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Program and Featured Presenters

Limmud NY’s Essential Questions We believe that learning together, embracing difference and diversity, is one of the most powerful ways to build and strengthen the Jewish community and we intend for our program to create a space uniquely suited to this kind of learning. Limmud NY is committed to making this conference a center where major questions in the Jewish world are discussed. Through a process of convening community members and lay leaders, our Programming Team identified Essential Questions to help facilitate our discussions, guide our learning, and frame the conference.

The full schedule for Limmud NY 2018 will be released in early January. In the meantime, here are some of the amazing presenters who will be joining us at Limmud NY this year – hover over a headshot or click on it for their bio.

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CHERYL COOK

Cheryl Cook is the Executive Director at Avodah, bringing the Jewish community’s resources to address poverty in America. She has 25+ years of leadership experience in the Jewish community. Prior to coming to Avodah, she spent 9 years as COO at Hazon, growing its size and presence. Aside from her professional work, she serves on the board of PS/MS 282 PTO and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

AARON DAVIDMAN

Aaron Davidman is a playwright, actor, director and producer with more than two decades as a leader in both the fields of American Theatre and American Jewish Culture. He served as Artistic Director of Traveling Jewish Theatre from 2002-2011. Aaron received the 2016 TIKKUN Award for his play Wrestling Jerusalem.

JESSICA TAMAR DEUTSCH

Jessica Tamar Deutsch is a New York based visual artist. She earned her BFA in illustration at Parsons School of Design. Her first book is "The Illustrated Pirkei Avot". Deutsch has completed residencies with Art Kibbutz NY - International Jewish Artist Colony and Brandeis Collegiate Institute.

 

YAFFA EPSTEIN

Rabba Yaffa Epstein serves as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. She received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. Yaffa has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law, and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel.

JOSH FEIGELSON

Josh Feigelson is the first Jewish Dean of Students in the history of the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Founder of Hillel International's award-winning program Ask Big Questions. His scholarly interests include the relationship of American Jews and higher education; civil discourse and civic engagement; and the life and work of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg.

LEAH GOTTFRIED

Leah Gottfried is an award winning director, writer, producer and actor, and founder of the production company Dignity Entertainment. She is the creator of the hit comedic web series Soon By You, which centers on young Orthodox Jews dating in NYC and currently has four episodes on YouTube. Her short film “The Setup” won Best Short Film at the Washington Jewish Film Festival 2016 and has screened in numerous film festivals all around the world.

YONAH HAIN

Yonah Hain is the Campus Rabbi of Columbia University in the City of New York where he directs the educational, interfaith and religious initiatives of Columbia/Barnard Hillel. Yonah has served as faculty at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and Mechon Hadar. He is the first Hillel rabbi to join the ranks of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative.

MEESH HAMMER-KOSSOY

Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy teaches Talmud and directs the Social Justice Track at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community. Meesh was among the first cohort of Orthodox female rabbis ordained in June 2015. Meesh also writes for the ICJW (International Council of Jewish Women). She has a PhD in Talmud from NYU.

SHIRA HECHT-KOLLER

Shira Hecht-Koller is the Director of Communal Engagement at Drisha. For the past ten years she has taught Talmud, Jewish Identity and Comparative Law, most recently at SAR High School. She is a founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project and was a Paradigm Fellow at the Paideia Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm. She is currently a Fellow in the Senior Educators Cohort of M² The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and a cohort member of Sefaria’s Educational Partnership Initiative. Prior to embarking on a career in Jewish Education, she was an associate at a law firm.

 

SHAI HELD

Rabbi Shai Held is President, Dean, and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas. A 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, Rabbi Held has been named to Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. He wrote "Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence" and "The Heart of Torah".

 

AVRAHAM INFELD

Avraham Infeld is the President Emeritus of Hillel International. Avraham is the founder and director of a succession of innovative educational institutions. He serves as a consultant on Tikkun Olam to the Reut Institute, and is a member of the Faculty of the Mandel Institute. Previously, Avraham was also Director General of both Gesher Educational Affiliates, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is the founder of Melitz, and the author of the recently published “A Passion for a People”.

 

DAVID ZVI KALMAN

David Zvi Kalman is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Jewish law, Islamic law, and the history of technology. He is the owner and operator of Print-O-Craft LLC, an independent Jewish publishing house. He is co-founder and executive director of Jewish Public Media, a non-profit podcasting platform. Currently a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, he has written for The Forward, Tablet, and Haaretz.

 

ELIE KAUNFER

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is the President and CEO of Mechon Hadar, an institute committed to Jewish learning and community building (www.hadar.org). A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Elie is the author of "Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities". Elie holds a doctorate in liturgy from JTS. He has served as faculty for Wexner Heritage and the Federation’s General Assembly.

 

MANASHE KHAIMOV

Manashe Khaimov is the Director of Community Engagement and Development at Queens College Hillel. He is a fourth generation community organizer who is founding director of the Bukharian Jewish Union, the founder of AskBobo.org, and the founder of The Jewish Silk Road Tours ™ walking tours in NYC. He is an adjunct professor teaching Bukharian Jewish History at Queens College.

AARON KOLLER

Aaron Koller teaches Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. His most recent book is Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought (Cambridge UP, 2014), and is currently working on the aqeda and the early alphabet. Aaron has served as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and held research fellowships at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research and the Hartman Institute.

 

YEHUDA KURTZER

Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer is the President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Yehuda received his doctorate in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and MA in Religion from Brown University, and is an alumnus of the Bronfman Youth and Wexner Graduate Fellowships. Previously, Yehuda served on the faculty and the inaugural Chair of Jewish Communal Innovation at Brandeis University. He is the author of "Shuva: The Future of the Jewish Past".

 

RUTH LANGER

Ruth Langer is Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College and Associate Director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish Liturgy in 1994 and her rabbinic ordination in 1986 from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

ELI LEBOWICZ

Eli Lebowicz started doing standup while in Yeshiva University, where he won the school's Last Comic Standing contest. He has performed at comedy clubs all over New York City and more recently has been performing at Jewish venues all over the country. His comedy looks at the humorous aspects of Judaism without making fun of it too much. Some may find his material a bit too Jewish, but with a name like "Eli Lebowicz," he wasn't really trying to hide that anyway.

 

GEOFFREY MITELMAN

Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman is the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds, and incubated at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. His work has been supported by the John Templeton Foundation, and he has been an adjunct professor at both the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and the Academy for Jewish Religion.

 

BEZALEL NAOR

Rabbi Bezalel Naor is a published author. His critical editions include Rabad of Posquieres’ Glosses to Mishneh Torah and the Commentary of the Vilna Gaon to Sifra di-Tseni‘uta. Rabbi Naor has devoted a lifetime to the study of the writings and spiritual legacy of Rav Kook. Most recently, Rabbi Naor published an English adaptation of The Rav Kook Siddur (Koren, 2017). Presently, he is at work on a study of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah.

TAMARA NEWMAN

Tamara Newman works for human rights and social justice in Israel. She was a founding member of the New Israel Fund in Australia and is currently the Director of International Relations at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants in Israel. After making aliyah from Sydney, Australia in 2013, she taught English to refugees in South Tel Aviv and then found her professional home at Israel's leading organization protecting the rights of refugees, migrant workers, and victims of human trafficking.

AARON POTEK

Aaron Potek is the rabbi of GatherDC, an organization in Washington, DC that works with Jewish 20s and 30s. He believes Judaism is a source of wisdom and meaning and loves helping people find a relevant connection to their Jewish identity. He received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and served as the campus rabbi at Northwestern University's Hillel from 2013-2015.

 

ALICIA JO RABINS

Alicia Jo Rabins is an award-winning writer, musician and Torah teacher. She tours internationally and has released three albums with Girls in Trouble, her indie-folk song cycle about Biblical women. Alicia is the author of two books of poetry: Divinity School, winner of the 2015 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize, and Fruit Geode, forthcoming in 2018.

ZOHAR RAVIV

Dr. Zohar Raviv is the International Vice President of Education for Taglit-Birthright Israel תגלית. Raviv's professional experience spans 6 continents. Raviv holds a B.A in Land of Israel Studies from Bar-Ilan University, a Joint M.A in Judaic Studies and Jewish Education from Brandeis University, as well as M.A in Near Eastern Studies and a PhD in Jewish Thought, both from the University of Michigan.

 

JONATHAN SARNA

Jonathan D. Sarna, Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chair of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He is also Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Author or editor of more than thirty books on American Jewish history and life, his "American Judaism: A History" won six awards.

 

LEAH SARNA

Leah Sarna is a fourth year semikha student at Yeshivat Maharat, the congregational intern at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains and The Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellow. Leah has brought her lively, interactive Torah to communities around the world, from New York to London, Melbourne and Tel Aviv.

 

ETHAN SCHWARTZ

Ethan Schwartz is a PhD candidate in the study of religion at Harvard University. He studies the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern and Second Temple contexts, with particular interests in Deuteronomy, prophecy, and conceptions of textuality in antiquity. Ethan holds a BA in philosophy and Jewish studies from the The University of Chicago and an MA in Hebrew Bible from the The Jewish Theological Seminary - JTS.

 

H. ALAN SCOTT

H. Alan Scott is a writer/comedian based in Los Angeles. He is the subject of the forthcoming documentary film Latter Day Jew (LatterDayJew.com). He has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, CNN, MTV, and Fusion. He has written for VICE, Esquire, Newsweek, Nerdist, Daily Dot, and OUT Magazine. He co-hosts "Out On The Lanai: A Golden Girls Podcast" and "Talking Crime: A 'Not So Serious' True Crime Response Podcast." He's online at halanscott.com.

 

MURRY SIDLIN

Murry Sidlin, a conductor with a unique gift for engaging audiences, continues a diverse and distinctive musical career. He is the president and creative director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation and The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities at Terezín. In addition, he lectures extensively on the arts and humanities as practiced by the prisoners in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp. He is on the International Board of Governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

PAM SKOP

Pam has been an active LimmudNY volunteer since her first conference in 2009. She is honored to be presenting this year for the first time and sharing her love for yoga with the community that means so much to her. Pam is completing her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio in Manhattan. When she’s not in the studio, Pam works as an education and employment specialist and has her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Pam is extremely passionate about the mind/body connection and utilizing yoga to promote well-being. She looks forward to meeting you on the mat!

 

ELANA STEIN HAIN

Dr. Elana Stein Hain, the Director of Leadership Education at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Elana earned her doctorate in Religion from Columbia University in the City of New York. She is a graduate of the Yeshiva University Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies and the Cardozo Interdisciplinary Fellowship in Jewish Law and Legal Theory. She co-founded the Orthodox Leadership Project (OLP). She is a board member of Sefaria: A Living Library of Jewish Texts.

 

HEATHER STOLTZ

Fiber artist Heather G. Stoltz creates quilted wall hangings inspired by social justice issues, Jewish texts, and parenthood. Her work has been exhibited nationally and was featured in Quilts and Human Rights and Jewish Threads among other publications. She was one of The Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 for 2012 and received a 2011 MCAF grant for her installation piece about homeless New Yorkers. Heather teaches workshops for all ages and lives in Westchester, NY.

 

ETHAN TUCKER

Rabbi Ethan Tucker is President and Rosh Yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan also directs Mechon Hadar’s Center for Jewish Law and Values. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a doctorate in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. He serves on the board of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Ramaz School. He is the author, along with Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg, of “Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law”.

 

GORDON TUCKER

Gordon Tucker has been the spiritual leader of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY since 1994. He was formerly a member of the faculty of Jewish Philosophy at The Jewish Theological Seminary - JTS for twenty years, and for eight of those years was the Dean of the Rabbinical School. Gordon translated and added commentary to a work in Hebrew by Abraham Joshua Heschel, "Heavenly Torah as Refracted through the Generations".

YEHUDAH WEBSTER

Community organizer Yehudah Webster works to ensure the Jewish community remains committed to the fight for racial justice. As a member leader for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Yehudah supports the BLM campaigns through organizing actions and lobbying for legislative reform. Yehudah works primarily as the director of B'nai Mitzvah Campaign, an innovative b'nai mitzvah tutoring company that provides meaningful learning experiences to students on their journey to Jewish adulthood.

TEMIMAH ZUCKER

Temimah Zucker is an eating disorder and mental health therapist in NYC. Works both at Monte Nido Manhattan and in private practice and specializes in working within the Jewish community, leading groups for Jewish women and speaking nationally on the subjects of Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Mental Health. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and is currently working on a platform geared specifically toward providing support for the Jewish community around eating disorders.

 
  • What is the role of disagreement in Jewish life and tradition, and how do we grapple with important issues and ideas “for the sake of heaven”?
  • How do innovation and tradition influence our Jewish practice?
  • Why do we learn? What is the value of Jewish learning?
  • What is our responsibility to the Jewish people and the world?
  • How do our diverse identities intersect to create Jewish life and culture, and what impact does this have on our communities?