Check out our schedule and speaker bios for our virtual Conference on March 7, 2021! Register here and contact dani@jofa.org with any questions. 

10:30am EST - 11am EST: Opening Plenary

11am EST - 12pm EST

The Glass Ceiling and the Narrowing of the Pipeline

Birth Justice and Maternal Health

Obstacles and Opportunities: How COVID has Changed Women’s Role in Mikveh / COVID and Tefilla

Beyond the Synagogue: A Look at the Future of Clergy Roles

12:15pm EST - 1:15pm EST

Teaching Sex and Sexuality in Orthodox Schools

Informal Feminist Rituals - Tools and Resources

Navigating an Increasingly Polarized Society

Enriching Our Communities: Devorah Scholars' Experiences in the Field

1:15pm EST - 2pm EST: Interactive Lunches

Raising Feminist Sons * Evolution and Revolution of Women’s Daf Yomi * High School Meet up

Young Professionals Meet-Up with Blu Greenberg *  * Women in Politics* Women in Entertainment*

Finding a Work / Life Balance During COVID * Fertility Resources *  Women in Health Care

Building a Diverse Leadership Pipeline * Tefillah in the time of COVID * Women in Philanthropy

2:15pm EST - 3:15pm EST

Is Intersectionality Possible in 2021?

Sexuality and Our Bodies

Kol Sasson v'Kol Simcha: Creating a Checklist for a Balanced Orthodox Wedding

Bringing an Orthodox Feminist Sensibility to Schools

3:30pm EST - 4:30pm EST

Building and Growing an Orthodox Feminist School Inside the Classroom

Obstacles and Opportunities - The Impact of COVID on Women in the Workplace

The Torah Belongs to All of Us: Building and Growing an Orthodox Feminist Congregation

How Does the Role of the Rabbi Change When the Rabbi is a Woman

Dr. Carmella Abraham

Rabba Dr. Carmella Abraham is a physician and member of the Orthodox clergy. She has taught Torah and Talmud in both formal and informal settings ranging from the Drisha Community Beit Midrash and JOFA conferences, to Jewish community centers, synagogues and college Hillels.  Carmella earned her BA degree from Barnard College and her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

 

At Mount Sinai, Carmella did her residency in Internal Medicine and  Fellowship in Women's Health. Afterwards she practiced at  the Mount Sinai Women's Health Program with a dual appointment in Medicine and Ob-Gyn.  In 2017, she was ordained by Yeshivat Maharat. Carmella currently works at a Pharmaceutical company in Medical Affairs specializing in Women's Cancers.

Laura Arnold Leibman

Laura Arnold Leibman is a Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon (USA) and the author of The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects(Bard Graduate Center, 2020) which won three National Jewish Book Awards. Her work focuses religion and the daily lives of women and children in early America and uses everyday objects to help bring their stories back to life. She has been a visiting fellow at Oxford University, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Utrecht, the University of Panama, and the Leon Levy Foundation Professor of Jewish Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center. Her second book Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life (2012) uses material culture to retell the history of early American Jews, and won a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award and a National Jewish Book Award. Her forthcoming Once We Were Slaves (Oxford UP, 2021) is about an early multiracial Jewish family who began their lives enslaved in the Caribbean and became some of the wealthiest Jews in New York.

Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman 

Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, Ph.D. is the author of eight books and numerous articles discussing Jewish identity, the interplay of American and Jewish values, transformations in the American Jewish family, the impact of Jewish education, gender and sexuality in American Jewish life, antisemitism and anti-Zionism, Israel-Diaspora relations, and portrayals of Jews and Jewishness in fiction and film. She is an Emerita Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University, and was the founding Co-Director of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute (HBI); she edits the HBI Series on Gender and Jewish Culture. Prof. Fishman serves on the Board of JOFA. Among other honors, Prof. Fishman received The Marshall Sklare Award from the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, and the Belkin Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement from Yeshiva University (Stern College).

Mayor Aliza Bloch 

Following a breathtaking election victory, Dr. Aliza Bloch was elected Mayor of Bet

Shemesh in 2018, unseating the 10 year incumbent ultra-Orthodox mayor in a close race that  captured international media attention. Bet Shemesh voters had crossed party lines to support Aliza Bloch’s hopeful message of unity and progress for the future of their city.

Dr. Bloch previously held various senior positions in the field of education and has

received many prestigious award for excellence in education management.

Married and mother of four, the Mayor has been named by the “Jerusalem Post”

as one of the world’s 50 most influential Jews of 2019. Following years of religious polarization in Bet Shemesh, Dr. Bloch recognized the urgent need of leadership change. Given her background and experience, she felt she could unite the diverse communities in the city, improve the standard of living for all sectors and create a positive atmosphere so residents could feel proud to call Bet Shemesh their home.After two years in the office, Mayor Bloch has began to create a successful model for local government to enhance mutual respect, religious tolerance and upward economic mobility for all religious sectors in cities throughout the state of Israel.

Rabba Dina Brawer

Rabba Dina Brawer lectures, writes, and broadcasts to wide and diverse audiences. Her areas of interest include social change, the nexus between religion and gender, values within the halakhic system, and hasidut. She founded JOFA UK , produced #YourTorah a Mishnah podcast taught entirely by women, and recently launched PrayerFull: the guided prayer podcast.

She holds a BA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the University of London, an MA in Education and Psychology from the Institute of Education, London, and Semikha from Yeshivat Maharat. She lectures in Talmud at Tufts University and serves as Recruitment and Admissions Director at Maharat.

3:30pm EST - 4:30pm EST: Building and Growing an Orthodox Feminist School Inside the Classroom

Neshama Carlebach

Neshama Carlebach is an award-winning singer, songwriter and educator who has performed and taught in cities around the world.  A six-time entrant in the Grammy Awards and winner and four-time Independent Music Awards Nominee for her most current release, Believe, Neshama has sold over one million records, making her one of today’s best-selling Jewish artists in the world. 

 

Neshama has been a cornerstone of major Jewish music festivals across the U.S. and globally, performing in front of thousands at countless concerts and gatherings for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. As a teenager she performed alongside her father, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. As the first then-Orthodox woman of her generation to perform for a mixed-gender audience, Neshama has sparked public conversations with brave forays into the place of women in Judaism and today’s world. Neshama lives in New York with her husband Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and their five children.  

Dita Cooper

Dita Cooper is the Upper School Dean of Students at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Religion from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is a graduate of the Pardes Day School Educators Program in Jerusalem where she earned her master’s degree in Jewish education and a certificate in day school education from Hebrew College, as well as a certificate of advanced Jewish studies.

 

Prior to Berman, Dita served as a Judaic Studies teacher and grade level coordinator at SAR High School in Riverdale, New York. In addition to her work in Jewish day school education, she has served as a senior staff member at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack and co-created the teen track at the 2017 JOFA Conference. Dita lives in Potomac, Maryland with her husband and two sons. 

Rabbi Barry Dolinger

Barry Dolinger received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.  Passionate about spiritual practice and community building, he's been the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom, a dynamic modern orthodox synagogue in Providence, Rhode Island.  There, he serves as the President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater RI. 

 

Barry is the co-founder of Mitzvah Matzos, a non-profit Passover matzo bakery that donates all profits to fight human trafficking, and founded Lighthouse Kosher, a non-profit Kosher supervisory agency by the people for the people.  Outside of rabbinic activities, Barry is a practicing attorney.  He lives in Pawtucket with his wife Naomi and daughter Netzach.

Paula Eiselt

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. The film played over 70 film festivals worldwide, won the prestigious Hot Docs First Look Pitch Prize, and was selected into the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase.

 

Paula is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Laurene Powell Jobs and Davis Guggenheim’s Concordia Studio. 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. In 2019, Paula was named one of Jewish Week's “36 Under 36” for her role in amplifying women's voices. She is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a double major in Film Production and Cinema Studies.

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.

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 Farber 

Michelle Cohen Farber is the founder of Hadran, whose mission is to advance Talmud study for all women. She is also the founder and teacher of Daf Yomi for Women, the first women's online shiur on daf yomi. Michelle spearheaded the first international Siyum HaShas for Women. Michelle and her husband, Seth, founded and lead Kehillat Netivot in Ra'anana where they live with their five children.

Dr. Meryl Feldblum 

Meryl Feldblum is a committed educator and advocate for gender equity.  She earned her doctorate in education, focusing her research on the experiences of female Modern Orthodox educators in the high school setting.  Meryl currently serves as chair of the English department and Grade Dean at Yeshivat Frisch.

Rabbi Aaron Frank

Rabbi Aaron Frank is Head of School at the Kinneret Day School in Riverdale, NY. Prior to coming to Kinneret, Rabbi Frank was the Associate Principal at SAR High School. Before moving to New York, he worked at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore for twelve years, serving as Lower School and then High School Principal. In addition to his work in education administration, Rabbi Frank has served as a High Holidays rabbi at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland since 2001.

 

A graduate of the Jerusalem Fellows program at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem as well as of the Principals’ Center at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Rabbi Frank serves on the board of the International Rabbinic Fellowship and on the Rabbinic Advisory Board of Yeshivat Maharat. He served as Associate Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale under the mentorship of Rabbi Avi Weiss from 1996 until 2000 and was a founding member of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Baltimore. A musmakh of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Aaron holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan and an M.S. from Columbia University School of Social Work. Rabbi Frank is married to Laura Shaw Frank. They have four children: Ateret, Yanniv, Elinadav, and Neri.

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 has lectured widely across the country at conferences, synagogues, university Hillels, and adult education institutes and has published articles on subjects including Israel education, Jewish marriage and divorce in America, modern Orthodoxy, and Orthodox women’s leadership. 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.

Maharat Ruth Friedman

Maharat Ruth Friedman is a member of the inaugural class of Yeshivat Maharat, which is the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as spiritual leaders and halakhic (legal) authorities. She serves as Maharat at Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue® in Washington, DC. Maharat Friedman’s responsibilities include overseeing the conversion program, supervising the operation of the community mikvah, directing adult education, providing pastoral counseling, teaching in the community, and more.

 

She is a proud member of the Washington Boards of Rabbis, and sits on the Executive Committee of the board of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, of which she is also a member. Maharat Friedman is also a founding member of the Beltway VAAD. She and her husband Yoni are the proud parents of their sons Ezra and Jobe, and their four-legged princess, Cocoa.

Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter

Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter is the founder and spiritual leader of the South Philadelphia Shtiebel. 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, Wexner Graduate Fellow, is a passionate educator and community builder, and has served on the clergy team at Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, MD, the largest Modern Orthodox Congregation in the Washington Metropolitan area. 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

Ginna Green is a strategist, writer, movement-builder, consultant and Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Uprise, where she leads the practice on diversity + equity + inclusion and philanthropic advising within the Jewish community, and is a principal strategist for its progressive movement communications clients. Previously, she worked as Chief Strategy Officer at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action where she managed the communications, advocacy, electoral, rapid response and racial equity teams from 2018-2020. Prior to Bend the Arc, Ginna was 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, Jewish community diversity, and leadership, and has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and more; heard on NPR, KCRW, KQED, and CNN; and seen on local, national and international television and film. Ginna is a Fellow at the Kogod Research Center of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, and sits on the boards of Women's March, Political Research Associates, the Jews of Color Initiative, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, and Bend the Arc. An alum of the Jeremiah Fellowship and the Selah Leadership Program, a Schusterman Senior Fellow, and a Jewish Orthodox Feminist Aliiance 2020 Notable Woman, Ginna is a native southerner and the mother of four amazing kids.

Blu Greenberg 

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. 

Liat Greenwood

Liat Greenwood lives in Cambridge, MA where she works as a Registered Nurse on the solid/experimental organ transplant unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Simultaneously, Liat is pursuing a Doctor of Nursing practice degree in Nurse-Midwifery through the University of Colorado. Liat plans to frame her doctoral project work around social determinants of health which affect Ultra Orthodox women.

 

Liat has been involved with JOFA for almost ten years--having first served on the middle school advisory committee! In college, Liat was co-chair of both Nashir: the Intercollegiate Jewish Women's Arts Festival and Shira Chadasha at Penn, Penn's partnership minyan community. Liat is an active leader in the young professional and graduate student Jewish community as a former Moishe House Resident and Reshet Ramah Coordinator. Liat is a member of several professional nursing organizations, including the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association.

Dr. Mindy Feldman Hecht

Mindy Feldman Hecht, EdD, lives on the Upper West Side in Manhattan with her husband and children. She is an active member at Darkhei Noam and is deeply committed to the promotion of partnership minyanim. Mindy received her doctorate in Applied Exercise Physiology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she researched innovative ways to improve school-based physical activity and cognitive outcomes in underserved populations. She currently serves as a full-time lecturer in the Biobehavioral Sciences Department at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

 

Mindy also serves on the Advisory Board of Hip Hop Public Health, a nonprofit that promotes health literacy. Previously, she served as the Chief Compliance Officer for Uri L'Zedek's Tav HaYosher (Ethical Seal) Restaurant program in NY. Mindy graduated from Columbia University with a BA and has a Master’s in Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia. She is also an alumna of Migdal Oz.

Carolyn Hochstadter

Carolyn Hochstadter runs her own law firm, specializing in business and bankruptcy law. She also enjoys engaging with students as an Adjunct Professor for Thomas Jefferson University, teaching a course on Business and Legal Tools in Digital Health Entrepreneurship.

 

Carolyn sits as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Her firm is certified as a woman owned business enterprise, and she serves on the Certification Committee of WBEC-East. Carolyn has played an active role on JOFA’s Board of Trustees and Journal Editorial Board for over a decade. She is a former President of Lechu Neranena, her local partnership minyan, and she is a Trustee of Kohelet Yeshiva High School and the Philadelphia Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe

Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe serves as the Associate Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Bronx, NY. Among her many tasks are facilitating tefillot, teaching Torah in a variety of settings, accompanying converts along their path, answering Halakhic questions, offering a pastoral presence at times of crisis and mourning, crafting and orchestrating lifecycle events, and connecting with families and singles, young and old. Some of her favorite activities are leading Niggun Circle, teaching Foundations of Judaism, and bringing our Jewish texts to life!

 

She is a dynamic and thoughtful educator who loves teaching in Hebrew or English and inspiring others tolearn. Previously, Rabbanit Bracha was Community Educator and Director of Mercaz Center for Adult Education in Beth Tfiloh synagogue in Baltimore, MD, where she spearheaded a variety of new educational opportunities for Beth Tfiloh men and women. She alsoparticipated in chaplaincy programs at New York Presbyterian Hospital and at a maximum security women's prison. Her love of tefillah and ritual led her to be an experienced gaba’it and organizer of women’s tefillah groups and partnership Minyanim.

 

She has taught many women and girls to leyn and is the voice of the JOFA Megillat Esther and Megillat Rut Apps. Rabbanit Bracha is a 2017 graduate of Yeshivat Maharat, following a long career as a real-time software engineer, protocol expert, and project manager.Rabbanit Bracha lived in Israel for over 35 years, beginning in high school, and considers herself to be half-American and half-Israeli. Her four children and seven grandchildren were all born, and live, in Israel. Some of her favorite pastimes are kickboxing and reading English books to her grandchildren. She lives in Riverdale, NY with her husband Martin. Rabbanit Bracha feels blessed to be following this path which nourishes and fills her soul.

Miryam Kabokov

Miryam Kabakov is a national leader who has worked for more than three decades on the

inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Orthodox world. Miryam is Executive Director and a co-founder of Eshel, an organization that supports LGBTQ Orthodox individuals and their families.

Prior to being a leader at Eshel, Kabakov was the New York and National Program Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, Director of LGBT programming at the JCC Manhattan, Social Worker at West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, and was the first social worker at Footsteps.  Kabakov received her LCSW from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.  She also received a certificate in fundraising from the University of St. Thomas and a certificate in program evaluation from the University of Washington, and studied at the Institute for Informal Jewish Education at Brandeis University.  She founded the New York Orthodykes, a support group for lesbian, bisexual and transgender Orthodox women, and is the editor of Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires (North Atlantic Books, May 2010), a collection of writings about the challenges and joys of LGBT Orthodox Jews and winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award.

Rabbi Lila Kagedan

Rabbi Lila Kagedan is a clinical ethicist and educator working in academic, pastoral and clinical settings. She is a faculty member at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She holds degrees and certificates from Midreshet Lindenbaum, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The University of Toronto, Harvard University, The Medstar Washington Hospital Center and Massachusetts General Hospital and is a Shalom Hartman Institute rabbinic senior fellow. She is also a Hadassah Brandeis Institute-Gender, Culture, Religion and Law Research Associate.

 

Lila was ordained in 2015 by Yeshivat Maharat where she became the first Orthodox woman to claim the title rabbi and served until recently as the rabbi of the Walnut Street Synagogue in Chelsea, MA. She was also the founder of the Sulam School in Brookline, MA. She continues to serve as a rabbi at various locations in the Massachusetts Jewish community including the CJP, Mayyim Hayyim community Mikvah and sits on the board of the Young Israel of Brookline where is also on the COVID taskforce.

 

She is the director of biomedical ethics and a professor of bioethics in the faculty of medicine and dentistry of New York Medical College and is also an ethicist at Boston Children’s Hospital as well as a clinical ethicist and a chaplain in hospitals and hospice settings nationally and internationally. Rabbi Kagedan is deeply committed to justice work at the intersection of faith, inclusion, anti-racism, education and health. She serves on the clergy interfaith coalition for the city of Chelsea, MA and serves as the co-chair of the disparities in health working group at the Cambridge Hospital. She is also on the inclusion committee addressing issues of social determinants of health and racial disparities of health at New York Medical College.

Dr. Chavi Karkowsky

Dr. Karkowskycompleted medical school at Mount Sinai, her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the integrated program at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and now works as a high risk obstetrics specialist in New York City. Chavi also lived in Tel Aviv with her family for several years, and worked at a Haredi hospital in Northern Israel, experiences she loves to talk about.

 

Chavi has written for the Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post, and other publications. "High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected" (Liveright/Norton 2020) is her first book, and is available everywhere that books are sold. Chavi lives in NYC with her wonderful partner, Josh, and their four stir-crazy kids. She can be reached via her website, www.chavikar.com.

Gail Katz

Michael Kellman

Michael Kellman has been an active supporter of JOFA since the first international conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy and has served on the board since 2017. He lives in White Plains with his wife Idana Goldberg and their three children and is Gabbai of both the Hebrew Institute of White Plains and Shira Chadsha of White Plains, a partnership minyan.

Gail Katz is a long standing member of the JOFA Board of Directors, and an active member of the Los Angeles Jewish community.  She and her family attend B'nai David Congregation where she serves on the executive committee of the board.  Gail's four children attend Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, where she serves on the executive board.  Professionally, Gail is the Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Envista Holdings Corporation (NYSE:NVST), overseeing the global IP portfolios of one of the world’s largest dental companies, with $3 Billion dollars of annual revenue on dental consumable, equipment and imaging products.     

Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold

Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold is the Director of Education and Spiritual Enrichment at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, the first Orthodox woman to serve as synagogue clergy in Canada. Rabba Rachel (pronounced "Rakhel") is the president of the Montreal Board of Rabbis, a vice president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship, and she received the Brenda and Samuel Gewurz Award for Jewish Educational Leadership. She participated in the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), a two-year fellowship to help rabbis become transformative change agents in the communities that they serve. She previously served as a member of the clergy of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, is a graduate of the Drisha Scholars Circle in New York, and received her B.A. in Religion from Boston University. Rabba Rachel was ordained as part of the inaugural class of Yeshivat Maharat. She lives in Montreal with her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, and their three daughters.

Tonya Lewis Lee

Producer, writer, entrepreneur and women’s health advocate, Tonya Lewis Lee has spent over over twenty years delivering quality content across platforms. Tonya’s most recent series SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT is now streaming on Netflix.  Her most recent film MONSTER premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released in 2021 on Netflix.

Tonya has produced scripted and unscripted work including such classics as the Jacqueline Woodson penned, MIRACLE’s BOYS, a six-part television series and the television film THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, based on the Christopher Paul Curtis novel. In 2009, she produced the documentary CRISIS IN THE CRIB for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exploring infant mortality in the United States.

 

Tonya is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and a member of the PGA’s Producers Council Board of Delegates, and Co-Chair of the One Guild committee advancing diversity, equity and inclusion amongst producers in the film and television industry.  Tonya graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a B.A. and from the University of Virginia School of Law with a J.D. She lives in New York City.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Rabbi Asher Lopatin is the Executive Director of the JCRC/AJC of Detroit and the founding rabbi of Kehillat Etz Chayim of Detroit.  He is also the founding director of the Detroit Center for Civil Discourse. A Rhodes Scholar and a Truman Fellow with an M. Phil in Medieval Arabic Thought from Oxford University, Rabbi Lopatin has also done doctoral work at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, in Islamic Fundamentalist attitudes towards Jews and Israel. He has written chapters for over 20 books and numerous articles.  

 

Prior to moving with his wife and four children to Detroit, he served as president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and, before that, served as the rabbi of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. Rabbi Lopatin received ordination from Rav Ahron Soloveichik and Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, and from Yeshiva University. Rabbi Lopatin is a permanent member of The Council on Foreign Relations and on the board of New Detroit. He is married to Rachel Tessler Lopatin. 

Dr. Bat Sheva Maslow

Dr. Bat Sheva Maslow bio: Dr. Bat-Sheva Lerner Maslow is double board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology. She is a reproductive endocrinologist and the Director of Research at Extend Fertility, where she specializes in counseling women about their fertility and options for fertility preservation. In addition, Dr. Maslow provides the full spectrum of infertility care at Extend Fertility and Premium Health Center.

 

She shares her unique and passionate educational perspective via her social media handle @blmaslowmd. Dr. Maslow lectures and writes on the intersection of halakha and reproduction, and is frequently called upon as an adviser for questions related to hilkhot niddah. She serves as the Director of Medical Education for the North American Yoatzot Halacha Program and sits on the founding board of directors of the Jewish Orthodox Women's Medical Association (JOWMA). Dr. Maslow graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College with a BA in History before attending the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she received an MD with distinction and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. Dr. Maslow completed residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania and sub-specialty training in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at the University of Connecticut, where she also completed a master’s degree in clinical and translational research.

Nicole Nevarez

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!

Amy Newman

Amy Newman teaches Judaic Studies at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, and is a student at Yeshivat Maharat in their Advanced Kollel: Executive Ordination track. Previously, Amy has taught at Gann Academy: the New Jewish High School of Greater Boston, and at the Ramaz School. Amy is a graduate of Drisha’s Scholars Circle and Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Dr. Rona Novik

Rona Novick, PhD is the Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and holds the Raine and Stanley Silverstein Chair in Professional Ethics and Values.

In addition to her Yeshiva University appointment, Dr. Novick has, since its founding, served as the Co-Educational Director of the Hidden Sparks program which provides consultation and professional development to day schools and Yeshivas to support the success of diverse learners.

Dr. Novick received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University and completed her doctoral internship at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.  She developed the Alliance for School Mental Health at North-Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center and served as its director, bringing state-of-the-art social emotional, behavioral, and mental-health prevention and services to students.  Collaborating with her Alliance staff and experienced educators, she authored the BRAVE bully prevention program for schools.Dr. Novick has extensive clinical and research expertise in behavior management and child behavior therapy, bullying and trauma, and has published scholarly articles and book chapters on school applications of behavior management, special education, children and trauma and bully prevention and social emotional learning in schools. 

 

She has delivered numerous presentations at national and international conferences, focusing on her research interests in parenting and parent-school partnerships, child anxiety disorders, social-emotional learning, special education and the behavior and development of young children.  Along with many scholarly publications, she is the author of a book for parents:  Helping Your Child Make Friends, and editor of the book series Kids Don’t Come With Instruction Manuals.

Her blog is called Life’s Tool Box and can be found at www.lifestoolbox.wordpress.com

and her children’s stories can be found on www.storybird.com, by searching under drronovick as the author.

Ann Pava, President of the Micah Foundation, is a philanthropist,

activist, and thought leader. As a philanthropist, Ann and her husband

Jeremy take the lead in innovative giving while making all who

participate feel counted and treat all those they support as valued

partners.  As an activist, Ann is a natural community builder. She has the

unique ability to bring all types of people together, analyze challenges

and to devise solutions. She believes that one of the strongest avenues

to success for any organization is a strong lay and professional

partnership. She is an articulate and passionate ambassador for the

organizations and leaders she supports.  A hallmark of her success over

her career is her ability to inspire, mentor and empower others,

especially women, to lead and to make the world a better place. 

Ann is the immediate past chair of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day

Schools and a past chair of National Women’s Philanthropy of the

Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). She is Founding Chair of

the Hebrew High School of New England, and past chair of the Jewish

Federation of Western MA. She currently serves on the boards of JOFA,

Yeshivat Maharat, Prizmah, JFNA and the Jewish Federation of Greater

Hartford. She serves as Committee Chair for the Graduate Program for

Advanced Talmud Studies for Women (GPATS) at Yeshiva University.

She and Jeremy are PJ Library Alliance Partners and AIPAC Minyan

members.

Ann is a past recipient of the JFNA Kipnes-Wilson Friedland Award for

outstanding women philanthropists. She also received the Harold

Grinspoon Foundation’s Lay Leadership Award for Excellence in

Jewish Education. She and Jeremy received the Connecticut ADL

Torch of Liberty Award.  

 

Ann and Jeremy are especially proud to be the founders of the Devorah

Scholars Program at JOFA, offering two year, $20,000 grants to

Orthodox synagogues to hire women in clergy/spiritual leadership

positions. In this inaugural year JOFA awarded seven synagogues

Devorah Scholar Grants.

Ann Pava

Abigail Pick 

Abbe Pick is an Associate at CSG Advisors where she assists public housing authorities with affordable housing transactions and the development process. She previously managed an $8 million grant portfolio at UJA-Federation NY to improve the lives of vulnerable populations in New York City. Abbe has a BA in Urban Design and a Master of Urban Planning from New York University.

Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld

Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld is currently part of Kolech’s Lamdaniyot program, serving as a female religious leader in the Katamonim neighborhood in Jerusalem. Previously, she served as the Manhiga Ruchanit in Efrat for five years, where she also directed the rabbinic court for financial matters. She completed the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute for Halakhic Leadership program at Midreshet Lindenbaum and received permission to give halakhic rulings (“heter hora’ah”) from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rav Shuki Reich. In addition, she holds a PhD in English from the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she wrote her dissertation on “Talmudic Re-readings: Toward a Modern Orthodox Sexual Ethic” as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She co-authored Et Le’ehov: The Newlywed’s Guide to Physical Intimacy (Gefen 2011; Hebrew translation 2013). Rabbanit Jennie has taught Torah in high schools and adult education internationally and was named one of the “36 under 36” by the Jewish Week in 2008.

Rabbi Isaiah Joseph Rothstein

Rabbi Isaiah Joseph Rothstein recently joined The Jewish Federations of North America professional team as Rabbinic Scholar and Public Affairs Advisor. He most recently served as Rabbi-in-Residence at Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability and Spiritual Leader at Carmel Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut. Rabbi Rothstein is an educator, songwriter, and spiritual enthusiast, originally from the ultra-Orthodox community of Monsey, NY. As a Jew of Color, Isaiah share’s ancestry with people of different faiths, colors, and backgrounds.

 

Isaiah’s ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War, were Eastern-European Jews, and were slaves in America. He attended Binghamton University, followed by Yeshiva University for his masters in social work and S'mikhah (rabbinic ordination). Rothstein is a member of the Schusterman Foundation’s ROI Fellowship and was listed as one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36. You can also catch a snapshot of his wedding in the New York Times Vows section. During his spare time, Rav Isaiah is writing a musical about Queen Esther and performs music with his band. Isaiah currently lives in Harlem, NY.

Rabbanit Leah Sarna

Rabbanit Leah Sarna is the Associate Director of Education and Director of High School Programs at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She previously served as Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, a leading urban Orthodox congregation. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2018 while participating in the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, holds a BA from Yale University in Philosophy & Psychology, and also trained at the SKA Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, Drisha and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership. Rabbanit Sarna’s published works have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Lehrhaus and MyJewishLearning.

 

She has lectured in Orthodox synagogues and Jewish communal settings around the world and loves spreading her warm, energetic love for Torah and Mitzvot with Jews in all stages of life. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, PA with her husband, Dr. Ethan Schwartz, and their son, Cyrus.

Rabbi Ari Segal

Rabbi Ari Segal serves as Head of School at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles CA. Rabbi Segal speaks widely about innovation and leadership development in non-profits. He holds an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and an MSW in Communal Organization from Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work. He and his wife Atara live in Modiin, Israel and have four mostly delightful children ranging in age from 9 to 21.

Chava Shervington

Chava is a current board member and past president of the Jewish Multiracial Network, where she’s brought to bear her experience and knowledge of corporate governance, non-profit development, and program coordination. A passionate and committed Jewish diversity advocate, prior to JMN, Chava co-founded an organization which provided opportunities for Jews of Color to connect in safe spaces across the East Coast. A regular speaker and writer on Jewish diversity, she has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, JTA, and The Salon on the Jewish Channel.  Chava was also selected as one of the Jewish Week's "36 under 36" in 2015.  

 

Until recently Chava served as Program Coordinator for Building Skills NY, a not-for-profit ensuring that low income communities access job opportunities created by affordable housing construction and has founded Shervington & Associates P.C., a general corporate and real estate law practice located in Brooklyn. Chava has a Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School and is barred in NY.

Debra Shaffer Seeman

Debra brings a depth of experience in nurturing learning communities, building institutions and network weaving throughout the Jewish community. As an avid teacher of classical Jewish texts, former head of school and lifelong educational entrepreneur, she has served in a variety of educational settings in Israel and North America including Tal Torah, Dror Elementary School, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Florence Melton Adult Mini School, Rambam Atlanta Day School, Yeshiva Atlanta High School and RAVSAK. A mom of four and proud graduate of both Mandel Jerusalem Fellows and Harvard University, Debra currently serves as the Director of Network Weaving at Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools. 

Sara Shapiro Plevan

Sara Shapiro-Plevan is all about relationships. Her essential focus: understanding the way

relationships influence our ability to improve our practice, understand our work, and engage effectively with others as we build sustainable networks, communities and workplaces. She is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Gender Equity in Hiring in the Jewish Community Project (GEiHP), which works to transform the endemic culture of gender bias that continues to keep women from senior staff positionswithin Jewish organizations. The GEiHP supports organizations as they ensure that their systems, processes and hiring practices reflect the Jewish values of equity and fairness. By strengthening organizations’ awareness of gender bias and helping them to respond, the GEiHP hopes to see

more women rise to positions of leadership. Sara is also the founder of Rimonim Consulting, where she consults with Jewish organizations as they develop a networked, collaborative culture. She believes powerfully in our human capacity for dialogue and partnership, and in that vein, works to support shifts from hierarchical structures to flatter, networked relationships. Sara will complete her doctorate in education from the Davidson School of The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2021, and her research aims to enable individuals, teams and communities to understand how they best work in relationship as they might begin to shift their capacity to work in productive, connected ways to realize their--and their communities'--hopes and dreams.

Ruthie Brafman 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.

Dr. Malka 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.

Rabba Ramie Smith

Rabba Ramie Smith is a graduate of Yeshiva University with a BA in English communications with an emphasis in television writing and public relations, and a focus on Women's Studies. Rabba Ramie received ordination at Yeshivat Maharat and combined it with her experience in media, hosting and producing the upcoming Yeshivat Maharat podcast, hosting and producing "The Joy of Text," JOFA's podcast on Judaism and sexuality, and acting as the executive producer at Aleph Beta, a website that produces animated Torah videos. She worked with Manhattan College's Inside Outside program teaching criminal justice ethics at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island Jail. Her congregational experience includes cultivating a vibrant teen community at Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac, Maryland, and serving as assistant Rabba and director of adult education and programming at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York. She taught Talmud at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and currently serves as the co-founder and executive director of GETToutUk, a charitable organization that helps Agunot ("chained women") in the UK on their journeys towards a Gett (religious divorce). 

Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn

Rabbanit Alissa is a member of the spiritual leadership at B'nai David-Judea Congregation, an Orthodox shul in Los Angeles. She received her semicha from Yeshivat Maharat and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brandeis University with a degree in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Classical Studies Archaeology and Ancient History. Rabbanit Alissa is also a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) through Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC). She has specialties in Psychiatric Care, Palliative Care, and End of Life Care. She has worked as a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, and Bellevue Hospital.

 

She was also a writer for the Center for Jewish End of Life Care at Metropolitan Jewish Health System. Most recently, she has been a per diem chaplain for Grateful Palliative Care and Hospice. Rabbanit Alissa is on the executive boards of NAJC, the Rabbis and Cantors Retirement Plan, and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. She is a member of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Clergy Roundtable and the Pico-Robertson Mental Health Neighborhood. In 2017, she was chosen as one of the Forward50, the Forward's annual list of the 50 most influential, accomplished, and interesting American Jews. A native Angeleno, Rabbanit Alissa is married to Akiva Newborn. They have a baby girl, Ella Liora, and a snuggly dog named Judy!

Shuli Taubes

Shuli Taubes received her Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Harvard Divinity School and her BA in history from Barnard College. She currently serves as a faculty member at SAR High School in Riverdale, New York, where she teaches Tanakh, Jewish Identity, and chairs the Jewish Philosophy department. She has also developed and teaches a curriculum for educating Modern Orthodox high school students in comparative religion. For three years, Shuli was the Sopher Community Scholar at the Young Israel of North Riverdale where she gave shiurim and served in a pastoral role. She is also a kallah teacher and lectures in synagogues and adult education programs throughout North America. Shuli and her family live in New York City.

Darshanit Dr. Miriam Udel

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, as well as a PhD in Comparative Literature from the same institution. She was ordained in 2019 as part of the first cohort of the Executive Ordination Track at Yeshivat Maharat, a program designed to bring qualified mid-career women into the Orthodox rabbinate.

Udel’s academic research interests include 20th-century Yiddish literature and culture, Jewish children’s literature, and American-Jewish literature. She is the author of Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press), winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature will appear from New York University Press in October, 2020.

Tikvah Weiner

Tikvah Wiener is Head of School of The Idea School, an Orthodox, project-based learning (PBL) high school in Tenafly, NJ. She also oversees The Idea School Institute, which works with Jewish schools to implement PBL and educational innovation, and which has trained over 1450 educators since 2014. Tikvah was an Upstart Fellow, 2014-16; was one of ten Jewish education designers on JEIC’s HaKaveret Design Team, a group that innovated new models of learning for Jewish education; and presented an ELI Talk on why we need more passion-based learning in the field. Tikvah has been in Jewish education for 25 years, and lives in Teaneck, NJ, with her husband Aryeh, an advertising executive. She has three children, Solomon (25), married to Yaira Kobrin, Lila (22), and Isadora (16). When not in a pandemic lockdown, she spends as much free time in her home state, California, as she can.

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