Masters of Education Administration, Western Governors University
Heather is a Brooklyn transplant who was born and raised in Los Angeles where her family still resides. Aside from her work as a professional educator, she is a proud mother of 3 boys and the President of her synagogue. She enjoys doing yoga with her toddler and leading daily mindfulness sessions with the staff at her school. Her heart is happiest when she’s helping someone else have a better day.
Clinical Pastoral Education, New South Wales College of Clinical Pastoral Education
Sam works as one of the clergy at Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney, Australia, a pluralist egalitarian community, offering various minyanim, services and programs on our campus and in the community. He firmly believes that a pluralist ideology and a multi-faceted approach within Judaism will be a key driver in determining the success or failure of Jewish communities, for some that will be as soon as the next 10-15 years.
Sam has a keen and engaging interest in technology and new innovations, especially in terms of all the benefits they bring. His idea is to encourage and enable others to work with, not against what has been termed the next revolution in Judaism, so that we facilitate and empower the needs of communities through technology. He loves connecting with people and learning about their stories. Jewish geography is one of his favorite games when he meets someone!
Sam is married to Michelle and they have two children, Rachel and Ben. They have lived in the Harbour City - Sydney, Australia since 2006.
JD University of Florida: Levin College of Law
Daily life provides an opportunity to find our own sacred space. Zachary entered seminary with an excitement to explore different ways to enter into that space. He approaches his studies with a deep connection to both textual and embodied practices. During his time in rabbinic school, he is committed to understanding the traditions and being able to plainly articulate them. He aims to reduce the barriers of entry to anyone looking to experience Jewish Life. Outside of PRS, he has been working in the hospitality industry for nearly a decade and has trained hotel teams across the US. He has also taught hospitality at the college level and is an active Yoga teacher.
Masters of Sacred Music & Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew Union College
As Cantor Marx puts it, she "glories in God-geekery" and would like to continue learning throughout the rest of her life. Many folks have consulted her in a rabbinic capacity on life questions; tough situations, and as life cycle officiant. As a cantor, she appreciates the trust they place in her. As a rabbinical student and rabbi, she is able to deepen her efficacy as "kley kodesh" and her commitment to lifelong Jewish learning. For her work at PRS, Jacquie wants to "evolutionize" Tisha B'Av as more accessible to Jews in modernity. She wants 9 Av to be less punitive, more reflective, and the beginning of a sacred set of stepping stones to the Days of Awe. She also wants to de-mystify the cantillations of the Book of Psalms. Another goal of Jacquie's is to to write a memoir on raising the children of clergy: "We Have Seen God in Her Underwear, and We are Not Impressed" as well as writing an updated resource book / memoir on infertility and adoption in the 21st century Jewish community.
Master of Arts, Jewish Educational Leadership, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
To walk into Shara’s office, one might think it is a playroom; with colorful toys and fidgets strewn about her desk, bookshelves filled with children’s books mingled with Judaic texts, and a Superman cel hanging alongside a graduate degree. It is a perfect representation of her spirited nature and passion for education. She is all about engaging and inspiring learners of all ages to find personal meaning and connection with Israel and Judaism.
Shara happily fulfills her mission, to share her love of learning, as the Director of Education at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, NY. and spending summers working at Camp Ramah in New England.
Shara and her husband David, who thankfully is immensely supportive of all of her study, have four children, Zev, Ariel, Aden, and Chaz.
Teaching Credential UC Berkeley/Covenant Award Recipient 2018
Deborah seeks to foster love and understanding of how Jewish values and texts can inform and build Jewish communities that are relevant and improve people's lives and the world. She served for 25 years as camp director of Camp Tawonga a Jewish overnight summer camp near Yosemite where she built the biggest wilderness department of any Jewish camp in the country. She is a leader in the JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor Farming Food and Environmental Education) movement and co-authored Spirit In Nature/Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trail. She now serves as the camp director of SVARA's Queer Talmud Camps which she co-founded with Rabbi Benay Lappe. Deborah lives in Berkeley with her wife Sue Reinhold and dog, Noodle, and looks forward to being in chevrutah with Sue during Pluralistic Rabbinic Seminary.
Masters of Public Administration, Virginia Tech
As a mom to two budding Jewish scholars (Margot, 5 and Ari, 8), Amanda spends a lot of my time in carpools, libraries and teachable moments. When not tending her "brood of human and feline fur children", she finds her passions in hiking, traveling with her husband, Joseph, and progressive philanthropy. She has called Atlanta home for the past twelve years, but her family is currently transitioning to Jacksonville, FL where her husband is an actuarial executive for a major insurance company. Her big Jewish idea? "Conversion is often cloaked in silence and can be very isolating, leaving the convert embarrassed to ask questions of her fellow Jews".
Some structures do exist to provide resources to 'new Jews' -- her idea is an online (and potentially, in-person) matching service for mentors and protégés during, and especially after, the conversion process. Her working name for this organization is called לאהוב הגר״"- to love the stranger, as we are commanded in Deut. 10:19. The ability to have a non-judgmental, virtual support system to answer questions, give advice or just provide a listening ear is so needed and valuable. As Amanda puts it, "converts should be welcomed into our community, not shut into isolation because they don't have the same points of reference as Jews from birth".
Theater Director and Choreographer, NY
"I believe we need to make Judaism more accessible and understandable for millennials and the upcoming generations. I think this is important for young Jewish people as well as non-Jews so we can better understand each other". Having already started a series of online videos interpreting torah for this generation and answering questions about Jewish life and holidays, Eliana plans on continuing that and also working to put out hard copies of their interpretations as a more modern resource to learn from and gain new perspectives. Additionally, they are also one of the directors for Camp Ga’avah, an LGBTQ program for young people on Long Island. Eliana is an advocate for the justice and liberation of all marginalized people.
Ph.D. Social Anthropology, University of Sussex
I am a doer, a builder, and a learner. After a career as an investor, business strategist, and wealth advisor, I’m currently helping to overhaul a large Jewish community foundation. And I passionately study Torah and Talmud and bring it to all I do. Currently described by colleagues and friends as 'half a rabbi,' 'I want you to be my rabbi,' and 'why aren't you yet a rabbi,' it is the right time to take this step. This is a far cry from my Catholic upbringing, but not so much so that I don't understand that studying for conversion, which for me was a very serious endeavor, was just the beginning in terms of my Jewish journey. It has already led to helping to start up an innovative religious community, The Kitchen SF, where I was the founding Board Treasurer, and building with my wife Deborah Newbrun, a high holidays pop-up community that started with 12 people and has grown to 1,400. I’m also the national Board Treasurer of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and helping to manage its rapid growth in this current political moment. I want my rabbinate to continue to make inroads to folks who are not currently attached to Jewish practice with an emphasis on experimental, disruptive, yet delightful and meaningful applications of our tradition.
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
Dr. Adam Fogel is a clinical psychologist in a correctional setting. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and resides in Central California. Living an authentic, meaningful life in relationship with the sacred is very important to Adam, and he has maintained a Zen meditation practice since 1996 and a blog called MindfulJudaism.com. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, going on weekend trips, playing the drums, being outdoors and going on hikes, watching movies, and riding one of his motorcycles. A great respecter of the unique path that each person must take to nurture their spiritual life and connection with something meaningful and profound, Adam hopes his time at PRS will clarify his great ideas and realize his deepest personal vow to help others explore and discover an authentic, meaningful relationship with the Divine through engaging and cultivating a contemplative, experiential Judaism and enhancing their love and compassion for themselves and others. Adam is particularly interested in retreat based learning for children, adolescents, and adults; tailoring educational curriculum for children and adolescents using traditional and online media; and experimenting with online synagogue models.
Cantor RussellG. Jayne
Master of Sacred Music and Cantorial Investiture, Jewish Theological Seminary, H.L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music
Russell was born and raised in Boonton, New Jersey, a small town of under 7,000 residents. The great passions of his life are music, ritual, and an intense love of the Fantasy genre in both literature and games. He considers himself a reserved, introverted man, who takes a while to get to know others, but who forms very deep and lasting friendships as a result. Despite this, he gets a lot out of his relationships and is always looking for ways to elevate those people who are in his life. A project he is considering at PRS focuses on working together and using Calgary's Jewish communal "combined strength to best serve those members of the larger Jewish community who are in need, especially if they are unaffiliated". Using his own synagogue as the hub, he would like to develop a system for identifying those who are in need, identifying exactly what each need is, and then connecting them with the best Jewish organisation or synagogue to help them.
Ph.D. Comparative Literature with a Doctoral Minor in Jewish Studies (PhD), Indiana University-Bloomington
Margot Behrend Valles grew up in Pittsburgh where she was a regular shul-hopper, trying out many different styles of Judaism. Before she realized her passion was for pluralist Jewish education, she tried out being a Yiddishist and an academic. In her doctoral studies and later as a professor, she studied Medieval and Early Modern tales about King Arthur and other knightly heroes written in Jewish languages. Now she lives in East Lansing, Michigan where she serves the small Jewish community as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Yeshiva University
Over the past couple of years, I had the opportunity to take part in teaching a class on Judaism. I really enjoyed working through the book with the students. I am a lover of our traditional practices and would love to help frame those practices in a way that will help modern Jews connect to them more. Specifically, I would like to produce a series of 5 minute, animated videos that would teach the practices of our daily, weekly, monthly and yearly living, framing them in a way that will be accessible and meaningful to the 21st century Jew.
I am the very proud and loving husband of Shelley Meyers and father of Evan, Leora, Jonah, Sam and Jacquie Mitzner (biological) and of Saul (and Kate), Rebecca and Tammy Schisler (step). I am an active person, and have run twenty seven marathons, two fifty milers, and dropped out at mile seventy seven trying to complete a hundred miler. And I balance my running with hot yoga. I am an enthusiastic guitarist and lover of blues and jam-band music. I also love cooking for family and friends, with my specialties being Texas-smoked brisket and many varied flavors of cheesecakes.
Masters of Jewish Education - Hebrew College
My name is Lindsay and I currently live in Wisconsin. I have a certification in Jewish Special education, State certified in Texas for special education and general education, and a minor in English and History. I love to explore, meet new people, learn about different cultures, cool, create, read, and learn about ancient herbalism and history. I am a wanderer and love to travel and see the world. My hope is to create programs, seminars, services, and maybe even retreats that give all women a voice to express themselves and learn with and from each other. I also want to bring the traditions of herbs, mysticism, and cooking back into our daily life and helping others connect to their inner spirit.
Phone: (914) 294-4910
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Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary
PO Box 7414
Richmond, VA 23221-0414