For the conference agenda, click here.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31
Workshop 1A: Envisioning the Future of Re-CHARGED Reform Communities
Archie Gottesman is the co-founder of JewBelong.com, a groundbreaking organization and web-based platform focused on rebranding Judaism to make it more warm, relevant and welcoming for all, no matter where they are on their Jewish journey! Using slogans like: “We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn’t an overreaction,” on billboards in Times Square and across the country, JewBelong also focuses on ending the growing antisemitism in the U.S. For almost 30 years, Archie was the voice behind Manhattan Mini Storage’s iconic branding. Archie has sat on numerous boards including Foundation for Jewish Camp, Zioness, Animal Haven Shelter, and Israel on Campus Coalition. She resides in New York City.
Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss
Founding Rabbi, Congregation Shma Koleinu
Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss is the founding rabbi of Congregation Shma Koleinu in Houston. Now in its 10th year, Shma Koleinu is a synagogue without walls, membership or dues that operates entirely on voluntary contributions. Serving all Jews, Jewish families and those who love them, their motto is, “Join us… you already belong.”
Rabbi Scott was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institue of Religion in Cincinnati in 1999, with a master’s in Jewish education and Hebrew letters. He also studied at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem and Los Angeles, as well as at the University of Judaism’s rabbinic program. In his first pulpit at Temple Emanuel as the rabbinic director of education and outreach, he served the Jewish community of Birmingham, Alabama, for 12 years. He went on to serve Congregation Emanu El in Houston before founding Shma Koleinu. Rabbi Scott has grown in his rabbinate over the years, as a rabbinic fellow of 18Doors, a rabbinic fellow of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, a certified facilitator of Brene Brown’s “The Daring Way,” and a trained instructor for Ayeka’s Soulful Education methodology.
Rabbi Scott is married to Natalie, and their children are Abraham, 25, and Samuel, 21.
Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi
Senior Rabbi, Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D., an American-Israeli leader, author, and public speaker, is the inaugural senior rabbi at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation in Baltimore. Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewisn Institute of Religion in New York, Rabbi Sabath also holds a doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She teaches Jewish leaders around the world through the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood.
Prior to her arrival in Baltimore, Dr. Sabath served on the faculty of HUC-JIR as assistant professor of Jewish thought and ethics and led a four-campus team. She was vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, wrote a monthly column for The Jerusalem Post, and has published pieces in The Times of Israel and Haaretz. Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the CCAR Journal of Reform Judaism and is at work on two volumes, one on Jewish peoplehood and the other, co-edited with Rachel Adler, on ethics and gender. Rabbi Sabath is an alumna of the Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Most recently, Rabbi Sabath was selected to be a scholar of Our Common Destiny, a partnership between philanthropists, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker
Senior Rabbi, Mount Zion Temple
Having grown up in North Carolina and graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s in religious studies, Rabbi Spilker was ordained and received a master’s of Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 1997. That year, he followed his wife, Cantor Rachel Stock Spilker, to Minnesota when she became Mount Zion Temple’s first invested cantor since its founding in 1856. Rabbi Spilker served Mount Zion as assistant rabbi and was selected as its senior rabbi in 2001. He is now the longest-serving rabbi in Mount Zion’s history.
He has been involved on numerous national and local boards in interfaith and justice efforts and currently is a founding board member of Minnesota Multifaith Network. Rabbi and Cantor Spilker have three children.
Dr. Steven F. Windmueller
Interim Director, Zelikow School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Dr. Steven Windmueller is currently serving as the interim director of the Zelikow School at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where he is also professor emeritus of Jewish communal studies. Previously, Dr. Windmueller had served on the staff of the American Jewish Committee, directed the Albany, New York, Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. During his tenure at HUC-JIR, Dr. Windmueller served for 10 years as the director of its School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and in 2005 was named dean of the LA campus.
The author of four books and numerous articles, Dr. Windmueller earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He recently served as the editor of a volume for USC’s Casden Institute and is now producing a volume analyzing 21st-century Jewish ideas. Dr. Windmueller serves as a fellow of the Jerusalem Institute of Public Affairs and as a board member of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State, Los Angeles. For the past six years, he has been on the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture faculty.
Rabbi Michael Zedek
Rabbi-in-Residence, St. Paul School of Theology
Rabbi Michael Zedek has served two congregations. For 26 years, he was the senior rabbi of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah in greater Kansas City, where he became rabbi emeritus in 2000. Returning to the rabbinate in 2004, Zedek served as the senior rabbi of Emanuel Congregation in Chicago. During his tenure, the membership doubled. He became rabbi emeritus of Emanuel in July 2016 and then served as senior advisor to the Central Conference of American Rabbis. In 2021, Zedek became rabbi-in-residence at Saint Paul School of Theology.
Zedek has been a frequent presenter on themes related to spirituality for professional groups around the world. He is a regular presenter at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, the oldest and, perhaps, best-known spirituality and fitness resort in North America. Zedek also has a significant profile in civic affairs and with the interfaith community, serving as founder and host of the Sunday morning radio program “Religion on the Line,” which has been on the air for 29 years. Zedek is the author of a number of articles for professional and popular journals. His first book, “Taking Miracles Seriously,” will be published in September.
Workshop 1B: Identity Formation of Proud Reform Jews as They Enter Adulthood
Rabbi Ariel Boxman
Director of Lifelong Learning, Temple Shalom
Rabbi Ariel Boxman is the rabbi educator at Temple Shalom in Naples, Florida, where she directs and develops all educational programs for the congregation. In addition to this, Boxman serves as one of the spiritual leaders of the congregation officiating at lifecycle events and leading Shabbat and holiday worship services. Boxman grew up in the Caribbean and is the daughter of Rabbi Bradd Boxman. She has lived all over the United States and has served congregations in Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. Boxman was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2012 and earned her master’s in Jewish education in 2013. She lives in Naples with her husband Asher and their two young boys, Jacob and Matan.
Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE
Temple Educator, Congregation B’nai Shalom
Rabbi Joe Eiduson, RJE has served as temple educator at Congregation B’nai Shalom since July 2007. He is a graduate of The University of Michigan, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institue of Religion, and Xavier University and is an alumnus of Eisner and Goldman Union Camps. Joe has worked in the field of Jewish education for more than 30 years and brings a range of teaching and leadership experiences in various settings to his current role. Joe is the president of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. He also serves on the executive board of the Massachusetts Corps of Fire Chaplains and is a call firefighter, chaplain and emergency medical technician. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling. Rabbi Joe, and his wife Rabbi Lisa Eiduson have found their greatest joy and fulfillment in raising their two daughters, Rosie and Carly, and their Labrador retriever, Bailey.
Rabbi Jessica Kirschner
Rabbi and Executive Director, Hillel at Stanford University
Jessica Kirschner has been the rabbi and executive director of Hillel at Stanford University since 2017. She is a Bay Area native with deep roots in the synagogues, summer camps, and youth organizations of the Union for Reform Judaism. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley, where she was a student leader at Hillel and studied at the Hebrew University. After five years of rabbinical school in Jerusalem and Los Angeles, she was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007.
She served for seven years as a rabbi at Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., and as a board member of Jews United for Justice, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the Washington Interfaith Network. Upon moving back to San Francisco in 2014, she worked for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism as a community organizer and leader of their state-wide legislative work. She now serves on the director’s cabinet of Hillel International and lives in San Carlos, California, with her husband and daughters.
Dr. Betsy S. Stone
Betsy Stone, a retired psychologist, is an engaging speaker whose passion for wellness in the lives of families has brought her invitations to teach throughout North America and Europe. She leads groups for clergy, as they navigate the complexities of their personal and professional roles, as well as serving as a scholar in residence for congregations and clergy groups.
Betsy has led webinars and seminars for congregations, clergy, Hillels, Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Education Project. Her topics include trauma in our bodies and brains; post-traumatic growth; grief; anxiety and stress; issues of reopening; antisemitism and anxiety; boundaries and burnout; character strengths: your superpowers; generational impacts; and many more. Her book of essays, “Refuah Shlema,” is available on Amazon here.
Workshop 1C: Embracing Jewish Peoplehood to Re-CHARGE our Future
Rabbi Neal Gold
Founder and Director, A Tree with Roots
Rabbi Neal Gold teaches and writes about Jewish texts, Israel, and the intersections between spiritual life and the contemporary world. He is the founder and director of A Tree with Roots, an online platform for spirited Jewish learning. He is adjunct faculty at Hebrew College and serves as the Jewish chaplain and Hillel director at Babson College.
Neal is the immediate past president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. In 2021, he became a J.J. Greenberg Institute for Advancement of Jewish Life fellow at Hadar Institute. He received his ordination and an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and earned two masters’ from Brandeis University.
Neal is the author of many academic and popular writings about Judaism and Israel, and is the editor of “Radiance: The Collected Prose and Poetry of Danny Siegel.” For over 18 years, he served congregations in New Jersey and Massachusetts. He also served as the director of content and programming for the Association of Reform Zionists of America and was a delegate at the 37th World Zionist Congress. Neal lives in Massachusetts with his wife Heidi Gold and their children Avi and Jeremy.
Dr. Alyssa Gray, J.D.
Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Dr. Alyssa M. Gray is the Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics and professor of codes and responsa literature at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Her scholarly interests are the development of Talmudic literature, the history of Jewish law, and literary studies of post-talmudic legal writings. Her books include “Charity in Rabbinic Judaism: Atonement, Rewards, and Righteousness” and “A Talmud in Exile: The Influence of Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah on the Formation of Bavli Avodah Zarah.” She has also published many articles and book chapters and is a contributor to major collaborative projects such as the Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies, “The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception,” and the “Oxford Annotated Mishnah.”
Gray has been a Fellow of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (2021–2022), and a visiting professor at Yale University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a co-editor of AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies and sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Jewish Ethics; Horeb: Studies in Rabbinic Culture; and HUC Press.
Rabbi Ellie Miller
Rabbi and Founder, MAKOMnj
Rabbi Ellie Miller is the rabbi and founder of MAKOMnj, a new, independent, Jewish community based in Morristown, New Jersey. Prior to MAKOMnj, Rabbi Miller served as a congregational rabbi for nearly two decades, shaping her vision and her dream for vibrant Jewish living.
Rabbi Miller grew up in New Jersey. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s in communication science and a certificate in Jewish studies. She is an alumna of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was ordained and earned master’s degrees in Hebrew literature and religious education. During her formative summers, Rabbi Miller attended URJ Camp Harlam as a camper, counselor and song leader, OSRUI in the Chalutzim program, and Urban Mitzvah Corp in New Brunswick. She is an alumna of the Heller Higher Program (formally known as EIE). Rabbi Miller is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow and a past president of the Morris Area Clergy Council. She lives in Morristown with her three children Sam, Meg, and Jack.
Rabbi Elana Rabishaw
Rabbi, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
Elana Rabishaw is a rabbi at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, Florida. She completed her studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2022, and most recently worked as a rabbinic intern at Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, California, before landing in Boca Raton. Rabbi Elana has worked at numerous synagogues throughout greater Los Angeles and as a student rabbi in Yakima, Washington. She also spent a summer working as a chaplain intern at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Born and raised in LA, Rabbi Elana spent her summers at URJ camp OSRUI in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She loved summers in Wisconsin so much that she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!), where she earned her bachelor’s in community and nonprofit leadership and modern Hebrew. She earned her master’s in Hebrew letters from HUC-JIR in 2019, and her master’s in Jewish education in 2020.
Workshop 2A: Centering Israel and Zionism in our Sanctuaries and Communities
Rabbi Jonathan Blake
Senior Rabbi, Westchester Reform Temple
Jonathan Blake is senior rabbi of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York. A summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College and ordained by HUC-JIR, Jonathan began his journey to the rabbinate in a loving and vibrant Reform Jewish home in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After his ordination he served Temple Beth-El in Providence, Rhode Island, for three years before moving to Westchester. Under Rabbi Blake’s leadership, WRT is shaping itself to meet the unique demands and opportunities facing the 21st-century Jewish community.
A prominent commentator on Judaism and spiritual life, he has appeared in The New York Times, GQ Magazine, the documentary films “51 Birch Street” and “112 Weddings,” authored numerous essays and articles for print and online publications, and regularly shares reflections on his blog, rabbiblake.org. He currently serves on the Boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, UJA-Federation of NY, and Zioness, and on Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s president’s rabbinic council.
An avid singer and lover of music, Jonathan is married to performing artist Kelly McCormick, whom he met singing at Shabbat services in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Bennet F. Miller
Rabbi Emeritus, Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple
Rabbi Bennett F. Miller served as senior rabbi of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and is the congregation’s first rabbi emeritus. He is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism’s board of trustees and of the faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is co-chair of the URJ’s newly established Israel Reform Zionism Committee. Rabbi Miller previously served as national chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, is a past president of the New Jersey Association of Reform Rabbis and of the New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders, and held numerous leadership positions at other organizations. A native of Rochester, N.Y., earned his master’s from and was ordained by HUC-JIR in Cincinnati.
The author of two books, “Reform Jewish Identity: Developing A Program Of Ministry To Guide The New Member Of A Reform Synagogue to Mature Jewish Living” and “Siduree: A Prayerbook For Young Children, The Songs Of Anshe Emeth For Shabbat,” and numerous creative worship services, Rabbi Miller has also been pulbished widely in the press. He and his wife Joan live in Monroe Township, New Jersey, and are the proud parents of two daughters and grandparents to their combined six children.
Rabbi Geri Newburge
Senior Rabbi, Main Line Reform Temple
Rabbi Geri Newburge is the senior rabbi at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Previously, she served as the associate rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, from 2003 to 2013.
Rabbi Newburge is highly involved with creating connections with congregants, innovating liturgy, social action, youth, and Religious School programming. She grew up in South Florida and graduated from the University of Miami (at the time of this writing both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are in the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA basketball tournaments) with a bachelor’s in religious studies and then moved to California to pursue a master’s in religion at the Claremont School of Theology. Rabbi Newburge was ordained in May 2003 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
She is married to Rabbi Eric Goldberg, rabbi educator at Congregation Shir Ami in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and they are the proud parents of their son, Jay.
Rabbi Josh Weinberg
Vice President, URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism
Executive Director, Association of Reform Zionists of America
Rabbi Josh Weinberg is the vice president of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and the executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America. He was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Israeli rabbinic program in Jerusalem and currently lives in New York.
Josh previously served as the director of the Israel program for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and as a faculty member of NFTY-EIE High School in Israel teaching Jewish History. Josh is a reserve officer in the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s unit, has hiked the Israel-trail, and made aliyah to Israel in 2003. Originally from Chicago, he has a bachelor’s from University of Wisconsin in Hebrew literature, political science and international relations, and master’s from Hebrew University in Jewish education. Josh has taught widely throughout Israel, the U.S. and Europe, as well as on Kivunim and Shnat Netzer gap-year programs. He has led numerous tours and trained tour educators for the Reform movement’s Israel experiences.
Josh is passionate about anything connected to Israel and hopes to strengthen the connection between the Reform Movement and the Jewish state. He is married to Mara Sheftel Getz, and is the proud abba of Noa, Ella, Mia and Alma.
Workshop 2B: The Components of Healthy Jewish Identity Formation in Relation to Israel
Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman
Director of Lifelong Learning, Temple Israel of the City of New York
Rabbi Buyer-Witman received her bachelor’s in Judaic studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her master’s in Hebrew letters, master’s in Jewish education and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2002.
In her nearly 13 years as director of lifelong learning at Temple Israel of the City of New York, Rabbi Buyer-Witman has transformed the landscape of Jewish education for her community, harnessing technology to offer blended learning models, offering experiential and transformative programs for teens, and creating multiple access opportunities for learners of all ages, especially the modern Jewish family. Before Temple Israel, she served as dean of students at Milken Community High School and director of religious school, youth, and camp programs for Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Buyer-Witman serves on the Association of Reform Jewish Educators’s ethics committee, she co-chaired the Central Conference of American Rabbis’s nominating committee, and is the editor of the CCAR’s “Mishkan HaNefesh for Youth: A Machzor for Youth and Families.” She is the dean of faculty for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Crane Lake and Eisner Camps and has served on countless committees to help strengthen Jewish education in all areas of the Jewish community.
Rabbi Dr. Lisa D. Grant
New York Rabbinical School Program Director, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbi Lisa D. Grant, Ph.D., is New York rabbinical school program director, Eleanor Sinsheimer distinguished serviceprofessor in Jewish education and coordinator of special seminary projects at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Her research and teaching focuses on adult Jewish learning, Jewish leadership development, and the place of Israel in American Jewish life. In addition to numerous articles, book chapters, and curriculum guides, Rabbi Grant is co-author of three books and editor of “The Year of Mourning: A Jewish Journey.”
Rabbi Grant joined the faculty of HUC-JIR in 2000 and was appointed director of the New York rabbinical program in 2018. She has a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan, an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and rabbinic ordination from HUC-JIR. She is married to Billy Weitzer and is the proud mother of two adult children.
Alumnus, URJ Youth
Hailing from a small Reform Jewish community in Southwest Washington, Zachary Hermann’s relationship with Judaism blossomed through his participation in URJ youth programming. His connection to the Reform Movement began with his time as a camper at URJ Camp Kalsman. His dedication to leadership and giving back to the movement was primarily driven by his leadership in NFTY, the Reform Jewish Youth Movement.
Zachary served in local and regional leadership throughout high school and served as NFTY President in 2017. After his year of service, Zachary was recognized as a Matelich scholar at the University of Puget Sound for his dedication to youth leadership. During his undergraduate studies, Zachary continued seeking ways to apply his experience in the reform movement to his education. In 2021, Zachary was given a research grant to spend time learning about the growing dissatisfaction with Zionist rhetoric among the next generation of Reform young adults. He continued this research in 2022 through a grant from the Tikvah Fund. After over a decade of participation in URJ Youth spaces, Zachary continues engaging with the Reform Movement through NFTY leadership, staffing retreats at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, and participating in Madison, Wisconsin’s local Reform Jewish community.
Rabbi Dr. Jan Katzew
Director of Service Learning and Senior Educator, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbi Jan Katzew, Ph.D., serves as an associate professor of Jewish thought and education, director of service learning, and senior educator of the EMA program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Jan was ordained in 1983 and after serving as a rabbi/educator at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, New York, when he was a Jerusalem fellow, he earned a doctorate from the Hebrew University.
For 15 years Jan led a team that comprised the department of lifelong Jewish learning and the Reform movement’s Commission on Lifelong Learning at the Union for Reform Judaism. In that capacity, he was responsible for designing, developing and supporting educational resources for early childhood centers, congregational schools, day schools and adult learning communities throughout the world. Jan’s educational vision and work were deemed worthy of grants from the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Covenant Foundation. Since the iCenter for Israel Education’s inception in 2008, Jan has been a consultant there, mentoring students from multiple graduate schools and seminaries. Jan is the author of popular and scholarly articles in multiple fields that include Israel education, interfaith dialogue, mussar, medieval Hebrew poetry, moral Development, and educational philosophy and practice.
Vice Chair, World Union for Progressive Judaism
Andrew Keene is a member of the mangament comittee of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the global parent organization of Reform, progressive, liberal, and reconstructionist Jewish communities. He has served on the board of WUPJ since 2015 and is one of the organization’s representatives to the United Nations. Representing the Reform Movement, Andrew also serves as deputy chair of Shlichut for the Jewish Agency’s board of governors and has been an Association of Reform Zionists of America/ARZENU representative to the World Zionist Congress, Va’ad Hapoel, and Expanded Executive.
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Andrew was very active in the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, NFTY, ultimately serving as its North American president. During his year as NFTY president, Andrew took a gap year between high school and college to support the Union for Refrom Judaism’s Campaign for Youth Engagement and spent significant time at the URJ Kutz Camp as a participant, staff person and faculty member. He earned his bachelor’s in entrepreneurship from Drexel University and leads a data analytics and outreach team for Healthcare.gov.
Dr. Lesley Litman
Director of the Executive MA Program in Jewish Education, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Lesley Litman, Ed.D., is the director of the executive MA program in Jewish education and coordinator of faculty instructional support at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She also consults The iCenter in the area of curriculum design and professional development in Israel education with a particular emphasis on infusing Israel in Jewish day schools.
Lesley has served in leadership positions in a wide variety of Jewish educational settings including at congregations, day schools, youth movements and the Union for Reform Judaism. She lived in Israel for 10 years and was a founder of the Reform movement’s first kibbutz, Kibbutz Yahel. Lesley holds an Ed.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, a master’s in Jewish Studies with a Hebrew concentration from Hebrew College, Boston, and a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She was a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow from 1994 to 1996.
Workshop 2C: When Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism and its Impact on Reform Jews
Rabbi Diana Fersko
Senior Rabbi, The Village Temple
Rabbi Diana Fersko is the senior rabbi at The Village Temple in downtown Manhattan. Before joining The Village Temple, Rabbi Fersko served at New York City’s Stephen Wise Free Synagogue for seven years as associate rabbi.
She is the former National Vice President of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, representing over 700 female identified Rabbis across North America. Additionally, Rabbi Fersko participated in the inaugural cohort of Shalom Hartman Institute’s Created Equal Fellowship. Rabbi Fersko received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also earned a master’s in Hebrew literature. She is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and serves on the New York Board of Rabbis.
A prolific writer, her writing and speaking has been distributed widely in the press where she is known for her commentary on culture, antisemitism, Jewish holidays and current events. Her first book, “We Need to Talk about Antisemitism,” will be released in August 2023.
Susan Heller Pinto
Vice President of International Policy, Anti-Defamation League
As vice president of international policy, Susan Heller Pinto oversees the Anti-Defamation League’s work combatting antisemitism and hate outside the United States as well as supporting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. She also plays a key role in ADL’s work in the U.S. and globally, educating and engaging about anti-Zionism and countering efforts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.
Susan joined ADL in 1993 as assistant director of Middle Eastern affairs and has worked for nearly three decades to develop and promote ADL’s international affairs priorities. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
Michelle W. Malkin
Executive Director, Temple Ner Tamid
Michelle W. Malkin is the inaugural executive director of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ. In this vibrant, musical, progressive community, Michelle is responsible for the financial health of the multimillion-dollar synagogue, the workplace happiness of 60+ employees, structural integrity of the entire 2.25-acre property, and programming for their 2,000 members. For the last three years, Michelle has served as the president of the Garden State Network of Synagogue Executives (GANSE). In 2022, she was selected as a member of the first cohort of Leading Executives training program through Leading Edge. Recently, she joined the board of Yesh Tikvah – A Jewish Fertility Community through a collaboration between Upstart and the Slingshot Fund.
Michelle was born and raised in Los Angeles, where she earned a dual master’s in Jewish nonprofit management and public administration. She lives in West Orange, New Jersey, with her husband Barak, who created the “Torah Smash!” podcast, and their preschool-aged sons Gideon and Nadav. She loves gardening and yoga, tea and warm weather, reading before bed and going on new adventures!
Israel Leadership Network Chair, Union for Reform Judaism
Karen Rivo is the founding chair of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Israel Leadership Network, a network of lay leaders of URJ congregations to strengthen the Reform Movement’s connection to Israel. She also serves on the board of Jerusalem’s Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.
Karen has been an active member of the Reform Movement since growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina. She taught Shabbat School, was a nurse at Camp Coleman, and attended Kutz Camp. In Miami Beach, Karen served as president of Temple Beth Sholom, her family’s sacred center for God, Torah and Israel. Karen became bat mitzvah as an adult and graduated from Florence Melton.
A Temple Beth Sholom 2003 summer trip to Israel was a pivotal moment in her family’s life. Dozens of trips to Israel followed and in 2018, Karen and husband Marc made aliyah, becoming dual American-Israeli citizens, sharing their soulful work between Miami and Safed. Today they are proud supporters of Bar Ilan University’s medical school in Safed to improve community health in the Galil.
Karen and Marc are the parents of Jessica Rachel, a Pardes graduate and a teacher at Temple Beth Am Reform Day School, and Julie Aviva, a family physician. Their greatest joy is granddaughter Ayla Malka.
Thursday, June 1
Workshop 3A: Re-CHARGING the mission of our Sanctuaries and Communities: The Place of God
Rabbi Richard Agler
Founding Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation B’nai Israel
Scholar Emeritus, Congregation Ohr Hayam
Richard Agler, a New York City native, was ordained in 1978. His first full-time pulpit was at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. In 1984 he became the founding rabbi, now rabbi emeritus, of Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida. During his tenure, the congregation grew from four families in a living room to over 1,200 member families. He has academic expertise in Hasidism and mysticism, and his rabbinic thesis is in that field. He has taught the subject to graduate students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
Rabbi Agler is the author of “The Tragedy Test” and co-editor of “A God We Can Believe In.” In addition to Judaic subjects, he has published articles and letters on political ethics, interfaith relations and baseball. In 2010, he was named one of the “Top 33” most influential Jews in South Florida by the Jewish Journal — making him one of only three congregational rabbis so selected. He currently serves as co-director of the Tali Fund and is the Scholar Emeritus of Congregation Ohr Hayam in Tavernier, Florida.
Married since 1976 to Mindy and now living in San Diego, they are the parents of Jesse, Talia z”l, and Sarah, and the grandparents of two geniuses.
Rabbi Arnold Gluck
Rabbi, Temple Beth-El of Hillsborough, N.J.
Rabbi Gluck has served as rabbi of Temple Beth-El of Hillsborough, New Jersey, since 1991. He has pioneered programs in adult Jewish literacy, Hebrew, outreach, family education, youth activities, social action, Jewish healing, caring community, Israel engagement and interfaith dialogue. Rabbi Gluck was a founder of the Interfaith Hospitality Network for the Homeless of Union County and Somerset County, served as president of the Somerville Area Ministerial Association, founded and co-chairs ICAN, the Interfaith Community Action Network of Somerset County, is part of the leadership team of the New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders, and chairs the Reform Rabbis’ Israel Committee and the Friends of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.
Rabbi Gluck was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and is an alumnus of the University of Albany and the One-Year Program of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After being ordained in 1983, he served as associate rabbi at Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, New Jersey. From 1986 to 1991, he lived in Haifa, Israel, where he served the Reform movement’s Leo Baeck Education Center.
Rabbi Gluck is blissfully married to Sarah. He is the proud father of two daughters, Elisheva and Rabbi Shira, and the adoring grandfather of Elizabeth Rose.
Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller
Professor, HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music
Cantor, Bet Am Shalom Synagogue
Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller is the Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman professor of liturgy, worship and ritual and professor of cantorial arts at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. She also serves as cantor of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue in White Plains, New York, alongside her husband Rabbi Lester Bronstein.
Her compositions include “Halleluhu,” a multi-rhythmic setting of Psalm 150, “Lamdeini,” “U’kratem D’ror — Proclaim Liberty,” an American/Jewish response to Sept. 11, and various commissioned works for choirs, synagogues and interfaith liturgical groups. “A World Fulfilled,” a solo recording of her compositions, was released in 2002. A collection of her synagogue compositions, “Azamrah, Songs of Benjie Ellen Schiller” was published in 2019 by Transcontinental Music. In 2019, Cantor Schiller received the “Hallel v’zimrah” award from the Jewish Choral Foundation for her compositions of Jewish choral music.
Cantor Schiller has served on the faculty of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality rabbinic and cantorial programs and the North American Jewish Choral Festival. She is certified by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality as a Jewish mindfulness meditation teacher.
Rabbi Dr. Joseph A. Skloot
Assistant Professor, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Rabbi Joseph A. Skloot, Ph.D, is the Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He received his doctorate in Jewish history from Columbia University, his rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR, and his bachelor’s in history from Princeton University. He is a historian of Jewish culture and religious thought in the early modern and modern periods. His research explores the history of Hebrew books, Jewish-Christian relations, the development of Jewish law, and Reform Jewish theology.
He is the author of “First Impressions: Sefer Ḥasidim and Early Modern Hebrew Printing.” Prior to his appointment at to the faculty of HUC-JIR, he was the associate rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation.
Workshop 3B: The Formation of Ethically Responsible and Jewishly Committed Reform Jews
Chief Executive Officer, Hadassah
Naomi Adler is a nationally and internationally recognized leader with almost 20 years of experience driving success for complex NGOs, nonprofits and large foundations. An executive with a diverse legal background, she is a dynamic partner and facilitator who has a track record of elevating organizations’ performance and achieving exceptional philanthropic results. As CEO of Hadassah, Naomi leads the largest Jewish women’s organization in the country, uniting philanthropy and women’s leadership to support medical care and research at Hadassah’s hospitals in Israel and to effect change and advocate in the U.S. on such critical issues as ensuring Israel’s security, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health and empowerment.
Before joining Hadassah, Naomi was president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which serves the sixth-largest American Jewish population, and of two United Way organizations in New York. Naomi is a thought partner for national and international leaders on opportunities and challenges facing Jews. She has provided expert testimony on charitable giving, antisemitism and global public health in legislative forums that include the U.S. Congress.
She is married to Rabbi Brian Beal, leader of Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne, New Jersey.
Missy Bell, RJE
Director of Education, Congregation Sukkat Shalom
Missy Bell, RJE, is the director of education at Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, Illinois. Previously, she has served as director of education at Congregation BJBE in Deerfield, Illinois, and director of youth learning and engagement at Temple Emanu-El of New York. Missy holds a master’s in Jewish education and a master’s in Jewish communal service from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and she earned her bachelor’s from Washington University in St. Louis.
Missy holds multiple national leadership roles, serving on the board of the Reform Pension Board and as vice president for finance at the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. She also serves on the faculty of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute. Missy enjoys cooking, traveling and reading.
Senior Director of Children and Families, Hadar
Mara Braunfeld is a Jewish educator with over 15 years of experience creating community, building relationships, and bringing innovative leadership to a wide range of Jewish settings. She currently serves as the senior director of children and families at Hadar, a center for Jewish learning that empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities animated by core values of Torah, avodah, and chesed.
Mara earned her bachelor’s from Brandeis University and a master’s in Jewish education from the Rhea Hirsch School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Previously, she served in educational leadership roles at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York, at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, and at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners, New York. She lives in New York with her husband Daniel and their three children.
Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh
Rabbi and Executive Director, The Well
Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh is the rabbi and executive director of The Well, a dynamic organization focused on building Jewish identity and community for metro Detroit’s young Jewish adults and families with young children. Under his leadership, The Well has developed and evolved innovative initiatives like Sukkot Sounds and Friendseder, which have been utilized by organizations across the United States and Canada, with the goal to build a bridge between Jewish institutions and unaffiliated Jewish young adults and families.
Originally from Seattle, Rabbi Jeff graduated from the University of Washington and received his ordination, master’s in Jewish education and a certificate in Jewish nonprofit management from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. After being ordained, he served as the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Fellow at Mishkan Chicago, an upstart independent spiritual community.
Rabbi Jeff lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, with his wife Stephanie Belsky, CEO and co-founder of Love of Good, a social impact agency specializing in strategic partnerships.
Workshop 3C: The Promise of Tikkun Olam and Social Justice: Universalism v. Particularism
Rabbi Philip N. Bazeley
Senior Rabbi, Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple
Rabbi Philip Bazeley was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2012, which is when he began his time at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple. He started as the assistant rabbi and was named senior rabbi in 2018. While at HUC-JIR he earned a master’s in Hebrew literature and a master’s in religious education.
Rabbi Bazeley serves as a member of the Core Leadership Team of The Religious Action Center-New Jersey, on the local board of the American Jewish Committee of New Jersey, and he is a co-chair of Federation in The Heart of NJ’s Jewish Community Relations Council. One of the core pillars of Rabbi Bazeley’s rabbinate is tikkun olam and he has been part of many social justice initiatives in New Jersey, including helping to pass solitary confinement reform and the Fair Chance in House Act, and establishing Interfaith-Rise, a refugee resettlement agency. AEMT’s Tikkun Olam Task Force is now focused on addressing racial segregation in the New Jersey public school system.
Rabbi Bazeley and his wife Alyson live in Highland Park, New Jersey, with their sons Gavin and Matthew.
Rabbi Laurence Groffman
Rabbi, Temple Sholom of West Essex
Rabbi Laurence Groffman has been the rabbi of Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, since 2006. From 1993 to 2006, he was rabbi at Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Rabbi Groffman is a central New Jersey native and a lifelong Reform Jew. His parents were one of the earliest members of the Reform congregation in his town and held various leadership roles in the congregation. His father was a past president of the NJ-West Hudson Valley Association of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism). Inspired by his rabbi and his family’s commitment to Judaism and their Temple, Rabbi Groffman felt drawn, in his teens, to the rabbinate. He spent several formative years at URJ Eisner Camp, as both a camper and a staff member, an experience which played a pivotal role in his decision to enter the rabbinate. After graduating from Brandeis University in 1988, he entered the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, from which he received his rabbinic ordination in 1993.
Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester
Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe serves as senior rabbi for Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester. He also serves as co-chair of the Chappaqua Interfaith Committee and sits on Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s President’s Rabbinic Council and AIPAC’s National Rabbinic Council, and is a fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. Before arriving at Temple Beth El, Rabbi Jaffe served as rabbi and education director of Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco, where he sat on the boards of the Jewish Community Federation’s Peoplehood Commission, the San Francisco Interfaith Coalition and the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis and wrote a column for J. The Jewish News of Northern California.
Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended Camp Ramah in Ojai, California, and later served as education director for URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, California. He received his bachelor’s in philosophy and history from Duke University and studied abroad at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Prior to his ordination, Rabbi Jaffe served student pulpits in Great Falls, Montana, and Las Vegas and he spent a year working as the education director of Temple Beth Torah in Fremont, California, and creating the San Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education’s Teen-to-Teen program.
Cantor Jacqueline Menaker
Reform Spiritual Leader, Shirat Hayam
Cantor Jacqueline Menaker has served Shirat Hayam, a merged Reform-Conservative congregation in Ventnor, New Jersey, as Reform spiritual leader since May 2020. Cantor Menaker is a member of the American Conference of Cantors and served on its executive board for 10 years. A passionate advocate of social justice issues grounded in Jewish values, Cantor Menaker was appointed to the Core Leadership Team of the Reform Action Center’s New Jersey project and also serves as the ACC liaison to the Union for Rerform Judaism’s commission on social action. She is the treasurer of the South Jersey Board of Rabbis and Cantors and serves on the executive board of Avoda in Atlantic County.
Cantor Menaker is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management Leadership Program for Jewish Leaders and is currently matriculating in the rabbinical ordination program at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She expects to be ordained as rabbi in April 2024. She received her cantorial investiture from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music and her bachelor’s from Emerson College. She and her husband Mitch reside in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, with their Great Danes Bentley, Bella, Shayna, and Maimonides (aka Momo).
Workshop 3D: Re-CHARGING Reform Ritual and Practice
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin is a communal prayer leader, educator, spiritual director and mentor in the areas of liturgy, worship, and spiritual practice. She educates toward a deeper understanding of prayers (both traditional and creative), and the act of prayer itself as a doorway into spiritual practice and transforming oneself in order to transform the world.
Ellen has served as a scholar-in-residence at dozens of congregations across the country, and as an educator and prayer/ritual leader at numerous institutes, camps, and conferences, including the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, SongLeader Boot Camp, Hava Nashira, URJ Biennials, and the JCC Association’s Sheva Center for early childhood education.
Ellen teaches online and is a regular co-host of Eliana Light’s “LightLab Podcast,” taking deep dives into individual prayers and prayer-related topics. Ellen was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1986, has a master’s in Jewish communal service from Brandeis University, and is trained as a spiritual director. She is married to Rabbi Billy Dreskin, and is extremely proud of their joint projects: Katie, Jonah (z”l), and Aiden.
Shira Kline is a queer performance and ritual artist who is recognized as a revolutionary educator and has been named one of the new re-engineers of Jewish life today. Co-founder of Storahtelling and Lab/Shul, she serves as Spiritual Leader weaving liturgy, text, story and song into immersive sacred theater. Known in the sanctuary as a spiritual adventurist and on the kiddie rock stage as ShirLaLa, Shira practices in the field of sacred play. She tours extensively locally and globally with a vibrant invitation to connect, for a new and realized conscious world. She has been featured on NPR, hosted a queer Jewish podcast, led Shabbat on the Burning Man playa, recorded four award-winning albums, and is a frequent guest faculty of numerous international leadership conferences including Hava NaShira, SLBC, PJ Library, and in the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion seminary and the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music.
Shira is a member of the Mitsui Collective Kollel, building resilient community through embodied Jewish practice and somatic antiracism. Expansive and imaginative, Shira is here to nourish and ignite expression of the spirit. At home in Brooklyn, unceded Lenape lands, she lives to cook, dance, and play with her beloved and their daughter.
Re-CHARGING Reform Judaism is sponsored by Amplify Israel: A Stephen Wise Free Synagogue initiative. Stephen Wise Free Synagogue is a 501(c)(3) religious organization (Tax ID #13-1628215) and any donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowable by law.