“I have been able to find a stronger center in myself to which I can return so that I am not shaken by the daily ups and downs of congregational life.”

— Rabbi Rona Shapiro

Leadership: Staff & Board

Great leaders do work that is effective, sustainable and meaningful. At the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, we believe that this requires da’at, which, as understood in Hasidic literature, means a rich, spacious awareness that leads to righteous action. Da’at (from the word lada’at, “to know”) implies intimacy, a knowing grounded in trust and compassion. When we cultivate that kind of knowing, we become more aware of how things are interconnected, of the underlying Unity, its dazzlingly diverse manifestations and our own place within it. This awareness allows the necessary insight for leaders to evaluate their own behaviors, make wise decisions and find true joy in the work they do. Through personal investment in spiritual practices that support the cultivation of da’at, we all can better embody the characteristics of great leadership.


Jordan Bendat-Appell, Program Director

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell is a Program Director and teacher of Jewish mindfulness for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Jordan was ordained in 2008, after which he served as a congregational rabbi and began interning with the Institute.  Prior to pursuing his rabbinical studies, Jordan studied Conservation Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, spent several months at Zen centers in California and France, led spiritually engaged Jewish backpacking trips, worked at a number of Jewish summer camps and studied Jewish text at yeshivot in Jerusalem.  Jordan is a founder of the Center for Jewish Mindfulness in Chicago, now a part of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning.

He is a 2014 recipient of the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators.

Jordan is a proud father of three and partner to Yael Bendat-Appell; they live outside of Chicago.

“The Institute for Jewish Spirituality represents the best of Jewish living through the practice and development of Jewishly rooted, effective tools that facilitate our growing into the people that we hope to be in this world.”

jordan@jewishspirituality.org • 646.248.7614

Mara Bernstein, Retreats and Programs Manager

Mara Bernstein comes to the Institute with a background in Jewish nonprofit program support and event management. She served as a program administrator at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she coordinated professional development fellowships for Jewish educators. Mara also has a background in museum education – she has served as an educator at the Museum at Eldridge Street and Fraunces Tavern Museum, and also leads neighborhood walking tours in New York City. A native of southern California, Mara received her BA in History and Judaic Studies from New York University. Mara enjoys swimming, cooking, and exploring her Upper West Side neighborhood.

marab@jewishspirituality.org • 646.248.7582

Sam Feinsmith, Program Director

rsz_sam_headshotRabbi Sam Feinsmith has been immersed in the world of Jewish contemplative living, learning, and teaching for over fifteen years. Serving as a consultant on a number of cutting-edge projects related to prayer, spirituality, and education, he has conducted Jewish meditation workshops and retreats for young children, teens, and Jewish educators and community leaders. After fourteen years of teaching Jewish mindfulness to teens and educators in NY and Illinois, Rabbi Feinsmith currently directs the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s national Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life pilot for Jewish day schools and summer camps.

sam@jewishspirituality.org • 646.851.0133

Nancy Flam, Senior Program Director

Rabbi Nancy Flam was the first Director of the Institute and a co-founder of the Jewish Healing Center in 1991. She then directed the Jewish Community Healing Program of Ruach Ami: Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco. She has served as a consultant for Synagogue 2000 and the National Center for Jewish Healing. Rabbi Flam earned her B.A. in Religion (Phi Beta Kappa, Summa cum Laude) from Dartmouth College in 1982; her M.A. in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1986, and was ordained in 1989.

nancy@jewishspirituality.org • 413.584.0187

Lisa Goldstein, Executive Director

Rabbi Lisa Goldstein is the Executive Director of the Institute; prior to that, she spent 15 years as Executive Director of Hillel of San Diego where she garnered local and national recognition for her devotion to students and her leadership. She has been a service learning group leader for the American Jewish World Service and as a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow in 2009-2010, she designed a new methodology for combining local justice work and contemplative practice within a Jewish framework.

“I have been an enthusiastic participant in Institute programs since 2002 and believe that the cultivation of spiritual practices as taught by the Institute has the potential to transform leadership in the Jewish community towards greater wisdom and commitment to right action in the world.”

lisag@jewishspirituality.org • 646.462.4263

Denise Lorentz-Kirchner, Director of Finance and Operations

Denise came to the Institute after working in a variety of institutions, from a Fortune 500 company to start-up E-commerce companies, to businesses in the garment and diamond worlds. Denise has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a double minor in Economics and Business Education from Salem University. She is a Boston native currently residing in Westchester, NY, with her husband and daughter.


deniselk@jewishspirituality.org • 212.913.9201

Marc Margolius, Senior Program Director

Rabbi Marc Margolius has directed alumni programming for clergy for the Institute since 2005. As spiritual leader at West End Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side from 2010-17, he developed a systemic congregational model integrating mindfulness practice with middot (spiritual/ethical values).  At Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley PA from 1989-2002, he helped develop a national model of the synagogue as a Shabbat-centered community constructed around intergenerational learning.

Rabbi Margolius previously conceived and directed the Legacy Heritage Innovation Project, an initiative supporting systemic educational transformation in congregations. He has served as Director of Jewish Life and Identity for the JCCs of Philadelphia, and taught at the Center for Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania.  Rabbi Margolius was ordained in 1989 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School.  He lives in New York with his wife, Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, and is the proud father of five.


Shelly Nelson-Shore, Communications and Development Associate

shelly for web

Shelly comes to the Institute after working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Therapist in Berkshire County, where she taught mindfulness practice to children and young adults. After growing up at Camp Eisner, Shelly received her BA in Creative Writing, Sociology, and Women’s & Gender Studies from Brandeis University and her MSW from the University of Maine. Shelly lives with her husband, also an Eisner alum, and an overly enthusiastic, very silly dog. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, baking, and embracing her inner child through arts and crafts.

shellyns@jewishspirituality.org • 917.512.4067

Batya Perman, Wise Aging Director

Batya Perman, Wise Aging Director

Batya joins IJS as the new director of the Wise Aging Program. She is a pioneer and thought leader in the senior move management industry where she has been helping seniors and their families go through the downsizing/rightsizing process for the past 21 years. Batya trained in Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s Spiritual Eldering/Aging to Saging program in 2000 and as a Wise Aging Facilitator in 2015. Batya has had a long career as both a Jewish and secular educator and continues to work with people of all ages. She has a special interest in facilitating change on both the psychological and practical levels and speaks nationally and locally on aging and change, most recently introducing Wise Aging to the National Association of Senior Move Managers at their 2017 conference. With a background in Parent Effectiveness and Teacher Effectiveness Training based on the work of Carl Rogers, she continues to cultivate a practice in active listening.  She is devoted to swimming as moving meditation, and is developing a T’ai Chi practice. Batya is a graduate of UPenn and Oxford University, and has a doctorate in psychology from Edinburgh University in Scotland.

batyap@jewishspirituality.org • 646-491-9006

Barbara Shuman, Retreat Manager

Barbara Shuman, founding Director of Wise Aging, is now the IJS on-site Retreat Manager. A graduate of IJS’s Kivvun Program, she brings 18 years of experience in coordinating the Union for Reform Judaism’s Kallah program of study and spirituality retreats. Barbara was a member of the URJ North American Board from 1993-2016, and was formerly President of her synagogue and President of Pittsburgh’s Agency for Jewish Learning. Barbara has a BA from Brandeis University and a MA from Columbia University. She is also a Jewish Spiritual Director, having completed the Morei Derekh Training Program. When not involved with the IJS she enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her three grandchildren.


Jonathan Slater, Senior Program Director

Rabbi Jonathan Slater co-directs the Clergy Leadership Program and participates as staff in many other programs at the Institute, and is a graduate of the Institute’s first rabbinic cohort. He is the author of A Partner in Holiness: Deepening Mindfulness, Practicing Compassion and Enriching Our Lives through the Wisdom of R. Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev’s Kedushat Levi  (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014) and Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice (Aviv Press, 2004). Jonathan received his ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1979, and served as rabbi at Beth Am in Santa Rosa, California, for 19 years. He is on the faculty of Makom: Center for Mindfulness at the JCC in Manhattan, teaching and leading mindfulness meditation.

“I am constantly amazed and inspired at how the focused, sustained and honest inner work of our participants generates such deep personal transformation, inspired leadership and strong commitment to ease human suffering and sustain the world.”

jonathan@jewishspirituality.org • 212.913.9198

Ruth Weiner, Development Director

As development director, Ruth oversees all aspects of the philanthropy initiatives that support the Institute of Jewish Spirituality’s programs and operations. Ruth brings to this role her extensive experience creating, building, and managing successful development programs at several independent high schools. A lifelong Massachusetts resident, she is actively involved as a volunteer at her high school, Phillips Academy, and her synagogue in Andover. Ruth’s son, daughter-in-law, and twin grandchildren live in Manhattan. Her daughter lives in Brooklyn. Ruth is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University.

ruthw@jewishspirituality.org • 646-863-5233 x013


Terry Rosenberg, Chair

Terry Rosenberg

Terry Rosenberg has a 25-year career as an executive coach and organizational consultant, specializing in leadership development and communication. Over the last 15 years she has focused on working with nonprofits, specializing in synagogue change initiatives and board development.  She currently serves on the boards of Mayyim Hayyim in Boston and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.

“The Institute matters to me because true leadership requires personal transformation. The Institute creates Jewish leaders who illuminate the values of justice, compassion, and truthfulness in the communities they inspire and serve.”

Jeannie Blaustein

Jeannie Blaustein graduated from Brown University with Honors in history; she received an MA in history from NYU, and then shifted her studies to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. A licensed clinical psychologist, Jeannie worked in the Barnard College Counseling Service for several years, and is currently an Adjunct Supervisor to City College’s Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She serves on the board of the Phoebe Berman Bioethics Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and on the Board of LitWorld, an extraordinary non-profit dedicated to promoting sustainable literacy in the Third World.

Judy Fisher

Judy Fisher is a Jewish meditation teacher and has been the director of Or HaLev (Light of the Heart), the Center for Jewish spirituality at Peninsula Temple Beth El (PTBE) in San Mateo, California for the past three years.  She received her certification to teach Jewish meditation from IJS’s Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training (JMTT3) and has been teaching Jewish meditation at Or HaLev as well as teaching meditation at high tech companies in the Bay Area.  She has also been trained as a facilitator for IJS’s Wise Aging Program and looks forward to facilitating workshops at PTBE.  Judy was a technical and marketing writer and editor in the high tech world for more than twenty years, including IBM.  She has been serving on PTBE’s board of trustees for the last four years and has also served on numerous boards in the Jewish community in San Diego where her family lived prior to the Bay Area, including Congregation Beth Israel, the Jewish Women’s Foundation and the Central Agency for Jewish Education.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Religion from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is a graduate of the Melton Program.  Judy is married to Tom Fisher, an executive at Oracle, and is the mother of three amazing children.

“I want to further the mission of the IJS and believe that the cultivation of Jewish spiritual practice has the potential to change and improve our world one person at a time.”

Dorian S. Goldman

Dorian Goldman is President of the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation and Vice President of the New York-based BLDG group, a family-owned and operated real estate enterprise. She is an advocate for research dedicated to the cure and eradication of breast cancer, an investor in efforts to end global poverty by strengthening local community resources, and a supporter of institutions and ideas that create civic and spiritual connections for young Jewish adults.  Ms. Goldman has served on the Boards of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, American Associates of Ben-Gurion University, and the Synergos Institute, and she is a founding board member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.  She and her husband, Marvin Israelow, have three grown sons and three granddaughters.

Ann Greenstein

Ann GreensteinAnn Greenstein is active in the greater Chicago Jewish community and currently serves as President of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago.

“I became interested in the work of the Institute because I was convinced that there was a different way to see and to inhabit this world beyond what I already knew and understood and I wanted to explore that within a Jewish framework.”



Rabbi Daniel Liben

Rabbi Daniel Liben was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1983, and became the spiritual leader of Temple Israel in Natick, MA in 1991. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, and of the New England Region Rabbinical Assembly. After going through the Institute’s 4th Rabbinic cohort, Dan has made the exploration of prayer as a spiritual practice a cornerstone of his rabbinic work. Dan spent several years exploring mindfulness at Elat Chayyim, where his teachers were Sylvia Boorstein, Jeff Roth, Sheila Weinberg, and Norman Fisher. He subsequently completed JMMTT—for a second time!—and taught meditation for the Institute in the 7th Rabbinic cohort. This year, Dan is completing Bekhol Levavkha, a two-year training program in Spiritual Direction, and is co-facilitating a Wise Aging group at Temple Israel of Natick. Dan is married to Fran Robins Liben, Chief Human Resources Officer at Ropes and Gray. They have five grown children and seven grandchildren.

Rabbi Shuli Passow

Rabbi Shuli Passow is the director of Community Engagement at B’nai Jeshrun synagogue in New York, NY. Shuli received her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and previously served as the Director of Community Initiatives at the Jewish Funds for Justice, where she worked with synagogues across the country to support their involvement in congregation-based community organizing. She has taught widely in youth and adult education settings, and is particularly passionate about exploring issues of justice, compassion, environmentalism and economics through Jewish text. A trained yoga instructor, Shuli loves teaching yoga in Jewish contexts, and has participated in a number of Institute Programs, including Yom Iyyun and the Tikkun Middot Project.

Rabbi Rex D. Perlmeter

Rabbi Rex D Perlmeter is the Founding Director of the Jewish Wellness Center of Montclair. He credits the vision of this provider of holistic teachings and services leading toward personal and communal sh’leimut in large part to the inspiration received from his participation in several of the programs of the Institute. A former member of the Senior Staff of the Union for Reform Judaism, he resides in New Jersey with his wife, Rabbi Rachel Hertzman and family.

Daniel Scharf

Dan ScharfDr. Daniel Scharf has practiced cardiology in Kansas City since 1977 and has recently retired.  He has been a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.  He is an active participant in the life of his jewish community and has served as president of the Jewish Heritage Foundation, a major funding source for Jewish social service needs in KC.  He currently is on the board of the Greater Kansas City Jewish Federation. Dan participated in the second cohort of the Institute’s Kivvun program, and both he and his wife Miriam have been working hard to bring Institute programs such as Wise Aging and Tikkun Middot study to their community.

Larry Schwartz, Immediate Past Chair

Larry Schwartz spent 25 years as a principal of the company that created the Lugz and British Knights shoe brands. He retired from his business recently to spend more time cultivating his Jewish spiritual practice and helping the Institute grow and develop; he is a member of many Institute board committees. He cofounded the Jewish Meditation Center of Montclair and teaches Jewish meditation at Romemu and at elementary and middle schools in the city. Larry also invests in Impact companies and funds and currently serves on the board of one of those companies.

“The Institute means so much to me because it deeply touches and inspires so many people and is helping to revitalize Judaism throughout North America.”

Amanda Silver

Amanda Silver is a leadership and organizational development consultant to non-profit and social change organizations around the country. She also serves as senior training consultant at Dartmouth College consultant through the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College.  As a coach, trainer and facilitator, Amanda draws on mindfulness, emotional-intelligence, and strength-based approaches to create the conditions that allow individuals, teams and organizations to thrive. She lives in New Hampshire with her family.

“As a recent graduate of the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training program, I admire the Institute as a unique organization in which my passion for social justice, Jewish spiritual practice, and mindfulness intersect in an integrated way.”

Marte Singerman

Marte SingermanMarte V. Singerman, Esq. graduated from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in 1983 with Honors and practiced law in Miami concentrating in commercial litigation and bankruptcy from 1983 – 1998. She retired in 1998 to raise her two daughters and undertook significant volunteer positions with Temple Beth Sholom, Miami Country Day School, Design and Architecture Senior High, and City Theater.  In 2012 she become a certified yoga instructor and now volunteers as a yoga and meditation instructor.  In 2012, she also co-founded The Social Cog, Inc. a non-profit which provides quality social skills training and builds community for independently functioning adults with learning and developmental disabilities.  She currently serves as a Director, Secretary and its General Counsel.  Marte started a course of study to become a Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with the Institute of Jewish Spirituality in May 2016.  She also sits on the Board of Trustees of Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach where she has been affiliated since 1994.  Marte resides in Miami Beach with her husband, Paul Steven Singerman.  Their daughters Eliza and Rickie are students in Santa Monica, CA and Boca Raton, FL, respectively.

Steven Targum, Treasurer

Steven Targum, MD, is a psychiatrist and clinical researcher who consults widely to the pharmaceutical industry regarding the design and implementation of clinical trials for new psychotropic drugs. He has founded several clinical consulting companies that focus on quality assurance and data integrity for drug development. Steve is active in Jewish communal organizations; In 2011, he and his wife, Carol were honored at the Spring Benefit of Boston’s Mayyim Chayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh.



Larry Yermack

Larry Yermack has spent his professional career applying technology to the nation’s surface transportation network. He was the creator of the E-ZPass toll collection system in the Northeast, has held several government positions including first deputy transportation commissioner for New York City, was president of a 400-person transportation engineering firm, and now is a strategic advisor to a large international engineering firm. His passion is Jewish Spiritual Practice; along with Rabbi Chai Levy, Larry recently started Congregation Kol Shofar’s Center for Jewish Spirituality in Marin County, California. He teaches Jewish Meditation weekly and at occasional retreats.

“The Institute is important to me because it provides the tools to integrate spiritual practices into a full meaningful Jewish life.”