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
Avi has been the Ritual Director for Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, TX for the past 21 years. He is 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). He is an active person, loves to run, and has completed many marathons and ultra marathons. He love to balance his running with hot yoga. He is a guitar enthusiast and lover of blues and jam-band music. He also loves cooking for family and friends, with his 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.
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Integrative Music Studies - Concordia University
Adam is a graduate of Concordia University where he studied music. A native Montrealer, Adam went to Hebrew Academy and spent many summers at Camp Massad. Upon graduating high school, Adam spent some time in Israel learning in Yeshiva. A lyric tenor vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Adam has spent the last decade as Cantor of Shaare Zion Congregation of Montreal, singing and performing at concerts and weddings here in North America, Europe and Israel. Adam is married to Yahel and has four children, Shaya, Yahav, Eden and Aria.
Bachelor of Science, Management - Hanken School of Economics
Laila describes herself as “the pink lady, voluptuous, overwhelming, creative and passionate” as well as the proud mother of Sarah and Edi.
“I have been a Jewish lay-leader since my youth, covering fields in board-membership to Chevra Kadisha. Before my career at JCCs, I was self-employed within marketing, consultancy, event mangement, promotional articles and translations. I also ran a lunch restaurant and catered parties.”
For her innovation, Laila says “We can market Judaism for all persons by teaching them that nearly everything they do is based on our law, the halacha, etc. As an example, playing soccer is Jewish. How come? You respect your peers and your opponents. You try your best as an individual and as part of the team. You have a goal (a physical and an immaterial one) and you work towards it.”
Bachelor of Arts, Communication (Telecommunication) - James Madison University
I am a musician, songwriter, and playwright devoted to the possibility that art can change the world. I live in Alexandria, VA with my wife, Tandy, and our two dogs, and have three grown sons, Noah, Ethan, and Owen. In addition to them, I am deeply in love with soccer, olives, curiosity, hummus, open-mindedness, and those candy-coated fennel seeds at Indian restaurants. More than anything, though, I love the opportunity to point people back toward their most essential, sacred selves, which, for me, is another way of saying, to G-d. I have spent my life endeavoring to do that through music, theatre, and my non-profit, OneVoice. I am thrilled by the chance to do it as a rabbi.
Master of International Health - Curtain University; Master of Clinical Neuroscience, Clinical Disease and the Brain - California Institute of Technology
I'm passionate and purposeful in all I do. I live in Melbourne, Australia with my delightful husband Arieh, but make no mistake, he is a pussy cat not a lion! We live in the heart of the Melbourne Arts and entertainment precinct and love to attend the many offerings from ballet to opera, fine dining, beach parties, walks through the gardens, and so much more! When relaxing, the kitchen often calls - cooking Provincial French cuisine is a favourite. Along with landscape and environmental portraiture, I have a side passion of writing (poetry, plays, fiction, non-fiction - whatever grabs me!) and I work as a Clinical Psychotherapist and business entrepreneur. Life is full and fun!
Cristina Dominguez Ramirez (she/her/ella)
Ed.D., Educational Leadership - University of New England
Cristina is Central Virginia's only multilingual tattooed Latina Jewish library manager. She uses the lens of creating seats at the table to help Latinos/Hispanics/Spanish-speaking to have more services, resources, and access to government services and education. She also brings this lens to creating a more inclusive and expansive Jew of Color (JoC) community. One of her passions is connecting to other Latinos who share Jewish roots and are interested in exploring their roots, returning to Judaism, or sharing history, language, and culture. She is also interested in emergent Jewish communities in the Spanish speaking world.
Bachelor of Arts, International Relations - San Francisco State University
Doron was born in Tel Aviv, raised in San Francisco, and loves his life! That life changed in all sorts of fun ways when he met his bashert and within four years was blessed with a wife, a home, a dog, and three beautiful children. When he's not busy being a cantor or educator, he tries his best daily to volunteer, read, journal, drum, meditate, walk....and be grateful for it all.
Master of Science, Exercise Science & Health Promotion - California University of Pennsylvania (PennWest California)
I have been a vegetarian for the last decade because of my love for animals and a desire to be as healthy as possible. I very much enjoy working out and am a Certified Personal Trainer. My husband and I are patrons of the local Rabbitat Rescue, and we have provided a forever home to four beautiful bunnies. I have been the family genealogist for nearly 35 years, I especially enjoy collecting old family photographs. Finally, I have a great love for the beautiful forests of Pennsylvania and especially enjoy visiting our Commonwealth's forest fire towers.
Lisa AnnWharton (she/her/they)
Bachelor of Arts, History/Middle East Studies/Music, SUNY-Binghamton
Lisa Ann started leading services with her guitar at her Bat Mitzvah at Community Reform Temple on Long Island in the 70's and hasn't stopped since. She has served as Cantor of Temple Beth Emeth of Mt. Sinai, New York since 2010, where she blends traditional chants with Chassidic and contemporary composed music, encouraging congregational singing and participation at every service.
Lisa Ann co-leads P’nai Shore, a welcoming, Renewal-style spiritual community, at her beachside home in Huntington, Long Island, along with her husband, holy drummer Akiva the Believer. They host daily online davening, Shabbat morning services, Rosh Chodesh celebrations, Sukkah experiences and other opportunities for learning and connection.
In addition to her musical and spiritual life, Lisa Ann continues a 32-year career in publishing technology management at The New York Times.
JD, - NYU Law School
I'm in my mid-60's and have had a happy and spiritually meaningful Jewish family life as part of a wonderful marriage to my wife Shelley, a practicing Christian. Together, we have raised four children and now have one grandchild. Through both my active involvement on the Board of the Shalom Hartman Institute and my synagogue engagement, I have been an active Jewish learner for many years. The "passion project" of my life is to speak and understand Hebrew both to pray more meaningfully and be more connected to Israel.
Bachelor of Arts, Religious Studies - Yale University
I live in Burlington, Vermont, where I am fortunate to serve as the Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT. My partner Jacob and I have three kiddos ages six and under who keep us on their toes with their mischievous plots, frog catching (and releasing, sometimes in the house), and liberal application of sprinkles to all foods. I love to sing, eat, play, make art, pray, grow food, discuss, organize, imagine, and help build new possibilities-- always in, with, and for community. I am so deeply excited to do all that and more with the crew at PRS.
Master of Arts, Public Administration - George Mason University, VA
Shari Dollinger Magnus serves as the Co-Executive Director of Christians United for Israel along-side Diana Hagee. In 2021, Shari was included, along with Diana, in the Algemeiner newspaper’s ‘Jewish 100’ list as one of 100 individuals with the greatest positive influence on Jewish life and the same year, she was also included in the Jerusalem Post’s list of 50 Most Influential Jews.Shari became a certified yoga instructor over Covid. . Shari and her husband, Eric, reside in Atlanta, Georgia with their two children and three beagles.
Master of Arts, Jewish Studies - Hebrew College
Jeanne (MFA, MAJS) serves as the Executive Director of Mizzou Hillel. She has extensive prior experience in arts non-profit organizations and community outreach and education and, along with her husband Dave, was an independent business owner. Jeanne is interested in the performance of Jewishness and social justice, the ways we find connections to Judaism in a diverse and pluralistic society, and in the relationships we, as Jews, build with one another. In addition, she serves as an elected member of her local school board and enjoys dancing, reading, hiking, and occasionally revisiting old knitting projects and pretending she's actually going to finish them.
Master's Degree, Jewish Education - Spertus Institute of Jewish Life and Learning
I have lived in the Chicago area almost my entire life, with some "blips" in LA and Norwalk CT and Yardley PA. I majored in voice at the University of Iowa, and did an MA in Jewish Education at Spertus Institute in Chicago. I was theater director at the Reform summer camp in Wisconsin (OSRUI) and balance (?) my passion for all things Jewish with all things musical theater. I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband of 35 years, one actor-daughter in town, another daughter and new son-in-law in Denver, and a son in grad school in Syracuse.
Ph.D., English Literature - University of Toronto
I’ve been the first, and usually the only, woman in various jobs and voluntary positions – English Literature professor, federal government bureaucrat, development consultant in India, student and teacher of kabbalah. I’m a Yiddish-speaking immigrant girl; the single parent of two millennials; a spiritual seeker in places that only value secular intellect. I’ve briefed Cabinet Ministers, had mystical experiences in Tzfat and Benares, and danced with a performance troupe in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and through the Balkans. Through it all, I’ve hungered for stories as the best path to spiritual connection. My award- winning writing has appeared in journals and anthologies and my current book project explores the resonances between searching for my medieval ancestor, the father of European kabbalah, and growing up with Shoah survivor parents. I’m also co-editing an anthology of spiritual life writing. As a Spiritual Director I listen for the underlying narrative that makes meaning, and as a rabbi I hope to contribute to the new stories that, building on the past, will carry us into the next creative phase of the long Jewish story.
Bachelor of Science, Economics - Yeshiva University
Sifu (See-fu) Matthew Klein is the creator of Sober Martial Arts. He is a Kung Fu and Wellness Recovery Master, specializing in the recovery of addictions, chronic injuries, conditions, and all imbalances. His unique forms of knowledge involving the electromagnetism of the body, which he mastered through 4 + decades of Martial Arts training, has inspired him to lecture, teach and lead intensives globally. His clients include hedge funds, tech companies, execs, physicians, rehab clinics, athletes, and celebs.
Master of Business Administration, Management and Healthcare Administration - University of Miami.
Marcia is a Cantorial Soloist, Shlichat Tzibur, Jewish Educator, and song leader, with over 14 years of experience teaching in religious schools, preschools and synagogues, leading Shabbat, Festival and High Holiday services, while incorporating Jewish music every step of the way. Marcia discovered the joy of Jewish songleading in 2008 and, since then, has been studying Jewish liturgical music, guitar, song leading and Cantorial skills in an effort to help others experience powerful Judaism. Enrollment at the Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary is the next step in her continuing journey to serve the Jewish people, and share her passion for building community, creating a Kehilah Kedosha, and bringing Joyful Judaism into all of the sacred spaces she serves. Marcia is currently the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Etz Chaim in Wilton Manors, Florida.
Bay Area, CA
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.
Rabba AmandaVeazey Flaks
Metro Atlanta, GA
Rabba Amanda currently serves as a chaplain resident at Emory University healthcare while she pursues board certification through Neshama: the National Association of Jewish Chaplains. In mid-2022, she’ll be officially launching her PRS innovation project: Sinai Pastoral Care, a concierge-style spiritual and pastoral care model for individuals and organizations. Please visit her at www.sinaipastoralcare.com or reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bay Area, CA
"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. Eliana is transitioning to the Bay Area and is exploring options for teaching in progressive Jewish environments.
Rabbi SueReinhold, Ph.D.
Bay Area, CA
I am a builder, a listener, a guide and a teacher.After a career as an investor, business builder and fixer, and strategic advisor, I’m finding a way to build a rabbinate that provides meaningful spiritual strengthening and healing in a broken world.In part grown out of a small executive coaching practice I’ve developed in a period of transition, I’m launching two new initiatives post-smicha.First, a spiritual advisory practice especially geared for executives in high-pressure situations, people in big transitions including early recovery from addictions, and folks who are traversing big losses in their lives, some of which Jewish tradition has not been so good at addressing. Second, an incubator for a new kind of Jewish religious community built specifically for people who are traversing a spiritual crisis. The first project in this incubator is built for people who are wrestling with addiction of one form or another in their lives, called Addict Torah.I’ve already helped to start up one innovative religious community, The Kitchen SF, where I was the founding Board Treasurer, and with my wife Deborah Newbrun (also a PRS ordinand!), building a high holidays pop-up community that started with 12 people and has grown to 1,400. I’m also the national Board Chair of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, 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.
Rabbi RussellG. Jayne
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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. Using his own synagogue as a 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 organization or synagogue to help them, and is working on a distance learning based b'nai mitzvah program with this in mind.
Rabbi Adam GilFogel, PhD
Central Valley Area, California
Rabbi Dr. Adam G. Fogel is an independent progressive Rabbi ordained by the Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary and a practicing Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in the Central Valley of California.
Adam maintains an inclusive worldview and has benefited from study with rabbis and spiritual teachers from across the religious and denominational landscape. He has maintained a Zen meditation practice since 1996 and currently studies with Father Greg Mayers Roshi in the Sanbo School of Zen. In addition, Rabbi Fogel completed the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program in 2017.
Adam embraces vulnerability and intimacy as the core of religious, psychological, and spiritual experience and teaches that living an authentic, meaningful life in relationship with the sacred and our ordinary, day to day life is one of our great human projects.
Rabbi Dr. Fogel is the founder of MindfulJudaism.com and Mindfulness for the Whole Family, a newly organized multifaith organization dedicated to helping 21st century adults, children, and their families of all faith traditions and spiritualities develop and nourish a personal and meaningful relationship with themselves, others, and the Sacred or Divine. On-Demand classes and courses are under development using their state of the art multifaith digital e-learning platform.
Heather is a professional educator and school leader who is passionate about creating embracing spaces in both the religious and secular parts of her life. As the President of her synagogue, she strives to build a community that is safe for all of the intersecting identities in its membership. Heather merges her skill sets to work on committees and projects with various Jewish organizations to help move DEI work forward in Jewish spaces. Heather is the founder of The Multitudes, where she designs and facilitates workshops for synagogues and school communities that help cultivate a more racially inclusive lens. She has been a guest speaker at many DEI forums and has published multiple articles about the importance of this work, particularly in the Day School environment. Her favorite role of all, however, is as the mother of three amazing boys who are proudly descended from both freed slaves and Holocaust survivors.
Sydney, NSW, AU
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.
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 was 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.
Chapel Hill, NC
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 rabbi, she is able to deepen her efficacy as "kley kodesh" and her commitment to lifelong Jewish learning. For her work at PRS, Jacquie wanted 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.
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.
Phone: (914) 294-4910
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Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary
PO Box 1641
Midlothian, VA 23113