2017 Participant Bios

Wendy Aronson (MA Jewish Communal Service and MA Jewish Education) has enjoyed working for innovative Jewish organizations like the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Boulder JCC and now Judaism Your Way where she is the Executive Director. Her early career has focused on creating positive Jewish experiences for young people through informal education like camp, youth group, and Israel experiences and has since grown to include a passion for administration.

Hannah Kapnik Ashar is a faculty member and Manager of Fellowship Year Experience with The Bronfman Fellowship and a rabbinic intern at Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, CO. Hannah founded The Tefilah Retreat, a weekend of Jewish spiritual practice for young adults, and Boulder Denver Chevre, an independent minyan/Kevah group.

Renna Khuner-Haber is a lay leader of Jewish ritual, song, and community in the San Francisco Bay Area through initiatives such as Nigun Collective. Renna received her undergraduate degrees from Barnard and JTS, holds a Master’s in nutrition, is an alumna of Adamah, and was the first staff member of Hazon’s inaugural satellite office way back before JOFEE took the Jewish world by storm.

Matt Bar developed a distinct Hip­Hop/Folk fusion of Bob Dylan and Lil’ Wayne and then found a way to combine it with Jewish content with his founding of Bible Raps in 2006. His debut album, “Lying in Chalk,” contains singles that have played on MTV’s “The Real World” and NBC’s “Hip Hop Nation Notes from the Underground.” Since its inception, Bible Raps has reached tens of thousands of young Jews with Torah-rich performances in schools, Hillels, conferences and camps across the US and abroad.

Rabbi Tiferet Berenbaum is a graduate of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. She is currently the rabbi of Congregation Shir Hadash in Milwaukee, WI and will become the rabbi of Temple Har Zion in Mt. Holly, NJ this coming summer.

Carrie Bornstein is Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Paula Brody & Family Education Center outside of Boston, MA and lives in Sharon with her husband, Jamie, and their three children. A cum laude graduate of Skidmore College, Carrie received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University, participated in the first cohort of DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching), and studied at Pardes in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Sara Brandes was ordained at JTS and is the executive director at the Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation. A student of world religion and a certified yoga instructor, Sara is the author of Magical World: Stories, Reflections, Poems and lives with her family at Kibbutz Hanaton, a progressive, pluralistic kibbutz in Northern Israel.

Cheryl Cook is the Executive Director of Avodah and has been active in the Jewish social justice community for over 25 years. She lives in Brooklyn with her family and enjoys hiking and biking in her free time. 

Jessica Deutsch is a New York based artist who has taught at the New Shul, facilitated workshops as the 2D artist in residence at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute and completed a residency and volunteered with Art Kibbutz. Her work seeks to explore the intersections of Jewish spirituality and contemporary city life.

Julie Emden directs the Embodied Jewish Learning Initiative. A graduate of five fellowship and teaching certification programs related to her work as a Jewish educator, Iyengar-based yoga instructor (RYT-500) and movement/expressive artist, Julie has two decades of experience guiding others in exploring Jewish wisdom via the body.

Rabbi Avi Finegold is the founder and lead educator of the Jewish Learning Lab, an adult education organization and strategic consultancy based in Montreal.

Rabbi Dan Goldblatt has been the spiritual leader of Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville, CA for 24 years. He serves on the Boards of both OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal and ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is a Past President of OHALAH.

Rishe Groner is a writer, teacher, strategist, marketer, musician, dancer and lover of life. As the founder of TheGene-Sis.com, Rishe focuses on bringing ancient Chassidic and Kabbalistic teachings into embodied practices around Brooklyn, including workshops, festivals, dancefloors and ceremonies.

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. She is the author of eight books including: The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons; The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership; Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook; and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries. 

David Jordan Harris has been Executive Director of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council since 2004 and is interfaith arts special consultant for the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas. Integrating his skills as a singer, actor, and dancer, he has appeared as guest artist with numerous companies including Zorongo Flamenco, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the Minnesota Opera.

David Zvi Kalman is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. He is CEO and co-founder of Jewish Public Media and owner of Print-O-Craft LLC, an independent Jewish publishing house.

Daniel Kaplan is a community organizer with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Chicago’s Jewish voice for social justice. Daniel is also a resident of Doykeit, a nonaffiliated communal home with a progressive and observant Jewish orientation.

Lisa Lepson is the executive director of the Joshua Venture Group. Previously, Lisa served as the global director of non-profit services at RockCorps, a social venture dedicated to engaging youth in volunteerism through the power of music. With an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA, Lisa has brought her expertise in entrepreneurship and organizational development to numerous non-profits, both within Joshua Venture and beyond it.

Ilana Lerman is the rabbinical council organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace and was a core member of the two-year strategy team responsible for launching the IfNotNow movement to end Jewish American support for the occupation. She organized in interfaith settings for five years with the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council and is an alumna of Adamah, JOIN, Shefa Gold’s Kol Zimrah chanting program, and is a current co-leader of Let My People Sing! traveling Jewish singing retreats.

Audrey Lichter is a serial start-up person. Over her career she has been in the forefront of starting a congregation, a Jewish community high school, a Jewish Day high school, a Jewish Day School Consortium, and now a national Jewish engagement program called Chai Mitzvah.

Dr. Julie Lieber serves as the Director of Education at Kevah where she oversees the organization’s educational vision, its national network of over 50 educators and the Kevah Teaching Fellowship, which trains rabbis and Jewish educators in Kevah’s pedagogical approach to conversational Torah study for adults. She holds a PhD in European history with a focus on Jewish women, gender and sexuality, and was a professor of History and Jewish Studies in Colorado for many years before moving into her role at Kevah.

Rabbi Sara Luria is the founder and executive director of ImmerseNYC: A Community Mikveh Project. Ordained by HUC in 2013, Sara was a Tisch Leadership Fellow and is currently the program director for that Fellowship. She lives in her hometown of Brooklyn with her husband Isaac, and their young children, Caleb, Eva, and Judah.

Rabbi Natan Margalit was ordained in Jerusalem in 1990 and earned a Ph.D. in Talmud from U.C. Berkeley in 2001. He has taught at Bard College, RRC, and Hebrew College Rabbinical School and is the founder and president of Organic Torah Institute, a non-profit that integrates systems thinking and Judaism.

Patricia Eszter Margit is the founder of Art Kibbutz, international Jewish artist residency, community, and a hub. She is a bestselling author in her native Hungary, currently living in New York.

Rabbi Miriam Margles, rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle in Toronto, facilitates workshops integrating Jewish learning and creative exploration in movement, voice and creative writing, particularly addressing conflict, systemic oppression, spiritual practice, mindfulness and healing. She is co-founder of Encounter (encounterprograms.org) and composes original music for Jewish prayer.

Yoni Oppenheim is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of 24/6: A Jewish Theater Company. He is a New York based director, dramaturg, translator, and teaching artist.

Kendell Pinkney is a Brooklyn-based theatre writer, Jewish education professional, and the associate producer of Kaleidoscope – a narrative arts showcase highlighting the personal stories of Jews of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds. He will start rabbinical school at JTS in fall 2017, where he hopes to build on his work at the intersection between the arts, Torah, Jewish education and community building by working with college-aged students.

Ari Pomerantz is a resident organizer at the Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House and a recent alumna of the JOIN for Justice Fellowship and the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship.

Sammy Rosenbaum is a musician, songwriter, and spiritual educator from Atlanta, GA and is the co-founder of The Well – ATL, a once-a-month musical Shabbat gathering for young professionals. He travels to Jewish communities around the world performing his music, sharing innovative prayer experiences, and working to engage his peers in a deeper connection to their Judaism.

Rabbi Rami Schwartzer is the founding director of Ramah Day Camp of Greater Washington, DC, and the rabbi of a new Jewish community for 20s and 30s in the greater DC area. He lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife Adina and their dog Arthur.

Jane Shapiro is inspired every day when she teaches Torah to adults in the Chicago area.  She is one of the founders of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning.

Rabbi Jeremy Sher was admitted to OHALAH: The Alliance of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal after a successful career in political technology and entrepreneurship, and a six-year program of rabbinical study under Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D., including the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School. He works full-time as a Chaplain Intern at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute & UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, is starting the new congregation Ha-Emek: Honest, Inclusive, Progressive Judaism in Silicon Valley, and has recently published his first book, Growth through Governance: What Every Jewish Nonprofit Leader Needs to Know.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in 2016 and serves as the rabbi of Kenesset Israel Torah Center (Sacramento, CA). An outdoor enthusiast, Rabbi Silberstein twice staffed Hazon’s Cross-USA bike ride from Seattle to Washington, DC and in 2014 founded Organic Yeshiva, an immersive adult education program combining traditional Talmud study with hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture.

Rabbi Ruth H. Sohn is a teacher, spiritual director, and writer. She co-directs the Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction, the Morei Derekh Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program and also serves as Director of the Aronoff Rabbinic Mentoring Program and Rabbi of the Lainer Beit Midrash, all at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Joshua Stanton is the incoming rabbi at East End Temple in Manhattan and co-Director of Tribe, a Millennial engagement program that serves around 1,200 people in the New York area. He currently serves as an Associate Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey and previously served as Associate Director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and Director of Communications for the Coexist Foundation.

Naomi Tucker is the founder and Executive Director of Shalom Bayit, an organization dedicated to building a Jewish communal response to domestic violence. Naomi led the integration of Jewish spiritual healing into battered women’s groups in the early 1990s, and today works to ensure that Jewish women’s safety and empowerment are prioritized within both the Jewish social justice agenda and spiritual communities.

Aharon Varady, M.A.J.Ed., is a curriculum consultant, editor, and publisher of Jewish liturgy and educational materials. A former community planner, in 2009 he founded the Open Siddur Project for sharing prayers and prayerbooks whose contents can be adapted and redistributed under Open Content licensing.

Rabbi Michael Wasserman, together with his wife Rabbi Elana Kanter, founded The New Shul in Scottsdale Arizona in 2002 and they continue to serve as its co-rabbis. Rabbi Wasserman is a graduate of Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative.

Micah Weiss is a community organizer and Jewish educator who is helping to launch the West Philly Shtiebel. He is a second-year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and interns at Drexel University Hillel. 

Judi Wisch serves as the Director of Community Engagement for PJ Library, supporting professionals in more than 200 communities in North America and beyond in reaching out and engaging families with young children, both within and outside of the organized Jewish community. Her past endeavors include serving as a supplementary school education director, Jewish film festival director, Judaic studies teacher, director of the Conference on Judaism in Rural New England, and conflict resolution facilitator at the Neve Shalom/ Wahat al Salaam School for Peace in Israel.

Kenissa Network Staff and 2017 Consultation Speakers

Hadar Cohen is the program associate for the Kenissa Network. An alumna of Mechon Hadar, Urban Adamah, Bend the Arc and Svara, she loves learning Torah, singing and organizing community. She lives in the Bay Area.

Claudia Horwitz has been a leader in national efforts to integrate spiritual practice and social justice and has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and movement building. She currently works with a range of organizations and institutions, including serving as faculty for the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Results Based Leadership. She is the author of The Spiritual Activist: Practices to Transform Your Life, Your Work and Your World (Penguin Compass 2002) and is the director of training for the Kenissa Network.

Rabbi Sid Schwarz is the founder and director of Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network. He is a serial entrepreneur having founded PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, which he ran for 21 years, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation (Bethesda, MD) where he continues to teach and lead services and the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI). He is the author of Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews can Transform the American Synagogue, Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World and Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future.

Casper ter Kuile is an On Being Fellow and a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and the co-host of “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”. He co-authored How We Gather with Angie Thurston and lives in Cambridge, MA.

Angie Thurston is an On Being Fellow and a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, supporting leaders who are deepening community amidst increasing religious disaffiliation. With Casper ter Kuile, she co-authored How We Gather and Something More, two reports profiling new forms of meaningful community in America.

Rob Weinberg, PhD is an independent consultant and coach. From 2001 through 2016 he served as Director of HUC-JIR’s Experiment in Congregational Education, prior to which he spent 18 years as an organizational change and effectiveness consultant with Hewitt Associates and the Carlson/Nathanson Group. Rob is the consultant to Kenissa’s Communities of Practice.

Is this page useful and interesting? Please consider sharing it with your social networks!