Jonathan Shmidt Chapman is director, educator and producer of theater for young people and families. He lives with his husband David in New York.
Faina is a Keshet blogger, living her life authentically.
Keshet is a national grassroots organization with offices in Boston, Denver, and the Bay Area that works for the full inclusion and equality of LGBTQ Jews in all areas of Jewish life.
Esther is a teenager, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton.
MBSD has been married to her husband for 30 years and is the mother of three children, the youngest of whom came out as gay about a year and a half ago, at age nineteen. She considers herself to be Modern Orthodox and longs for the day when being out and gay becomes a non-issue in the Modern Orthodox world.
Y.C. is a Jewish queer trans* teen currently residing in Massachusetts. He spends his free time talking to his grandma, watching Law and Order, and eating Apple Jacks.
Jordyn Rozensky is Keshet's Blog Manager and Development Writer. Jordyn completed her undergraduate studies at Smith College, and her graduate work at Brandeis University.
Becky Silverstein is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College, a trans-denominational rabbinical school in Newton, MA. Becky is interested in creating communities that allow all Jews to enter and be fully present. Also interested in interfaith dialogue, Becky co-founded the Queer Interfaith Community, whose mission is to make all religious communities more inclusive by creating a space for LGBT clergy and seminarians to support each other.
Amram Altzman is a recent graduate of the Ramaz School, a Modern Orthodox day school in Manhattan, where he co-founded the Sexuality, Identity, and Society Club, a student forum for discussions on sexuality, bullying, and gender identity. This fall, he began a joint-degree program with the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University in New York. An avid writer, he has been published in Fresh Ink for Teens, a teen subsidiary of the New York Jewish Week, and the Huffington Post's Teen Section.
Y. Gavriel A. Levi Ansara is the founder and executive director of Lifelines Rhode Island, a statewide grassroots advocacy, education, and support initiative to meet the needs of transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, genderqueer, and intersex (TGI) people. He is also on the board of the Organisation Intersex International.
Mimi is a Ph.D. candidate in child studies and human development at Tufts University, focusing on adolescent sexuality and sexual health. She is a freelance sexuality educator and also works locally to promote and strengthen sexuality education in public schools. Before starting The Debrief, she wrote her own blog, sexedtransforms.blogspot.com. She loves dancing, taking walks around the city, and listening to people share their stories. Email email@example.com or tweet @mimiarbeit.
Originally from Southwest Ohio, Daniel quickly formed a connection between his Jewish identity and the importance of inclusion and working towards a more socially just society. Daniel dived further into social justice and Jewish thought in his undergraduate experiences at Lehigh University in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Studying classics and religion studies, he learned the importance of reflecting upon the past but at the same time finding meaning for the present. At the same time, Daniel began to become involved in many social justice education groups, winning multiple campus awards for his involvement. His passion for social justice and education continued in his graduate studies at New York University, where he received his masters in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs.
Daniel is Keshet's National Manager of Education and Training.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Barkowitz is a first-year at Sarah Lawrence College and a Red Sox fan constantly surrounded by those who are pro-Yankees. When being Jewish and queer are not enough to fill all of the time in her life, Rachel enjoys singing, writing, and making bracelets out of rainbow loom. Coincidentally fabulous? We doubt it too.
Dan Brotman is 26 years old and originally from Lexington, Massachusetts. He has been living for the past two and a half years in Cape Town, South Africa with his fiancé Keith, and their dachshund puppy Peanut. Dan dedicates much of his spare time to mobilizing same-sex bi-national couples living in South Africa to speak out against DOMA.
Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael is a native of Washington, DC. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Micah currently serves as Community Chaplain for the Jewish Family and Children's Service of Saint Louis, MO. Micah is passionate about building sacred communities that are spaces of welcome, strength, and growth for every individual.
Tamar Carmel is a contributing author to Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. www.transbodies.com
Alex Carter is a certified coach who specializes in working with nonprofit executive directors, helping them identify and strengthen their leadership and management skills and maintain work-life balance.
James Cohen grew up in the Boston area and is happy to be back in his hometown and working with Keshet and the LBGT Jewish community. During his 15 years in South Florida, his career focused primarily on the restaurant and food supply industries, but it was a personal experience that led him to a career in Jewish communal service. At a time when it was not legal for openly gay people to adopt in Florida, James became a licensed foster parent, and when the law changed in 2010, he began the process to adopt his son, Jason. Raising Jason and sharing Jewish values with him inspired James to reconsider many aspects of his life. He was fortunate to be able to combine his passions for social justice and Judaism into a position at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he served as Donor Relationship Manager and worked closely with attorneys, financial professionals, and other donors to deepen their involvement in the organization and the local Jewish community. At the same time, James served on the Board of Directors of Next@19th, a nonprofit promoting Jewish culture in South Florida. He and Jason were active volunteers at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, a synagogue with a commitment to inclusiveness and to social justice. James received a BA in Communications from the University of Miami.
Shelby Curran resides near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and is a high school junior. Her love of literature, writing, and music encompass the majority of her spare time. Shelby is involved in BBYO and Keshet youth programs and hopes to promote social justice for the LGBTQ community within religion and beyond.
Jordan Dashow is a recent graduate from Tufts University and is working at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant beginning in August. (All posts Jordan writes for Keshet reflect his personal views.) You can follow his random thoughts and musings on twitter at @JDashin.
Rafi Daugherty was born in Colorado and raised in Missouri. He moved to New York in 2003, came out as queer in 2004, and trans in 2007. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelors from Hunter College with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. He received a masters from Tel Aviv University in Crisis and Trauma Studies. While in school, Rafi worked with individuals with development disabilities and homeless New York City youth. He has been a teacher for Limmud NY and Nehirim about transgender issues. He is happy to be part of Keshet’s Denver office and to help strengthen LGBTQ Jewish life in Colorado.
After attending The Ohio State University, Sheira Director-Nowack received a Masters in Social Work and Certification in Jewish Communal Services from Yeshiva University. She has been in camping for over 20 years, working in Jewish residential camps as well as day camps. Sheira served as the associate director for a Jewish camp for children who have learning issues and social skill disorders. Her passion often leads towards children who have some learning differences or social skill challenges. Sheira is now the Associate Director of Camp JRF. She is known for her sense of humor and outgoing personality. Most importantly she is now a camper parent and is able to truly understand the questions and ideas that camper parents face. She has been married for the past eleven years to Brian Nowack, and together they adopted Madeline in 2005.
Gregg Drinkwater was Colorado Regional Director of Keshet for several years. Prior to joining Keshet, he was the director of Jewish Mosaic and one of the organization’s three co-founders. He is the co-editor, with Dr. David Shneer and Rabbi Joshua Lesser, of the book Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible (NYU Press, September 2009), inspired by the online Torah commentary project launched by Jewish Mosaic in 2006, in collaboration with the World Congress of GLBT Jews. Drinkwater has served as a volunteer, board member or adviser to a wide range of Jewish, LGBT, and social justice organizations and is currently president of Limmud Colorado. Gregg is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history at CU Boulder.
Rabbi Drorah Setel, J.D., serves Temple Beth El, a Reform congregation in Niagara Falls, NY and Kehillah, an independent minyan, in Buffalo, NY. She is blessed to have been mentored by Rabbi Lionel Blue, the first openly gay rabbi, and has worked for LGBTQ inclusion in the Jewish community throughout her career.
Chanel Dubofsky’s work has been published in Cosmopolitan, RH Reality Check,The Frisky, The Toast, The Billfold, Lilith and The Forward, among others. She is an MFA candidate in Fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Noach Dzmura is the editor of Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, an anthology about the encounter of transgender bodies and identities with Jewish ritual and social space. Dzmura is a teacher, writer, web maven and instructional-design consultant.
As a leader of the world’s first gay and lesbian synagogue, Rabbi Edwards is frequently profiled in the media and is a sought-after spokesperson on issues of faith and sexuality. She is known as a thoughtful and reasoned advocate for same-sex marriage, environmental protection, and social and economic justice. Rooted in Jewish teaching, Rabbi Edwards speaks eloquently to the need for individuals and communities to come together to bring into being the world we dream is possible.
Rabbi Edwards has taught on an adjunct basis at HUC in the rabbinical school, and at USC in the Jewish Studies program. Her writing appears in a half-dozen books, including Kulanu : All of Us (a URJ handbook for congregational inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews); The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions; Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation; and Mentsh: On Being Queer and Jewish (edited by Angela Brown), where she wrote the foreword. She is a guest Torah commentator/columnist in LA’s Jewish Journal, the second-largest circulation Jewish publication in the U.S. Additionally Rabbi Edwards is a co-editor of the revised editions (1999) of the Reform Movement textbook, Introduction to Judaism: a Sourcebook, and its companion Instructor’s Guide and Curriculum. She is the “Spiritual Role Model” in the book Outspoken by Michael Thomas Ford, a book of interviews of GLBT people intended for a youth audience.
Karen Lee Erlichman is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in San Francisco, where she provides psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Karen has worked in the field of Jewish communal service for nearly twenty years. You can find more about her at her website, karenerlichman.com.
Ann Falchuk has worn many hats; marketing director, development manager, and facilitator for a new mother’s group. Ann recalls how difficult it was for her when her daughter came out because she didn’t have any support and only knew one other parent with a gay child. “Keshet’s Parent & Family Connection,” Ann says, “gives me the strength to come out again and again and be proud of my kid. And it gives me comfort. The group allows you to have the feelings you have and not to hide them. And that helps parents be better parents.” She and her husband, Myron, live in the Boston area and have three daughters, one daughter-in-law, two son-in laws and three grandchildren.
Ari Lev Fornari currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College. Before moving to Boston, Ari Lev completed the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Program with the Catalyst Project, which continues to ground his involvement with grassroots social justice movements. Ari Lev strives to weave his spiritual practices with his political work in a vision of our collective liberation.
Asher Gelman is the Artistic Director for The Stage; Tel Aviv's premier English-language performing arts organization. Asher holds a masters degree in Fine Arts from The George Washington University in Dance, and two bachelors degrees from Bard College in Dance and Theater. A native of Chevy Chase, Maryland, Asher made Aliyah to Israel in 2006, where he lives with his husband, Mati. Asher has been doling out advice for years, both solicited an unsolicited, so this column provides the perfect outlet for his talent for telling other people what to do.
Eli Glasman was born in the suburb of Caulfield in Melbourne, Australia to an orthodox Jewish family. He began writing at an early age and continued the practice all throughout his schooling.
At the age of seventeen he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. It was at this time, he decided that orthodox life wasn’t for him. He went to study creative writing at the University of Melbourne, where he completed his Honours degree.
In 2011, at the age of 24, he got his first short story published. From that point on, he buckled down and worked his butt off until he secured two more short story publications, a $5000 prize and, with ‘The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew’, his first novel.
He now writes more than ever and lives in an apartment in Brunswick.
I live, write, and parent in New York City. Inspired by Keshet's work and impressed with its leadership, I am deeply honored to join its Board.
Gabriel is a senior at the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a strong advocate for gay rights, freedom of the press, and sect interaction.
Josh Goodman is a doctoral student in the Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he conducts research about LGBTQ issues. He has also written about LGBTQ topics in The Huffington Post and LGBTQ Nation.
Rabbi Goren was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007. During his HUC-JIR tenure, Seth served Congregation B’nai Israel in Laconia, N.H. as a student rabbi, interned as the Program Director at Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life/Hillel and was involved with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the Jewish FundS for Justice. He is now the Director of Jewish Student Life,
Associate Chaplain at Lehigh University Hillel
Rabbi Ben Greenberg is the Senior Rabbi of BMH-BJ Congregation. Previously, Rabbi Greenberg served as the Orthodox Jewish Chaplain of Harvard University and the Orthodox Rabbi of Harvard Hillel. He served on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Chaplains and was the Vice President for Chaplain Programming.
Rabbi Greenberg has served synagogues in Teaneck, New Jersey and Riverdale, New York. He has held fellowships with organizations such as The HealthCare Chaplaincy, The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and CLAL: The National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership. He also completed a 400-hour rotation in hospital chaplaincy at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center in Manhattan working in the neurological critical care unit.
Rabbi Greenberg is the author of two books, Covenantal Promise and Destiny: Wisdom for Life (Lulu, 2010) and Twitter Torah (Lulu, 2009) as well as popular media and scholarly articles for online and print publications and maintains a regular blog at MileHighTorah.com.
In 1999, Rabbi Steve Greenberg became the first out Orthodox rabbi. Five years later, Rabbi Greenberg published the award-winning "Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition." He also appears in the documentary "Trembling Before G-d."
Annette Gross, a proud mom to her LGBT son, is from Carmel, IN. She is a member of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection.
Sara Elizabeth Grossman is a Floridian New Yorker displaced in Denver. When she isn't writing about her family, she does social media management and web writing. You can see her fingerprints most recently on all of One Colorado's work. Sara has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The New School (NYC).
Rachel Gurevitz is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Shalom, Westborough, MA. In her congregation she is helping individuals to nourish and deepen their own path to positive Jewish living. Her passions include working on interfaith interaction and cooperation, music, chant, and meditation, and Jewish mysticism. Rachel was ordained at Hebrew Union College where she completed the rabbinic studies she began at Leo Baeck College, London. Prior to this, she received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from University College, London, researching, consulting and publishing on environmental and sustainable development education from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
Igael Gurin Malous is an artist, educator, theologian, husband and father. He grew up in Belgium and Israel, so as expected he is very well dressed and very blunt. He has a traditional Jewish background and studied in yeshiva for a large portion of his life and has been involved in informal and formal education for many years.
Chasiah Haberman is a Jewish educator, spiritual counselor, and community-builder. She has been a teacher and curriculum developer at Temple Israel of Boston, a chaplain intern and member of the pastoral care team at Hebrew Senior Life, and a congregational educator at Temple Beth Shalom in Cambridge. Chasiah is the founder of Tirtzah, a small grassroots organization that supports Frum queer women in living a fully integrated and joyful Jewish life. She earned her certificate in Jewish Education, Leadership and Scholarship from the Drisha Institute and her BA from Washington University in St. Louis. Chasiah lives in Cambridge with her wife.
Shaily Hakimian is a student of elementary education at Indiana University. She has been active in organizing LGBT Jewish life on campus.
Simcha Halpert-Hanson graduated from Eugene Lang College at the New School with a degree in Poetry and a minor in Jewish Studies. They are deeply invested in the unity of radical queerness and frumkeit as well as the psychological awakening of Ashkenazi Jewry. They are a member of the transgender and Jewish band Schmekel and currently work at the UJA Federation of NY on the Commission for Jewish Identity and Renewal.
Eliron Hamburger is dedicated to creating homes for body and soul. Eliron is a founding member of the chevra kadisha for the Chochmat HaLev community in Berkeley, CA and, by day, performs energy efficiency assessments and runs a sustainable building consultancy, distinguished by a commitment to Universal Design. Eliron wrote “Lech Lecha!” for "Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community."
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D., is an author, educator, midrashist and ritualist. She is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic Jewish seminary, and the co-founder of the Kohenet Institute, a program in Jewish women's spiritual leadership.
She is the author of "Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women," "The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons" and "The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women." She lives in Manhattan with her spouse and daughter.
Rabbi Maurice Harris is a writer and teacher who lives in Eugene, Oregon. A longtime advocate for marriage equality in Oregon, Rabbi Harris is the author of two books, Moses: A Stranger among Us, and more recently, Leviticus: You Have No Idea (both from Cascade Books).
Jamie Heller is a business consultant who works in the energy, environmental, and transport areas. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD, with his lovely wife Debbie. They have three wonderful grown sons: Adam, Daniel, and Jacob.
Rabbi Yechiel Hoffman is the Director of Youth Learning & Engagement at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. He served as LimmudLA’s Executive Director, was an experiential educator and Jewish Studies teacher at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, and created the Teens@LimmudLA Presenters program, the Viral Judaism Project, and the High School Jewish Futures Project. He most recently co-founded JEDLAB, a field-wide Jewish education network, promoting a relationship-driven approach to collective inquiry, collaboration and experimentation to further the quality and growth of Jewish education. He serves as a rabbinic adviser and community activist for LGBT inclusion, women’s issues, and innovation.
Rabbi Rachel Isaacs is the Jewish Chaplain and an instructor of Jewish Studies at Colby College and rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Waterville, Maine. Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011, she was the first out gay person ordained by the Conservative Movement.
Marisa Elana James graduated from Makom Hebrew High School and the University of Connecticut, and currently lives in Jerusalem primarily focused on studying Medieval Jewish text and history at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
The Nice Jewish Girls started 10 years ago as a way to connect Jewish Lesbians, BiSexuals and Transgender Women. To find out more go to NiceJewishGirlsDC.com or join our new private Linkedin Group of Nice Jewish Girls where ever you are. (https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=8137636)
Adina Koch is the Manager of Community Health Programs at Martha Eliot Health Center of Boston Children's Hospital. She also works as part of the Boston Connect to Protect Coalition to reduce health inequities among LGBTQ Youth of Color. She enjoys having Shabbat dinners with Queer Community and baking cakes shaped like unicorns.
Joanna Ware: As Associate Director of National Programs, she directs the Keshet Parent & Family Connection and Keshet’s work with Jewish youth movements. Joanna’s academic background is in gender studies, Middle East studies, and politics, and she brings to Keshet professional experience in Jewish youth work and informal education, anti-violence and anti-sexism education and prevention, policy advocacy, and community organizing.
Miryam Kabakov founded and facilitated the New York Orthodykes, facilitated a support group for ex-Orthodox and Chassidic young people with Footsteps, and is the former director of GLBT programming at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. She is the Director of Eshel and Izun/Mizan: A Film and Dialogue Series and editor of Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires. She lives with her partner and two children in St. Paul, Minnesota. She lives with her partner and two children in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Rabbah Emily Aviva Kapor is a radical transfeminist rabbi and activist. Her rabbinic work focuses on creating innovative yet traditional Jewish law, liturgy, and ritual, in order to affirm trans* identities and experiences. As an autistic and hearing-impaired person, she also works for acceptance and accessibility for people with visible and invisible disabilities. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
David Katzenelson lives in Haifa, where he has worked at Or Hadash - The Center for Progressive Judaism. He lived for many years in Norway.
Abigail Kay lives in London, UK. In her day job, she works for charities, but she has a second life blogging about her collection of minority identities. If you need to find her, she's probably standing on an Internet soapbox, waxing lyrical about equality and diversity. Check out her personal blog, http://experienceistobelived.wordpress.com/
Idit Klein has been the Executive Director of Keshet since 2001 and is a devoted fan of Glee.
Rabbi Michael Knopf is the Rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia, and is a Clal-Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. He is dedicated to engaging and supporting spiritual seekers; communicating the transformative power of Torah and prayer; and building welcoming, supportive, and inspiring community. These passions inspired him, prior to his ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2011, to help coordinate the nation’s largest preparatory program for conversion to Judaism; to work as a spiritual counselor at Beit T'Shuvah, a Jewish addiction treatment facility; and to serve several congregations and educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Rabbi Knopf is a regular contributor to Haaretz's "Rabbi's Roundtable" blog, The Huffington Post, Jewish Values Online, and other publications. He also has a weekly podcast featured on the JCast Network. Rabbi Knopf is happily married to his best friend, Adira, and enjoys spending time with his children, as well as movies, traveling, and pizza.
Follow him on twitter.
Alexandra Kohl is a queer Jewish teen from New York. She is a sophomore at White Plains High School, where she enjoys various activities such as marching band. Her greatest wish is for all people to be treated equally by their peers, community, and government.
Amanda Koppelman-Milstein chases a toddler and freelances in Washington, DC.
Rabbi Kravitz joined the rabbinic staff of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation, in Minnetonka, MN, in 1987. He is currently Chair of the Board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. He and his wife, Cindy Reich, have three children.
Samantha Kuperberg is a queer, Jewish, pro-choice feminist. She is originally from California, and currently lives in New York. In addition to fighting the patriarchy, she enjoys tap dancing, volleyball, and studying American Sign Language.
Elisabeth lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her family and a jumble of books and musical instruments. She spent nine years as the librarian at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle so she knows a thing or two about children’s books! If she were a superhero, she'd be Orange Ukulele Girl. Her favorite kind of hamentaschen is poppyseed. The Purim Superhero is her first children’s book.
Dr. Joy Ladin is a professor of English and holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. She is the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. Her memoir of transition, "Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders," was recently published by University of Wisconsin Press; her sixth book of poetry, "The Definition of Joy," was published June 2012.
Amos Lassen was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. After getting his M.A., he made aliyah and lived in Israel for many years as a member of a kibbutz near Degania Bet. He served as supervisor of secondary English education for the State of Israel and taught at several universities there. Amos is the founder of Literary Pride—a gay reading group, and Cinema Pride—a gay movie group. He is extremely proud of two accomplishments—getting the Arkansas Literary Festival to recognize gay literature and for organizing the first GLBT film festival in the state
Francine Lavin Weaver is resides in Colorado. She is a daughter, mother, educator and author. She is a supporter of Keshet and an active member of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection.
Joshua Lesser is the rabbi of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, a Reconstructionist community founded by gays and lesbians. He is also the founder of the Rainbow Center, a resource, information and educational center addressing the needs of GLBTQ people and their families. A founding board member of The Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and World Pilgrims, he is dedicated to building bridges between peoples of different faiths and heritages.
Jessica Leving is currently the Program Associate for BBYO’s Great Midwest Region in Chicago, Ill., and previously worked for BBYO in Nashville, Tenn. Before joining the BBYO team, Jessica worked as a marketing intern at a non-profit organization in Boston. She has also worked as a reporter for The Jerusalem Post, USA Today, and several other newspapers. Jessica is a graduate of Boston University where she received a B.S. in Journalism and Anthropology. She is currently a participant in BBYO's Professional Development Institute (PDI), a graduate studies program in which she is working toward an MBA from Indiana University and a Certificate in Informal Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Boston.
David Levy is the Marketing Director for the Shalom Hartman Institute of North Amreica. David holds two masters degrees from Hebrew College, in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education, and a bachelors degree from Harvard in English and American Literature and Languages. David is a former editor and occasional contributor to Jewschool.com, and he's a co-host of Maxamoo.com's weekly theater podcast. He is also a musical theater enthusiast, comic book fan, and Twitter addict, where you can follow him at @itsdlevy.
Tucker Lieberman studied philosophy at Brown University and journalism at Boston University. His work has been published in Zeek and Ariga. He lives in Massachusetts.
Darren Lipman practically grew up in his synagogue, where his mother served as mashgiach (kitchen manager) for a large part of his childhood. Not only did this closeness to religious life embed within him a deep reverence of and respect for the Jewish faith, it seeded inside him his love of reading and, ultimately, his passion for writing.
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann is founder and rabbi of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives: Building a Progressive Jewish Community in Brooklyn. Rabbi Lippmann is the former East Coast Director of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and former director of the Jewish Women's Program at the New 14th Street Y in Manhattan.
Rabbi Lippmann was co-chair and still sits on the board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She served as the first social justice chair for the Women’s Rabbinic Network and has served on numerous boards and advisory councils. She is the founder of the Soup Kitchen at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and co-founder of the ten year-old Children of Abraham Peace Walk: Jews, Christians and Muslims Walking Together in Brooklyn in Peace.
Rabbi Lippmann was ordained in 1991 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and also received there the degree of Master of Hebrew Letters. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Boston University and an MS in Library Science from Simmons College. Rabbi Lippmann and her partner are longtime Brooklyn residents and believe to be absolutely true what a Kolot Chayeinu member once said in jest: "IT DON'T GET ANY BETTER THAN BROOKLYN!" See Rabbi Lippmann's writings.
On March 20, 2013, Rabbi Lippmann was named by The Jewish Forward as one of 36 of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis Shaping 21st Century Judaism.
Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman is the Director of the Western Region of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. In her twenty years of experience as a rabbi, she has served Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform and Gay Outreach congregations, and is a consultant on moral education for diverse families for national Jewish institutions, the National Council of Churches and the Metropolitan Community Church. In addition to her rabbinate, she was a professor of Religion and Women's Studies at California State University at Northridge, and lectured at American Jewish University and Loyola Marymount College.
Ruth Loew lives outside Philadelphia with her husband, Rabbi Robert Tabak. She works for Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ. Her family includes sons Gabe, Aaron, and Nathan Tabak, and Gabe's wife, Ruthie Tabak.
Since working at Chochmat HaLev, Kerrick Lucker earned a Master of Arts in Museum Education from John F. Kennedy University in 2008. He has been driven to apply his background in creating and supporting effective educational experiences to some of the world’s most pressing ecological and cultural problems. He has worked on projects for the Museum of the African Diaspora and the GLBT Historical Society, among others. Presently he works as an Interpretive Naturalist with the Aquarium of the Bay.
Carole Lukoff is a recently retired Jewish Preschool Director. Currently, she is Chair of the Social Action Committee at her synagogue and the Vice President and Chair of the Personnel Committee at her local public library.
Kathryn Macías (Muh-SEE-us) is a queer with chutzpah. She came to Keshet as a JOIN for Justice Fellow all the way from Athens, GA. While in Athens, she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication Studies, minor in Religion, and Certificate in Leadership and Service from the University of Georgia.
It was during her time in college that she discovered and cultivated her passion for social justice work at the intersection of religious and queer identity. Kathryn served as the Executive Director of the LGBT Resource Center’s Programming Board, co-led the University’s first LGBTQ Awareness alternative break trip, and served as the lead organizer in the Gender Advocacy Campaign. She describes her work through the Gender Advocacy Campaign as one of her proudest achievements as it resulted in the addition of “gender identity” to the University’s Non-Discrimination Anti-Harassment policy. While in college, Kathryn also interned with SOJOURN, the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity, where she developed LGBTQ inclusion Train-the-Trainer curricula and secured a grant for youth suicide prevention. Kathryn brings her experience, commitment to justice, and chutzpah to the work at Keshet as the Boston Community Organizer.
Benjamin Maron is the Managing Editor of InterfaithFamily and a longtime queer advocate. When not standing at his desk, he can be found cooking, playing with babies, or playing Scrabble.
Rachel earned her BA in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 2012. During college she volunteered weekly with middle school girls in Little Village through the mentoring program WYSE, leading workshops on healthy relationships, self-esteem, stress management, comprehensive sex ed., and many other topics. Rachel has also been involved in research, advocacy, and direct service on a variety of social justice issues including sex trafficking and exploitation in Chicago, university sexual assault policies and prevention, community gardens and art programs for youth, and LGBTQ issues. She is very happy to continue working on important topics with teens and their families at Response!
Rabbi Drorah Setel, J.D.Matan Ar’ye Schwartz, serves Temple Beth El, a Reform congregation in Niagara Falls, NY and Kehillah, an independent minyan, in Buffalo, NY. She is blessed to have been mentored by Rabbi Lionel Blue, the first openly gay rabbi, and has worked for LGBTQ inclusion in the Jewish community throughout her career.
Matan Ar’ye Schwartz is a dual US and Israeli citizen presently residing in Buffalo, NY, where he works as a Jewish professional and Hebrew teacher. He blogs regularly at nomadmatan.net.
Duncan is your friendly neighborhood queer/trans Jewish guy living in the deep deep south. His idea of a fun night is cooking, reading Talmud, drinking gin, and queering the Torah. You can find his other musings at his Wordpress blog, Eish Zarah (http://eishzarah.wordpress.com/).
Scott McGrath is the Associate Director, New Camp Initiatives at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. He also volunteers with Keshet as a trainer and advisor, working towards the full inclusion of LGBTQ Jews in Jewish life.
Rabbi Aaron Meyer is the newest member of the clergy team at Temple De Hirsch Sinai. While he had a variety of diverse experiences while in rabbinical school - the U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate Program, interning at Isaac Mayer Wise Temple, Clinical Pastoral Education with the Harvard gerontology affiliate - they pale in comparison to his greatest accomplishment: marrying Rabbi Emily Meyer in November, 2011.
Jay Michaelson is the author of four books and two hundred articles on the intersections of religion, spirituality, sexuality, and law. His most recent book, God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, was an Amazon.com bestseller and Lambda Literary Award finalist. Jay is a contributing editor to the Forward newspaper and associate editor of Religion Dispatches magazine, and his articles have appeared in The Daily Beast, Salon, The Huffington Post, and other publications. His other books include Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism and Another Word for Sky: Poems.
Jay is also a longtime LGBT activist, and is the founder of Nehirim, a national LGBT Jewish community. Jay’s advocacy on behalf of sexual minorities in religious communities has been featured on CNN, NPR, and in the New York Times.
James Miller is the Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh. A native of North Carolina hailing from the Outer Banks, James returned to the state following work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health focusing on Title V Programs. James holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy, with a focus on Social Welfare Policy, and an MBA in Non-Profit Management from Brandeis University. Through his work with various non-profits, especially programs focusing on Children with Special Health Care Needs and LGBTQ Populations, James has used evidence-based programming and best practices research to encourage efficiency and efficacy through direct service programming.
Ari Poster Moffic is the Director of InterfaithFamily/Chicago. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007. A graduate of Indiana University, she received Master's Degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies from Baltimore Hebrew College. A native of Newton Massachusetts, Rabbi Moffic has an extensive background in Jewish family education -including writing for a Jewish family magazine, leading family retreats, and helping to start a family centered religious school. She has a special interest in working with interfaith couples and families. Identity formation, modern interpretations of culture and religion and making Jewish living accessible, relevant and meaningful are the areas that drive and inspire Rabbi Moffic. She believes in learning through doing and engaging the entire family in transformative Jewish experiences.
Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in Bitch Magazine (and Bitch Media), The Guardian UK, CNN.com, Ms. Magazine,The Frisky, and more. You can catch her musing online about motherhood and feminism on Twitter and at her blog, The Mamafesto, which was named a Top 25 Political Blog by Circle of Moms.
Ariel Naveh is in his 5th and final year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Born on the mean streets of Long Island, he's worked as a leader in the Jewish community for many years, and looks forward to continuing that, but hopefully for a slightly higher paycheck.
Bella E. Nuevo has been struggling with the hardships of being the daughter of a trans person since she was 7. She currently lives in a beautiful part of the world where she studies Literature, Theater, Creative Writing, and how to be a person. She lives with her family, which includes her wonderful cat and dog.
Rabbi Avi Orlow graduated from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the Open Orthodox Seminary, in 2004, and from 2004 until 2008 served as the Rabbi and ran the program at St. Louis Hillel at Washington University. He now works at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. You can find more of his writing on his blog.
Jonah became active in the Keshet community in Boston in 2011 when he moved to the city from his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Rabbi Karen Perolman began working at B’nai Jeshurun in 2008 as a Rabbinic Intern. She was named an Assistant Rabbi in the spring of 2010. Rabbi Perolman received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Jewish Studies in 2004 from the University of Maryland at College Park. She later attended Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York where she received her Masters Degree in Hebrew Literature. She was ordained by HUC-JIR in 2010.
Jenni Person is a literary artist and the executive director of Next@19th, a Jewish culture center in Miami. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She is also Ima to Goldi Shalom (9) and Izzi Dov (7) LieberPerson.
Rabbi Elliot Rose Kukla (left) has been an activist, writer, organizer and educator for more than a decade. He has taught widely about sexual and gender diversity in Judaism in the US, Canada and Israel. His articles on the intersections between Judaism and justice appear in numerous magazines as well as in anthologies. Rabbi Reuben Zellman (right) has taught about gender, sexuality and Judaism at many congregations, conferences and universities around the U.S. He is currently Assistant Rabbi and Music Director at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. They are part of the creative team at TransTorah.org
Andrew Ramer is the author of several books, including Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories (released in June, 2010) and a best seller on angels. Stories of his appear in two gay Jewish anthologies, Kosher Meat and Found Tribe. A short memoir about being a queer Jew appears in Love, Castro Street and “Tales of a Male Lesbian” can be found in Identity Envy.
In addition to working as the school librarian at I.L. Peretz Community Jewish School in Somerset, NJ and teaching Hebrew school at String of Pearls Reconstructionist Jewish congregation in Princeton, NJ, Jill Ratzan blogs about YA lit for BookPage magazine at http://tinyurl.com/locker-combinations.
Cantor David Reinwald, a Chicago native, started at Temple Beth Sholom in July 2010. With a passion for music of all styles, Cantor Reinwald considers himself a music aficionado. He holds a Bachelors in Music and Jewish Studies from Indiana University – Bloomington and was ordained as a cantor by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York City in 2006.
Sarah Richards is a Jewish educator, archery instructor, animal rescuer, artist, wife, and mother living a full and exhausting life in Athens, Ga. She also received ordination from the Kohenet Institute and continues to work with this vibrant Jewish feminist community.
Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Lee Rosenfield is the President of Rosenfield Consulting Services, a privately owned firm that focuses on financial resource development, strategic planning and management consulting for non-profit organizations. Clients include temples and synagogues, Hillels, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, LGBTQ organizations, Israel-Diaspora cultural organizations both in the United States and Europe and more.
Lee has been with his husband Jack for 18 years. They celebrated their chuppah in 2004 when Domestic Partnerships were recognized in New Jersey, celebrated their Civil Union in 2007 and were legally married in November, 2013 immediately after marriage equality was won in New Jersey. Together, Lee and Jack have two children, Ethan (age 7) and Eliana (age 3) through surrogacy. They live happily in Lambertville, New Jersey with their dog Mona Lisa.
Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the director of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel and the Religious Affairs Bureau. Rabbi Sacks was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). He served as a congregational rabbi and teacher in the United States before making Aliyah in 1987. Rabbi Sacks is the only Masorti Mohel practicing in Israel.
Esther Sarah is a Keshet blogger who chose her pseudonym very carefully. Much like Esther and Sarah, she is hiding something central to her identity.
Michael Sarid has served as Director of Development at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Before becoming a “professional Jew,” Michael worked as a public interest attorney representing the indigent, including many people with AIDS, in New York City.
Jill Schreibman, LCSW, works at Westchester Jewish Community Services, and was the Founding Director of WJCS's Center Lane program for LGBTQ adolescents, and current member of the program's Advisory Committee. She sits on the board of Mosaic of Westchester, an organization devoted to enriching the Westchester Jewish community through LGBTQ inclusion.
Dan Schulman grew up in Brooklyn, New York and later transplanted to Portland, Maine. Dan received a BA in Economics at The New School in New York where he focused on Urban Economies, Homelessness, and Education. He started organizing as a campus activist through his founding of the university’s student government and radio station used as platforms to improve student life on campus and worked on LGBT and minority student inclusion programs. During the time he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa, he focused on Small Enterprise Development and Gender & Development issues. Upon his return to Maine, Dan worked with such organizations as The League of Young Voters, Equality Maine/GLAAD, and Working America on economic and social justice initiatives, knocking on doors and rallying concerned citizens to take action. Dan Schulman is an avid outdoorsman and loves a good pun.
Amit is an eccentric rabble-rouser from the Hudson Valley of New York. He has an obsession with ecology & a burgeoning rattail, & is trying to put shivyon erech ha'adam (the equality of human value) at the center of his life. At the moment, Amit is living in the Negev desert of Israel where he volunteers on a family farm.
Zach Shapiro is the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, CA. A native of Boston, Zach has lived in Los Angeles since his Ordination from HUC-JIR, Cincinnati in 1997. He met Ron Galperin that same year, and they were married in a religious ceremony in 2002, followed by a legal ceremony in 2008. Ron was elected LA City Controller in 2013.
Dr. David Shneer, a co-founder of Jewish Mosaic (now Keshet), is a professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and director of the Program in Jewish Studies there. His work concentrates on modern Jewish culture, Soviet Jewish history, and Jews and sexuality.
Rabbi Becky Silverstein is the Director of Education at Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center community. Ordained from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, he also holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering science from Smith College. Over the past six years, Becky has been energized and inspired through his work with youth and their families in a variety of settings, including Genesis at Brandies University and Congregation Kehillath Israel. He has been an active educator and facilitator with Keshet. Becky believes that active engagement with Jewish tradition, texts and culture is key to nurturing and developing strong Jewish individuals and communities.
Rabbi Melissa Simon, the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shir Tikvah synagogue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has been an outspoken proponent of marriage equality.
Maggid Jhos Singer received ordination/semicha from Rabbi Gershon Winkler in 2002, and has served the Coastside Jewish Community in Half Moon Bay, California, as their rabbi/maggid since 2000. Jhos holds a degree in music from UCLA and when he isn’t preaching to the flock he is playing and singing with them.
Yiscah Sara Smith is a renowned Jewish educator and spiritual mentor, both in Jerusalem and Seattle. Yiscah’s life has been an inspiring and courageous journey of the joy and struggles of her own spirituality, gender identity, and commitment to living true to herself. In her own words, “The story I want to tell is my story of a man, facing his truth, embracing the woman she was always meant to be and returning to her faith with wholeness and authenticity.” Yiscah’s story is important for everyone to hear and will inspire and empower others who face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to wholeness in their lives.
Naomi Sobel is a 30-year-old writer, organizer, educator and queer femme with roots in New York, a soft spot for Chicago, family in the Bay Area, and a home base in Jamaica Plain, Mass. She has deep roots in progressive Judaism and a burgeoning interest in harnessing her class privilege for radical social change. She works as a donor engagement coordinator at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, raising money and building relationships to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) human rights around the globe. Before joining Astraea’s staff, Naomi spent two years running the teen program at Temple Israel of Boston; she has also held positions at The Nation and Boston Review magazines, and at Jewish Funds for Justice (now Bend the Arc).
Amy Soule has an EA diploma and a love of Haftorah chanting.
Rabbi Toba Spitzer is the spiritual leader of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton. She has bowled in 31 states.
Jay Stanton is originally from South Bend, Indiana. Hir Judaism has been greatly influenced by hir time at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute and hir time in NFTY, where ze served as Religious and Cultural Vice President of the Chicago Area Region. More recently, Jay has found hirself inspired by, and involved in, NUJLS, where being Jewish and queer at the same time is possible, and even encouraged.
Rabbi Jacob Staub, Ph.D., graduated from RRC in 1977. Staub has served on the RRC faculty since 1983; he served as the College’s vice president for academic affairs and academic dean from 1989 to 2004. He was instrumental in developing RRC’s Spiritual Direction Program and has taught Jewish spiritual direction across North America, including at Spiritual Directors International and the Spirituality Institute of Metivta. He is also a faculty member at Nehirim: GLBT Jewish Culture and Spirituality, and he directs Nehirim’s Shalshelet Mentoring Program. Staub served as editor of The Reconstructionist from 1983 to 1989. He is the author of The Creation of the World According to Gersonides (1982) and of numerous articles, poems and essays.
Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein is a professional Jewish Educator. She directs BeYachad, Bringing Jewish Education and Best Educational Practices together. She and her husband live in Elkins Park, Pa. and their family includes four children.
Julie Sugar is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She can be found online at julie.wordpress.com, Lilith Magazine, or Twitter (@juliesugar).
Risa is mommy to a fabulous 4-year-old girl and wife to an amazing husband. She has lived in Boston, New York City, and now lives in Central CT. She has an MSW from Fordham University and a BA from Columbia University. She has been published on Kveller.com and HuffingtonPost.com. Risa can be followed at www.sillyillymama.blogspot.com.
Laura Thor, LCSW, is a lay theologian, trained spiritual director and pastoral psychotherapist whose work is with transgender and cisgender adults on their spiritual journeys into living their God-given truth. Visit her website at www.LauraThorCounseling.com.
Chloe Tolman: Chloe is the past VP of her high school's GSA, with a passion for LGBTQ social justice. She co-founded, along with her Mom, an LGBTQ Task Force at their Hingham, MA temple. A published poet with a literary focus on the horror genre, Chloe is off to Sarah Lawrence College, where she will concentrate on creative writing and theoretical physics, and continue her LGBTQ advocacy.
Jodi Tolman: Jodi co-chairs Social Action at Congregation Sha'aray Shalom in Hingham, MA, and is very excited to be working closely with Keshet on the newly-formed LGBTQ Task Force at her temple. With a lifelong passion for civil rights and social justice, and as a lay leader at CSS, Jodi is thrilled to be working at the intersection of LGBTQ rights and Jewish life.
was ordained as a graduate of the New York Campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, having previously served as a Rabbinic Intern here at TI. He has enjoyed a distinguished career as a student and student rabbi, having graduated from Muhlenberg College as a Phi Beta Kappa and having been awarded academic prizes at HUC in Halakhic Literature, Midrash and Hebrew, Liturgy and the prestigious 3-year Tisch Fellowship, which provides curricular enrichment in the fields of Congregational Studies, Personal Theology and Contemporary Religion in North America. Rabbi Soffer served as Rabbinical Intern at Main Line Reform Temple and Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, where he carried portfolios for Social Justice and for "Brooklyn Jews," a Project of Congregation Beth Elohim that, like Temple Israel's Riverway Project, focuses upon outreach to and engagement of Jews in their 20s and 30s. Rabbi Soffer has had extensive experience in youth work, both within the synagogue and as a long-time staff member of the URJ Camp Joseph and Betty Harlam and NFTY's Kutz Camp. Prior to beginning rabbinical school, he served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Fellow at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., and worked as the advisor to the North American Board of NFTY. The topic of his Rabbinic Thesis, "Listening for Laughter: Sensing Humor in the Babylonian Talmud," is a wonderful window on his character and style.
Follow Rabbi Soffer on twitter @mattsoffer
Mijael Vera, from Santiago, Chile, is graduate of psychology at the Complutense University in Madrid and works as a corporate image consultant. He studied at Or Sameach Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He has long dedicated himself to the investigation of signs in the Torah and in the Talmud that sustain his hypothesis of a halacha that is fully inclusive of the religious rights of queer people.
As Keshet’s Lead Organizer and Training Coordinator, Joanna employs grassroots community organizing strategies to build powerful communities of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied people working for justice, equality, and the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Jewish world. In Massachusetts, Joanna directs Keshet’s organizing in the Jewish community on behalf of gender justice and trans equality, including organizing the Jewish community in support of the successful passage of the MA Trans Equal Rights Bill in November, 2011. Nationally, she organizes and trains clergy, educators, communal professionals, and lay leaders working for LGBTQ inclusion across the Jewish world.
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser received her rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and her PhD in Religious Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Belser is currently Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Missouri State University, and serves as retreat director for Nehirim, a spiritual initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews.
A wheelchair rider herself, Dr. Belser is the co-author of A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Midstream: A Journal of Jewish Thought; The Journal of Women and Religion, Kalliope: A Journal of Women's Art and Literature; and Fireweed: A Feminist Quarterly.
Rebecca Weiner is the director of education at Temple Israel in Alameda. She has been a Jewish educator for the past 20 years. She has an MA in Drama Therapy, and when she is not ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people, she is a consultant and a curriculum writer, and pursues a variety of creative pursuits.
Ari Weinstein is a first year student at Tufts University. Originally from Minneapolis, Ari was active in Emtza Region USY, and is currently serving on USY's 2014 International Executive Board as the Israel Affairs Vice President.
David Weisberg has spent two-plus decades balancing what he loves – Jewish community, arts, and family.
Growing up in the backyard of the JCC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, David became immersed in B’nai B’rith Youth and JCC theatre productions. Starting his career in local government, David became Pennsylvania’s youngest town manager, at 23, spending three years each overseeing the towns of Mahanoy City and Columbia. In Mahanoy City, he was honored to coordinate a visit by Mother Teresa, welcoming the Nobel Peace Prize-winner at a mass broadcast throughout the region.
Seeking Jewish community, David returned to Harrisburg, becoming Executive Director of the JCC once in his backyard. A year later, he was hired to run Harrisburg’s Jewish Federation, serving in both roles before overseeing an organizational merger. After a decade serving Harrisburg’s Jewish community, David became Executive Director of Friends of the Arava Institute, leading efforts to support the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which, notably, partners with Hazon on the annual Israel Ride. There, he built the Institute’s visibility, with Arava alumni featured on CNN International and endorsements from Pete Seeger to Roseanne Barr.
In 2011, seeking a more sedentary role, David found a home at Isabella Freedman, where he stabilized Freedman’s business model while developing innovative portals for Jewish engagement, from LGBTQ Teen programming to an annual Grateful Dead Shabbaton. As a result of the Isabella Freedman/Hazon merger, he became Hazon’s CEO.
Throughout his career, David has dedicated time to the arts, as a producer, presenter, and performer – co-producing an original musical; creating a two-day music festival; recording an album of original songs; and acting at theatres, in touring companies, and even at a Nevada casino. Above all, he treasures being a husband and father, with a beautiful wife Jamie and wonderful children, Hannah, Alison, Micah, and Grace.
Born and raised in New York, sixteen-year-old Val found her pride through Judaism - specifically her youth group, United Synagogue Youth. Along with being Ellen DeGeneres's #1 fan, Val is also the founder and CEO of The Validation Project, an international organization uniting teens across the globe to embrace who they are and make their positive mark on the world. Val was recently awarded as a Youth Leader for GLSEN and has been featured in Mashable, Seventeen Magazine and Jewish Week.
Alex Weissman is the Social Justice Coordinator at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, where he works with members on congregational-based community organizing to develop and run campaigns to make institutional change. His work also includes transforming Judaism and Jewish institutions to recognize, affirm, and celebrate trans and queer Jewish communities.
Sophie Weitzman attends her local high school, where she is a cheerleader
and is on the honor roll. She fell in love with writing in the eighth grade, and wrote
this piece in the ninth grade, at first as an English assignment. Along with writing, Sophie loves archeology, and for a very long time wanted to be an Egyptologist. She also enjoys
playing with her dog, debating, traveling, and being around friends. Her favorite
place in the world is her summer camp, where she will be attending her ninth
consecutive year this summer. In the future she plans to go to college, and hopes to
spend part of her life living in Israel. Sophie will continue to write for the rest of her
life, and dreams that in her lifetime her writing will comfort and inspire someone.
Phylisa is a native Southern Californian who has lived and worked in London (UK), Boston, and now Melbourne (Australia). She is currently blogging and working as a sexual health researcher at La Trobe University.
Ailsa Wu lives in Waltham with her wife, Kate. They both work at the Billy Dalwin Pre-School of Temple Emunah (as an administrative assistant and a lead teacher, respectively). In her spare time Ailsa enjoys reading, traveling, and rooting for the Red Sox to win another World Series in her lifetime.
Elianna Yolkut is a rabbi without borders, thinker and educator who strives to bring comfort, Jewish wisdom and connection to people at all life stages through a deeper engagement with Judaism. Ordained in 2006 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, she was later an adjunct faculty member there while serving as assistant rabbi at the Conservative synagogue Adat Ari El in nearby Valley Village. Elly, who holds a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Sociology from Brandeis University, now lives with her partner and their young twins in Washington D.C. (Learn more at www.rabbielianna.com)
Sarah Young is a high school junior in upstate New York. She has helped program for the past two Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbatons and is an active member of United Synagogue Youth.
Rabbi Reuben Zellman has taught about gender, sexuality and Judaism at many congregations, conferences and universities around the U.S. He is currently Assistant Rabbi and Music Director at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. He is part of the creative team at TransTorah.org