CONNECTIONS 2015 offers the opportunity to hear from some of our most prominent and inspiring speakers from around the world.
Please check back here for regular updates.
For Keynoters & Special Profiles click here.
For Session Presenters & Speakers click here.
Keynoters and Special Profiles
Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, PhD
Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., is President of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, North America’s first Jewish seminary. He has taught Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature at HUC-JIR in New York since 1995. He has previously served as a vice president of the College-Institute, as well as Dean and Dean of Students of the New York campus. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, he earned his doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, where his research focused on legal change in Rabbinic Literature.
He currently serves on faculty for the Wexner Foundation, on the Editorial Board of RJ Magazine, and has served on the Rabbinical Placement Commission, the birthright Education Committee, the CCAR Ethics Committee and in a variety of other leadership roles within the Reform movement and greater Jewish community. Prior to teaching at the College-Institute, he served congregations including Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City and Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY.
A native of New York City who graduated from Johns Hopkins University's Electrical Engineering program, Rabbi Panken is also a certificated commercial pilot and sailor, and lives with his wife and two children in the New York area. His publications include The Rhetoric of Innovation (University Press of America, 2005), which explores legal change in Rabbinic texts.
Michael Grabiner is outgoing Chairman of the World
Union for Progressive Judaism. He is also Chair of Governors of JCoSS, the
first pluralist Jewish High School in the UK.
Michael was formerly Chair of the UK Movement for
Reform Judaism, Chair of the UK Jewish Film Festival, a Governor of Leo
Baeck College and a member of the Executive Committee of the UK Jewish
Leadership Council. He is currently Chair of Partnerships for Schools which is
the UK Government’s delivery agency for capital investment in schools .He was a
Partner at Apax Partners LLP from 2002-2009 and was previously Chief Executive
of Energis plc and Director of BT Europe.
Michael has also held non executive directorships
on company boards in France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Spain, Sweden, UK
and USA. Michael is a member of Finchley Reform Synagogue in London.
Rabbi Daniel H Freelander
Rabbi Daniel Hillel Freelander serves as president of the
World Union for Progressive Judaism. With offices in New York and Jerusalem,
Rabbi Freelander leads the coordinating body of over 1.8 million Reform and
Progressive Jews, representing over 1200 congregations and 7 regional bodies
Rabbi Freelander served the North American Union for Reform Judaism [URJ] in
senior leadership positions dealing with youth, Jewish Education, camping,
publications, adult literacy and worship and leadership development for almost
40 years. As director of the North
Federation of Temple Youth [NFTY], and as Senior Vice President of the URJ, he
provided creative vision and management to dozens of program, including URJ
Biennial conventions, music and worship initiatives, and camping and Israel
Freelander is an ardent Zionist and a strong supporter of Israel, an initiator
of dozens of Israel engagement projects, and a key supporter of the Israeli
Movement for Progressive Judaism’s Mechina programs. He also serves as the WUPJ
representative to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)’s Board of Governors.
A gifted musician and keen observer of the North American
Jewish scene, Freelander is well known for lecturing on trends in synagogue
life. Together with Cantor Jeff Klepper,
he has composed dozens of popular Jewish melodies including the well known
“Shalom Rav” and “Lo Alecha.”
A native of Worcester, MA, he received Rabbinic ordination at the Hebrew Union
College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He serves on the boards of the Zamir Choral
Foundation and Odyssey Networks, an interfaith media group. Rabbi Freelander is married to Rabbi Elyse
Frishman, senior rabbi of the Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, NJ.
Phyllis Dorey, an active member of the Progressive
Jewish community in Australia, retired as President of the Union for Progressive Judaism [Australia,
New Zealand and Asia] at its biennial conference held in October/November 2008 in Melbourne. Phyllis
served as a board member of her synagogue [Temple Beth Israel] for over 14
years, serving as its President from 1999 to 2001. Most recently, she chaired
the rabbinic search committee whose deliberations resulted happily in the
appointment of Rabbi Kim Ettlinger to the synagogue’s rabbinic team.
In her professional life
Phyllis is a well-known and highly respected educational consultant with nearly
30 years experience gained across all sectors of education. Her skills and
expertise, especially as a manager, presenter, trainer, mentor and coach
have been widely recognized and valued by individuals, training institutions,
is a member of the Council of The King David School, the Progressive Jewish Day
School in Melbourne, and chair of their Education Committee.
is also a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s Executive Board. She
has enjoyed every moment of her role as co-chair of the 2015 Convention and
hopes everyone will have a great time in Rio de Janeiro.
Raul Cesar Gottleib
Raul Cesar Gottlieb is an
IT engineer and a voluntary activist deeply committed to the Reform Movement.
He was formerly involved in Jewish education in Rio de Janeiro, at the Eliezer
Max day school and the Vaad Hachinuch, and in his youth was a member of Chazit
Hanoar Youth Movement. Presently he is the director of Devarim Magazine, director
of the Religious Affairs Committee at ARI (where he is also a board member) and
the president of WUPJ Latin America. Raul is married to Marina, they have two
sons, one daughter and four grandchildren.
Raul is the co-chair of the 2015 Convention and wishes you all a wonderful time in Rio de Janeiro.
Jerry Tanenbaum, Jr.
Jerry is the Chairman of YAD B’YAD Task Force of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). Jerry is an Honorary Life Member of the Executive Board and serves as a Member of Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of Union for Reform Judaism. He also served as WUPJ Senior Vice-President and was a member of the WUPJ Management Committee. He is also an Honorary Life member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and was the recipient in the year 2011 of the prestigious Sherut L’Am Award from HUC-JIR.
In 2000, Jerry was the recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s highest honor (International Humanitarian Award).
Previously, Jerry was the Founding Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionist of America/World Union North America (ARZA/WUNA); Chairman of the North American Board/World Union for Progressive Judaism; Chairman of Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute; served on the Board of Trustees of Levi Hospital; Board Member of Congregation House of Israel; Chairman of the Youth Committee Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Chairman of the Small Congregations Committee Union of American Hebrew Congregations; and President of Southwest Council/Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He was the 1972 recipient of the Arkansas Outstanding Young Man Award, the 1974 Distinguished Arkansan Award and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from the Arkansas Baptist College.
Together with his wife, Pat (z”l), Jerry, along with leaders from the Yad B’Yad Task Force led the way for the engagement of the WUPJ with the communities in South America and the Caribbean, and through his energetic leadership has helped bring about the rebirth of Progressive Judaism in the region. He has been, and continues to be, instrumental in cultivating the Youth and Young Adult movements – Netzer and TaMaR – in the region.
Carole has held many communal leadership positions in the Jewish community, including President of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, President of Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto, Chair of UJA of Greater Toronto Women’s Campaign, and Chair of the URJ Biennial in 2011. She has been serving as Senior Vice Chair of the WUPJ since 2013.
Carole serves on many boards including Holy Blossom Temple, Union for Reform Judaism, Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, CIJA LPC, Rachael’s Centre for Torah and Mussar, The Leo Baeck Day School and ARZA Canada.
Carole earned her both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Diploma in Secondary Education from McGill University. She is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program and has received numerous awards including the Granovsky Award for Campaign Excellence, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Young Leadership Award and the United Israel Appeal Leadership Award.
Carole and her husband Jay live in Toronto and have two children, Lauren (and future son-in-law Simon) and Cory.
Rabbi Grisha Abramovich
Rabbi Abramovich is the head rabbi of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in the Republic of Belarus.
A native of Minsk, he started his Jewish journey 16 years ago as a member of the youth group of the Reform congregation Simcha, which today is widely considered the largest Jewish religious community organization in Belarus.
Rabbi Abramovich, who received his rabbinical ordination at Leo Back College in London, is involved in 70 percent of all Bar mitzvah ceremonies in the country, conducted in eight Belarussian cities, for more than 70 children a year. He is also a musician, and co-founded the Minsk cantorial festival since 2005.
Rabbi Abramovich is a part of the Catholic- Jewish dialoge in Minsk since 2007. Rabbi of the Sandra Breslauer Center for Progressive Judaism since 2011. He and his wife, Irina, who was the Minsk JCC educator, have three children.
Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach
One of the most popular
performers and composers in modern Jewish music, Josh Nelson has been bringing his
powerful message of hope, unity and spirituality to concert stages and worship
services across the globe. Josh is a gifted multi-instrumentalist and
songwriter who was recently hailed by Time Magazine as a “star of the New
Jewish Music.” Josh is the music director for the Union for Reform Judaism [URJ]
Carlebach began singing with her
father Shlomo Carlebach when she was 15 years old. Like her father, Neshama's
talent and charisma captivate and endear her to people of all ages, faiths and
backgrounds. She has performed and taught in cities worldwide, has sung on the
Broadway stage, has sold more than one million records. Neshama was one of the
creators of the Broadway play "Soul Doctor", which stars Josh Nelson
in the title role of Shlomo Carlebach.
At CONNECTIONS 2015, this
dynamic duo will serve as scholars in residence for the musicians at the
conference, who will provide the moving musical backdrop for the entire event.
Carlebach and Nelson will also be conducting a workshop called 'Music for the
Soul' that will explore the most stirring elements of traditional Jewish music.
In addition, Nelson and Carlebach will take part in the highly anticipated
Lashir Benefesh seminar, tailored for cantors and musicians from the Latin
American region. For two days, seminar participants will learn, work, share,
create and inspire each other, focusing on enhancing their repertoire and
Rabbi Elyse Frishman
Rabbi Elyse Frishman
Rabbi Elyse Frishman was ordained in 1981
by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. For fourteen years, she
served The Reform Temple of Suffern in Suffern, NY. Since August 1995, Rabbi
Frishman has been the Rabbi for Congregation B’nai Jeshurun – The Barnert
Temple, in Franklin Lakes, the oldest congregation (c. 1847) in New Jersey with
a membership of 450 families.
Rabbi Frishman is recognized
internationally as a leader in transforming Reform Jewish worship, and as a
writer and editor of liturgy. She is the editor of the new American Reform
prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah. Much of Rabbi Frishman’s local and national
work has focused on spirituality, worship and change management.
Rabbi Frishman participated on the URJ-CCAR
Joint Commission on Religious Living and the CCAR Liturgy Committee, the Hebrew
Union College Board of Alumni Overseers, and the Board of the CCAR. She was
President of the Rockland County, NY Board of Rabbis. An original Fellow for
Synagogue 2000, a national, trans-denominational project, she continues to
focus on transforming the culture of the synagogue from a corporate to
Rabbi Frishman serves on the Board of the
American Jewish World Service, and partners with her congregational leadership
in focusing Jewish living through the lens of social justice.
Rabbi Frishman is married to Rabbi Daniel
H. Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. They have
three children, Adam (32), married to Julie Stein; Jonah (30) and Devra (24).
Rabbi Richard Address
Rabbi Address was ordained at HUC-JIR and for over 3 decades served on staff of Union for Reform Judaism as a Regional Direct and as founder and director of the Department of Jewish Family Concerns. This work with congregation led to the creation of Jewish Sacred Aging and www.jewishsacredaging.com. Jewish Sacred Aging is a project that seeks to help congregations embrace the potential of the longevity revolution and the “spiritual capital” of older adults. Rabbi Address also teaches at HUC-JIR in NYC on family related topics in the Rabbinic and Education programs as well as the Doctor of Ministry program. He has served congregations in California and New Jersey. Rabbi Address lives outside of Philadelphia where he also hosts a weekly radio program: Boomer Generation Radio. In addition, Rabbi Address serves as co-chair of the Committee of Spirituality and Diversity for C-TAC (Coalition to Transform Advanced Care) and Convener of Jewish Advisory Group for Samaritan Hospice in Southern New Jersey. Married to Jane, he is also a very doting grandfather!
Rafael Azamor is a member of the inter faith dialogue of Rio de Janeiro. He was a former teacher of the education department of ARI and former member of the youth movement Chazit Hanoar. Rafael is also a professor of Liessin Scholem Aleichem (Jewish school in Rio de Janeiro) lecturing classes on Middle Eastern news and inter faith dialogue. Rafael holds a Post graduate degree in Jewish Studies at Pontifical Catholic from the University of Rio de Janeiro.
Rabbi Charley Baginsky
Rabbi Charley Baginsky is the current Chair of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis in the UK. The Conference is made up of over 40 Rabbis and Liberal Judaism has 40 constituent communities. Charley grew up within the Liberal Movement – as both a youth leader and educator. After studying Theology, first at Cambridge and then King’s College London, Charley spent several years working in Israel which included a period at Leo Baeck, Haifa.
She is currently the full time rabbi of Kingston Liberal Synagogue, where she has held the post for 8 years. Charley is also the Chair of Liberal Judaism’s national conferences and is responsible for their current strategic review, including development of their Israel/Diaspora engagement policy and implementation.
Rabbi Ruven Bar Ephraim
Rabbi Ruven Bar Ephraim is the Rabbi of Or Chadasch congregation in Zurich, Switzerland. He is also the rabbinical advisor to the Executive Board of the EUPJ and a Board member of the European Beth Din (EBD).
Rabbi Ruven Bar Ephraim was born in Amsterdam (NL, 1959) where he grew up in the Liberal Jewish Congregation. He was very active in the Youth group of the congregation as well as in Habonim. After school he made Aliya and settled in Kibbutz Yahel, where he lived for ten years. After receiving a BA in Jewish History and an MA in ‘Mikra’ (Biblical science) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he received his rabbinical ordination from HUC-JIR Jerusalem (1993). In Israel, Bar Ephraim served among others the Nahariya progressive congregation, Emet v’Shalom. After that he moved to The Hague (NL) where he served the Liberal congregation ‘Bet Jehuda’, for eleven years and was at the same time employed by the Ministry of Justice as a prison chaplain. Since 2008 he serves the liberal congregation Or Chadasch in Zurich (CH).
Rabbi Bar Ephraim is married, has five children and seven grandchildren.
Stéphane is the vice chairman of EUPJ and a member of the Executive Board of WUPJ.
Stéphane’s involvement with the Jewish community started with leading and organizing Jewish camps in France and trips for Jewish youth to England and Israel.
He has helped the development of Kehilat Gesher, a multilingual progressive community in Paris and in 2005 was elected President of the Federation of French speaking Communities (FJLF), an organization which regroups progressive communities across France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxemburg.
Stéphane is a headhunter in Paris.
Rabbi Sergio Bergman serves as rabbi of the synagogue of
the Congregación Israelita Argentina, founder and CEO of Fundacion Judaica (Judaica Foundation) in Argentina, president of Argentina Ciudadana Foundation, as well as executive director of Action Network and Community Initiatives for Social Enterprise. He is head of
the center-right PRO party and has been serving as a member of the Argentinean Congress since 2013.
Sergio is a Social Activist, Political Leader and Spiritual Mentor - a
force for change in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in
Argentina. As a young Reform Rabbi of Congregation Emanuel
in Buenos Aires, Sergio Bergman dreamed of new ways to fulfill the Prophetic
teachings of his Jewish tradition. His eclectic thinking, contagious
enthusiasm and determination to create a uniquely Argentinean Jewish narrative,
led him to establish new institutions - Fundacion Judaica and the Arlene
Fern School. When faced with the devastating impact of the economic crisis in
Argentina, Rabbi Bergman used the infrastructure of Fundacion Judaica to
provide food, clothing, health services and employment possibilities to all
His commitment to Tikkun Olam for all God's children helped to
establish his close friendship with Cardinal Jorge Mario
Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and has propelled him into the Buenos
Aires Municipal Government and subsequently into the Argentinean Congress.
Dr Philip Bliss
Philip is currently secretary of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, sits on the board of management and chairs the Advocacy and Resolutions committees and has been on the executive for the last 20 years.
Philip is currently chair of the Council of Christians and Jews (Victoria) and treasurer of the Australian CCJ and sits on the ARZA Australia executive.
Previously, he has been president of the Union for Progressive Judaism (Australia New Zealand and Asia) and president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and also president of Progressive Judaism Victoria.
Philip is a dentist married to Andrea with four children and five grandchildren.
Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor, D.D.
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor is the Vice President - Philanthropy at the World Union for Progressive Judaism. He is a recognized expert in Interfaith relations, well-known lecturer, author of numerous articles and editor of two books. Gary served as the Director of the Education Division at the Anti-Defamation League and as the Director of Interfaith Affairs. He served as Senior Rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in NYC for eight years.
He was the Director of Interreligious Affairs at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now URJ), and the Associate Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Gary was on the faculty of the Religion and History Departments of Sarah Lawrence College and was a Lecturer at the New York University School of Continuing Education and a member of the faculty of the HUC-JIR School of Education as Lecturer in Intertestamental Literature and Jewish Ethics. He was appointed as the Khatib Chair of Comparative Religion at St. Joseph’s College in New York for the academic year of 2012.
Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor is the editor and principal writer of SHALOM / SALAAM: A RESOURCE FOR JEWISH / MUSLIM DIALOGUE. His most recent book is called A JEWISH VIEW OF CULTS.
Rafael Bronz is the Assistant Director at Liessin School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s largest Jewish School.
He graduated in Pedagogy at UFRJ (University Federal of Rio de Janeiro), and has a post graduate degree in Jewish Studies at both Melton Center, University of Jerusalem (in the “Mechanchim Bechirim – Senior Educators” Program, and PUC. He has also an MBA in Business Management at FGV-RJ (Fundação Getulio Vargas).
During the past 13 years, Rafael has developed a lot of projects in Jewish issues including dialogue with social assistance, sustainability and intercultural religious dialogues.
Sergio Brukman, graduate in Business Administration, married and father of 2. Started his path as a volunteer in Arlene Fern Community School and has been its President for 10 years. Since 5 years ago he´s the President of Judaica Foundation, a network of jewish institutions working together to reach their common goals through a collaborative and synergic environment. As a new paradigm in community structures, Judaica is committed to ensure continuity and enhance jewish identity through the spiritual and actual connection to Israel, celebrating the diversity, core value of the Jewish People.
Rabbi Steve Burnstein
Rabbi Steve Burnstein is Director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem and has been working in Jewish and Israel education for over 30 years. Rabbi Burnstein has a BA in Jewish History and MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, is a Reconstructionist rabbi, and has been working in the Reform Movement since 1989. Originally from Kansas City, Rabbi Burnstein made Aliya in 1996 and served as the Associate Director of the Pinat Shorashim Israel-Diaspora Seminar Center. Previously, he served as Educator at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, Kansas; as Israel Education Consultant at the Central Agency for Jewish Education in Philadelphia; and as Director of the Education Division at IsraelExperts. Rabbi Burnstein works closely with Rabbi Miri Gold and Kehilat Birkat Shalom at Kibbutz Gezer where he lives with his family..
James A. Cherney
James A. Cherney is the Co-Chair of the North American Advisory Board of WUPJ and sits on the Management Committee and Executive Board of WUPJ. He also sits on the Board of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and formerly was on the Oversight Committee of URJ. He is a former President of Temple Sholom of Chicago and a former Chairman of the Board of the Newberger Hillel at the University of Chicago. He sits on the Board of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future, a cutting edge organization focused on innovative thinking and programming in the Jewish world.
Mr. Cherney is retired from the international law firm of Latham & Watkins. He resides in Chicago, Illinois with his wife Linda. His two adult sons live in New York City and Denver.
Rabbi Adi Cohen
Rabbi Adi Cohen is the Rabbi for the Temple David Jewish Progressive congregation in Perth, Western Australia. Born and raised in Israel, married with three boys. Former Rabbi of Brit Olam congregation in Kiryat Ono in Israel and Temple Sinai in Wellington New Zealand. Worked for many years in formal and informal Jewish education in Israel and in the United States. Was teaching law and Jewish ethics in Israel and worked as a story teller with special ed kindergartens. Currently the chair of the Moetza (the assembly of Progressive Rabbis from Australia, New Zealand and Asia) and serves on the board of the executive of the U.P.J (Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, New Zealand and Asia).
Maria Antonieta Cohen
Maria Antonieta Cohen is an activist in the Jewish progressive community of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, for many years. Presently she is the head of the progressive Jewish Congregation, Congregação Israelita Mineira. She did voluntary work at the Instituto Histórico Israelita Mineiro where she carried out various cultural projects, including the edition of Revista de Estudos Judaicos. She is a professor in Philology and Historical Linguistics at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Jewish languages , in particular Judeo Spanish and her remnants in Brazil, are among her research topics.
Rabbi Rogerio Zingerevitz Cukierman
Rabbi Rogerio Zingerevitz Cukierman received his undergraduate degree in Business from EAESP-FGV and he got Masters degrees in Economics (Tel Aviv U.), Judaic Studies (HUC, LA) and Jewish Education (Hebrew College). He was ordained by the pluralist Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2011. Following ordination, he served as the Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and as the Dean of Jewish Studies and Jewish Life at the I. L. Peretz Jewish Day School in São Paulo, Brazil. He currently works as a consultant in the fields of management and education.
Nadav Davidson is the Shaliach (emissary) on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Israel and HaBonim Dror world youth movement in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nadav was born and raised in Kfar Saba, Israel, and in the recent years prior to the Shlichut lived in Jerusalem.
Representing HaBonim Dror and the Jewish Agency, Nadav is serving in the Latin-American community for the second time, after completing a Shlichut in Brit Ajim community in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2007-8). Between these periods, Nadav worked in various civil society organizations, mostly in the informal education field.
Nadav’s experience is rich with Jewish-Zionist educational work, focused in Israel programs of youth movements and organizations from the US and UK.
Nadav also served as a parliamentary assistant to the deputy speaker of the Knesset (2011-2012), wrote for a Jerusalemite newspaper and led educational processes for Israeli teens in the Knesset and Israeli Supreme Court.
Nadav received his B.A from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Mass Media and International Relations (2011), and later on completed his Masters from Tel Aviv University in Public Policy (2014).
English born, Israel trained Social Worker, Steve moved to Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters in 1986.
After 17 years as CEO of Jewish Care (NSW) and head of the Federal Jewish welfare organisation, he established Plum Partnerships, providing low-cost fundraising and ‘profile raising’ for Israeli and Australia-based not-for-profit organisations.
In 2004 Steve joined Emanuel Synagogue as CEO. In 2008 he was recruited to be the Executive Director of the Union for Progressive Judaism.
Steve has a Bachelor of Social Work from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and post-graduate qualifications from the University of Essex (U.K.) and the Australian Graduate School of Management.
He has volunteered for organisations including the Refugee Council of Australia, the Refugee Advice & Casework Service, the Association of Jewish Communal Professionals, ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change), B’nai Brith, the 2000 Olympics; ARZA and Emanuel School (as Board member, chairman and President) and was awarded the Centenary Award for services to the Jewish community, the aged, young people and people with disabilities.
Rabbi Joseph A Edelheit
Rabbi Joseph A Edelheit graduated from UC Berkley in 1968 and was ordained from HUC-JIR in 1973. He served congregations through 2001, and when he retired from the pulpit he was the Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel in Minneapolis, MN. He is currently the Director and Professor of Religious and Jewish Studies at St. Cloud State University, a 17,000 student public university where he began in 2003. He has a doctorate from the University of Chicago Divinity School in Christian Theology. He served the CCAR and URJ as Chair of the Gerut (Conversion) Committee and as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on HIV-AIDS and later served on President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV-AIDS, 1995-2000. He as written and lectured on many topics, recently published chapters include a new book on Jon Stewart and another on teaching about the historical Jesus in public universities. A co-authored essay in Portuguese on how the philosophies of Buber and Heschel are important to the moral imperatives of public education will be published soon. He will be a visiting teaching Fellow at the Pontifical University of Rio de Janeiro in the fall of 2016.
Denise L. Eger
Denise L. Eger was raised in Memphis, TN. She graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor's Degree in Religion in 1982, received her Master's Degree from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985 and was ordained as Rabbi in 1988 at the New York campus of HUC.
Rabbi Eger has served pulpits in Canada, New York and Los Angeles. She began at Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim serving for four years as its first full-time rabbi and is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood's Reform Synagogue.
She has held many positions, won numerous awards for her social activism, has written extensively, and is a noted speaker on the topics of human sexuality, GLBT issues and Judaism, AIDS, the changing Jewish Family, Spirituality and Health issues in Judaism and Politics, Progressive Judaism and the Radical Right. She has appeared on numerous radio and television programs. Rabbi Eger blogs at the Huffington Post and daily at Walking Humbly Seeking Justice Living with Hope.
In 2013 Rabbi Eger became President Elect of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and in March of 2015 became the 60th President of the CCAR becoming the first openly gay or lesbian rabbi to that position. Rabbi Eger was instrumental in helping pass the March 2000 CCAR resolution in support of officiation and gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies. She is co-author of the official Reform movement gay and lesbian wedding liturgy.
Rabbi Eger has a son in college.
Rabbi Lawrence A. Englander
Rabbi Lawrence A. Englander received his Honours B.A. degree from York University in 1970. He then attended Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (one year in Jerusalem and four years in Cincinnati), receiving ordination as Rabbi in 1975. He is the founding Rabbi of Solel Congregation, Mississauga, serving there since its inception in 1973 until his retirement in June 2014; he now serves Solel as Rabbi Emeritus. He is also Adjunct Rabbi at Temple Sinai in Toronto.
Rabbi Englander received his Doctorate of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1984, in the field of Jewish Mysticism and Rabbinics. He has taught in the Religious Studies Department at York University and spent a semester teaching rabbinical students at Leo Baeck College in London, England. He has written several articles on Jewish Mysticism, as well as a book, The Mystical Study of Ruth, published by Scholars Press. He is former Editor of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal.
Another passion of Rabbi Englander’s is Reform Zionism, a subject on which he has written and edited articles. He is currently Chair of ARZENU, a world-wide progressive Zionist organization, a position to which he was elected in June 2014.
Rabbi Englander has also played an active role in establishing two Mississauga interfaith organizations: Foodpath, a community food bank; and Pathway, a non-profit housing corporation, of which Rabbi Englander was the founding President. In 2005 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for his work in the community.
Both Rabbi Englander and his wife Cheryl are natives of Toronto.
Anabella Esperanza works as the Spanish and Portuguese Netzer and TaMaR coordinator for the World Union for Progressive Judaism as well as Tikun, a nonprofit organization for the Israeli Society. Anabella was born in Argentina and made Aliah to Israel with her family when she was 14 years old. Since then, she has been a part of the Progressive Movement in different roles. Anabella was a Madricha in Noar Telem (Netzer Israel) and a sniffim and summer camps coordinator.
During the army Anabella taught Hebrew in different courses for Bedouin, Druze and Ethiopian soldiers, and became the educational instructor for these courses.
Anabella finished her B.A from The Hebrew University in Jewish philosophy and literature, and geography.
Anabella resides in Jerusalem and is working on her M.A in Ladino Liturgical Literature.
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger is one of the rabbis at the Progressive Synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, in Melbourne. Rabbi Ettlinger has served TBI for nearly 5 years and returns to Australia after living in Los Angeles and then San Francisco for 9 years. Rabbi Ettlinger was born In Johannesburg, South Africa but moved to Perth, Australia in 1988 where she completed high school and attended Murdoch University.
TBI is Rabbi Ettlinger’s second congregation after receiving smicha (ordination) in 2005 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles. Rabbi Ettlinger specialises in Jewish Education and received her Masters in Jewish Education in 2004 and this was preceded by a Masters in Hebrew Letters (2003), all of which are from HUC-JIR. Rabbi Ettlinger enjoys working with families to create life-cycle events that are contemporary and meaningful and has an enthusiasm for liturgy.
Rabbi Ettlinger brings to TBI rich and varied rabbinic experiences and she is passionate about making Judaism relevant and meaningful for her community. There are many ways for a person to engage in Judaism and this is what drives Rabbi Ettlinger.
Rabbi Michael Farbman
Born in Vitebsk, Belarus, Rabbi Farbman became involved with WUPJ back in 1993 when he founded a reform congregation Emuna in his home town. A graduate of the first cohort of Machon in Moscow in 1995 he received his semicha (rabbinic ordination) at the Leo Baeck College in London. Rabbi Farbman holds a B.A. and M.A. in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
From 2001 to 2004, Rabbi Farbman served West London Synagogue of British Jews as Assistant Rabbi. From 2004 to 2007 Rabbi Michael Farbman returned to Russia and helped build Sha’arei Shalom Progressive Jewish Community in St. Petersburg. The story of Sha’arei Shalom and its success is the subject of the film, To Russia with Love, made by the respected Israeli documentary film maker, Asher Tlalim. In 2007 Rabbi Farbman moved to Washington, DC where he served as Rabbi-in Residence at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. In 2009 Rabbi Farbman became the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven.
Rabbi Farbman serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and is an active member of the Interfaith Cooperative Ministries as well as the Orange Interfaith Clergy group. He serves on the board of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) of CT and he is a faculty member at URJ Camp Eisner.
Samuel Feldberg teaches International Relations at the University of Sao Paulo and Faculdades Rio Branco. Samuel has a graduate in Political Science and History from Tel Aviv University and owns a PHD from the University of Sao Paulo and specializes in international conflicts, terrorism and the Middle East. Samuel is a fellow of SIIS, the Brandeis University program for Israel Studies.
Samuel is heavily engaged in Hasbara activities, both as an educator and as activist in the Jewish community of São Paulo.
He appears regularly on TV shows and radio programs dealing with the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is the author of countless articles and book chapter on these subjects.
Rabbi Steven A. Fox
Rabbi Steven A. Fox is the CEO of the central conference of American rabbis (CCAR), the rabbinic leadership organization of reform Judaism.
Under Rabbi Fox’s leadership, the CCAR has renewed its focus on strengthening the Jewish community by investing in the rabbis who lead it and providing outstanding resources to the Jewish community. Since Rabbi Fox joined the CCAR, the organization has dramatically increased its educational and spiritual offerings to meet the personal and professional needs of the rabbinate, expanded the historic CCAR press as the leading publisher of liturgy and resources, including cutting edge e-publications, and enhanced services for congregations and organizations such as rabbinic placement, coaching and organizational consulting.
Rabbi Fox was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1980 and his early rabbinic career included service at temple Emanuel in Worcester, MA and Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA. He later served as an adjunct Rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Fox is also an attorney, and was formerly managing partner in a Los Angeles based law firm, where he advised religious and secular non-profits, including Jewish organizations, on a variety of issues, such as contract matters, employment disputes, and other organizational concerns. He is also a trained mediator.
At age 16, Natan was invited by Rabbi Schlesinger to help him with Bar and Bat Mitzvah classes. Since then, Natan has been working at CIP. At that time he was sure that he was on the path to become a rabbi, and being close to Rabbi Schlesinger helped a lot to make this decision. While studying business administration at the university, he started to work as an intern for a consultancy of business optimization, while still teaching at CIP every Friday afternoon, and after working there for close to a year, felt that he found his niche. After a year of going between business and Jewish education, Natan realized that he was waiting for each week to end so he could enjoy his Shabbat at the congregation, working with his Chanichim. So he quit that business job, continued to study and work at CIP, and is now planning to start rabbinical studies at Ziegler Rabbinical School in Los Angeles in the fall.
Rita Fruman was born in Grodno, Belarus and made aliyah to Israel in 2003. She has a BA in Art History and Sociology/Anthropology from Hebrew University. As a teenager, Rita was an active chanicha in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) Netzer Reform youth movement and then a madricha. Soon after coming to Israel she began working for the World Union. She is currently the coordinator of all activities, education and training of madrichim and chanichim in the FSU countries including Latvia. Much of her work includes planning and conducting seminars and the overall FSU summer camp program. In addition, Rita is also the Coordinator of the MASA Netzer Olami program, a program in which future Reform community workers come to Israel for five and a half months as part of their studies.
Sally Gansievich is the Vice Director of the Primary School and Director of Jewish Studies of the Arlene Fern Community School for the past 6 years. Furthermore, Sally has been responsible for the supervision and organization of all the materials related to Judaica, prepared by the teaching staff, and the preparation of the Tefila material for students, including the Sidur, and young Readers Sidur for Kabalat Shabat.
Sally is the co-author of the e-Book Nir (Judaica Editions): The teaching of Mitzvot through Educating in Jewish Values.
In 2011, Sally was the Community Director of the School, and in charge of coordinating the parent-volunteer activities, extra curriculum activities and proposals, adult non-formal study programs for parents, and more. Sally’s previous positions also included the Arlene Fern Community School coordinator of Jewish Studies.
A long time educator, Sally is a certified Primary School Teacher (Mijlelet Shazar); a graduate of the Program of Community Direction and Organization of Leatid; graduate of the Majim-Bamah Program (specializing in Judaica Studies Organization); and the Yad Vashem Shoa Teaching Program. Sally worked for the Jewish Education Network, Buenos Aires, Argentina since 1982 as a Mora in the Primary School and High School Professor and was part of the Arlene Fern Community School, founded by Fundación Judaica since 1997.
Rabbi David Gelfand
Rabbi David Gelfand, Temple
Israel of the City of New York (6/07 - present).
Previously, congregations in East Hampton, Cleveland, Trenton, NJ & Great
Neck. In each, he’s created sacred communities committed to individual
& communal spirituality, pluralism, & Jewish identity while focused on
lifelong learning, social justice, inclusion, outreach, & tradition,
as well as ahavat Yisrael & k’lal Yisrael.Having led over 1,000 people to
Israel, & Jewish heritage trips: Eastern Europe (8), Cuba (5),
Spain/Morocco, the Baltics, Argentina (6), Chile (3) & Brazil (3), he’s
been on the National Council of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
and active in a number of Zionist organizations. Currently, he serves on
the Hebrew Union College's Board of Governors & on their President's
Rabbinic Council, as well Co-Chair of the WUPJ Rabbinic Council & a member
of their International Assembly; previously WUPJ, NA Vice-President.
Founder & served as a national VP of the Interfaith Alliance, Washington,
DC for 18 years.He & his wife, Kathy, their
children, & two grandchildren reside in NYC/East Hampton.
Jay Geller has been a lay leader in the North American Reform Movement for nearly 30 years. He served on the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Board, Executive Committee, served as Vice Chair, served as President of the Pacific Southwest Council and chaired several committees. He has been an the LA overseer of HUC-JIR since 1997 and a Governor since 2007. He has served on the Reform Think Tank as an HUC representative, served on the steering committee of the New Way Forward Sustainability Initiative, chaired the Communications Committee and serves on a variety of Board Committees. He has vast experience working as a lay leader with non-profit professionals at the congregational, URJ and HUC-JIR levels.
Michel Gherman has a master degree in Sociology and
Anthropology by Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Phd Degree by the Programa
de Pos Graduação in Social History by Federal University of Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Today, Michel acts as coordinator of the
Interdisciplinary Center for Jewish Students in Federal University of Rio de
Janeiro and is the coordinator for Jewish Studies in the school Eliezer Stembarg
–Max Nordau, in Rio de Janeiro.
Vicki Goldwyn is the Director of the American Friends of Mevakshei Derech and looks forward to sharing with you the journey that she and her husband John have made with Mevakshei Derech. Their life’s passion has been pursuing positive change with, and for others, and everything in their professional lives has accentuated this commitment. Most meaningful, was the decision to build a school in Jerusalem with the hope of establishing, from early childhood, an integrated liberal Jewish community.
Vicki has vast experience working as a professional in non-profit organizations, in the area of fund raising, development, Israel community and culture, and patient advocacy. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, and Chairman of the Board of B’nai Brith Hillel University of Chicago
Vicki and John live in the woods of Michigan, just north of Ann Arbor. They moved there 7 years ago from Chicago, Illinois.
Rabbi Paul Golomb
Rabbi Paul Golomb is the Rabbi of Congregation Achim Yisrael—The Vassar Temple in Poughkeepsie, NY. A native of Long Island, NY and graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (NY 1975), he has been a Director of Hillel Foundations in Columbus, Ohio, and Buffalo, NY, the URJ Regional Director for Canada, and has served synagogues in Chicago and Connecticut.
Since ordination, Rabbi Golomb has had the opportunity to be involved in a large variety of rabbinic activities: serving large, medium and small congregations, acting as a chaplain to university students, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, and working on behalf of the Reform Movement. He has published articles on biblical studies, modern Jewish thought, interfaith relations and Reform Zionism, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the CCAR Journal: A Reform Jewish Quarterly. He represents ARZA on the Board and the Cabinet of the American Zionist Movement.
During his time in Poughkeepsie, Rabbi Golomb served as President of the Dutchess County Interfaith Council, has been a member of the County’s Human Rights Commission, and the founder and convener of Scriptural Reasonings, a Jewish, Christian and Muslim text study symposium.
Rabbi Golomb lives in Poughkeepsie with his wife Deborah, a lawyer and mediator. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Ricardo Gorodovits is the President at ARI (Associação Religiosa Israelita), Devarim Magazine board member, former vice-president at Eliezer Max Jewish School, former activist at youth movement Chazit Hanoar. Engeneer and entrepreneur, owner of an IT company.
Sonja Guentner trained as a Byzantinist, specializing in mosaics and manuscripts, and then worked in publishing for twelve years.
In 2005, she co-founded a private, not-for-profit international school (Internationale Friedensschule Köln/Cologne International School), which opened its doors in August 2007 as Europe’s first fully accredited interreligious school. Sonja developed its interreligious department and, in November 2011, became the school’s Head.
Sonja has been an active member of both her home congregation, Westminster Synagogue in London, and the local Liberal Jewish community, Gescher Lamassoret Cologne, where she served on four consecutive boards and as chairman on two of them.
In July 2011, after completing a three year stint as the youth officer of the national Jewish Progressive Movement (UpJ), she was voted in as UpJ president, and became a vice-president of the EUPJ and an executive board member of the WUPJ the following year.
Her biggest challenges at the moment are managing the UpJ’s transition into public charter status and setting up a foundation to support the acquisition of a permanent home for her local congregation.
Sonja lives in Cologne/Germany with her German-Jewish husband and their three greyhounds.
Sharene is a Melbourne based lawyer who practices in the property development area. She has had a long involvement with Progressive Judaism in the Australasian region having served as both a Vice-President and Honorary Secretary of the Union for Progressive Judaism as well as Chairman of the Victorian Union of Progressive Judaism and President of her home congregation, the Leo Baeck Centre.
Sharene believes that it is important that members of the Progressive Jewish community take leadership roles in the wider Jewish community and she is currently Vice-President of Zionism Victoria, the Honorary Secretary of the Executive Council of Australian Judaism and an office bearer of the Zionist Federation of Australia.
Sharene is married to Sam and has two children, Michelle who is currently seeking to pursue a career in the art world and Jonathan, an economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Jim Heeger is a past Senior Vice Chair of the WUPJ. He is active Jewishly in the San Francisco Bay Area, as a Past President of Congregation Beth Am and of Stanford Hillel. He currently serves on the boards of URJ Camp Newman, the San Francisco Jewish Federation, Foundation for Jewish Camp, and Moishe House.
He has held a number senior management positions over his career in Silicon Valley. He was CEO of GreenRoad and before that PayCycle. He held executive management positions at Adobe Systems and Intuit. He has an MBA from Stanford and a BS from MIT.
Rabbi Jordon Helfman
Rabbi Jordan Helfman is the Assistant Rabbi at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto Ontario. Rabbi Helfman worked on the movement work team for LJY-Netzer – Liberal Judaism (UK)’s youth movement, has served as the co-chair of the FSU Pesach Project team which sends rabbinical students to the FSU , taught at Congregation Netan Ya while in Ulpan in Israel, and has served the progressive communities in Prague and Luxembourg for the High Holy Days. In the US and Canada, Rabbi Helfman has worked or served on faculty at three of the Reform movement’s camps. An incoming member of the WUPJ executive board to represent the youth of the movement, Rabbi Helfman is interested in seeing how we can further empower our youth leaders and young professionals within the framework of Reform Judaism. In Toronto, Rabbi Helfman actively partners with start-up shuls and minyanim and is developing Holy Blossom’s youth and young professionals programs.
Martin Hirsch is very active in Chilean Jewish life in youth Leadership, Jewish teacher for Bat/Bar Mitzvah and for adults. Active participant at religious services as Baal Koreh. Worked in Santiago de Chile with Rabbi Angel Kreiman z.l., Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein (now at Benei Jeshurun, New York), Rabbi Roberto Feldmann.
In 2004, managed the delivery of a WUPJ’s Torah scroll from Santiago de Chile to Odessa, Ukraine, supervised by Jerry Tanenbaum.
Since 2012, lives with his wife, María Eugenia Gómez, and his son Benjamín in Concepción, Chile’s second city 300 miles south of Santiago, leading the only congregation and serving as spiritual guide.
For the first time attending a WUPJ Conference, and attended last year Rabbinic Kallah at Porto Alegre, Brasil.
Has a degree in International Business and Foreign Trade, teaching as Professor at Universidad de Las Américas, DuocUC, a Catholic College, and ProAndes, a Technical College.
Edy Huberman is currently the Executive Director of Fundacion Judaica in Buenos Aires, a network of Jewish Institutions in Argentina, and works in cooperation with WUPJ-LA. Edy is also a member of the Fundraising Executives Association in Argentina.
Edy has been working as a community professional for over 15 years, most of them at the Jewish Agency for Israel as an advisor for the Representative in Latin America and as Director of the Latin American office.
Edy holds a degree in Business Administration and Information Systems, specializing in Strategic management for NGOs.
Edy is married and father of 3 boys.
Dr Alex Kagan
Dr Alex Kagan was born in
Vitebsk, Belarus. Prior to making Aliya in 1994, he was an active member of the
Jewish Agency in Belarus and one of the founding members of the Reform
Movement. Alex continues to serve as a reserve soldier in the IDF in the psychological
division. He has a BA & MA from Bar Ilan University in Clinical Criminology
and recently completed his doctorate at Bar Ilan in Hermeneutics and
Psychoanalysis. Alex has worked at the World Union since 2001. He was the
Netzer Coordinator for the FSU until 2005 and since then has been the FSU
Director. Alex is married and has 3 children. He lives in Rehovot.
Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris
Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris was raised in Houston, Texas
and received a BA in Art History from Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts. In
1989 she went to the UK to study at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew
Studies, before entering Leo Baeck College. She was ordained in 1996,
subsequently working for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now MRJ). In
2001 she went to Jerusalem for a year, followed by a brief stint at Temple Beth
Israel in Melbourne, Australia. On her return to the UK she served on the
rabbinic team at Sha’arei Tsedek North London Reform Synagogue, taught at Leo
Baeck College, worked on her PhD in Bible at the University of Sheffield and
taught Bible and Jewish Studies at SOAS in 2007-09. She gained her PhD
entitled ‘A Hammer for Shattering Rock: Employing Classical Rabbinic
Hermeneutics to Fashion Contemporary Feminist Commentary on the Bible’ in
summer 2011. Currently she is the Principal of Leo Baeck College, where
she also teaches Bible.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
Rabbi Gilad Kariv has been serving as the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism since 2009. In this capacity, Rabbi Kariv serves as a leading advocate of religious pluralism in Israel and equal status to all streams in Israel. Prior to assuming his current role, Rabbi Kariv served as the associate director of the Israel Religious Action Center.
Rabbi Kariv was ordained in 2003 at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and obtained his LLM in Public and International Law from the Northwestern University School of Law.
Rabbi Kariv was a very active member in the Israel Constitution Committee, as well as on the board of the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies, the board of Hemdat: The Israel Association for the Promotion of Freedom of Science, Religion and Culture and Panim: For Jewish Renaissance, an advocacy organization working to promote pluralistic Judaism in Israel.
Rabbi Kariv regularly appears on Israeli television and news programs, spreading the word on Reform Judaism and serving as a leading pundit on Jewish, social and political agenda items in Israel.
In 2012 and 2015, Rabbi Kariv ran for office in the primary elections under the Labor Party.
Andrew Keene is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where at a young age he became active in NFTY, the Reform Jewish Teen Movement. Andrew served in various NFTY leadership capacities including North American President where he was the first President since 1970 to take a dedicated gap year to engage with NFTY teens and communities. As NFTY President, Andrew worked intensively with the URJ to redefine teen engagement in Jewish life using millennial-oriented strategies.
Additionally, Andrew worked to strengthen the relationship between Netzer Olami and NFTY including a trip to RSY-Netzer in the UK. Andrew is currently an entrepreneurship student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Andrew serves as a board member for both the Union for Reform Judaism as well as the WUPJ. This summer, he will be returning to the URJ Kutz Camp (NFTY’s teen leadership summer camp) in New York as a Program Coordinator.
Klaudia Has been deeply involved in work for the Jewish community in Krakow and Poland over the past 10 years. A sociologist who analyzes, and a dreamer who aspires to change the image of European Jewish communities, Klaudia is the founder of the Jewrnalism Foundation. After being involved in many projects she finally found her niche in the world by promoting young European Jews and their work. In the past two years she has been the manager of Cantor Itzchak Horvitz, the first cantor in Poland after WWII, and in the past four years she has served as President of the Krakow Branch, of the Socio-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, and is a member of the Israeli Jewish Congress and the European Jewish Parliament.
Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky
Chaim Koritzinsky was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He completed his undergraduate studies at Vassar College before moving to Jerusalem where he studied at the Pardes Institute. While based in Israel, Chaim worked for International Hillel and the Joint Distribution Committee, helping to rebuild Jewish student life in the Former Soviet Union. In 2003, Chaim joined the pioneering class at the rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon ordination, Chaim was invited by six families to Santiago Chile to help build an inclusive, progressive synagogue. Seven years later, Ruaj Ami is now a thriving community of over 130 families. In Santiago, Chaim met his wife Keren, and they now enjoy three wonderful young children: Yaniv, Noam and Lielle. Chaim and the family recently decided to move back to the States, and in July, Chaim will begin as the Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto, California.
Miriam has chaired the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) for the past three years, and has just been re-elected to a second three-year term. She is a member of the WUPJ Executive Board and WUPJ’s Advocacy Committee. In addition Miriam chaired Leo Baeck College for four years and has also served her home community, Wimbledon & District Synagogue, in many capacities.
Her professional life was devoted to the visual arts: she trained as an art historian and for more than 30 years worked as a freelance writer about art and antiques. Her hobbies include travel and meeting people – both useful in her role at EUPJ – and also music, theatre and over-feeding people at her table.
Miriam is married to Stephen, a judge, and they have two adult children.
Tatiana Heilbut Kulikovsky
Tatiana Heilbut Kulikovsky is Vice President for Customer Relations at Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) in Brzil. She was born and raised in São Paulo City, and always inside CIP community. Tatiana was chanichá and madrichá in all 3 CIP's Youth Movements. She is a volunteer responsible for Marketing, Communication, Events and Customer Relations at Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) since 2012.
Tatiana graduated in Marketing and Business Administration.
Alvin Kushner is the National
Chairman of South African Union for Progressive Judaism and a member of the
Executive Board of the WUPJ. Alvin studied graphic design for 3 years in the
sixties but decided not to pursue it as a career. He spent much of his career
in the motor industry where he owned vehicle sales outlets which he sold 20
In 1996 he and his wife, Merril,
reinvented themselves by entering the then fast growing tourism industry. Other
previous positions: Regional Chairman of Southern African Tourism Services
Association (SATSA WC); Trustee of Cape Windjammers Education Trust; Board
Member of South African Sail Training for Life-skills Association; Past
Commodore and trustee of False Bay Yacht Club, Simon’s Town and Director of
Cape Rainbow Tours cc.
Alvin spent 9 of his school years
in a boarding school from the age of 9 in a rural town during the fifties. It
was here as a child that he first experienced ongoing obsessive mindless
anti-Semitism mainly from the Afrikaner community which included his
teachers. This experience strengthened his resolve to try to understand
anti-Semitism and to deal with the challenge of changing people’s innermost
Alvin has been a member of the
Reform movement since the day he got married in Temple Israel Hillbrow in
1965. His previous positions held in Jewish organizations were: National
Chairman of South African Jewish Maritime League; Regional Chairman of Cape
Town Progressive Jewish Congregation; Past Chairman of Temple Israel West Coast
and Past Joint Vice President Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation.
Alvin is married to Merril and 3
surviving children and 6 grandchildren.
Flavio Levi Moreira
Flavio is a member of the CIP-SP (Congregação Israelita Paulista – São Paulo) and WUPJ-LA. He has served as a Madrich, and youth camp coordinator at the Congregação Israelita Paulista’s (CIP) youth since he was 18 years. For the past 15 years, he has been in different positions on the congregational boards, sitting in different chairs, but now holds the position of treasurer at CIP.
When the WUPJ held its first conference in Latin American (Sao Paulo, 2004), he fell in love with the movement, its core values and its people. Furthermore, Flavio have gotten more and more involved, helping Miriam Vasserman and Raul Gottlieb to establish the movement formally in Latin America.
Flavio is also passionate about music ; he has joined an innovative music initiative at his congregation (CIP-SP) called “Do Kadosh”. Do not miss us at the Havdalá. Professionally, Flavio is the the managing partner of Telsign, a Telecom and IT infrastructure consulting company.
Flavio has a lovely and beautiful son, Felipe!
Dalya Levy has been active in the Reform Movement her entire life: first in the Diaspora and then after making aliyah in 1971. She was one of the founders of the Reform/Progressive Tali Beit Vegan elementary school and the Ganai Chayim kindergartens in Jerusalem. Currently, as the Executive Director of ARZENU, she connects Reform Zionists from around the world to Israel and each other and represents their interests in the World Zionist Organization where she sits on the Presidium, the Budget and Finance Committee and the Audit Committee. She has organized activities and educational seminars for both the IMPJ and the WUPJ and has served on the IRAC steering committee (Israel Religious Action Center) for over 10 years.
Lynn Magid Lazar
Lynn Magid Lazar is the Immediate Past President of Women of Reform Judaism. She served as president from 2009 through the Centennial year of 2013. She joined the WRJ Board of Directors in 1993, and served in many capacities including treasurer, vice-president, and program chair for the WRJ 44th Assembly in Minnesota. She served as first vice president for the four-year term 2005 – 2009.
Lazar has also served on sisterhood and Temple boards of two congregations, including her current congregation, Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh, PA where she serves on the board of directors and is a Lifetime Trustee on her sisterhood board of directors. She served as WRJ District #5 (currently WRJ Atlantic District) president from 1996-98. In addition, Lazar was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism, as well as the North American Advisory Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. She looks forward to serving the WUPJ as a member of the Executive Board.
Born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, Lynn Magid Lazar graduated from Goucher College and then earned a M.Ed. from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked with blind and visually impaired children as an orientation and mobility specialist. She currently owns an aerobic exercise franchise and teaches classes as a certified instructor. Lazar and her husband, Dale, live in Pittsburgh, PA, love to travel and play golf. They are most proud of their four children, however the joys of their lives are granddaughters Alison and Adar and grandson Asher.
Bet David Synagogue.
Johannesburg. South Africa.
Rabbi Margolis was born in
Moscow, USSR. At the age of 12 her family made Aliyah to Israel, where she
completed high school and served as an educational officer in the army (IDF).
In 2000 after her release from the IDF, she earned a bachelor´s degree from Ben
Gurion University in Jewish History, Islam and Art. Rabbi Margolis then went on
to complete her Master´s degree in Jewish Studies. She was raised in a family
with deep roots in the Reform movement – her mother was the first Russian
speaking female Rabbi in Israel.
Rabbi Margolis worked in
the Reform movement in Israel and has represented the Reform movement all over
the world. She has been involved with the Reform movement in South Africa since
2009. Rabbi Margolis was ordained by the Abraham Geiger College. Rabbi Margolis
is the first female Rabbi to hold office in South Africa. She is the
chairman of South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity (SACRED).
Rabbi Margolis is a member of the South African Association of
Progressive Rabbis (SAAPR) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi
Margolis is married to Greg, and is the mother of two wonderful daughters,
Emily (6) and Victoria (1).
Reuven Marko has been the elected chairperson of the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism) since July 2014. He joined the movement in 1969 when the “Natan Ya” congregation was formed, and he has served as a lay-leader and continues to serve as lay-cantor. Professionally he runs a division within a law firm that specializes in patents for start-up companies in Israel and the USA. Quite a few of the companies he has worked with have either gone public or have been purchased by companies such as Broadcom, Cisco, Melanox, Microsoft, Qualcomm, RedHat, VMware and others. He has also worked for Tower Semiconductor, National Semiconductor and as an officer with the IDF. Reuven has a BSEE from the Technion and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He is married to Ahuva, a biochemist with Teva, and together they have raised two daughters and four sons, and are now proud grandparents to three grandchildren.
Joshua Mikutis is a second-year rabbinical student originally from Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Haverford College with honors in History and Religion, and minor in Russian from Bryn Mawr College. After working at a charter school in Boston and a private school in Dayton, Joshua served as an AVODAH Fellow at the New York Legal Assistance Group in their Immigrant Protection Unit as a paralegal, adding an additional year to continue his paralegal work and serve as a grant handler for an employment based grant of $300,000 from the Robin Hood Foundation. Joshua is passionate about the global Jewish community, and he spent the last summer continuing his Russian language studies at Columbia University and working at a Netzer summer camp in Belarus through the World Union for Progressive Jewish Community. This year, he will be working on developing a website that focuses on the global experiences of Jewish youth through the Be Wise Grant. He serves on the JDC’s New York City Planning Committee, works with the Former Soviet Union desk of the WUPJ to develop an alumni network for those who participated in the FSU Pesach Project, and is a proud member of the small but growing Greene Hill Coop.
Anne Molloy is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Anne is a member of the Executive Board, the Management Committee and chair of the FSU Committee of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Professionally, Anne serves as Executive Director of the Posner Fine Arts Foundation and as Librarian at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh where she is also a past President. Anne is a trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union - Greater Pittsburgh Chapter. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from Simmons College.
Rabbi Oshrat Morag
Born and raised in Haifa, Israel. Ordained as rabbi at HUC –JIR Jerusalem campus. B.A. in Social Science, Hebrew University. M.A. in Biblical and Gender Studies, graduated Cum Laude, Jewish Theology Seminary (Schechter Institute), Jerusalem. Currently a Doctorate candidate in the field of Feminist Theology at HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus.
Publications: Articles, modern midrashim, poems, prayers, and life cycle ceremonies, were published in books and journals in Israel and the United States.
Resides in Buenos Aires with her husband and four children.
Rabbi Joel D. Oseran
Rabbi Joel D. Oseran is Vice President, International Development of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). In 1986 Rabbi Oseran made aliyah to Israel and joined the World Union Jerusalem headquarters as Director of Education.
A graduate of the University of California – Los Angeles, he received his BA degree, cum laude, in History in 1971 and a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Southern California in 1974. He was ordained rabbi in 1976 from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, New York Campus and received his Doctor of Divinity degree from HUC-JIR, Jerusalem, in 2001.
After ordination, Rabbi Oseran served as Director of Student Affairs at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. He returned to the United States in 1981 where he served as Rabbi-Educator at University Synagogue in Los Angeles, California. During his work in Los Angeles, Rabbi Oseran was instrumental in creating the UAHC (today URJ) project for intermarried couples entitled “Times and Seasons".
Rabbi Oseran served as Project Director for the first Progressive Movement School in Jerusalem. The project developed into the Tali Bayit V’gan primary school, which today numbers over 450 children.
As head of the World Union’s international development, Rabbi Oseran helped to establish the Progressive Movement in the Former Soviet Union, traveling extensively to various parts of that region since 1989. He has also played a leading role in directing Progressive Judaism’s support for emerging Progressive Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe and facilitating the revitalization of Progressive Judaism in Latin America.
While on Sabbatical leave from 1997-1998, Rabbi Oseran served as Rabbi for the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong and assisted Progressive Jewish communities in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok.
Rabbi Oseran lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Rachelle, and his three sons, Shai, Ilan and Ariel.
Rabbi Danny Rich JP
Danny Rich has been Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism since 2005 and was rabbi to the Kingston Liberal Synagogue for nearly two decades. He serves as a Justice of the Peace and as a prison and hospital chaplain.
He is a President of the Council of Christians and Jews and a member of the Council of Imams and Rabbis. He has recently campaigned on the living wage, assisted dying, the admittance of Syrian refugees to Britain and caring for carers.
Danny ‘s publications include Liberal Judaism and Mixed Marriage (2004), Zionism: a case for fair-mindedness on all sides (2010), Muslim perceptions of the other (2011) and Israel Mattuck: The inspirational voice of Liberal Judaism (2014).
He recently prepared a submission and gave live evidence to the parliamentary Public Bill Committee on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Danny is a member of the Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
Charlie Rothschild, from Los Altos, CA is the new Secretary
of the World Union. Charlie has been heavily involved in the North American
Reform Movement, where he has been on the Board, an Officer, and now currently
a member of the Oversight Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism. Charlie is
also a past President of Congregation Beth Am, 1650 families in Los Altos, CA,
and Temple Shalom, 50 families, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Charlie is currently
one of the leaders of Congregation Beth Am’s Tikkun Olam program focusing on
providing an Early Childhood Education for every under 5 year old child,
including direct local engagement, and California wide Policy advocacy.
Rabbi Elena Rubinstein
Rabbi Elena Rubinstein was born in Moscow in the former Soviet Union in 1955. She graduated from the Faculty of History at the Pedagogic University in Moscow, and worked for fourteen years as a scientific member of staff at the Borodino History Museum in the city. In 1992 she made Aliyah together with her family. Elena has worked in a number of positions in the IMPJ since 1994, including coordinator of the Legal Advice Center for Olim in Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv, and coordinator of programs for Olim at Beit Daniel Congregation. In December 2002 Helena was appointed director of the Olim Department in the IMPJ headquarters and Conversion Sсhool in the IMPJ. Elena began her studies at Hebrew Union College and at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in 1997. She now holds an MA in Jewish History, and has joined the growing list of Russian-speaking women, new immigrant from FSU, who have been ordained at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. Since 2009 Rabbi Elena Rubinstein has been a head of the the Sha'arei Shalom community in St.Petersburg, Russia.
Elena is married to Semion, mother of Rabbi Julia Margolis (Beit David Community,Johannesburg, South Africa), proud grandmother of Emily and Victoria.
Ruschin is the President of Cadenaci S.A. in Argentina, a leader in the field of fireworks. He served as the President of the NCI-EMANU EL community, Argentina from 2006 – 2010. He was also the
Secretary of the Judaica Foundation Board of Directors; a member of WUPJ-LA Executive Commitee; a member of the WUPJ Resolutions Committee; and a member of the Representative
Assembly AMIA in Argentina.
speaks Spanish, German and English. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Business
Administration and Is a Public Accountant.
is married to Nelly Bril, and has three
children and two grandchildren.
Jennifer Schenker Beder
Jennifer Schenker Beder has been a journalist for over 30 years. She has worked full-time, at various points in her career, for the Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She now runs Informilo, a London-based media company that operates a website and publishes print magazines about the global technology sector.
L Tadd Schwab
Tadd Schwab was born in Cumberland, Md. USA. His family was a member of B’er Chayim, a Reform Congregation founded in 1854. His family has been there since the beginning. Tadd was a youth group Vice President, a Hillel President, and a Temple President (of Temple Avoda, Fair Lawn, NJ USA). He graduated from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science and spent the majority of his working career in the children’s clothing industry. Today, Tadd is also on the Board of Trustees of Philadelphia University, and the Union for Reform Judaism. He and his wife Sandy enjoy travel, golf, collecting, and time with their children and grandchildren and other family members.
Judy has served on the Executive Board of the World Union for the past ten years and is standing down this year. She has chaired the Marketing & Communications Committee of WUPJ for most of this time. She is mainly interested in effective communications in voluntary organisations.
She has been involved in many progressive Jewish organisations since she was an EIE student from the UK in the 60’s based in both the Long Island & Missouri Valley Federations of Temple Youth and has been involved one way or another since that time. She also works in Restorative Justice in the UK. Judy lives in London and is married to Gordon.
Rabbi Ruben Sternschein
Rabbi Ruben Sternschein’s activities focus on counseling, teaching, debating Judaism with public personalities, preaching and creating Jewish young leadership. He completed his Ph.D in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has a Masters degree in Jewish Philosophy from the same university and a Masters in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Stenschein has lectured in many Ibero-American universities on the topics of Jewish Psycho-Philosophy of Religion and Education, Ethics, Political and Anthropological Philosophy, Philosophical interpretation of the Bible and other Jewish classics, Human Rights, and Gender studies, and has published numerous articles.
He is the founder of the first non-Orthodox congregation in Spain, and of the UNESCO Catalonian Interreligious Dialogue Group. He was the Jewish world representative on the UNESCO paper “A Universal Ethics, Philosophy and Education”, was the Mandel Jerusalem Fellow, and creator and director of “Mikra Net” (a HUJ project of Jewish studies at Ibero-American main universities). While serving as Rabbi of Jerusalem’s Harel congregation, he created the Musa project: inspiration for artists from the Jewish sources. He was also the Director and main lecturer at the Machon Le madrichim in Jerusalem for many years.
Jane Taves has served in many
positions for the Union for Reform Judaism, locally and North American-wide.
She was both a Regional President and a District Chair. She has been a Core Partner
with Barbara Saidel, COO, in the Knowledge Network and The Tent, and a Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. She is
also on the North American Board of Women of Reform Judaism. She currently
chairs the Task Force implementing the new URJ Communities. These are
geographic groupings of congregations throughout North America, which nurture a
network among congregation leaders, sharing challenges and best practices and
connecting to resources of the URJ. In all roles, her relationship with staff
partners has been critical to success, and she has been blessed to have many
productive, trusting, and mutually respectful partnerships between lay
volunteers and professional staff.
Rabbi Lennard R. Thal
After serving for nine years as Associate Dean of the Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles campus, Rabbi Thal was named by the URJ (then known as the UAHC) to be its Regional Director in Los Angeles, a position he held from 1982 to 1996 at which time he relocated to New York to become the Vice President of the URJ. Subsequently he was promoted to be Senior Vice President. After retiring in 2008, he served as Interim Director of Rabbinic Placement for the Reform Movement in North America. He is married to Dr. Linda Thal and is the proud father of two daughters and ecstatic grandfather of Mo, Zeke, Noa and Zev.
Patricia Thal Silberstein
Patricia (Patty) Thal is the President of Comunidad Ruaj Ami in Santiago, Chile. In 2007, she was one of the founders of this special progressive community which now numbers over 130 families. Patty has also served for many years as the Ritual Director of Ruaj Ami. Patty works as a psychoanalyst in Santiago, has two college-aged daughters, and is pleased to be attending her first WUPJ conference.
• Born in São Paulo in 1959, Brazil, married to Itche Vasserman, two children, Ariela and Ilan.
• Member of the board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
• Vice Chair of the WUPJ Latin American.
• Founder and President of Mivass Eventos Corporativos.
Miriam works for Jewish causes in Brazil and Latin America for over 15 years, promoting Progressive Judaism, helping to build bridges between congregations and individuals from different countries, training leaders and strengthening ties with Israel. She organized several major successful fundraising events for Corporations, NGOs and Philanthropic organizations. Miriam believes that a strong Jewish community is one that cares about the education of their young people and adults with an open, democratic and pluralistic vision.
For more than 30 years, Jonathan Wootliff has specialized in helping multinational corporations build productive relationships with NGOs, advocacy and activist groups through effective engagement. He evaluates the risks of corporations being exposed to public controversy, explores viable ways for senior corporate managers to meet stakeholders’ expectations and identifies opportunities for establishing mutually beneficial partnerships.
He was formerly the communications director for Greenpeace International, where he was a member of the organization’s senior management team. During his tenure at Greenpeace, Jonathan was engaged in a wide range of difficult and controversial issues, including genetically modified organisms and climate change. Jonathan also worked with the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute both in helping them create the Global Forest Watch initiative and in establishing the organization’s strategy and presence at the 1999 WTO summit in Seattle.
Jonathan has attended all 15 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conferences and has established himself as an expert source on climate change topics. He is widely published and is a regular contributor to the National Journal and The Huffington Post on climate change and other timely issues that affect businesses.
He lives in Prague, Czech Republic and works throughout the world.
Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman is Head of the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) Department for Diaspora Activities and Herzl Center since June 2010. Previously she served as the Associate Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. Her duties included professional leadership of the Reform Movement in Israel together with its staff and members of the board.
Previous positions include: Founder and Manager of the Information Center for Social and Lifecycle Events; Executive Director of the Tamar Jerusalem Dance Company; Manager of the Center for Training and Development of Manpower, Neighborhood Rehabilitation Project, the Center for Adult Training for the Amal network and Editor of the Hebrew University Monthly Student Newspaper.
Ms. Yehoshua-Braverman has a B.A. degree in Social Work and M.A. in Communications, both from the Hebrew University and a certificate in Organizational Consulting from Tel Aviv University.
She is a member of the WZO Executive and Jewish Agency Board of Governors, serves as a board member of the Poultry Council in Israel, Ayelet - The Federation of Non-Olympic Sport In Israel, and is active as an active volunteer in other organizations.
Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman is married to Yoram and mother to Niv, Ilay and Einav. Member of the Reform congregation in Mevashert Ziyyion.
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