Open Learning

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Adam Schorin
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Adam Schorin is a writer from New York who moved to Poland to work on a novel about a family descended from Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors.  He is a co-director of FestivALT and a guide and educator with the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland Foundation.

Ahuva Rosenblum
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Native speaker Ahuva Rosenblum has been teaching the Hebrew language and Israeli culture for many years and across multiple educational settings. Ahuva studied Hebrew Literature and Hebrew Language at university in Israel.

Alisa Lottati
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Alisa Lottati has an extensive background in teaching Modern and Classical Hebrew at various levels within the Ulpan method at schools and universities. She holds an M.A. in Education and Jewish Studies from George Washington University in D.C., a B.A. in Political Science and History from Haifa University, and a teaching degree from Oranim College. Alisa has also undergone training in Hebrew at the Center courses, offered by Brandeis University and the NETA language program.

Aliza Klainman
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Aliza Klainman is the Director of the Community Hebrew Program for the Whizin Center of Continuing Education and an instructor at American Jewish University. Aliza brings to the program her excellent organizational skills as well as years of experience teaching adults in the Ulpan method of Israel, teaching Hebrew with Hebrew. She completed her education in Israel and received her teaching credentials from the Ministry of Education, Israel and the Teachers Seminar Institute in Beer Sheva.

Alyssa Silva
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Alyssa Silva is the Programming Manager for the Office of Innovation at American Jewish University whose passion is to reimagine and implement what Jewish community looks like by bringing a unique perspective on what is engaging and inspiring Jewish communities today. Prior to arriving at AJU, she was the Assistant Executive Director of Houston Hillel, the Programming and Operations Associate at Maryland Hillel, and is a proud Moishe House DC alumni. Alyssa has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Nonprofit Management from The Zelikow School, a BA in Religious Studies from The University of Arizona, and a certificate in Jewish Experiential Education from The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

Andre Gregory
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The director and actor Andre Gregory was born on May 11, 1934, to a family he describes as fugitives from Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. Gregory was born in a hotel in Paris, his mother reportedly having just played cards with the Turkish ambassador. His childhood was spent in Hollywood amongst the stars of the 1940s. Gregory attended Harvard and then studied acting, but was unable to find his feet in that profession. Theatrical success finally came to Gregory as a director in the avant-garde theater in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. By the late 1960s he had established himself as a prominent director in New York experimental theater, collaborating with such luminaries as the legendary Polish director Jerzy Grotowski. Probably the most remarkable achievement in this early summit of Gregory’s career came in 1970 when his theater group, The Manhattan Project, staged “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in New York for a year, which then went on to tour the world to acclaim, and earned him OBIE and Drama Desk Awards for his directing.

Ben Harris
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Ben Harris is the managing editor of My Jewish Learning. He oversees MJL’s daily Kaddish minyan, writes and edits articles for the site, and is the go-to guy for issues relating to prayer, spirituality and Jewish law. He was formerly an editor and reporter at MJL’s sister site, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and his writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and New York magazine. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he spends an inordinate amount of time in his home recording studio and sitting in silence.

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Brett Rapkin
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Brett Rapkin is an Innovative Emmy award-winning Writer/Producer/Director with a deep track record of success in developing, producing, distributing, and promoting premium content across platforms and budgets.

In 2016, Brett won his first Emmy Award and also released his first narrative feature film as writer/director. Spaceman, a feature film starring Josh Duhamel as gonzo MLB pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee was released theatrically and across VOD platforms by Orion/MGM on August 19th, 2016. Welcome to Dodgertown, narrated by Vin Scully and Larry King, won a 2016 Emmy for Best Sports Special and was produced by his production company, Podium Pictures.

Carolyn Mackler
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Carolyn Mackler is the acclaimed author of the YA novels The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things; Infinite in Between; and The Future of Us, among others. Her award-winning novels have appeared on bestseller lists and been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Carolyn lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. The Wife App is her first novel for adults.

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Cynthia Good is a former president and publisher of Penguin Books, where she was hired to develop the company’s Canadian program. After over 20 years with Penguin, Cynthia founded the Creative Book Publishing program at Humber College, and taught there for 12 years. When she left Humber she was named Professor Emerita. She also has an honorary degree from Mount Allison University. Today, Cynthia facilitates book clubs, heads up Holy Blossom Temple’s Centre for Contemporary Jewish Literature, and leads workshops on publishing and writing. She lives in Toronto.

Dan Friedman
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Dan Friedman is a writing and digital consultant based in New York. An award-winning writer and editor, Dan was formerly the executive editor of The Forward and the director of content and communications for The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He wrote for several Sacha Baron Cohen projects and his work has also appeared  in The New York Times, The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. He has a doctorate in comparative literature from Yale and a masters in English literature from Cambridge, where he captained the university soccer team.

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Daniel Pipes has led the Middle East Forum since its founding in 1994. He served in five U.S. administrations, received two presidential appointments, and testified before many congressional committees. Pipes is the author of 16 books on the Middle East, Islam, and writes a column for the Washington Times and the Spectator; his work has been translated into 39 languages. Al-Qaeda invited Mr. Pipes to convert and Edward Said called him an “Orientalist.”

Daniel Schifrin
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Daniel Schifrin is a writer, teacher and curator of conversation. He has taught at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, writer in residence at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and a curator for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibition “Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art.”

Daniel Schulman
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Daniel Schulman is the New York Times best-selling author of Sons of Wichita, a biography of the Koch family that was a finalist for The Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. The deputy Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones, he lives in Massachusetts, with his wife and sons.

Daniel Silva
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Daniel Silva is the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, The Defector, The Rembrandt Affair, Portrait of a Spy, The Fallen Angel, The English Girl, The Heist, The English Spy, The Black Widow, House of Spies, The Other Woman, The New Girl, The Order, and The Cellist. He is best known for his long-running thriller series starring spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon. Silva’s books are critically acclaimed bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 30 languages. He resides in Florida with his wife, television journalist Jamie Gangel, and their twins, Lily and Nicholas. For more information visit www.danielsilvabooks.com.

Danielle R. Holley
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Danielle R. Holley is the twentieth president of Mount Holyoke College. A noted legal scholar and educator, Holley served as Dean of the School of Law at Howard University (2014 – 2023) prior to joining Mount Holyoke. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Holley also previously served as a law clerk to Judge Carl E. Steward on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

David Ben Moshe
Bio

David Ben Moshe is a coach and storyteller whose life is a testament to the power of positive change. While serving a prison sentence for selling drugs and guns, he decided to build a better life. After his release, he became a successful fitness coach, underwent a Jewish conversion, and earned a B.S. in Exercise Science, Magna Cum Laude. After finishing his degree, he was prevented from attending Graduate School due to his criminal record. Following this disappointment, he moved to Israel, where he fought a five-year battle for citizenship. His writing has been featured in many publications including Newsweek, Business Insider, and The Forward. He is currently studying for a master’s degree in journalism while operating a coaching business based in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

David Mikics
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David Mikics is Moores Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Houston, as well as a columnist for Tablet magazine. His most recent books are Bellow’s People and Slow Reading in a Hurried Age.

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Deb Engel Kollin
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Deb Engel Kollin serves as the Relationship Manager for the Miller Introduction to Judaism Progrsm. Deb previously spent twelve years as Director of Operations for Pressman Academy, and has worked in various settings in Los Angeles and Israel as a Jewish educator and community builder for decades. She holds an MA in Jewish Education from American Jewish University.

Dina Divir
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Dina Dvir currently teaches Hebrew here at the American Jewish University and at the Jewish Day School as well. She received her academic degrees from the Jerusalem Hebrew University and the Ministry of Education in Israel. Her work has been recognized with honor both here in the United States and Israel.

Dina Porat
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Professor Dina Porat is the founder of the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University in Contemporary European Jewry studies, served as head of the Department of Jewish History at the Rosenberg School for Jewish Studies, and held the Alfred P. Slaner Chair in Antisemitism and Racism. Porat was Yad Vashem’s chief historian until 2021 and is now its academic advisor. She’s received accolades for her numerous publications, including the Raoul Wallenberg Medal in 2012. Recognized by Marker Magazine and Forbes, she’s also been a key figure in Israeli Foreign Ministry delegations and academic advisor for the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Professor Porat’s influence spans globally, teaching at renowned universities and guiding dozens of M.A. and Ph.D. students.

Doron Ben-Atar
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Doron Ben-Atar is professor of history at Fordham University in New York. Ben-Atar also taught at Columbia, Princeton and Yale. He is the author of numerous books and articles on American history including Trade Secrets: Intellectual Piracy and the Origins of American Industrial Power (Yale University Press, 2004), and together with Richard D. Brown Taming Lust: Crimes against Nature in the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) and co-editor, with Andrew Pessin of Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS (Indiana University Press, 2018).

דורון בן-עטר הוא פרופסור להיסטוריה באוניברסיטת פורדהם שבניו יורק. בן עטר לימד גם בקולומביה, פרינסטון ובייל. הוא מחברם של ספרים ומאמרים רבים על ההיסטוריה האמריקאית, כולל סודות מסחריים: פיראטיות אינטלקטואלית ומקורות הכוח התעשייתי האמריקאי (Yale University Press, 2004), יחד עם ריצ’רד ד. בראון אילוף התאווה: פשעים נגד הטבע ברפובליקה האמריקאית המוקדמת (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) וערך ביחד עם אנדרו פסין אנטי-ציונות בקמפוס: האוניברסיטה, חופש הביטוי ו-BDS (Indiana University Press, 2018).

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus
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Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus is the founder and director of Maze Women’s Sexual Health, the country’s largest independent women’s sexual health center. For 20 years, she has developed and overseen the treatment of thousands of women ages 18–81. A licensed clinical social worker with a master’s in public health, a master’s degree in social work, a master’s degree in Jewish studies, and a PhD in Human Sexuality, Dr. Marcus has been profiled in numerous publications, including the New York Times Magazine and Lenny Letter. She is also a frequent guest on TV and radio podcasts. She has lectured both nationally and overseas on a wide variety of women’s issues. Her first book, SEX POINTS: Reclaim Your Sex Life with the Revolutionary Multi-Point System, will be published on March 9, 2021.

Bruce Powell
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For the past 50 years, Bruce Powell has dedicated his professional life to Jewish education. He has helped to found and lead three Jewish high schools in Los Angeles, including Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School, Milken Community High School, and most recently de Toledo High School. He has consulted on the founding of 23 more Jewish high schools throughout North America. In addition, he has provided consulting services to over 60 Jewish day schools through his work as President of Jewish School Management (JSM). Currently Dr. Powell is serving as the Interim Dean for AJU’s School for Jewish Education and Leadership.

Dr. Claire Sufrin
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Dr. Claire Sufrin is a scholar of religion specializing in modern Jewish thought and theology. Her research and teaching focus on German-Jewish thinkers such as Martin Buber, post-Holocaust theology, biblical interpretation, the intersection of religion and literature, and gender and religion. She is the co-editor of The New Jewish Canon: 1980-2015 Ideas and Debates.

Dr. Dale Atkins
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Dr. Dale Atkins is a licensed psychologist who has more than 45 years of experience as a relationship expert focusing on families, wellness, aging well, life’s transitions, managing stress, and living a balanced, meaningful life. She is the author of 7 books, most recently, The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children (co-authored with Amanda Salzhauer) with more info available at www.thekindnessadvantagebook.com.

Jeffrey Herbst
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Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, the fourth president of American Jewish University (AJU), is an advocate for academic innovation. His leadership at AJU includes fostering growth in the Maas Center for Jewish Journeys, expanding the Maven digital platform, and improving the Brandeis-Bardin Campus. Formerly, he served as president and CEO of the Newseum and the Newseum Institute in Washington, DC. Notable achievements include successfully overseeing a half billion-dollar fundraising campaign, implementing a university-wide strategic plan, and enhancing educational programming at Colgate University, where he was president from 2010 to 2015. Dr. Herbst holds a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, as well as a master’s and doctorate in political science from Yale University. He is the author of the award-winning “States and Power in Africa” and, with several co-authors, the just-published “Making Africa Work.” In addition to many books and articles, he has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and many other digital and print publications around the world.

Dr. Jerzy Wójcik 
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Jerzy Wójcik was born in Oswiecim town (Auschwitz), Poland, and is a graduate of International Relations at the Faculty of Political and International Studies, and of postgraduate studies on the Middle and Far East at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 2010, he was awarded a PhD in the field of political science at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Jerzy is a recipient of a scholarship from Florentyna Kogutowska Fund at the Jagiellonian University and a scholarship from the State of Israel for an 9-month research internship at the Tel Aviv University (Research Fellow). For a number of years, has been working with several organizations and institutions in Poland, among others, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Center for Holocaust Studies in Krakow, Center for International Relations in Warsaw, and the European Association of Israel Studies. He runs the Holocaust Memorial Partnership. He has been in Israel over 20 times.

Dr. Joshua Gleis
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Dr. Joshua Gleis is Founder and President of Gleis Security Consulting, a security consulting and geopolitical firm. He has trained thousands on issues as varied as situational awareness, intelligence, counterterrorism, Middle Eastern affairs, emergency response, and operational procedures. Joshua has held positions at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and the NYPD’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau.

Dr. Rachel Lerner
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Dr. Rachel Lerner is the Dean of the Graduate Center for Jewish Education at American Jewish University, where she oversees the MAEd, MAT, MAEd in ECE, and BA in ECE completion programs, training future and current Jewish educators. She is passionate about expanding educators’ abilities to include a wider population within Jewish educational settings, making classroom learning a more active experience, and making informal education deep and meaningful.

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Dr. Rotem Rozental is the Chief Curator of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, where she serves as the Assistant Dean of the Whizin Center for Continuing Education and the Director of the Institute for Jewish Creativity. In these roles, Rotem works with and mentors artists throughout various stages of their careers, while spearheading annual exhibition spaces, cultural programming, a growing network of Jewish artists in Los Angeles, cross-city collaborations, institutional collections, educational initiatives and various projects around performing and visual arts. Rotem also mentored artists and organized exhibitions internationally, and her writings and scholarly texts appeared in publications such as Artforum.com, Philosophy of Photography and Tablet.

Saba Soomekh
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Dr. Saba Soomekh is the Associate Director at AJC-LA and a lecturer at The Academy for Jewish Religion-CA, where she teaches Religious Studies and Middle Eastern History courses. She received her BA in Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, her Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Steven D. Reece
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Dr. Steven D. Reece, a 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholar in Poland, taught and researched at the University of Szczecin’s Institute of History. His Fulbright Project focused on a cross-cultural, diplomatic approach to preserve Poland’s Jewish heritage post-Shoah, exploring stakeholder engagement for Polish-Jewish cemetery restoration, promoting understanding in Jewish-Christian relations. As Adjunct Faculty at Andrews University, he instructs in the Leadership Department. He founded The Matzevah Foundation in 2010, leading volunteers to restore Polish Jewish cemeteries, fostering remembrance, honoring heritage, and bridging communities. Dr. Reece advises the European Jewish Cemeteries Advisory Network and holds Holocaust education certification from Yad Vashem and Tel Aviv University. An ex-photojournalist ordained Baptist minister, and Andrews University Ph.D. graduate, he’s devoted to leadership and cultural preservation.

Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer
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Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer is the President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Yehuda is a leading thinker and author on the meaning of Israel to American Jews, on Jewish history and Jewish memory, and on questions of leadership and change in American Jewish life. He is the author of Shuva: The Future of the Jewish Past, which offers new thinking to contemporary Jews on navigating the tensions between history and memory; and the co-editor of The New Jewish Canon, a collection of the most significant Jewish ideas and debates of the past two generations. He is also the host of Hartman’s Identity/Crisis podcast which can be found at identitycrisispod.com.

Emanuel Abromovits
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Emanuel Abramovits is a Mechanical Engineer with an MBA and has been a cultural manager and concert promoter since 2000, directly involved in many events by international artists, like Itzhak Perlman, Gustavo Dudamel, Sarah Brightman, Roger Hodgson, ASIA, Slash, Journey, Kenny G and many more. Designed and staged many original orchestral events, including an Event of the Year winner and several world premieres. He served as the Cultural Director at UNION ISRAELITA DE CARACAS from 2008 to 2019, releasing books, organizing film cycles, concerts and art exhibits. He has been teaching and lecturing online and in presence across the US in the last two years

Emily Bazelon
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Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, The Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School, and a co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest, a popular weekly podcast. She is the author of two national bestsellers published by Penguin Random House: Charged, about the power of prosecutors, and Sticks and Stones, about how to prevent bullying. In 2020, Charged won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the current interest category. Emily was also a 2023 National Magazine Award finalist for a piece in the public interest. Before joining the Times Magazine in 2014, Emily was a writer and editor for nine years at Slate. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

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Era Zwickel
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Era Zwickel graduated from Oronym Educational College in Israel. She also holds a B.A in Education and Management from the Polytechnic University in London. For 20 years, Era worked as a grammar school principal and has been teaching Hebrew for multiple institutions since moving to the United States.

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Erica Keswin
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Erica Keswin is a bestselling author, internationally sought-after speaker, and founder of the Spaghetti Project, a roving ritual devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work.

She helps top-of-the-class businesses, organizations, and individuals improve their performance by honoring relationships in every context, always with an eye toward high-tech for human touch.

Etgar Keret
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Internationally acclaimed for his short stories, rarely extending beyond three or four pages, Etgar Keret‘s stories fuse the banal with the surreal. Keret’s bestselling books offer a window on a world that is both dark and comic. Keret is also the author of a memoir, The Seven Good Years, in which he contemplates moments of his life against a backdrop of constant conflict. Keret’s new book of stories Fly Already won the prestigious Sapir Prize. Keret’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Paris Review, among many other publications. He is a regular contributor to This American Life.

Evgenia Kempinski
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Evgenia Kempinski was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has been an official St. Petersburg tour guide for over 15 years. Since May 2020, she has been providing Zoom tours and lectures dedicated to the Jewish history and culture in former Soviet countries, as well as Scandinavia and Europe. She made Aliyah and currently lives in Haifa, Israel. She is married and has one 8-year-old daughter.

Fiona Rosenbloom
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Fiona Rosenbloom was born in Rye, New York. When she is not writing, she’s either at home in the farmhouse she shares with a group of dear friends, their kids, and sixteen rescue animals, or playing shows throughout Europe with her band, Stars Without Makeup. If you fact-check this, you’ll discover it’s actually all made up, just like the name Fiona Rosenbloom, a pseudonym for a writer named Amanda, who lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Busy Stern. She is also the author of We are SO Crashing your Bar Mitzvah!

Gavriel Savit
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Gavriel Savit is a New York Times Bestselling author. His writing has been shortlisted for the National Book Award and has been translated into nineteen languages. As a performer, he has appeared on and off-Broadway and on stages around the world, and he hosts the daily morning show on Classic 107.3 FM– the Voice for the Arts in St. Louis.

Gil Troy
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Gil Troy is a Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University, an award-winning American presidential historian, and a leading Zionist activist currently living in Jerusalem. He authored nine books, including The Age of Clinton, and edited and updated the multi-volume History of American Presidential Campaigns. His latest book, The Zionist Ideas, was a finalist for the 2019 National Jewish Book Award. Troy is also a featured commentator on CNN’s documentaries and has been interviewed on major North American TV and radio networks. He writes monthly columns for The Daily Beast and weekly columns for The Jerusalem Post. His next book, co-authored with Natan Sharansky, Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People, will be published in September 2023.

Giovanna Truong
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Giovanna Truong is a confused Midwesterner who left her heart in New Haven. At Yale, she studied physics (water levitation) and German while teaching and learning Yiddish. In addition to writing and cartooning for the Yale Daily News, she led two juggling clubs and a klezmer band and founded the Repository of Yiddish in Translation. In Fall 2023 she will be reading for an MSt in Yiddish Studies at Oxford.

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Dr. Greg Treverton is a professor of the practice of international relations at the University of Southern California after stepping down as chairman of the National Intelligence Council in January 2017. At the NIC, he was in charge of developing consensus positions for the intelligence community while reporting to the Director of National Intelligence. Earlier, he directed the RAND Corporation’s Center for Global Risk and Security and before that its Intelligence Policy Center and its International Security and Defense Policy Center.

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Gregg Roman is the chief operations officer for the Forum. He previously served as the political advisor to the deputy foreign minister of Israel and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Roman attended American University in Washington, D.C., and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, where he studied national security studies and political communications.
Guy Sharett
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Guy Sharett  teaches Hebrew in INALCO University (The National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations) in Paris, France. He has a B.A in Linguistics of Hebrew Language from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an M.A from the University of London. Guy, who was born in Ashdod, Israel, speaks seven languages and is the presenter of the Streetwise Hebrew podcast, a bite-size podcast highlighting modern Hebrew and its slang.

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Hadeel Oueis is a writer and journalist focusing on the Middle East and is a research fellow at the Philos Project. She majored in political studies and in 2011, at the age of 18, was arrested by the Assad regime for playing a key role in the early days of Syrian protests. In 2012, the United States delegation in Geneva met with Oueis and helped her relocate to the United States. She currently analyzes U.S. policies in the Middle East for major Arabic networks. Oueis reported for years through the @JIMENA platform about Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews and has been an active voice in calling for peace in the Middle East.

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Ian Buruma
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Ian Buruma was born in the Netherlands. He studied Chinese at Leiden University and cinema at Nihon University, Tokyo. He has lived and worked in Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, and New York. He is a regular contributor to Harper’s and The New Yorker and writes monthly columns for Project Syndicate and Bloomberg. He is a professor at Bard College and lives in New York City.

Jackie Tohn
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Jackie Tohn is a multitalented actress, writer, comic, host, singer/songwriter and show creator. She was raised in a Jewish household on Long Island, New York. When Jackie was Bat-Mitzvah’d, she sang her entire candle-lighting ceremony where each person honored had the lyrics to a popular song changed to be about them. Jackie is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and could not be more proud of where she came from.

Jake Cohen
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Jake Cohen is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author and nice Jewish boy from NYC. After working in some of NYC’s best restaurants and test kitchens, he wrote his first book, Jew-ish, about his love of modern Jewish cooking and baking. His sophomore book, I Could Nosh, became available on September 12th. Jake and his recipes have been featured on Rachael Ray, The Drew Barrymore Show, Live with Kelly and Ryan, Good Morning America, The Food Network, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, and Forbes (making the 30 Under 30 list in 2022 for Food & Drink), among others. When he’s not posting challah-braiding videos and recipes on his Instagram and TikTok (@jakecohen), he’s eating around New York City with his husband Alex.

Jay Caspian Kang
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Jay Caspian Kang is a staff writer for The New Yorker, an Emmy-nominated documentary film director, and the author of “The Loneliest Americans.” Prior to coming to The New Yorker, he was an opinion writer for The New York Times. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, “This American Life,” and the Times Magazine. His new film, “American Son,” will première in 2023, as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. He lives in Northern California with his family.

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Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst, author and journalist specializing in the Levant and Iraq. He is the director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis (MECRA), a Research Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Strategy and Security and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Joseph Michael Vardakis
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Joseph Michael Vardakis was born in Athens, Greece. He has a B.A. in psychology, an M.A. in psychobiology, and an M.Sc in clinical psychology. He has lived and studied in the UK, South Africa, and Israel and currently resides in Athens. In the past, he has worked as a student counselor for the Ministry of Absorption for new immigrants to Israel, in an educational framework for the Jewish community in South Africa before his studies, as a researcher, and in various mental health settings. He is currently working as a psychologist-psychotherapist, as well as teaching Greek to foreigners. In his spare time, he offers themed tours in Athens, including sites of Jewish interest.

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Author Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer and personal essayist who has been published in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Chabad.org, Tablet Magazine, Alma, Aish, Mayim Bialik’s GrokNation, and Jew in the City. Originally from Baltimore, she converted to Judaism after studying for five years. She wrote Jewish Just Like You to her future child to explain her conversion process to them, and why they should be happy to be Jewish. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, comedian Daniel Lobell, her daughter, and her two dogs, four chickens, two tortoises, and hedgehog.

Kylie Unell
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Kylie Unell is a Dean’s Doctoral Fellow at NYU concentrating in Jewish philosophy. Her research focuses on the intersection between the respective philosophies of Moses Mendelssohn and Booker T. Washington on reaching one’s highest potential and flourishing in the world as members of a despised minority group. In 2021, Kylie was named an “aspiring Jewish philosopher” by the New York Jewish Week for their annual 36 Under 36. As a podcaster, Kylie has hosted two #1 Jewish podcasts, “How to Fix a Soul in 30 Days” and “49 Days to Stretch My Soul,” and her YouTube series on the history of the relationship between African Americans and Jews with Unpacked has amassed over 1.5 million views.

L. Jon Wertheim
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L. Jon Wertheim is an accomplished journalist and 60 Minutes correspondent. His reporting for The News Magazine has spanned sports, culture, and global news. It’s taken him to Saudi Arabia to see how the Kingdom has been shelling out on events and athletes amid accusations of “sportswashing.” Wertheim serves as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, a commentator for Tennis Channel, and an executive producer on various film projects. Wertheim is the author of 11 books including New York Times bestseller Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won. Wertheim has been honored with an Emmy Award for his documentary RIVALS and multiple Emmy nominations for his work at 60 Minutes. Wertheim resides with his wife in New York City.

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Leah Koenig  is the author of six cookbooks, including The Jewish Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Food52, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family. Learn more on Leah’s website HERE.

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Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a writer and pioneering feminist activist. A cofounder of Ms. magazine, her latest book is, Shanda: A Memoir of Shame and Secrecy. Pogrebin’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Forward, and many more. She is a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, and she currently serves on the board of Brandeis University Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Ms. Pogrebin’s honors include an Emmy Award for her work on Free to Be You and Me. Letty Cottin Pogrebin lives with her husband in New York City and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The couple has three children and six grandchildren.

Mark Oppenheimer
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Mark Oppenheimer received his B.A. in history from Yale in 1996 and his Ph.D. in American religious history from Yale in 2003, the year that he published his first book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door: American Religion and the Age of Counterculture.
Since then, Oppenheimer has taught at Stanford, Wellesley, NYU, Boston College (where he was the Corcoran Visiting Professor in Christian-Jewish Relations), and Yale, where for sixteen years he directed the Yale Journalism Initiative. From 2010-2016, he wrote The Beliefs column, About Religion, for The New York Times. He is the author of numerous magazine articles and five books, the most recent of which is Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and The Soul of a Neighborhood.
A popular speaker and lecturer, Oppenheimer is the creator of two podcasts: Unorthodox, about Jewish life and culture, which he hosted from 2015-2023 and while had over seven million downloads, and Gatecrashers: The Hidden History of Jews in the Ivy League (2022). He is currently writing biographies of author Judy Blume and newspaper columnist Ann Landers.

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Micaela Pavoncello
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Micaela Pavoncello, a proud Roman Jew, was born and raised in Rome. She studied Art History at the city’s university, driven by her deep love for Rome. Through her travels to Argentina and Israel, she connected with diverse Jewish communities and shared her own story. Realizing the extraordinary nature of the Jewish Community of Rome, she founded Jewish Roma Walking Tours in 2003. Simultaneously, Micaela worked at MACRO, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, where she engaged with artists, collectors, curators, and visitors worldwide. Her research at the central Archive of Rome explored her family’s experiences during the ghetto era. Micaela’s passion for preserving Rome’s Jewish heritage fuels her dedication to sharing its remarkable story. Learn more HERE.

Michael Benson
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During his five decades as a writer, Michael Benson has collaborated with a former gangster, a retired FBI agent, and a former New York Police Department “Cop of the Year”. He has explored the Grassy Knoll in Dallas with a former KGB agent while researching his Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination; collaborated efficiently with an astronaut; and covered the Stephen Hayes triple-murder trial in New Haven, Ct., for the New York Post. On TV, he has been seen on ABC, the I.D. network, and Oxygen. Benson was born in Rochester NY and has a B.A. with honors in Communication Arts from Hofstra University. He is the winner of an Academy of American Poets award and was in 2016 named a Wheatland-Chili High School Graduate of Excellence.

Michael Berenbaum
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Michael Berenbaum is a Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at the American Jewish University. He is a writer, a scholar and a creator of Museums. His work has been recognized by the Emmys and Academy Awards.

Michael Halperin
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Michael Halperin graduated with a degree in communications from the University of Southern California. He earned his Ph.D. in Film Studies from the Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Michael a major grant that became the basis for “My Name is David: Search for Identity”, Floricanto & Berkeley Presses, and his best-selling children’s book, co-authored by Malka Drucker, “Jacob’s Rescue”, Penguin Random House. Michael was writer-producer, MCA Television; Executive Story Consultant, 20th Century-Fox; and Story Editor, Universal Television. Michael authored numerous books and plays, and created the original popular animated TV series “He Man and the Masters of the Universe”. In 2002 he was responsible for developing the new version of the series. Michael taught in the School of Film & Television and Department of Jewish Studies, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He and his wife Marcia live in Encino, California. They have two adult sons, Craig and Leon and a grandson.

Michael Hebb
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Michael Hebb is the Founder of Life Over Dinner, a non-profit creative agency focused on cultural transformation through food-centered gatherings. He’s a Board Advisor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and edited the COVID Paper. Formerly a Partner at RoundGlass and Senior Advisor to various organizations, he’s authored Let’s Talk About Death published globally. Co-founder of City Repair and Communitecture, he won the AIA People’s Choice Award. He also co-founded Family Supper, igniting the pop-up restaurant trend, and acclaimed restaurants clarklewis and Gotham Bldg Tavern. Hebb initiated The City Arts Festival, Night School, and www.seder.today, while also being a Creative Director at the Cloud Room and a Teaching Fellow at UW’s Graduate School of Communication. His writings span USA TODAY to GQ, and he’s a sought-after speaker at conferences and universities, including TEDMED.

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Admiral Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.) is President of MGM Consulting, LLC. ADM Mullen served as the 28th Chief of Naval Operations from 2005-2007, and as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Presidents Bush and Obama from 2007-2011. Since his retirement from the United States Navy in November 2011, Mullen joined the boards of General Motors, Sprint, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additionally, he taught National Security Decision-making and Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University from 2012-2018. ADM Mullen is a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Academy and a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, a Distinguished Alumni of Harvard Business School, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a trustee at Caltech.
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Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Rubin was a Pentagon official, with field experiences in the middle east and engagements with the Taliban prior to 9/11. Rubin has also contributed to military education, teaching U.S. Navy and Marine units about regional conflicts and terrorism. He has authored several publications, such as Dancing with the Devil and Eternal Iran. Rubin earned his PhD and MA in history and a BS in biology from Yale University. 

Michael Scott Alexander
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Michael Scott Alexander is the Maimonides Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California-Riverside. Most recently he is the author of Making Peace with the Universe: Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing (2020).

Michael Tine
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Michael Tine received his BFA in Painting from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his MFA in Sculpture from the University of Wyoming, Laramie. He has exhibited regionally and nationally.

Michelle Starkman
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Michelle Starkman was appointed AJU’s Vice President of Communications in March 2020. In this position, Michelle is responsible for leading the university’s internal and external communications strategies, including media relations. Michelle also oversees digital content, manages the University’s marketing strategy, advertising, and serves on the university’s senior team. Prior to joining AJU in 2017, Michelle served as Admissions and Marketing Director of a local Jewish day school, and as the Director of Marketing and Communications for a local management consulting firm. Michelle holds an MBA from Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, and an M.A. and B.A. in Political Science from Cal State Northridge.

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Dr. Jeffrey Herbst is the fourth president of American Jewish University. Prior to joining AJU, Dr. Herbst was president and CEO of the Newseum and the Newseum Institute in Washington, DC. From 2010 to 2015, he was president of Colgate University, where among other accomplishments he is credited with helping the university complete its nearly half billion-dollar fundraising campaign, leading the development and initial implementation of a university-wide strategic plan, and increasing the diversity and academic caliber of its educational programming.

Mike Rothschild
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Mike Rothschild is a journalist, author, and the foremost expert in this ever-changing QAnon conspiracy theory. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Dot, where he explores the intersections between internet culture and politics through the lens of conspiracy theories. As a subject matter expert in the field of fringe beliefs, Mike has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and Yahoo – among many others. He is also a frequent speaker, and podcast and radio guest on the topic of conspiracy theories, including NPR’s weekly show “On the Media” and a Vice documentary.

Mira Rosenthal
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Mira Rosenthal is a senior lecturer in Hebrew Language and Literature. She has been teaching Hebrew at Cal State University Northridge and American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies since 1999. She received her teaching certification in 1978 from Gordon College in Haifa, Israel.

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Nancy Kaye is a photographer and educator in L.A., previously based in NYC & London, shooting for The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Associated Press.

Her photos have been widely exhibited in juried shows and included in numerous books and documentaries. Her portrait of author Ralph Ellison is in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Natan Sharansky
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Natan Sharansky is a former spokesman for the human rights movement, a Prisoner of Zion, and a leader in the struggle for Soviet Jews’ right to immigrate to Israel. After serving nine years in the Gulag on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage, he was released in 1986 and made aliya on the same day. In Israel, he established the Zionist Forum and the Yisrael B’Aliyah party to assist Soviet olim’s absorption and integration into Israeli society. Sharansky served in four successive Israeli governments, as Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and received the Israeli Prize in 2018. He also received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and authored four books. In 2019, he became the Chair of ISGAP.

Ori Alon
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Ori Alon is an artist, writer and father of Maayan, Lexy and Zakia. He lives in Beacon NY and works as the director of the semi-municipal Alternative Street Signs department. He started the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy in order to provide better, efficient and playful paperwork that bring smiles and healing to people all over the world in various languages. Alon creates participatory art projects and performances, a comics strip with postage stamps and the Magic Bagel book series for children. You can see more of his work and read his book Regulations are Flexible at www.supportivebureaucracy.org and www.JoyPermit.org

Ori Shavit
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Ori Shavit is a food journalist and restaurant critic who used to eat everything, became vegan about a decade ago and since then has been one of the leaders of the most significant culinary revolution that has taken place in Israel in recent years. She founded her blog Vegans On Top, she develops recipes, leads cooking workshops and give talks in Israel and around the world about plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle, and the revolution that made Israel, in just a few years, the country with the highest percentage of vegans and vegetarians in the world. Ori wrote the best-selling cookbook My Vegan Kitchen, which has already sold over 20,000 copies, and regularly collaborates and consults the leading food companies in Israel.

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Peninah Zilberman
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With roots in Israel and Romania, and a pillar of Toronto’s Jewish community, Peninah Zilberman is an educator and museum director. In 2014, she sparked the “70th Anniversary Commemoration of the Sighet Deportations,” drawing 1000+ participants internationally. She is the founder of Fundatia Tarbut Sighet, which empowers all generations through genealogy research and roots journeys.

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Rabbi Adam Greenwald is Vice President for Jewish Engament at American Jewish University, where he directs the Maas Center for Jewish Journeys. He also serves as Lecturer in Rabbinics at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. In 2016, Rabbi Greenwald received the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize in Jewish Education.

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Rabbi Ari Israel is in his twenty-eighth year as executive director of the University of Maryland Hillel. In addition to rabbinic ordination, Ari has master’s degrees in medieval Jewish history and secondary education and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, teaching Jewish leadership.

Rabbi Carrie Vogel
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Rabbi Carrie Vogel serves Director of Undergraduate Initiatives, where she oversees the American Jewish University’s new Jewish Learning Experience, providing high school students the opportunity to earn undergraduate college credit for learning which takes place in their home community. Rabbi Vogel received a Master of Arts in Jewish Education, as well as rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College here in Los Angeles, and fulfilled her early childhood units at American Jewish University. Her undergraduate degree is in English Literature from the University of Cincinnati.

Before coming to AJU, she worked for 14 years at Kehillat Israel, in the Pacific Palisades, overseeing all programming for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. In that time, she developed a nationally recognized Hebrew program, a unique outdoor education option for religious school and a project-based learning curriculum. She has written on several topics pertaining to Judaism and family life, including adoption, infertility, intentional curriculum design and nontraditional families.

Brad Artson
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Rabbi Dr Bradley Shavit Artson (www.bradartson.com) holds the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is Vice President of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Artson has long been a passionate advocate for social justice, human dignity, diversity and inclusion. He wrote a book on Jewish teachings on war, peace and nuclear annihilation in the late 80s, became a leading voice advocating for GLBT marriage and ordination in the 90s, and has published and spoken widely on environmental ethics, special needs inclusion, racial and economic justice, cultural and religious dialogue and cooperation, and working for a just and secure peace for Israel and the Middle East. A member of the Philosophy Department, he is particularly interested in theology, ethics, and the integration of science and religion. He mentors Camp Ramah in California in Ojai and Ramah of Northern California in the Bay Area. He is also dean of the Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Germany, ordaining Conservative rabbis for Europe. A frequent contributor for the Huffington Post, the Times of Israel,  and a Contributing Writer for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, he has a public figure Facebook page with over 70,000 likes. Rabbi Artson is the author of 12 books and over 250 articles, most recently Renewing the Process of Creation: A Jewish Integration of Science and Spirit. Married to Elana Artson, they are the proud parents of twins, Jacob and Shira.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth
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Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth is the director of Mosaica, an Israeli NGO advancing community mediation and dialogue in Israel. Much of Roth’s work focuses on
Mosaica’s network of insider religious mediators who help prevent, mitigate, and mediate crisis situations throughout Israel, the Middle East, and beyond. Formerly, Roth was the founder and director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution; the Mahloket Matters Projects; and the 9Adar: Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict. Roth is also a core faculty member at Bar-Ilan University’s Graduate Program for Conflict Management, Resolution and Negotiation. His book, Third-Party Peacemakers in Judaism: Text Theory and Practice, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021.

Rabbi Dr. Jason Weiner
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Rabbi Dr. Jason Weiner, BCC, serves as Senior Rabbi and Executive Director of the Spiritual Care Department at Cedars-Sinai, overseeing spiritual care across the health system. He’s also the Rabbi of Knesset Israel Synagogue of Beverlywood and formerly Assistant Rabbi at Young Israel of Century City. Holding two rabbinic ordinations, a Doctorate in clinical bioethics, a master’s in bioethics and health policy, and a master’s in Jewish history, he’s a board-certified chaplain with extensive clinical pastoral education. Rabbi Weiner’s Bioethics Committee role at Cedars-Sinai, presidency of the SoCal Board of Rabbis, and Rabbinic Leadership Awards showcase his leadership. In 2023, he selflessly donated a kidney. An esteemed author of three books, he’s a sought-after scholar-in-residence, teaching Jewish medical ethics across the nation.

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Elie Spitz is rabbi emeritus of Congregation B’nai Israel of Tustin, CA, where he served for over 33 years as its senior rabbi. He is the author of three books and many articles dealing with spirituality and Jewish law. He has taught the philosophy of Jewish law at American Jewish University and has taught at Chapman University.

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Rabbi Dr. Elliot Dorff is a past President of the Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies (2015 – 2017) and a prominent interfaith leader in the Jewish community. Dr. Dorff is the Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at American Jewish University where he has been directing the rabbinical and Masters programs since 1971. He was ordained to the Rabbinate by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. He also serves as the Chair of the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. In addition, Dr. Dorff has served on many boards and commissions related to medical ethics, including the Ethics committee at UCLA Medical Center, the Ethics Advisory Committee for the State of California on stem cell research, and the broader Social Impacts Committee for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Science. Dr. Dorff has published over 200 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics, as well as 14 books and another 14 that he edited or co-edited.

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Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD, is Professor of Rabbinic Literature and former Chair of the Department of Rabbinics for the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She also enjoys serving as the Ziegler School’s faculty advisor for “InterSem,” a dialogue program for students training for religious leadership at Jewish and Christian seminaries around the Los Angeles area.

Rabbi Dr. Jason Weiner
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Rabbi Dr. Jason Weiner, BCC, serves as Senior Rabbi and Executive Director of the Spiritual Care Department at Cedars-Sinai, overseeing spiritual care across the health system. He’s also the Rabbi of Knesset Israel Synagogue of Beverlywood and formerly Assistant Rabbi at Young Israel of Century City. Holding two rabbinic ordinations, a Doctorate in clinical bioethics, a master’s in bioethics and health policy, and a master’s in Jewish history, he’s a board-certified chaplain with extensive clinical pastoral education. Rabbi Weiner’s Bioethics Committee role at Cedars-Sinai, presidency of the SoCal Board of Rabbis, and Rabbinic Leadership Awards showcase his leadership. In 2023, he selflessly donated a kidney. An esteemed author of three books, he’s a sought-after scholar-in-residence, teaching Jewish medical ethics across the nation.

Rabbi Jonathan Aaron
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Rabbi Jonathan Aaron, Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Emerson College (1983) and earned Masters’ degrees in Jewish Education (1993) and Hebrew Letters (1994) from Hebrew Union College. Ordained as a Rabbi in 1996, he has served the temple as Assistant, Associate, and now Co-Senior Rabbi. Formerly Director of Education and Head of Temple Emanuel Academy Day School, Rabbi Aaron seamlessly blends Judaism with the arts, crafting liturgical music for services and directing intergenerational musicals like “Hyrcanus.” He’s renowned for his contemporary prayer experiences, storytelling of folktales and biblical narratives, and police chaplaincy for Beverly Hills Police Department. A Maple Counseling Center board member and visiting professor at Hebrew Union College, he’s taught speech to rabbinical students for over a decade.

Rabbi Joshua Bolton
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Rabbi Joshua Bolton is a celebrated writer and Jewish educator. Having spent a decade working with university students, “Rabbi Josh” currently serves as executive director of Brown RISD Hillel in Providence, Rhode Island and previously directed the Jewish Renaissance Project at Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania. A recognized innovator in the Hillel movement, he is the recipient of a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award for “pushing the boundaries of social media and articulating a rabbinate for the 21st century.”

Rabbi Marc Gellman
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Rabbi Marc Gellman is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York, where he was elected to the pulpit in 1981. He holds an earned Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern University and has published many academic articles and lectured widely. He is the author of 11 books including the award-winning book of modern midrashim for children, Does God Have a Big Toe? He also published a second book of modern midrashim for children, God’s Mailbox.

Rabbi Mark Goodman
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Rabbi Mark Goodman is the rabbi and cantor of Valley Beth Israel, where he has served since 2000. He teaches adult education at the Whizin Center for Continuing Education at AJU. He is currently working on his Doctorate in Jewish Studies.

Rabbi Morris Panitz
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Rabbi Morris Panitz is the Director of BCI and Director of Immersive Experiences at American Jewish University. Rabbi Morris received rabbinical ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and was a recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

Rabbi Noah Farkas
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Rabbi Noah Farkas, named one of America’s most inspiring rabbis by The Forward, is the President & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater LA. From 2008 to 2021, he led innovative initiatives at Valley Beth Shalom, in the San Fernando Valley. He played a crucial role in rebuilding the Gulf Coast Jewish community after Hurricane Katrina at Congregation Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi. Noah is a proven civic leader, having mobilized a coalition for historic legislation and serving as a United States Navy Reserve chaplain. Noah has founded organizations, trained clergy, and contributed widely published works on millennial engagement, spirituality, and Jewish innovation. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Noah resides in Encino with his wife Sarah and four children.

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Rabbi Pinchas Giller
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Rabbi Pinchas Giller was ordained at Yeshiva University and received his PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His has written four scholarly works on Kabbalah and its central work, the Zohar. Rabbi Giller is on the faculty of the Ziegler Rabbinical School and is the head of the Jewish Studies department at the American Jewish University.

Rabbi Samuel “Sammy” Rosenbaum
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Rabbi Samuel “Sammy” Rosenbaum was ordained in May 2023 from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Rabbi Rosenbaum works as the Assistant Dean for Ziegler, focusing on recruitment, admissions, and student community. He is also the part-time rabbi at Temple Ner Shalom in San Luis Obispo. Prior to living in Los Angeles he lived in Atlanta, Georgia working as a professional touring musician and Jewish community builder. His passion is in strengthening Jewish communal and spiritual connection. Rabbi Rosenbaum was the co-founder of The Well – Atlanta, a monthly musical Kabbalat Shabbat gathering. He was a founding resident of Moishe House Atlanta- Virginia Highlands. Originally from Boca Raton, Florida, he loves being outdoors in the sunshine, whether hiking or swimming at the beach.

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Rabbi Shai Held is the president and dean of the Hadar Institute in New York City. Held received the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and he has been named to Newsweek’s list of the most influential rabbis in America and to the Forward’s list of the most prominent Jews in the world. His new book, Judaism Is About Love, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in March 2024. 

Rabbi Sharon Brous
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Rabbi Sharon Brous is the senior and founding rabbi of IKAR. Her TED talk, “Reclaiming Religion,” reached over 1.5 million viewers. She blessed President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Inaugural National Prayer Service in 2013, and in 2021 she returned to bless President Biden and Vice President Harris. Ranked #1 on Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s influential Rabbis in America list, Brous is recognized as one of the fifty most influential Jews by The Forward and Jerusalem Post. Brous’s upcoming book, “The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Heal Our Hearts and Mend Our Broken World,” is available for pre-order in spring 2023. Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and a graduate of Columbia University, she resides in Los Angeles with her spouse and three children.

Rabbi Sherre Hirsch
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Rabbi Sherre Hirsch has made headlines as the first female rabbi at Sinai Temple, the largest Conservative congregation on the west coast. She served as Senior Rabbinic Scholar at Hillel International, where she created and developed Hillelwell, an initiative for Hillels worldwide to become the recognized address for preventative mental health. A thought leader and author on spirituality and religion, Rabbi Hirsch has appeared on The Today Show, ABC News, Extra, and PBS, among other outlets, and has been a contributor to Time.com, Oprah Magazine, The Jewish Journal, The Hollywood Journal, and more.

Rachel Kamin
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Rachel Kamin has been a synagogue librarian for over 20 years and is currently the Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois.  She serves on the Association of Jewish Libraries New Jewish Fiction Award Committee and contributes articles and book reviews to BookLinks, School Library Journal, Jewish Book World, Judaica Librarianship, Library Journal, and AJL Reviews. She facilitates book discussions for five Chicago area synagogues as well as for other organizations and private groups.  Rachel holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.

Rachel Scheinerman
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Rachel Scheinerman, PhD, is Editor of My Jewish Learning, where she founded A Daily Dose of Talmud, the site’s Daf Yomi project that reaches more than 30,000 readers a day. She holds an MA in Scripture & Interpretation from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Rabbinic Literature from Yale University.

Racheli Morris
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Racheli Morris is a dedicated lecturer in Hebrew and Bible Studies at several universities and an accomplished author. She holds a master’s degree in teaching Hebrew as a Second Language from Middlebury College in Vermont, and another master’s degree in education from Bar Ilan University in Israel. With extensive experience teaching Hebrew as a second language in diverse university environments, Racheli brings both expertise and enthusiasm to her academic work.

Rebecca Sacks
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Rebecca Sacks is a graduate of the Programs in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. She is the recipient of a 2020 Elizabeth George Foundation award, a 2019 Canada Council for the Arts grant, and the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation’s 2019 Henfield Prize in fiction writing. She has been awarded fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, and the Mellon-Sawyer Documenting War Seminar Series. After graduating from Dartmouth College, she worked for several years at Vanity Fair before moving to Tel Aviv to pursue a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies. She has written dispatches from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for publications including the Paris Review Daily. This is her first novel.

Richard Bruland
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Richard Bruland studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He has exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and is represented by Lora Schlesinger Gallery at Bergamot Station, Santa Monica.

Richard Hirschhaut
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Richard S. Hirschhaut became Director of AJC Los Angeles in September 2019. He is the organization’s chief strategist and principal spokesperson in advancing AJC’s global advocacy mission in Southern California, leading a vibrant leadership network and talented professional team.

Rick brings to this position more than 30 years of civil rights, humanitarian, and Jewish communal advocacy, serving in senior professional roles across the U.S. with the Anti-Defamation League, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and American Friends of Rambam Medical Center.

Rick is a builder and innovator who has worked to advance human rights and democratic values, enhance intergroup understanding, and promote the security and well-being of Jews and other vulnerable communities in the United States, Israel, and around the world. His work with NGOs has included efforts to advance humanitarian medical aid and peaceful coexistence in Israel and neighboring countries. He has led fact-finding missions to Israel, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Cuba. He also spearheaded international efforts to mark the 20th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Previously, Rick led the creation and establishment of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, as its founding executive director. The museum opened in 2009 to international acclaim and the participation of President Bill Clinton, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and an audience of 13,000. Under his leadership, the museum hosted over half a million visitors, including heads of state and other dignitaries.

In 2013, Rick received an Emmy Award as Co-Executive Producer of the nationally-broadcast documentary, Skokie: Invaded but Not Conquered.

Rick also enjoyed a 21-year tenure with the Anti-Defamation League, including a decade as Midwest regional director. He built bridges between the African-American and Jewish communities and worked closely with law enforcement on issues of antisemitism and extremism. His achievements were recognized with the FBI’s Community Leadership Award and the City of Chicago’s Human Relations Award.

Rick and his wife Susan, a native of Los Angeles, are the proud parents of two adult children. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Judaic studies from Tulane University, and has studied at Hebrew University’s Rothberg School for Overseas Students. He grew up in upstate New York and Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Rick Richman is a resident scholar at American Jewish University and the author of Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler. He graduated with honors from Harvard College and New York University Law School. He has written for Commentary, The Jewish Journal, The Jewish Review of Books, Mosaic Magazine, The New York Post, The New York Sun and other publications, and is the author of the chapter on American Zionism in What America Owes the Jews, What Jews Owe America.

Follow the link to explore Rick Richman’s newest release from 2023, “And None Shall Make Them Afraid: Eight Stories of the Modern State of Israel.”

Robert Hirsch
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Robert Hirsch is an artist, curator, educator, historian and author of Seizing the Light: A Social & Aesthetic History of Photography and Light and Lens: Thinking About Photography in the Digital Age. Transformational Imaging: Handmade Photography Since 1960, Photographic Possibilities; and Exploring Color Photography.

Hirsch was a professor of photography at Amarillo College, SUNY/Buffalo, and SUNY/Brockport where he was also the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Director of the Visual Studies Workshop. Hirsch leads Light Research, a consulting firm providing professional services to the photographic arts field. He is the former Executive Director and Chief Curator of CEPA Gallery. He has curated over 200 solo and group exhibitions, and public art projects. He is a co-founder of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY.

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Dr. Robert Rabil is a professor of Middle East studies at the Florida Atlantic University’s Department of Political Science. He received his master’s degree in government from the Harvard University Extension School and his doctorate in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University. In May 2012, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He has appeared on and has been interviewed by British Broadcasting Company (BBC), C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other major media networks, and participates in government sponsored roundtable discussions and forums.

Robert Siegel
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Prior to his retirement from NPR in 2018, Robert Siegel spent 31 years hosting the daily newsmagazine program ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Before that he was head of news and information programming at the network and, from 1979 to 1983, NPR‘s first news staffer stationed overseas, in London. Today, Siegel is a literary contributor to Moment Magazine and host of the monthly web panel Global Connections which is also seen on the cable channel JBS, the Jewish Broadcasting Service.

Roman Shnaider
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Roman Shnaider currently teaches Modern Hebrew at De Toledo High School and Ofek Learning Hub for several years. He holds a master’s degree in teaching Hebrew as a second language from Middlebury College, Vermont, where he is currently enrolled in the Doctoral program. He has a bachelor’s degree and a Teacher’s Credential in History, and his first master’s degree is in Educational Counseling (with honors) from Bar– Ilan University.

Ron Wolfson
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Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, where he has been on the faculty for fifty years. He is the author of twenty books on Jewish life, including Shabbat, Passover, Hanukkah, God’s To-Do List, The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven, The Spirituality of Welcoming, Relational Judaism, The Relational Judaism Handbook, a memoir, The Best Boy in the United States of America, and his latest book with Dr. Bruce Powell – Raising A+ Human Beings: Crafting a Jewish School Culture of Academic Excellence and AP Kindness.

Ross Douthat
Bio

Ross Douthat joined The New York Times as an Opinion columnist in April 2009. His column appears every Wednesday and Sunday. He is also a host on the weekly Opinion podcast “Matter of Opinion.” Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of six books, most recently “The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery,” which was published in October 2021. He is the film critic for National Review. He lives with his wife and four children in New Haven, Conn.

SP Harper
Bio

S.P. Harper studied art at American University in Paris, University of Southern (BFA) and ArtCenter. After 12 years in New York, she returned to Los Angeles to teach art. She concentrates on Ecocentric Art and exhibits throughout California. More at spharper.com.

Bio

Sabrina Goldfischer is a 2023 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College. She served as president of Harvard Hillel from 2021-2022, inspiring her senior thesis, “The Death of Discourse: Antisemitism at Harvard College.” Her thesis received media coverage and honors from the college, including the Harry and Cecile Starr Prize in Jewish Studies. She was recently named one of the Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2023. Sabrina currently works at the White House and is writing a book on college antisemitism.

Sagi Refael
Bio

Sagi Refael is an Israeli art historian, curator, educator, writer and advisor to collectors and artists, based in Los Angeles. He is also the founder of IAILA, a private educational and commercial initiative representing contemporary Israeli artists in Southern California.

 

Sarah Har Shalom
Bio

Sarah Har-Shalom holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish and Bible Studies. She has vast knowledge in ancient and modern Hebrew, Bible, and other Jewish texts, as well as in Jewish history and communities and utilizes this knowledge in her teaching practice.

Sefi Kraut
Bio

Sefi Kraut has had the privilege of teaching Judaic Studies since 2004. She began her professional career teaching Tanakh to middle school students at a Jewish day school in Paramus, NJ. Upon moving to Israel in 2013, Sefi taught in several gap year programs before joining the faculty of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. Additionally, Sefi is the Director of the Pardes Mahloket Matters project. She frequently leads Mahloket Matters fellowships and seminars for educators, rabbis, and lay leaders. Sefi has also co-created a new curriculum for teens called, “Mahloket Matters: Navigating Inner Challenges and Societal Discord through Jewish Text and Social-Emotional Learning.”

Shasha Dothan
Bio

Shasha Dothan (b. 1987 Tel-Aviv) is a Brooklyn-based artist working with video, installation, poetry and sound. She creates immersive experiences that connect fragments of her personal history. Exhibitions include the Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan; Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Petah Tikva; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Erica Broussard Gallery, Santa Ana; American Jewish University, Los Angeles; Jerusalem Cultural Season, Jerusalem; University at Buffalo Art Galleries, Buffalo and Ashdod museum of Art, Ashdod.

Bio

Shira Telushkin is a reporter living in Brooklyn, where she covers religion, art, and the human search for beauty. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Washington Post, and many other outlets. For three years, Telushkin produced Unorthodox, the podcast of Tablet magazine. Her first book, How to Forsake the World, will be published by HarperCollins next year. Shira holds a B.A. in religious studies from Yale University, and an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School. 

Simon Greer
Bio

Simon Greer has been involved in progressive social change work for the past 30 years. Considered to be a serial entrepreneur in the nonprofit world, he has three times served in a CEO role in “turnaround” undertakings where the organizations’ missions were as noble as ever, but their impact and approach needed an overhaul.

He has founded multiple non-profits and today, as the founder of Cambridge Heath Ventures, Greer works with leaders and organizations to help them overcome their most pressing challenges. Throughout these efforts, he has been known for a commitment to innovation, risk, and unconventional thinking.

Sophie Herxheimer
Bio

Sophie Herxheimer is a British artist and poet.  She’s held many residencies including for London International Festival of Theatre, Museum of Liverpool, and Transport for London, and in 2020 she spent six months as the Peleh Fund artist in residence in Berkeley California. In 2019 she was a Hawthornden Fellow.

Bio
Yael Eckstein is the President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Yael has contributed to The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and is the author of three books. In 2021, she launched her weekly podcast, Nourish Your Biblical Roots, and has been a featured guest on CBN’s The 700 Club with Gordon Robertson. Yael has been featured as the cover story of Nashim [Women] magazine, named “the world’s leading Jewish interfaith activist,” by The Algemeiner, and was in the Jerusalem Post’s list of 50 Most Influential Jews. Yael was educated at Torat Chesed Seminary in Israel, Queens College in New York, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is based in Israel with her husband and their four children.
Yael Farjun
Bio

Since 2010, Yael Farjun has thrived in Shanghai. Following a BA in Asia studies and political science, specialized in China, she founded two travel companies. Initially a tour guide, Yael’s deep knowledge of China from her studies and her love for history fueled her journey. Her interest in China’s Jewish heritage ignited in 2009 during a Shanghai study program. Determined to share this lesser-known story, she connected with fascinating individuals and conducted insightful interviews. Amid the pandemic, Yael reluctantly closed her businesses and joined a company aiding international ventures in China. Proudly involved in Shanghai and China’s Jewish community, she leads a fulfilling life bridging cultures.