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We invite respected scholars from all over the world to lead the Institute’s learning series. Learn about some of them here.
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Please Meet the Outstanding Teachers with Whom We Learn
Rabbi Richard Address
Rabbi Richard Address is the Founder and Director of JewishSacredAging.com.
He served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.
Kohenet Shamirah, aka Sarah Chandler, is a Brooklyn-based Jewish educator,
artist, activist, healer, and poet. She teaches, writes and consults on issues related to Judaism, earth-based spiritual practice, respectful workplaces, mindfulness, and farming. Sarah has a Certificate in Jewish Mindfulness from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, is an advanced student of Kabbalistic dream work and imagery at The School of Images and studying advanced Hasidut with Eitan Fishbane. Recently she has taught for My Jewish Learning, Applied Jewish Spirituality, Ritualwell, Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, and Judaism Unbound’s Unyeshiva. Currently, she is the CEO of Shamir Collective, as a coach and consultant to high profile musicians, artists, and authors to launch new works, as well as the lead trainer for Soft as a Rock: Public Speaking for Sensitive Souls.
Annabel Cohen is a PhD Student in Modern Jewish History
at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, focusing on the interwar Jewish anti-fascist left. She has a Research Masters in History with distinction from the University of London. Before moving to New York to undertake her PhD, she spent 18 months on the Paris Yiddish Center’s Yiddish Immersion Program. Annabel teaches Yiddish for the London- based language school Babel’s Blessing. She is a Yiddish Book Center Yiddish Pedagogy Fellow and has taught and led sessions at the 2022 KlezKanada digital intensive as a Freed Fellow. Alongside her PhD research, Annabel researches and translates materials relating to Jewish women’s religiosity in Eastern Europe, publishing her work on the blog www.pullingatthreads.com. She is teaching a workshop on this topic at Yiddish New York 2022. Her essay on feldmesterins – cemetery measuring women – was published in the recent anthology Strange Fire: Jewish Voices from the Pandemic, published by Ben Yehuda Press in 2021.
Rabbi Elliot Dorff
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. is AJU’s Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy.
For more than forty years as a Visiting Professor, he has taught a course on Jewish law at UCLA School of Law. Rabbi Dorff was awarded the Journal of Law and Religion’s Lifetime Achievement Award and holds four honorary doctoral degrees.
Rabbi Dorff is Chair of the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and served on the editorial committee of Etz Hayim, the new Torah commentary for the Conservative Movement. He has chaired four scholarly organizations: the Academy of Jewish Philosophy, the Jewish Law Association, the Society of Jewish Ethics, and the Academy of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies. He was elected Honorary President of the Jewish Law Association for the term of 2012-2016. In Spring 1993, he served on the Ethics Committee of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Health Care Task Force. In March 1997 and May 1999, he testified on behalf of the Jewish tradition on the subjects of human cloning and stem cell research before the President’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission. In 1999 and 2000 he was part of the Surgeon General’s commission to draft a Call to Action for Responsible Sexual Behavior; and from 2000 to 2002 he served on the National Human Resources Protections Advisory Commission, charged with reviewing and revising the federal guidelines for protecting human subjects in research projects. Rabbi Dorff is also a member of an advisory committee for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on the social, ethical, and religious implications of their exhibits. He is also a member of the Ethics Advisory Committee for the state of California on stem cell research.
He has been an officer of the FaithTrust Institute, a national organization that produces seminars and educational materials to help people avoid or extricate themselves from domestic violence. For eight years he was also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles, chairing its committee on serving the vulnerable.
In Los Angeles, he is a Past President of Jewish Family Services and a member of the Ethics committee at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. He serves as Co-Chair of the Priest-Rabbi Dialogue of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
Dr. Yakir Englander
Dr. Yakir Englander is the Director of Gvanim – the Leadership program at the IAC.
Originally from the Ultra-Orthodox community of Israel, Englander earned a PhD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Jewish philosophy and gender studies. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern and Rutgers universities, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. In addition he is one of the founders of Kids4Peace, an interfaith youth-movement in Jerusalem and other cities at North America.
Dr. Englander’s academic work is interdisciplinary, and touches on the interface between Jewish philosophy, law, theology, and storytelling, as well as peace activism studies with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and gender studies. He began his academic path at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem only after many years of traditional Jewish religious studies in Ultra-Orthodox yeshivas and three years in the Israel Defense Forces.
Elissa Felder is the Founding Director of Core Connects RI,
a non-profit organization that aims to deepen women’s connections to one another, to Jewish wisdom and Jewish values, to empower each other to find greater meaning, purpose and possibility in life and to cultivate unity without uniformity. As director she is passionate about providing others with opportunities to grow and become. She runs programming online and most recently has started Core’s Community of Practice for women who work in the Chevrah Kadisha.
Elissa grew up in London England. In 1985 she married her American husband and they started their married life in Washington, DC. After the death of her first child, Elissa started to explore Judaism in much greater depth. In her quest to understand the loss of her baby she explored Jewish sources in general and more specifically regarding death and the afterlife. She is very active on the local Chevrah Kadisha and she speaks widely on this topic.
In 2014, Elissa started chaperoning Jewish mothers on inspiring and often life transforming trips with Momentum the Women’s Reconnection Trip. Elissa takes pride in maintaining and nurturing the relationships after the trips and continues to encourage growth and connection.
Elissa teaches a weekly Parsha class which is broadcast live on Facebook and uploaded to YouTube. In addition, she hopes to one day (post Covid-19) return to hosting large Shabbat and holiday meals for a wide swath of the RI Jewish community.
She is passionate about bringing Jews together and celebrating the commonalities rather than the differences. Through all of these experiences Elissa mentors and encourages others on their journeys.
Beth Huppin is a Seattle-based educator
who has enjoyed teaching adults and children of all ages in many different formal and informal settings. She was the recipient of a 2010 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Her grandfather was an integral part of the Chevrah Kadisha in Spokane, WA, where she grew up. Her grandmother made tachrichim for the chevrah. She is honored to teach and learn with this holy community.
Rabbi David Kasher
Rabbi David Kasher is the Director of Hadar West Coast.
After graduating from Wesleyan University and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and has served as Senior Jewish Educator at Berkeley Hillel and a part of the founding team at Kevah, and Associate Rabbi at IKAR. Rabbi Kasher is a teacher of nearly all forms of classical Jewish literature, but his greatest passion is Torah commentary, and he spent five years producing the weekly ParshaNut blog and podcast exploring the riches of the genre. He published an essay, ‘Eating Our Way from Justice to Holiness,’ in Kashrut and Jewish Food Ethics (Academic Studies Press, 2019), completed a translation of Avot d’Rabbi Natan for Sefaria, and is the author of ParshaNut: 54 Journeys into the World of Torah Commentary.
Rabbi Stuart Kelman
Rabbi Stuart Kelman is the Founding Dean Emeritus of the Gamliel Institute.
He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and has taught at the Hebrew Union College. He has extensive experience in all parts of the Jewish community, from working at Jewish camps to helping develop The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE). As founding rabbi of Netivot Shalom (1989), a unique participatory synagogue, he was responsible for the creation of the synagogue’s Chevrah Kadisha. His PhD is in Sociology of Education and he has published five Chevrah Kadisha-related books, including Nichum Aveilim, on how to be a comforter to a mourner, and Chesed Shel Emet, delving into an extensive analysis of the taharah liturgy.
Rabbi Ebn Leader
In his 20’s, Rabbi Ebn Leader was a student of David Hartman
from whom he learned to study Talmud and Halacha with an orientation towards values and ethical decision making. For the past 25 years he has been a student of Art Green with whom he learned Hassidut, Kabbalah, longing for God, and living into Jewish imagination. Rabbi Green then invited Rabbi Leader to cofound the rabbinical school of Hebrew College together with him, where Rabbi Leader taught for 20 years. For the last decade of Reb Zalman’s life, Rabbi Leader was privileged to meet with him individually every other week to learn and to listen. Rabbi Leader is a member of the community Chevrah Kadisha of the Greater Boston Area, and has served on its rabbinical advisory group.
Rabbi Steven Moss
Rabbi Dr. Steven Moss serves as Rabbi to Temple Sinai of Palm Beach County located in Delray Beach Florida.
He previously served B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, Long Island, NY as its Rabbi for 47 years and was honored as Emeritus. He is chaplain to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department. He served as chair to the Suffolk County’s Human Rights Commission from 1992-2019 and was founder and co-chair of the Suffolk County Anti-Bias Task Force. He was also founder and Director of STOPBIAS, the only educational program for hate crimes offenders in the county. He proudly served the Suffolk County Police Department as chaplain from 1986 to 2019 and holds the rank of Chief Chaplain Emeritus. Rabbi Moss enjoys cycling and travelling. He is a student of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and has taught numerous programs on Kabbalah and meditation. He has authored three books: God Is With Me: I Have No Fear; A Poetical Journey Through Sefirat HaOmer and Jewish Wisdom for Living and Dying, He has written numerous articles for publications of the Foundation of Thanatology and JewishAging.com. He is currently teaching an on-going study group of Maavar Yabok looking at his translation of this 17th century text. Also, he has conducted many workshops for Kavod V’Nichum.
Rabbi Haim Ovadia
Born in Israel, Rabbi Haim Ovadia received his Semicha in 1991 from Israeli Chief Rabbi
Mordechai Eliyahu after studying rabbinics at the Shehebar Sephardic Center. Rabbi Ovadia served as a hazan and assistant Rabbi at Communidad Hebrea Sefaradi de Bogota in Bogota, Columbia until 1996. In the same year he received a degree in Judaic studies in Bar-Ilan University before coming to the United States. Rabbi Ovadia continued to further his studies, earning a Masters Degree from UCLA in Hebrew literature in 2004 and pursuing a doctorate at Jewish Studies at Spertus College (Chicago). In addition Haim Ovadia has taught at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) and currently teaches Rabbinic studies at the Academy of Jewish Religion (AJR). Rabbi Ovadia sees himself as a link between the traditions of his Iraqi ancestors and the changes that are occurring within the Sephardic/Mizrahi community outside of the Middle East and North Africa. You can read more about him here.
Sara Ronis, Ph.D., studies rabbinic literature in the broader cultural context of Late Antiquity, including ancient Judaism, early Christianity and the religions of Late Antique Iran.
Her research focuses on demons and magic, gender and sexuality, and the construction of personhood and identity in ancient Judaism. Her first book, Demons in the Details: Demonic Discourse and Rabbinic Culture in Late Antique Babylonia came out in 2022. She is currently working on a new project exploring ancient Jewish constructions of the fetus in the contexts of the Roman and Sasanian empires. Ronis teaches courses in the Hebrew Bible and its reception, as well as courses that explore the diverse theologies and religious communities of the ancient world. Ronis was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2022.
Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Seidel
Rabbi Jonathan Seidel was born in Newark, New Jersey. He is descended from a rabbinic lineage of scholars in the Ukraine.
He grew up as a cultural New Yorker and actively observant Zionist within a Jewishly engaged family involved in Temple Emmanuel in Westfield, New Jersey. There his rabbinic teachers were Rabbis Charles Kroloff and Leonard Thal. His spiritual journey was radically altered after meeting Rabbis Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Later, it was Reb Zalman who first encouraged his entry into the ALEPH ordination program. Rabbi Seidel studied at Oberlin College, the Jewish Theological Seminary (MA 1981), and was a Fulbright-Hayes scholar at Cambridge University. He received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, in Near Eastern Studies (1996). He has taught Judaic Studies and Religion at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, University of Arizona, Portland State University, Northwest Christian College, Oregon State University, University of Oregon and most recently Lane Community College. He was ordained in 2004 by ALEPH, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, after many years of serving the Jewish community in the West. Rabbi Jonathan Seidel has taught Judaic Studies and Religion widely for 36 years and continues to teach each season in the community. Rabbi Seidel has edited a volume entitled Divination and Magic in the Ancient World (Brill 2002) and has published articles on Midrash, Jewish folklore, magic, history, rabbinics, modern Jewish thought and politics. He has also served locally on the Board of Hillel, Interfaith Clergy United, and the Oregon Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Seidel lectures on a host of topics around the Northwest. Rabbi Seidel has served as a spiritual leader and Cantor for a number of Jewish communities in California and Arizona. He has an extensive background in and commitment to Interfatith and Intercultural activism, Jewish music (as Chazzan for many years), Social Justice work, Jewish education and environmental activism. Rabbi Seidel is currrently the Chair of the Oregon Board of Rabbis and the President of the Board of the Oregon Interfaith Hub.
Naomi Spector is a community herbalist, educator, ethnoherbalist, and plant historian at bibi and ni.
They provide full-spectrum herbal care, birthkeeping, and womb wellness. They believe in healing through ancestral, natural, and preventative medicine, connection with the Earth, and that ancestral healing traditions are our birthright. Naomi is an educator who believes that herbalism is a powerful tool to help us connect to our ancestors and to many parts of our cultures and faith traditions.
Rabbi Jericho Vincent
Rabbi Jericho Vincent is a writer, lecturer, and coach.
While earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology as a first-generation college student, Jericho founded Horizons Academy, an after-school program for at-risk teens. They went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy as a Pforzheimer Fellow at Harvard University, training in Public Narrative and Adaptive Leadership. Jericho is the author of the memoir, Cut Me Loose, and the co-author of Legends of the Talmud. Their essays have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Cut, The Daily Beast, Mask Magazine, The Forward, and The Rumpus. Jericho has been named to the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 and The Forward’s Forward 50. They have lectured on trauma, gender, and transformation at colleges, organizations, and houses of worship across the country. Jericho is certified in IFS coaching and is currently at work on a book about healing from trauma.