Since 1997, and under the pioneering leadership of its founder Blu Greenberg, JOFA has been raising the bar for women’s engagement, leadership and communal achievements. Despite being a year marked by a historic pandemic, 5780 was also a year of remarkable and celebratory firsts. Of note, Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter, Rabbanit Avital Engelberg and Ruthie Braffman Shulman were appointed as the first ever JOFA Devorah Scholars where they will serve their congregations in Philadelphia, Providence and Houston (respectively). For the first time in history, women led celebrations of the Siyum Hashas around the globe: Rabbanit Michelle Cohen Farber spearheaded the endeavor in Jerusalem while Sharon Freundel keynoted the Yom Iyun in the Greater Washington area. In New York, thanks in part to a public advocacy campaign by film-maker Paula Eiselt, Ezras Nashim (the only all-women’s EMT service) was finally granted its own ambulance, and with the installation of Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, 5780 marked the first time a woman became chancellor of a Jewish institution.
On Sukkot, there is a custom to invite Ushpizin and Ushpizot (guests), into our sukkot. Traditionally, these “guests” are biblical characters. Out of this custom has grown a modern practice to spiritually welcome other key admirable figures whose presence we want at our meals. This year, because of social distancing, the practice of welcoming Ushpizin/Ushpizot into our space feels that much more meaningful.
Below, please find a list of notable women whose professional contributions have improved Jewish communities in America and around the world. In addition to the traditional Ushpizot, we encourage you to welcome these role models into your sukkot.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, these women were nominated by community members, and have all demonstrated strong leadership, made positive change, and created lasting impact through their work.* We take this opportunity to honor, celebrate, and thank them for all they do.
Tamar brings a unique mix of both personal life experience and professional expertise to her new role as CEO of Gateways: Access To Jewish Education. As a person born with a disability, the parent of a child with a disability, and the daughter of a rabbi, Tamar is a passionate advocate for inclusion in the Jewish community and beyond. She was first introduced to Gateways by joining the Board of Trustees in 2019, while she was the Chief Development Officer for the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston. Previously, she spent 12 years at Hadassah, first with Hadassah International and then as Hadassah’s National Director of Annual Giving. A proud stepmother and mother to five children, Tamar and her husband, Allan, live in Brookline.
Paula Eiselt is an independent filmmaker based in New York. Her award-winning documentary feature debut 93Queen was released theatrically across the U.S. and Canada, and broadcast nationally on PBS’s POV, ARTE in France and Germany, UR in Sweden, yes DocU in Israel, and CBC in Canada. 93Queen was released on HBO Max in September 2020. Paula is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Concordia Studio where is developing her next feature length documentary on one the most shameful national crises of our time.
Her work has been supported by ITVS, the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fund, Open Society Foundation, Just Films | Ford Foundation, NYSCA, Fork Films, Gucci Tribeca Doc Fund, the Oath Foundation, IDA Pare Lorentz Doc Fund, Chicago Media Project, Picture Motion, the Hartley Film Foundation, IFP, and Women Make Movies. She also works as the Creative Consultant for the Jewish Writers Initiative and serves on the board of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. In 2019, Paula was named one of Jewish Week's “36 Under 36” for her role in amplifying women's voices.
Rabbanit Avital Engelberg
Rabbanit Avital Engelberg, a JOFA Devorah Scholar, serves as Director of Spiritual Engagement at Congregation Beth Sholom in Providence, RI; and is Ramit (rabbi and educator) at Midreshet Ein HaNatziv, Israel.
Rabbanit Avital was a fellow at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Halakhic Studies Program; and was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat’s Advanced Kollel Program. She has taught at Maharat, as well as at various Jewish educational institutions in Israel.
Alongside her educational work, Rabbanit Avital is a board member of the Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah Movement. She is also an activist in promoting separation of religion and state in Israel: As part of the Chupot Project, she officiates orthodox weddings, bypassing the State’s Rabbanite; and together with fellow female rabbinical scholars and the ITIM movement, she has filed a petition to Israel's supreme court to allow women to take the state’s rabbinical exams.
Rabbanit Nechama Goldman Barash
Rabbanit Nechama Goldman Barash teaches Talmud and Halakha with a specialty in the topic of gender and Jewish law at Pardes, Matan and the Bnei Akiva gap year program Torah V'Avodah. She made aliyah from Philadelphia almost 30 years ago after graduating from Stern College. She studied for three years in Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute and finished a master’s degree in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. She is a graduate of Nishmat’s Yoetzet Halacha program, followed by three years of study in Matan’s Hilkhata program. She is an active member of Beit Hillel and participates in interfaith dialogue through Roots, a grassroots movement in Gush Etzion promoting non violence and understanding between the Palestinian and Israeli communities. Nechama is hoping to publish a book in the coming year on gender and halakha.
Dr. Aimee Baron
Aimee Baron MD is the Founder and Executive Director of I Was Supposed to Have a Baby, a 501c3 nonprofit that utilizes social media to support Jewish individuals and families as they are struggling to have a child. It provides a warm and nurturing space for those going through infertility, pregnancy loss, infant loss, surrogacy or adoption, in addition to connecting those families to resources in the Jewish community at large.
Dr. Baron was formerly the Director of Innovation and Growth at NechamaComfort, and has also worked as an Attending Pediatrician in the Newborn Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital before taking a leave of absence after her third miscarriage.
Rabbi Rebecca Blady
Rabbi Rebecca Blady received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Maharat in 2019. She is the Executive Director of Hillel Germany and co-founder of the central project Base Berlin, a pluralistic, educational and leadership-oriented organization for Jewish students and young adults.
Rebecca is one of the survivors of the 2019 Yom Kippur attack on the synagogue of Halle and is an active Jewish voice against right-wing extremism in Germany. Originally from Long Island, New York, she now lives in Berlin, Germany. She completed her Bachelor's degree at Brandeis University and is a certified yoga teacher.
Rabba Yaffa Epstein
Rabba Yaffa Epstein is the Director of the Wexner Heritage Program, and has served as a faculty member for the Wexner Heritage Program since 2015. She previously served as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies where she was also a member of the Talmud faculty for over fifteen years. Yaffa received Orthodox Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University.
Yaffa has been a member of the faculty of Yeshivat Maharat, the Drisha Institute, and the Dorot Fellowship in Israel. She has served as a Scholar in Residence for organizations such as Hillel, Moishe House, JFNA, The Covenant Foundation, The Nahum Goldmann Fellowship, Repair the World, Meorot Fellowship, KADIMA Fellowship, and the Jewish Education Project, and has lectured at Limmud events around the globe.
Rabbanit Michelle Cohen Farber
Rabbanit Michelle Cohen Farber is the founder of Hadran: Advancing Talmud Study for Women and Daf Yomi for Women, the first woman's podcast on the daf yomi. Michelle spearheaded the first international Siyum HaShas for Women, which took place in January.
Michelle studied Talmud at Bar Ilan and in Midreshet Lindenbaum's scholar's program. She has taught Gemara and Halacha in Pelech Jerusalem, Midreshet Lindenbaum and Matan HaSharon. Michelle and her husband, Seth, founded and lead Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana where they live with their five children.
Dr. Laura Shaw Frank
Laura Shaw Frank is the Director of the Contemporary Jewish Life Department at the American Jewish Committee where she works on Israel-Diaspora relations, Israel education, Jewish literacy, and American Jewish communal life. A long time Jewish educator, Laura held administrative and educational positions at Yeshivat Maharat and SAR High School prior to her work at AJC.
Laura holds a PhD in Jewish history from the University of Maryland, College Park and undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University. A proud founding board member of JOFA, Laura lives in Riverdale, NY with her family.
Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter
Sharon Freundel is the managing director of the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge. Following several years of working in the nursing field, Ms. Freundel became engaged in the teaching of Torah. She taught and was the department chair for TaNaKH (Bible) and Torah SheBa’al Peh (Rabbinics) and was the Mashgicha Ruchanit (Spiritual Guidance Counselor) of the Upper School at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy.
Following that, she was the Director of Jewish Life at the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. She teaches adult Jewish education classes throughout the Greater Washington, DC, area on topics such as TaNaKH, Jewish philosophy and contemporary halakhic issues and has lectured in Canada, Australia, Israel, and throughout the United States.
Leah Gottfried is an award-winning writer, director and actor, and founder of Dignity Entertainment - a full-service production company dedicated to creating meaningful visual content. She is the creator of the hit web series Soon By You, which centers on Orthodox Jews dating in NYC and has seven episodes and over a million views on YouTube. The first episode, The Setup, won Best Short Film at the Washington Jewish Film Festival. Leah is passionate about telling stories about powerful Jewish women through the medium of film.
Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter is the founder and spiritual leader of the South Philadelphia Shtiebel and is a recipient of the Start-Up Shul Grant in addition to being recognized as a JOFA Devorah Scholar. She received semikha in 2016 and completed her M.P.A. in Non-Profit Administration and M.A. in Jewish Studies from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service. Rabbanit Fruchter, a Wexner Graduate Fellow, is a passionate educator and community builder, and serves on the clergy team at Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, MD, as the Halachic Advisor for Women's Health and Halacha. She is driven by relationship-based community building, facilitating meaningful ritual, and harnessing the power of spiritual community to make the world a better place.
Ginna Green is a political strategist, consultant, and writer, and the former Chief Strategy Officer at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. Prior to Bend the Arc, Ginna was the Managing Director of the Democracy Program at ReThink Media, and spent several years on staff at the Center for Responsible Lending.
She is a frequent speaker and writer on democracy, race, racism in the Jewish community, and Jewish community diversity, and has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Salon, and more. Ginna is a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, and sits on the boards of Women's March, Political Research Associates, the Jews of Color Initiative and Bend the Arc. An alum of the Jeremiah Fellowship and the Selah Leadership Program, and a 2019-2020 Schusterman Fellow, Ginna is a native southerner and the mother of four amazing kids.
Blu Greenberg is JOFA’s founder. She has been involved in Jewish feminism for four decades. She was Conference Chair of both the first and the second International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy. She chaired the NY Federation Task Force on Jewish Women and the AJC National Jewish Family Center, and was president of the Jewish Book Council.
Dialogue is another long standing passion of hers, and she has participated in various inter- and intra-faith projects. Blu serves on the editorial board of Hadassah Magazine and the advisory board of Lilith. Blu is married to Rabbi Irving Greenberg and they have five children and 23 grandchildren.
Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet is the Founder and Director of the Eden Center in Jerusalem, a non-profit organization that works to improve the experience of mikveh, and use the mikveh as a platform to promote the physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual health of Jewish women and families. Naomi holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Bar Ilan University, and has published numerous articles.
Her doctoral research investigated identity formation through mikveh practice, and her research is the catalyst upon which the Eden Center was founded. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband Zvi and their 3 children.
Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Co-Founder and President of Maharat,
the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy, also
serves on the Rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of
Rabba Hurwitz completed Drisha’s three-year Scholars Circle Program, an advanced intensive program of study for Jewish women training to become scholars, educators and community leaders. After another five years of study under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Weiss, she was ordained by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber in 2009.
Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet
Rabba Sara Hurwitz
Shira Hecht-Koller, is an educator, attorney, and writer. She is currently Director of Education for 929 English, an educational start-up and global platform for the study of Tanakh. She has taught at North Shore Hebrew Academy, SARHS, and at Drisha, where she directed the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program, and she has practiced corporate law at Debevoise and Plimpton LLP.
Always looking for other media through which to creatively engage and educate, she is currently at work on a children’s book with artist Hanoch Piven about Tanakh characters. She was a Paradigm Fellow at the Paideia Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm, and sits on the advisory board of Shazur/Interwoven, an organization designed to
rebuild the relationship between Israeli and American Jewry. She holds a JD from Cardozo School of Law, and is a graduate of the Bruriah Scholars program at Midreshet Lindenbaum. Moved by the competitiveness and spirit of adventure, she is also an avid tennis fan and loves hiking and exploring the world with her husband Aaron and children Dalya, Shachar, Amitai and Aiden.
With degrees in both law and behavioral forensic psychology, Jacqueline Harounian has a unique approach to resolving divorce disputes and family conflict that is interdisciplinary and holistic to the parenting dynamic. Wisselman, Harounian & Associates PC is a US News & World Report 2020 Top Tier law firm.
Jacqueline is a speaker and educator on legal aspects of religious divorce, including the Jewish Get and Islamic Mahr. Jacqueline is rated AV Preeminent 2020, the highest rating for ethics and professionalism by Martindale Hubbell, and repeatedly selected to "Top 50 Women Lawyers" in New York by Super Lawyers. Jacqueline is the immediate Past President of the Yashar Hadassah Chapter for Lawyers and Judges, and currently serves as a Director of the Nassau County Women’s Bar Association (Chair of the Domestic Violence Committee). She has four children and resides in Great Neck, New York with her husband Maurice.
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is a writer and activist. Co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, she pushes back against extremist practices and raises the voice of Jewish women. Her articles and posts highlight negative trends in Judaism and Israel, showing the damage they cause and offering actions the community can take to stop them. Born and raised in Lakewood NJ, she now lives in Israel with her husband and children.
Ann D. Koffsky
Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll
Dr. Rachel Levmore
Ann D. Koffsky is the author and illustrator of more than thirty Jewish books for children, including her most recent, Kayla and Kugel’s Happy Hanukkah (Apples and Honey Press) and Yitzy Aims High (Menucha Publishers). She is an editor at Behrman House Publishers. Several of her books have been PJ Library selections, and her book Noah’s Swimathon received a notable designation from the Sydney Taylor book awards.
Ann also creates free Jewish coloring pages for families which are available on her website, www.annkoffsky.com.
Ann is also the founder of the website and facebook group, frumwomenhavefaces, which advocates for women’s images to be included in Orthodox media. Ann lives in West Hempstead, NY with her husband and three children.
Dr. Rachel Levmore, To’enet Rabbanit - Rabbinical Court Advocate; Ph.D. in Jewish Law; Director of the Agunot and Get -Refusal Prevention Project, International Young Israel Movement in Israel & the Jewish Agency; A co-author of the successful Israeli prenuptial “Agreement for Mutual Respect" for the prevention of Get-Refusal (iyim.org.il/prenup/); Author of "Spare Your Eyes Tears" (Hebrew) on halakhic prenuptial agreements; The first female To’enet Rabbanit member of the State of Israel Commission for the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges.
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is currently pursuing her PhD at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy. When she's not working on finishing up her dissertation, she works as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute facilitating workshops for teachers on racial and gender justice.
She serves on the board of directors for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and JOIN for Justice. Megan lives in Harlem and loves baking challah, going on nature walks, and singing with her friends at Linke Fligl (a queer Jewish chicken farm in upstate New York).
Ariele Mortkowitz is passionate about the ways women* interact with their faith and their community and has dedicated herself to the pursuit of fulfilling female spiritual and communal experiences. Ariele created the Agam Center in 2016, creating a Jewish communal home for women's spirituality, wellness, ritual, and education. Further committed to creating more unique spaces for women in Judaism, Ariele founded SVIVAH, where she gets to "collect" inspirational teachers, healers, counselors, and guides devoted to improving the lives of women and then share them with the audience of Jewish women* that has been waiting for them.
She received a certificate in Spiritual Entrepreneurship from Clal and Columbia Business School, belongs to the “Spiritual Communities” Kenissa Cohort, and is an inaugural participant in the JWI Jewish Communal Women’s Leadership Project for Executive Leadership. Ariele lives with her family in Washington, DC where she is continually amazed by all she gains from the incredible women around her.
Nicole Nevarez is the inaugural National Director of Ta’amod, a multi-pronged initiative dedicated to ending gender abuse and harassment in the Jewish communal space. A Jewish educator, trainer and facilitator, Nicole has held professional leadership positions for local and National Jewish organizations and nonprofit NYC theaters. In addition to her work with Ta’amod, she provides independent consulting to mission-critical organizations to support them with positive internal culture and is a personal development coach. Nicole believes that when we do the work to reflect on ourselves and our organizations, we have the power to impact deep systemic personal and communal change.
She lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Rabbi Jason Nevarez their two children and Sadie the dog!
Rabbi Marianne Novak
Rabbi Marianne Novak received her semicha from Yeshivat Maharat in 2019. She is a long time Jewish educator in her community of Skokie, Illinois. Rabbi Novak is currently the director of the Melton School at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue. She is a frequent lecturer and speaker and has been a gabbait for the Skokie Women’s Tefillah Group for over 20 years.
Nechama Price is a Senior Lecturer of Bible and Judaic Studies at Stern College for Women. She is the Director of Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS). In addition, she is certified as Yoetzet Halacha in the inaugural class of Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center’s U.S. Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program, and works as a Yoetzet in a number of communities in New Jersey.
A graduate of Stern College, GPATS, Azrieli and Revel Graduate Schools, she lectures widely across America. Nechama recently published her first book, Tribal Blueprints, analyzing the lives and personalities of the twelve tribes. Nechama resides in Bergenfield, NJ with her husband and their four children.
Eve Sacks has been a trustee of JOFA UK since its inauguration 7 years ago, and has helped to organise JOFA events during this period. Eve enjoys attending partnership minyanim.
More recently she has been part of a team setting up a think tank called Nahumu calling out harms in the charedi community. Her interest in this area came after befriending a number of haredi men and women, who were looking for help. In many cases these people were unable to speak out publicly about the harms that has been perpetuated against them – the men had all been denied secular education, and the women (and some of the men) were suffering from the impact of being subject to forced marriage. Eve realised she could use her loud voice to draw attention to these harms and that was the motivation for setting up Nahumu.
Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz
Shuly Rubin Schwartz, a groundbreaking scholar of American Jewish history and a visionary institutional leader, is the eighth chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary. She is the first woman to serve as chancellor of JTS in its 134-year history. Over the course of her career, Dr. Schwartz served as provost and as dean of two JTS schools, playing a central role in shaping and strengthening JTS’s academic programs while teaching and mentoring countless students.
She was one of the first women on the JTS faculty and was instrumental in securing a place for Jewish gender studies in the curriculum. As a scholar, she brought to light the previously overlooked contributions of women to the development of American Judaism and expanded our understanding of modern American Jewish society and culture. Among her publications is the award-winning book, The Rabbi’s Wife, an incisive examination of the role of rabbis’ wives in the development of American Jewish life.
Sara Shapiro-Plevan supports Jewish organizations as they strive to develop a networked, collaborative culture, supporting their alignment with vision and helping them to shift from hierarchy to flatter, healthier and more democratic organizational structures. As the co-founder of the Gender Equity in Hiring in the Jewish Community Project, Sara is transforming the endemic culture of gender bias that continues to keep women from senior staff positions within Jewish organizations while building healthier organizational cultures.
Sara is the founder of Rimonim Consulting and a doctoral candidate in the Davidson School at JTS, and her work and research aim to enable individuals, teams and communities to understand how they best work in relationship so that they might begin to shift their capacity to work in a productive, connected way to realize their hopes and dreams.
Ruthie Braffman Shulman
Ruthie Braffman Shulman is a the Director of Education and Engagement at United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston and a JOFA Devorah Scholar. She has worked in community leadership and education for more than 10 years, including serving as Manhattan Jewish Experience’s Director of Education, an OU-JLIC Campus Educator at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University and Congregational Intern for the Hebrew Institute of White Plains.
She holds an M.A. from Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women and is currently studying to be a Yoetzet Halacha in Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Yoatzot Halacha Fellows Program.
Yocheved Sidof is a writer, educator, speaker and social entrepreneur. After a decade as filmmaker and photographer, in 2010, she was compelled to challenge normative school models and founded a grassroots, progressive Chassidic school, Lamplighters Yeshivah, where she was CEO for close to a decade.
Under her leadership, Lamplighters grew from a hopeful endeavor to a fast-growing, internationally recognized movement in education reform. She was selected as part of the inaugural cohort of the Wexner Field Fellowship in 2017, the Women In Faith Fellowship, the recipient of the Perkins Award at Seth Godin’s altMBA, and one of the Jewish Week’s "36 Under 36" for her pioneering mission and achievement in social entrepreneurship.
Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich
Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich is the Crown-Ryan Chair of Jewish Studies and the director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She is the author of The Making of Jewish Universalism: From Exile to Alexandria (2016), and Discovering Second Temple Literature: The Scriptures and Stories That Shaped Early Judaism (2018), which received the 2019 AJL Judaica Reference Honor Award.
Simkovich’s articles have been published in the Harvard Theological Review and the Journal for the Study of Judaism, as well as on online forums such as The Lehrhaus and the Times of Israel. She is involved in numerous local and international interreligious dialogue projects which help to increase understanding and friendship between Christians and Jews.
Keshet Starr, Esq.
Keshet Starr, Esq., is the CEO of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), the nonprofit organization addressing the agunah (Jewish divorce refusal) crisis on a case-by-case basis worldwide. At ORA, Keshet oversees advocacy and early intervention initiatives designed to assist individuals seeking a Jewish divorce, along with prevention initiatives to eliminate abuse from the
Jewish divorce process.
Keshet has written for outlets such as the Times of Israel, The Forward and Haaretz, and frequently presents on issues related to Jewish divorce, domestic abuse, and the intersection between civil and religious divorce processes. Keshet has also authored academic work focused on get refusal and domestic abuse, and is a Wexner Field Fellow. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Keshet lives in central New Jersey with her husband and three young children.
Zelda R. Stern
Zelda R. Stern is a donor-activist who is a member of the Board of Directors of Yeshivat Maharat. Also a member of the founding board of JOFA, she is currently on the JOFA Journal editorial committee. A BSW graduate of Temple University, she received an MSW from Columbia University and a Post-Masters Certificate in Advanced Clinical Social Work from Hunter College.
She is a trained psychotherapist who had a private practice before transitioning to her later work as a member of the Board of Directors of the Harry Stern Family Foundation, where she worked with her five siblings, and where she became an officer. She speaks and writes about using strategic philanthropy to effect change, and also mentors women serving in Orthodox leadership positions as well as helping to fund these positions.
Susie J. Tanenbaum has devoted her career to promoting cross-cultural understanding in the borough of Queens, New York. She is the proud daughter of a Holocaust refugee; her mother taught her the importance of human rights at an early age. As director of immigrant and intercultural affairs at the Queens Borough President's Office, Susie helps immigrant nonprofits to build social capital, facilitates dialogues with diverse civic leaders, and oversees her office's 2020 Census initiative.
A member of the West Side Minyan at Congregation Ansche Chesed, she leyns, gives Divrei Torah, and shares reflections during Yom Kippur Yizkor. Susie is a published author; her book, Underground Harmonies, explores how people come together in the world of New York's subway musicians. A graduate of Oberlin College, she holds a master’s degree in urban studies from Queens College of the City University of New York and is currently a doctoral candidate in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Rabbi Lauren Tuchman
Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Rabbi Tuchman is a sought after speaker, spiritual leader and educator. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018, she has taught at numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues throughout North America and was named to the Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her innovative leadership concerning inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life. In 2017, she delivered an ELI Talk entitled We All Were At Sinai: The Transformative Power of Inclusive Torah.
She has trained and continues to teach with Rabbi David Jaffe and the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, which provides a space for Jewish spiritual and contemplative practice for social justice activists rooted in the spiritual discipline of Mussar and the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. She serves on the board of JOIN for Justice, which trains Jews in community organizing for social change.
Sara Wolkenfeld is the Chief Learning Officer at Sefaria, an online database and interface for Jewish texts. She is passionate about expanding Jewish textual knowledge for all. Sara is also a fellow at the David Hartman Center at the Hartman Institute of North America. Her previous experience includes serving as Director of Education at the Center for Jewish Life - Hillel at Princeton University as part of the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus. She studied Talmud and Jewish Law at various institutions of Jewish learning in Israel and America including Midreshet Lindenbaum, Drisha, Nishmat, and Beit Morasha and speaks on various Jewish topics at synagogues, schools, and university communities. Sara lives in Chicago with her husband and their five children.
*Earlier this Spring, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) put out a call for nominations for “notable women.” While this project was initially scheduled to go out in its completed form in June, due to external circumstances we had to put a pause on publishing the list. These Ushpizot selections come from that list of nominations.