2018 Seminary Leadership Project Cohort

Erin Binder
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Erin Binder is a third-year rabbinical student (’21) as well as a graduate of the NY School of Education (’18). She has a bachelors from the George Washington University and a masters in international development from New York University. With an interest in humanitarian issues and human rights, her travel has taken her all over the world, including serving as a volunteer with American Jewish World Service in Uganda. Erin has worked with various Jewish and international nonprofits in New York, Washington DC and Texas in fundraising, development and programming capacities. Before coming to HUC-JIR, Erin was a part of the youth education team at Temple Beth Shalom in Austin, TX. For the last two years, Erin served as the education intern at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City and is excited to serve this year as a rabbinical intern at Larchmont Temple.


Elizabeth Breit
Jewish Theological Seminary

Elizabeth Breit is an explorer on a quest for the good in everything. She’s followed this sense of wonder to jobs as a lower school teacher, global active travel trip leader, mediator, and chaplain. The consistent thread through her travels is her sense of wholeness in connection with others – resonating with the suffering, joy, and complexity of each person, and finding the beauty in every one and in every place. She is thrilled to find JOIN and to learn to weave  that beauty of many people together into a greater whole. She is currently a rabbinical student at JTS.


Atara Cohen
Yeshivat Maharat

Atara Cohen is a native of Riverdale NY. She graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Religion and a certificate in Judaic Studies. Through her undergraduate studies, she focused on the impact of text on religious experience. Outside of her academic study of religion, she engaged with the interfaith community on campus and was an a leader of the Orthodox community at Hillel. Atara has studied Torah in a variety of settings, including, among others, Midreshet Nishmat, Yeshivat Hadar, and Drisha. During her time at Yeshivat Maharat, she was a Rabbinical Fellow for Human Rights at T’ruah, is a UJA graduate fellow, and is participating in the JOIN for Justice community organizing course. She has taught Torah as a scholar in residence in multiple communities and is serving as a rabbinic intern at the Columbia-Barnard Hillel.


Eli Finkelstein
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Eli Finkelstein is a third year rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He graduated from Columbia University in 2016 majoring in Ancient Studies. Additionally, he studied at Drisha, Pardes, and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership’s Summer Beit Midrash.


Ben Freed
Jewish Theological Seminary

Ben Freed is a third-year Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.Before Rabbinical School, Ben’s primary formal Jewish education came from Jewish Day Schools in North Carolina and Michigan where he learned Hebrew, basic text study, and that he could excel in sports as long as only other Jews were playing. Ben studied Journalism at the University of Texas and has worked as a reporter, yoga instructor, Uber driver, and Bar Mitzvah DJ as well as the education director of Camp Tel Yehudah—the senior leadership camp of Young Judaea, a pluralist Zionist youth movement. During his year in Israel with JTS, Ben interned at Kehilat Ramot Zion in Jerusalem. Ben is extremely excited to be a part of this year’s JOIN for Justice seminar to learn community organizing skills in an interdenominational setting.


Margo Hughes-Robinson
Jewish Theological Seminary

Margo Hughes-Robinson is a third-year student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and currently serves as a Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in NYC. A New Yorker by birth, she grew up in communities all over the United States before attending Clark University, where she graduated in 2015 with degrees in Theatre and Jewish Studies. Margo is also a proud alumna of the Conservative Yeshiva Lishma Fellowship and the Hartman Rabbinic Student Seminar. During her time in rabbinical school, she has enjoyed professional endeavors with T’ruah, Kulanu, Inc., Fort Tryon Jewish Center, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, Adat Israel in Guatemala City, and as an Interfaith Educator at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.


Rory Katz
Jewish Theological Seminary

Rory Katz is in her 5th and final year of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a recipient of the Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinics, through which she is serving as the student rabbi at Congregation Chevrei Tzedek in Baltimore and as the rabbinic intern at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel in Riverdale. Prior to Rabbinical School, Rory worked as an educator in both secular and Jewish contexts. She also spent a year studying at Yeshivat Hadar, which is where she first fell in love with the Talmud. Rory earned her B.A. at Vassar College in Philosophy.


Aaron Leven
Jewish Theological Seminary

Aaron Leven has spent most of his life deeply involved in Jewish community and education. He has spent 15 summers at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple camps serving as a counselor, Ropes Course Director, Unit Head, and Educator. He also was involved in USY and spent two years as a Regional Officer and one year as an International Officer. A graduate of Emory University, he spent his time outside of the classroom involved in Hillel, dancing, and rock climbing. Aaron’s love for Judaism, Israel, and social justice are all deeply connected, and as a result Aaron has participated in Avodah, AJWS’s volunteer summer in Uganda, Nativ, and Yeshivat Hadar’s year fellowship. Last year, Aaron worked for OneTable as the New York Hub Manager where he worked with the 20’s and 30’s community of the greater New York area in hosting their own Shabbat dinners and creating an individualized sacred practice. Aaron decided to attend Rabbinical School at JTS in order to continue to pursue his passion of creating progressive, spiritual, and joyous Jewish community.


Andrew Oberstein
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Andrew Oberstein is a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and the Reform rabbinic intern at Columbia/Barnard Hillel. This past summer, as a T’ruah Rabbinical Student Human Rights Fellow, he worked as a Community Organizer with the Bronx Defenders. He previously served as the Director of Jewish Life at URJ Six Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA. Prior to entering rabbinical school, Andrew was the Coordinator for Social Justice and Young Adult Engagement at Temple Israel of Boston. Before shifting his focus to the Jewish community, Andrew worked as a professional actor for five years, performing in a variety of plays and musicals across America. Andrew was an Iwasaki Scholar in the Honors Program at Emerson College, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater in 2009. Originally from Los Angeles, he now lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his husband, Nick.


Josh Pernick
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Josh Pernick is currently in his fourth year of rabbinical training at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and and a member of the Hillel Office of Innovation Fellowship for Rabbinic Entrepreneurs. An Americorps* VISTA and Jewish day school teacher before pursuing a career in the rabbinate, he has interned at Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh in Portland, Maine, and Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal during his time at YCT. This coming year he will be interning at the Orthodox Kehillah in Durham, NC, as well as continuing his educational consulting work for the “Global Day of Jewish Learning”.


Jordan Shaner
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Jordan Shaner is a Rabbinical student in his final year at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Ordained from HUC-JIR’s cantorial training program in 2017, Jordan serves part-time as the cantor of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, New York. He also works as the chaplaincy intern for DOROT, an organization dedicated to combatting social isolation for homebound seniors in Manhattan. Jordan lives with his wife Kate in Connecticut, where she works teaching violin and viola full time to students of all ages.


Evan Sheinhait
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Evan Sheinhait is a fifth year rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He was born and raised in Framingham, Massachusetts and is now a resident of Brooklyn. He is a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and throughout his time at HUC-JIR, has worked with many synagogues and hillels across the East Coast. Currently, Evan is the rabbinic intern at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Evan is also the Head Chef at the HUC-JIR soup kitchen, planning and cooking hot meals for the food-insecure in the community. On the side, Evan loves to read spy novels, travel to new places, and cook dishes from around the world with his wife Micaela..

In her first year at the Jewish Theological Seminary Ariana helped found and lead a weekly “experimental minyan” in which students could experiment with non-traditional modes of prayer. In the summer of 2016 Ariana worked as a fellow with T’ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights. She spent part of her time working at the Bronx Defenders and learning about criminal justice issues, and the other part discussing a Jewish lens on human rights with other rabbinical students and rabbis. Interested in issues of criminal justice, Ariana took a course through Union Theological Seminary where she studied alongside students at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a prison in upstate New York. Now in her third year of rabbinical school, Ariana will complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Rikers Island through JTS’s new program for pastoral care in prisons.


Devon Spier
the Academy for Jewish Religion

Devon Spier is a rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She has served as a T’ruah Human Rights Fellow and spent summer 2018 with the Women’s Prison Association, the oldest advocacy organization for women in the United States. Devon attended the University of Waterloo, where she received her Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. Prior to rabbinical school, she acted as a songleader, day camp educator and teacher at URJ Kutz Camp and Camp Newman as well as Hadassah Neurim in Israel. Devon also participated in efforts to enhance the most local levels of democracy, resulting in the coming together of Muslim citizens, student entrepreneurs, church leaders, and non-profit leaders from a local food bank to create a neighbourhood food waste redistribution program and the first Halal student breakfast program in Canada. As a rabbinical student, Devon has co-developed the first social programs in a small Jewish community and a cohort for Jewish Social Entrepreneurship at Hillel Waterloo there. She has also produced trauma-informed Jewish community resources that were selected for publication by the Jewish Reconstructionist movement as well as consulted by the London School for Jewish Studies. In 2017, Devon joined the first Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom chapter in Canada, where she works with Muslim and Jewish women to effectively combat anti-Semitism, islamophobia and white supremacy and in 2018, the Government of Ontario awarded Devon the “Leading Women, Building Communities” award. Devon is currently Scholar-in-Residence for the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee and the author of the bestselling poetry book, “Heart Map and the Song of Our Ancestors.”


Alexandra Stein
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Alexandra Stein is a second-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and earned her B.A. in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Yale in 2011. Between college and rabbinical school, she worked in counseling and teaching roles, and also spent a year studying conflict resolution in Tel Aviv. She is passionate about building supportive and social-justice oriented communities, and is excited to participate in JOIN’s course in order to learn more about how organizing can deepen this work.