Meet the Mission Leaders
Women of the Wall Mission to Support Pluralism in Israel
Rabbi Karyn Kedar is the senior Rabbi of a Congregation BJBE, congregation of 1100 families In Deerfield Illinois, outside of Chicago. She is the author of three books on spirituality (the fourth soon to be published) and a widely recognized speaker around the country as well as appearances on television and radio. Rabbi Kedar sits on many national forums. She has three children, Ilan currently serves as an officer in the IDF, Shiri was an officer is now studying at IDC in Herzelia and Talia after serving as a medic lives with her husband and two children on Kibbutz Gonen.
Rabbi Judy Schindler is senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El, an 1100 family congregation that is the largest synagogue in the Carolinas. In a city of one million people, Rabbi Schindler was selected as Charlotte Women of the Year in 2011. She is a past Co-Chair of Women’s Rabbinic Network (the national organization of Women Reform Rabbis), sits on many local and national Boards, and is active in interfaith and social issues in her region and state. She regularly brings congregants to Israel and this November will be the third congregational trip she has led in 2013. Rabbi Schindler is the daughter of Rabbi Alexander Schindler who led the Reform Movement from 1973 to 1995.
Rabbi Debra Robbins has been a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas for 22 years. She has served as Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis as well as on several national committees, in addition to participating in a variety of local Jewish and communal organization. She is a participant in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and has published essays in several collections. This will be her 20th trip to Israel; she is married to Larry S. Robins and the mother of a sixteen year old son who will participate in the EIE Program in 2014.
Cantor Jennifer Frost is the senior cantor of Congregation BJBE, a congregation of 1100 families In Deerfield Illinois, outside of Chicago. She is well regarded as this countries leading cantor, forging a path that combines traditional hazinut, Chassidic melodies and modern and contemporary music. She is featured on many recordings of innovated Jewish music. She sits on several national commissions and boards including an active leader on the board of American Conference of Cantors.
Clergy Participants and Delegation Leaders:
Rabbi Laura Geller is Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California. She was named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America and featured in the PBS Documentary called “Jewish Americans.” Rabbi Geller is a Rabbinic Fellow of the Hartman Institute, and a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. She was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi.
Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz has served Temple Beth Sholom, a premier congregation in Miami Beach, Florida, for the past 20 years. In 2008, she founded The Open Tent, a Jewish engagement organization, which connects thousands of young adult Jews to Jewish learning, community and each other. Rabbi Pomerantz is passionate about the human rights issue of the Women of the Wall and speaks about it from the pulpit frequently.
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin is the first Chinese American Rabbi. A major focus of her rabbinate is toward better inclusivity of racial and other minorities within the American Jewish community. Recently, the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco invited her to be the keynote speaker during the culminating event of the Israel-China festival.
Cantor Ilene Keys aspired to become a cantor since studying for Bat Mitzvah at one of the largest progressive synagogues in the world, Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles. Her connection to Israel was fortified by this synagogue’s strong support of Israel through Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin and as a result, Cantor Keys spent a summer in the Gadna program, Chetz V’Keshet. She has kept a very close relationship with Israel ever since, spending a year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a year at the Hebrew Union College while training to become an ordained cantor , Cantor Keys appears in the award winning film “Time Off” by Israeli Film Director Eytan Fox. She is a member of the American Conference of Cantors.
Cantor Jill Abramson is Senior Cantor at Westchester Reform Temple, a 1200 family Reform congregation in Scarsdale, NY. She also serves as adjunct faculty at Hebrew Union College, in New York where she lectures on topics of professional excellence. She brings a commitment to International social justice work and women’s issues with field work in Indonesia, Cameroon and the Middle East. Cantor Abramson serves on several committees for the American Conference of Cantors.
Rabbi/Cantor Vicki L. Axe was the first woman to serve as president of the American Conference of Cantors from 1991-1994, and is the founding Spiritual Leader of Congregation Shir Ami in Greenwich, CT. She is a past president of the American Conference of Cantors. She has taught students at HUC-JIR and AJR, and visited many congregations as scholar-in-residence. She received rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical Academy of America in 2008 and is currently studying for her Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care at HUC-JIR. She and her husband lived and worked in Israel from 1973-1975, Together, they are the proud parents of four sons, all 20 and 30-something, two daughters-in-law, with their first grandchild on the way.
Cantor Sherry Allen is the sole clergy for Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, TX. Because it is a small congregation (around 90 families), it has afforded me the opportunity to get to know congregants personally. I have been privileged to be there for some of them in crisis, which has led me to pursue a part-time career as a Hospice Chaplain as well. A big accomplishment for me is the fact that I have educated and empowered congregants to take an active part in leading services when I am not there. Little by little, both men and women have developed the skills to be shlichei tzibbur, and that is one of my proudest achievements.
Delegates joining from the Women’s Rabbinic Network and the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
Rabbi Carole B. Balin, Ph.D. is a Professor of Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. Professor Balin writes and lectures on topics related to Jewish women, ranging from their experiences under the Tsars to the emergence of bat mitzvah in twentieth-century America. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post and appears as the narrator of PBS’s “The Jewish People: A Story of Survival,” which airs frequently nationwide. Professor Balin co-edited, with Wendy Zierler, Behikansi atah [In my entering now, Selected Works of Hava Shapiro (1878-1943)], published by Resling Press of Tel Aviv in 2008. The volume, which features Shapiro’s writings—including selections from the first diary ever written by a woman in Hebrew chronicling her interactions with the literary giants of the day, such as Y.L. Peretz, who was her mentor, and Reuven Branin, who was her lover, and the first feminist literary criticism in Hebrew—has been expanded and translated into English, and will be published next year by Wayne State University Press.
Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s (CA) Reform Synagogue. She is the President-Elect of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. She has been named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the Forward 50, most influential Jews in the US and by the Huffington Post as the most influential LGBT Clergy person. She is Sr. Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and has won numerous awards for her activism. She recently celebrated her 25th anniversary in the rabbinate.
Rabbi Elyse Frishman was ordained in 1981 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. For fourteen years, she served The Reform Temple of Suffern in Suffern, NY. Since August 1995, Rabbi Frishman has been the Rabbi for Congregation B’nai Jeshurun – The Barnert Temple, in Franklin Lakes, the oldest congregation (c. 1847) in New Jersey with a membership of 400 families. Rabbi Frishman is nationally recognized as a leader in transforming Reform Jewish worship, and as a writer and editor of liturgy. She is the editor of the new American Reform prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah. Much of Rabbi Frishman’s local and national work has focused on spirituality and worship. Rabbi Frishman served on the URJ-CCAR Joint Commission on Religious Living and the CCAR Liturgy Committee, the Hebrew Union College Board of Alumni Overseers, and the Board of the CCAR. She served as an original Fellow for Synagogue 2000, a national, trans-denominational project transforming the culture of the synagogue from a corporate to spiritual center. Rabbi Frishman is also active in the work of the American Jewish World Service, and partners with her congregational leadership in developing a culture of social justice. Rabbi Frishman is married to Rabbi Daniel Freelander, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. They have three children, Adam (30), Jonah (28) and Devra (22).
Rabbi Kim Sara Geringer was ordained in 1999, coming to the rabbinate after a first career as a psychotherapist. For 10 years she served as the Associate Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living, the locus of the Reform Movement’s worship transformation initiatives, and from which she authored publications on ritual and worship. Currently, Rabbi Geringer is a member of the faculty at HUC-JIR/NY where she supervises students’ pulpit internships and teaches courses for both rabbinic and cantorial students on professional development, congregational systems theory and pastoral counselling. She is also the rabbi of Congregation Sha’aray HaYam in Manahawkin, New Jersey.
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein served for twenty years as the Director of Kolel, a unique adult education centre in Toronto, Canada which she founded. Currently she is creating a new Reform congregation called City Shul in downtown Toronto which after its first year has 200 member units including 87 kids in the school. She was graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University in 1978 and received her Doctor of Divinity, Honorius causis, from there in 2008. She writes a monthly column for the Canadian Jewish News, and is one of seven women featured in the Canadian National Film Board documentary, “Half the Kingdom.” She is the author of ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens and a textbook on Women and Judaism called Seek Her Out (URJ Press), and is editor of The Women’s Torah Commentary, The Women’s Haftarah Commentary and New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future. She is the 2005 recipient of the Covenant Award for Exceptional Jewish Educators.
Rabbi Linda Joseph is the rabbi/educator of Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn VA located in the suburbs of Washington DC. She was ordained in 1994 at HUC-JIR and received a Masters in Jewish Education in 1995. Rabbi Joseph has in the past worked as the rabbi of synagogues in North America and Australia, and served as Regional Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Southeast Council overseeing all the affiliated Reform Jewish synagogues of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, part of Tennessee and the Bahamas.
Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson is Director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, the international support and advocacy organization for women in the Reform rabbinate. She serves as an International Vice-Chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, is a former Chair and board member of the Hadassah Foundation, a former board member of the Rodeph Sholom School in New York, and currently is on the boards of the Yedidya Center for Jewish Spiritual Direction and Friends of Kehillat Kol HaNeshamah. Jackie has held volunteer leadership positions with the Women’s Rabbinic Network and Central Conference of American Rabbis. From 1992-2002, Jackie was the Jewish Chaplain at Harvard-Westlake School, Los Angeles, and has worked in synagogue education, adult education and hospital chaplaincy. Jackie led a Rosh Hodesh: It’s A Girl Thing! Group for four years. at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York and is currently teaching in the field of adult spiritual formation and development. She is a graduate of the Rabbinic Enrichment program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and serves as a spiritual director. Jackie received her A.B. in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University in 1977, and was ordained as a rabbi, receiving a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters, by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in 1983. Jackie is married to Rabbi David Ellenson; they have five children and one grandchild.
Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov is the Rabbi of Sinai Reform Temple in Bay Shore, NY (Long Island). She has served SRT as their rabbi since her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, OH) in 2008. The following year, Rabbi Losben-Ostrov also became the Director of Education, as well. While at HUC-JIR, she wrote her Rabbinic Thesis on, “Naming the Unnamed: Biblical Characters Known only by their Roles or Relationships.” Rabbi Losben-Ostrov graduated from Albright College (Reading, PA) where she was in the Honors Program and received a BA in French and another BA in Political Science and Communications. She also has a Master’s Degree in “Educational Administration” from Xavier University and a Master’s Degree from HUC-JIR in “Hebrew Letters.” Rabbi Losben-Ostrov, is very proud to have founded the Pesach Project for HUC-JIR which has now allowed hundreds of Rabbinical Students to help lead seders and educational opportunities in the Former Soviet Union. She is also very passionate about fighting AIDS and has led an annual Healing Service for over a decade to raise awareness of the AIDS crisis. Prior to working at Sinai Reform Temple Rabbi Losben-Ostrov served small Jewish communities as a “Student Rabbi” in Joplin, MO; Bowling Green, KY; Bloomsburg, PA; Pine Bluff and McGehee, AR; and La Salle, IL. She has also spent time working with Jewish youth in Reading, PA; Larchmont, NY; at Camp Harlam and as the Advisor to the NFTY-Missouri Valley Region. Additionally, Rabbi Losben-Ostrov loves to teach about Judaism and teaches a weekly “Introduction to Judaism Class” for the Reform Movement in New York City.
Rabbi Oshrat Morag was born and raised in Haifa, Israel. She was ordained at HUC –JIR Jerusalem campus in 2008 and is currently a Doctorate candidate in the field of Feminist Theology at HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus. She resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina, teaching Gender Studies in the Rabbinical Seminary of Latin America and in various synagogues. She facilitates women groups, writes poems, Midrashim, prayers and life cycle ceremonies. She is the mother of three beautiful children, excitedly expecting the forth.
Rabbi Hara Person is the Publisher and Director of the CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. She also oversees communications for the CCAR. Rabbi Person was ordained in 1998 from HUC-JIR, after graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College (1986) and receiving an MA in Fine Arts from New York University’s International Center of Photography (1992). Before coming to the CCAR, Rabbi Person was the Editor in Chief of URJ Books and Music, where she was the Managing Editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, named the National Jewish Book Award Book of the Year in 2008. Rabbi Person is the author of Stories of Heaven and Earth: Bible Heroes in Contemporary Children’s Literature as well as other collections. Her essays and poems have been published in various anthologies and journals. She is also the High Holy Day rabbi of Congregation B’nai Olam, Fire Island Pines, NY, and she has been named Adjunct Rabbi at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where she teaches adult education classes. Rabbi Person lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and is the parent of two college students.
Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack has served as the rabbi of Temple Israel in West Lafayette, Indiana since August, 2002. Rabbi Pollack was ordained in 1994 from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, OH. Before beginning her tenure in West Lafayette, Indiana, Rabbi Pollack served congregations in Glencoe, Illinois and Denver, Colorado. She was part of the first cohort of STAR Rabbis Good to Great program, a year-long innovative continuing rabbinic education program offered by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal). Rabbi Pollack and her family spent the summer of 2010 in Israel on sabbatical with the support of the Lilly Foundation Clergy Renewal and Congregational Grant. Her sabbatical time was spent in studying text at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and learning to play the oud. She is passionate about women’s spirituality and is a strong advocate in support of Jewish women’s causes. Rabbi Pollack serves on the executive board of the national Women’s Rabbinic Network and is a founding member and continuing faculty of the Indiana Voices of Women spirituality and leadership program. Rabbi Pollack is an active member of the Women In Ministry Ecumenical Network of the Greater Lafayette area; the Inter-Religious Network of the Greater Lafayette Area, the Community Research Institutional Review Board at Purdue University and the Professional Advisory Committee for Clinical Pastoral Education Program, IU Arnett Hospital.
Rabbi Norm Roman has been the Senior Rabbi of Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield, Michigan since 1986, and also serves as an Adjunct Instructor in Religious Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy. He has been honored by both the CCAR and the URJ for his lifetime of teaching youth in NFTY and at several of the Union’s Summer Camp Institutes. He is a Past President of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, the Great Lakes & Ohio Valley Association of Reform Rabbis, and the West Bloomfield Interfaith Clergy Forum. The Rabbi was born in New York City, grew up in Cleveland, and served Congregations in Ohio and Santa Monica, California before moving to Michigan. He is a composer of Jewish contemporary liturgical music, and a folksinger who has entertained both in the Jewish community nation-wide, and in Israel. Descended from Chalutzim who helped found Zichron Yaakov and Yesod HaMaala, he is an active volunteer on behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Partnership 2000 in the Central Galil, the Jordan River Village Camp for Critically-ill Children, and Yemin Orde Youth Village. Rabbi Roman and his wife, Lynne, live in West Bloomfield, and are the parents of Sarah & Adam Rochkind, Chad Rochkind, Blake Rochkind, Justin Rochkind (z”l), Caryn Roman and Benjamin Roman.
Rabbi Karen Strok graduated Phi Beta Kappa from U.C. Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Religious Studies. She continued her education in Los Angeles at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) where she received Master’s Degrees in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education, and rabbinic ordination in 2002. Before serving as the founding director of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning at Stephen S. Wise Temple, Rabbi Strok taught several classes at Milken Community Middle and High School, taught ethics at the Stephen S. Wise Temple Academy and the Melton School, led “Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing,” directed the Tartak Learning Center at HUC-JIR, served as an education consultant at HUC-JIR, coordinated an alternative Hebrew program at Temple Judea, and officiated at numerous life cycle events. Rabbi Strok has been happily married to Joshua Strok for 15 years and together they share the task of parenting 12-year-old Micah and 10-year-old Avi.
Rabbi Kari Tuling serves Congregation Beth Israel in Plattsburgh, New York, where she is also President of the Interfaith Council and an Adjunct Instructor at the State University of New York, Plattsburgh. She received ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 2004 and earned her PhD in Jewish Thought in 2013. Recent publications include “Women Rabbis and Theology” for a forthcoming book from the CCAR Press and “On the Fringes of Tradition” for the academic on-line journal Marginalia.
Rabbi Susan Warshaw was ordained in 2007 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles) and has served as rabbi of Temple Bat Yam in Ocean City, Maryland since 2008. Previously she was director of education of Temple Micah in Washington, DC. Rabbi Warshaw is a second-career rabbi; her first career was as a classical pianist, and she holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She is Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. She has a special interest in Judaism and health, and worked with the Kalsman Institute of Judaism and Spirituality in Los Angeles.
Delegate joining from OHALAH, Association of Jewish Renewal Rabbis
Rabbi Pamela Frydman is the founding rabbi of Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco and International Co-Chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall. She was in the first cohort of women rabbinic students in the Jewish Renewal movement. She was ordained in 1989 by B’nai Or Religious Fellowship, predecessor to the ALEPH Ordination Program. She was the first woman to serve as President of OHALAH, the Renewal association of rabbis and cantors. She co-founded the Rabbinic Advisory Council of Shalom Bayit, Ending Domestic Violence in Jewish homes. She is the author ofCalling on God, Sacred Jewish Teachers for Seekers of All Faiths and Reflections: A High Holy Day Machzor.
NFTY Teen Delegation
Beth Avner Rodin will be leading the NFTY Teen Delegation. Beth began her career as a Chicago-based youth advisor then became regional director of the National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY). After completing her Masters in Jewish Professional Studies (MAJPS) at Spertus, she was promoted to a national position as NFTY’s Director of Education and Special Projects, with her master’s project being used across the country as an impactful training manual for new youth workers. Beth has recently been promoted again to Associate Director of NFTY.