The Rukin Fellowship has been extremely meaningful in developing my approach to working with interfaith, intercultural, and interethnic families with sensitivity, care, and inclusion. It has also ignited a fire within me to make sure that wherever I work and whatever I do, I am constantly advocating for greater advancement in inclusion for people of various backgrounds. I am excited to continue supporting and embodying the values I have learned through this program throughout my career.”– Rabbi Andy Kahn, Rukin Rabbinic Fellow, Cohort 2
Rabbi Eric L. Abbott believes that Judaism can change lives and better the world, and he feels incredibly honored to lead Bethesda Jewish Congregation (BJC) in Bethesda, MD toward that shared vision.
After attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he earned rabbinic ordination and a master’s in education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). In his spare time, Rabbi Abbott enjoys playing board games, reading, running, and spending time with his inspirational wife, Rabbi Eliana Fischel, his children, and his dog.
Rabbi Eric is excited to explore how to continue supporting the many interfaith families in his community.
Rabbi Lia Bass was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is the first Latinx ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY. She is an innovative leader who believes that Judaism is a spiritual way to respond to the joys and sorrows of being human. She is a prolific fiber artist, and enjoys watching team sports. She thinks of herself as a coach of a spiritual team, empowering people to commit to their spiritual journeys as they stand in a firm Jewish foundation. She is excited to learn and grow in her understanding of interfaith families through the cohort!
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, PA. She graduated from Brandeis University and was ordained at HUC-JIR, where she also earned an MA in Religious Education. Leah is a Past President of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, and has published four children’s books, including Queen Vashti’s Comfy Pants and Maybe It Happened This Way: Bible Stories Reimagined (with co-author Erica Wovsaniker). She is excited to participate in the Rukin Fellowship because she strives to empower individuals and families take ownership of their relationship to Judaism and decide for themselves how it will shape their lives.
Rabbi Hazzan Jerry Blum is the first graduate in the history of the Academy for Jewish Religion to receive simultaneous ordinations as rabbi and cantor. He is also a graduate of the Davvenen Leadership Training Institute of the ALEPH Association for Jewish Renewal. His senior thesis, “Getting to Yes – Rethinking Kiddushin: A New Path for Uniting Loving Couples” describes his spiritual and halakhic journey towards a new understanding of marriage within the Jewish community and how we as clergy can build a stronger bond within that community through outreach to interfaith families.
Rabbi Hazzan Blum is the rabbi at Temple Isaiah of Great Neck, and is a dad, husband, sabba, teacher, prayer leader, business consultant and occasional rock and roller. He loves to teach, sharing his passion for prayer, music, and all things Jewish, and is honored to be part of the fourth 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship.
Rabbi Sam Blumberg has served as the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Framingham, Massachusetts since 2020 and was ordained from Hebrew College in 2021. A graduate of the Pardes Educators Program and former day school teacher, Rabbi Blumberg is passionate about meaningful, accessible, and joyous Jewish living, and enjoys all aspects of synagogue life.
Rabbi Blumberg and his wife Amalia are proud to share their lives with their children Zamir and Sol. As an 18Doors Fellow, he looks forward to thinking deeply about meeting families where they are and helping them uncover holy moments through Jewish rhythms and rituals.
Sam Blustin is a rabbi, ritualist, and musician, focused on creating meaningful connection through intentional gathering. Based in Atlanta, Sam serves Ahavath Achim Synagogue as the associate rabbi, where his portfolio focuses on spirituality, prayer, and youth and family engagement. He enjoys asking big questions and exploring frameworks for deeper meaning. Sam is excited to deepen his engagement with families of various and no faiths, and learn, as a fellow, how to better support these families as they seek spiritual homes within our communities.
Rabbi Chuck Briskin serves as the Senior Rabbi of Shir Ami Congregation in Newtown, PA. After he was ordained from HUC-JIR in 2001, he served congregations in Los Altos Hills, CA and San Pedro, CA before moving to Bucks County in 2018.
Rabbi Briskin incorporates his passion for justice work, learning, and spiritual growth into his rabbinate. He is an alumnus of the IJS Clergy Leadership Program and currently serves on the Leadership Team for the Pennsylvania statewide project of the Religious Action Center.
Rabbi Briskin is honored to be a Rukin Fellow and is looking forward to broadening his skills with colleagues in creating and sustaining inclusive communities.
Rabbi Rachel Brown’s route to becoming a rabbi has included attaining a degree in architecture, apprenticing as a carpenter and woodworker, and traveling the Pacific Northwest by bicycle.
Rabbi Brown believes that Judaism gives all who have access to it a way to connect to each other, to God, and a ritual language to express what can’t be expressed with words. Her visionary approach to Jewish life and Jewish education focuses on serving and creating avenues of entry for students and congregation members of all ages.
She was ordained as a Rabbi by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles in 2005, and lives and serves the Jewish people in Cleveland, Ohio. Rabbi Brown is looking forward to her participation in 18Doors’ Rukin Fellowship and to deepening her awareness of issues facing interfaith families in order to better serve them.
Rabbi David Eber is the new rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom, an independent community in Naperville, Illinois. He graduated 2018 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Prior to joining Beth Shalom he spent five years as Assistant Rabbi at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL where he led the implementation and design of a new religious school model. He is excited to join the Rukin Fellowship, because even as a person from a multi-faith family, he wants to deepen his learning on ways to make all who seek a home in Jewish community feel welcome and celebrated.
Rabbi Aviva Fellman has served the Greater Worcester community as Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel since 2014. Aviva knew she wanted to be a rabbi from age 8 because she felt that her presence in the community mattered and her participation was valued.
Aviva works tirelessly to break down barriers to inclusion and to foster acceptance and a sense of belonging of all in religious spaces. She helps individuals and families deepen their understanding of Judaism and traveling on their personal journeys and is excited to deepen her understanding as a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow. Aviva’s a married “Ema” of four.
Deborah Goldberg is an assistant rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan. Originally from outside Chicago, she was ordained by HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2021. Deborah was a camper, staff member, and unit head at URJ Camp OSRUI in Wisconsin and credits camp with helping her become a rabbi. She loves working with the 20s/30s community in NYC and with her Intro to Judaism students. Deborah is excited to deepen her skills and resources to serve interfaith families and to connect with other clergy who are asking big questions about the future of Judaism.
Eytan Hammerman assumed the rabbinate at Temple Gates of Prayer in the Summer of 2022. He previously served the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, NY and Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, NY, where he substantially grew both congregations. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City where he held the prestigious “Gladstein Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Rabbinic Leadership.”
Among his interesting life experiences before entering Rabbinical School, as newlyweds, Rabbi Hammerman and Rebecca, his wife, were pivotal in the founding of a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Madrid, Spain. They are the parents of three teenage daughters: Ary, Rena and Lani.
Rabbi Hammerman’s views on interfaith inclusion take on and go up against the “old math” of the recent past, in which 1+1 (one Jew plus one non-Jew in a marriage) definitely equals zero future Jews in the newly-formed family. In his experience, he has seen this math play out quite differently and looks forward to learning further from 18Doors as to how to ensure a growing Jewish future.
Passionate educator, community builder, and storyteller, Rabbi David Helfand is an Engagement Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Atlanta. Trained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, CA, he also holds a Masters in Jewish Education. An avid sports enthusiast and avid reader, he also enjoys cooking and globe-trotting. It was in the Holy Land that Rabbi David met his best friend and now wife, Rebekah. Rabbi David believes in the power of connecting people to meaningful living through Judaism and beyond. Rabbi David is excited to learn with his Rukin Chevrutot (study partners) and grow through the holy work of 18Doors.
Rabbi Becky Hoffman is the senior rabbi of Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California. She received her BA in Judaic Studies at UC San Diego and an MA in Education from the Fingerhut School of Education at American Jewish University. She was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006. As part of the fellowship program, Rabbi Hoffman is looking forward to exploring the concept of saying “yes” and fostering inclusion in the Jewish community.
Rabbi Emily Langowitz is currently Jewish Engagement and Learning Manager at the Union for Reform Judaism. She previously served Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, AZ and remains engaged in the Phoenix Jewish community. Rabbi Langowitz received a Masters in Hebrew Literature and was ordained at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is thrilled to continue her work in supporting interfaith couples and their families as an 18Doors Fellow. She lives in Phoenix, AZ with her wife, Meaghan, and their dog, Frank.
Ryan Leszner serves as the Assistant Rabbi and Director of Jewish Living and Learning at Congregation Darchei Noam in Toronto, Canada. He was ordained from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2023. Ryan’s passion lies in providing educational musical experiences that connect people to Jewish wisdom, traditions, and communities. With a wealth of experience in youth education and worship, serving communities in Toronto, San Francisco, and Boston, he is committed to enriching the lives of learners, no matter their age. As an 18Doors fellow, Ryan is excited to further explore innovative ways to foster inclusive and meaningful Jewish connections for diverse communities.
Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson is the rabbi of Temple Israel of Albany, New York. She was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion, where she received an M.A. in Jewish Studies, and she received a Ph.D in History of Christianity from the University of Chicago. She has written and taught about interfaith relations as a scholar while participating in interfaith-oriented programs through the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism as a congregant. Now she looks forward to welcoming interfaith families into her synagogue as a rabbi.
Rabbi Alex Matthews serves as the Rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Newburyport, MA, where he has been working since 2019. He also works part-time as a hospital chaplain.
Rabbi Alex was ordained by Hebrew College in 2023. As a student, Rabbi Alex served as a fellow at the Center for Small Town Jewish Life in Maine. He comes to the rabbinate after spending a decade working as a vegetable farmer in New England and meeting his wife in the fields.
He is excited to be a Rukin Fellow and work towards creating more opportunities for meaningful, welcoming Jewish engagement.
I am a Reconstructionist rabbi living in Gig Harbor, Washington, where I work under the rubric of Locally Sourced Judaism. My work focuses on Jewish life cycle events, teaching, pastoral care, Jewish journeys and political activism. I am a certified Mussar facilitator and practitioner. I strongly believe in “big tent Judaism,” where everyone is invited into “the tent,” however their Judaism is lived. Most of the life cycle work I do is with interfaith families, who have taught me so much. I am very excited about learning more as a member of Cohort 4 of 18 Doors’ Rukin Fellowship.
Rabbi Allison Poirier serves as the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham, MA. She was born and raised in Medfield, MA and was ordained by Hebrew College in 2019. Rabbi Poirier grew up in an interfaith family, and is looking forward to learning more about serving interfaith Jewish families.
Rabbi Lindy Reznick is The Founding Rabbi of Bet Ahava, House of Love, an interfaith spiritual community which was established in 2022. The community is grounded in Jewish values, celebrates Jewish holidays, and uplifts the souls of all who join us for worship, learning and social action. Most recently she served Congregation Emanu El of Redlands, California as Senior Rabbi, as well as served as School Rabbi and Jewish Studies Director at Milken Community Schools. Rabbi Reznick also served as Rabbi Educator at Wilshire Boulevard Temple and many Jewish institutions in the Los Angeles area. She is a proud member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and Southern California Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Reznick is currently participating in a clergy fellowship with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and was just awarded an Interfaith Fellowship with 18Doors. When not teaching, leading, or praying, Rabbi Reznick can be found exploring the beauty of our national parks, dancing her heart out, or meditating anywhere.
Rabbi Rachel Safman recently assumed the position of senior rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills, Maryland. A graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies in Los Angeles, she is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and of the RA’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.
Rachel is interested in exploring the spaces the rabbinic tradition creates for welcoming the “stranger” in ways that are meaningful and substantive, not just symbolic. She believes that Judaism is at its strongest when infused with the insights of other traditions and our communities most vibrant when we embrace all who come to learn and celebrate with us. Prior to entering the rabbinate, Rachel was a professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. She is the grateful partner of Daniel Robinson and proud mother of three kids, aged 12, 7 and 3.
Rabbi Sarah Shulman serves as a congregational rabbi at the Hebrew Educational Alliance in Denver, Colorado. Rabbi Shulman is passionate about community building through Jewish educational experiences. She was ordained as a Conservative Rabbi with dual Masters degrees in Education and Rabbinic Studies from American Jewish University. Originally from Seattle, Rabbi Shulman attended Stanford University, where she received a B.A. in Human Biology and Creative Writing.
Rabbi Shulman has launched several different Jewish organizations and educational programs in North America, including most recently founding Camp Ramah in Northern California. She began her career as a Jewish day school teacher and administrator in the Bay Area. Throughout her career, Rabbi Shulman has served several congregations, Jewish camps, and Jewish social justice organizations, including AJWS and Hazon. She has been a Schusterman Fellow, DeLeT fellow, and Lefell Israel fellow. She also has an impressive athletic background, having competed in IRONMAN world championships and other ultra-endurance events as an accomplished swimmer, runner, and cyclist.
Rabbi Shulman lives in Denver with her husband Nate and their daughters Lielle (7) and Meital (2). She looks forward to joining the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship program to extend a welcoming spirit into policy and action and learn from other fellows and the staff at 18Doors.
Rabbi Rafi Spitzer has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Agudat Achim in Schenectady, NY since his 2019 ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, with a Certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling. He is President of the Capital District Board of Rabbi’s and Cantors and an active member of the Schenectady Clergy Against Hate interfaith group. He is excited for the opportunity to learn from colleagues and teachers on the topic of interfaith engagement, and to bring that learning to the capital region.
Rabbi Spitzer lives with his partner, Rachael Besser, and their three kids, Ellie, Jonah, and Zakai. He enjoys growing, cooking, and eating vegetables; podcasts and audiobooks; and vacations to the beach.
Rabbi Daniel Z. Stein is a creative faith leader who is committed to building dynamic, spiritually engaged communities. He has been privileged to serve as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Shalom in San Francisco’s East Bay since 2016.
Rabbi Stein was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and is currently a doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. In 2024 he will be the Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellow at Harvard University.
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Daniel is also an accomplished musician; he received his undergraduate degree at The College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.
Rabbi Simon Stratford serves as the Associate Rabbi and Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Sholom in Cincinnati, OH., where he works with individuals of all ages and families of diverse backgrounds. Before being ordained in 2017 by HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Rabbi Stratford received his BA in Social Work from Michigan State University. As a rabbi, he is in the business of building and sustaining sacred Jewish community, the foundation of which rests upon meaningful personal relationships.
He is thrilled to be a part of the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship and learn from colleagues and experts on matters of multi-faith inclusion.
Rabbi Howard Tilman joined Congregation Beth Israel in July 2017 and has enthusiastically embraced this growing community. Through partnerships with professional staff and lay leadership, he has worked to enliven the synagogue’s religious services, educational opportunities, and family programming. Rabbi Tilman loves spending time with the congregation’s many learners of all ages and enjoys bringing modern and classical perspectives, as well as humor, to all of his teachings. He previously served as a member of the clergy team of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, where he worked in a variety of roles, including supervising Shabbat and Holiday programming, teen educational programming, and Israel advocacy. He was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May 2014.
Rabbi Tilman is very excited to be an 18Doors Fellow and to share his learning with the Scotch Plains community and all of the families in the area.
Rabbi Stephanie Crawley is the Associate Rabbi at Temple Micah in Washington, DC, and co-leader of the Micah Storefront Project. She was ordained in 2018 by HUC-JIR (NY), where she was a Tisch Rabbinical Fellow, and is an alumna of Case Western Reserve University. Whether teaching, leading song-filled prayer, creating new rituals, engaging in justice work, or providing spiritual counseling, her ongoing project is to be a rabbi who is rooted, hopeful and fully human. Rabbi Crawley spends her free time writing poetry, reading and watching nature cameras.
From a devoted interfaith family herself, Stephanie is excited to connect with all those who seek meaning and inspiration through Judaism.
Rabbi Sarah DePaolo is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, Calif., where she works with families and individuals from all walks of Jewish-ly connected life. Rabbi DePaolo was ordained by HUC-JIR in NY in 2017. She has been driven in her rabbinic work by a commitment to joyful exploration of Judaism, building community founded on caring relationships and the pursuit of justice.
Raised in an interfaith family, Rabbi DePaolo is excited to be a Rukin Fellow and to create opportunities for families of all kinds who wish to connect with Judaism in meaningful ways.
Joshua Fixler serves as Associate Rabbi at Congregation Emanu El in Houston, Texas. He is the president of the Houston Faith Leaders Coalition and a member of the steering committee for the Texas Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-TX). Rabbi Fixler was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in May 2017. While in rabbinical school, Rabbi Fixler was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and a Bonnie and Daniel Tisch Rabbinical Fellow. During his time at HUC-JIR, Joshua also completed an Advanced Professional Certificate in Management for Public & Nonprofit Organizations at New York University.
With her humor and insight, Rabbi Jen Gubitz builds communities and creates content that elevates Jewish wisdom’s capacity to speak to our human condition. With over 15 years of experience in Jewish professional life, Jen is a graduate of Indiana University and was ordained in 2012 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (NY) where she was a Tisch Rabbinical Fellow. She trained in chaplaincy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and wrote her thesis on Jewish death education for children.
Jen runs Modern JewISH Couples and serves on the clergy team of Temple Shalom of Newton, Mass.
Rabbi Meredith Kahan serves as Senior Rabbi of Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio. She previously served as their Associate Rabbi & Educator for seven years. She received her social work degree from Ohio State, and was in 2013 from HUC-Cincinnati Rabbi Kahan’s professional passions include liturgy and sacred music; engaging families with young children; community-wide and multi-faith work; innovating in congregational programming and building affinity spaces.
She and her husband do their best to keep up with their three young children. Rabbi Kahan is honored to be a Rukin Fellow and to learn alongside colleagues who are dedicated to creating a more inclusive and affirming Jewish community.
Rabbi Jen Lader hails from Austin, Texas, and has served at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Mich. since her ordination from HUC-JIR in 2012. In addition to her rabbinic portfolio, she specializes as a “youth guru,” running all teen-related endeavors and keeping up to date on the latest slang for the benefit of her elder colleagues.
Rabbi Jen believes in the transformative power of a loving and open community. Her role is to connect people to each other, to guide them on their paths of self-discovery and to lengthen our chain of tradition, one link–one person–at a time. She is looking forward to learning and growing with 18Doors, and welcoming and engaging seekers with open arms.
“Rabbi Kolby Morris-Dahary (she/her) is Senior Rabbi of Har Mishpacha Jewish community in Steamboat Springs, CO. Rabbi Kolby received ordination from ALEPH Ordination Program in January 2022. She was raised in an interfaith family and this part of her story inspired a passion for interfaith inclusion. Her rabbinical thesis, “An Interfaith Tent,” is about a halachic paradigm shift surrounding interfaith wedding rituals. She is an experienced prayer leader, musician and creator of devotional music.
She is thrilled to be a part of the Rukin Fellowship and dedicating her future learning to all of the incredible interfaith families that she has learned from in her life’s work.
Rabbi Alexis Pinsky was ordained from the N.Y. campus of the Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. She has previously served as the Associate Rabbi/Educator at B’ShERT (Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple) in New York, N.Y., the Associate Rabbi at the historic Touro Synagogue in New Orleans as the Musical and Liturgical Clergy in Residence, and as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, La. where she focused on outreach and engagement to young families and young adults.
Rabbi Eve Posen is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, Ore., where she teaches, preaches, inspires and engages all generations. A graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Posen also holds an M.A. in Experiential Education from the American Jewish University. She is an enthusiastic educator who is passionate about working with families with young children, intergenerational education and community building. Rabbi Posen is active in the work of social justice and engaged with American Jewish World Service. She is mother to two children and an elderly dog, and is partnered to a wonderful human.
Rabbi Yael Rapport (she/her/hers) is the Director of the Gottesman Center for Jewish Living and the The Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s at the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan on the Upper West Side of New York City. She served as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue of New York City, from 2016-2022. Prior to her work at CBST, she worked as a Chaplain Resident in the Mount Sinai Health System at Mount Sinai Beth Israel focusing on inpatient and outpatient oncology and the Gender Affirmation Surgical Unit. Her passions include visual art, new food traditions and she is certified as a yoga teacher.
Rabbi Peter Rigler is the Rabbi of Temple Sholom in Broomall, Pa. Rabbi Rigler was ordained by the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2002. He served as the Associate Rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, Pa. for seven years. He engages in all aspects of Jewish living, including: leading worship services; officiating weddings, funerals, b’nai mitzvah ceremonies and baby namings; and teaching in the Religious School and Lifelong Learning program.
His wife, Rabbi Stacy Rigler, is the A.R.J.E. Director. They have three children: Maya, Nathan, and Eli. Rabbi Rigler loves running and time with his family. He leads with warmth, humor, knowledge and a rich passion for Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Elana Rosen-Brown is an Associate Rabbi at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, Calif. where she has served since 2014. In this role, she leads adult learning and social justice initiatives and strives to co-create a community that is fully inclusive of interfaith/Jewish-ish/multifaith families. A native East Coaster, Elana grew up in Hartford, Conn. and has lived all over the world.
Elana serves on the boards of the Marin Interfaith Council, the Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative, and RAC California’s Leadership Team. Alongside her deep love for Judaism, Elana is a practicing Buddhist. She is grateful to her partner, Dan, for the joyous multifaith home they have created together with their cats Beniko and Sherwood.
Rabbi Adam Rosenwasser is the Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md. in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of Michigan and was ordained from the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009. He finds pastoral work incredibly meaningful, and he is excited and honored to join the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship to be able to better help guide folks of all backgrounds and experiences in their Jewish journeys.
Rabbi Simone Schicker has been the spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo, Mich. since her ordination from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2018. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas and was raised in an interfaith family. She is excited for the opportunity to learn from colleagues and teachers on the topic of interfaith engagement, and to bring her learning to all those in and around Southwest Mich. Rabbi Schicker is active in interfaith work in Kalamazoo and was recognized for her work as Clergy of the Year by ISAAC.
Rabbi Jodie Siff grew up in Plandome, N.Y. and has been serving the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore community as their Rabbi for 23 years. Jodie works at with the synagogue’s nursery school and the older adult community.
A mentor through the Elaine Breslow Institute at Beit T’Shuvah, she works to support Jewish professionals and individuals who are yearning to create sacred space and build sacred relationships in their work and lives. Jodie embraces and expounds the concept, you don’t have to be an addict to be in recovery and she works to help others create a daily practice of reflection and integration. She is also a registered yoga teacher. Jodie and her husband Peter are the proud parents of four young adults.
Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman is the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Israel of the City of New York. She received a Masters in Hebrew Letters, Jewish Education and Rabbinic Ordination from HUC, LA. She has been on the cutting edge of innovative educational programs for nearly 18 years. Additionally, she serves as an active member of the clergy team that makes living and learning Judaism relevant and meaningful for Jews and those that love them. Rabbi Buyer-Witman is the editor for the CCAR’s Mishkan HaNefesh for Youth and serves as the Dean of faculty for the URJ’s Crane Lake and Eisner Camps.
Rabbi Buyer-Witman comes from a loving family that includes members of multiple faith traditions. As a Fellow, she will continue to harness her passion to create inclusive communities that see diversity as a blessing.
Rabbi Emily Cohen is the rabbi of West End Synagogue: a Reconstructionist community on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She graduated in 2018 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and prior to joining West End spent two years as the Jewish Emergent Network Rabbinic Resident with Lab/Shul in New York City. An artist from an early age, Rabbi Emily’s “side projects” have included Passover parodies (“The Hamilton Haggadah”), a podcast (“Jew Too? Tales of the Mixed Multitude”) and a great deal of Jewish music. She also writes regularly for Alma.
Rabbi Emily is part of the growing population of American Jews raised by one Jewish parent and one parent of another faith. Her interfaith roots lead her to look always to the edges of Jewish community and to center the voices that are least heard.
Rabbi Alex Greenbaum is one of the rabbis of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills in Pittsburgh with congregational experience from Augusta, GA, Staten Island, NY, and Alpena, MI. He was ordained in 1997 by the Jewish Theological Seminary and holds a MHL from the University of Judaism, LA, and a BA in Poli-Sci/Pre-Law from Michigan State University. Originally from Detroit, he is married to Rabbi Amy Greenbaum, his associate rabbi (they were the first rabbinic couple in its 100-year history to graduate together from JTS). Together, with their three boys and one girl, they have lived in Pittsburgh since 2002. Alex cannot wait to work with 18Doors! He has worked with InterfaithFamily since 2001 and believes that there is no better place in the world that connects interfaith couples and embracing rabbis.
Rabbi Denise Handlarski is the founder and spiritual leader of the online community Secular Synagogue and the author of “The A-Z of Intermarriage” published by New Jewish Press/University of Toronto Press. She also works as a Jewish Doula and a university professor for teacher candidates. Denise is delighted to be a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow; she loves speaking to couples and families about how to create a dynamic and meaningful cultural life.
Rabbi Emily Hyatt is a congregational rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Denver, CO, where she is proud to serve, teach and help grow the Jewish community in her own hometown. Rabbi Hyatt was ordained at HUC-JIR (Los Angeles) and holds a M.A. in Jewish Education from the Hebrew College in Boston and an MBA from Indiana University.
Rabbi Hyatt loves helping individuals and families find meaning in community, tradition, learning and identity and is excited to be working with the Rukin Fellowship to create even more opportunities for diverse families of all kinds to make a home in the Jewish community.
Andy Kahn is the assistant Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. He grew up in Tacoma, WA, attended Kenyon College for his BA, Queen’s University and Jewish Theological Seminary for graduate school, and was ordained by HUC-JIR New York in 2018. He is excited to work with 18Doors to help create a Jewish world that embraces people of all backgrounds, and is willing to both enrich and be enriched by all who seek a connection to Judaism, regardless of their Jewish status.
Rabbi Jessica Lowenthal is the Rabbi and education director at Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose, MA. She works with a diverse array of people, both Jewish and Jewish adjacent, to create meaningful and fulfilling rituals and foster a loving and open community. A teacher at heart, Rabbi Jessica is passionate about helping each individual find their own pathway into Judaism. She is particularly excited to be a Rukin Fellow and embrace families of all background who want to bring Judaism into their lives.
Rabbi Jessica met her husband, Phil Weber, at the dog park, beginning as a two dog family. They have since expanded to include two boys, Louis and Max.
Steven Philp is an Associate Rabbi at Mishkan Chicago. He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Steven earned an M.St. in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford and an M.Div. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago.
Steven grew up in California and Hawaii, as a Roman Catholic with a strong Protestant heritage. He became passionate about interfaith work while in college, a path that eventually led him to convert to Judaism. Steven is excited to work with 18Doors, helping others find communities that affirm their whole selves. He currently lives in Boystown with his cat Miso.
Rabbi Ari Saks, a Rabbi Without Borders fellow, is in his eighth year out of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and in his third year as senior rabbi of the Huntington Jewish Center. Over the course of his rabbinic career, Rabbi Saks has launched many innovative programs to infuse passion and energy into his communities.
Rabbi Saks has a deep passion for working with interfaith families whether they raise their families with one religion or two religions. At the same time, Rabbi Saks works closely with Jewish parents who are navigating the complexities of having children marry someone of a different faith.
Rabbi Saks participates in interfaith family lifecycle events as much as possible while upholding the standards of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement. He is excited to work with 18Doors to further enhance his understanding of the needs of interfaith families, to learn best practices for engaging them and to develop a network of like-minded clergy.
Rabbi Michael Satz is the rabbi of Temple B’nai Or in Morristown, NJ. Ordained by HUC-JIR in 2007, he has served communities in Cherry Hill, NJ, San Diego, CA, and Toronto, ON, but his native St. Louis is always in his heart. Rabbi Satz studies and teaches about the literature and practice of Mussar, the Jewish study of virtue. He also loves to play classic country songs on guitar and until a recent knee injury, practice the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga. He is married to Rabbi Janice Elster and together they have two boys, Eitan and Ami. Rabbi Satz is looking forward to learning with this cohort of rabbis to think about how the Jewish community of the present and future can be more welcoming to all.
Ordained in 2018 at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, Rabbi Daniel Sher serves as the Youth and Family Rabbi at Kehillat Israel in the Pacific Palisades, CA. There he works with families of all ages, ranging from preschool through 20s and 30s, among other rabbinic responsibilities.
Rabbi Sher enjoys spending time staying active, exploring the beauty of the city he lives in. Of course that is all the more fun with his wife Jennifer, and kids Levi and Sami. As a southern California native, Rabbi Sher loves to now experience this city through a completely different lens. As an 18Doors Fellow, Rabbi Sher hopes to activate couples’ engagement with the beauty and relevance of the Jewish experience, and witness for themselves the meaning it can add to our modern lives.
Rabbi Michael Shulman, RJE is a native of Cleveland, OH, and currently is the Director of Education and Next Generation Programming at The Temple in Nashville, TN. The product of both Jewish and Catholic education, Rabbi Shulman holds degrees from Georgetown University, Xavier University and HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Shulman believes that Judaism becomes most meaningful in the context of community. For years, he has worked with children and adults of all ages and backgrounds to build connections and open doors to Jewish life. As a Fellow, Rabbi Shulman looks forward to finding new and innovative ways to build and ensure our Jewish future for all of the members of our diverse community.
Rabbi Greg Weisman has served Temple Beth El of Boca Raton since his ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2013. He is deeply involved in the congregation’s social action and social justice work, the Early Learning Center and Religious School, and guides the congregation’s Introduction to Judaism and conversion programs. He serves a variety of communal organizations, including the board of rabbis and the interfaith clergy council. He and his wife Tami Weisman, RJE, a Jewish educator, live in Boca Raton with their three daughters. His experience in interfaith work, both within the congregation and in the community, is what excites him to be part of 18Doors’ Fellowship.
Rabbi Todd Zinn is the Director of Jewish Journeys and Enrichment at Honeymoon Israel (HMI). HMI strives to make young couples of all backgrounds feel welcome in the Jewish community and to inspire them to incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their lives in their own way through impressive community based travel to Israel. Rabbi Zinn guides the educational vision and implementation within the Honeymoon Israel community working to create dynamic educational programming, meaningful social action work, and deep relationships. Prior to his work at HMI, Rabbi Zinn served as a Rabbi at Chicago Sinai Congregation in Chicago, Illinois. He was ordained at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, California. Before coming to Chicago, Rabbi Zinn worked with college students at the University of Southern California, at Beit T’shuva—a residential addiction treatment facility, and in congregations throughout Southern California.
Karen Bogard grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and graduated from Newcomb College at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She then continued her studies at the rabbinical school of Hebrew Union College (HUC) where she met her husband, Daniel Bogard. After ordination at the Cincinnati campus they began sharing a pulpit at Anshai Emeth in Peoria, Illinois. After five amazing years in Peoria, Karen and Daniel continued their co-rabbi model at Adath Israel in Cincinnati, Ohio, for two years. Karen is so excited to now be serving Central Reform Congregation and living in St. Louis. Through the various congregations, Karen has spent much time developing programs for multi-faith families; something she loves doing and feels passionate about. She has very much loved her work with 18Doors and the rest of the fellowship cohort. The couples she has met and programs she has run have helped deepen connections, spark conversations, and show first hand the importance of this work and message.
Rabbi Max Chaiken recently relocated to Massachusetts with his husband and their dog (Oogie) to begin serving as the Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Andover. Previously, he was the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, California, where he served since his ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2018. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy from Brown University, and is a proud alum of the URJ Camp Harlam and URJ Kutz Camp.
A skilled musician, Rabbi Max has a passion for creative ritual, Hebrew and helping folks find meaning in Jewish life, wherever and whenever he meets them. He looks forward to connecting with you soon!
Rabbi Elyssa Cherney leads lifecycle rituals for couples and families in Philadelphia who aren’t affiliated with a particular synagogue. The most important aspect of her work is helping others mark time through rituals big and small. She created the website tacklingtorah.com to help people connect their Judaism to holy moments in their lives.
Rabbi Elyssa engages the Philadelphia Jewish community at pop-up style events or co-hosting with other local Jewish non-profits. As a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow, she loves helping others explore how to talk about Jewish traditions in their interfaith homes. Rabbi Elyssa acts as a spiritual guide helping families navigate the joys and challenges of bringing different religious and/or cultural identities to the table. She is grateful to her partner Alan and kiddos Ava Jane and Zeke for supporting her in this work.
Rabbi Braham David has proudly worked on expanding innovative interfaith outreach and conversion programming on behalf of the Conservative Movement in Boston. Since 2003, Rabbi David has served as Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Medford, MA, an intimate and welcoming egalitarian Conservative congregation outside Boston. While there, he has envisioned and supported the Temple’s successful renewal process with a focus on welcoming young families, social action and dynamic interfaith outreach initiatives.
Rabbi David received his ordination and an MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York. He is delighted for the opportunity to serve as a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow with 18Doors to learn how to better serve interfaith couples in our Jewish communities.
Rabbi Boris Dolin is the rabbi of Congregation Dorshei Emet in Montreal, Quebec. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and received an M.A. in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Before moving to Montreal, Boris served as the rabbi of Beit Polska, the Union of Progressive Congregations in Poland, where he led a multi-congregational community working to help rebuild Jewish life in Poland. His rabbinate has focused on bringing participatory music, experiences in nature, interfaith dialogue and creative spirituality to his congregants. Boris lives in Montreal with his wife, Sarah, and his children, Elijah, Ezra and Nehama. He is excited to represent Canada in the first Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship cohort and hopes to help create a more welcoming and inclusive Jewish community in Montreal and in Canada.
Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss was ordained by HUC in Cincinnati, OH in 1999, with an MA in Jewish Education and Hebrew Letters. He studied at HUC in Jerusalem and LA, as well as the UJ Rabbinic program. In his first pulpit at Temple Emanuel as the Rabbinic Director of Education and Outreach, he served the Jewish community of Birmingham, AL, for 12 years.
Rabbi Scott is the founding Rabbi of Shma Koleinu in Houston, TX. Shma Koleinu is a synagogue without walls and without requiring a financial or membership commitment, that serves all Jews, Jewish families and those who love them. Rabbi Scott is proud to be a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow, as he continues to develop and grow in his ability to serve all who seek out Jewish life and experience. He especially loves working with interfaith couples and families, because they are often the most open to what Judaism, Jewish ritual and tradition can offer.
Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs is the director and co-founder of ISH, a welcoming, non-denominational spiritual service grounded in Jewish wisdom. Rabbi Jacobs creates an open dialogue with spiritual seekers everywhere and offers innovative resources to enable every individual to create the spiritual life that works best for them.
A graduate of William Smith College, she received a Master’s of Divinity from Yale University and Rabbinic Ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary. A chaplain for law enforcement, Rabbi Jacobs is committed to embracing interfaith families within Jewish life. Rabbi Jacobs is married to Rabbi Andrew Jacobs and mother to Abigail and Jonah. The joy in making a difference in the lives of interfaith families has been equaled only with the pride of learning with the amazing staff and colleagues at 18Doors!
Ordained in 2008, Rabbi Olshein began her tenure in June 2021 as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Tempe, AZ. She was most recently the Resident Rabbinic Scholar of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson/Las Vegas, NV, and before that spent eight years as the rabbi of Temple Israel of West Palm Beach, FL, and four years as Assistant/Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, TX. A lawyer in Las Vegas for 10+ years before entering rabbinical school, she was ordained by HUC-JIR (LA).
Her professional passions include teaching adult education, leading congregational Jewish music, bringing awareness to social justice issues, creating interfaith opportunities for dialogue and worship and facilitating workshops on spirituality in everyday life. She loves learning with her 18Doors cohort and is excited to deepen her interfaith work through learning best practices to better serve the community.
Laura Rumpf grew up in a loving interfaith home in San Francisco, CA, and graduated from Stanford University. She is happy to be back in her native Bay Area post-ordination from Hebrew Union College. Laura currently serves as a congregational rabbi at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, and delights in the diversity of ways her job calls her to engage her spiritual curiosity—from leading workshops on resilience for teenagers, to organizing interfaith social justice efforts.
Laura is grateful to the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship for introducing her to so many warm, inspiring couples and individuals. She enjoys journeying with those who seek support from 18Doors, and helping them find a spiritual home that’s meaningful and meets them where they are.
Rabbi Daniel Weiner believes passionately in building Judaism for the 21st century and in healing the world through social justice. Temple De Hirsch Sinai has grown to more than 5,000 members and 1,600 families in two campuses in Seattle and Bellevue since he took charge in 2001. His innovations in worship include producing “rabcasts” on video, bringing services to travelers and shut-ins on the internet and leading a rock band in popular Rock Shabbat services. He tweets @rocknrabbidanny.
Rabbi Weiner is married to Cindy Tepper Weiner. They are the proud parents of Julia and Benjamin. He frequently enjoys the glorious climes of the Pacific Northwest while walking their black lab, Sadie. Rabbi Weiner is profoundly grateful and honored to serve as a Rukin Fellow with 18Doors, an organization that sensitively and insightfully responds to the critical needs of a growing part of the American Jewish community. His experience as a Rukin Fellow has enhanced his perspective, providing critical resources to meet the evolving needs of multi-heritage families.