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, Phoenix, Denver-Boulder, Cincinnati and Los Angeles 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. Last year (2016), Matt completed a three-year program of learning at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. 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). Recently, he completed a series of three tzedakah boxes and worked on a commission for the sanctuary art of the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, NY. In January of 2017, he and his Kol HaOt partners opened an experiential gallery in Jerusalem’s Chutzot HaYotzer (Artist Lane). Rabbi Berkowitz and his family made aliyah in August, 2009 (after a seven-year sojourn in Boca Raton, FL). He resides in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.
After earning a degree in Jazz Composition and Piano from Berklee College of Music, he held the position of Composer-in-Residence at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA where he produced 4 albums of Jewish communal music with his mentor Cantor Jodi Sufrin. As a solo musician, Noah has released two full length albums and songbooks entitled 'Am I Awake' and 'Left Side of the Page.' Music from these albums are now sung in progressive communities and summer camps worldwide and has been included as part of the Cantorial curriculum at the Hebrew Union College's Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York City. Renowned for his unique and engaging style of prayer leadership, he had the distinct honor of leading over 5,000 people in Shabbat worship at the 2013 URJ Biennial in San Diego, CA. Noah serves on the faculty of the annual Hava Nashira and Shabbat Shira workshops in Oconomowoc, WI and the Shirei Chaggiah workshop in London, England. In 2015, Noah partnered with Behrman House, the largest distributor of Jewish educational materials, to create an innovative, music-based curriculum entitled Hebrew in Harmony. His music has also been featured on two compilations from the PJ Library series. Noah lives in New York City and is currently serving as the Creative Director of Sacred Music NY, a non-profit organization that organizes concerts and events around New York City bringing together spiritual musicians from diverse backgrounds to inspire interfaith dialogue and social change.
Dr. Erica Brown
Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor at George Washington University and the director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. She is the author of eleven books; her forthcoming book is entitled Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet (Koren/OU, 2017). She previously served as the scholar-in-residence at both The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Erica was a Jerusalem Fellow, is a faculty member of The Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow, winner of the Ted Farber Professional Excellence Award and is the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award for her work in education and the 2012 Bernie Reisman Award (Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Brandeis University). Erica has degrees from Yeshiva University, University of London, Harvard University and Baltimore Hebrew University. You can subscribe to her blog, Weekly Jewish Wisdom, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabba Yaffa Epstein
Rabba Yaffa Epstein serves as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. She has studied at the Pardes Kollel, the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan and the Talmud Department of Hebrew University. Yaffa 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 Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Maharat, the Drisha Institute, the Wexner Heritage Program New Member Institute, Kayam Farm Kollel and Young Judaea. Yaffa has lectured at Limmud Events around the world, has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein
Rabbi Ed Feinstein recently celebrated his 20th year as rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He serves on the faculty of the Ziegler Rabbinical School of the American Jewish University, the Wexner Heritage Program, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is a member of the boards of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and the Milken Community High School. He lectures widely across the United States on Judaism and the Jewish future. Rabbi Feinstein is the author of three books. Tough Questions Jews Ask – A Young Adult’s Guide to Building a Jewish Life, taught in synagogue schools and youth programs around the country, was chosen for the American Library Association’s Top Ten Books on Religion for Young Readers and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Jews and Judaism in the Twenty-First Century: Human Responsibility, the Presence of God and the Future of the Covenant, was also a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His latest book, Capturing the Moon retells the best of classic and modern Jewish folktales. Rabbi Feinstein was raised in the back of his parents’ bakery on the frontiers of the West San Fernando Valley. He graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Judaism, Columbia University Teachers College and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1981. He is currently completing his doctorate at JTS Rabbi Feinstein formerly served as the founding Head of the Solomon Schechter Academy of Dallas, Texas, Associate Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, and Executive Director of Camp Ramah in California. He came to Valley Beth Shalom in 1993 at the invitation of the renowned Rabbi Harold Schulweis. Rabbi Feinstein lives in the epicenter of the San Fernando Valley with his wife, Rabbi Nina Bieber Feinstein. Nina was the second woman ordained by the Conservative Movement. The Feinsteins are parents of three adult children. Every Friday afternoon, he bakes brownies from a recipe revealed to his ancestors at Mount Sinai.
Dr. Elliot M. Kranzler
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, Dorot professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, has published and taught about the Holocaust for close to 40 years. However, she is probably most widely known because of the libel lawsuit brought against her (1996) by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier. Irving then was then arguably the world’s leading denier. After a ten-week trial in London (2000), in an overwhelming victory for Lipstadt, the judge found Irving to be a “neo-Nazi polemicist” who “perverts” history and engages in “racist and anti-Semitic” discourse. The Daily Telegraph (London) described the trial 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.” 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.” The movie DENIAL, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson, with a screenplay by David Hare, tells the story of this legal battle. It is based on Lipstadt’s book History On Trial: My Day In Court With A Holocaust Denier (Harper Collins 2006) and recently reissued as DENIAL (Harper Collins 2016). The film was nominated for a BAFTA as one of the best British films of the year. Lipstadt has written most recently Holocaust: An American Understanding (Rutgers, 2016) which explores how America has understood and interpreted the Holocaust since 1945. Her previous book, The Eichmann Trial, (Schocken/Nextbook 2011) published 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.” She has also published Beyond Belief: The American Press And The Coming Of The Holocaust (Free Press, 1986), which surveys what the American press wrote about the persecution of the Jews in the years 1933-1945. She is currently writing a book, The Antisemitic Delusion: Letters to a Concerned Student which will be published in 2018. At Emory she directs the website known as HDOT [Holocaust Denial on Trial/ www.hdot.org] which contains a complete archive of the proceedings of Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt. It also provides answers to frequent claims made by deniers. At Emory, Lipstadt has won the Emery Williams Teaching Award. She was selected for the award by alumni as the teacher who had most influenced them. 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 held Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (from Presidents Clinton and Obama) and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She has a BA from the City College of New York and an MA and PhD from Brandeis University.
Rabbi Dorothy Richman
Rabbi Dorothy Richman serves as the rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center. She teaches Torah widely in the Bay Area and has served as rabbi for Berkeley Hillel and Congregations Sha’ar Zahav and Beth Sholom. Her rabbinate has been deeply influenced by years of service with AJWS and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. She has performed her one-woman show, Confessions of a Tefillin Supermodel, at the The San Francisco Theater Festival and the Contemporary Jewish Museum and is soon to release an album of original songs largely based on texts from the Jewish tradition.