Our Staff, Teachers, and Board

IJS teaches people who are seeking a deeper, richer and more meaningful life experience Jewish spiritual practices that are grounded in mindfulness.

Our Staff

Jett Bachman

Program Operations Associate

Jett is a freelance artist who provides part-time administrative and tech support for IJS programming. They are an alum of Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps and feel a deep connection between their Jewish values and movements for justice. Jett has created political education materials and movement-based art for organizations like Survived + Punished, Jewish Voice for Peace, Interrupting Criminalization, and Restorative Justice Initiative. Before embarking on this freelance journey, Jett worked for anti-violence organizations including Day One, where they created and facilitated consent education workshops for K-5 students. They have a BA in Gender Studies from Pomona College. Jett is also a lifelong Brooklynite, comic-maker, and Prospect Park enthusiast. You can learn more about their creative work at jettgeorge.com

Elizabeth Cohen

Senior Development Associate

Elizabeth has spent most of her professional career in marketing positions of increasing responsibility at the American Express Company. In 2015, she switched to the nonprofit sector with a Development position at the American Committee for the Tel Aviv Foundation. She has a Bachelor’s degree in History from SUNY Buffalo and an MBA in Marketing from New York University. Her interests outside of work include film, theater, synagogue and French classes.

Molly Easton

Development Associate

Molly plans and develops IJS events and fundraisers, engaging our donors and communities. She is a Virginia native now living in Brooklyn. She has previously worked in non-profit development and programming in settings of youth services, outdoor exploration, higher education, and multifaith dialogue. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Virginia. Outside of work, she enjoys nature, literature, travel, and being with friends and family.

Vanessa Efoe

Senior Accountant

Vanessa keeps IJS running by maintaining financial reports, performing general bookkeeping, and helping those who call the office with questions or concerns. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Baruch College and has worked in Accounting in various industries. Working for a nonprofit such as IJS has been her goal for a long time, following in the footsteps of her father, who works at Caritas France. She has strong family values and enjoys helping others.

Alyse Erman

Chief Operating Officer

Alyse Erman (she/her) joined IJS as Chief Operating Officer in March 2022. With a background in urban planning, Alyse has often found herself in strategy roles deeply connected to communities, education, and social justice. Prior to her work with IJS, Alyse worked at the New York City Department of Education leading the strategic planning and implementation of a mental health initiative for educators and families with young children. She lives with her wife and one year old in Brooklyn, New York.

Rabbi Josh Feigelson

President & CEO

Josh was appointed Executive Director of IJS in January 2020 and became President & CEO in April 2022. He received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in 2005, and served for six years as the Hillel Rabbi at Northwestern University, where he also earned a PhD in Religious Studies. In 2011, Josh helped found and served as Executive Director of Ask Big Questions, an initiative of Hillel International, which won the inaugural Lippman-Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom. Josh has also been a consultant and Senior Fellow at The iCenter for Israel Education. Most recently he served as Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Josh is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and was the founding co-chair of the Wexner Fellowship Alumni Committee. He is the author of Eternal Questions: Reflections, Conversations, and Jewish Mindfulness Practices for the Weekly Torah Portion (Ben Yehuda Press, 2022). Josh lives with his wife Natalie and their three sons in Skokie, IL.

Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

Senior Core Faculty

As Senior Core Faculty at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith directs the Clergy Leadership Program and teaches on the faculty of a variety of other programs. He has been immersed in Jewish contemplative living, learning, and teaching for over twenty years, conducting Jewish meditation workshops, programs, and retreats for children, teens, Jewish educators, and community leaders. He’s passionate about practicing and teaching meditation and making the spiritual teachings of Hasidism available to all. Sam lives on the land of the Council of the Three Fires – the Potowatami, Ojibwe, and Odawa tribes – currently known as Evanston, IL.

Maidelle Goodman Benamy

Chief Development Officer

Maidelle is responsible for maximizing the philanthropic support for IJS, so it continues to grow its programs and audience. She has had a distinguished 35-year career in Jewish Communal work and held senior positions at Educational Alliance, UJA-Federation of NY, Jewish National Fund, Anti-Defamation League, Hillels of New York, and The Shefa School. She holds a Masters degree in Community Social Work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work and a BA from Barnard College. She is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, NY, and is the proud mother of three, friend to 2 daughters-in-law, and grandmother of five.

Rabbi Myriam Klotz

Senior Core Faculty & Senior Advisor for Special Projects

Myriam is on the IJS Senior Core Faculty team, serving as Program Director for the Kol Dodi Spiritual Director Training program and advocate for DEI initiatives at IJS. Myriam has been on the IJS faculty since 2003, teaching yoga and embodied practices in the clergy, educator, Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Trainings as well as hevraya/alumni retreats and programs. Myriam created a Middot Yoga Teacher Training for Westchester county, NY, a Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training at Isabella Freedman, and was the director of the Spirituality Initiative/Spiritual Direction program at HUC-JIR from 2010-2020. Myriam directed Bekhol Levavkha Jewish Spiritual Director training at HUC-JIR and is a spiritual director and supervisor in private practice. A graduate of Brown University, New York University/International Center of Photography and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Myriam is a certified yoga instructor, yoga therapist and body worker. She has contributed to several publications on the topics of embodiment, spiritual practice and spiritual direction, and has produced IJS’s Yoga for Jewish Spirituality CD series.

Rabbi Miriam Margles

Senior Core Faculty

Miriam has a long and rich association with IJS, having taught on various retreats and programs over the years. She joins the Institute as a Senior Core Faculty after over a decade as the rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle in Toronto. Her career has included service as a founding faculty member at the Romemu Yeshiva, serving as a fellow with the Rising Song Institute, co-founding the award-winning educational program engaging with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Encounter, and recording her original Jewish music with the Hadar Rising Song ensemble. Miriam’s album, Zeh HaYom – this is the day, is available at: https://miriammargles.bandcamp.com/

Miriam teaches and leads by creating an atmosphere of attentive, brave, playful and open-hearted exploration of Jewish text, prayer and practices, our inner landscapes, resilient connection with others, and relationship with the wider world, all working toward healing, wisdom and liberation. Her work integrates exploration through movement, voice and song and creative writing. She is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Jerusalem Fellows at the Mandel Leadership Institute. She earned an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a BFA from York University.

Rabbi Marc Margolius

Vice President of Faculty and Program

Rabbi Marc Margolius directs the faculty and overall programming for IJS, and oversees programming for lay leaders and alumni of the Hevraya, the alumni of our Clergy Leadership Program. He hosts IJS’s online daily mindfulness meditation sessions and teaches Awareness in Action: Cultivating Character through Mindfulness and Middot, our online program in tikkun middot practice, integrating Jewish mindfulness with attention to core middot, character traits.

Previously, Marc served as rabbi at West End Synagogue in Manhattan and Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, PA, where he pioneered a Shabbat-centered model of congregational engagement. He developed and led the Legacy Heritage Innovation Project at the Legacy Heritage Fund from 2005-2010, an initiative to promote systemic educational change in congregations around the globe.

Long active in social justice activism, Marc is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and of Yale Law School and lives in New York City.

Firkins Reed

Director of Program Operations

Firkins serves as Director of Program Operations, working across the organization to ensure that program delivery and partnerships run smoothly. Prior to this, she served for four years as IJS’s Manager of Foundation Relations. Firkins has worked for a number of schools and educational non-profits, including Facing History & Ourselves and the Boston Public Schools. She was for many years a high school English teacher and program director for both public and private schools. Firkins holds an M.A. from Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and an M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in Natick, MA with her husband and two daughters and is active in local politics.

Rebecca Schisler

Core Faculty Member

Rebecca is a meditation teacher, artist, and Jewish educator. A devoted contemplative practitioner, she has led groups and taught classes and retreats with Or HaLev, Awakened Heart Project, Orot, Wilderness Torah, Pardes, and Stanford School of Medicine. She was previously the Director of Student Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel, and co-authored the Mahloket Matters Schools Curriculum with the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. A student rabbi at ALEPH, Rebecca is passionate about integrating ancestral wisdom traditions with innovative approaches to personal and collective healing and liberation. She teaches Jewish spirituality as an embodied, holistic, and accessible path, with relevant and timely wisdom for all. Learn more at www.rebeccaschisler.com

Tamar Yanay

Senior Manager, Communications & Marketing

Tamar supports IJS’s online operations and digital communications. She is an Avodah Service Corps Alumna who’s been working in the Jewish non-profit world for several years now. Most recently, she served as a Digital Communications Producer at the Union for Reform Judaism. In her free time, Tamar manages communications for Jewish Climate Action Network NYC. She also enjoys baking, painting, and hiking.

Core Faculty

Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

Sam developed and now directs Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life which brings IJS’s spiritual practices to hundreds of educators in Jewish settings and their students. He is one of two lead teachers for our online course on Jewish mindfulness meditation, Gift of Awareness. In the past, Sam wrote the weekly Hasidic Text Study track. He is a gifted musician and, most recently, has been bringing niggunim to the IJS community. He is a founder of Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning in Chicago.

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife

Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. She serves as Founding Kohenet of Kesher Pittsburgh, Program Director for Beloved Garden, Core Faculty with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and also enjoys working with the Jewish Learning Collaborative. Additionally, she delights in serving as a shlichat tzibbur, life spiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, teacher, facilitator, liturgist and songstress. Her work in these realms is informed by her lived experience as a queer, bi-racial, Jewish person, her belief that Book, Body and Earth are equal sources of wisdom, the quandaries she has encountered as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School, and her deep commitment to a thriving, liberatory Jewish future. Keshira received Kohenet smicha in 2017 and earned her BS 2000 and MS 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University. After many years of traveling and living in Australia, in 2018, she and her beloved returned home to Osage and Haudenosaunee land, also called Pittsburgh, PA. www.keshirahalev.com

Rabbi Myriam Klotz

Myriam directs somatics programming and has been on the faculty of clergy, educator, and lay cohorts as well as JMMTT since 2003. She created a Middot Yoga Teacher Training for Westchester county, NY, a Yoga and Jewish Spirituality Teacher Training at Isabella Freedman, and was the director of the Spirituality Initiative/Spiritual Direction program at HUC-JIR from 2010-2020. Myriam directed Bekhol Levavkha Jewish Spiritual Director training at HUC-JIR and is a spiritual director and supervisor in private practice. A graduate of Brown University, New York University/International Center of Photography and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Myriam is a certified yoga instructor, yoga therapist and body worker. Myriam and her spouse Margot Stein (R3) live in Philadelphia. Together they are the parents of Raffi, Samm and Aryeh z”l.

Rabbi Miriam Margles

Miriam has a long and rich association with IJS, having taught on various retreats and programs over the years. She joins the Institute as a Senior Core Faculty after over a decade as the rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Jerusalem Fellows at the Mandel Leadership Institute. Miriam as a founding faculty member at the Romemu Yeshiva, serving as a fellow with the Rising Song Institute, co-founding the award-winning educational program engaging with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Encounter, and recording her original Jewish music with the Hadar Rising Song ensemble.

Rabbi Marc Margolius

Marc developed and teaches in our newest online course, Awareness in Action: Cultivating Character through Mindfulness and Middot. He also spearheads the daily online meditations that IJS developed as part of our response to the coronavirus pandemic. He directs our immersive programming for lay leaders and works closely with our clergy alumni as director of the Hevraya program. Marc authored several years of IJS’s weekly Text Study, exploring the weekly portion through mindfulness and middot.

Rebecca Schisler

Rebecca is a meditation teacher, artist, and Jewish educator. A devoted contemplative practitioner, she has sat intensive retreats in the US and abroad for over a decade, and has trained with Mindful Schools and the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. In addition to IJS, Rebecca has led groups and taught classes and retreats with Or HaLev, Awakened Heart Project, Orot, Wilderness Torah, Pardes, and Mindful Life Project. She was previously the Director of Student Health & Well-being at Stanford University’s Hillel, and co-authored the Mahloket Matters Schools Curriculum with the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. A student rabbi at ALEPH, Rebecca is passionate about integrating ancestral wisdom traditions with innovative approaches to personal and collective healing and liberation. She teaches Jewish spirituality as an embodied, holistic, and accessible path, with relevant and timely wisdom for all. Learn more at www.rebeccaschisler.com.

Faculty Fellow

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell is a teacher of Jewish mindfulness and has spent years leading retreats and immersive experiences for adults in various settings through the National Ramah Commission, Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Jordan is returning to IJS as a Senior Faculty Fellow. In this role, he will lead the planning of a new center for advanced study, practice, and teaching that we aim to develop over the coming years. He will also teach in online courses and on retreats. Jordan was the founding Director of Ramah Beyond and was Director of Camp Ramah in Canada from 2019-2022. Previously, he worked for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) as a teacher of Jewish Mindfulness and as Director of the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training. Jordan also taught meditation to rabbis and cantors through IJS’ Clergy Leadership Program. After being ordained in 2008, Jordan served as a congregational rabbi outside of Chicago and co-founded Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning. Jordan is a recipient of the 2014 Covenant Foundation Pomegranate Prize. He and his wife Yael live in Toronto and are the proud and grateful parents of three.

Program Faculty

Rabbi Tamara Cohen

Rabbi Tamara Cohen is an educator and liturgist who has been using innovative ritual and feminist creative practice to bring Jews and their fellow travelers into deeper connection with themselves, their communities, Judaism and the Sacred, for over twenty-five years. As a partnered queer white anti-racist parent of two boys and a senior leader at Moving Traditions, a national organization that works to support the thriving of Jewish adolescents and their families, she brings a keen awareness of the spiritual challenges and blessings of daily life for people who care for others within their own families while also being engaged in and committed to the need for the larger systemic changes that would make care and repair easier to center and access. Tamara’s writing can be found in The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Feminist HaggadahSiddur Lev Shalem and ritualwell.org. She is blessed to live with her family at the edge of Carpenter’s Woods in Philadelphia.

Cantor Richard Cohn

Richard became Director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 2015, after 34 years serving Reform communities. From 2001-07 he was president of the American Conference of Cantors. He has appeared widely as soloist and conductor in Jewish music programming. He is a faculty member of the IJS Clergy Leadership Program and is particularly interested in the integration of spiritual practice with areas of prayer, music, and education.

Rabbi Shefa Gold

Shefa directs The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice (CDEEP). She teaches workshops and trainings worldwide — and now on Zoom. Her music has spread like a benevolent virus. She is the author of four books: Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised LandIn the Fever of Love: An Illumination of The Song of SongsThe Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love; and Are We There Yet? She has been with IJS since its inception.

Melila Hellner-Eshed, PhD

Melila is a research fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute, a professor of Jewish mysticism and Zohar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a central figure in the Israeli renaissance of Jewish text study. ​She’s written And a River Flows from Eden: On the Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar and Seekers of the Face: The Secrets of the Idra Rabba of the Zohar. ​Melila is active in Sulha, a reconciliation project bringing together Israelis and Palestinians.

Rabbi Dr. James Jacobson-Maisels

Rav James leads and directs the vision of Or HaLev. Ordained by Rav Daniel Landes, with a doctorate in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago, he has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for over twenty five years. He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Romemu Yeshiva and has taught and innovated programs in Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University, Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study with his practice, and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.

Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari

Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari is senior rabbi at Kol Tzedek Congregation, a Voice for Justice in West Philadelphia PA, and serves on the faculty of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. He a white, queer, trans person, of Ashkenazi and Italian descent, and was ordained from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College.

Rabbi Nancy Flam

Nancy is a pioneer in contemporary Jewish communal life. In addition to helping found IJS, she was the first Executive Director and served for many years as a Senior Program Director, teaching and overseeing the innovative Prayer Project. Nancy also co-founded the National Center for Jewish Healing and directed the Jewish Community Healing Program of Ruach Ami: Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. She earned a BA from Dartmouth and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Elisa Goldberg

For over two decades, Rabbi Elisa Goldberg has accompanied others on their spiritual journeys as a spiritual director, professional chaplain, congregational rabbi, and educator. Rabbi Goldberg served until 2021 as a long time spiritual director at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and currently at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She teaches at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College on Rabbinic Ethics and Pastoral Counseling, and provides clinical supervision for students. She has served as Director of the Office of Rabbinic Placement for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and led community chaplaincy services at the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Philadelphia for fourteen years.

Rabbi Goldberg authored a guidebook on spirituality and recovery with Drexel University and consults on the integration of spiritually informed care. She was honored to be the first woman to lead the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis. She maintains a private spiritual direction and pastoral counseling practice and provides consultation and coaching for rabbinic colleagues.

Dr. Mira Neshama Weil

Rabba Dr. Mira Neshama Weil is a Paris-born scholar and teacher of Jewish spirituality and meditation. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion at Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (EHESS) and completed orthodox smicha with Rav Dr Daniel Sperber at Beit Midrash Har’El in Jerusalem. A certified Jewish Mindfulness Teacher with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (IJS) and a certified Mindfulness Instructor (Mindfulness training institute) Mira is also a certified yoga teacher.

Rabbi Dorothy Richman

Dorothy Richman serves as the rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Meditation Center and is a founding faculty member of the Romemu Yeshiva, a six-week immersive program of spiritual study and practice. Dorothy’s work centers on the spiritual practices of Torah study, meditation prayer, and justice. She recently released an album of original songs, Something of Mine, largely based on texts from the Jewish tradition, available on BandCamp.

Cantor Lizzie Shammash

Lizzie serves as cantor of Adath Israel in Merion Station, PA and is a graduate of IJS’s Clergy Leadership Program (first cohort) and Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training (4th cohort). She is on the CLP faculty and teaches the IJS weekly Monday Online Yoga Studio class, integrating Torah and liturgy with embodied practice. She is passionate about helping others bring Judaism into the body, voice, and heart through both methodical (alignment/keva) and creative (improvisational/kavanna) embodied practice. Her many years as a professional opera singer provided in-depth training in breath, voice, and movement that deeply inform her teaching and understanding of contemplative practice. She is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Manhattan School of Music (Masters in Vocal Performance) and Brown University (BA in Italian Studies). Lizzie has been a yoga student since 1993 and teacher since 2001.

Yael Shy

Yael Shy is the CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC, where she teaches and consults on mindfulness for universities, corporations, and private clients around the world. She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and the founder of Mindful NYU, the largest campus-based mindfulness initiative in the US. Yael is a graduate of the IJS Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Certification and has over a decade of teaching and consulting experience and 20 years of meditation practice experience. She is adjunct faculty at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Or HaLev, as well as at New York University. She has been featured on Good Morning America, CBS, Fox 5 News, and in Time Magazine and the Harvard Business Review. Connect with Yael at yaelshy.com and yaelshy1 on Instagram.

Rabbi Jonathan Slater

Jonathan co-directed and taught in IJS’s Clergy Leadership Program and wrote our weekly Hasidic Text Study. He developed “Open My Heart”, a podcast on contemplative prayer practice featuring leading spiritual teachers. Jonathan regularly teaches meditation at the JCC in Manhattan. He has written numerous books including, most recently, A Partner in Holiness: Deepening Mindfulness, Practicing Compassion and Enriching Our Lives through the Wisdom of R. Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev’s Kedushat Levi.

Rabbi Sheila Weinberg

Sheila has been part of IJS since its inception. Among other IJS roles, she helped create and lead the Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Program. Sheila served as a congregational rabbi for seventeen years and has worked in the fields of Jewish community relations, Jewish education, and Hillel. The author of Surprisingly Happy and God Loves the Stranger, she publishes widely on such topics as feminism, spiritual direction, parenting, social justice and mindfulness from a Jewish perspective and has contributed commentaries to the Reconstructionist prayer book. Sheila is a spiritual director to various Jewish clergy and others.

Rabbi Aaron Weininger

Rabbi Aaron Weininger joined Adath Jeshurun Congregation in 2012, upon receiving rabbinic ordination and an MA in Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. Aaron earned his BA at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007 he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement of Judaism. That experience taught him the power of listening at the margins rather than pulling people into whatever the center is at that moment, and he is attuned to the spark each person brings to Torah, prayer, and acts of kindness in the warmth of community.

Board

Marvin Israelow

Board Chair, Chappaqua, NY

Marvin Israelow is pleased to serve as the IJS Board Chair. He 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.

Sue Ellen Corning

Treasurer, Land O Lakes, FL

Sue Ellen is an actuary and has worked as a management consultant for over 25 years, spending the majority of her career with Willis Towers Watson. Her specialty area is employee benefit programs, with a focus on retirement program financials, strategy, and compliance. Sue Ellen is an alumna of Kivvun and Amukah, and has completed HUC-JIR’s Bekhol Levavkha, a Spiritual Director training program. She has served on the Board and is a Past President of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa. She earned her BA in Mathematics from the University of Vermont. Sue Ellen and her husband, Jim, live in Florida and have two grown sons.

Monte Dube

Boulder, CO

Monte spent 35 years as a health lawyer, where he chaired global practices at 2 international law firms. He recently retired and relocated with his wife Lori to Boulder, where he has become an avid hiker and mountain enthusiast. Along with Lori, he leads mindfulness meditation sessions under the auspices of several synagogues and the Boulder JCC. He is a proud graduate of the Kivvun 4 and JMMTT 5 cohorts. Monte also serves on the Board of Directors of American Jewish World Service, where he is AJWS’s Immediate Past Chair.

Judy Fisher

Raleigh, NC

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, 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 and 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 for more than twenty years. She has been serving on PTBE’s board of trustees and has served on numerous boards in the Jewish community in San Diego 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 and is the mother of three amazing children, one daughter-in-law and is a new grandmother. They live in San Mateo, California.

William Klingensmith

Pittsburgh, PA

Bill lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his family. He has been an enthusiastic participant in several IJS lay programs including Kivvun, JMMTT and Amukah. Bill is also a member and officer of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh. He previously worked as a senior executive with PPG Industries, Inc. for 35 years and is currently President of a consulting company to provide management and technology services to in international glass producers.

Julie Kohl

Seattle, WA

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.

Keith Krakaur

New York, NY

Keith Krakaur practiced law for 36 years. When he retired in March 2020, he was based in London and headed the European government enforcement and white collar crime practice for an international law firm. He loves the outdoors and in the fall of 2021 did a seven-week solo camping trip across the U.S. In 2022-23, inspired in no small part by his IJS experiences, he was a student in the pastoral education program at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and in 2023-24 is enrolled in the clinical pastoral education program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Keith and his wife Nancy — herself a former IJS Board member — live in the New York City area and are blessed with three boys.

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann

Brooklyn, NY

Ellen Lippmann is the founder and Rabbi Emerita of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, where she worked for 25 years to build a progressive antiracist Jewish community in Brooklyn, which continues into its current 29th year. She was in the R3 clergy cohort at IJS and has taken part in many Hevraya retreats, as well as the Institute’s meditation sessions, classes, and special events. In addition to serving on the board of IJS, Rabbi Lippmann serves on the board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) and Integrate NYC.

Rabbi Lippmann was ordained in 1991 by HUC-JIR. She and her wife are long-time Brooklyn residents and believe to be absolutely true what a Kolot Chayeinu member once said in jest: “IT DON’T GET ANY BETTER THAN BROOKLYN!”

Rabbi Shuli Passow

New York, NY

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

Secretary, New York, NY

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.

Rabbi Benjamin Ross

New York, NY

From 1996 to 2011 Benjamin worked as a community organizer in Harlem and Brooklyn and served as the Chief of Field Operations for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. In 2000, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, beneath the shadow of the world’s second largest statue of Jesus, Benjamin unexpectedly found his adult Jewish identity. He returned to NY, became a lay leader and board member at B’nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side. Over the years Benjamin participated in many IJS endeavors including Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training (cohort 1) which ultimately served as a springboard into rabbinical school. From 2016 to the summer of 2022 he has served as one of the Rabbis at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles. Back in NY, Benjamin now splits his time between Temple Shaaray Tefila in NYC and a coaching and consulting practice centered around leadership development, spiritual formation and team building.

Bob Schechter

Weston and Monterey, MA

Bob Schechter and his wife, Susan, live in Weston and Monterey, MA with their poodle pack. They are blessed with two adult children, Mike and Brian, one daughter in law, Anya, one daughter in law to be, Michelle, and, just recently, one beautiful granddaughter, Lila.

Bob served in several leadership capacities at Temple Beth Elohim, most recently as board president from 2018 through 2020. Bob is also a past chairman of the Boston Children’s Museum and along with Susan, has volunteered and worked with a number of not for profit organizations. He is a Kivvun 3 alum, a Meah graduate and a frequent participant in Jewish studies.

Professionally, Bob is a mostly retired technology industry executive who continues to dabble in the industry serving on corporate boards and occasionally advising entrepreneurs. He worked in the software industry at the dawn of the personal computing and internet eras and later in the telecom industry as it transitioned to the mobile era and became part of the internet.

Larry Schwartz

Board Member, Emeritus, New York, NY

Larry Schwartz spent 25 years as a principal of the company that created the Lugz and British Knights shoe brands. Larry was the founding Board Chair of IJS. He cofounded the Jewish Meditation Center of Montclair and teaches Jewish meditation at Romemu, schools and companies (non-profit and for profit). Larry is also involved in the creation of the Romemu Yeshiva- a contemplative and egalitarian learning institution. He also invests in Impact companies and funds and serves on some of their boards.

Mitchell Shames

New York, NY

Jonathan M. Silver, MD

New York, NY

Jonathan M. Silver, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Grossman New York University School of Medicine, a Fellow and past- President of the American Neuropsychiatric Association and a Diplomate in Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS). He has authored over 50 papers and 70 chapters, focusing on the neuropsychiatric problems subsequent to traumatic brain injury. He is senior editor of the “Textbook of Traumatic Brain Injury,” which is now in the Third Edition. He has been listed in “Best Doctors in America” since 1992 for the area of neuropsychiatry and received the award for “Innovative Clinical Treatment” from the North American Brain Injury Society. He has served on the Advisory Boards for the Freeman Center for Jewish Life and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and is a member of the Prayer and Spirituality Committee at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. He completed the Institute for Jewish Spirituality Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training (JMMTT5) in 2019.

Marte Singerman

Miami Beach, FL

Marte V. Singerman, Esq. graduated from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in 1983 and practiced commercial and bankruptcy law in Miami for 15 years. Since retiring from the practice of law she has volunteered for and held leadership positions at many non-profits and currently serves as an officer and director of both the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, Florida. At Temple Beth Sholom, Marte began and leads the Kavanah Council. The Council’s mission is to live mindful Jewish lives and to help others do the same using the spiritual practices Marte learned at IJS. She is also a certified yoga instructor and Jewish Meditation Teacher and leads bi-weekly Jewish Mindfulness Mediation sits via zoom. Marte resides in Miami Beach with her husband, Paul Steven Singerman. Their daughters Eliza and Rickie study and work in Boca Raton, FL.

Madison Slobin

Vancouver, Canada

Madison Slobin is a Queer Jewess living in Vancouver, Canada. By day she is the Lifelong Connections Coordinator at Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services, working to connect youth in care to their families and communities. Outside of work hours, Madison coordinates Hamakom-a Jewish community that offers ritual and education programming through a social justice lens. She is also the founder of YVR Yenta- a modern matchmaking collective and Shiva Delivers (Jews in solidarity with Black grief). Madison loves living between the ocean and the mountains and prioritizes spending time outdoors. She also loves reality TV dating shows and gardening alongside her neighbors.

Rabbi Jenny Solomon

Raleigh, NC

Jenny is a spiritual leader at Beth Meyer Synagogue and founding director of Libi Eir Awakened Heart Community Mikveh in Raleigh, NC. She is passionate about Jewish mindfulness practice and is an alum of IJS’s Clergy Cohort (CLP 2) and Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training program (JMMTT 5). Jenny is a graduate of Brown University, was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and completed a doctorate in counseling from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health. She was also awarded a Wexner Fellowship. The proud mother of Meirav, Adi and Natan, Jenny also loves to run, practice yoga, and ride her Peloton bike!

Rabbi Aaron Weininger

Minnetonka, MN

Rabbi Aaron Weininger is Senior Rabbi at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, MN. He holds the Berman Family Chair in Jewish Learning. Aaron earned his BA at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007 he became the first openly gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the Conservative movement of Judaism. That experience taught him the power of listening at the margins rather than pulling people into whatever the center is at that moment, and he is attuned to the spark each person brings to Torah, prayer, and acts of kindness in the warmth of community.

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is a diverse group of influential leaders who provide the organization with perspective and expertise and who help IJS develop relationships with partners and supporters in order to advance the Institute’s mission.

Jane Eisner

Jane is the Director of Academic Affairs, Columbia Journalism School, and former Editor-in-Chief of the Forward

Sharna Goldseker

Sharna is Founder & Vice President of 21/64.

Sarah Hurwitz

Sarah is the author of Here All Along, and is a Former White House Speechwriter.

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie

Rabbi Lau-Lavie is the Founding Spiritual Leader of Lab/Shul NYC and creator of Storahtelling, Inc.

Lisa Miller

Dr. Lisa Miller is Founder and Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University and the New York Times bestselling author of The Spiritual Child.

Abigail Pogrebin

Abigail is the Author of My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew

John Ruskay

John is the Executive Vice President Emeritus, UJA-Federation of New York

Wisdom Council

The Wisdom Council is composed of people who, by virtue of their long experience with and personal investment in IJS, have developed an exceptional understanding of the Torah, history, and soul of the Institute. They provide guidance to IJS’s Executive Director, Board, and Staff.

Rabbi Nancy Flam

Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg

Larry Schwartz