Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship

A unique community of practice where rabbis hone their skills working with interfaith couples and families.


Interested in becoming a Fellow?

We are currently looking for Rukin Rabbinic Fellows in the Chicago area. Get more information and apply.

Interested in becoming a Fellow?

We are currently looking for Rukin Rabbinic Fellows in the Chicago area. Get more information and apply.

71% of progressive Jews marry someone who isn’t Jewish.
Be a leader in serving these couples.
Apply for the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship.

The two-year Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship is an opportunity for rabbis to come together to deepen their practices of working with interfaith couples and families. Rukin Fellows are mentored by 18Doors experts, receive access to our specialized learning and resources, get the opportunity to facilitate workshops and programs for interfaith couples, and are given preferred listing in 18Doors' Officiation Referral Service. Fellows receive a $5,000 yearly stipend. Applications are currently open for rabbis in the Chicago area to join our Second Cohort. Applications for the Third cohort will open in fall 2021.

As a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow You Will:

  • Be part of a cohort of 16 rabbis (plus another 11 rabbis who are in our first cohort).

  • Attend a virtual retreat with your colleagues and members of the 18Doors team. The virtual retreat will take place on Monday – Wednesday, February 1-3, 2021 each day from 11 am – 3 pm CST. Our hope is that by early 2022, when we will have a retreat for Cohorts 2 and 3, we will be able to have an in person retreat.

  • Participate in webinars with leading experts in the field of interfaith inclusion every 4-6 weeks.
  • Use 18Doors codified curriculum to offer programs in your area and/or nationally for interfaith couples and families. (Programs will be offered virtually until it is safe to offer in person programming.)

  • Check in monthly with a mentor.
  • Connect with local interfaith couples through the 18Doors Officiation Referral Service.
  • Receive a yearly stipend of $5,000 for facilitating workshops and programs for interfaith couples.

  • Have the opportunity to be part of an alumni network after completion of the Fellowship.

As a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow You Will Commit to:

  • Attend two retreats: a virtual retreat that will take place from Monday – Wednesday, February 1-3, 2021 each day from 11 am – 3 pm CST, and a retreat (hopefully in person, or if not virtual) in early 2022.

  • Participate in webinars every 4-6 weeks.

  • Participate in monthly check-ins with a mentor.

  • Facilitate workshops and programs for interfaith couples and families.

  • Connect with local interfaith couples through 18Doors’ Officiation Referral Service and help them, among other things, to find clergy to officiate their lifecycle events.

Hear more about the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship from the Director, Rabbi Robyn Frisch.


Let us know if you are interested in being informed when applications for Cohort 3 become available.

Participating in the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship has created a strong platform for me to expand my efforts to welcome interfaith couples and engage them in meaningful learning, ritual, and communal opportunities. From the opening retreat, which both prepared us and helped us build a sense of community amongst fellows, to opportunities for collaboration with other local organizations and to helping couples connect with officiants, I feel grateful for the opportunity to partner with 18Doors in this capacity. Recently, I was reminded of just how powerful this work can be after conducting the opening session of a workshop, where couples shared so openly and respectfully about the blessings and challenges they are facing. Hearing their stories inspires me to want to continue to be a supporting presence for them as they build their lives and families together.

- Rabbi Max Chaiken, Rukin Rabbinic Fellow, Los Angeles, CA

Meet the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellows

Inaugural Cohort (2019-2021)

Rabbi Steven Abraham

Rabbi Steven Abraham (Omaha, NE)

Rabbi Steven Abraham is the Rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, NE. Steven graduated from the rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also received a M.A. in Jewish Education. Prior to attending JTS, he earned his B.S. in Business Management from the University of Baltimore. Most recently, Rabbi Abraham earned a Certificate from the Interfaith Families Engagement program at Hebrew College.

Rabbi Abraham currently sits on multiple boards including the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands and the national board of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He has two wonderful children, Naama (8) and Leor (5). Rabbi Abraham is thrilled to be working with like-minded colleagues in the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship and the 18Doors Team.

Rabbi Karen Bogard

Rabbi Karen Bogard (St. Louis, MO)

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

Rabbi Max Chaiken (Los Angeles, CA)

Rabbi Max Chaiken serves as the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA. Among other rabbinic responsibilities, he directs The Open Yad Project, a community of folks in their 20s and 30s, and oversees weekly worship music.

As an 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellow, Rabbi Chaiken enjoys connecting couples to officiants, officiating customized life cycle ceremonies, and facilitating meaningful workshops that help couples explore the questions most important to them as they build lives together across diverse cultural and faith traditions. Rabbi Chaiken believes that Judaism can help bring meaning to couples’ lives, and relishes in opportunities to help share that joy and passion. Rabbi Chaiken lives with his husband, Rabbi Danny Shapiro, and their dog, Oogie (short for Cookie Monster, in Hebrew!).

Rabbi Elyssa Cherney

Rabbi Elyssa Cherney (Philadelphia, PA)

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

Rabbi Braham David (Boston, MA)

Rabbi Braham David has proudly served as Director of the Jewish Discovery Institute (JDI) since 2007, expanding innovative interfaith outreach and conversion programming on behalf of the Conservative Movement in Boston. Since 2003, Rabbi David has also 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

Rabbi Boris Dolin (Montreal, Quebec)

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

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss (Houston, TX)

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

Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

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!

Rabbi Cookie Olshein

Rabbi Cookie Olshein (Las Vegas, NV)

Ordained in 2008, and after spending four years as a Rabbi in Texas and then eight years as the Rabbi of Temple Israel of West Palm Beach, Florida, Rabbi Olshein returned to her beloved Las Vegas Jewish community in July of 2020. 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.

Rabbi Laura Rumpf

Rabbi Laura Rumpf (San Francisco, CA)

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

Rabbi Daniel Weiner (Seattle, WA)

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will applications for the fellowship next be open?

Applications are currently open for additional rabbis from Chicago for our second Cohort. Applications for the third Fellowship cohort will open in the fall of 2021.

How many rabbis are in a cohort?

Our first cohort has 11 rabbis. Cohort two will have 16 rabbis, 14 that were previously selected and two from Chicago that will be selected through this application process.  We expect to select approximately 22 rabbis for our third cohort.

How has the Fellowship changed as result of the coronavirus pandemic?

Before the pandemic, our plan was to have our yearly retreats in person, though now our 2021 retreat will be virtual. Our hope is that our 2022 retreat will be in person (see more information below). Also, before the pandemic, Fellows offered all workshops and programs in person. As a result of the pandemic, all offerings are currently virtual. When it is safe to do so, Fellows can return to offering workshops and programs in person, though they may still, in consultation with the Fellowship Director, decide to offer some workshops and programs virtually (to both local and national participants, depending on the situation). 

In what communities does 18Doors have fellows?

We have fellows throughout the United States and Canada.

What experience and qualities should applicants have?

We are seeking rabbis who already have some experience working with interfaith couples and families, and who want to take their work to the next level. Applicants must be non-judgmental and willing to “meet couples where they are.” They should also be patient listeners, relationship-builders and connectors.

Is there anything I should do before applying?

We encourage all potential applicants to reach out to Rabbi Robyn Frisch, Director of the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship, before beginning their application.  You can schedule a 15 minute or half hour appointment with her at calendly.com/rabbirobyn or email her at rabbirobyn@18doors.org.

How long is the fellowship and what are the dates?

The Fellowship is for two years. The second cohort will begin with an opening virtual retreat that will take place from February 1-3, 2021 and will continue until the end of March 2023.

Is there a stipend for participating in the fellowship?

Yes. All fellows will receive a yearly stipend of $5,000 upon fulfilling the benchmarks and requirements of the program.

How much time do I need to devote to the fellowship?

The time that Fellows devote to the Fellowship will vary from week to week. We expect that Fellows will spend approximately 15-18 hours/month. This time will include participating in webinars and mentoring, recruiting, planning for and facilitating workshops and programs, communicating with local couples who have made requests for clergy through the 18Doors Officiation Referral Service, and reporting their activities back to 18Doors.

What is the purpose of the workshops and programs Fellows offer to interfaith couples & families?

The purpose of these workshops and programs is to empower couples to become more skilled at navigating their interfaith relationships, to determine what is important to them from their faith tradition, and to increase their engagement with Jewish life and the Jewish community in ways that are right for them and their families.

Who will I be offering workshops and programs for?

Fellows will facilitate multi-session workshops and individual programs for interfaith couples (seriously dating, engaged and newly married) in their area who do not yet have children or for interfaith couples who have young children (birth through age 6) using codified 18Doors curriculum. While programs are being offered solely virtually for safety purposes, Fellows will have input as to whether these programs are offered locally (so that they can build relationships among interfaith couples and families in their community that will hopefully last beyond the pandemic) or nationally.

How will I find the couples to participate in the workshops and programs that I offer?

It is expected that each applicant to the Fellowship will already have a network of interfaith couples whom they have worked with – either through officiation of lifecycle events or in some other capacity. Additionally, Fellows will connect with interfaith couples through the 18Doors Officiation Referral Service, who they will encourage to participate in workshops and programs. 18Doors will also provide some marketing support, but personal contact works best. 

Will I have the opportunity to officiate lifecycles through 18Doors officiation referral service?

Yes. Each Fellow will receive a preferred listing in the 18Doors Officiation Referral Service and can expect to be contacted by many people for seeking officiants for weddings, baby namings and other lifecycle events. The number of people that contact the fellow regarding officiation will vary based on the size of the community and other factors. Fellows work privately with these couples and are able to determine the fees they will receive for officiation. Fellows are not obligated to officiate lifecycle events - the decision is up to them.

What are the webinars that take place every 4-6 weeks like?

We invite different presenters who are experts in working with interfaith couples and families and in related fields to lead webinars for our Fellows. Past presenters have included: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, founding Spiritual leader of Lab/Shul and author of “Joy: A Proposal”; Kasper ter Kuile, co-author of “How We Gather”; Susan Katz Miller, author of “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family”; and Fern Chertok of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

Are the retreats always virtual? If a retreat is in person, do Fellows have to pay expenses related to the retreat?

For safety purposes, the retreat for Fellows in Cohorts 1 and 2 that will take place from February 1-3, 2021, will be virtual. Our hope is that by 2022, when we will have a retreat for Cohorts 2 and 3, we will be able to have an in person retreat. The Fellowship retreat is heavily subsidized by 18Doors. Fellows are expected to pay expenses related to their travel to and from the retreat. 18Doors provides accommodations and meals throughout the retreat. There are limited scholarship funds available to help cover the costs of travel in cases of financial need.

Assuming that it can be in person, where will the 2022 retreat be? What kind of food will be served?

We have not finalized the locations of the upcoming retreats. The food is “kosher style.” All food served during the retreat will be dairy or pareve. We will do our best to accommodate any food allergies or dietary restrictions that participants may have.

Looking for information about the Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship, or want to nominate a rabbi?