Rabbi Matthew L. Berkowitz
Rabbi Matthew L. Berkowitz is the Director of Israel Programs for The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and co-founder of Kol Ha-Ot, a new Jerusalem-based venture devoted to exploring the arts and Jewish learning. For ten years (1999-2009), Matt served as the JTS Senior Rabbinic Fellow, organizing substantive adult learning throughout Florida and beyond. He is a member of The Wexner Heritage Program Faculty and has taught the Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix groups. He completed his undergraduate work in International Relations and Middle East Studies, summa cum laude, at Colgate University. While in rabbinical school, he studied at Pardes and The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. He was ordained from JTS in 1999 and is a Wexner Graduate Fellow alumnus. An accomplished artist, Matt was formally trained in Jewish scribal art in Jerusalem and completed the writing of Megillat Esther, the illumination of several ketubbot, and a limited edition artist portfolio entitled Passover Landscapes: Illuminations on the Exodus which was acquired by Yale University, exhibited at Yeshiva University Museum (April, 2006) and is on permanent exhibit at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author and illuminator of The Lovell Haggadah (Nirtzah Editions and Schechter Institute, 2008). Rabbi Berkowitz and his family made aliyah in August, 2009 (after a seven year sojourn in Boca Raton, FL). They reside in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. He is married to Rabbi Miriam Berkowitz, author of Taking the Plunge: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Mikveh. They have three children, Adir (14), Rachel (8) and Shira (5).
Rabba Yaffa Epstein
Rabba Yaffa Epstein teaches Talmud at Yeshivat Maharat and serves as the U.S. based Educational Director at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She received her rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Maharat in June, 2015, and holds a law degree from Bar-Ilan University. Epstein has studied at the Pardes Kollel, the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan and the Talmud Department of Hebrew University. Epstein has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel. She has taught at the Drisha Institute June Kollel, Kayam Farm Kollel, the Lookstein Center, Ta Shma and Young Judaea Year Course, and has lectured at Limmud events around the globe. Epstein has written curricula for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Arna Poupko Fisher
Arna Poupko Fisher, a noted lecturer and educator, was the first individual to serve as a permanent, full time, scholar in residence for a Federation when she began her pioneering work as the Judaic Consultant of the Montreal Federation. In this capacity, Ms. Fisher was the scholar, teacher, and advisor within the Federation and its 20 constituent agencies. The prestigious Avi Chai Foundation celebrated this work when it awarded this position the first prize for “Excellent Community Initiatives to Strengthen Jewish Commitment”. Ms. Fisher taught classical Jewish texts to communal leaders and professionals in an open and inviting atmosphere, encouraging diversity of thought and approaches.
Arna Poupko Fisher has lectured in over 120 communities throughout North America and recently gave key note addresses at the Israeli Presidential Conference and the JCCA Biennial. Graduating from Yeshiva University with degrees in both Jewish education and medieval Jewish philosophy, Ms. Fisher continued her graduate work in the Doctoral programs of both the University of Toronto, and McGill University. She is had several national television appearances and has published on subjects pertaining to the relationship of Jewish Law to contemporary society. Arna Poupko Fisher serves as faculty for The Wexner Foundation and has taught at both the University of Toronto and McGill University. Ms. Fisher is currently on the faculty of the Department of Jewish studies at the University of Cincinnati, where she teaches courses in the areas of Jewish theology and Hebrew Bible. Ms. Fisher is on the executive of the Cincinnati Federation, and is the immediate past president of the JCRC of Cincinnati.
Rabbi David Ingber
Rabbi David Ingber is the Founder and Spiritual Leader of Romemu (romemu.org), a Jewish Spiritual Center in New York City. Named by Newsweek as one of 2013’s top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States as well as by The Forward as one of the 50 most newsworthy and notable Jews in America, Rabbi David promotes a renewed Jewish mysticism that integrates meditative mindfulness and physical awareness into mainstream, post-modern Judaism. A major 21st Century Jewish thinker and educator, his rich perspective, open heart and mind, and full-bodied approach to Jewish learning has brought him to speak throughout the United States and worldwide throughout Canada, Europe and Israel.
Elana Jagoda Kaye
Elana Jagoda Kaye is a music educator, performer, prayer leader and composer who brings soul and innovation to the new Jewish music revolution. Elana has released four albums of Jewish music and has had over 50,000 CDs distributed nationally through the PJ Library. Elana currently serves as the full-time cantorial soloist at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, California and she also plays rocking family concerts across the country at synagogues, museums, festivals and JCCs. Elana has served as the artist-in-residence for the Wexner institute and has enjoyed spending time at Jewish summer camps as guest music faculty. Elana lives in San Francisco with her husband Saul Kaye and their toddler Elijah.
International touring Artist Saul Kaye is pioneering a new genre of music: JEWISH BLUES. Like his great-grandfather who blazed a trail from Russia to South Africa to trade cattle between warring African Tribes, Saul has brought together the sounds of the struggle of the African Slaves in this country with the history of the Jewish slavery experience. If you can imagine Muddy Waters meets Shlomo Carlebach, you've got an artist here who is bringing something new to modern Jewish Music and bridging the gap between the Delta and the Torah. On his latest upcoming CD Jewish Blues Volume 4, Kaye digs in deep weaving the old blues of the American South with The ancient Nigguns of our people. Kaye tours over 110 shows a year on 4 continents and can be found at www.saulkaye.com
Elliot Kranzler M.D.
Elli Kranzler M.D. practices psychiatry in Manhattan and is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has published in the areas of bereavement, depression and child development.
He is the Shliach Tzibbur at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and has recorded numerous Jewish music albums, including those of D’veykus and Journeys. He has performed throughout the country in Israel, England and Australia. Recently, he has been involved in the synagogue renewal movement, speaking and leading Shabbatons, centered on the challenges of meaningful Jewish spirituality and engaging prayer. Elli is also a Wexner Heritage Alumnus from one of the first New York groups (1992-94).
Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt
Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Her book The Eichmann Trial, published by Schocken/Nextbook Series in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its after effects.” The New York Times Book Review described Lipstadt as having “done a great service by… recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israel’s history and in the world’s delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust.” The Wall Street Journal described the book as “a thoughtfully researched and clearly written account of the courtroom proceedings and of the debates spurred by the trial.” Her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006) is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right-wing extremist. David Irving v. Penguin/Deborah Lipstadt was described by the Daily Telegraph (London) as having "done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations." The Times (London) described it as "history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory." The judge found David Irving to be a Holocaust denier, a falsifier of history, a racist and an anti-Semite. According to the New York Times, the trial "put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler." In July 2001, the Court of Appeals resoundingly rejected Irving’s appeal of the judgment against him. Her book Denying the Holocaust: The Grosing Assault on Truth and Memory (Free Press/Macmillan, 1993) is the first full-length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust. At Emory she directs the website known as HDOT [Holocaust Denial on Trial/ www.hdot.org] which contains answers to frequent claims made by deniers. Portions of the site are translated into Arabic, Farsi, Russian and Turkish. The site is frequently accessed in cities throughout Iran. Lipstadt was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and helped design the section of the museum dedicated to the American response to the Holocaust. She has been appointed by both Presidents Clinton and Obama to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. President George W. Bush asked her to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She has advised former Secretary of State Madeline Albright on matters of religious freedom abroad. On April 11, 2011, the 50th anniversary of the start of the Eichmann Trial, Dr. Lipstadt gave a public address at the State Department on the impact of the trial. In April 2014, she was invited by the government of Rwanda to participate in a conference commemorating the Rwandan Genocide. In June 2014, she visited Budapest and Prague at the invitation of the United States Embassies in those countries, where she lectured on Holocaust denial and contemporary anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Michael Paley
Rabbi Michael Paley is the Scholar in Residence and the Director of the Jewish Resource Center of the UJA-Federation of New York. He is an Adjunct Professor at City College at CUNY and the Columbia School of Journalism where he teaches Judaism and Islam and is a member of the faculty of the Ivry Prozdor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Prior to his arrival at UJA, he was a professor of Jewish studies and Dean at Bard College, and the Vice President of the Wexner Heritage Foundation where he remains a member of the faculty. For many years, Rabbi Paley served as the University Chaplain at Columbia University. Rabbi Paley was the founding director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel, a program which brings together outstanding students from diverse Jewish backgrounds. He also served as the Jewish Chaplain at Dartmouth College. Rabbi Paley earned his bachelor’s degree at Brandeis and graduate degrees in Jewish and Islamic philosophy and science at Temple University. Rabbi Paley is married to Ann Dobrejcer and they are the parents of three children, Briyah, Naamah, and Gabriel.