Hear more about the 18Doors Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship from the Director, Rabbi Robyn Frisch.
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.
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 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 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 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 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, 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.
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.
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 non-Jewish parent. 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, the spiritual leader of the Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Toronto, the author of the book 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 part of 18Doors and this important fellowship that will help move the conversation about intercultural partnerships for “oy” to joy!
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 the Rabbinic Fellow at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, NY. 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. He is excited to work with 18Doors, helping others find communities that affirm their whole selves. Steven currently lives in Manhattan with his husband, Toby.
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 Michal Woll is rabbi of Congregation Shir Hadash in Milwaukee and a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is a third career rabbi, with corporate and clinical experience that manifests through her interests in end-of-life care and medical ethics. Rabbi Michal brings love of music, learning, justice and creativity to her rabbinate. At Shir, Michal is fostering a more urban, inclusive, progressive and activist Jewish presence in the city of Milwaukee, where she is involved in interfaith justice work and dialogue.
Rabbi Michal lives with her husband, author Jon M. Sweeney, their daughters Ana and Sima, and their aging mutt, Max. In 2013, Michal and Jon co-authored the book, Mixed-Up Love: Relationships, Family, and Religious Identity in the 21st Century (Hachette). Their relationship and family has been profiled in national media. Michal is excited to join the community of fellows and to create new possibilities for interfaith couples and families in Brew City with the support of 18Doors.
Rabbi Todd Zinn is a Rabbi at Chicago Sinai Congregation in Chicago, Illinois. In his work, he focuses on dynamic educational programming, meaningful social action work, impactful social justice campaigns, developing deep relationships with other faith communities and engaging individuals and families. Rabbi Zinn 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.
Applications for the third Fellowship cohort will open in the fall of 2021.
Our first cohort has 11 rabbis. Cohort two has 15 rabbis. We expect to select approximately 15-20 rabbis for our third cohort.
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).
We have fellows throughout the United States and Canada.
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.
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 email@example.com.
The Fellowship is for two years. The third cohort will begin with an opening virtual retreat that will take place sometime in March or April 2022 (dates TBD) and will continue until the end of March or April 2024.
Yes. All fellows will receive a yearly stipend of $5,000 upon fulfilling the benchmarks and requirements of the program.
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.
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.
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. Fellows will have input as to whether these programs are offered locally or nationally on Zoom.
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.
Yes. Each Fellow will receive a preferred listing in the 18Doors Officiation Referral Service and can expect to be contacted by many people 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.
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.
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.
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.