Speakers - Convention 2015

Click the Speaker's Name or Picture to view their Biography

Wednesday Keynote - 9:30 PM to 10:45 PM

  Confronting Aging Institutions - Entrepreneurship to the Rescue
  Dr. Hal LewisJon Medved

Thursday Presentation - 10:00 AM to 10:45 am
  Transferred Memory, A Legacy of Empowerment
Thursday Women's Course - 11:15 AM to 12:45 PM
  Mindful Jewish Exploration
Thursday Women's Lecture - 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM
  The History of Music Therapy
Friday Meditative Shacharit Service 7:00 AM
Friday Women's Lecture - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
  Role of Women and Changes in Jewish Life
Friday Lunch Presentation - Noon to 1:00 PM
  Guess Who's Coming to Shabbas?®
Friday Women's Lecture - 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
  Women and the Wall
Friday Guest Speaker - 9:00 PM
A message from our Congregation in Uganda
Sunday Presentation - 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
  Israel and the College Campuses
Barry Shrage has served as president of CJP—Boston’s Jewish Federation —since 1987. Under Barry’s leadership, CJP is focused on three priorities: Jewish education and engaging future generations, strengthening our connection to Israel through community-to-community and people-to-people partnerships, and creating a caring community. He champions true partnerships between CJP, donors and recipient organizations—inspiring the Jewish community to contribute more than $42 million to CJP’s 2011 Annual Campaign. Barry has been instrumental in the creation of several cutting-edge programs designed to engage the next generation in meaningful Jewish life, and create a welcoming, inclusive Jewish community. Projects include Me’ah, an intensive Jewish adult education curriculum; and Ikkarim, a Jewish learning program for parents of young children. Pioneered in Boston, both programs are now being replicated nationwide. Barry also spearheaded a successful incentive grant program that supports Jewish overnight camp opportunities for children. He helped Boston’s Peerless Excellence and Affordability projects for Jewish day schools, as well as innovative efforts aimed at strengthening synagogues and synagogue schools. Barry is one of Israel’s most passionate and effective advocates in Boston. More than 20 years ago, he helped to establish the Boston-Haifa Connection, a sister city relationship that has resulted in mutually beneficial social programs. Barry was among the first Federation leaders to embrace the power of Taglit-Birthright Israel, and has worked to send 10,000 Boston-area college students on free trips to Israel. CJP’s Birthright Israel Campus Initiative has become a national model that empowers students to become lifelong advocates for Israel.
Rabbi Edward Feld is the senior editor of the new Mahzor Lev Shalem, published by the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, for which he was listed as one of the Forward 50. Currently, Rabbi Feld is at work on a companion siddur Lev Shalem for Shabbat and Festivals. In his distinguished career, Rabbi Feld has served as RabbiinResidence at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America functioning as an advisor and mentor to rabbinical students, Rabbi of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and Hillel Director of Princeton University. He is a noted teacher, lecturing throughout North America. Rabbi Feld has published widely on halachic and ethical issues, on Jewish theology and on biblical themes. His most recent book, Joy, Despair and Hope: Reading Psalms will be published in spring 2013 by Cascade Books. He is the author of Spirit of Renewal: Faith After the Holocaust (Jewish Lights) recently reissued in paperback. He is married to Merle Feld, a poet and playwright and Director of the Rabbinic Writing Institute.
Aubrey L. Glazer, Ph.D. (University of Toronto) is an independent scholar who currently serves as rabbi at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison, New York. Aubrey is passionate about bringing Jewish Mysticism and Hebrew Poetry into conversation as in his first book, Contemporary Hebrew Mystical Poetry: How It Redeems Jewish Thinking (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009) as well as in his forthcoming book, Mystical Vertigo: Kabbalistic Hebrew Poetry Dancing Cross the Divide of Jewish Thinking(Academic Studies Press, 2013) reflects on how contemporary Hebrew mystical poets are writing a Kabbalah of Poetry for tomorrow. He is also a visionary when it comes to thinking through the future of Jewish philosophy as reflected in his book, A New Physiognomy of Jewish Thinking: Critical Theory After Adorno as Applied to Jewish Thought (New York: Continuum, 2011).
Leandro Galanternik is from Argentina, he is 28 years old and has been married for two years to Fernanda from Brazil, who is a Rabbinical student in Buenos Aires and the Director of Programs and Membership for Noam Latin America. He is no stranger to the FJMC, as he served as our guide during the Argentina portion of our first FJMC Mission Trip in 2008, and led the delegation from Latin America for our HaDor Habah program in South Florida two years later Leandro studied Business Administration in Buenos Aires and has a MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently studying on the prerabbinical program at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, the institution where Conservative Rabbis are ordained for all of Latin America. Leandro worked in Brazil and later Israel for the past two years, and is now back in Argentina, as the Director of Projects for the Seminario. He is the founder of Marom Argentina and Marom Latin America, and was the first youth representative on the Masorti Latin America Board, a position he still holds today. As a volunteer he takes part in the Bogrei Masa team in Buenos Aires and is the Jewish representative in an Interfaith Dialogue Organization for Latin America.
Professor Amy L. Sales is the associate director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, the director of the FisherBernstein Institute for Jewish Philanthropy and Leadership, and Associate Professor in Hornstein: The Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Trained as a social psychologist, she conducts research on Jewish institutions and their role in creating Jewish life and community. Her most recent studies have centered on the fundraising profession, Jewish education, synagogues, Jewish summer camps, and Jewish life on college campuses. This past year, she was the Principal Investigator on a project for the Jim Joseph Foundation that mapped Jewish education in the United States and created a database of national programs and organizations involved in educating Jewish children and youth. She was also the lead investigator on Developing the Developers, a study analyzing the shortage of qualified fundraisers in the Jewish community. In an effort to understand how synagogues evolve, she has conducted evaluation research for Synagogue 2000 and for The REIMAGINE Project (an effort to bring innovation to congregational schools) and has led Community based studies of older adults in the synagogue, of Jewish family education, and of the attitudes and values of synagogue members. In addition to her research activities, she has provided training, consultation, and technical assistance on longterm planning, evaluation research, and leadership development in Jewish communal agencies, organizations, and federations. She holds her Ph.D. in social psychology from Boston University. She is the coauthor of How Goodly Are Thy Tents: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences, the coeditor of Church and Synagogue Affiliation: Theory, Research and Practice, and the author of numerous articles and reports related to the American Jewish community. Her most recent article is Future of the Denominations: Analysis and Possiblities in CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly (spring 2011).
Rabbi Floriane Chinsky, born in Paris and ordained in Jerusalem, became Belgium's first female rabbi in 2005 at Beth Hillel in Brussels. In addition to her rabbinical degree, she has a PhD in sociology of law; the subject of her thesis was the social representations of Jewish law in France. She was removed from her rabbinical job in 2010. She is now a rabbi at Chir Hadach, the Masorti congregation in Brussels, Belgium. Floriane Chinsky grew up in France, in a family with very strong but facing the Jewish world citizen identity, and social science. During law school, after attending all the movements of French Judaism, she met the Masorti movement, and decided to focus her career on the rabbinate to be at the service of this ideal of Judaism both deep and bright. After five years of study in Israel, she graduated from the prestigious Schechter Rabbinical ordination Centre in 2005. The same year, she defended her PhD in Law from the University Paris II Panthéon-Assas. It is then called by the Beth Hillel Synagogue and comes to live in Belgium. She became minister under the Belgian law. When thanked, in spring 2010, a small group decides to take a chance and create a synagogue that can really give voice to the Masorti movement. Shir Chadash synagogue was born, and has been waiting to be able to grow institutionally within a legal framework that meets its social reality. Rabbi Dr. Floriane Chinsky supports this project, which is the Jewish and human ideal.
Rabbi Gordon Tucker has been Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel Center, a conservative synagogue in White Plains, New York, since August 1994. He is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jewish Philosophy at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Chairman of the Board of the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel. He serves on the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. He holds an A.B. from Harvard College, a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and Rabbinic Ordination from Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1979-80, he served as a White House Fellow in the administration of Jimmy Carter. He is married to Amy E. Cohn, has three children, Ethan (married to Ariela Migdal), Becky, and Micah, and one granddaughter.
Baruch HaLevi grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and attended the University of Kansas where he received a B.A. degree in philosophy. Upon graduation, he spent a year working in New York City as a motivational speaker. Shortly thereafter, he decided to formally resume his spiritual and academic pursuits and moved to Israel where he began his Judaic studies, first, at Livnot and later, at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. In 1997, Rabbi HaLevi entered rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, CA. Rabbi HaLevi spent five years as a rabbinic intern at Ohr HaTorah synagogue in Los Angeles under the guidance of his mentor, Rabbi Mordecai Finley. In 2002, Rabbi HaLevi accepted a position Tifereth Israel, a synagogue in Des Moines, Iowa where he, along with his wife Ariela, spent four years re-invigorating and re-energizing the historic congregation. During that time, they celebrated the birth of their son Yehuda and later, their daughter Maya. Rabbi HaLevi and his family moved to Swampscott, MA in the summer of 2006 to begin his tenure at Congregation Shirat Hayam, a newly created synagogue crafted out of the merger of two previous congregations. In February, 2007 Rabbi HaLevi received his Doctoral degree in Ministry, with an emphasis in Jewish Spirituality, from the The Graduate Theological Foundation of Oxford University. This degree is the culmination of Rabbi HaLevi’s continued focus upon his role as a spiritual guide in the lives of anyone who seeks out his guidance. In addition to his primary passions as a husband and a father, Rabbi HaLevi is an avid student of mysticism, meditation, yoga as well as a passionate writer. Ultimately, Rabbi B is committed to reclaiming an authentic Judaism which is inclusive of Jews, Semi-Jews & Non-Jews; built upon the foundational texts, beliefs and practices of traditional Judaism while simultaneously re-invigorating this tradition in relevant, modern ways. His newest book is: Revolution of the Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community which can be found on http://www.RevolutionOfJewishSpirit.com.
Rabbi Charles Simon has served as the Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs since 1981. Under his guidance, FJMC has produced numerous books, guides, films, and programs designed to enhance Jewish life, for men and women and their communities at large. An active innovator, Rabbi Simon has been responsible for the production of a host of materials designed to make Jewish life more accessible. These accomplishments include the development of the highly acclaimed Art of Jewish Living series, authored by Dr. Ron Wolfson, the writing and production of two educational films, A Guide to the Shabbat Morning Torah Service and The Ties That Bind. He edited and supervised the Hearing Men’s Voices series, a series of five manuals designed to assist Jewish men to address issues facing them today. Rabbi Simon has also written 2 books devoted to teaching people how to lead and participate in community prayer. He has been published in Commentary Magazine, Judaism Magazine and Reform Judaism. In the winter of 2000 Rabbi Simon was asked by the leadership of the FJMC to place the issue of intermarriage on the agenda of the Conservative Movement. Ten years later FJMC’s Keruv (Outreach) Initiative involves more than 65 congregations and approximately 87 volunteers in various stages of re-positioning their synagogues to meet the challenge of demographic change. Rabbi Simon was instrumental in the creation of the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism. In addition to these activities he is responsible for starting and nurturing three Masorti congregations in France and two in the United Kingdom. His Mezuzah Housewarming party was translated into Spanish in 2005 as was his film The Ties That Bind. He has been instrumental in sending Torahs to our developing congregations and was responsible for the current translation of Sim Shalom into French. Under his guidance the FJMC created a fund designed to provide Tefillin and mezuzot to our congregations in Latin America and Europe. In November 2007 Rabbi Simon received the prestigious Sheirut l’am (Service to our People) award from the World Council of Synagogues. He currently serves as the Conservative Movement’s representative to Europe. His most recent endeavor are a weekly haftarah commentary that began in October 2009 and A book titled, Developing a Successful Volunteer Culture, published by Jewish Lights publishing company. A 1977 graduate of the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Simon served as a congregational rabbi before coming to the FJMC. His primary interest is the development of lay leadership and the cultivation of volunteers. He lives in New York with his wife Mary Katzin.
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, D.H.L.., is the Executive Director of the Jewish Outreach Institute, the only national independent organization dedicated to bringing Judaism to interfaith families and the unaffiliated. Dr. Olitzky is a former Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate School and University Center, CUNY. Formerly, he served as vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the premier adult Jewish learning and Jewish leadership program in North America. Previously, he was national Dean of Adult Jewish Learning and Living of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he served on the faculty and administration for 15 years following his tenure at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT. A leader in the development of innovative Jewish education, particularly for adults, he has shaped training programs for clergy of all faiths, especially in the area of pastoral care and counseling in the Jewish community. He has done pioneering work in the area of Jewish Twelve Step spirituality, as well as Jewish Gerontology. Rabbi Olitzky also serves as a fellow and consultant to Synagogue 2000 and is a partner with the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at HUC-JIR. He is a contributing editor for Shma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility and is also the author of many books and articles in a variety of fields. Among his most recent publications are: The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal, with Dan Judson (Jewish Lights); The Book of Proverbs with Leonard Kravitz (UAHC Press); and Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guide to Opportunities, Challenges, and Resources with Joan Peterson Littman (Jewish Lights), and Introducing My Faith and Community: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guide for the Christian in an Interfaith Marriage, Jewish Ritual, Jewish Holidays, both with Rabbi Daniel Judson (Jewish Lights). Translations of Ruth, and Jonah--all with Leonard Kravitz (URJ Press), Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do,(Torah Aura Productions)with Paul Golin, How to Raise Jewish Children...Even When You’re Not Jewish Yourself, (Torah Aura Productions) with Paul Golin, and 2 items of interest to mens club: From Your Father’s House (JPS) and forthcoming Jewish Men Pray (Jewish Lights)
Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is the author of more than a dozen books on coping with life’s challenges, including the best-selling Conquering Fear and Overcoming Life’s Disappointments. His newest book THE BOOK OF JOB: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person has won critical acclaim “Supported by thoughtful scholarship and [Kushner’s] skill at using modern concepts without leaking treacle.”—Seattle Times
Ron Wolfson, Ph.D. is a Fingerhut Professor of Education for the Graduate Center for Education. He joined the AJU faculty in 1975 as an Acting Professor. During his 35-plus year career at AJU, he has served as Director of the Education Department, founding Director of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future, Director of the Ramah Academy, Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education, Special Assistant to the President, and Vice President of the University. Dr. Wolfson is a frequent scholar-in-residence for synagogues and communities, speaking on a wide range of topics in Jewish life. He is co-founder and co-president of Synagogue 3000, an institute whose mission is to catalyze excellence in synagogue life. A pioneer in the field of Jewish family education, Dr. Wolfson is a member of the Consortium for the Jewish Family. Dr. Wolfson’s series of books on the Art of Jewish Living have sold over 100,000 copies. • First Fruit: A Whizin Anthology of Jewish Family Education (editor, with Adrianne Bank) The following books are published and available from Jewish Lights Publishing, www.jewishlights.com. • Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath, Second Edition • Passover: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, Second Edition • Hanukkah: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, Second Edition • A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort: A Guide to Jewish Bereavement and Comfort, Second Edition • What You Will See Inside a Synagogue (with Lawrence Hoffman) • The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community • God's To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God's Work on Earth • The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth • Be Like God: God’s To-Do List for Kids • Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community.
Joanna Kubar was one of the founders of the Maayane Or Masorti Community in Nice, France. Joanna served as its President from 2000 to 2006, during which Maayane Or grew from a small group of passionate and dedicated people to a vibrant community of more than 100 hundred families with its own full-time Rabbi. In 2006, Joanna joined the Steering Group for Masorti Europe, which later became the Masorti Europe Board, serving first as Secretary and then as Vice President. She was appointed President of Masorti Europe in October 2011. Joanna also represents Masorti Europe on the Board of Massorti France. Joanna Kubar was one of the founders of the Maayane Or Masorti Community in Nice, France. Joanna served as its President from 2000 to 2006, during which Maayane Or grew from a small group of passionate and dedicated people to a vibrant community of more than 100 hundred families with its own full-time Rabbi. In 2006, Joanna joined the Steering Group for Masorti Europe, which later became the Masorti Europe Board, serving first as Secretary and then as Vice President. She was appointed President of Masorti Europe in October 2011. Joanna also represents Masorti Europe on the Board of Massorti France. In her professional life Joanna Kubar PhD, MD, is scientific researcher, and has written several articles on a parasitic disease called Leishmaniasis. She is an author of two novels, both based in academia, and mother of two, now grown-up, men. Originally from Poland, Joanna has lived in France since 1968, speaks Polish, French and English and some Russian. She studies Hebrew in the Ulpan in Nice and finds it difficult.
Aaron Schachter, Senior Editor PRI's The World, works with reporters to craft their stories for radio. Schachter’s own experience as a field correspondent included Middle East reporting for “The World” for eight years. He covered the second Palestinian Intifada, reporting extensively from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Schachter had the good timing to be in Iraq when the Hussein family was caught – Uday and Qusay during summer 2003, and father Saddam that December. He’s also reported stories from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. His stories have won awards from the duPont-Columbia School of Journalism and the Scripps-Howard Institute. Before joining “The World,” Schachter worked in Los Angeles as editor, reporter, and host of the Marketplace Morning Report, and as a reporter for the Los Angeles bureau of National Public Radio. Schachter has served as a reporter and anchor at Colorado public radio in Denver, and at WBUR, the NPR news station in Boston.
Rabbi Leonard Gordon came to Congregation Mishkan Tefila in 2010 after 16 years as rabbi at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia, where he is rabbi emeritus. He is an experienced teacher and community builder who has held academic positions in Religious Studies and Humanities at Kenyon College and the Ohio State University. He has also taught rabbinical students at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, and at Hebrew College. Rabbi Gordon completed twelve years of service on the committee that produced the new Conservative movement High Holiday Mahzor, Lev Shalem, that has been adopted at CMT. He serves on the executive committee of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He chairs the USCJ Kehillah Strengthening and Transformation Committee. He also represents the USCJ on the national board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). Previously, he co-chaired the USCJ Public Policy and Social Action Committee. Rabbi Gordon graduated Columbia College in 1976, studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985 and had Masters degrees in Religious Studies from Brown and Columbia Universities. His wife, Dr. Lori Lefkovitz, is the Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University. They have two daughters, Ronya, a museum educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Samara, an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cantor George Mordecai weaves his rich cultural heritage into his work as a performer and cantor. Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, he was immersed from an early age in the musical and liturgical traditions of his family. He went on to lead services at the Sephardic Synagogue in Sydney and appeared at various multicultural music festivals around Australia. George also sang with the Renaissance Players, a renowned and innovative early music ensemble based at Sydney University, and with the Capella Floriani, a musical/theatrical company devoted to a spiritual vision of the performing arts. He also toured Europe with Cantor Naphtali Hershtig and the Great Synagogue Choir of Jerusalem. He received a B.A. in history from the University of New South Wales and received his Cantorial investiture and Master's Degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000. Upon graduation, he worked for four years as the cantor at Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel in Philadelphia. George continued to perform Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Middle Eastern liturgical music at concert halls and synagogues in England, Paris, Israel, and various cities around the U.S. while concurrently working on interfaith performance projects with Arab, Jewish, and African-American musicians. Cantor Mordecai comes to Temple Beth El from Temple Emanu-El, "The South Beach Synagogue" in Miami Florida where he served as Cantor. He has also served as cantor in Philadelphia, and as Assistant Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia. George recently presented a major concert on the musical traditions of the Jude-Iraqi community, as well as performing with the world renowned choral ensemble Seraphic Fire. Cantor Mordecai resides in Stamford with his wife, Michal, and daughters Gabriella and Eliora.