CONNECTIONS 2013 offers the opportunity to hear from some of our most prominent and inspiring speakers from around the world.
Keynoters and Special Profiles
The Honourable Professor Irwin Cotler, M.P., P.C., O.C.
Irwin Cotler is a Member of the Canadian Parliament, Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He is Vice-Chair of both the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, and is Justice and Human Rights Critic for the Liberal Party.
A constitutional and comparative law scholar, Prof. Cotler has extensively litigated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – including landmark cases in the areas of free speech, freedom of religion, women's rights, minority rights, and war crimes justice. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in peace and human rights, including the Order of Canada, for his pioneering work in peace law and human rights advocacy. He is Co-Founder and Honorary Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism and previously led the Canadian Delegation to the Stockholm International Forum on the Prevention of Genocide.
At present, Prof. Cotler is Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, International Chair of the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition regarding the Iranian four-fold threat; Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Democracies – Chair of its Working Group on the Arab Awakening – and Chair of the All-Party Save Darfur Coalition. He has represented political prisoners all over the world, including Andrei Sakharov and Natan Sharansky in the former Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Jacobo Timmerman in Argentina, Kamal Masmoudi in Tunisia, Prof. Kunlung Zhang in China, and Professor Saad Edin Ibrahim in Egypt. More recently, he represented Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil – one of the architects of the Tahrir Square revolution, who was imprisoned for his criticism of Egyptian repression by the military. He is also a member of the International Legal Team of two Chinese political prisoners – 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and Gao Zhisheng – and also leads the Iranian Dissident Awareness Program with US Senator Mark Kirk (Illinois). For his work representing political prisoners, he was characterized as “counsel for the oppressed” by Canada’s national magazine, Macleans.
Prof. Cotler has testified as an expert witness on human rights before Parliamentary Committees in Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Italy, South Africa, and Israel, and has lectured at major international academic and professional gatherings in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He is the recipient of ten honorary doctorates, including from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa University and Bar Ilan University, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Born in Jerusalem in 1954, David Grossman is a leading Israeli writer of his generation and his work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is the author of eight internationally acclaimed novels, and two powerful journalistic accounts, as well as a number of children's books, a children's opera and a play. Grossman has been presented with numerous awards including Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres (France), Prix Eliette Von Karajan (Austria), The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation (UK), the Buxtehuder Bulle (Germany), the Sapir Prize (Israel), the Premio per la Pace e l'Azione Umanitaria 2006 (City of Rome/Italy), Onorificenza della Stella Solidarita Italiana 2007, Premio Ischia – International Award for Journalism 2007, the EMET Award 2007 (Israel), the Geschwister Scholl Prize 2008 (Germany), the Albatros Prize, awarded by the Gunter Grass Foundation. Grossman was the recipient of the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Booksellers Association in Frankfurt 2010 and in 2011 was awarded France's Prix Medicis for translated literature.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the fourth president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Previously he served as spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, where, during his 20-year tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of learners, and strengthened WRT’s commitment to social justice and inclusion. Prior to his service at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City.
Ordained in 1982 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, Rabbi Jacobs received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity, also from HUC-JIR, in 2007. Deeply committed to Israel, Rabbi Jacobs is a senior rabbinic fellow at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, where he has studied for two decades. A product of the Reform Movement, he has held numerous leadership posts within its institutions, as well as in Jewish communal organizations, including AJWS, UJA-Federation of New York, and Synagogue 3000.
Devoted to global social justice, Rabbi Jacobs visited Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. He also has observed the plight of refugees in the Chad-Darfur border area, and has participated in an annual conference of Muslim and Christian leaders to build understanding between the West and the Muslim world.
Rabbi Jacobs lives in Scarsdale with his wife, Susan K. Freedman, and their three children.
Ruth W. Messinger
Ruth W. Messinger is president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development organization that supports human rights for marginalized people around the world. Ms. Messinger assumed this role in 1998 following a 20-year career in public service in New York City. Considered a national leader in the movement to end the genocide in Sudan, Ms. Messinger has been called upon several times to advise President Obama about creating a sustainable path toward peace in that country. She has also served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty and Development and currently sits on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.
Ms. Messinger has received honorary degrees and awards from four major American rabbinical schools and awards from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Women’s Funding Network and the American Jewish Committee. In recognition of her leadership she has been named among the Forward’s “50 Most Influential Jews of the Year” for the past decade and, in 2011, was on the Jerusalem Post’s “World’s Most Influential Jews” list. Ms. Messinger is an active member of her congregation, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Session Presenters & Speakers
Rabbi Grisha Abramovich (Belarus)
Rabbi Abramovich is the head rabbi of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in the Republic of Belarus and since 2011, the rabbi of the Sandra Breslauer “Beit Simcha” Center in Minsk. A native of Minsk, he started his Jewish journey 20 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, in 2003, is involved in 70 percent of all Bar/Bat mitzvah ceremonies in the country, conducted in seven Belarussian cities. He is also a musician, and co-founded the Minsk cantorial festival in the 2005. He was, one of the rabbis to start Jewish- Catholic dialog in Minsk in the 2007. He and his wife, Irina, who is the Minsk JCC educator, have three children.
Isidoro Abramowicz (Argentina)
Isidoro Abramowicz was born in Buenos Aires and has completed his major studies with major in piano at Argentina’s National Conservatory „Carlos Lopez Buchardo“, parallel he studied lyrical singing and choir conducting and decided to move to Germany to continue his musical training. After some years working as Ba'al T´fillah in communities from North Germany he moved to Berlin to study Chazzanut at the Abraham Geiger College as scholarship holder from different Jewish institutions. In Israel he studied at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem under the regular supervision from Eliyahu Schleifer and in the Tel Aviv Cantorial Institute under the supervision of Naftali Hershtik. Parallel he completed a Masters in Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam, presenting his thesis titled "Der Frankfurter Kaddisch: Ein Liturgisches Kalendarium", in English "The Frankfurt Kaddish: A Liturgical Calendar" with analysis and unpublished transcripts about liturgical music of that city's Main river. In recognition of the high grades he has been endowed with the ability to conduct a final study tour to South America, including communities of Argentina, Chile and Brazil, where he held two lectures in the festival “Lashir Benefesh” for Chazzanim and Ba'aleh Tfillah.
Dr. Michael Alexander (Israel)
Michael Alexander holds a PhD in social geography from the University of Amsterdam and has lectured on globalization and immigration at Haifa University and the Hebrew University. He has written on policies toward labor migrants in European cities and in Tel Aviv, where he worked as a city planner in the mid-1990s and took part in setting up MESILA, the first municipal center in Israel serving foreign workers and their families. Since 2006 he has worked in human rights organizations, most recently at ARDC, an Israeli organization aiding African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv.
Born in Tel Aviv but taken at age six to the US, where he lived for 14 years before returning to Israel, he felt first-hand the immigration experience – twice. How different societies react to Newcomers -- and what this reveals about the host society itself -- subsequently became a central theme in his academic and practical work. He currently lectures on “Understanding Israeli society” to international organizations working on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mark S. Anshan (Canada)
Mark has served the Reform movement for many years including Chair of ARZENU, ARZA Canada, Vice-chair of the URJ, chair and member of several URJ committees, WUPJ Executive Board, JAFI Board of Governors, WZO Executive Council and served in several positions in his congregation. Mark is a lawyer in Toronto, married with two sons.
Rabbi Reuven Bar Ephraim (Switzerland)
Rabbi Reuven Bar Ephraim, M.A., was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1959. After graduating from high school he moved to Israel, and became a member of Kibbutz Yahel. In 1992 He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, majoring in Jewish History and Mikra. The following year he was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in Jerusalem. Between the years 1991 and 2006, Bar-Ephraim served congregations in Israel and The Netherlands. In the Netherlands he also served as a prison Chaplain. Rabbi Bar Ephraim is at present the rabbi of the Jewish Liberal Congregation, Or Chadasch in Zurich, Switzerland, and is a member of the executive Board of the EUPJ and co-chair of the European Beit Din.
Rabbi Nir Barkin (Israel)
Rabbi Nir Barkin serves as a rabbi of Kehillat YOZMA – the Reform community in Modi'in – as well as rabbi of the YOZMA-TALI elementary school.
Ordained by the Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Nir Barkin is also a graduate of the Hebrew University's Mandel Institute of Contemporary Jewish Studies.
In his capacity as YOZMA rabbi, Nir fulfills a variety of functions in YOZMA's formal and informal educational frameworks – teaching both children and adults.
As one of YOZMA's three top executive staff members, Nir is critically involved in leading and developing the community which provides educational and spiritual services to some 700 families.
Rabbi Barkin is a secretary member of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism's Rabbinical Council.
Nir lectures in Israel and abroad on a wide range of topics including Judaism, Zionism and Israel.
Steven M. Bauman (USA)
Steven M. Bauman is enjoying his four grandsons and working on his private pilot license in Palo Alto, CA. Yet, he finds time to lead a local initiaitve to increase inclusion of kids with special needs and their families in Jewish communal activities. Steve is the immediate past Chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. He is the past- President of the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center of Palo Alto, CA and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Union for Reform Judaism. He is a former Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s committee on the former Soviet Union, and a former Vice President of ARZA. Mr. Bauman, past president of Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos, CA, taught Torah to seventh graders in the Religious School. Prior to retiring to devote full time to volunteering for Jewish organizations, Mr. Bauman served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of VINA Technologies, Inc., was a Principal of GeoPartners Research, Inc. and three decades as a telecommunications industry executive serving at 3COM, and Bell Labs.
Stephane Beder (France)
Stephane Beder, a business school lecturer and sought-after consultant, specializes in helping start-ups with global business development. He spent 22 years at Disney, most recently as vice-president, corporate alliances international, a position which crossed all lines of Disney’s businesses, including films, video, television, theme parks and consumer products. He negotiated and managed partnerships which generated fees and marketing support for key joint initiatives with blue-chip companies throughout the world.
His involvement with the Jewish community started with leading and organizing Jewish camps in France and trips in England and Israel.
He has helped the development of a multilingual progressive community in Paris , Kehilat Gesher and has been elected in 2005 to President of the Federation of French speaking Communities (FJLF) regrouping progressive communities across France , Belgium ,Switzerland and Luxemburg.
Stephane is also Vice chairman of UEPJ.
The connection of the French progressive Jews with the rest of the world and the implementation of communication tools that contribute to the development of progressive Judaism ,especially among the youth are areas of particular interest to him.
Rabbi Golan Ben-Chorin (Israel)
Rabbi Golan Ben-Chorin, a third generation Reform spiritual leader and a Doctor of Education lives in Haifa, Israel. Having completed seven years as a pulpit Rabbi, he now serves as an educational and spiritual innovator contributing to Jewish community development and strategic planning across five continents. Drawing on his doctoral thesis on an authentic Jewish model of pluralism, and hands-on experience in intra-Jewish diversity, Golan designed and taught a year-long course for Hebrew Union College and the IMPJ on the “Art of Leading Prayer Services”. This curriculum has served as the basis for his on-going consultations for the Reform Movement of Great Britain, The Leo Baeck College in London and in several communities in the United States and Brazil.
Previously Golan developed the ”Multiple-Intelligence Gateways to Judaism”, a methodology which enables access to Judaism through body, soul and mind, art, music, and text. Currently Golan is working with local leadership in Rosh Pina, to establish a uniquely modern and creative framework for Jewish life in a bottom-up, lay-driven model. From academia to new-age Chavurot, his experiential teaching imparts a “Midrashic” worldview and a musical approach.
Rabbi Martha Bergadine (Hong Kong)
Rabbi Martha Bergadine has served as the Education and Programming Director of The UJC since 2009. She brings with her an extensive background in Youth and Adult Education having served as the Director of Formal Teen Programs for the Bureau of Jewish Education in San Francisco, as the Rabbi-Educator at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and as a faculty member of URJ Camp Jacobs. She also taught for several years in Florence Melton Adult Mini-Schools in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. Before coming to Hong Kong, Rabbi Bergadine was the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge. She has also served as the rabbi of Reform congregations in San Francisco and Mandeville, Louisiana.
Rabbi Bergadine was ordained by The Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1996. She is married to Rabbi Stanton Zamek, and they have two children.
Yuval Berger (South Africa)
Yuval was born and raised in Haifa, graduated from the Hebrew Reali School majoring in Physics, Drama, Mathematics and English and recognized with social excellency for his involvement with Noar Telem (Israeli Branch Of Netzer), Leading the school’s Volleyball team as Captain and being involved with extra activities in school.
He was involved in Noar Telem for over 10 years as a Chanich, Madrich, Active Member and advisor.
In his Army service Yuval was a fighter in the Anti air craft and missile forces, a commander and received several Excellency certificates for his actions and functioning. After his army service he participated in the Progressive movement’s “Beit Midrash Baderech” post army program for six month, working, living and studying in Kibbutz Yahel.
Since August 2012 Yuval has been the Netzer Shaliach in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Austin Beutel (Canada)
Austin Beutel was born in Montreal, and received his undergraduate degree in communications from McGill University and his MBA from Harvard. He has served as president of his synagogue, Temple Sinai of Toronto; as a member of the URJ Board since 1987; and as an active officer in the World Union since 1988, serving as its chair (then called president) from 1995 to 2001. He is now an Honorary member of the World Union executive board. Austin also currently serves on the executive board of the Toronto UJA Federation and on the executive of The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Previously, he has served as a board member and chairman of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, a leading Canadian teaching hospital. Austin retired in 1994 from the investment counseling business which he co-founded in 1967, and divides his time between serving as a corporate director and in volunteer activities. He is married to Nani, a professional volunteer who remains active in the World Union and other non-profit organizations. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Blausten (UK)
Deborah is an informal Jewish educator with a special interest in digital pedagogy and the impact of new media on congregational relationships and has spoken and taught widely on the subjects. A graduate of RSY-Netzer, she studied Medicine at University College London and is currently the Movement for Reform Judaism’s Jeneration fieldworker, responsible for Reform Jewish campus programming. Deborah is also an active lay leader in ARZENU and is co-chairing a team as part of the steering group for Limmud Conference 2013. Find her on twitter @DebzyBee
Dr. Philip Bliss (Australia)
Philip is currently a vice chair of the WUPJ chairing the Advocacy and Resolutions committees. Philip has been an executive member for a number of years starting when president of the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia New Zealand and Asia. He has also served as president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and Vice President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Philip is also treasurer of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews and Vice Chair of the Victorian Council.
Philip is married to Andrea and has four children spread around the world and five grandchildren.
Dr. Vered Bogomolski Yahalom (Israel)
Dr. Vered Bogomolski Yahalom was born in Kibbutz Messilot, is married and mother of Tal, Sivan and Asaf. She acquired her medical education at the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Centers in Jerusalem, Israel.
She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Hadassah Mount Scopus followed by a fellowship in Hematology at the department of Hematology in Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, Jerusalem.
In 1997 she joined Magen David Adom (MDA) National Blood Services and from 2002 is the Deputy Director and the Medical Director of the National Blood Group Reference Laboratory (NBGRL).
Dr. Yahalom is a guest lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine in Ben Gurion University, and co author of 50 scientific papers.
She is a member of the Israeli Societies of Hematology, Liver Diseases and the Advisory Committee for blood utilization in emergencies of the ministry of health.
She is a member of the International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) including the rare blood and blood group terminology work groups.
Vered is a member of Yozma congregation in Modiin where Sivan and Asaf made their "Aliyah Latorah".
Vered had completed the one year program of "Sugiyat Chaim" and is currently in her second year at "Mezorim" spiritual care training both at the Hebrew Union College.
Stephen Breslauer (USA)
A member of the WUPJ Executive Board and of the Yad b’Yad Adminstrative Committee, he previously served for six years as WUPJ Secretary and member of the Management Committee. He was a vice-president of ARZA and an ARZENU delegate to the WZO. He is currently a vice-chair of the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) board of governors. For six years he represented the Jewish Federations of North America on the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) board of governors and continues as a member of the UIA board. He served as vice-chair, treasurer and secretary of the Houston Jewish Federation. He is a past president of Men of Reform Judaism.
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor (USA)
Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor is the vice president of philanthropy at the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Prior to this, he served as the director of the education division and director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. He also serves part-time as rabbi to Congregation Da’at Elohim, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He has also been 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. He was senior rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in NYC for eight years, and has also served congregations in Mahopac, New York; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Louis, Missouri; and Elizabeth, New Jersey. A graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he was on the faculty of the Religion and History Departments of Sarah Lawrence College, the HUC-JIR School of Education as Lecturer in Intertestamental Literature and Jewish Ethics, and a Lecturer at the NYU School of Continuing Education.
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.
Rabbi Steve Burnstein (Israel)
Rabbi Steve Burnstein is Director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center of the WUPJ - connecting leaders and educators with the Jewish People and Israel through educational seminars.
Working in Jewish and Israel education for over 30 years, Steve studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University to receive undergraduate degrees in Jewish History and Sociology, and an MA in Jewish Education. His rabbinic degree is from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Steve spent 6 years creating a family school at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, Kansas. Then, in order to see if the grass really was greener on the other side, Steve spent 3 years in corporate America working for the American Management Association.
Steve made Aliya in 1996 and served as the Associate Director of the Pinat Shorashim Israel-Diaspora Seminar Center exploring the role of Israel in Jewish life. He later served as Israel Education Consultant at the Central Agency for Jewish Education in Philadelphia. He was also Director of Education and Marketing at IsraelExperts.
Steve works closely with Rabbi Miri Gold and Kehilat Birkat Shalom at Kibbutz Gezer where he lives with his wife, Varda Livney; their son, Micah; daughter, Gavriella; and Kitty-the-Dog.
James A. Cherney (USA)
James A. Cherney is the Chairman of the World Jewry Committee of URJ and sits on the Board and the Oversight Committee of URJ. He also serves on the Boards of ARZA and WUPJ. He has served previously on the Commission on Synagogue Management and Commission on Worship, Music and Religious Living at 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.
John Cohen (UK)
John is a member of the Executive Board and the Management Committee of the EUPJ and is currently chair of the Israel Committee of Alyth, a Reform Synagogue in north west London with some 3 000 members.
John was born, educated and commenced his professional career in Johannesburg, South Africa but later moved to London with his wife, Noeleen and their two sons., John was initially a mergers and acquisitions lawyer but later joined, then acquired and then sold an IT company operating across Europe. John is currently a business consultant to and a non-executive director of a number of businesses in Europe.
John and Noeleen are actively involved in Reform and Progressive Judaism in the UK and Israel and give their time and support to a number of organisations including, the EUPJ, The Movement for Reform Judaism, The Leo Baeck College, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and the Leo Baeck Education Centre in Haifa. John is also a director of and actively involved with the New Israel Fund UK.”
Ron Cohen (USA)
Ron and his Wife, Joan, live in Rye, New York where they are members of Community Synagogue, where he served as President. Ron was Chair of the World Union’s North American Council from 2004 to 2007 and is currently co-chair of the World Union’s HR Committee and also serves on the Finance Committee. In addition to the World Union, Ron is on the Board of the URJ and ARZA, and is a member of the Board of JNF and the American Zionist Movement.
Robin Cooke (UK)
Robin Cooke is a movement worker for LJY-Netzer – the youth movement of Liberal Judaism in the UK – which is committed to the ideals of Liberal Judaism, Progressive Zionism and Tikkun Olam. LJY-Netzer organises a variety of events for 8-25 year olds including residential camps, educational seminars, social action days and summer tours of Israel and Europe. LJY-Netzer is also a branch of Netzer Olami and participates in the Shnat Netzer gap year programme in Israel.
In his other life, Robin is co-chair of the Limmud Chavruta Project – a cross-communal learning initiative which seeks take all Jews one step further on their Jewish journey by giving them ownership over Jewish text. The project is an international collaboration of volunteers from a diverse range of Jewish, cultural and geographical backgrounds. Each year the project produces a source book of texts exploring some aspect of Jewish life, which is subsequently used at Limmud conferences around the world.
Robin is a graduate of philosophy and mathematics from the University of Cambridge, an avid supporter of Manchester United and an occasional goat herder. He tweets in a personal capacity as @robincooke90.
Miriam Daniel (USA)
Member of the Board of the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv Jaffa, and of the Boards of the URJ, the North American Council of the World Union, and ARZA.
Miriam Daniel was born in Tel Aviv. Her family, Ruth (z’l) and Gerry Daniel, helped to found Beit Daniel Synagogue in Tel Aviv and Mishkenot Ruth Daniel Hostel and Community Center in Jaffa. Beit Daniel is one of the most successful reform synagogues in Israel, serving thousands of Israelis with religious, cultural and educational programs. Mishkenot Ruth Daniel hosts visitors from the around the world, including NFTY and Birthright participants. Miriam is actively involved in promoting Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv- Jaffa, a 5-9 month MASA program of volunteering and study in Jaffa and southern Tel Aviv for recent college graduates, jointly sponsored by the Daniel Centers and BINA.
A lawyer by training, Miriam is married to Larry Wolff and has two children, David and Rebecca. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Mohammad Darawshe (Israel)
Mohammad Darawshe is the Co-Executive Director of The Abraham Fund Initiatives. . The Abraham Fund Initiatives has been working since 1989 to promote coexistence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.
Named for the common ancestor of both Jews and Arabs, The Abraham Fund advances a cohesive, secure and just Israeli society by promoting policies based on innovative social models, and by conducting large-scale social change initiatives, advocacy and public education. There are numerous newspaper articles and other media coverage of the work done by Mr. Darawshe and The Abraham Fund in a variety of domestic and international publications and Mr. Darawshe is the author of several articles on Jewish-Arab relations in these publications. Among then are Al-Alarebeya, Orbit TV, Abu Dhabi TV, Al- Shams Radio, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Israel Arabic Radio.
Mr. Darawshe previously worked as Deputy Director General of the Givat Haviva Institute. Mohammad holds a B.A from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Public Administration from Harford University. He has lectured and presented papers at many international and academic institutions, including the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament, NATO Defense College and the World Economic Forum, and won numerous awards, including the Peacemaker award, bestowed by the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs.
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger (Australia)
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger MAJE received smicha from Hebrew Union College (LA) in May 2005. In 1997, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Sociology from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia.
Prior to entering HUC, Rabbi Ettlinger did Rabbinic coursework at London’s Leo Baeck College. She performed her fifth year Rabbinic internship with Congregation Ner Tamid in Las Vegas and at UCLA Medical Center.
Rabbi Ettlinger left her first congregation, Peninsula Temple Sholom where she served for five years to join Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Australia. This was an opportunity for her to return ‘home’ to Australia.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa Rabbi Ettlinger moved with her family to Perth, WA in 1988. While in Perth, she was an active member of Temple David. At the time Netzer did not exist in Perth so she joined Habonim Dror and went to Israel on the Machon program.Rabbi Ettlinger is passionate about Social Justice. She also loves to find new ways of making liturgy interesting and meaningful to the 21st century. Her rabbinic thesis is titled: Reinventing Pidyon HaBen.
Leora Ezrachi Vered (Israel)
Born in Jerusalem, raised in a Reform family. Educated in the IMPJ school system in Jerusalem and active in Noar Telem since age 9. At age 18 did a year of community service before the army and later served as an education officer in the Tank Corr. After that became the first Madricha in the Mechina in Jaffa program and later became the volunteer coordinator. After six years in the Mechina returned to Noar Telem as Director of the Youth Movement and of Machane Havaya. Has a B.A. and almost an M.A. in Jewish History. Currently is the Director of the IMPJ Mechina in Jaffa and a rabbinical student at HUC-Jerusalem.
Is Married with a son, Eitan.
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman (USA)
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman is the executive director of Women of Reform Judaism. Previously she was the Director of Development for the URJ and the Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Feldman is a Reform rabbi, lawyer, and certified fundraiser.
Feldman has represented the Reform Movement in coalitions and on non-profit boards, including the Conference of Presidents, Save Darfur Coalition, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues and the interfaith advisory boards of Cover the Uninsured Week and the National HIV/AIDS Partnership.
Rabbi Feldman’s social justice work has involved extensive travel, including missions to Israel, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. She has led numerous domestic and international “mitzvah corps” programs to support communities threatened by natural or economic crises.
Rabbi Feldman is the author of Reform Movement public policy and action manuals, including Speak Truth to Power and K’hilat Tzedek: Creating Communities of Justice. Her articles, Op Eds and modern midrash have appeared in Jewish publications and newspapers throughout the U.S.
Rabbi Steven A. Fox (USA)
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.
Rabbi Daniel Hillel Freelander (USA)
Rabbi Daniel Hillel Freelander serves as senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. A gifted musician and keen observer of the North American Jewish scene, he has been on the staff of the Union since 1975, supervising virtually every aspect of the Union’s programs and operations. He has served as a regional youth advisor and director of NFTY, regional director of the Union’s New Jersey–West Hudson Valley Council and executive editor of Reform Judaism magazine. He supervises URJ administrative and financial operations and is an advisor for the Movement’s camping and Israel travel programs and URJ Books and Music.
Well known for lecturing on trends in Reform synagogue life and worship, Rabbi Freelander was the guiding force behind many of the Movement’s signature programs, including the growth of URJ Biennial conventions. A lifelong musician, Rabbi Freelander has, together with his friend, Cantor Jeff Klepper, composed dozens of popular Jewish melodies including the well known “Shalom Rav” and “Lo Alecha.”
Freelander is a native of Worcester, MA, and a graduate of Trinity College and the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. A lifetime Reform Jew, he is an alumnus of NFTY, Eisner Camp and Kutz Camp. 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 of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Franklin Lakes, NJ. Rabbi Frishman served as editor of the Movement’s new siddur, Mishkan T’filah. They have three grown children and live in Ridgewood, NJ.
Stephen Freeman (Australia)
Stephen is a commercial lawyer by profession, living and working in Sydney Australia. He and his partner, Rebecca Dreyfus are active members of North Shore Temple Emanuel where Stephen was President for 4 years . He is currently the President of the Union for Progressive Judaism which covers Australia, New Zealand and the Asian communities.
He is particularly interested in fostering and supporting communities in isolated areas, and ensuring Progressive Judaism provides a meaningful and vibrant pathway for those who seek to identify as Jews.
Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman (USA)
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 400 families.
Rabbi Frishman is nationally recognized 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. Earlier editorial work includes Haneirot Hallelu: A Chanuka Home Liturgy, Gates of Assemblies, Gates of Prayer for Young People and A Children’s Passover Haggadah, all CCAR publications.
Much of Rabbi Frishman’s local and national work has focused on spirituality and worship. Rabbi Frishman served 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 served as an original Fellow for Synagogue 2000, a national, trans-denominational project transforming the culture of the synagogue from a corporate to spiritual center.
Rabbi Frishman is also active in the work of the American Jewish World Service, and partners with her congregational leadership in developing a culture of social justice.
Rabbi Frishman is married to Rabbi Daniel Freelander, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. They have three children, Adam (30), Jonah (28) and Devra (22).
Joan Garson (Canada)
Joan Garson is the Chair of ARZENU, the International Federation of Reform and Progressive Zionists. In that capacity she serves on the executive of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Executive of the World Union for Progressive Judasim.
A Canadian and a member of Holy Blossom Temple, she works as in-house counsel for Baskin Financial Services Inc. She also serves in leadership roles in a number of other organizations, including the New Israel Fund of Canada. She is studying Hebrew in her free time.
Joan is married to David Baskin. They have two children, Jacob, who lives in Brooklyn and Rebecca, who made aliyah and attends Hebrew University.
Jay Geller (USA)
Jay Geller is a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion where he chairs the Communications Committee and serves on several other committees. He served on the Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees for 23 years and during that time chaired several committees including the 2007 San Diego Biennial and was a Vice Chair of the Board for four years. He is a member of the WUPJ Yad b'Yad Task Force on Latin American Progressive Jewry and has participated as a speaker at all four of the WUPJ Latin America conferences - Sao Paulo, Punta del Este, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Rabbi Anna Gerrard (UK)
Rabbi Anna Gerrard grew up in the Masorti movement and became involved with Birmingham Progressive Synagogue while reading Theology as an undergraduate at Birmingham University. She worked for Liberal Judaism from 2005, running their Young Adults programme, and served as a Student Rabbi for Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community for the last two years. In July 2011, Anna was ordained by Leo Baeck College, having spent half of her studies in Jerusalem at the Conservative Yeshiva, Hebrew Union College and Machon Schechter. She now continues her work for GLJC and returns to Liberal Judaism as part of their new Rabbinical Team, with specific responsibility for Outreach and Community Development. Anna is committed to dynamic, progressive Judaism that speaks to today’s Jew, interested in thinking about Liberal Judaism’s relationship to the State of Israel and passionate about wild swimming.
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith (UK)
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith has served North Western Reform Synagogue, known as Alyth (www.alyth.org.uk), as Rabbi since 2006. He is Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis (UK) having also been Chair of the Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism from 2004-2006 while he was Rabbi of Finchley Progressive Synagogue. Mark teaches Rabbinic Practice at Leo Baeck College. For the past ten years Mark has been one of the leaders of the International Interfaith Investment Group (www.3ignet.org) , a foundation which aims to encourage religious organisations and individuals worldwide to invest their assets in accord with their beliefs and values. As part of his work towards building a sense of belonging he is working with Alyth and another local Synagogue to found Britain’s first Reform Jewish child day care centre for working parents. He is proud and delighted that his two daughters are fifth generation Progressive Jews on both sides of their family and are now learning to be madrichot with their shul and RSY-Netzer!
Pam Goldsmith (UK)
Pam Goldsmith is the Community Development Director for the Movement for Reform Judaism in the UK where she works with the Movement’s 42 synagogues and various partner organisations. Her main task is to listen to communal concerns and help them creatively address the issues that face them. She grew up in New Zealand, having lived in Australia and Japan as well as the UK where she has been for the past almost 30 years. Her professional background is as a chartered accountant but she has been deeply involved with voluntary leadership of Jewish organisations for more than 25 years: in Tokyo she helped establish egalitarian services, prior to joining MRJ she was chair of Finchley Reform Synagogue (and was also their treasurer many years before) where she helped guide the community through a period of transformation into the vibrant growing community it is today. She is also a founding governor of JCoSS, the first cross-communal Jewish secondary school in the UK, leading on all of the financial aspects of the school’s development. Her family are active participants in both communal life and in RSY-Netzer: one daughter is currently on Shnat in Israel and both are devoted madrichim.
Rabbi Dr. Andrew Goldstein (UK)
Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein is currently Rabbinic Advisor to the European Union for Progressive Judaism, having been Chairman for five years until March 2012. He is the Chair of the Beit Din of Liberal Judaism (UK) and advisor to the European Beit Din. For Liberal Judaism (UK) he has co-edited its High Holyday “Machzor Ruach Chadashah” (2003), Haggadah (2010) and an anthology of High Holyday readings. He was ordained at Leo Baeck College and was Senior Rabbi at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue 1970- 2008. His Ph.D was “Travellers to the Holy Land 1799-1831” based on the first journey of Moses and Judith Montefiore
Hirsh Goodman (Israel)
Hirsh Goodman is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem. His latest book, “The Anatomy of Israel’s Survival,” (PublicAffairs, New York, 2011) won the 2012 National Jewish Book Award in the History Category and the Washington Institute’s Silver Medal for best book on the Middle East 2012.
Until recently Goodman was the Director of the Bronfman Program on Media Strategy at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and prior to that the Vice President of the Jerusalem Post Group; the Founding Editor of The Jerusalem Report; Israel Correspondent of The Sunday Times of London; Defense Correspondent, the Jerusalem Post and columnist and essayist for a range of publications in Israel and abroad.
His other books include “Let Me Create A Paradise God said to Himself,” (2005) and, with Seth Carus, “The Future Battlefield and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” (Transaction, 1989). He has also written several documentary films scripts, two of which won awards.
Goodman has lectured on Israel and the Middle East worldwide and lives in Jerusalem. He is married and has four children.
Raul Cesar Gottlieb (Brazil)
Raul Cesar Gottlieb is the VP of WUPJ Latin America, board member of ARI-Rio de Janeiro and director of Devarim magazine.
Michael Grabiner (UK)
Michael Grabiner is Chair of WUPJ. He was previously Chair of the UK Movement for Reform Judaism, a Governor of Leo Baeck College and a member of the executive committee of the UK Jewish Leadership Council. He is currently Chair of Governors at JCoSS which is the first pluralist Jewish High School in the UK and a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He is a member of Finchley Reform Synagogue
Michael was a partner at Apax Partners from 2002-2009 and represented Apax on the Boards of Bezeq and Pelephone in Israel. He was previously Chief Executive of Energis plc and Director of BT Europe. From 2005-2012 he was Chair of PfS, the UK Government’s delivery agency for capital investment in schools. In 2012 Michael was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List for services to Education.
Jane Graver (USA)
Jane Graver is a serial entrepreneur and activist who has spent her life involved in Progressive Judaism. Over 12 years Jane served as a board member for three different synagogues in New York and New Jersey. As the top executive at Romemu, the fastest growing Jewish Renewal Synagogue in New York City, she oversaw the rapid growth of 250% increase in membership and doubling of the budget. Jane has served as a board member for three different synagogues.
Named as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Inc. Magazine, Jane successfully started two technology companies, (one which went public), an educational foundation, and an organic tea company. And she has authored a bestselling technology book.
Jane manages the New York chapter of Tech Serve Alliance, a professional association supporting computer consulting businesses. She holds a key leadership position in Physicians for a National Health Program and has sat on the boards of private companies, nonprofits, and was elected to the Tinton Falls Board of Education. She holds Master’s Degrees in Instructional Technology and Information Science.
Jane taught ethics in Hebrew School for over two decades co-teaching with Rabbi Sally Priesand. She lives on the Jersey Shore where she raised two amazing sons.
Rabbi Benjie (Jehiel Benjamin) Gruber (Israel)
Rabbi Benjie Gruber was raised in Beersheva, after his family made aliya from Chicago. He combined military service in the IDF with college level courses at the Hesder Yeshiva in Yerucham, of which he was a founding member. Benjie spent 2 years in Portland, Oregon, teaching Judaism to all ages and denominations. It was in Portland that Benjie's spirit was captured by liberal Judaism. After volunteering with his wife Tovi in Malawi Benjie understood that the path to combine Jewish content and his belief in improving the world would be studying for the rabbinate. While studying at HUC in Jerusalem, Benjie earned an M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University.
Benjie grew up in a house in which love of books and love of other people were basic elements, and he came to Progressive Judaism out of a conviction that there are many paths leading upward to God. This idea is fundamental to his nuclear family and also to his extended family. With his ordination to the rabbinate Benjie becomes the eighth generation of rabbis of various kinds in his family [Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Humanistic].
Benjie has been living on Kibbutz Yahel for over two and a half years now and has been serving as Rabbi of the Kibbutz for four years. Since his move [from Jerusalem] Benjie has begun teaching, guiding and spreading the word of liberal Judaism all across the Arava Region. Benjie Is married to Tovi who is a social worker, and they have three children, Yair, Ella, Anna.
In April 2012 Benjie published a book with his teacher, Rabbi Dr. Jack Cohen – Jacob's ladder: Jewish Reflections.
Jim Heeger (USA)
Jim Heeger is currently the Senior Vice Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
He has served in a number high tech senior management positions over his thirty-year career in Silicon Valley. He was most recently President, CEO and Chairman of GreenRoad, the leader in cloud-connected driver performance and safety management for fleets. Prior to GreenRoad he was President and CEO of PayCycle, held executive management positions at Adobe Systems, Intuit as well as Hewlett Packard and was President and CEO of Fotiva. He earned an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and a BS in management from MIT.
Jim is active in the Jewish community in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a Past President of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills. He is the Immediate President of Hillel at Stanford and is leading extensive renovation efforts for the URJ’s Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, California. He is also an advisor to Moishe House and has worked with UpStart BayArea.
Rabbi Walter Homolka (Germany)
Rabbi Walter Homolka (Ph.D. King’s College London, D.H.L. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion New York) is Professor of Contemporary Jewish Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Potsdam University (Germany). The former Chief Rabbi of Lower Saxony is rector of the Abraham Geiger College, chairman of the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Foundation and chief executive of the Leo Baeck Foundation. Walter Homolka serves on the executive board of WUPJ and is a Vice President of the EUPJ. Author of “How to Do Good & Avoid Evil – A Global Ethic from the Sources of Judaism” (with Hans Küng).
David Horovitz (Israel)
David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel, the Jerusalem-based current affairs website that launched in February 2012. The Times of Israel provides independent coverage of Israel, the region and the Jewish world. Horovitz was previously editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post (from 2004-2011) and before that, he was editor and publisher of The Jerusalem Report.
Lucian Hudson (UK)
Lucian J. Hudson is Chairman of Liberal Judaism, member of the Jewish Leadership Council and a former governor, Leo Baeck College. He has been chairman of three non-profits over the past 15 years.
A strategy and communications specialist, and a CEDR accredited mediator, he supports governments, business and civil society organisations deliver results during times of change and crisis.
Lucian is Director of Communications, The Open University, his fifth communications chief role. He has served as Director of Communications in three UK government departments, most recently the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, where he introduced the first ambassador blogs. He was the UK government's first Director of e-Communications.
He was executive producer and television journalist for 17 years at BBC and ITV. His articles can be downloaded at www.liberaljudaism.org. Lucian is on Twitter @LucianHudson, and posts a personal blog http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/lucian-hudson/
Rabbi Robert A. Jacobs (South Africa)
Rabbi Robert A. Jacobs received ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York. He was called in 2007 as Rabbi of Bet David in Morningside after he served the Harford Jewish Center, Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace MD, from 1998 to 2007. For ten years, while serving as part-time Rabbi in Livingston Manor, New York and Centreville, VA, his primary work was in other fields, including over 5 years as Executive Director of the Leo Baeck Institute, Inc, the New York City-based center for advanced research in the history and culture of German Speaking Jewry,
Since coming to South Africa Rabbi Jacobs has actively engaged in Jewish life here. In addition to meeting the ongoing needs of Bet David, he is member of the SAUPJ national executive and Chairman of the SA Association of Progressive Rabbis. He served as Rabbinic representative in the preparation of the World Union Edition of Mishkan T’filah, represents the South African Association of Progressive Rabbis on the Independent Forum for Religious Broadcasting and is a regular presenter on Radio Today’s Devotion series. In 2011-12 he served as interim chair of the new South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity.
Cantor Zöe Jacobs (UK)
Zöe really is a true child of Finchley Reform Synagogue, having been a member, with her family, for most of her life. Realising that she very much wanted to follow a path into Jewish professional life, she opted to study Jewish History at the University of Southampton, where she chaired the Jewish Society. After graduation, she spent a year working for the Movement for Reform Judaism as the Reform Students chinuch (education) before spending six years studying at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York and Jerusalem, receiving her s’micha (cantorial ordination) in 2009.
‘It was at FRS I learned to love Judaism, as part of the congregation,’ explains Zöe. 'Fuelled by my experience and the broader love of Jewish liturgical music I gained while at HUC, I feel very fortunate to be involved in the dialogue that will forge new musical paths, enhancing and enriching the voice of the FRS community.’
Alex Kagan (Israel)
Alex Kagan, Director WUPJ in FSU, was born in Vitebsk, Belarus. Prior to making aliyah in 1994, he was an active member of the Jewish Agency and Reform Movement. He has a BA & MA in clinical criminology, and is currently working on his PhD at Bar Ilan University. Alex began working for the World Union in 2001 as Netzer Coordinator. Since 2005 he has been the FSU Director for the World Union. Alex is married and has 3 children.
Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris (UK)
I was raised in Houston, Texas and received my BA in Art History from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I came to the UK in 1989 to study at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, before entering the semicha programme at Leo Baeck College. I was ordained in 1996, subsequently working for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (RSGB, now MRJ) initially as a university chaplain, building up student and young adult work until a new department was formed around my work. I was appointed Director of Student and Young Adult Work, sitting on the Senior Management Team of the RSGB. In 2001 I departed to live in Jerusalem for a year, where I taught in several places, including the Machon and Ta Shma. After a brief stint at as temporary assistant rabbi at Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Australia, I returned to the UK where I divided my working time between serving on the rabbinic team at Sha’arei Tsedek North London Reform (previously Southgate and District Reform Synagogue), teaching at Leo Baeck College, working on my PhD in Bible at the University of Sheffield and teaching Bible and Jewish Studies at SOAS in 2007-09. From 2009-2010 I was co-vice chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK. I also co-host an intra-Jewish dialogue project with my husband, Dr. Keith Kahn-Harris. My PhD is entitled ‘A Hammer for Shattering Rock: Employing Classical Rabbinic Hermeneutics to Fashion Contemporary Feminist Commentary on the Bible’ and was completed during summer 2011. I am currently Principal of Leo Baeck College, where I also teach Bible.
Patricia Keith (Australia)
Patricia Keith, born 1940 in Meerut India. I am a widow and have a son and a daughter. My secondary education was at Prince Rupert School Wilhelmshaven, Germany and in Cheshire UK. My chosen profession was Nursing and I trained at St Marys and the Western Ophthalmic Hospitals in London, in General and Ophthalmic nursing. With my Ophthalmologist husband and two small children I travelled to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan to work in the eye camps.
In 1973 we migrated to Australia first to Adelaide then Melbourne. Where i continued my nursing career but segued into teaching and later administration. This was useful as I became interested in Local politics, ran for Local Government as a Councillor with success. I later became Mayor of my municipality. I was appointed Commissioner of a city by the State Government and remained in that position for four years. I have been privileged to serve on many boards both as Member and Chair, including The Royal District Nursing Service, The Brainwave Board at the Royal Children's Hospital and Northwest Hospital Board. I have served my community The Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism both as a board member and as President.
Damian Kelman (Israel)
Mastered in Non-Profits and Community Organizations Management after a Jewish Studies Graduate Degree, Damian Kelman combines deep skills in the area of Jewish thought, history and cultural creation, with a growing experience and profound academic knowledge on the fields of community building, organizational development, leadership training and empowerment, strategic planning, staff and volunteers management, recruiting and retention. During the last years Damian has served as developer and managing director of various cultural and educational programs in different Jewish Institutions in Israel and abroad. Nowadays Damian holds the position of Director of Noar Telem, the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism's national platform for youth non-formal Education and Leadership Development. As the IMPJ's youth movement, Noar Telem provides year-round experiential activities for thousands of children from grades 3-12, focusing on Jewish traditions, culture, social justice, equality and democracy. On a national level, activities include seminars, tours and Chavaya Summer Camps. Damian stands strongly committed to the promotion of Liberal Judaism in Israel, as he is to the values of Zionism, Jewish peoplehood, social justice, active citizenship, pluralism and equality. Damian is married and father of two. His eldest daughter will be joining Chavaya Summer camp for the first time this summer.
Mattan Klein (USA)
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, Mattan Klein began his musical training at age 7, first piano and then flute. Originally classically trained, he recognized his ultimate expressive tool at age 15 – Jazz, and began performing and composing with a Jerusalem based ensemble. At 16 he placed first at the Pizmon-Tichon composition competition, marking the beginning of a promising musical career.
After his military service, he established the Massa U'Mattan ensemble, soon gaining acknowledgment on the local Jazz scene, and performed on national TV, radio, and at major festivals. He completed his studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, blending into the Boston Jazz scene. He won several prestigious awards, and was the first flutist to receive the Berklee Woodwind Dept. Achievement Award.
Mattan Klein performs extensively across North America and worldwide, including Carnegie Hall (NY), The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (DC), and 92nd street Y (NY), and venues in Brazil, Europe and East Asia, as well as with Israeli pop icons such as Shlomo Gronich, Miki Gavrielov and Yoni Rechter.
He released a number of albums (Love Alive in 2001, Live at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in 2008); his most recent CD release features the Naomi Shemer songbook.
Mattan Klein is one of the hottest Jazz/World Music flutists today, blending a new sound with some of New York's brightest contemporary new voices. Mattan's flute soars into a world of fresh and innovative improvisations and musical explorations. With his ensemble of All-Stars, Mattan Klein adds a lively and powerful new dimension to the art of Jazz flute.
Sally Klein-Katz (Israel)
Sally Klein-Katz served for 12 years in Jewish education in the USA, directing summer camps and religious schools. Making aliyah in 1985, she has been educator/consultant/ coordinator of a variety of Israel seminars, tours and conferences mainly for groups from North America. In 1989-91, she studied in the Jerusalem Fellows, rethinking the Israel Experience for the future. Sally worked for a decade at Melitz (Centers for Jewish-Zionist Education) and is the chairperson and editor of Family Israel Experiences: The Ma Nishtana of Family Education Israel Trips. On the faculty of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since 1991, she also serves as summer faculty of the Conservative Yeshiva of the United Synagogue. Sally is an educational consultant to Merchavim, The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, and is author of their Madrich L’Madrich for family educational programs (2012). Sally worked with the Leo Baeck College, Center for Jewish Education on Israel smeianrs for 6 years, and was also the Education Consultant and Strategic Planning Consultant for various USA Jewish Federations. Since 1985, Sally lives with her husband, Rabbi Michael Klein-Katz, and two sons, Yavin Shalom (24) and Matan Hayim (21 – currently serving in the army) in the heart of Jerusalem.
Miriam Kramer (UK)
Miriam Kramer has chaired the EUPJ since March 2012. Before that she chaired Leo Baeck College as well as her community, Wimbledon & District Synagogue – not at the same time – and served on the board of Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now Movement for Reform Judaism).
Having trained as an art historian Miriam worked as a freelance writer on art and antiques but has now retired. She is married to Stephen and they have two adult children.
Rabbi Maya Leibovich (Israel)
“HaRav Maya”, as she is known by the children in Kehilat Mevasseret Zion’s pre-school, is the first Israeli-born woman ordained by the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem (1993).
Maya’s husband, Menachem, is Vice Chairman of KKL-JNF in Israel and they have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Maya has entered her 20th year of service as Rabbi of Kehilat Mevasseret Zion - a lovely suburb on the western outskirts of Yerushalaim. Since 2010 Rabbi Maya has served as the chairperson of the Rabbinical Council of Reform Rabbis in Israel.
KMZ is a family-oriented congregation which began in 1993 with a nucleus of six families. It has grown steadily and today boasts over 200 paying family units. It has 4 pre-schools in which over 100 children, ages 2-6, are taught that a rabbi can wear a skirt and a boy can bless the Shabbat candles.
KMZ offers a full range of religious, cultural and educational activities and is amongst the most active organizations in social-action in the larger community.
Rabbi Leibovich was amongst the first rabbis to go to the Former Soviet Union and teach Reform Judaism. She is the editor of both the Siddur as well as the Mahzor of the Reform Movement in the Former Soviet Union.
Other publications include:
"Parashat HaMayim", published by HaKibbutz HaMeuhad, 2010. Co-written & edited with Tamar Duvduvani, Dalia Marx and Alona Litsitizia-Singer.
“Who is a Jew,” co.-ed. with David Ariel Yoel and Moti Inbari, Yediot Aharonot, 2006.
Ed. (including annotations and prefaces) Mahzor Kavanat Ha’Lev in Russian (a translation of the Hebrew version, ed. Yehoram Mazor and Mordechai Rotem), , published by WUPJ and JMPJ, 2003.
“Al S’yagim U’Gderot” (Mishna A of Avot) in Pirkey Imahot, Israeli Women reacting to Pirkey Avot, Mishali Yael ed, Yediot Aharonot & Sifrey Hemed, 2002.
Ed. Siddur Ha’Avoda Sh’Balev in Russian (a translation of the Hebrew version, ed. Yehoram Mazor), published by WUPJ and IMPJ, 1998' 2nd edition 2001
Milchemet Gog U’magog, co. ed. with David Ariel Yoel and Yehoram Mazor, Yediot Aharonot and Sifrey Hemed.
Baruch Sh’Assani Isha, co. ed. with David Ariel Yoel and Yehoram Mazor, Yediot Aharonot and Sifrey Hemed, 1999.
Menachem Leibowitz (Israel)
Menachem Leibowitz is the Deputy Chairman of the Jewish National Fund since 2002. He previously was in charge of JNF’s Education Portfolio, and since 2006 has been responsible for the Land Portfolio, and is Chair of the subsidiary that manages the JNF Land and Real Estate division. He is a member of the Board of Governors since 2007 and served as an Assembly Member from 1998-2002.
Before working for the JNF, he served as executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, as director of the World Union’s Beit Shmuel Hotel and Cultural center, and as general director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (1986-2002).
Mr. Leibowitz has always been active in various organizations. He has a BA in Geography and History from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MA in Jewish Studies from Hebrew University in Baltimore.
Flávio Levi Moreira (Brazil)
Flávio Levi Moreira, is the volunteer financial director for WUPJ-LA, and the volunteer Financial Director of Congregação Israelita Paulista – Sao Paulo (the largest liberal congregation in Latin-American). Involved in his community since child, he was a Senior Madrich at the Summer Camps in his Congregation, and has been in the Directory board of CIP-SP for the past 8 years, serving as youth director, and now, as Financial Director. He has also been involved with the Vaadat Chinuch from Sao Paulo’s Jewish Federation, and the March of the living, from Keren Hayesod. Flavio has a Major in Business Administration, and a Masters in Economics both from FGV-SP. He is the CFO and co-founder of Telsign, a Brazilian IT and Telecom consulting company. Maried to Fernanda, father of Felipe.
Jacob Levine (Israel)
Jacob Levine was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States and has been an active member of the Progressive Jewish community from a young age. A four year a member of NFTY (the North American Federation of Temple Youth), he is currently participating in Shnat Netzer, as well as working as the Special Projects Manager at the URJ Kutz Camp.
Dalya Levy (Israel)
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 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.
Prof. Paul Liptz (Israel)
Paul Liptz is a social historian who was on the Tel Aviv University faculty for 35 years.
He was born in Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe) and came to Israel as a volunteer on June 4, 1967 -one day before the Six Day War.
He decided to stay in Israel and studied and taught at the Hebrew University and then moved to Tel Aviv University where he lectured on a wide range of topics. His main interests were topics dealing with Arab women and nationalism in the Middle East. In the Israeli army he lectured officers in non-military realms.
He taught for over 25 years on the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College, dealing with modern Jewish history, Israeli society and the Middle East. He is Director of Education at the Anita Saltz International Education Center , World Union for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem.
In the last decades, he has travelled the world extensively, lecturing and conducting workshops in some twenty countries. He has also been the Scholar with many American groups in Central and Eastern Europe.
He is married to Brenda and they have 4 children and 9 grandchildren.
Steve Lurie (South Africa)
I matriculated at Hyde Park High School in Johannesburg in 1970 and in 1972 obtained a Diploma in Agriculture from Cedara Agricultural College. I worked for the last 28 years of my career at Hillside Farm in Balfour, Mpumalanga. Hillside farm was 1800 Ha where we had a mixed farming operation.
Since 2004 to date I have been and am the current National Chairman of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ). This is currently my fourth term of office. I served on the board of Beit Emanuel (previously known as Temple Emanuel) for 15 years, a number of those as Vice-Chairman. Prior to being involved with Beit Emanuel I was the past president of Temple Emet in Springs.
I currently serve on the management committees for both the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation and sit on the Executive Board for the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ).
Lynn Magid Lazar (USA)
Lynn Magid Lazar was installed as president of Women of Reform Judaism at the 47th assembly in November 2009, and then for a second term beginning in 2011 at the 48th assembly. She joined the WRJ Board of Directors in 1993, and served as chair of the Youth Committee, and WRJ Treasurer (1997-99). Lazar was vice-president for the Departments of Programming and Advocacy and Service to Sisterhoods and Districts, as well as serving as the program chair for the WRJ 44th Assembly in Minnesota. She served as first vice president for the four year term 2005 – 2009.
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 is currently co-owner of an aerobic exercise franchise and teaches classes as a certified instructor. Lazar and her husband, Dale, live in Pittsburgh, PA. Her proudest achievements are her daughter Jessica, son-in-law Juan; son Aaron, daughter-in-law Sage; son Ethan and stepson Brent.
Fun facts: I used to be an orientation and mobility specialist and teacher of the blind and visually impaired. I currently teach aerobic exercise classes. If you can motivate people to do sit-ups, you can motivate them to do all sorts of other good deeds!
Momo Mahadav (Israel)
Momo Mahadav is the CEO of Maala – Business for Social Responsibility, Israel’s leading advocate for CSR and good corporate citizenship.
Maala works with 120 of Israel's largest corporations on developing the Isareli practice of "Doing Well by Doing Good". Maala also organizes the annual Maala Conference, Israel's central platform for discussion of CSR, and publishes the Maala CSR Index on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which serves is a leading benchmark for CSR preformace.
Momo joined Maala’s team in early 2006 as VP, before being appointed CEO in 2009. He specializes in leading complexed value based change processes within the business, public and social spheres.
Momo holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and a B.A. in Social Work, both from Tel Aviv University. His previous positions include serving as Director of the SPNI Tel Aviv Center for Environmental Action and coordinating city-wide projects at the Tel Aviv Municipality.
Rotem Malach (Germany)
Teaching Certificate in Civics - Tel - Aviv University, LLM Mediation course - Bar Ilan University, Certification in Law studies, Bachelors in Law, Faculty of Law - College of Management, Rishon Lezion.
Work as a joint emissary of the department for diaspora activities –World Zionist Organization and the progressive movement in Germany. winner of the award "Teacher of the country" in the final competition of the Ministry of Education and the BBC. Worked as Educational Consultant at "Tlalim Strategy" group as a Mentor in training leading teachers in educational theory and science for the JDC organization. Between 2000-2012 was the Manager "Hillel" for the Municipality of Holon. Planed the development and deepening of research and learning skills among about 100 students.
During 5 years Worked as a civics and history Teacher and educator at high schools in Ramle and Holon. amid his work was a co-developed an alternative evaluation plan for the national Civics' examination in Israel. This unique program consists in students writing a seminar paper as a substitute for the matriculation examination. Author of a civics textbook- the textbook is waiting for approval by the Ministry of Education.
Rabbi Dow Marmur (Israel)
Born 1935 in Poland. Spent the years of World War II in the Soviet Union and returned to Poland in 1946. Emigrated to Sweden two years later, where he went to school. In 1957 he came to study for the rabbinate at the Leo Baeck College in London. He graduated in 1962 and is now the President of its Alumni Association.
Served two congregations in Britain and from 1983 – 2000 was the Senior Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. Now Rabbi Emeritus of the congregation. His latest assignment was as Interim Executive Director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem (2000-2001).
A Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto, an Honorary Fellow of the University of St Michael’s College, Toronto and a Fellow of the Leo Baeck College, London. Lay Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Recipient of Poland’s Order of Merit. He has an honorary doctorate from Regis College, Toronto. ARZA, The Association of Reform Zionists, has bestowed on him its Ohev Yisrael Award.
Author of six books and editor of two. His articles – on Jewish theology, Zionism, Israel, marriage and related issues, and Jewish/Christian relations – have appeared in Jewish and non-Jewish publications in Britain, Canada and elsewhere. His memoir, “Six Lives”, was published in the Fall of 2004. He now writes a monthly column in The Canadian Jewish News and a biweekly one in The Toronto Star.
Married since 1956 to Fredzia Zonabend. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Lenore Mass (USA)
Lenore Mass is a past president of KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago, Illinois (USA). She serves on the North American Council and International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. She is a member of the North American Board of Trustees and the Oversight Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Chair of the URJ’s Central District. Lenore serves on the National Board of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, and is on the Board of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute Camp. In addition, she represents the URJ on the Jewish Community Relations Council and sits on the Israel & Overseas Commission of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Lenore is a cellist, wife of Dan Mass, and proud mother of Sharon Faier, an architect, and Cantor Joanna Alexander; and grandmother of Maya, Ben, Evelyn and Brianna.
Avi Mayer (Israel)
Avi Mayer is the Director of New Media at The Jewish Agency for Israel, the largest Jewish nonprofit organization in the world. He also maintains a robust personal social media presence and is frequently cited by journalists, advocacy organizations, government officials, and many others.
Avi and his work have been featured in the Washington Post, BBC, Al Jazeera, AP, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, American Interest, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, Times of Israel, JTA, and Commentary, amongst others. He is a frequent commentator on Israel and the Middle East for various international news networks and is often invited to speak about the use of social media for advocacy and community organizing purposes.
A graduate of the University of Maryland, Avi has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs; the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.; Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life; and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and served in the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit.
Avi resides in Israel.
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav (Israel)
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav is a leading figure in Israel, who promotes pluralism and tolerance within Israeli society, working to change the perceptions and narrow the gaps between the religious and secular societies.
Meshi-Zahav's volunteer work first began in 1989, when as a student, he and his fellow acquaintances rushed to the scene of a terrorist attack and began to take care of the wounded and the dead. This continued throughout the terror attacks during the Second Intifada, when in 1995, Meshi-Zahav officially founded ZAKA (ZAKA is the Hebrew Acronym for Disaster Victim Identification). ZAKA today is the dominant lifesaving rescue and recovery organization in Israel, responding immediately to any terror attack or mass tragedy in Israel and overseas.
In 2003 he was given the honor of lighting the first torch on Independence Day, in recognition of his work at ZAKA and his exceptional contribution to Israeli society
Daryl Messinger (USA)
Daryl serves on the Oversight Committee of the North American board of directors of the Union for Reform Judaism with lay leadership responsibility in the area of Youth programs. She is board chair for the Reform Pension Board, a defined contribution plan for professionals working at Reform congregations. In addition, she chairs the camp committee for URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA. Over the last 25 years, she has been active in many facets of the local Bay Area Jewish community, including serving as president of Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA. Before retiring in 2009, Daryl helped found and build a public relations communications firm and earlier in her career she was with an investment advisory firm. She and her husband, Jim Heeger, senior vice-chair of WUPJ, reside in Palo Alto CA and have two adult sons, Adam and Robbie.
Natanya Meyer (Israel)
Natanya Meyer is 23 years old and interns for the Grants department of the Jaffa Institute, a non-profit, multi-service agency serving severely underprivileged communities in Jaffa and south Tel Aviv. She has a Bachelors of Science in Public Health from Tulane University, where she focused the field of formal and informal adult-to-peer mentoring. Her senior year culminated in researching and writing an honors thesis, entitled A Critical Analysis of Formal School-Based Mentoring Programs.
Natanya is currently a participant on “Tikkun Olam Tel Aviv-Jaffa”, one of MASA’s many long-term Israel programs for young Jewish adults. In addition to her work at the Jaffa Institute, she teaches music and art at a Moadonit, after-school activity center in the Hatikvah neighborhood of south Tel Aviv. She is passionate about Tikkun Olam, and after her time in Israel, she plans to return to her hometown of Chicago and continue working in the Jewish community.
Adv. Reut Michaeli (Israel)
Adv. Reut Michaeli holds an LL.B from the College of Management and an LL.M. from the Hebrew University Jerusalem. Her areas of expertise include administrative law, legislation and immigration.
Since 2002, Michaeli has held a number of positions with the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement including Staff Attorney and Director of the Legal Action Center for Immigrants. In her last position with IRAC she served as Associate Director.
Michaeli took the post of Executive Director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers at the beginning of August 2010. She has rich experience in both the legal and management realms, along with a deep commitment to human rights and extensive knowledge of the world of immigration.
Anne Molloy (USA)
Anne Molloy is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Anne is a Vice Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and chairs the Former Soviet Union Committee. Professionally, Anne serves as Executive Director of the Posner Fine Arts Foundation and as Librarian at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh. She is also a past President of Rodef Shalom Congregation and a Trustee of Carnegie Mellon University. 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.
Felix Mosbacher ( France)
Former business executive; long time active at the Mouvement Juif Libéral de France (MJLF Paris) as chair and as member of the Exec. VP European Union, and member of the WUPJ Exec., chair of the Human Resources com’
Achinoam (Noa) Nini (Israel)
The first Israeli artist formally invited to perform in Morocco, Noa has performed in major venues and festivals throughout Europe, USA, Canada, Brazil and Japan including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in NYC, Olympia in Paris, Rome's Colosseum and The Barbican in London.
In 1994 Noa performed her version of "Ave Maria" for a live audience of millions around the world, at the Vatican, for Pope John Paul II. In 1999 Noa sang for President Clinton at the White House in honor of the late Yitzhak Rabin’s 77th birthday. She was also invited to sing in Oslo for the anniversary of the Peace Accord signed there, before an audience that included President Clinton, Ehud Barak, Yasser Arafat and the King of Norway. In 2004 Noa performed in "We Are the Future", a globally telecast fund-raising concert for children in conflict areas. Noa and her long-time musical partner Gil Dor, have collaborated frequently with Arab and Palestinian artists from around the world, and in 2009, Noa together with Arab singer Mira Awad, represented Israelin the Eurovision Song Contest.
Noa was awarded the Dove of Peace award by Nobel-peace prize laureate President of Israel Shimon Peres, and has performed and collaborated on numerous occasions with the "PeresCenter for Peace". In 2003 Noa was nominated a Good Will Ambassador for FAO (the UN Food and Agriculture Organization).
Rene Pfertzel (UK)
Rene Pfertzel is a French Rabbinical student at Leo Baeck College, London (2014). He was born in Strasbourg, eastern France. He is currently serving several communities in the UK and in France. He holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from the University of Strasbourg.
Rabbi Ferenc Raj (USA)
Rabbi Ferenc Raj was born at the height of World War II in Budapest, Hungary. He survived the Holocaust through the heroic efforts of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.
Ferenc Raj was awarded a PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. He is a graduate of both the University of Budapest where he earned a Master's Degree and a Diploma of Merit in Near Eastern Studies and the Jewish Theological Seminary of Hungary where he was ordained in 1967.
Rabbi Raj continued his rabbinic career in America serving Reform congregations in Brooklyn, New York and Belmont, Massachusetts prior to his election as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, California.
Rabbi Raj retired on June 30, 2007 and continues in his role as Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth El. He is also Founding Rabbi of Bet Orim Reform Jewish Congregation in Budapest, Hungary.
Rabbi Danny Rich (UK)
Rabbi Danny Rich JP, BA (Hons), DipCrim has been the Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism in England, Scotland and Eire since 2005, having previously served as Rabbi to the Kingston Liberal Synagogue for nearly two decades. He is a Justice of the Peace in both the adult and youth jurisdictions, and works as a Chaplain to Jews in a number of settings including prisons and a special hospital, a mental health trust and a district hospital.
Danny is a member of the Council of Imams and Rabbis in the United Kingdom and a president of the national Council of Jews and Christians.
His publications include: Liberal Judaism and Mixed Marriage (2004), Zionism: The Case For Fair-Mindedness On All sides (2010), and Muslim Perceptions of ‘The Other’ (2011). He is currently completing a book about Rabbi Israel Mattuck (1883-1954) which is due for publication next year.
He is an occasional lecturer at the Markfield Islamic institute and the Leo Baeck College, the latter of which he is an alumnus and a Governor. Danny has studied Jewish/Muslim Encounter at Cambridge University, Criminology at Leicester University and History & Middle East Politics at Manchester University.
David Robinson (New Zealand)
Immediate Past President Union for Progressive Judaism Australia, New Zealand, Asia (UPJ), Current Honorary Treasurer UPJ, Past President Beth Shalom synagogue Auckland New Zealand, WUPJ finance committee.
David was born in Cape Town, South Africa and emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. He is married to Maureen and they have three adult children – 2 in Auckland and one married in Melbourne – and one beautiful granddaughter.
David is a Chartered Accountant by profession and currently CFO of a company in New Zealand.
Les Rothschild (Canada)
Les Rothschild is in his third term as President of ARZA Canada. He is a Past President and an active member of Solel Congregation in Mississauga Ontario and also a member of Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, and several congregations in Israel most proudly Kehilat Darchai Noam in Ramat Hasharon.. Les owns a private education business that provides academic upgrading and vocational retraining to adults looking for new careers. He lives in Toronto with his wife Beverley and has two grandsons in Toronto and two granddaughters in Minneapolis Minnesota
Rabbi Walter Rothschild (Germany)
Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild, ordained Leo Baeck College 1984, has served in Britain, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands Antilles. Currently State Rabbi for Schleswig-Holstein and also serving Or Chadasch (Vienna), Gescher LaMassoret (Köln) and Gescher (Freiburg ) Author and Poet; Editor and Publisher of 'Harakevet' (magazine on Middle East Railways) and song-writer for 'The Minjan Boys'.
Lesley Sachs (Israel)
Lesley Sachs from Israel is a leading activist in the movements for religious pluralism and advancement of women. She is the director of Women of the Wall and of Project Kesher Israel, a founding member of the “pluralist forum” which works with the political parties and the Knesset on religious pluralism. Lesley is a director on the board of the Jewish National Fund representing the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
Amongst her professional positions in the past: Vice President of World Union for Progressive Judaism, Executive Director of Israel Religious Action Center and Executive Director of Israel Women's Network. Her volunteer activity includes Chairperson of the International Coalition for Aguna Rights (ICAR), board member (for 10 years) on the battered women’s Shelter in Jerusalem, founding member of Women to Women Haifa’s feminist center and chairperson of Keren B’chavod the humanitarian fund of the Reform movement in Israel.
Ian Samuel OAM (Australia)
Ian Samuel has spent most of his life working actively in and for the Progressive Movement, first with his home congregation, Temple Beth Israel, Melbourne, then with ARZA Australia and Arzenu and in later years with the UPJ and the WUPJ.
Ian has also taken an active part in the leadership of the Zionist Movement in Australia, specialising in hasbara. He is a senior office-bearer for the Zionist Council of Victoria and the Zionist Federation of Australia. Since taking an early retirement in 2000 from the legal profession, Ian has been involved in fundraising for a number of charities, including The King David School, Alzheimer’s Australia and in particular for the World Union for Progressive Movement through the UIA Progressive Trust which he led for over 10 years.
For his work, in January 2009, Ian was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly through the promotion of tolerance and social justice.
He spends the rest of his time working for disability causes, especially the ostomy movement, trying not to take life too seriously and doting on his family, especially his four grandchildren in the hope that one of them might take up his passion for genealogy and help him chase up distant family around the world.
Shayndel Samuel (Australia)
Jewish Studies Co-ordinator, Senior school, The King David School, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Religious education has been the main focus of Shayndel’s career but she has also taught Australian History, Politics, Holocaust, Jewish History, VCE Religion and Society, and VCE Texts and Traditions. Although her focus has been with senior high school classes, she has also taught junior students and adult education classes. She is active in promoting interfaith programs between her Jewish students and other faith schools.
Shayndel has co-written a senior high school text book VCE Religion and Society Units 1-4 used extensively in Victorian senior high schools, worked with the World Union editorial team on the southern hemisphere version of Mishkan T’filah (2010), and assisted in the transliteration and editing of the Australian version of ‘A Family Haggadah” (2002) by Rabbi John Levi. She has also written much Jewish curriculum for post bar/bat mitzvah high school classes.
There have been many proud teaching moments in her career, especially seeing students achieve after much effort on their part (and hers) and observing them happy and successful in their adult lives, active in the community and identifying positively with their religious identity.
Noa Sattath (Israel)
Noa Sattath is the Director of IRAC, and a third-year student in the Israeli Rabbinic program at HUC in Jerusalem. Prior to her work in IRAC Noa was the Executive Director of the Jerusalem Open House, the LGBT community center in Jerusalem. In that capacity she built and supported the religious programming, leadership development, and health and youth services, and led the media, communication and lobby efforts at JOH and directed the work towards Jerusalem Pride. Noa was also the Executive Director of MEET a non-profit organization that uses technology to create a common language between Israeli and Palestinian young leaders. Prior to her work in civil society, Noa worked as a leader in the Israeli software industry. She is a member of Congregation Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem.
Daniel (Danny) Savitch (Israel)
Danny was born in Jerusalem 51 years ago and worked as commercial Lawyer for 17 years. Nine 9 years ago he was hired as the first Executive Director of Kol HaNeshama, one of the biggest Reform congregations in Israel.
In 1997 Danny was one of the co-founders of the Jerusalem Open House, the LGBTQ center in Jerusalem and was closely involved in this organization as board member, treasurer and legal advisor, responsible for administration at the board level and taking part in a variety of projects including the organization of the Pride events in Jerusalem and representing the LGBTQ community in various forums.
Through this communal and social justice activity he got to know Kol HaNeshama and Reform Judaism – in many ways regaining his Jewish identity.
Danny deeply believe that as Reform congregation, especially one that is situated in Jerusalem we have a special task and responsibility making Jerusalem a more tolerant and liberal city.
Fabian Sborovsky (Germany)
Fabian is a third year rabbinical student at Abraham Geiger Kolleg and currently working on his PhD at the University of Potsdam. Fabian grew up in Paraguay and Israel and studied in the United States and Sweden. He holds an M.A in Jewish Studies from Vanderbilt University and has been active in Jewish education in the United States and Stockholm. Prior to his enrollment in rabbinical studies, he worked with Jewish social entrepreneurship projects at Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. Fabian performed his rabbinic student internship in Germany and Spain and has been active in promoting interfaith dialogue.
Carole Sterling (Canada)
Carole currently serves on the URJ Board and Oversight Committee, HUC-JIR Board of Governors, ARZA Board and is a member of the Friends of the Conference (CCAR).
Carole is a past president of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism and is on the Board of Trustees of Holy Blossom Temple, Camp George and ARZA Canada, in Toronto.
Rabbi Ruben Sternschein (Brazil)
Rabbi of the Congregação Israelita Paulista since January 2008, Ruben Sternschein has a Bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in Jewish philosophy in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he completed his doctoral studies in Jewish philosophy and is about to deliver his final thesis. He was ordained as a Rabbi at the Hebrew Union College, where he earned his Master’s degree in Jewish studies. Director of the “Mikra-Net”, an inter-university network of Jewish studies, where he is also Professor. Conferences in more than ten universities, he directed the program of youth education, winning educational leadership award-winning grants from prestigious academic and educational foundations and also graduated from the address and top leadership program of the Mandel Institute. He founded and directed the liberal Jewish community in Barcelona, held the Rabbinate in Jerusalem, and was selected as a Jewish representative to the interfaith group of UNESCO prepared the document: A Universal Ethics.
Rabbi Menno ten Brink (The Netherlands)
Rabbi Menno ten Brink (1958) is the senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Community in Amnsterdam, married woth three children. He received his semicha at Leo Baeck College in London in 1993.
Menno ten Brink has been service the Liberal Jewish Congregation of Rotterdam and was the first Progressive Jewish Chaplain to the Dutch Forces. He holds an MA in Law (University of Amsterdam) and a MA in Jewish Education. He is member of the executive board of the Anne Frank Foundation. Rabbi Ten Brink founded the Dialogue Comite of the Liberal Jewish Synangogue in Amsterdam, is active in dialogue. He is also coördinator of the Beth Din Tsedek.
Rabbi Lennard Thal (USA)
Rabbi Lennard Thal is the Senior Vice President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism. He served as URJ Vice President and then Senior Vice President from 1995 until his retirement in 2008. Thereafter, he served from 2009 to 2011 as the Interim Director of the Reform Movement’s Rabbinical Placement Commission and this year is the Interim Director of the National Commission on Rabbinical-Congregational Relations.
Rabbi Thal was the URJ Regional Director in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1995, Associate Dean of Hebrew Union College (Los Angeles Campus) from 1973 to 1982 and has been the Visiting Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation in Singapore for the last 20 years.
Prior to his enrollment in HUC’s rabbinic program, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Stanford University.
Rabbi Thal is married to Dr. Linda Thal – they are the proud parents of Alona Scott and Ariella Simonds and the doting grandparents of Moshe (Mo) Scott, Hezekiah (Zeke) Scott, and Noa Simonds.
Linda Thal (USA)
Linda Thal is director of the Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction and its Morei Derekh training program. She has written the two-year Vetaher Libeynu curriculum for fostering adult spiritual development and is currently finishing a curriculum on wise aging for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Linda serves on the faculty of MAKOM, the Center for Jewish Mindfulness at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Her one-on-one spiritual direction practice includes rabbis, rabbinic students and lay people. Linda earned her doctorate in religion and education from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University Teachers College.
Jade Netanya Ullmann (USA)
Jade Netanya Ullmann is a passionate philanthropist and social activist with a deep commitment to philanthropic engagement and nurturing next generation donors. Her involvement in grant making includes the Ullmann Family Foundation, Threshold Foundation and Resource Generation. She began her activism addressing environmental issues and police brutality, and as an undergrad organized with Students for a Free Tibet.
Jade currently serves as an ambassador for the Social Venture Network, a national network of business and non-profit leaders, and also serves on the boards of Common Fire Foundation, Zen Peacemaker Community and ALEPH, Alliance for Jewish Renewal. She is also a member of the Jewish Funders Network and co-facilitated the Gender, Power, and Class Institute with Be Present, Inc.
As a long-time synagogue executive, Jade has served as both the Executive Director and Director of Development, Membership and Outreach at Romemu, the fastest growing Jewish Renewal synagogue within New York City. She is a graduate of the Pipeline Fellowship, an angel-investing group for women social entrepreneurs and investors.
A native New Yorker, Jade grew up attending Central Synagogue. She is a certified Yoga and Jewish Spirituality teacher and a former partner of Centerpoint Yoga Studios.
Miriam Vasserman (Brazil)
Miriam Joined WUPJ in 2003 as the executive board member representing Latin America. Throughout her direction, Miriam organized four very successful Conferences for Liberal Judaism in Sao Paulo , Punta del Este  , Rio de Janeiro  and Buenos Aires(2012) .
In 2009, in a leadership encounter in Cordoba - Argentina, a region council for Latina America was established. Miriam was elected chair of the region.
Her militancy for the Jewish Causes in Brazil includes:
- Over ten years in the executive board of Congregação Israelita Paulista, the biggest progressive Congregation in Brazil;
- Organized a number of important events such as:
- Paz na Comunidade (Peace in the Community), 2001. A fund raising dinner with the key note speaker Professor Elie Wiesel, Peace Nobel Price Winner.
- Paz no Mundo (Peace in the World), 2002. A fund raising dinner with the former president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Captain Dan Daily, from New York fire department was invited as a guest of honor.
- Thomas Friedman lecture “The world is Flat”, on September, 13th -2006. A fund raising event for a youth program called “Programa Liana Friedenbach de capacitação de jovens da CIP”.
- Mostra Shoa- a successful exposition about the Shoa held in Sao Paulo in May/ June 2010 that brought over 35.000 visitors.
Miriam runs MIVASS EVENTOS., a boutique company for developing and organizing events for corporations and institutions.
Miriam got her B.A. in Economics from Pontificia Universidade Católica and an MBA from Fundação Getúlio Vargas, with major in Marketing. For over 15years she worked in the Hotel Industry-Rede Gavea de Hotéis- primarily in sales and marketing
Miriam is married to Itche Vasserman for 30 years. The couple live actually in New York City and travel extensively within Latin America. Itche Vasserman is responsible for Private Wealth Management Business in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
They have two kids, Ariela , 29 Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center married to Zachary Blumkin and Ilan Vasserman, 27 graduated in Business at Emory University. Ilan works for UBS and lives in Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman (Israel)
Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman founded Congregation Kol Haneshama in 1985. The community is a center for Progressive Jewish life in Jerusalem, on the forefront of the struggle for religious pluralism in Israel’s highly polarized society.
Rabbi Weiman-Kelman teaches prayer, liturgy and spiritual development at the Hebrew Union College Jerusalem campus.
Rabbi Weiman-Kelman has served as Chairperson of MaRaM (the Council of Progressive Rabbis) and as Chairperson of Shomrei Mishpat - Rabbis for Human Rights. In November of 2003 he received the Isaac Meyer Wise and Stephen S. Wise Award for his contribution to the Reform Movement in Israel.
He was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1979. His B.A. is from the University of Wisconsin (1974). A native New Yorker, he is married to Paula, who is a documentary filmmaker. They have three grown children, Zohar, Benjamin and Raphaela.
Aviv Weinberg (Germany)
Aviv Weinberg is in her 4th year at the Cantorial Art Seminar at Abraham Geiger College, combined with a Master in Judaism at Potsdam University. She has had the privilege to work and learn from different Cantors, among them to her great joy are: Cantor Professor Eliyahu Schleifer, Cantor Josee Wolf, Cantor Danny Maseng, Cantor Israel Goldstein and Cantor Roz Barak.
Throughout this time, she has performed in different official ceremonies such as: The Abraham Geiger Prize to Annette Schavan (2013), festive event to the memory of Rabbi Prof. Dr. Dr. Leo Trepp (2013), Israel-Jacobson-Award and to Leo Hepner and Jan Mühlstein ( 2012) and to Ruth Cohen (2010), the Ordination of Rabbis (2011 in Bamberg, 2010 in Berlin), the Royal wedding of Germanys prince of Prussia (Potsdam 2011), the Senat award to D. Professor Dr. Erich Thies (2011) and a "Stolpersteine" ceremony in Berlin Spandau (2010).
Her internships so far are 2012-13: Göttingen Liberal Community, 2012: Munich Reform “Beit Shalom” Synagogue (High Holidays 5773 with Rabbi Tom Kucera). 2011-12: Berlin Conservative Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue (with Rabbi Gesa Ederberg), 2010-11: Hannover Liberal Synagogue “Etz Chayim” (with Rabbi Gábor Lengyel and High Holidays 5772 with Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs), 2010: Hamburg Liberal Synagogue, (High Holidays 5771 with Rabbi Dr. Edward van Voolen).
Aviv has taken part in Cantors-Conference led by Joseph Malovany, Yechezkel Klang and Aaron Ben Soussan (Manchester 2012), Union for Progressive Judaism (annual Conference in Berlin 2012) and in Limmud (Berlin 2010/11).
In 2012 she collaborated with cantorial students and the head of the cantorial department Dr. Jascha Nemtsov, in a program "Shira and T'fila" in the frame of "Zentralrat"), travelled to different Jewish communities in Germany.
Aviv has a scholarship from ”ELES” (Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studienwerk)
Prior to her cantorial studies, she earned her Bachlor (Cum Laude) at the "Rubin Academy for Music and Dance" in Jerusalem 1998-2003.
Rabbi Yehudit Werchow (USA)
Rabbi Yehudit Werchow is the Jewish Agency's Senior Shlicha to the Union for Reform Judaism. She was born in Argentina and grew up in Israel. Rabbi Werchow graduated from The Hebrew University with a BA in Political Science and Literature and MARE in Jewish Education from HUC-JIR NY. She was recently ordained by the Israeli Rabbinic Program at HUC-JIR. Formerly she also served as the Shlicha for the movement for Reform Judaism in the UK. Prior to her Shlichut to the URJ Yehudit worked in Merkz Maase, a leading Israeli social organization, working with Israeli young adults from diverse socioeconomic, religious and cultural backgrounds who led social justice initiatives in Israeli periphery during their gap year.
Cantor Iris Winer (Israel)
Born in Baltimore, Md., Hazzanit Iris Beth Weiner made Aliyah in 1973. After over 25 years in the Cantorate she is a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman to pursue private cantorial studies in Jerusalem with a retired Conservative Hazzan, eventually becoming a member of the Cantor's Assembly of the Conservative
Movement. She was the first woman Hazzan in the deep south (outside of Florida) serving the West End Synagogue in Nashville, Tn. for four years. She is the first woman Hazzan to become the full time Executive-Director of a congregation: Kehillat Mevakshei Derech in Jerusalem. She is also the recipient of the Legacy Heritage Innovator Award from the Legacy Heritage Foundation in recognition of her outstanding work in the field of Jewish Family Education.
Hazzanit Weiner has always worked to draw people into the community through melodies that span the traditional and modern, liturgical and Israeli. Her work is based on the understanding that music is a language that everyone can understand and that spans all generations. An example is the successful "Havurat Zemer" (Congregational Chorus) which brings together all generations in a musical mosaic.
Hazzanit Weiner and her husband David have three daughters and live in Jerusalem.
Mark Winer (USA)
Mark Winer is an international interfaith activist. As President of FAITH: the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony, Mark promotes projects which build peace through interfaith dialogue and action.
Among FAITH international interfaith projects are KickStart Peace, Peace by Piece, and Sacred Partners. (44) KickStart Peace overlays interfaith study on top of mixed interfaith soccer football teams, Arab/Jewish in Israel, Protestant/Catholic in Belfast, and Sunni/Shia/Christian in Pakistan. Bar/Bat Mitzvah children throughout the world and many others are financially sponsoring KickStart Peace.
Peace by Piece seeds local projects which build peace through intergroup social action activities, such as joint hunger relief projects. Sacred Partners aims to build interfaith partnerships among different religious institutions. In London, FAITH works to grow the partnerships among Liberal Judaism, the London Muslim Centre/East London Mosque, and St Ethelburga's Centre of the Church of England. In Florida, FAITH strengthens all interfaith partnerships, especially between the Catholic Church and the Jewish People. (160)
Born in Utah, raised in Texas, Harvard College, Yale PhD, ordained HUC-JIR, 43 years pulpit rabbi, married to Suellen, three children, four grandsons, always having fun. www.faithinterfaith.com
Rabbi Stanton Zamek (Hong Kong)
Rabbi Stanton Zamek has been the spiritual leader of the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong since 2008. Prior to coming to the UJC, Rabbi Zamek served congregations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and San Francisco, California. Rabbi Zamek was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1996, in the same class as his wife, Rabbi Martha Bergadine, the UJC’s director of Education and Programming. Rabbi Zamek and Rabbi Bergadine have two children. Prior to entering the seminary, Rabbi Zamek practiced law in Chicago, Illinois. He has a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.
Rabbi Or Zohar (Israel)
Founder and leader of congregation Kehilat Halev in central Tel Aviv, and rabbi at the Daniel Centers for progressive Judaism, teacher of Jewish spirituality, a musician specializing in original contemporary Israeli liturgy, a radio broadcaster, conductor of life cycle events throughout Israel. Rabbi Or Zohar was ordained at HUC in Jerusalem in the fall of 2012. He has an M.A. summa cum laude in Jewish Philosophy from Tel Aviv University, and a Bachelors degree in Jewish thought and Indian studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is currently completing his training in Mazorim, HUC's Israeli program for spiritual pastoral care. In 2007 Or Zohar and his wife Feliza recorded "Lev Tahor", their first album of sacred Jewish Music, and are now recording their second album – with 13 original melodies composed within the context of their congregation in Tel Aviv for Shabbat prayers. Rabbi Or Zohar and his wife Feliza currently live with their 3 children in Tel Aviv.