Participant Bios

Network Participants

Rabbi Dr. Zohar Atkins is the founder of Etz Hasadeh and the author of Unframing Existence (Palgrave, 2018) and Nineveh (Carcanet, 2019). A Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, he is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for Poetry. 

Rabbi Bella Bogart is a prayer leader, teacher, musician and healer, with over 30 years of congregational experience. She holds a vision of the wisdom and vibrancy of our heritage as a profoundly relevant Judaism for today and tomorrow.

Rabbi Daniel Brenner was described by the New York Times as a ”rabbi, storyteller, and aerobics instructor.” He is chief of education and program for Moving Traditions. He lives with his beloved Lisa and their three children in Montclair, New Jersey. 

David Bronstein is a grassroots educator passionate about making liberatory spiritual education accessible. He is an organizer of Taproot, and helped start Alt*Div, an alternative to divinity school.

Cherie Brown is the founder and executive director of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI). Cherie leads workshops around the world on anti-Semitism and the intersection of anti- Semitism and Racism. She has been an adjunct faculty at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College teaching courses on diversity, conflict resolution, and a progressive understanding of anti-Semitism. 

Rabbi Debra Cantor has served as a congregational rabbi, camp director, BJE consultant and adjunct professor. She is also an artist and social activist, with a particular interest in interfaith relations and racial justice. She is the founder and director of The Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning, a joint venture between her congregation, B’nai Tikvoh Shalom in Hartford, CT and the Mandell Jewish Community Center.

Andrew Davies is the Co-Founder of The Bible Players, a comedy team that’s improv-ing Jewish Lives, and co-founder of CharacTours, interactive walking experiences in New York City. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Molly Wernick and his tiny dog Ducky.

Sara Fatell is an organizer from Philadelphia who calls DC home. Her upbringing in a typical Jewish home and her roots in politics and movement building make her uniquely suited for the work of OneTable.

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife is the founder and leader of Kesher Pittsburgh, an independent, everyone-friendly, post-denominational Jewish community. She is also an avid traveler, a community weaver, a ritual creatrix and a songstress who delights in sprinkling sparkles, disrupting expectations, and offering blessings wherever she goes.

Rabbi Brian Fink is the Director of UJA-Federation of New York’s Engage Jewish Service Corps at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan ( He graduated from Tulane University and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lilli Flink is the Co-Founder of Spruce Street Minyan and a fourth-year medical student at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She is especially proud of her Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and Barnard/JTS roots and credits them with informing her traditional egalitarian practices today.

Eleyna Fugman is a full-time Jewish community organizer, based in Portland. She works both within and outside the organized Jewish community to create spaces for marginalized Jews: young Jews; unaffiliated Jews; Jews of mixed parentage/heritage; radical Jews; Jews of color; and Jews finding their way towards Jewish ritual and community. Recent projects include building the Alberta Shul community and managing TischPDX, a cohort of young emerging Jews in Portland.

Kohenet Rinah Rachel Galper, Maggidah ha lev, is the founder of Our Sacred Circles, a multi-faith women’s collaborative in Durham, North Carolina and a co-founder of Sacred Monsters, a non-Zionist Jewish worship community. She is a spiritual guide, ritualist, magic maker, arts educator, and activist.

Asher Gellis is the founder and executive director of JQ International, a pioneering LGBTQ and ally Jewish community building and direct service organization that has transformed the landscape of the Jewish world. His innovative and cutting-edge identity building programs have engaged, inspired, and supported activists across the world in their efforts to create and build queer Jewish community and design programs that foster the healthy fusion of LGBTQ and Jewish identities.

Mo Golden, M.A. is an artist and educator with expertise in immersive/experiential learning, intercultural training, and healing ancestral trauma through the expressive arts. She has worked with organizations such as HIAS, Avodah, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, and Asylum Arts and she has lived/worked in Spain, Nicaragua, Peru, Argentina, and Ecuador.

Becky Havivi is a community organizer, facilitator, strategist and resource mobilizer within the progressive Jewish sphere. She currently works full-time supporting IfNotNow, with a particular focus on cultivating the infrastructure and resources needed to support a mass movement (i.e. fundraising, finance/operations, staff support, and more!)

In her role at the Jewish Initiative for Animals, Melissa Hoffman consults with Jewish organizations across the country to develop and implement ethical food practices, as well as curriculum and programs that foster compassion for all living beings through the lens of Jewish values.

Rabbi Cantor Ellen Jaffe-Gill is a former schoolteacher, a graduate of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the author of three books. At present, she is spiritual leader of Tidewater Chavurah, a small ”congregation without walls” in Virginia Beach, VA. 

Na’amah Wendy Kenin founded Imeinu Birth Collective in 2008 so she could attend births at night as a doula while working and raising her children during the day. As an advocate for wellness and social change, Na’amah is a certified domestic violence counselor and a sought after community organizer also known for countering antisemitism, and provides social media “grassroots communications” consulting for nonprofits, small businesses, and educational institutions.

Caroline Kessler is the co-founder of Ashreinu, an egalitarian kehilla in St. Louis. Currently based in Oakland, she is also a poet and the Editorial Manager at UpStart.

Rabbi Evan J. Krame was ordained by ALEPH: the alliance for Jewish Renewal in January 2015. He is the co-founder of The Jewish Studio and Bayit, and continues in his career as lawyer focusing on estate planning and disability law.

Rabbi David Evan Markus serves as rabbi of Temple Beth El of City Island (New York, NY), rabbinics faculty at the Academy for Jewish Religion (New York); spiritual direction faculty and past Board Co-Chair at ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal; and senior builder at Bayit (a spiritual innovation start-up). In his parallel career in government service, he presides in the New York Judiciary as North America’s only pulpit rabbi simultaneously to maintain a full-time oath of office.

Though rejected from rabbinic school, Libby Parker has spent an inordinate amount of time working in the Jewish community, creating Jewish content, and basically cheerleading and recruiting for the Jewish people. She lives in the Minneapolis suburbs and directs Jewfolk, Inc. by day and her three children’s academic, social, and religious lives by night.

Rabbi Laurie Phillips is the founder and director of Beineinu. Using Judaism to hold people in love, Beineinu is an independent initiative offering personalized pathways to Jewish life and learning with hubs currently functioning in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Harlem.

Cindy Rowe is the Executive Director of JALSA and JALSA Impact. Prior to starting this position a year ago, she was the principal of an consulting practice which worked with over 60 non-profits in Massachusetts to advise them on fundraising, volunteer management, and public policy campaigns. She serves as Social Justice Community Chair at Temple Israel/Boston and was a member of the URJ’s Commission on Social Action for many years.

Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz, a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, has been spiritual leader of Temple Bnai Israel in Willimantic, CT since 2000.

Hazzan Jodi M. Sered-Lever is the founding spiritual leader of Congregation Mekor Shalom in Tampa, FL, where the presence of each person matters and the participation of each person makes a difference. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary (including its H.L. Miller Cantorial School), she is a fan of all Chicago sports teams.

Idan Sharon is a shaliach, an Israeli Emissary, to Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD for two years. Idan has experienced a wide range of progressive Jewish organizations, movements and communities in Israel. His permanent home is in Bet Shemesh.

Lauren Spokane is the lead instigator and founding board chair of the New Synagogue Project, an emerging Jewish community in DC that is spiritually vibrant, radically inclusive and reflects a vision of justice, equity, and liberation. She has been involved in building innovative Jewish communities and in faith-based social justice organizing for more than a decade.

Rabbi Ben Spratt is the Senior Associate Rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan. His passion continues to be building community beyond existent walls and boundaries and in partnership with many others sparked Shireinu, Tribe, New Day Fellowship, and Minyan.

Miriam Steinberg-Egeth manages two community networks, the Center City Kehillah and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, while also freelancing as a consultant, postpartum doula, and advice columnist. She is passionate about creating a cohesive and supportive Jewish landscape in Center City Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and their two children.

Rabbi Ariel Stone has guided Jewish communities from Ukraine to Oregon in creating innovative visions of the Jewish future grounded in Torah study. She is the rabbi of independent Congregation Shir Tikvah of Portland Oregon and the convener of Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance.

Roger Studley is the founder of Urban Moshav, convener of the Berkeley Moshav effort to create Jewish cohousing in Berkeley, CA, and currently serves as the Hakhel advisor for six Jewish cohousing groups. He has been an organizer of independent minyanim (including San Francisco’s pluralist Mission Minyan), and co-chair of a Hazon Food Conference.

Talia Liben Yarmush is a writer and editor, and co-founder of Achayot: Sisterhood of Jewish Women Writers. You can find her at

Community Partners Delegation

Elkana Bar Ethan works as Senior Director at Authentic Israel and is the North America representative for the Kol Ami Leadership Academy. He has been active in the field of informal education and social entrepreneurship for 15 years, focusing on community building, social awareness, humanities, and Jewish identity. Elkana spent a year volunteering with children at risk in the development town of Ofakim and served for three years in an elite commando unit in the IDF in Lebanon. Elkana is a Hebrew University graduate and a licensed social worker. He also received an MA in public diplomacy and political science from Bar Ilan University.

Julie Brodsky is the Assistant Vice President for Young Families at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago. She oversees programs for families with children ages 11 and under including: jBaby Chicago, PJ Library & JUF Right Start. Prior to working at JUF, she was employed for 10 years at a synagogue pre-school where she taught in the classroom and was the assistant director.  

Julie Golde is Senior Director of Community Impact at the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. She is passionate about the creation of Jewish communities where every person can experience a sense of belonging.

Rabbi Andy Kastner is the interim executive director of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his family and loves fermenting and running the endless trails of the Bay Area.

Josh Keyak is the manager for the Synagogue Leadership Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Josh is a native of San Francisco and, before joining Federation, worked at both for profit and Jewish non-profit organizations. 

Rabbi Frederick ‘Fred’ Klein is Director of Mishkan Miami: The Jewish Connection for Spiritual Support, a program of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and serves as Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.

Jeffrey Lasday is the COO of the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit. Jeff served as national Executive Director for the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), Executive Vice President of St. Louis’ Central Agency for Jewish Education and founding director of the Columbus Commission on Jewish Education.

Dr. Vanessa Ochs is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia. She is also a rabbi, ordained in 2012. Her books include Inventing Jewish Ritual, winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, Sarah Laughed, and Words on Fire: One Woman’s Journey into the Sacred. Her forthcoming book is a biography of the Passover Haggadah.

Melanie Schneider is Sr. Planning Executive in UJA Federation of New York’s Department of Jewish Life. Melanie holds a Masters in Jewish Communal Leadership from Brandeis, studied at the Institute for Non-Profit Leadership at Columbia, and was the NY/NJ Director for the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. She and her partner Marla Gayle, live in Manhattan and have two young adult children, Sasha and Eliana. 

Natana Shek has raised over $180 million dollars for Jewish education and engagement and has implemented hundreds of programs that are transforming the Montreal Jewish communal landscape. She currently leads the community-wide Passport to Jewish Life Program in Montreal.

Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar is the Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), the nonprofit that catalyzes and accelerates advancement and innovation in the Jewish educational sector of Miami. She is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Cohort.

Kenissa Professional Team

Lisa Sacks is the program associate for Kenissa. A rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY, she serves a Conservative congregation in York, PA as the student rabbi. Her prior career was in the public sector where she worked in politics, for the City of New York, and most recently as the CFO of Hazon.  

Rabbi Sid Schwarz is the project director of the Kenissa Network. Rabbi Sid is a rabbi, educator and social entrepreneur who has successfully founded and led several Jewish organizations and national projects. As the founder/president of PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years, Rabbi Sid pioneered a methodology that integrated Jewish learning, Jewish values and social responsibility. Using his experience as the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD, he has played a leadership role in the synagogue transformation movement for close to 20 years. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Hazon and he blogs regularly at

Amanda Silver is Kenissa’s training director. A consultant, trainer, and executive coach, her unique approach draws on expertise in mindfulness, emotional-intelligence, and strength-based mindsets. Amanda’s clients include higher education institutions, public school districts, social service agencies, advocacy organizations, faith-based institutions and entrepreneurs. Amanda previously served as the Director of the Selah Leadership Program and Network at Bend the Arc.

Dr. Robert Weinberg oversees the Kenissa Network’s Communities of Practice. As an executive coach, strategic consultant, and meeting facilitator, Rob helps leaders, teams, organizations, and networks to find clarity, chart direction, and navigate change to enhance their effectiveness and fulfillment. His clients include rabbis, congregations, national movement organizations, and innovation projects and networks. Rob holds a Ph.D. in Organization Behavior from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, began his career as a management consultant, spent 16 years as Director of the Experiment in Congregational Education at HUC-JIR and six of those years as Project Manager of HUC’s Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative.

Guest Presenter

Casper ter Kuile is a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and a Strategist at On Being. Casper is the co-author of How We Gather, a cultural map of Millennial communities, and the co-founder of the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Campaign Bootcamp. He’s a graduate of Harvard’s Divinity and Kennedy Schools and his work has been featured in The New York TimesThe Boston Globe and on NPR.

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