Rabbi Matthew L. Berkowitz
Rabbi Matthew L. Berkowitz is the Director of Israel Programs for The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and co-founder of Kol Ha-Ot, a new Jerusalem-based venture devoted to exploring the arts and Jewish learning. For ten years (1999-2009), Matt served as the JTS Senior Rabbinic Fellow, organizing substantive adult learning throughout Florida and beyond. He is a member of the Wexner Heritage Program Faculty and has taught the Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Denver-Boulder, Cincinnati and Los Angeles groups. He completed his undergraduate work in International Relations and Middle East Studies, summa cum laude, at Colgate University. While in rabbinical school, he studied at Pardes and The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. He was ordained from JTS in 1999 and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow alumnus. Last year (2016), Matt completed a three-year program of learning at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. An accomplished artist, Matt was formally trained in Jewish scribal art in Jerusalem and completed the writing of Megillat Esther, the illumination of several ketubbot and a limited-edition artist portfolio entitled Passover Landscapes: Illuminations on the Exodus which was acquired by Yale University, exhibited at Yeshiva University Museum (April, 2006) and is on permanent exhibit at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author and illuminator of The Lovell Haggadah (Nirtzah Editions and Schechter Institute, 2008). Recently, he completed a series of three tzedakah boxes and worked on a commission for the sanctuary art of the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, NY. In January of 2017, he and his Kol HaOt partners opened an experiential gallery in Jerusalem’s Chutzot HaYotzer (Artist Lane). Rabbi Berkowitz and his family made aliyah in August, 2009 (after a seven-year sojourn in Boca Raton, FL). He resides in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.
After earning a degree in Jazz Composition and Piano from Berklee College of Music, he held the position of Composer-in-Residence at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA where he produced 4 albums of Jewish communal music with his mentor Cantor Jodi Sufrin. As a solo musician, Noah has released two full length albums and songbooks entitled 'Am I Awake' and 'Left Side of the Page.' Music from these albums are now sung in progressive communities and summer camps worldwide and has been included as part of the Cantorial curriculum at the Hebrew Union College's Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York City. Renowned for his unique and engaging style of prayer leadership, he had the distinct honor of leading over 5,000 people in Shabbat worship at the 2013 URJ Biennial in San Diego, CA. Noah serves on the faculty of the annual Hava Nashira and Shabbat Shira workshops in Oconomowoc, WI and the Shirei Chaggiah workshop in London, England. In 2015, Noah partnered with Behrman House, the largest distributor of Jewish educational materials, to create an innovative, music-based curriculum entitled Hebrew in Harmony. His music has also been featured on two compilations from the PJ Library series. Noah lives in New York City and is currently serving as the Creative Director of Sacred Music NY, a non-profit organization that organizes concerts and events around New York City bringing together spiritual musicians from diverse backgrounds to inspire interfaith dialogue and social change.
Rabba Yaffa Epstein
Rabba Yaffa Epstein serves as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. She has studied at the Pardes Kollel, the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan and the Talmud Department of Hebrew University. Yaffa has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel. She has taught Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Maharat, the Drisha Institute, the Wexner Heritage Program New Member Institute, Kayam Farm Kollel and Young Judaea. Yaffa has lectured at Limmud Events around the world, has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Rabbi David Ingber
Named by Newsweek as one of 2013’s top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States as well as by The Forward as one of the 50 most newsworthy and notable Jews in America, Rabbi David Ingber promotes a renewed Jewish mysticism that integrates meditative mindfulness and physical awareness into mainstream, post-modern Judaism. A major 21st century Jewish thinker and educator, his rich perspective, open heart and mind and full-bodied approach to Jewish learning has brought him to speak throughout the United States and worldwide throughout Canada, Europe and Israel. Rabbi David’s distinct approach to Torah, rabbinical teaching and ritualistic practice is informed by his own personal seeking and learning from a wide cross-section of sacred traditions and faiths. He is enlightened by Jewish mysticism and Chassidut, fusing these beliefs with those of other ancient philosophies and world views. Particular influences include 18th century Kabbalist and Founder of Chassidut, Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov; the great 19th century Ishbitzer Rebbe, R. Mordechai Leiner; and leading 20th century thinkers from Kabbalist Rav Abraham Isaac Kook to psychologist Carl Jung. Rabbi Ingber has taught at such eminent institutions as the Academy for Jewish Religion, Columbia University, CUNY, Jewish Theological Seminary, Limmud LA, New York University, the 92nd Street Y, Pardes, The Skirball Center at Temple Emmanuel and Yeshivat HADAR. He sits on the Board of Directors of Aleph and Synagogue 3000 Next Dor’s Working Group of Sacred Emergent Communities where he continues to teach.
Dr. Elliot M. Kranzler
Elli Kranzler M.D. practices psychiatry in Manhattan and is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has published in the areas of bereavement, depression and child development.
He is the Shliach Tzibbur at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and has recorded numerous Jewish music albums, including those of D’veykus and Journeys. He has performed throughout the country in Israel, England and Australia. Recently, he has been involved in the synagogue renewal movement, speaking and leading Shabbatons, centered on the challenges of meaningful Jewish spirituality and engaging prayer. Elli is also a Wexner Heritage Alumnus from one of the first New York groups (1992-94).
Rabbi Naomi Levy
Rabbi Naomi Levy’s latest book is Einstein and the Rabbi. She is the author of the national bestseller To Begin Again, as well as Talking to God and Hope Will Find You. Naomi is the founder and leader of Nashuva, a groundbreaking Jewish spiritual outreach movement based in Los Angeles. Levy was named one of the Top 50 rabbis in America by Newsweek and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and NPR. She was in the first class of women to enter the Jewish Theological Seminary’s rabbinical school and the first woman in her movement to head a congregation on the West Coast.
Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt
Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, has published and taught about the Holocaust for close to 40 years. However, she is probably most widely known because of the libel lawsuit brought against her (1996) by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier. Irving then was then arguably the world’s leading denier. After a ten-week trial in London (2000), in an overwhelming victory for Lipstadt, the judge found Irving to be a “neo-Nazi polemicist” who “perverts” history and engages in “racist and anti-Semitic” discourse. The Daily Telegraph (London) described the trial as having “done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations.” The Times (London) described it as “history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory.” According to the New York Times, the trial “put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler.” The movie DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson, with a screenplay by David Hare, tells the story of this legal battle. It is based on Lipstadt’s book History On Trial: My Day In Court With A Holocaust Denier (Harper Collins 2006) and recently reissued as DENIAL (Harper Collins 2016). The film was nominated for a BAFTA as one of the best British films of the year. Lipstadt has written most recently Holocaust: An American Understanding (Rutgers, 2016) which explores how America has understood and interpreted the Holocaust since 1945. Her previous book, The Eichmann Trial, (Schocken/Nextbook 2011) published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its after effects.” The New York Times Book Review described Lipstadt as having “done a great service by… recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israel’s history and in the world’s delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust.” She has also published Beyond Belief: The American Press And The Coming Of The Holocaust (Free Press, 1986), which surveys what the American press wrote about the persecution of the Jews in the years 1933-1945. She is currently writing a book, The Antisemitic Delusion: Letters to a Concerned Studentwhich will be published in 2018. At Emory she directs the website known as HDOT [Holocaust Denial on Trial/ www.hdot.org] which contains a complete archive of the proceedings of Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt. It also provides answers to frequent claims made by deniers. At Emory, Lipstadt has won the Emery Williams Teaching Award. She was selected for the award by alumni as the teacher who had most influenced them. Lipstadt was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and helped design the section of the Museum dedicated to the American response to the Holocaust. She has held Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (from Presidents Clinton and Obama) and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She has a BA from the City College of New York and an MA and PhD from Brandeis University.
Rabbi Michael Paley
Rabbi Michael Paley is a senior scholar for the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Budapest, Hungary. He was the Scholar in Residence of the UJA-Federation of New York. Prior to his arrival at UJA, he was a professor of Jewish studies and dean at Bard College, and the vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. For many years, Rabbi Paley served as the University chaplain at Columbia University. Rabbi Paley was the founding director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel. He also served as the Jewish chaplain at Dartmouth College. Rabbi Paley earned his bachelor’s degree at Brandeis and graduate degrees in Jewish and Islamic philosophy and science at Temple University. Rabbi Paley is married to Anny Dobrejcer and with the help of G!d, probably by now a recent first time grandfather.
Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson
President, The Wexner Foundation
Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson is President of The Wexner Foundation. She oversees the Foundation's full range of activities and, in partnership with Foundation chairmen Abigail and Leslie Wexner, imagines how the Foundation might further strengthen and educate Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public service leaders in the State of Israel. Rabbi Abrahamson has been associated with the Foundation for many years. For close to a decade she served as a member of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship's faculty and selection committee. She was the Director of the Graduate Fellowship Program and Vice President prior to assuming her current role in 2011.
A proud member of the Frozen Chosen, Elka, a native Minnesotan, earned her teaching degree from the University of Minnesota and spent the early years of her career creating curricula for Religious Schools and Informal educational settings, particularly Jewish camps. Her Jewish soul sprang to life at Camp Herzl in Wisconsin and her Jewish leadership blossomed at Camp Swig in Northern California. She is still a camper at heart. Ordained at HUC-JIR, New York, Elka began her career as associate rabbi at Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, CA. and then, with her husband, Rabbi Martin (Misha) Zinkow, served as co-senior rabbi at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, MN.
Rabbi Abrahamson, a dynamic speaker and an engaging teacher, is optimistic about the Jewish future owing to the remarkable leaders she encounters in her rabbinate, many of them Wexner Alumni. She has served as High Holiday Rabbi-in-Residence at Chicago Sinai Congregation for a decade and has been a scholar, advisor, or keynote speaker in a wide variety of settings including the American Jewish World Service, Women's Rabbinic Network, Hadar, the Jewish Federation of Columbus, Columbus Jewish Day School, Pew Study, and The Conversation. She has taken up Mussar in the last few years as both a student and teacher. Elka loves a good football game, especially if the Vikings (or Buckeyes) are winning.
Rabbi Abrahamson has been published in magazines, books and journals including Moment, Shma, Jewels of Elul, and the CCAR Journal. She received the Bernard Reisman Award as an outstanding member of the professional Jewish community. Newsweek thinks she is one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America. Elka and Misha - senior rabbi of Temple Israel, Columbus since 2004 - are Ima and Abba to four twenty-somethings millennials.
Rabbi Benjamin Berger
Director, Wexner Heritage Program
Rabbi Benjamin Berger is the Director of the Wexner Heritage Program at The Wexner Foundation. He oversees the day to day activities of the Wexner Heritage Program including seminars, selection and summer Institutes. He recently worked alongside Rabbi Larry Hoffman in the development, curation and editing of The Wexner Foundation’s new leadership volume, More Than Managing: The Relentless Pursuit of Effective Jewish Leadership. Alongside colleague, Ruthie Warshenbrot, Ben developed and led the first four cohorts of the Wexner Service Corps, a service-learning initiative for Columbus area Jewish high school students.
Ben comes to The Wexner Foundation after a number of years at The Ohio State University Hillel Foundation, where he was Senior Jewish Educator. While there, he helped shift the culture of the Hillel to one where Jewish learning and Jewish conversation were central expectations of programming and integrated into the fabric of the institution. He developed a unique methodology of Jewish Conversation and was highly involved in training colleagues across the country to utilize this methodology in other Hillels. Teaching regularly in a variety of settings and topics relevant to the lives of emerging adults, Ben became a popular teacher, mentor and counselor to hundreds of students. He was awarded the first inaugural Larry S. Moses Award for a Young Jewish Professional in Columbus. In recognition of its transformation during his time, OSU Hillel received Hillel’s 2012 Vision and Values Award, Joseph Meyerhoff Award for Meaningful Jewish Experience.
To the surprise of many, Ben was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended University of California at Santa Cruz (yes, the Banana Slugs!). And to the dismay of many in Buckeye country, he previously worked at University of Michigan Hillel as Berman Fellow and Program Director.
Ben studied for the rabbinate at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and was ordained in 2009. While studying for the rabbinate, Ben worked closely with Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg as the coordinator of Limdu Heitev: The Religious Leadership Initiative to support the proliferation of Rabbi Greenberg’s thought among modern orthodox rabbinic and educational leadership. Ben was a member of Hillel’s Accelerate executive training cohort, the second cohort of CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders, and the inaugural Shalom Hartman Institute’s Campus Fellowship.
Ben is married to native Detroiter Rachel Weiss-Berger and together they are the parents of four daughters, Tovah, Avital, Eliana and Nili.
Rabbi Jay Henry Moses
Vice President, The Wexner Foundation
Rabbi Jay Henry Moses is Vice President of The Wexner Foundation, having served for many years as Director of the Wexner Heritage Program, North America’s premier Jewish leadership education program. He joined the staff of The Wexner Foundation in 2003.
Rabbi Moses got his start in Jewish leadership through NFTY, Reform Judaism’s youth movement. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English literature, magna cum laude. Having recently relocated to the territory of archrival Ohio State, he still bleeds maize and blue but is keeping quiet about it.
Rabbi Moses pursued rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was awarded a Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Ordained in 1997, Rabbi Moses served for five years as Associate Rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago. From 2002 to 2003, Rabbi Moses studied Jewish mysticism in Jerusalem where he also taught and mentored rabbinical students at HUC-JIR. He has participated in the Rabbinic Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an intensive study, meditation and retreat program.
Rabbi Moses sits on the board of the Columbus Jewish Day School. He is also on the board of Kavod, a non-profit tzedakah collective and is a member of the B’nai Ya’acov Council of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.
Rabbi Moses has had essays published in fourbooks in the series on High Holiday prayers published by Jewish Lights Publications, as well as in many newspapers and magazines.
He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, Cantor Bat-Ami Moses, who serves as the Hazzan at Temple Israel, and their sons, Caleb and Ezekiel. An avid basketball player, he has lost a step taking it to the hole but makes up for it with decent (if streaky) shooting and the craftiness that comes with advancing age.