition. That themes of justice and equity are embedded throughout Jewish tradition. Woven into even the most mainstream of rituals (like Shabbat, for example). Before this class, I felt like I had a few explicit connection points between Judaism and my social justice values.  Now I feel like the whole of Jewish tradition is a connection. I am excited to continue to wake up to the radical potential in everyday Judaism–drawing upon it as I continue my work.”


Testimonials From Past Participants

What Participants Get from the Course

Participants will leave the course with:

  • A natural and powerful connection between their Jewish identities and acting for justice.
  • Behind the scenes stories from both iconic and lesser known organizing efforts.
  • An understanding of a community organizing model and how it can be used in a practical way to tackle issues, big and small, in their communities.
  • An analysis of widening economic disparity, and insight into working across lines of race and class.
  • A set of peers from the course with a shared language and knowledge, who can, if they desire, work together to tackle issues they care about, even after the course!

“This has been an amazing fast-track introduction to the Social Justice organizing world. I notice the difference now when I read about any campaign…how to think about it, what I think is being done well or not so well, what I think might enhance it, instead of passively noting a campaign but not feeling attached/interested in any direct way.”

Course Trainers

Teachers in the course include, among others:

  • Marshall Ganz: social movement legend, world-renowned thought leader, Harvard educator
  • Yavilah McCoy: CEO and Executive Director of Dimensions, a women and Jewish People of Color led nonprofit that provides training and consultancy in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Rabbi Jonah Pesner: Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • Ruth Messinger: former president of the American Jewish World Service, currently serving as their Global Ambassador
  • Dove Kent: former Executive Director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) in New York, now works as Senior Strategy Officer at Bend the Arc.
  • Robert Putnam: social scientist and best-selling author of Bowling Alone and most recently of Our Kids

Graphic with megaphone with speech bubble saying "wondering how to make a difference, not just a statement? check out our online course in community organizing, dont kvetch, Organize!"

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The Search for JOIN’s Next Executive Director

In an effort to increase transparency the Strategic Transition Committee, which is overseas this transition, is sharing information with regard to the transition here. This webpage will be updated as new information is available.

Letter from Molly Schulman and Laura Loeb, Co-Chairs, Strategic Transition Committee

Dear JOIN Supporter,

As you know, JOIN’s long-time Executive Director Karla Van Praag will be leaving that position while continuing as a thought leader for our important work. We have begun the critical process of recruiting our next ED, and we have been asked to Co-Chair the Strategic Transition Committee (STC) by the Board of Directors.

Members of the STC include: Rabbi Judith Kempler, Idit Klein, Jeannie Appleman, Evan Traylor, Dan Rosan, Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, Jordan Berg Powers, and Phil Rosenblatt.

Our first step was to interview executive search firms, and we decided to engage DRG Talent Advisory Group.  DRG has extensive experience and a successful track record of consulting with and recruiting top talent for nonprofits, social justice organizations, and Jewish organizations. Sarah Raful Whinston, Senior Search Consultant, and Yasmine Coccoli, Talent Consultant, will be leading the search on our behalf.

The STC and Board are committed to conducting an open, transparent search, and the STC and DRG will be reaching out to JOIN’s stakeholders to listen to your thoughts about the kind of leader JOIN needs to guide us into the future.

If you would like to fill out a survey about our next Executive Director, the link is HERE. The survey will be open until Tuesday, July 6.

We are committed and confident that our search process will yield the right next Executive Director for this exciting next chapter in the life of JOIN.

We will involve and inform the community throughout the process. We are looking forward to engaging with the JOIN community throughout this process and to diving into this inspiring and important work.

Thank you,

Molly Schulman and Laura Loeb

Co-Chairs, Strategic Transition Committee


Timeline & Job Posting

forthcoming


Strategic Transition Committee

photo of Jeannie ApplemanJeannie Appleman co-founded the Seminary Leadership Project in 2005 with Meir Lakein and Rabbis Stephanie Kolin and Noah Farkas and has trained more than 750 seminary students in organizing, congregational development, and leadership. In addition to the Seminary Leadership Project, she also runs JOIN’s Clergy Fellowship and has trained and coached hundreds of Rabbis and Cantors, lay leaders, and staff from the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements, Federations, and other communal organizations. Jeanine is currently working to create new ways to integrate traditional organizing with anti-oppression and anti-racist frameworks alongside JOIN staff and organizational partners & trainers of color, Megan Madison and Megan Black.

Before coming to JOIN to teach organizing to others, Jeannie, herself, was an organizer for 25 years. Through the Industrial Areas Foundation, she served as the lead organizer for a primarily African- and Caribbean-American-led affiliate in Queens, New York, as well as their Long Island affiliates. Jeanie led electoral campaigns in Chicago and Baton Rouge, and directed a successful statewide campaign in Illinois to stop contra aid in congress. Additionally, Jeanie has written several articles, created and directed a national foundation to faith-based organizing, and conducted two research studies on faith-based organizing.

photo of Jordan Berg PowersJordan Berg Powers is the Executive Director at Mass Alliance, where he previously served as Deputy Director of Mass Alliance. In his nine years there, he has helped elect new progressive leaders across the state, recruited progressive champions to run, and trained hundreds of grassroots organizers. In 2015 Jordan was recognized for his exceptional work in politics as an inaugural inductee into the 40 under 40 Poly Award. Using his expertise in talking to ordinary voters about progressive policy, Jordan is active in campaigns for saving public education, gender equality and more progressive tax system for the Commonwealth. He conducts trainings across the state on campaign strategy and management, candidate recruitment, progressive messaging and women in politics. Jordan has a Masters in International Politics from the London School of Oriental & African Studies as well as a B.A. in International Development and a B.A. in Economics from American University.

photo of Rabbi Judith KemplerRabbi Judith Kempler  serves at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, Flordia specializing in outreach and engagement with unaffiliateds in their 20s and 30s, young families and empty nesters. A graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, Rabbi Kempler holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature. She was ordained in May 2009. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and a concentration in Modern Dance.

Upon ordination, Rabbi Kempler joined the staff at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue as the Youth Director. She also taught adult Hebrew, led Torah study and facilitated the URJ’s Introduction to Judaism course. She has also officiated at several life-cycle events, in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to working in the American Jewish community, she travelled to the Former Soviet Union to lead Passover seders and participated in an American Jewish World Service rabbinic delegation to Senegal. When not working or studying, Rabbi Kempler is an avid runner, yogi and modern dancer. She loves to cook and regularly makes a “mean” chocolate-chip challah.

photo of ldit Kleinldit Klein is a national leader for social justice with more than 25 years of experience in the non­profit sector. Since 2001, she has served as the leader of Keshet, the national organization for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. ldit built Keshet from a local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to a national organization with an annual budget of nearly $4 million. Under her leadership, Keshet has supported tens of thousands of rabbis, educators, and other Jewish leaders to make LGBTQ equality a communal value and imperative.

Prior to leading Keshet, ldit worked in Jerusalem for Israeli-Palestinian peace and helped envision the Jerusalem Open House as a leader in the Israeli LGBTQ rights movement. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, ldit earned her Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. She serves on the advisory board of the Safety Respect Equity Coalition and the leadership team of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable to strengthen the national Jewish social justice movement. ldit was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award as well as by Jewish Women International with a Women to Watch award, and selected for the Forward 50, a list of American Jews who have made enduring contributions to public life. She lives in Boston with her wife, Jordan, son, Lior, and pup, Langston.

photo of Dan RosanDan Rosan is an experienced health care strategist with over ten years of experience in the nonprofit and private sector. Currently he supports Biogen’s Development Sciences organization as the head of Business Analytics, where he drives resource planning, performance measurement, and special projects. Prior to joining Biogen, Dan was a management consultant for a boutique firm serving the biotechnology industry, where he worked with the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies and top tier venture capital funds. He also led the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility’s health care practice for four years. Dan has a BA in History from Vassar College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

photo of Phil Rosenblatt

Phil Rosenblatt is a partner at the Boston law firm of Nutter McClennen & Fish.  Inspired by the Jewish Organizing Initiative’s founding Executive Director, Michael Brown, Phil joined the JOI Board many years ago and has worked with their leadership to guide the organization through a number of exciting transitions, culminating in JOIN for Justice’s collaboration with PJA & JFSJ to bring the organization to a whole new level.  Phil also serves or has served on the Board of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, as Vice President and Board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, as President of the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, as an Executive Committee and a Board member of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, as President of the Lincoln Station Phase I Homeowners Association in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and as a Board member of the Loon Mountain Alpine Ski Race Team, also in Lincoln, New Hampshire.  Phil received a BA from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.  He lives in Needham, Massachusetts with his wife Nancy and dogs Hannah and Bode. Their two sons live in Washington, DC and Houston, Texas.

photo of Evan TraylorEvan Traylor, originally from Oklahoma City, serves as the associate director for college engagement at the Union for Reform Judaism, after spending two years as the inaugural URJ presidential fellow for millennial engagement. Evan graduated from the University of Kansas studying political science, Jewish studies, and leadership studies. He is a past NFTY president, Kansas Hillel intern, student member of the Hillel International Board of Directors, and co-founder of the Hillel International Student Cabinet.

 

photo of Rabbi Lauren TuchmanRabbi Lauren Tuchman received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018 and is, as far as she is aware, the first blind woman in the world to enter the rabbinate. A sought after speaker, spiritual leader and educator, Rabbi Tuchman has taught at numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues throughout North America and was named to the Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her innovative leadership concerning inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life. In 2017, she delivered an ELI Talk entitled We All Stood At Sinai: The Transformative Power of Inclusive Torah.

 

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2016 Cohort

2016 Seminary Leadership Project Cohort

Yonatan Arnon headshotYonatan Arnon

Yonatan Arnon, originally from Jerusalem, Israel is a Jewish & Israeli educator and serves as the Jewish Agency Israel fellow at Columbia/ Barnard Hillel. Yonatan holds a B.A in Jewish philosophy and theater studies and a group facilitation certificate. Yonatan has a wide range of experience in the informal experiential education field.


Benjamin Chaidell headshotBenjamin Chaidell
Jewish Theological Seminary

Benjamin Chaidell is a third year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, having just returned from a year of study in Israel. In addition to his studies, Ben is passionate about Jewish education, Israel, and his local community. He currently leads children’s services at the Fort Tryon Jewish Center and volunteers visiting a senior citizen in the community. Before JTS he served as an Education Fellow at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL). In this position he traveled the South empowering congregations to teach the ISJL’s innovative religious school curriculum. Benjamin graduated from Yale College in May 2011, where he majored in religious studies and co-ran the student Conservative Minyan on campus. Ben enjoys music, air hockey, Shabbat meals, and exploring the city in which he lives.


Samantha Frank headshotSamantha Frank
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Samantha Frank is a second year Rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD where her Jewish community nurtured her value of working to achieve social justice and correcting social injustice. She attended Tufts University, where she studied community health and French. Samantha interned at IMPACT Silver Spring, bringing neighbors together to support one another through difficult economic times, and worked on campus to create spaces for students to talk about racial issues on campus. Samantha initially pursued a career in public health policy, focused on adolescent mental health, before turning to the Rabbinate. She is committed to dialogue as a force for healing and community growth.


Matt Green hedashotMatt Green
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Matt is a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he is a Tisch Fellow. He is the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, in which role he is also the director of the Brooklyn Jews community. Matt received his BA in History from the University of Michigan, and continued on as a Berman Fellow at Michigan Hillel after graduation. In 2015, Matt won the Be Wise entrepreneurship competition at HUC-JIR for his project, the Grindr Shabbat Initiative, wherein he applied geolocation technology towards creating a unique LGBTQ Shabbat community in Brooklyn.


Katie Greenberg headshotKatie Greenberg
Jewish Theological Seminary

Katie Greenberg is a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she is pursuing her masters in education and a certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education. A native New Yorker, she graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Jewish History and Environmental studies. She recently returned from three years living in Israel where she studied at Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies and worked at the Israel Religious Action on issues of pluralism and anti-discrimination in Israeli society. In rabbinical school Katie has worked as the program coordinator for the Milstein Center for interreligious dialogue, the Gabbi of the Women’s League Seminary synagogue at JTS, the rabbinic intern at Rutgers Hillel, a student chaplain for two summers at Self Help visiting holocaust survivors and this summer at the Allen Pavilion Hospital in Manhattan. This year Katie is the rabbinic intern working with the Director of congregational learning  at Temple Israel Center where she is teaching a social justice class to teenagers and teaching adult education classes to the staff and the congregation. Katie was the rabbinic intern at Beit Rayim in Toronto for the High Holidays where she led innovative family services for 200 people. She is currently serving as the president of the Rabbinical student organization working with the administration to build community and help students with issues such as better access to health care and a process for taking family leave.


Andy Kahn headshotAndy Kahn
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Andy Kahn, a second-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR, was born in Birmingham, AL, but grew up in Tacoma, WA. During his senior year of high school, he attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel, and then went on to major in Religious Studies focused on the Tanach at Kenyon College in Ohio. He attended both Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His interest in the academic study of religion led him to earn an M.A. in Religion in Modernity at at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 2007, and an M.A. in Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Languages at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011. Upon graduation from The Jewish Theological Seminary, Andy began working at Central Synagogue in Manhattan as a Religious School Educator, creating new and innovative curricula in Jewish Studies and Hebrew for grades 3-9. He also led adult education classes at Central Synagogue in Manhattan on Tanach and various other Jewish subjects. In 2011, Andy began volunteering to teach classes at Footsteps, an organization in New York City devoted to helping those seeking to enter or explore the world beyond the insular ultra-religious communities in which they were raised. Andy currently works at the Central Conference of American Rabbis Press while also serving as student rabbi at Temple Beth Ha-Sholom in Williamsport, PA.


Hillel Konigsburg headshotHillel Konigsburg
Jewish Theological Seminary

Hillel Konigsburg is a senior rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a graduating MA student in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School at JTS. Hillel received a BA in Sociology from Columbia University and a BA in Jewish History from Albert A. List College in New York. This year, Hillel works as a Educational Leadership Intern at the Solomon Schechter school of Manhattan. Hillel has also worked as the Rabbinic Intern at the Orangetown Jewish Center, as well as the Pastoral Care Intern at DOROT. When not learning or teaching, Hillel enjoys exploring NYC with his wife, and playing board games with friends.


Daniel Novick headshotDaniel Novick
Jewish Theological Seminary

Daniel Novick is in his fourth year studying at the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary. After attending the University of Virginia where he received a degree in Commerce with concentrations in marketing and management, Daniel enrolled in rabbinical school with the desire to integrate his passions for Judaism, marketing, and music to inspire Jewish communities. Born and raised in Herndon, Virginia at Congregation Beth Emeth, Daniel was (and still is!) quite active in United Synagogue Youth (USY). A past international and regional officer of USY, Daniel spent 6 wonderful summers with USY as a participant on USY on Wheels and USY Israel Pilgrimage; a staff member on USY on Wheels; and a Group Leader for USY on Wheels. Daniel continues to serve as an educator and musical specialist for USY. Daniel has worked for the past six years as a musician-in-residence at USY’s International Convention, leading ruach, song sessions, and musical tefillot. In addition to his work with USY, Daniel has served as the Youth Director at Sutton Place Synagogue, the Student Rabbi at the University of Hartford Hillel and the Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, CT and is currently a rabbinical intern at Temple Sholom in Greenwich, CT.


Louis Polisson headshot

Louis Polisson
Jewish Theological Seminary

Louis is a third-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Louis grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and graduated from Brandeis University in 2012 where he studied Classical Languages, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and Music. Louis is a proud alumnus of the Conservative Yeshiva, Yeshivat Hadar, and Brandeis’ co-ed Jewish a cappella Group, Manginah. Louis has worked as a songleader, Jewish educator, and music teacher in a wide variety of synagogues, educational programs, and camps from Boston to NYC. Louis enjoys live music (especially klezmer, jazz, and punk rock), jamming in Freygish mode, and exploring New York City. As he once told participants at BIMA (the Brandeis Institute for Music and Art), he hopes to be a punk rock star, archaeologist, and/or rabbi when he grows up.


Jenn Queen headshotJenn Queen
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Jenn is a second year rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). She is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington (2009) where she earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in modern Jewish philosophy and thought, and “The Applied Health and Social Science of Sexuality” through the College of Arts and Sciences Individualized Major Program, and an alumna of the George Washington University where she earned a Master of Public Health degree (2012). Before beginning on her rabbinical path, Jenn served as the Field Organizing Manager for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) in Washington, DC, and was a member of the 2013-2014 cohort of the Jews United for Justice Jeremiah Fellowship. When she is not in school, Jenn teaches 3rd and 6th grade religious school at Temple Shaaray Tefilah, and enjoys spending time with her pitbull mix, Bruin.


Jade Sank headshotJade Sank
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Jade Sank is a third year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. Jade grew up in Kinnelon, New Jersey and at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She graduated in 2012 from Brandeis University with her BA in Anthropology and International and Global Studies. Jade is currently living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, serving as the student rabbi at the North Fork Reform Synagogue on Long Island, coordinating seventh grade at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, and teaching an online fifth grade religious school class through Shalom Learning.


Amanda Schwartz headshotAmanda Schwartz
Jewish Theological Seminary

Amanda Schwartz is a rabbinical student (soon to be rabbi) at JTS.  She completed her masters in educational leadership through the Davidson school and is deeply passionate about fostering a passionate, empowered, inclusive and Jewishly literate Liberal Jewish community.  She has learned a great deal from working in a variety of Jewish organizations across the denominational spectrum including Jewish Mosaic, B’nai Jeshurun, and the JCC in Manhattan.  She currently lives in Harlem with her family but looks forward to moving this summer to Denver, her hometown.


Sara Shapiro-Plevan headshotSara Shapiro-Plevan
Jewish Theological Seminary

Sara Shapiro-Plevan, a doctoral candidate in the Davidson School at JTS and the founder of Rimonim Consulting, is all about relationships. Her essential focus: understanding the way relationships influence the ability to improve our practice, shape our work, and engage effectively with others. Sara has served as a faculty member in the Davidson School, where she prepared graduate students to take leadership roles in the field as a part of the redesigned Educational Leadership in Congregational and Communal Settings practicum, and taught the core course in basic pedagogy to students in the Davidson, Cantorial and Rabbinical Schools.  As a part of her work at JTS, she  worked closely with mentors who are veteran congregational and communal educators, and supported their ongoing learning through their service and continued professional learning. Previously, Sara served as a consultant for the Board of Jewish Education NY-SAJES, (now The Jewish Education Project) working directly with congregational educators in the greater New York area to build strong collegial networks, improve practice and cultivate leadership. She has served as director of education and as assistant director of education in three Manhattan congregations, and has served as the director of professional development for the  METNY region of USCJ, where she developed professional learning programs for teachers in congregational schools. In addition to her consultations for congregations in the New York area, Sara has partnered with congregations across the country to reimagine their model, build new governance structures and align curriculum with vision. Sara holds a BA in  Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis  University, an MA in Jewish Education from JTS, and was a fellow in the Senior Educators’ Program at the  Melton Centre at Hebrew University.  She currently serves on the board of the Jewish Educators’ Assembly and the board of the Network for Research in Jewish Education.  


Rabbi Zach Sitkin headshotRabbi Zach Sitkin
Jewish Theological Seminary

Rabbi Zach Sitkin is currently serving as Rabbi at Congregation Eitz Chaim in Monroe, NY.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, he received dual Bachelors degrees in both Psychology and Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  Rabbi Sitkin is currently in his final year at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and will earn his Rabbinic Ordination along with a Master’s degree in Talmud and Rabbinic Literature this upcoming spring.  Rabbi Sitkin previously served as the Rabbinic Intern at the Pelham Jewish Center in Pelham Manor, NY and as the Robert Kraft Rabbinic Fellow at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel in Manhattan.  When not learning Torah (yes, he really does that for fun!), you can find Rabbi Sitkin shooting hoops on the basketball court, watching movies, singing, or taking advantage of the sights and attractions of New York City.  Rabbi Sitkin and his wife, Lisa, live in Manhattan.


Jordan Soffer headshot

Jordan Soffer
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Originally from New City, NY, Jordan Soffer graduated from Reuben Gittelman Hebrew Day School, and Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. A proud Badger, Jordan attended college at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, where he studied Religion and Jewish Studies. Upon graduation, Jordan studied at Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa, Mechon Pardes, and Yeshivat Hadar. Jordan has worked and interned at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, Kinneret Day School, Heschel Middle School, Congregation Orach Chaim and the Hebrew Institute in White Plains. Jordan is currently completing a masters in education at Yeshiva University. Next year, Jordan is extremely excited to join the staff at Carmel Academy, where he will serve as rabbi in residence. Jordan is a big sports fan, loves cooking (he is a talmid of the Joy of Kosher), and loves traveling (he has visited approximately 20 different countries).


Laynie Soloman headshotLaynie Soloman
Jewish Theological Seminary

Laynie is the Youth & Family Community Organizer at the Fort Tryon Jewish Center, an independent traditional egalitarian community in Washington Heights-Inwood, NYC and is pursuing an M.A. in Talmud and Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Laynie has spent several years learning Torah at various programs including The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Yeshivat Hadar, where they served as an Education Fellow. Laynie has enjoyed being an educator in a wide array of Jewish settings including day school, synagogues, and camp, and loves bringing dynamic experiences of Jewish life and learning to students of all ages. When not in shul or learning Talmud, you can find Laynie reading about Liberation Theology and trying to use every vegetable in their CSA.


Rachel Waldman headshotRachel Waldman

Rachel currently resides in Washington Heights, and serves as Vice President of Mount Sinai Jewish Center, where she creates, organizes, and runs programs. She is passionate about fostering a warm, welcoming community that is inviting and meaningful, and has spent much time focused on filling the gaps and creating space for dialogue. Prior to becoming VP, she served as chair of community Outreach, where she organized community service programs, including many programs for seniors.  From a young age, she was passionate about communal work, and volunteered in many capacities.  After spending a year and a half studying in Israel, Rachel studied at Stern College and then completed her Master’s in Speech and Language Pathology. During that time, she started learning programs, taught in various communities, and volunteered throughout NYC. For the past 3 years, she served as a JLIC educator at the NYU Hillel, where she connected with students, ran meaningful programs, and learned and taught Torah and related topics. When she is not involved in Jewish communal work, she works as a Language Specialist in a school.


Raysh Weiss headshotRaysh Weiss
Jewish Theological Seminary

Raysh Weiss holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Minnesota and is currently in her final year of Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is the founder and director of YentaNet, a pluralistic matchmaking organization, currently serves on the Board of Directors of T’ruah, and is a co-editor of the progressive Jewish blog www.jewschool.com.

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