Trisha Arlin, Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
Trisha Arlin is a liturgist, writer, performer and student of prayer in Brooklyn, NY and was a part-time rabbinic student at the Academy of Jewish Religion (AJR), 2012-18. Trisha was the Liturgist-In-Residence during the National Havurah Committee’s 2014 Summer Institute, has served as Scholar or Artist In Residence at many synagogues where she has read, led services and taught her class, Writing Prayer. This year Trisha is teaching prayer writing, doing readings and leading discussions of her book on zoom with Ritualwell, Haggadot.com and for synagogues around the country. She is a builder of Bayit’s Liturgical Arts project. Trisha received a BA in Theater from Antioch College in 1975 and MFA in Film (Screenwriting) in 1997 from Columbia University. In 2009/2010, Trisha was an Arts Fellow at the Drisha Institute. In 2011, she graduated from the sixth cohort of the Davennen Leadership Training Institute (DLTI). A longtime member of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of our Lives, a progressive unaffiliated congregation in Brooklyn NY, Trisha’s liturgy has been used at services and ritual occasions and in newsletter there and at venues of many denominations nationwide. Her work has been published in her book, Place Yourself: Words of Poetry and Intention (a collection of liturgy and kavannot. Foreword by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Artwork by Mike Cockrill. 2019 Dimus Parrhesia Press); the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion; Seder Tefillot, Forms of Prayer: Prayers for the High Holydays, (Movement for Reform Judaism); B’chol Levavecha (CCAR Press); Beside Still Waters: A Journey of Comfort and Renewal, Bayit and Ben Yehuda Press; A Poet’s Siddur (Ain’t Got No Press); Studies in Judaism and Pluralism (Ben Yehuda Press) and can be found online at TrishaArlin.com, at Ritualwell.org, opensiddur.org.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, M.F.A., Founding Builder; Board member; Lead Architect, Bayit Publishing and Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
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 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 six volumes of poetry, among them 70 faces: Torah poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011), Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016), Texts to the Holy (Ben Yehuda 2018), and Crossing the Sea (Phoenicia, 2020). 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.
Dr. Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz, Ph.D., Builder, Bayit Publishing. She/her.
Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz, creator with Steve Silbert of the contemplative spiritual-creative volume Color the Omer and a regular contributor to Builders Blog, is a professor of Communication Disorders and a speech-language pathologist. She serves as a lay service leader and Vice President of Temple Beth El of City Island, NY, also known as “your shul by the sea.”
Rabbi Bella Bogart, Founding Builder. She/her.
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.
Mike Cockrill, Liturgical Arts Working Group. He/him.
Mike Cockrill has been making conceptually engaged, socially challenging work since he first began showing in Brooklyn and the East Village in the early 1980s. Cockrill grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC in the late 50s and early 60s, with a father who began his career at the Pentagon and a mother who later worked for the CIA. He has a particular affinity for the pop-culture images of postwar America and their darker subtexts. Classically trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Cockrill employs a deep understanding of visual idioms that he deftly twists, literally and conceptually. Cockrill’s art is ever evolving, always playing the unnerving against the sublime. He lives and works in Brooklyn, and has maintained a studio in the Old American Can Factory since 1979. He and his wife are members of Kolot Chayeinu in Park Slope. Find him online here.
Joanne Fink, Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
Zenspirations® founder Joanne Fink is an artist, writer and spiritual seeker who loves helping people discover their innate creative gifts. An award-winning designer, inspirational workshop facilitator and artist-in-residence, Joanne expresses what’s in her heart through art and prayers, prose and poetry. With a background in product development and art licensing, today she develops products to help people connect and support one another, including collections of Zenspirations Emoji Stickers (available in the App Store- search Zenspirations). Joanne started her career designing greeting cards and Ketubot (Jewish Wedding Contracts) and in 1991 helped found the American Guild of Judaic Art. She is a best-selling author with more than one million books in print; two of her favorites are My Spiritual Journey, a guided journal designed to help you set and implement intentions to fulfill your personal purpose, and When You Lose Someone You Love, an illustrated memoir written the year after her husband died. Currently Joanne is working on her next book, a collection of illustrations and prayers based on the weekly parashot (Torah portion). For more information on Joanne and her work visit her websites: www.JoanneFinkJudaica.com, www.WhenYouLoseSomeone.com, and www.zenspirations.com.
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Lead Builder, Open Door Judaism. He/him.
Jonathan, a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, participated in cutting edge engagement techniques starting as a Rabbinic Intern in the 1990’s at Hillel on campus in the Philadelphia area. Since then, he has brought small group learning experiments, Jewish worship innovations, and organizational expertise, to Hillel organizations in Tucson, Arizona, and Cleveland, Ohio; and worked with Jews of all ages and stages as a congregational rabbi in a small synagogue in South Lake Tahoe, California, and in large synagogues in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Buffalo, New York. Open Door Judaism is Jonathan’s new venture aiming to bring Jewish meaning to those currently outside of institutional Jewish life. Jonathan received rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is a member of both the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Rabbi Allie Fischman, Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group and Bayit Publishing. She/her.
Allie has served the Reform Jewish overnight camp, URJ Camp Newman, in the San Francisco Bay Area as Associate Director and now Camp Director since 2014 after receiving a masters degree in Jewish education and rabbinic ordination from the Reform seminary, HUC-JIR. As an artist, musician, writer, and creative goofball, overnight camp offers the perfect stage for Allie to combine her loves of Jewish education, spirituality, and creativity to help instill a love of Judaism and Jewish life for campers and young adult staff alike. She plays with different media and art forms like graphic recording, sketchnoting, painting, inking, and drawing on an iPad Pro, and loves to bring the works of folks like Brenè Brown into her Jewish teaching. Allie lives with her husband, Lane, and young son, Jude, in the Bay Area where they enjoy hiking, cooking fantastic food, and playing with their eccentric pup, Maggie.
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman, Builder, Bayit Publishing. He/him.
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman (he/him) has served as spiritual leader for Brith Sholom Jewish Center of Erie, PA since 2018, and lives and teaches in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of Life Lessons from Recently Dead Rabbis: Hassidut for the People, forthcoming from Bayit in 2022. He has been a Jewish educator for over 20 years, for folks ages 10 to 93. He likes texts from the Hassidic tradition in particular because they probe our own personal stories and struggles by using Torah as a vehicle for self-examination. He is Congregation Beth Shalom’s instructor for Introduction to Judaism, and sponsors and mentors many people who are on a path toward becoming Jewish. Rabbi Mark is a big soccer fan, a competent skier and harmonica player, and an accredited archery instructor. He has one misdemeanor conviction for political protest, and a turtle named Lefty. Learn more at his website.
Sally Wiener Grotta, Builder, Bayit Publishing. She/her.
Sally Wiener Grotta is an award-winning writer, photographer and speaker who has traveled on assignment throughout the world to all the continents (including three trips to Antarctica), plus many remote islands (such as Papua New Guinea and the Falklands), covering a wide diversity of cultures and traditions. Her far-ranging experiences flavor her visual and verbal stories and presentations with a sense of wonder and joy, plus a healthy dose of common sense. Her fine art photography project American Hands, for which she created narrative portraits of traditional tradespeople, has received more than three dozen grants, and the exhibits have been seen by over a quarter million people. Her hundreds of stories, columns and essays have appeared in scores of magazines, newspapers and journals. Her books include the novels The Winter Boy (a Locus Magazine’s 2015 Recommended Read) and Jo Joe (a Jewish Book Council Network book). Her short story “One Widow’s Healing” won a 2019 Health Odyssey award. A member of SFWA and The Authors Guild, Sally is co-curator of the Galactic Philadelphia author reading series and co-chair of The Authors Guild Philadelphia Chapter.
Rabbi Pamela Gottfried, Board member; Builder, Bayit Publishing. She/her.
Since receiving rabbinic ordination and earning an M.A. in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993, Pamela has taught students of all ages in churches, colleges, community centers, mosques, retreat centers, schools, summer camps, and synagogues. She currently serves as the Scholar-in-Residence at The Weber School, where she is collaborating with General and Jewish Studies teachers to create interdisciplinary courses. She is also the facilitator of two Jewish Book groups, one of which is in its 13th year. Pamela is an alumna of Clal’s Rabbis Without Borders and LEAP fellowships, and a member of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Clergy Advisory Group at MACoM: Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah. She is the author of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom, and is currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction that includes stories and poems about her 25+ years as a parent and rabbi. In addition to attending Spiritual Poetry Writing classes, she spends her free time reading novels, solving crosswords, playing Scrabble with her spouse, and taking walks with her faithful canine companion, Henry.
Steven Green, J.D, M.P.A., Founding Builder; Bayit Counsel. He/him.
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 Londonderry, New Hampshire.
Rabbi Cyn Hoffman, Board member; Builder, Bayit Publishing. They/them.
Cyn, a writer, intellectual, and teacher, started Rabbinical School at The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and holds dual ordination from ALEPH as rabbi and mashpi’ah (spiritual director). Cyn attended graduate school in English at UC Berkeley, where they served as Production Director for the early internet zine bad subjects. Their work has appeared in bad subjects, Tikkun Magazine, and Zeek, among others, and in anthologies ranging from The Bad Subjects Anthology (NYU) and Technologies of Writing (Prentiss Hall) to Beside Still Waters, a recent publication of Bayit and Ben Yehuda Press. Disability has taken them out of the public arena, but they continue to write and teach as often as possible. Among their current projects, Cyn is working with their rebbe Burt Jacobson on his book on The Mystery of the Ba’al Shem Tov. In addition, they are working on two books of their own: one on the philosophy and poetry of the commentary and teachings attributed to the Besht, and another on Mysticism in the Mediterranean Basin, 1200-1500.
Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe, Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe serves as the Associate Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Bronx, NY. She is a dynamic and thoughtful educator who loves teaching in Hebrew or English and inspiring others to learn. She has taught many to leyn and is the voice of the JOFA Megillat Esther and Megillat Rut Apps. Some of her favorite pastimes are kickboxing and reading books to her grandchildren over Zoom. Rabbanit Bracha lives in Riverdale, NY with her husband Martin.
Minister Cornell Jenkins, Builder, Bayit Online Learning. He/him.
Minister Cornell Jenkins was licensed to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2002. He has a heart for people and is a teacher and facilitator. He earned a B.A. in Human Resources Management from the University of Maryland University College and a Master’s of Theological Studies with a focus on racial reconciliation from Wesley Theological Seminary. He is a member of the Association for Talent Development. Minister Jenkins is committed to equipping and educating people to build bridges between races and religions.
Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Board member; Lead Architect/Builder, Builders Blog & Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
Rabbi Dara is passionate about building bridges between people and communities and promoting inclusion as a fundamental Jewish practice. She is an advocate for LGBTQ2+ inclusion within diverse Jewish spaces, as well as for Jewish inclusion in LGBTQ2+ spaces. When not at work as a constitutional and parliamentary affairs lawyer, Rabbi Dara is active as an outreach rabbi at Temple Israel Ottawa, where she helps lead services and lifecycle events, teach adult and youth programs, and engage in outreach and social action initiatives, and led High Holiday services at Congregation Shir Libeynu in Toronto, the longest standing LGBTQ-inclusive shul in the city. Rabbi Dara is also chairing a Canadian Council for Reform Judaism group to develop a Tikkun Olam strategy for Canada and is the Canadian representative to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Commission on Social Action. She also serves on the JSpace Canada Advisory Board, and on the LGBTQ2+ Advisory Council at CIJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.. Rabbi Dara and her partner love chasing their two children around Ottawa.
Rabbi David Markus , J.D., M.P.P., Founding Builder; Board member; Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. He/him.
David brings extensive experience as pulpit rabbi, lawyer, public official, educator and nonprofit leader. He is rabbi and spiritual leader 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; faculty in 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.”
Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, Founding Builder; Board member; Lead Architect, MenschUp and BeALight. He/him.
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 15 years, he was 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.
Rabbi Ben Newman, M.A, Builder. He/him.
Rabbi 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.
Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz, Ph.D, Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. She/her.
Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz earned her doctorate from the department of Rabbinic Literature at Potsdam University in Germany and holds Rabbinic Ordination from Abraham Geiger College in Germany. Prior to becoming the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom, she worked for the Central Conference of American Rabbis as Editor of CCAR Press. She also taught Worship, Liturgy, and Ritual at HUC-JIR in New York and the School of Jewish Theology at Potsdam University, and served as a rabbinic intern, adjunct rabbi, and cantorial soloist for congregations in Germany, Switzerland, Israel, and the US. Not surprisingly, she loves to write poetry, midrashim, and prayers. Her work has been published in ERGON, Liturgy, Worship, the CCAR Journal, Ritual Well, and a number of anthologies. She lives with her husband and son in Bozeman, MT.
Justin Sakofs, Builder, Bayit Publishing and Bayit Games. He/him.
Justin is an entrepreneurial, Agile Jewish creative. A trained educator, he worked in nearly every avenue of Jewish communal life: schools, camps, synagogues, Federation and as the creator of MagneticShul. He developed MagneticShul to meet the needs of youth attending synagogues so they could engage through play while being unable to access the environment. By day, Justin works in Agile Transformation as a Scrum Master, where he helps teams improve communication to work more effectively to get the job done. Justin maintains a strong commitment to Jewish learning by teaching Melton classes and being involved with Limmud North America.
Justin first got involved with Bayit through developing the layouts for Bayit publications. This experience has furthered his creative pursuits to (re)think how we live lives fueled by Jewish learning. Much of Justin’s thinking involve how our environments and experiences are meeting the needs of attendees and what the effects will be of the future. His passion ignites when others own their future and their approach to living based on the diversity of Jewish learnings. If you ever are looking for a thought partner as a hevruta and looking to simply explore ideas and ensure that there is a process to reach a goal, give Justin a call to talk it through.
After seeing the inside of six DMVs, Justin resides in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife-Rachel and their three ever growing children. In many ways, they are his inspiration to be agile and forward thinking.
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, Lead Builder, Cuba Torah Project
Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, spiritual leader of Bethesda Jewish Congregation has been named by The Jewish Forward Magazine as “one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.” Rabbi Sunny serves as the spiritual leader of the Bethesda Jewish Congregation. An honor he has held for almost two decades. He holds a degree in Judaic Studies from Baltimore Hebrew University, was ordained in 1997 as Hazzan by the Academy for Jewish Religion in NYC, and in 2011 as Rabbi by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and the Alliance for Jewish Renewal (ALEPH). Rabbi Schnitzer is a member of Rabbis for Human Rights, T’ruah, and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, just to name a few of the advocacy organizations with which he associates. Rabbi Sunny has also done groundbreaking work in Jewish Christian relations through a unique space sharing and mission relationship with the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. Rabbi Schnitzer’s congregation also enjoys a decade long spiritual sibling relationship with Idara e Jaferia Mosque, and has expanded that relationship to include, the Maqam Ibrahim Islamic Community and the Islamic Cultural Center of Potomac. Rabbi Sunny is also a member of the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society of Greater Washington. Rabbi Schnitzer has worked also for almost 20 years with the Jewish communities of Cuba. He is the president of the Cuba America Jewish Mission, working under a US government license with the Jewish communities of the island providing ritual, spiritual, and material support. Most recently he has begun teaching and working with the Jewish community of Nasenyi Uganda.
Shoshanna Schechter, M.A.,Ed.D.(cand.) Founding Builder. She/her.
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, she worked at Randolph-Macon College, and is now serving at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.
Steve Silbert, Builder; Board member; Lead Architect, Visual Torah; Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group. He/him.
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.
Rabbi Jennifer Singer, M.Ed., Founding Builder; Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group She/her.
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.
Rabbi Alana Suskin, Builder, Bayit Online Learning
Rabbi Alana Suskin is an educator, activist, and writer. She was ordained in 2020 by Yeshivat Maharat, the Orthodox rabbinical seminary for women, and also holds BAs in Philosophy and Russian, an MA in Philosophy, a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, and an MA in rabbinic studies and previous ordination as a Conservative rabbi from the Ziegler School in California. She is senior editor of the progressive blog Jewschool.com. Rabbi Suskin has served on the boards of T’ruah, Jews United for Justice, and Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and is a founding fellow of CLAL’s project, Rabbis Without Borders. Rabbi Suskin is co-founder and co-director, with her colleague and friend Hamza Khan, of The Pomegranate Initiative, a non-profit fighting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia through education and relationship-building.
Devon Spier; Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group
Devon Spier is an author and visual poet theologian (proemologian), who weaves and teaches others to weave poems, prose and theology through digital images. Believing that Jewish life can be an elevated expression of democracy, she transmits a Judaism of heart in which people and their lives are embraced exactly as they are. Devon is the most published author on Ritualwell.org and has resourced nearly every mainstream movement, network and denomination of Judaism to explore the intersections of health, recovery, trauma and well-being. Her work has been consulted and published by the London School for Jewish Studies, the Reconstructing Judaism movement, The Union for Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism (UK), Jewish Women’s Archive, Hevria and Jewcer: The Leading Crowdfunding Platform for Jewish Causes, the City Museum of New York, Ben Yehuda Press, Repair The World, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and most recently, the National Council of Jewish Women, which used her work to resource members on solidarity with indigenous sovereignty and rituals for reproductive freedom. The author of two bestselling books, Heart Map and the Song of Our Ancestors and Whatever it is, gently: Meditations for the Quiet Noise of the Pandemic, Devon‘s poetry conveys the possibility of a deeper listening to anyone who stands at the Jewish margins, whom she regards as the actual centre of Jewish life and spiritual practice. She is proudest of the fact that her work is being used by an emerging generation of Jewish leaders and communities who both question and belong, asking of each other and G-d: “What is it that we aren’t talking about?”
Mary Walter, she/her; Bayit Games
Mary Walter is an artist and digital illustrator from Kansas City. A mom of two she spends most of her time with her kids in the kitchen, playing games or reading stories. She and her spouse collect board games and are foodies frequently hosting game nights and cooking up new recipes. Even though she is a trained artist with a degree from Texas A&M, Mary currently works in finance at a local non-profit institution where she indulges her passion for community service and outreach. Mary became involved with Bayit after meeting Steve Silbert and finding that they share common interests in Judaica, educating families and art. As a team they work to build tools and games that help families experience Jewish tradition in a new way.
Rabbi David Zaslow; Builder, Liturgical Arts Working Group, he/him
Rabbi David Zaslow received his master’s degree in creative writing in 1973, and is the author of several books of poetry for both children and adults. In a former lifetime he ran a jazz club that produced concerts with the likes of Taj Mahal, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, and Doc Watson. Since receiving his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi he has been the spiritual leader of the Havurah Synagogue starting in 1996. His focus has always been on interfaith work and cultivating a culture of peace between the different spiritual paths that southern Oregon is so blessed to host. He is the author of two interfaith books, Reimagining Exodus and Jesus: First-Century Rabbi, as well as a prayerbook for spiritual renewal called Ivdu et Hashem B’simcha – Serve the Holy One with Joy.