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Leadership Development for Jewish Communal Professionals in Graduate Schools
Hannah Kapnik Ashar is studying in Hadar’s Advanced Kollel. Hannah is just wrapping up four years as a Faculty Member and Manager of Fellowship Year Experience at The Bronfman Fellowship and five years as the Associate Spiritual Leader of Congregation Bonai Shalom, the Conservative synagogue in Boulder, Colorado. Hannah co-founded The Tefilah Retreat, a weekend of Jewish spiritual practice for young adults, and Come & Listen, podcast of Jewish existential ideas, for which she was an Upstart Fellow. Hannah consulted on the Girls In Trouble Curriculum, exploring creative interpretation of stories of women in Tanach. Hannah participated in the 2017 Kenissa: Network of Communities of Meaning Consultation, the 2019 M2 Senior Educators Cohort, and Ayeka Soulful Educator Training. Hannah has been a birth doula since 2011. She graduated from Wellesley College cum laude and has studied at Hadar and Pardes. Hannah is married to Yoni, a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist who studies chronic pain and placebo in the brain. Their daughters are Zivi and Ayala.
Ezra Cohen is a first-year rabbinical student at Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He graduated Brandeis University summa cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa) in 2018 with Bachelors' Degrees in Psychology and Near Eastern/Judaic Studies, where he wrote a senior honors thesis on the Jewish legal treatment of depressive disorders and received the Finstein Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. During his college years, Ezra volunteered for a variety of organizations, delivered a regular class on Jewish law to students, conducted research on depression and stigma in medical residents at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and served as a peer mental health counselor. He lives now in Washington Heights, where he teaches at a local synagogue and eats a lot of pretzels and hummus. In his free time, Ezra writes music and enjoys DJing and mountain biking. Following rabbinical school, he is looking forward to bringing love and Torah to the American Jewish community on a professional level.
Avigayil Halpern graduated from Yale University in 2019 with a BA in Judaic Studies. She completed a senior thesis exploring Talmudic narratives of women engaged in Torah discourse and the implications of such stories for feminists committed to the study of Talmud today. Avigayil served as co-Chair of the 2018 Undergraduate Judaic Studies Conference, and she also has an academic interest in the relationship between Jewish and Christian thought. A past leader of Yale's egalitarian minyan, Avigayil is an alumna of the Drisha Institute, Midreshet Ein HaNatziv, and Yeshivat Hadar. During her time at Yale, Avigayil has been involved with the University Chaplain's Office, mentoring first year students. Avigayil worked as an intern at the New York Jewish Week, where she wrote features and assisted with in-depth investigative work on lead stories. Avigayil has written on issues of Judaism, gender, and the left in Jewish and other media, and has been an opinion columnist for the Yale Daily News. Avigayil will begin study toward rabbinic ordination as a member of Hadar's Advanced Kollel in the fall.
Hannah is a first-year Ph.D. student in Educational Linguistics with a concentration in Jewish Studies at Stanford Graduate School of Education. She was most recently a Program Associate at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, where she coordinated research activities and programming for the North American faculty and fellows. Hannah graduated Magna cum Laude from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Judaic Studies and Linguistics, with an honors thesis on the motivations and experiences of Jewish Israeli university students pursuing Arabic studies. She served as an undergraduate representative for the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and worked as a Research Assistant at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. She is an alumna of Yeshivat Hadar’s Full-Year Fellowship (‘16-’17), during which she co-taught Judaics at a local day school and co-founded Tisch-ish, Uptown Manhattan’s niggun circle. She is fascinated by the sociology and politics of language education, and is passionate about creating space for conversations about language as a means of constructively addressing conflict in our communities. From Queens, NY, Hannah enjoys cooking sans recipes, learning and teaching Torah, going on short-but-fulfilling runs, and bringing people together in song.
Sion is a student at Azrieli, Yeshiva University’s Graduate School of Jewish Education, where he is pursuing an Executive Model Ed.D. in Jewish Educational Leadership and Innovation. He received his B.A. in psychology from Yeshiva College, his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and his MS.Ed in Educational Leadership from Brooklyn College. Sion serves as the principal of Yeshivah Prep, a high school for students seeking individualized education within a day-school environment, and is on the rabbinical staff at Mikdash Eliyahu synagogue. In the past, Sion worked at Ramaz Middle School, Barkai Yeshiva, Congregation Magen David of Manhattan and the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue. At Azrieli, Sion plans to focus his doctoral research in investigating how to create curriculum and professional training for schools and educators seeking to serve Sephardic student populations. In the future, Sion hopes to lead a vibrant, traditional and inclusive Sephardic institution and to embody a humanistic Sephardic Torah with the values of Ahavat Israel (love of all Jews) and Kevod Habriot (respect for all). He lives with his wife, Mijal, and son, Ness, in lower Manhattan.
Emily Goldberg Winer is a student at Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, NY. She is currently a rabbinic intern at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College where she studied Religion and Jewish Studies. There, she was a research and program intern at the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, compiling post-biblical resources for the Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford, 2011) and researching rabbinic references for the Christian Lectionary readings for churches across the country to incorporate into their services. Committed to interfaith dialogue and pluralism, she has engaged in programs rooted in religious diversity, first among fellow Jews at the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and Drisha, and later across faiths through internships at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Tanenbaum, and Auburn. Her most humbling experiences, however, came from her years of working at the Phoebe nursing home with residents with dementia and Altzheimer's, as well as the Lehigh County Jail where she facilitated text studies and focus groups for men and women. She has participated in the 92nd Street Y's Jewish Innovation Fellowship and the Shalom Hartman Rabbinic Student Fellowship. Emily lives in Riverdale with her husband Jonah, and when not learning Torah or brainstoriming ways to make Judaism more inclusive, she loves people and dog watching, volunteering at soup kitchens, and subtly adding puns into normal conversations.
Aya is a scholar, wilderness educator and ritualist pursuing rabbinic ordination at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College after recently completing her M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Graduate Theological Union. Her thesis explores folkloric and feminist interpretations of the rabbinic portrayal of women in the exodus narrative. Her studies build on six years of leadership at Wilderness Torah, an organization committed to reconnecting Judaism to its natural cycles. Here she established herself as a pioneer in earth-based Jewish education by developing outdoor rites of passage experiences for B’nai Mitzvah age youth, training local and international teams of educators, and expanding the reach of Wilderness Torah’s programs. In 2017, Aya was named Twersky Award Finalist by the Jewish Women’s Archive for her curriculum “In Search of Eshet Chayil,” recognized for her greatest joy, empowering adolescent girls within Jewish tradition. Prior, Aya worked as an educator for Urban Adamah, The Jewish Farm School, and Eden Village Camp. Aya holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Brown University in Contemplative Education, which serves as the foundation for her innovative work in the field of Jewish education.
Shira is pursuing a PhD at Yale in the religious literary-history of the ancient Mediterranean, focusing on the emergence of rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity. Her work is driven by questions of religious innovation, identity formation, and the politics of orthodoxy. While her research is grounded in antiquity, her work has been shaped by her experiences as a Jewish feminist. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard, Shira began working for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. There, she oversaw the JOFA Blog, produced the Joy of Text, organized an international college shabbaton, and engineered the first JOFA Maharat Summer Tour. As the Kaufman Fellow at University of Chicago’s Divinity School, Shira continued to advocate for women’s inclusion, leadership, and education by teaching throughout North America and the UK. In 2018, Shira served as JOFA UK's Be’er Miriam Scholar, speaking about ritual theory and Jewish feminism on high school and college campuses in England and Scotland. As Shira moves deeper into her studies, she intends to use lessons learned from late antique religious identity formation to renegotiate the boundaries of orthodoxy in the present. Ultimately, she hopes to fashion a career that allows her to fully live out her Jewish, feminist, and academic ambitions.
Lily Goldstein is a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to beginning her studies at HUC-JIR, Lily worked as a full-time educator at Central Synagogue, a Reform congregation in Manhattan. At Central, Lily taught religious school and led youth and family Shabbat programming, reinforcing her lifelong appreciation for family Jewish education. She graduated Cum Laude from Northwestern University in 2016 with a B.S. in Journalism and American Studies. At Northwestern, Lily served as co-president of Northwestern Hillel, where she led the Reform prayer community, piloted a now-annual student Shabbaton retreat, and developed interfaith partnerships on campus. Lily is passionate about community building, creating inclusive Jewish spaces, and supporting all Jews in finding and connecting to a Judaism that is meaningful for them. In her free time, Lily is usually reading a good book.
Born in Los Angeles, Josh attended Valley Beth Shalom Day School, where he first learned that a relationship with God was worth pursuing. He received his BA in Jewish Studies from Emory University, where he was selected for 100 Senior Honorary and Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. After two years of writing for television, Josh realized that every episode he wrote was a thinly veiled dvar Torah, which is why he now attends the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. A firm believer that story-telling is the most powerful vehicle for good ideas, he is fully committed to the Jewish story, seeking a life of service to people and conversation with God. Since enrolling at Ziegler, Josh designed and taught a Jewish Studies curriculum for Siberian Jews, culminating in his officiating their joint Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Tomsk. He was a Jeremiah Fellow at Bend the Arc, where he helped plan social justice actions including a Chanukah-themed demonstration to shed light on inhumane conditions at Adelanto, an ICE detention center. As a Hartman Rabbinic Sudent Fellow, he learned how to facilitate and advance conversation around Israel. Josh wants to help people connect to a Torah of hope, decency, and love.
Lauren is astudent for the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University pursuing a dual degree in Jewish Professional Leadership and Non-Profit Management. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Lauren attended Brandeis University where she earned a B.A. in Education Studies, receiving the Sizer Education Studies Award, and minored in French and Judaic Studies. While at Brandeis, Lauren worked for Hillel for 3 years, the Gateways Program; tutoring children with cognitive disabilities for their B’nai Mitzvah, and was a Roosevelt Fellow. Upon graduating, Lauren became the Assistant Director of Education at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation where she previously interned. Now in her third year, Lauren facilitates formal and informal educational programs for all ages, with a focus on youth engagement. She co-launched an 8th-12th grade program that connects teens to their Judaism through flexible, unique and immersive programming. Lauren aims to build a stronger foundation for Judaism to take shape; a foundation that connects with modern trends and breathes Judaism into every aspect of teen’s lives. In her free time, Lauren loves to cook, take hikes with her husband and dog, and is training their dog to do therapy work.
Ora Weinbach teaches Limmudei Qodesh (Judaic Studies) and serves as the 9th Grade Dean at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School. She is also the Community Educator at The Jewish Center in Manhattan. She earned her degree in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University as a member of the first graduating cohort of the Legacy Heritage Fellowship Program, and has since been honored to teach Jewish learners of every age. Utilizing her certification in sexuality education, completed through Planned Parenthood University, Ora teaches human sexuality to both teens and parents. She also consults with Jewish day schools on sexuality education curriculum development and execution. In the summers, Ora serves as the Director of Student Life at the Tikvah Summer High School Institute hosted at Yale University. She is a yoga enthusiast, loves reading epic fantasy novels, and is looking forward to beginning her course of study at Yale Divinity School.
Mindy Schwartz Zolty is a student at Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) and a MA candidate in Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School. Mindy graduated from Stern College for Women with dual BA in Art History and Judaic Studies. While in college Mindy served as the Editor in Chief of YU’s Journal of Jewish Thought, Kol Hamevaser, and as the Editor in Chief of Stern’s student newspaper, The Observer. Mindy is fascinated by religious art; her senior honors thesis explored the historical and communal significance of depictions of the Wicked Son as a warrior in medieval and early modern haggadot. Upon graduating Mindy was named the valedictorian of the Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies of Stern College. Mindy continues to pursue her love for the written word as an senior editor of The Lehrhaus, an online forum for articles on Jewish scholarship and culture. Mindy is also passionate about creating vibrant Jewish communities around learning and currently serves as the Adult and Teen Educator for Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck and as a lecturer and group leader at Congregation Oheb Zedek on the Upper West Side. Mindy lives with her husband, Yoni, on the Upper West Side.
Emmanuel is a first year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Before JTS he worked as an Avodah Corps Member for Jews United for Justice (JUFJ), a grassroots Jewish organization advancing social justice in DC and Maryland. As a community organizer, Emmanuel grew JUFJ’s base by building relationships with volunteers interested in local movements. He also planned campaign actions and educational events, coordinated legislative advocacy, and represented JUFJ in coalitions.
Before joining JUFJ, Emmanuel studied Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale. While at college Emmanuel taught New Haven middle schoolers, facilitated workshops on consent and bystander intervention, and guided backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail. He also led an egalitarian minyan, participated in interfaith forums, and helped coordinate Jewish student involvement in local racial and economic justice campaigns.
After high school, Emmanuel studied at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa in northern Israel, a big change in scenery from his native New York. When not working you can find Emmanuel jogging around the city's parks, listening to chassidic melodies or early 2000’s top 40.
Benjamin Gladstone is a first-year doctoral student in the Joint Program in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University. His research focuses on Yemeni Jewish history in Mandate Palestine and Israel. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University in 2018 with a double concentration in Judaic Studies and Middle East Studies and received honors for his thesis on the idea of an "Ingathering of Exiles" in relations between the American, Israeli, and Yemeni Jewish communities during Operation On Eagles' Wings, the most significant migration of Yemen’s Jewish community to Israel. He spent the last year engaged in archival research in Jerusalem on a Fulbright Scholarship, examining the ways in which Yemeni Jewish leaders in the 1940s and 1950s constructed brands of Zionism that were at once unique to their community and resonant with mainstream Zionist thought. In addition to his academic work, Benjamin has long engaged in pro-Israel advocacy. In the last few years, he has also led advocacy, fundraising, and education efforts in support of refugees, against American involvement in the ongoing civil war in Yemen and drone warfare, and in support of LGBTQIA+ rights. He also volunteers doing legal paperwork to support RAICES (if you want to volunteer, contact him - no legal experience required!). Benjamin is also an opinions journalist, writing primarily on Jewish issues for publications ranging from Tablet Magazine and Haaretz to the New York Times.
Sarah Gordon, originally from Montreal, Canada, is an Ed.D. student in Jewish Educational Leadership and Innovation at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. She currently serves as Director of Israel Guidance and Experiential Education at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, where she also teaches Talmud and coordinates a course on Israel Engagement and Advocacy. Previously, she served as Director of Student Activities for ten years. Sarah spent two years studying in GPATS (Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies) and holds dual MA degrees in Jewish Education and Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University. She has spent time studying in education programs in Israel at Midreshet Lindenbaum, Pardes, and Matan, and is the recipient of the Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Her extensive experience in informal Jewish Education includes leadership positions at Camp Stone and Bnei Akiva’s Mach Hach Ba’Aretz program. Currently, Sarah lives with her husband in Washington Heights, NY, where she is an active member of the Mount Sinai Jewish Center, having served as a board member, ombudsperson and guest speaker. In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, hiking and tennis, as well as rooting for Canadian sports teams.
Rebecca Kaufman is a second year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. Before entering rabbinical school, Rebecca lived in New York and worked for seven years in the nonprofit sector. She was most recently the Program Director at Amplifier, where she recruited Jewish leaders to attend workshops and conferences she developed and taught them how to build giving circles: groups of people who pool money and donate it together. Prior to that, she was a founding member of Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose program, where she taught a career development curriculum to hundreds of faculty at universities and to staff representing a range of organizations. As a volunteer, Rebecca ran Town & Village Synagogue’s young adult program for four years. She was also an advisor for the Jewish Community Youth Foundation’s teen philanthropy program for five years. Rebecca was raised in New Jersey and received an AB from Princeton University in history with a focus on Latin America. She was president of Princeton’s Center of Jewish Life as a student, and she has served on its board of directors and executive committee after graduating. She lives in LA with her husband, Tavi, a software engineer and oncology researcher.
Miriam Moster is a first year doctoral student in sociology at The Graduate Center (CUNY) and a Mellon Humanities Public Fellow. She received her MFA in poetry and BA in philosophy and draws on humanistic theory as well as quantitative and qualitative methods in her social science research. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Miriam taught undergraduate courses in English and literature and also taught at Beit Rabban where she had the opportunity to participate in the Jewish New Teacher Project. In 2012 Miriam helped form Yaffed and served as executive director through 2014. Building on her background in education, her current research focuses on collective memories of Jewish learning, turning to Talmudic and Midrashic narratives as well as to contemporary ritual practices and holiday observances. Her book chapter on the relationship between educational attainment and disaffiliation from Orthodox Judaism is forthcoming in Off the Derech: Post-Orthodox Jewish Writing, to be published by SUNY Press.
Jonah Winer is a first year rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. A Toronto native, he graduated last year from McGill University with a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with focuses on Catholicism and Buddhism. He was the chair of the McGill Interfaith Student Council and co-founded the McGill Israel-Palestine Dialogue Group. Outside of the Beit Midrash Jonah was a fellow at the 92 Street Y's Jewish Innovation Fellowship, teaches a monthly Torah class at the Atria Senior Living Community in Riverdale, and spent the summer as a T'ruah Summer Fellow in Human Rights Leadership at The Interfaith Center of New York. Committed to Torah and social justice work, Jonah has spent his summers at Drisha, Pardes, and Uri L'tzedek. In his free time Jonah loves spending time with wife Emily, reading everything in reach, and looking for the best cup of coffee he can find.