The Bayit Sounding Board is a diverse group of visionaries and leaders, invited to help guide us as we seek to build toward a Jewish future that is soulful, inclusive, and meaningful for all.
Dr. Wendy Love Anderson teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, where she also serves as assistant director of academic programs. Her scholarly work focuses on the history of medieval Christianity and Jewish-Christian relations. As Academic Coordinator since 2010, she advises and administers the Center for the Humanities’ minors in Children’s Studies and Medical Humanities as well as its Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship Program. Her first book, The Discernment of Spirits: Assessing Visions and Visionaries in the Late Middle Ages, was published in 2011. She is an active participant and teacher at Kol Rinah and at the Center for Jewish Learning in St. Louis.
Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maharat, was the first graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Upon graduation he served as the Rabbi of Kehilat Kesher: The Community Synagogue of Tenafly and Englewood for seven years. In Rabbi Fox’s tenure at Kesher, the community grew three-fold from thirty families to nearly one hundred. During that time Rabbi Fox also taught at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as well as the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Bergen County. He also served on the board of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the UJA of NNJ. Rabbi Fox is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County, and Yeshivat Hadar.
Mark Frydenberg is a past chair of the National Havurah Committee, a creative liturgist, and the main editor of Siddur Chaveirim kol Yisraeil (Hoboken, N.J., 2000). He’s also one of the editors of the L’chu N’ran’nah bencher, which is egalitarian, inclusive, fully transliterated, and uses gender-neutral pronouns when speaking of God. Mark’s creative liturgy also has been published at Ritualwell (Geshem: Verses for Our Mothers) and at Neohasid (Hu Ya’aneinu – fathers and mothers.) Mark is currently is the president of Temple Beth Israel, an independent traditional egalitarian synagogue in Waltham, MA. He is also a Senior Lecturer of Computer Information Systems at Bentley University.
Rabbi Dr. Jill Hammer is an author, teacher, midrashist, mystic, poet, essayist, and priestess. She is committed to an earth-based and wildly mythic view of the world in which nature, ritual, and story connect us to the body of the cosmos and to ourselves. Rabbi Hammer is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic rabbinical and cantorial seminary in Yonkers, NY. At AJR, she specializes in ancient and contemporary midrash, mysticism, ritual, and contemporary spirituality. Rabbi Hammer is also the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, a program in spiritual leadership for Jewish women. As a leader of the Kohenet Institute, she creates and teaches earth-based, embodied ritual and study that transforms Jewish conceptions of prayer and ceremony. Rabbi Hammer is the author of five books: Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (2001), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Season (2006), The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women (2012), The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (2014) and The Garden of Time (2014).
Rabbi Dan Horwitz is founding director of The Well, an inclusive Jewish community-building, education and spirituality initiative geared to the needs of young adults and those who haven’t connected with traditional institutions. The organization’s core belief is that Jewish community, ethics, values, and spirituality can and should be directly applicable to our lives, and should drive us to positively impact the world around us. Before founding The Well, Rabbi Dan served in a number of professional roles, and is proudest of his years of work as the Rabbi and Director of Immersive Learning for Moishe House, heading the Jewish Education department for the global leader in Jewish young adult engagement and education. He believes deeply in the value and power of community, and that Judaism should above all add meaning to our lives and be a source of joy! Committed to lifelong learning, he holds three masters degrees and a law degree in addition to rabbinic ordination. Rabbi Dan is committed to creating radically welcoming environments and connecting with individuals and families wherever they may be on their journeys. He is happiest when helping organizations find meaningful ways to connect with individuals, and helping individuals find creative ways to make Judaism relevant and meaningful in their daily lives.
Dr. Tamar Kamionkowski is the Chair of the Department of Biblical Civilization and Associate Professor of Bible at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Tamar is committed to creating learning laboratories that foster both intellectual honesty and spiritual connection through text study. Under her leadership, the RRC faculty launched a dramatic curricular review, “Re-Imagining Rabbinic Education,”which explored what kind of Jewish spiritual leadership can best serve the Jewish people in the context of a quickly changing world. Tamar is the co-editor of Bodies, Embodiment and Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures (T&T Clark, 2010) and the author of Gender Reversal and Cosmic Chaos: Studies in the Book of Ezekiel (Sheffield Academic Press, 2003). She has written numerous articles on biblical literature, feminist readings of biblical texts, and the intersection between scholarship and social justice. Her research interests include Jewish biblical theology, prophetic literature, Ancient Near Eastern mythology and gender studies. Tamar is a two-time winner of RRC’s Yaakov Gladstone Award for Fine Teaching (2000, 2006) and has served on the editorial board of the Jewish Publication Society.
Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan has experienced a death in the family and is taking a leave of absence from the Sounding Board. We look forward to welcoming her back when life permits. She teaches at Vancouver School of Theology and blogs at Sophia Street. She has been honoured by her past employers with the titles Rabbi Emerita of Or Shalom Synagogue and Professor Emerita of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte. She has received many teaching awards, including the Carnegie Foundation’s prestigious U.S. Professor of the Year Award. She has studied philosophy, education, Jewish studies, spiritual direction, depth psychology, and Ayurvedic yoga. She has served as co-chair of the Canadian Jewish Congress Jewish-Christian dialogue, led weeklong summer workshops at the United Church’s Naramata Centre, and taught at VST and UBC Religious Studies, as well as in the ALEPH Ordination Programs. She is a fellow at Rabbis Without Borders, a progressive, pluralistic U.S.-based Jewish think tank. Laura’s most recent publications explore the phenomenology of prayer and images of animals in the Hebrew Bible.
Rabbi Elad Nehorai has spent most of his adult life creating and nurturing communities. From the time he started a small online arts magazine (before such a thing was common) in college, to his efforts as an online marketer for startups, to his viral campaign “I Have A Therapist,” to his present-day work with Hevria, a community for creative Jews, and Torah Trumps Hate, a community for progressive orthodox Jews, Elad cares about nothing more than connecting people who are desperately looking for a community that doesn’t exist in the physical world. Elad is also a prolific writer. He is a columnist for the Forward (“I Am A Jew of Color…I Think”) and for Hevria (“I Don’t Trust Rabbis… So I Became One”), the blogger behind Pop Chassid, and has been published in the Guardian and Haaretz, among other places. Elad’s work has been viewed by over 10 million people, and has been discussed in places like ABC World News, BBC Radio, Mashable, the New York Daily News, Tablet, and more.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro is widely recognized as one of the most creative figures in contemporary American Judaism. A graduate of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he also holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Union Graduate School. An award-winning poet, liturgist, and essayist, his prayers are included in worship services across the denominational spectrum of American congregations. Rabbi Rami was the founding rabbi of Temple Beth Or in Miami, Florida and senior rabbi of Metivta, a center for contemplative Judaism in Los Angeles, CA. He currently directs the One River Foundation, and is an adjunct professor of religious studies as Middle Tennessee State University. In addition he pursues his first love, writing, through books and a new column, Roadside Assistance for Your Spiritual Journey, in Spirituality & Health magazine.
Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek, spiritual leader of Beacon Hebrew Alliance, has been recognized by the Jewish Forward as one of the most inspiring rabbis in America, Hudson Valley Magazine as a Person to Watch and by Newsweek as “a rabbi to watch.” He is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and a Fellow of the Schusterman Foundation. Before coming to Beacon Hebrew Alliance, he served as the Rabbi in Residence at American Jewish World Service and the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. Rabbi Brent holds rabbinic ordination and a masters in philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was the first recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he attended Wesleyan University and worked as a daily journalist in Durham, NC. He lives in Beacon with his wife Alison, a professor of environmental chemistry at Vassar College and their two children, Noa and Abraham.
Ben Yosua-Davis hosts a podcast called “Reports from the Spiritual Frontier”, which chronicles the day-to-day lives of those who are innovating new forms of spiritual community in the United States. He is also worship leader for the Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a two-year formation process in the foundations of Christian spirituality, which welcomes leading spiritual thinkers from across the ecumenical spectrum. He lives on Chebeague Island, ME with his wife, Melissa, and his son Michael, where he directs the community chorus and deliver tins of cookies to unsuspecting neighbors. When not wearing one of his myriad hats or hanging out with his son, you’ll probably find him reading comics, watching basketball, or pretending that he’s a competent gardener.
Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman creates welcoming, inclusive spiritual experiences that open hearts and build Jewish community. Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman is a visionary with a plan and a lifelong seeker. She is dedicated to a Judaism that makes a difference in people’s every day lives; a Judaism based in mindfulness, and welcome. At every step along the way, Jill has lived her vision of building and sustaining community. After her ordination in 2009 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, she served as a congregational rabbi at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. Rabbi Jill’s deep involvement in Jewish mindfulness and meditation led her to the two-year Clergy Leadership program in spiritual practice and mindful leadership from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In addition, she received a certificate from the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teaching Training program. In 2011, Rabbi Jill decided to leave the congregational rabbinate to laser-focus her energy on Jewish mindfulness: Judaism through the lens of mindfulness, and mindfulness through the perspective of Judaism. In 2011, she founded the Jewish Mindfulness Network as well as an online subscription-based community, Hineni: The Mindful Heart Community.