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.
Vanessa Efoe, Staff Accountant
Vanessa is originally from Côte d’Ivoire located in West Africa. She graduated from Laguardia Community College where she received her Associate degree in Accounting. She earned her Bachelor degree in Finance and a double minors in Communications and Sociology from Baruch. Vanessa has since then been practicing Accounting in various work environments. She has always felt the call for working in a not for profit organization, following the footsteps of her father. Vanessa is very eager to be a part of the IJS family. She currently lives in New York City and loves to travel, discover new culture, and is passionate about finding the “fun” side in people.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 646.448.8918
Sam Feinsmith, Program Director
Rabbi 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.
email@example.com • 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.
firstname.lastname@example.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.”
email@example.com • 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.
firstname.lastname@example.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.
email@example.com • (646) 867-2512
Liat Melnick, Retreats & Programs Manager
Liat Melnick is the Retreat and Programs Manager at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Liat is a graduate of IJS’ Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training, and earned a B.A. from Goucher College where they studied Religion, Psychology and Judaic Studies. They are passionate about contemplative practice and love building and nurturing Jewish and multi-faith spaces that support Non-Violence and social justice. In addition to their role at IJS, Liat is an educator and curriculum writer for Gender Illumination, serves on the advisory board of Stony Point Center and the Community of Living Traditions, and enjoys farming.
firstname.lastname@example.org • (646) 248-7582
Shelly Nelson-Shore, Communications and Development Associate
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.
email@example.com • 917.512.4067
Firkins Reed, Foundation Relations Manager
Firkins comes to IJS after 30 years in education, working as a high school English teacher, College Counselor, and Program Director. She has spent the past fifteen years in grant writing and development for schools and educational non-profits, including Facing History and Ourselves and the Boston Public Schools. Firkins has a deep interest in meditation, both Buddhist and Jewish, and has practiced with the Kwan Um School of Zen and Nishmat Hayyim in the Boston area. Firkins holds an MA from Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and an MEd from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is active in local politics, serving two terms on her town’s school board. She lives in Natick, MA with her husband and two daughters.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 617.429.4277
Barbara Shuman, Retreat Coordinator
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.”
email@example.com • 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.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 646-863-5233 x014
Terry Rosenberg, Chair
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 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.
David Ferleger has a national law and consulting practice, specializing in public interest, civil rights, and disability law. He has litigated landmark disability cases, including five arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States. David has taught at the New York University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In addition to his legal work, he is President and Founder of Ferleger Wealth Management, LLC, an investment advisory firm. For several years, David was the Treasurer and Chair of the Endowment Committee for the Board of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is an alumnus of Kivvun 4. He is married to Rabbi Dayle Friedman (R6) and lives in Philadelphia, PA.
Judy Fisher has been serving on the IJS board for three years and chairs the technology committee. She 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 five years. She received her certification to teach Jewish meditation from IJS’s Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program (JMMTT3) and is currently in the IJS Kivvun program. Judy also teaches Jewish meditation at Or HaLev as well as in the Bay Area. She has also been trained as a facilitator for IJS’s Wise Aging Program and facilitates Wise Aging workshops at PTBE.
Judy was a technical and marketing writer, editor and project manager in the high-tech world for more than twenty years. She has been serving on PTBE’s board of trustees for the last seven 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 studied at the Hayim Greenberg College in Jerusalem. Judy has been married for almost 40 years to Tom Fisher, a high-tech executive, is the mother of three amazing children, one daughter-in-law and is a new grandmother. They live in San Mateo, California.
“I want to further the mission of IJS and believe that the cultivation of Jewish spiritual practice has the potential to change and improve our world one person at a time.”
“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.”
Marvin Israelow worked as an organization development consultant for nearly 30 years, providing clients with a broad range of services including strategic planning, team development, leadership counseling, and customize seminars in change management and career development. Prior to starting his own firm in 1983, Marvin worked for the Exxon Corporation as an organizational development advisor> His academic background includes a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School and a Thouron Fellowship at the London School of Economics. He earned a Master’s degree from Temple University and studied at MIT’s Sloan School of Management where he also taught and conducted research on the innovation process in organizations. Marvin is an alumnus of Kivvun 1 and JMMTT2. He also completed the HUC-JIR Spiritual Director training program. He serves on the faculty of IJS’s Wise Aging program. Marvin is married to Dorian Goldman. He is the father of three sons, three daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He lives in Chappaqua, NY.
Julie Kohl is a retired pediatrician and mohelet, who is focused on physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. She attended Yale College and Stanford Medical School. After raising her kids, Benjamin Bronx and Zoe Paris, in Silicon Valley, she relocated to Seattle with her husband, Glen, and goldendoodles, Rollo and Yofi. She is currently participating in the Palliative Care Certificate Program at the University of Washington, and is on the founding board of Limmud Seattle. Julie is an alumna of Kivvun 4, and is an avid learner in all areas of her life.
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.
Dr. 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.”
“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 V. Singerman, Esq. graduated from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in 1983. She currently serves as an officer and director on the Boards of The Social Cog, Inc., Temple Beth Sholom and The Institute for Jewish Spirituality. She is also a certified yoga instructor and Jewish Meditation Teacher. Marte resides in Miami Beach with her husband, Paul Steven Singerman. Their daughters Eliza and Rickie are students in Boca Raton, FL. “My participation in IJS programs has transformed and enriched both my secular and Jewish life.”
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 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.”