Builder Biographies

Bayit’s Builders are diverse in age, geography and background.  We make Jewish homes across the spiritual spectrum – in Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal contexts.  We’re leaders in education, pulpits, social justice, philanthropy, governance, law, the arts, spirituality and college communities.  We’re passionate about building an innovative and inclusive Jewish future together.

38292589976_2c18621b4e_zRabbi Rachel Barenblat, M.F.A., Founding Builder. Rachel, a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, was named in 2016 by the Forward as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis. She holds dual ordination from ALEPH as rabbi and mashpi’ah (spiritual director). Since 2011 Rachel has served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel (North Adams, MA). She also served as past co-chair of ALEPH and interim Jewish chaplain to Williams College.  She holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is author of five volumes of poetry, among them 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011), Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016) and Texts to the Holy (Ben Yehuda 2018). Since 2003 she has blogged as The Velveteen Rabbi, and in 2008 TIME named her blog one of the top 25 sites on the internet. Her work has appeared in Reform Judaism, The Wisdom Daily, The Forward, and anthologies ranging from The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (Bloomsbury) to The Women’s Seder Sourcebook (Jewish Lights). Her downloadable Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach has been used around the world. She is visiting faculty at the Academy for Spiritual Formation (teaching both at two-year and at five-day retreats) and has also taught (among other places) at Beyond Walls, a writing program for clergy of many faiths at the Kenyon Institute.

BB-newRabbi Bella Bogart, Founding Builder. Bella’s love affair with all things Jewish dates back to her modern orthodox childhood in the Bronx, NY. She holds dear Rav Kook’s teaching: “The old will be made new and the new will be made holy,” and her passion is infusing a Judaism for today with the heart and soul of Tradition. Bella served as chazzan, educator and spiritual leader for congregations in Florida and California for over 30 years. She is a gifted singer/ songwriter and has recorded 5 CD’s of original liturgical music; her compositions are included in congregational siddurim and sung at services around the country. She was ordained by ALEPH and is past chair of the ALEPH Alumni Council. She is a member of OHALAH – The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal and serves on the OHALAH Conference planning committee. Bella and Dillon are currently alive and well, B”H, and living on beautiful St. Augustine Beach or in the beautiful Catskill Mountains – depends on the weather – where it is her joy to organize meditation, chanting, Torah study and Shabbat celebrations.

SG2Steven Green, J.D., Founding Builder. Steven returned to his Jewish roots thanks, in large measure, to the work and legacy of Reb Zalman. The Judaism he left decades ago bears little resemblance to the “renewed” world he came back to. Seeking an authentic spiritual practice and a transformative path led to a number of different practices over the years in Eastern and Western religious/spiritual traditions which came full circle to a Renewal rabbi who shone a bright light on what was always there. Steven, an attorney, practices family law and spends never enough time with his wife in the idyllic setting of Berkshire County Massachusetts.

EJK-newRabbi Evan Krame, J.D., LL.M., Founding Builder. Evan brings 35 years of experience as a lawyer and Jewish community leader.  Evan was ordained by ALEPH as rabbi and spiritual director.  He is a co-founder of The Jewish Studio, focusing on providing meaningful and enjoyable Jewish experiences to adults who are unaffiliated, under-affiliated or disaffiliated. Evan has been honored by both local and national organizations for his service, most notably receiving the Exemplar of Leadership award from Hillel International, recognizing his work on behalf of the Hillel of George Washington University. Evan is a founding officer of the American Friends of the Anne Frank House.  Evan is a graduate of the George Washington Law School with both a J.D. and LL.M. (taxation).  In his legal career, Evan is an attorney in private practice, serving as advocate and fiduciary for persons with disabilities.  He lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his wife, Jodi, an attorney in Washington, D.C.

DavidEMarkus_0Rabbi David Markus, J.D., M.P.P., Founding Builder. David brings extensive experience as pulpit rabbi, lawyer, public official, educator and nonprofit leader.  He is co-rabbi of Temple Beth El of City Island (New York, NY); past co-chair of ALEPH (the Jewish Renewal movement’s umbrella organization); faculty at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and faculty in rabbinics and spiritual direction for the ALEPH seminary; and blogger for multiple national platforms (My Jewish Learning, The Wisdom Daily, The Forward, The Jewish Studio).  A fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, David publishes widely on governance, management, liturgy and spiritual development in Jewish contexts, and has an active spiritual direction practice specializing in clergy development.  By day, David presides in the New York courts in a parallel public service career that also included presidential campaigns, all branches and levels of government, and graduate faculty in government and public administration for Fordham and Pace Universities.  David holds dual ordination as rabbi and mashpia (spiritual director) from ALEPH; a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School; and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, which named David a global “Innovator in Public Service.”

MM-newRabbi Mike Moskowitz, Founding Builder. Mike studied at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem where he received smicha. He then continued his studies at BMG in Lakewood where he received an advanced degree in Talmud. For the last 15 years, he has been engaged in Jewish outreach and education as the Dean of Students of the Yeshivah of Virginia. Most recently he has served as a rabbi at Columbia University and of the Old Broadway Synagogue in Harlem. Mike is a vocal advocate for inclusivity, LGBT rights, and social justice. He writes frequently at the intersection of transgender issues and Jewish thought. Formerly senior educator at Orthodox social justice organization Uri L’Tzedek, and currently Scholar-in-Residence on Queer and Trans Issues at CBST, Mike is working on a doctorate in Talmud at The Jewish Theological Seminary – JTS.

BenNewmanRabbi Ben Newman, BuilderRabbi Ben Newman is the founder and spiritual leader of Shtiebel, a startup shul in Dobbs Ferry, NY. He served for 7 years as the rabbi of Congregation Har Shalom in Fort Collins, CO, along with his wife Rabbi Shoshana Leis. Rabbi Ben received a B.A. from Skidmore College in Religion and Culture, an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and rabbinical ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York. He previously served as the Associate Rabbi for JRF Congregation M’vakshe Derekh in Scarsdale, New York. Rabbi Ben is the author of a series of childrens’ books called The Enchanted Sukkah about a time travelling sukkah. In addition to being a writer and a rabbi, Ben is a singer-songwriter who delights in chanting, playing guitar, and using an Indian instrument called a sruti box. He also enjoys reading Jewish literature of all types, as well as science fiction (his favorite author is Philip K Dick), philosophy and beat poetry. Ben lives by the shores of the Hudson River in Dobbs Ferry, NY and his greatest joy is being father to his daughter and his son.

uXS6gQIXShoshanna Schechter, M.A., Founding Builder. Shoshanna earned her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Jewish Studies, and her Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies (focusing on Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies), from the University of Maryland; she is now pursuing her Ed.D from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Shoshanna completed several years of rabbinical school, and is a prolific Jewish educator and writer, a regular contributor to the Times of Israel and the Forward. She began her career in education and development with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, focusing on leadership training for post-Holocaust and post-Communist Jewish communities. Shoshanna has also served with a variety of Jewish agencies and institutions including Young Judaea, Camp Ramah, Hillel, Taglit-Birthright and JDC-Entwine. As an educator, Shoshanna has taught in the Departments of Religious Studies and Women’s Studies at Randolph-Macon College and the University of Texas (El Paso). After serving as executive director of ALEPH,  Shoshanna recently became the first Director of Jewish Campus Life for Randolph-Macon College.

image1Steve Silbert, Builder: Visual Torah Project. Steve is the left-handed youngest son of an artistic mother and a rocket scientist father. He takes after his father in his interest in logic and science. Steve worked hard to not take art classes as part of his education. Even so, Steve has been sketchnoting since 2015, proving that sketchnoting is about ideas, not art. He uses sketchnotes in his professional role as an Agile Coach, where he teaches visual facilitation basics in software development and marketing. In 2016 he joined a group of Christians who sketchnoted sermons in their churches. Hesitant to use tablet on Shabbat, Steve began the practice of finding an online dvar Torah for each week’s upcoming Torah portion and sketchnoting concepts from that dvar Torah.

jennifer_singer_400pxRabbi Jennifer Singer, M.Ed., Founding Builder.  Jennifer is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol HaNeshama in Sarasota, Florida, where she has served since 2008, first as education director and then as spiritual leader beginning in 2013. She was ordained as a rabbi and spiritual director by ALEPH in January, 2017. She holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has taught extensively, including in a groundbreaking pilot program for emerging community leaders created by The Jewish Federations of North America, and was a contributor to the second edition of the curriculum. She spent 20 years as an endowment professional and major gifts fundraiser in the Jewish community, most recently working for the American Technion Society. She previously worked in marketing, and as a journalist and freelance writer, and is the co-author of Opportunity Knocks: Using PR. She blogs at SRQ Jew.