Chef AJ has been devoted to a plant-exclusive diet for over 40 years, which she credits with helping her to lose 100 pounds. A popular vegan chef, she is the host of the television series Healthy Living with Chef AJ, which airs on Foody TV. She served as the executive pastry chef at Santé Restaurant in Los Angeles, where she was famous for her sugar, oil, salt, and gluten-free desserts. A comedian as well as a chef, she has made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and more. She is the author of Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight and The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss: A Revolutionary Approach to Conquer Cravings, Overcome Food Addiction and Lose Weight Without Going Hungry. Her latest book, Own Your Health, was released in October 2020.
Since 2002, Smadar Bar-Akiva is the executive director of JCC Global, a network of 1000 Jewish Community Centers worldwide, which is a preeminent organization in Jewish Peoplehood education. Smadar holds an M.A. degree in contemporary Jewry and a B.A. in international relations and English literature (both with honors) from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of Kolot Pluralistic Beit Midrash and Harvard Kennedy School Seminar, a Mandel two-year mentorship, and a life coach.
Abigail and Shaun Bengson are a married composing and performing duo based in NYC and Vermont who have performed across the country and around the world. Their video for The Keep Going Song has been viewed over 4 million times. Three of their singles have been featured on So You Think You Can Dance (FOX). Their theater work includes The Keep Going Song (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), Hundred Days (La Jolla Playhouse, New York Theatre Workshop, US Tour), The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova), Where the Mountain Meets the Sea (ATL’s Humana Festival), Anything That Gives Off Light (Edinburgh Theatre Festival), You’ll Still Call Me By Name (New York Live Arts, Jacob's Pillow), and Iphigenia in Aulis (Classic Stage Company). They have received the Jonathan Larson and Richard Rogers awards and nominations for the Drama Desk, Drama League, and Lucile Lortel awards.
Dr. Mark Bertin is a developmental pediatrician and author of How Children Thrive, Mindful Parenting for ADHD and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion for Teen ADHD, which integrate mindfulness into pediatric care. He is on faculty at NY Medical College and the Windward Institute, on the board of directors for APSARD (the society of ADHD professionals), and the advisory boards of Common Sense Media and Reach Out and Read. His blog and more information can be found at developmentaldoctor.com.
Elana Brody is a folk-pop artist and Jewish songwriter in NYC. She shares her versatile, inspiring musical gifts on stages and in services with Jewish communities such as Romemu, Kohenet, and the JNFA. Known for her open channel to the Divine, her virtuosic voice, and inspiring songwriting, Elana opens hearts and brings many to tears. Her recent release of B'shem Hashem (Angels of Peace) led Elana to form an online Healing Concert Series of Jewish music, attracting over 1,000 attendees.
Melissa Brown and Morgan Rysdon are both nationally certified teachers of the Alexander Technique.
Whitney Chapman is a certified interdisciplinary yoga instructor and has been teaching yoga at the JCC for 15 years. An expert in gentle and restorative yoga practices, Whitney currently teaches Yoga for Cancer Care and created the Yoga for Parkinson’s program. A national fitness presenter, Whitney teaches Meditation, MELT®, Floor Barre®, Pilates Mat, as well as Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. This year she launched her online teaching, Wellness with Whitney. Coming soon: whitneychapman.com.
Shams DaBaron is a writer, filmmaker, and hip-hop pioneer who first experienced homelessness as a child, after being discharged from the foster care system at age 12. While in Project Renewal shelters, he has emerged as an advocate for himself, his fellow residents, and the community alike, working to increase community engagement, expand supportive services, and change the status quo as it pertains to homelessness in NYC.
Rabbi Judith B. Edelstein, D. Min., BCC was ordained by The Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic seminary, and earned a Doctor of Ministry from Hebrew Union College. She served as a congregational rabbi and as a chaplain. She has taught Basic Judaism and a variety of classes at the JCC and other venues for 13 years. She counsels interfaith couples and individuals; officiates at life cycle events; teaches Mussar groups; and writes occasional articles.
Jeff Feig's passion for Jewish learning is evident from his participation on the boards of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the Shefa School, The Jewish Week, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is an investor living in Manhattan with his wife, Michelle, and their three sons. He is actively involved in the Tikkun, which is named in memory of his brother.
Leo Ferguson is a born-and-raised New Yorker with a long history of working for social justice, as well as in non-profit communications. He is the founder of JFREJ's Jews of Color caucus and was a lead organizer on the Jews of Color National Convening, and a primary author of JFREJ's Understanding Antisemitism resource. He is a graduate of the Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship, The Bend The Arc Selah Fello.
Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife (she/they) sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. She serves as Oreget Kehilah (executive director) of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, founder/co-leader of Kesher Pittsburgh, program director of the ALEPH Kesher Fellowship, lead facilitator for Keshet’s GLBTQ+ Jewish Youth of Colour programming, and a member of the leadership team of the JOC Mishpachah Project. Additionally, she delights in serving as a davennatrix (shlichat tzibbur), life spiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, liturgist, songstress, teacher, and public speaker. Her work in these realms is informed by her lived experience as a queer Jewish woman of color and the quandries she encounters as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School. Keshira received Kohenet smicha in 2017 and earned her B.S. 2000 and M.S. 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University. Dual-citizens of the USA and Australia and avid travelers, she and her beloved are currently leaning into stillness and sheltering-in-peace on Osage and Haudenosaunee land also called Pittsburgh, PA.
Rabbi Brian Fink is the Director of the Engage Jewish Service Corps at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, an initiative that recruits and empowers volunteers in their 50s, 60s, and beyond to find meaning and community as they re-envision what it means to age with dignity and purpose. Engage is a key component of the JCC's Wechsler Center for Modern Aging.
Ittay Flescher is the education director at Kids4Peace Jerusalem, an interfaith movement for Israelis and Palestinians and Israel correspondent for Plus61J Media. He also frequently teaches on gap year programs about the identity, narratives, and cultures of the people who call Jerusalem home.
Eytan Fox is one of Israel’s top directors. Breaking through in the 90's, Fox has directed international hits such as Yossi and Jagger, Walk on Water, The Bubble, and the upcoming Sublet.
Jean Franco is a long time JCC family member and the proud owner of Salsa In Queens. In 2009 he took his first salsa class, and that was enough for him to devote himself to learning as much as he could. Having taught classes for over eight years all around the states and abroad, his next step was to open his own dance studio. Now, he dedicates himself to sharing with others every great lesson he learned in his dance career.
Rebecca S’manga Frank is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and activist. Most recently she performed in Indecent at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and on FOX’s Prodigal Son. She has acted with Sundance Theatre Lab in Morocco and at many regional and off-broadway theaters. In 2020 Rebecca penned a "Psalm for Racial Justice" for Hillel, and her work was featured at religious, academic, and art institutions. She is a 2021 LABA Fellow and New Jewish Culture Fellow.
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times best-selling author, and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing. Bestsellers include Eat to Live, Super Immunity, The End of Diabetes and his latest, Eat for Life.
Talia Fuhrman is the author of Love Your Body and Desserts to Live For, offering a mind-body roadmap to a simple, vegan lifestyle, including desserts, and proving that loving your body, inside and out, can be delicious.
Professor Ronni Gamzu is the CEO of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Gamzu has many years of managerial experience in the healthcare system, including serving previously as director general of the Israeli Ministry of Health. He was appointed to the position of national coronavirus project manager in July 2020. He quit that position in November that year.
Shterna Goldbloom is an ex-hasid invested in creating more visibility for feygeles like herself. They are an artist and educator based in Chicago, Illinois.
Karen Gritz was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She holds a BA in Communications and Journalism from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and recently obtained a master's degree in Jewish Studies from Columbia University. She is currently working for Kulanu and UJA-Federation.
Rabbi Igael "Iggy" Gurin-Malous is a renowned Talmud teacher, spiritual counselor, artist, and educator. He is an author, speaker, teacher and contributor on subjects ranging from Talmud, Jewish text, spirituality, addiction, recovery, fatherhood and LGBTQI+ issues. Today he is the founding rabbi and CEO of T’Shuvah Center, a new long term Jewish recovery community in New York City. He was formerly the Director of Spiritual Counseling at Beit T’Shuvah in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Kevin Hale, Sofer STaM's work includes evaluating and restoring Torah scrolls, writing megillot and mezuzot, and teaching about Judaism’s sacred scribal traditions. He follows in the footsteps of his teacher, Rabbi Dr. Eric Ray, as a scribe authorized to repair the Czech Torah scrolls of the Memorial Scrolls Trust, now loaned to communities around the world. A deeply curious tinkerer, he invents musical instruments, makes recordings without electricity, and bakes his own matzah.
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. (Yeilah) is an author, scholar, educator, midrashist, poet, dreamworker, and ritualist. She is the co-founder of the Kohenet Institute, and the director of spiritual education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Rabbi Hammer is the author of Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah, Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, The Garden of Time, and the co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women's Spiritual Leadership and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. She holds a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut and received rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Igal Harmelin is a spiritual director, meditation teacher, and trauma healer. He offers sessions for spiritual direction and healing developmental trauma, and conducts meditative attunement workshops for therapists. He has taught meditation to thousands of people on four continents and has spent years in extended meditation retreats. He has translated into Hebrew a number of books on religion and spirituality for Israel’s largest publisher. Find him at igalharmelin.com.
Becca Heisler is a Jewish educator and ritualist based on Lisjan Ohlone Land (also known as Oakland, CA). She has spent the past four years as a mentor and student of youth, teens, and adults in experiential programs celebrating the rhythms and cycles of the earth and the Hebrew calendar. She is steadfast in her commitment to joy, care, curiosity, storytelling, and song.
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann is the rabbi of SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All, the first Reconstructionist synagogue in America. Rabbi Herrmann is passionate about bringing people and voices from the margins into the center and integrating Jewish spirituality and social justice. She is a proud alumni of JOIN, the Jewish Organizing Initiative & Network, and is actively involved with issues of racial and economic justice, as well as women and LGBTQ rights, in New York City.
Kathryn Grody is an obie-award winning American actress and writer. In 2020, She partnered with Swing Left to encourage people to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 United States presidential election. She and her husband created videos with their sons that went viral online. She has two children with Mandy Patinkin, her husband of over 40 years.
Ari Hoffman is a columnist at the Forward and an adjunct assistant professor at NYU. He has contributed pieces to the Wall Street Journal, Tablet, Mosaic, and a range of other publications. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Stanford University.
Moshe Horn is a former Manhattan District attorney. He is now a professor at Cardozo Law School and a criminal defense lawyer specializing in Title 9 work amongst other areas. Moshe is a frequent lecturer to high school and college students and parents on critical issues facing today's students. Moshe has been on the Tikkun planning committee, as well as its chief cookie baker, with Jeff for 20 years, and is incredibly proud of the Tikkun that the JCC has built and considers it a highlight of the year.
Rabbi Margie Jacobs is a Reconstructionist rabbi, mindfulness meditation teacher, and facilitator of the Jewish Studio Process. She brings together Jewish text study, meditation, mindful art experiences, and reflective writing for synagogues, Hillels, retreats, conferences, special events, and groups of clergy and Jewish leaders across the country. Margie has served as a congregational rabbi, regional director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and a Hillel director.
Shoshana Jedwab is a sacred text teacher, the Jewish life coordinator at the A.J. Heschel Middle School, as well as a founding faculty member at the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute where she goes by the name Batshemesh. As one of congregation Romemu’s worship leaders, Shoshana brings humor, feminism, and sizzling rhythm to her audiences. Shoshana was included in Jewish Rock Radio’s Jewish Women Who Rock the Worship World. Find her at shoshanajedwab.com.
David Kaufman is a longtime professor of American Jewish studies, having served on the faculties of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and Hofstra University on Long Island. He is the author of two books, Shul with a Pool (1999) and Jewhooing the Sixties (2012), and is currently engaged with the development of a public history organization called NEW YORK JEW: Center for New York Jewish History, Culture, and Community.
Scott Barry Kaufman is a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential. Dr. Kaufman received a P.h.D. in cognitive science from Yale University and has taught at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. He hosts The Psychology Podcast, the #1 psychology podcast in the world, and is author and/or editor of editor books, including Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (with Carolyn Gregoire), and Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. In 2015, he was named one of the "50 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Are Changing the Way We See the World" by Business Insider.
Dr. Ana C. Krieger is a physician, scientist, and the Chief of Sleep Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. She is a professor of medicine, neurology and genetic medicine, with research funded by the NIH and National Science Foundation. Dr. Krieger has been featured as Top Doctor in the U.S. News and World Report, Consumer Research Council of America, Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and The New York Times.
Nomy Lamm is a musician, illustrator, voice teacher, creative coach, and Kohenet/Hebrew Priestess. Nomy is the creative director of Sins Invalid, a disability justice-based performance project, and sings cosmic power ballads for the rise of the matriarchy in a band called The Beauty. Nomy teaches online Sacred Fragments voice classes, and creates ritual tools for embodied Jewish feminist practice, including the Olam haBa 5781 Hebrew calendar with Rebekah Erev, and the Omer Oracle and Haggadeck with Taya Shere. They live on beautiful land of the historic Steh Chass village of the Squaxin Island tribe, on the tip of the Salish Sea, in so-called Olympia, WA, with their partner Lisa and their animal companions Dandelion, Momma, Calendula, and Chanukah. Find her at nomyteaches.com.
Shekhiynah Larks is a diversity trainer and the program coordinator at Be’chol Lashon. Among her various projects, she manages the Teen Tzedek Project. She is a writer and active on Be’chol Lashon’s publication, Jewish&: Birthright While Black, When the Mikvah Water Touches Your Black Hair and more. She holds a B.A. in politics from the University of San Francisco. She is a native of Oakland, CA and is very involved in Jewish life in the Bay Area.
Rabbi Joy Levitt is the CEO of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. Prior to coming to the JCC, Rabbi Levitt served as a congregational rabbi on Long Island and in New Jersey for 20 years. She earned a bachelor's degree from Barnard College, followed by a master’s degree from New York University and a rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Levitt founded the Jewish Journeys Project, an initiative designed to revolutionize Jewish education for children. As a lay leader, she serves on the boards of Avodah: The Jewish Corps for Service and The Shefa School, a new Jewish community day school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Joy is married to Michael Strassfeld, also a rabbi, with whom she co-authored A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah. Together, they have five children.
Miriam Lewin has made documentary shorts on topics ranging from housing discrimination in Georgia to the 50th anniversary of undergraduate coed singing at Yale. She also writes and produces radio programs on classical music, and is developing a science podcast. Miriam’s first career was in opera administration, and she manages the world’s oldest collection of opera supertitles.
Rabbi Adina Lewittes is a thought leader, teacher and founding rabbi of Sha’ar, a community opening new gates into Jewish life exemplified by a commitment to inclusiveness, diversity, innovation, scholarship, excellence, and collaboration. She recently served as the scholar in residence at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in NYC. Rabbi Lewittes is also a member of the senior rabbinic faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute, and of the Board of Trustees of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School. Previously, she served as the assistant dean of the Rabbinical School at JTS, and founded a synagogue in Englewood, New Jersey, modeling shared leadership and collective communal responsibility.
Kelle Rae Oien is a Nia faculty trainer, second degree black belt, Nia faculty choreographer, and was the 2013 International Nia teacher of the year. Kelle is also the proud owner of StudioNia Santa Fe. Kelle brings a rich understanding of the human form through her training as a Rolfer of Structural Integration, Rolfing Movement practitioner and Yoga instructor, and has been facilitating body-mind movement education for over 25 years. Kelle’s classes are dynamic, explorative, and packed with power!
Yochai Maital is the co-founder and senior producer of Israel Story podcast. He is driven by the belief that experiencing life through another’s eyes is an essential part of a compassionate society. Yochai currently lives in New York with his wife Dafna and three kids but wakes up every morning dreaming of Tel-Aviv.
Avishai Mekonen is an Ethiopian Israeli filmmaker and photographer living in New York. He has directed, produced, written, and acted in numerous award winning dramatic, documentary and news programs for Israeli television and international distribution. His current projects are 400 Miles to Freedom and Heroes, documentaries that explore Ethiopian aliyah to Israel. He holds a B.A. in Fine Arts/Film from Tel Chai College of Haifa University/Hebrew University.
Ruth Messinger is the social justice activist in residence at the JCC’s Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility. She serves as global ambassador for American Jewish World Service, as organization she ran from 1998 to 2016; is the Social Justice Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; and is a consultant and teacher for the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York and the Jewish Social Justice Round Table. Previously, Ruth was in elected office in New York City for 20 years.
Rabbi Adam Mintz is the founder and rabbi of Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim and the Director of 929 English. He is also a member of the Talmud faculty at Maharat.
Rabbi Avram Mlotek is a rabbi, cantor, actor, and author. A grandchild of Holocaust survivors and Yiddish cultural leaders, he is the author of Why Jews Do That or 30 Questions Your Rabbi Never Answered and Passover in a Pandemic, both books illustrated by students of his from Base, a millennial outreach project he co-founded. Find him at avrammlotek.com.
Rabbi Lee Moore has been living in Southern Sinai for the last five months and is inspired to share insights around how this particular desert landscape shaped Israelite experiences and our Torah narratives. She holds an MS in Environmental Policy from University of Michigan and has been a passionate contributor to earth-based Jewish frames and practices for over 20 years. Rabbi Moore has been learning from and nurtured by the landscapes and cultures of Southern Sinai over 12 visits during the last 25 years.
Ruby Namdar is an Israeli-American author born and raised in Jerusalem. His novel, The Ruined House, won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award. The English edition of The Ruined House (translated by Hillel Halkin) was published by Harper Collins in 2017. The French edition of the novel was nominated for the Prix du premier roman étranger 2018. He currently lives in NYC with his wife and two daughters and teaches Jewish literature.
Mandy Patinkin is a Tony and Emmy award-winning American actor and singer known for his work on stage and screen. He sings in English and Yiddish, is a writer and philanthropist and activist. He has two children with Kathryn Grody, his wife of over 40 years.
Kendell Pinkney is a Brooklyn based theatre-maker, Jewish-life consultant, and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. While he was most recently featured in Saturday Night Seder and on the Crooked podcast Unholier than Thou, his collaborative works have been presented at venues such as 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, the 14th St. Y, and Two River Theatre, to name a few. Kendell’s broader interest in racial and ethnic diversity among Jews led him to team up with spoken-word artist, Vanessa Hidary, to produce Kaleidoscope, a monologue showcase that foregrounds the stories of Jews of color, and Jews from Sephardic and Mizrachi backgrounds. In addition to his creative arts work, he is the Rabbinic Fellow for the Jewish arts and culture organizations Reboot and LABA, and the spiritual firector of Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy.
Alaine Portner is a gifted evidential medium, spiritual teacher, meditation coach and accomplished author. Her early Judaic education supported her spiritual quest to ask questions and she began to hear answers! Through her exceptional skills as a medium, she makes a difference in the lives of people across the globe through communication with the departed. Transformative, interactive, experiences are her intentions, and empowers all of us to develop intuition and connection to our loved ones.
Rabbi Jenn Queen is the director of engagement and Reform rabbi at Harvard Hillel. Prior to ordination at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (2019), Jenn worked in sexuality education and reproductive justice advocacy, and earned a master’s of public health from The George Washington University School of Public Health (2012). Jenn holds dual-BAs, in Jewish Studies and in The Applied Health and Social Science of Sexuality from Indiana University's Individualized Major Program (2009).
Kohenet Rachel Rose Reid's work encompasses story, song, community activism, and ritual. She was a founding resident of Moishe House London. Whether holding space at Sukkat Shalom, Limmud South Africa, Wilderness Torah, or the Sadeh, her priority is the renewal of meaningful, living connection with Jewish-rooted spiritual practice and ancestors, in particular for those who struggle to find themselves reflected in institutional spaces. She is an award-winning writer and storyteller who has worked with Billy Bragg, BBC Radio, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Together with Kohenet Yael Tischler, she is co-founder of Yelala, a constellation of work that celebrates Earth-centred, feminist, Jewish spirituality, and reclaims the practices of our women/femme and folk ancestors. Find her at rachelrosereid.com and yelala.co.uk.
Rabbi Mira Rivera is the first Filipina-American to receive ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary. She serves at Romemu in New York City, Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy, and the Rabbinic Council of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). Mira danced for the Martha Graham Dance Company and ensemble under artistic director Yuriko Kikuchi, and taught dance to NYC public school children with National Dance Institute.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen was born in the UK, and was educated at Cambridge University and Mir Yeshivah in Jerusalem. He has been an Orthodox rabbi, teacher, and academic mainly in the UK and Europe. He retired to New York where he is the rabbi of a small Persian community in Manhattan and lectures, amongst other places, at the JCC.
Jodi Rudoren became editor-in-chief of The Forward, the nation's oldest independent Jewish news organization, in September 2019 after more than two decades as a reporter and editor at The New York Times.
Roy Schwartz is the author of Is Superman Circumcised? The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero and The Darkness in Lee’s Closet and the Others Waiting There. He has taught English and writing at CUNY and is a former writer-in-residence fellow at NYPL. When not writing, he is the director of marketing and business development of a regional law firm. He can be found at royschwartz.com and on social media as @RealRoySchwartz.
Rabbi David Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org and author of Kabbalah and Ecology: God's Image in the More-Than-Human World. He has smikhah from JTS and Reb Zalman and is an avid dancer, a new composer, and lover of Jewish thought.
Rav Kohenet Taya Mâ Shere is co-founder and Rav Kohenet of Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership and creator of the Liberate Your Seder Haggadeck. Taya Mâ hosts the acclaimed Jewish Ancestral Healing podcast and offers online courses including Embodied Presence, Jewish Ancestral Healing and Pleasure as Prayer. She is Assistant Professor of Organic Multireligious Ritual at Starr King School for the Ministry and on faculty at the Chaplaincy Institute. Taya Mâ’s Hebrew Goddess chant albums — This Bliss, Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night and Torah Tantrika — have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” Her newest album, Makam Shekhina is pulsing Hebrew-Arabic prayer in cahoots with her beloved collaborator Shaykh Ibrahim Baba z’’l, and their spiritual community. Find her at taya.ma or on social media @tayatransforms.
Francine Shore is a dynamic, playful, and compassionate Laughter Stylist and coach. Francine's groups are designed to encourage us to laugh in the face of adversity, cultivating Laughter Yoga Wellness through a Laughter Lifestyle. Francine has been featured in many print and TV media.
Rabbi Jonathan P. Slater is a senior program director at The Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He was ordained at JTS, and received a DMin degree from the Pacific School of Religion. He is the author of A Partner In Holiness: Deepening Mindfulness, Practicing Compassion and Enriching our Lives through the Wisdom of R. Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev's Kedushat Levi, and Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice, as well as many articles and book chapters.
Gen Xia Ye Slosberg is a Jewish non-profit professional working at Jewish Youth for Community Action (JYCA), and formerly served as the executive director of Mixed @ Berkeley. She received her B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley. Gen was born in Southern China and moved to the United States as a teenager. She hopes to increase the visibility of Asian-American Jews through LUNAR.
Cantor Laura Stein, LMSW, was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute
of Religion's Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in 2018. She also holds a master
of social work from NYU. Currently, Laura works full-time as a social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery and serves as cantor in various congregational, communal, and pastoral settings.
Bret Stephens began working as an opinion columnist for The New York Times in April 2017 and as a senior contributor to NBC News in June 2017. Mr. Stephens is the author of America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder, released in November 2014. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including two honorary doctorates and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He was raised in Mexico City and holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics. He and his wife, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, a music critic for The Times, live with their three children in New York and Hamburg, Germany.
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld is rabbi emeritus of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. He writes a weekly newsletter on the Torah portion (sign up at michaelstrassfeld.com) and is finishing work on his new book, Judaism Disrupted.
Dr. Dan Tomasulo is the academic director and a core faculty member at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute (SMBI), Teachers College, and Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology, an MFA in writing, and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of positive psychology and hope, and a review editor for Frontiers in Psychology special section Positive Psychology.
Amir Tibon is a senior editor and writer at Haaretz newspaper. From 2016 to 2020 he was the paper’s Washington correspondent, covering the Trump administration, Congress and the U.S. Jewish community. Amir’s writing on Israel and the Middle East has appeared in The Atlantic, the New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, and other leading US publications. His first book, a biography of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, came out in 2017. Amir currently lives in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, the closest place in Israel to Gaza, with his wife and daughter.
Rabbi Lauren Tuchman is a sought after speaker, spiritual leader, and educator. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018, she has taught at numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues throughout North America. She was named to the Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her innovative leadership concerning inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life. In 2017, she delivered an ELI Talk entitled We All Were At Sinai: The Transformative Power of Inclusive Torah. She is a participant in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program. In 2020, she was honored by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA).
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks
Educated in a Yiddish-speaking yeshiva and holding a doctorate in Jewish intellectual history, Reb Moshe taught at Wellesley, Hebrew College and Brandeis before receiving smicha, or post-denominational ordination, by his mentors, Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z’l, Arthur Green and Everett Gendler. One of the hallmarks of Reb Moshe’s career has been his activities as a bridge-builder across cultures and faiths. A storyteller and stand-up comedian (he is the co-editor of The Big Book of Jewish Humor), Reb Moshe has used humor to animate his home synagogue Temple Beth Zion. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Anne, and their three daughters.
Sarah Waxman founded At The Well to center the Jewish voice in the global wellness conversation. Her entrepreneurial endeavors have always focused on health, wellness, and finding ways to bring ancient practices into the modern day. She has taught yoga and mindfulness in educational settings, and has worked with thousands of educators around the world. These experiences infused a deep understanding of the power of participation in a supportive community, and feeling connected to your spirituality.
Elisha Wiesel is a recovering Wall Street executive. Since retiring from a 25 year financial markets career at Goldman Sachs at the end of 2019, he served in 2020 as one of the lead technologists in Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. In his most recent board position at Good Shepherd Services, Elisha raised millions of dollars for New York’s neediest by convening “Midnight Madness”, where hundreds of finance professionals stayed up all night solving elaborate puzzles on the city streets. He is the only child of Holocaust survivor, author, professor, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel.
Tracy Wilk graduated from the University of Central Florida and was trained by Natural Gourmet Institute. She went on to work in the pastry department of ABC Kitchen, and later became the executive pastry chef at David Burke Kitchen. Since 2018, Tracy has been teaching as the lead recreational instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. As our world changed during COVID-19, #BakeItForward grew into a passion project and her first cookbook.
Christopher Willard, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, consultant and father based in Massachusetts. He is the author of eighteen books, including Alphabreaths (2019), Growing Up Mindful (2016) and The Breathing Book (2020), which have translated into more than a dozen languages. He has been invited to more than two dozen countries to speak, and has presented at two TEDx events. His thoughts on mental health have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, mindful.org, cnn.com, and elsewhere. He currently teaches at Harvard Medical School.
Master Yang Yang, Ph.D. is a renowned t'ai chi and qigong master, educator and researcher who collaborates with scientists at major medical institutions to study the benefits of t’ai chi and qigong. The founder/director of the Center for Taiji and Qigong Studies, Dr. Yang authored the acclaimed book: Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, the Science of Power. He has distilled these ancient arts into an accessible, effective, and evidence-based program, available online at wa-qi.com.
Isaac Zablocki is the director of film programs at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. He attended Columbia University and went on to work at a major arthouse film studio. Previously, he produced and directed feature films and developed film educational programs for the Department of Education. Since 2004, Isaac has been developing film programs at the JCC including the ReelAbilities Film Festival—the largest disability film festival in the world; the Israel Film Center including the acclaimed Other Israel Film Festival, which focuses on Arab and minority populations in Israel; and Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival.
We are so pleased to offer vibrant, comprehensive virtual programs such as this year's Tikkun Leil Shavuot, at no cost to the community. To help ensure that we are able to continue providing these opportunities for our community to come together during these difficult times, please consider making a donation to the JCC so we can sustain ourselves now and reopen strongly in the future.