Tali Adler is a first year student at Yeshivat Maharat. Originally from Cedarhurst, NY, Tali graduated summa cum laude from Stern College for Women, where she double majored in political science and Jewish studies and completed a senior thesis entitled “Blood, Margins, and Danger: Menstrual Purity Laws and Spanish Crypto-Jewish Women in Early Modern Spain”, for which she won the departmental award for excellence in Jewish history. At Stern, Tali was the Opinions editor for The Observer, the official Stern College for Women newspaper, a tutor in the writing center, and co-founder of The Beacon, an student-run publication. Tali has studied in a number of Jewish settings, including Midreshet Harova, Drisha, and Yeshivat Hadar, and has worked as a Jewish educator at BBYO, where she designed and taught a three week class on Jewish theology entitled “God Talk,” and the Jewish Journey Project, where she teaches a Jewish debate class. Tali lives in Washington Heights where she runs Kol B’Rama, a monthly partnership minyan.
Dina Brawer was born in Milan Italy and attended High school in Jerusalem, seminary in New York and university in London. She holds a BA in Hebrew and Jewish studies from London School of Jewish Studies and an MA in Education (Psychology) from the Institute of Education. For close to fifteen years she has worked alongside her husband, a congregational rabbi, and in that capacity she taught numerous kallahs, ran adult education programs, led strategic community development and was the first (and only!) woman to address a British Orthodox congregation at Kol Nidre.
Professionally, Dina delivers volunteer training at Jewish Care (The UK’s largest Jewish Charitable organization which employs 3,500 volunteers.) She has been selected to take part in GAMECHANGERS, a new leadership program for the UK Jewish community.
Dina has recently been appointed as JOFA’s UK ambassador and in this role she is seeking to amplify the voices of Orthodox feminists and create a movement for positive change.
As a mother of four sons she is concerned about their exposure to gender stereotyping in the media and she is keen to counter this by enabling them to see society through women’s eyes. She frequently lectures, writes and occasionally broadcasts to wide and diverse audiences. In her spare time Dina enjoys contemporary art, theatre, and gourmet cooking.
Pessy Katz graduated from Bais Yakov of Boro Park High School and then from Lander College for Women as a Judaic Studies Honors Program student with a B.A. in Political Science. Pessy was a Dorot Fellow in Israel, during which time she studied at Pardes and conducted a research project on “Modesty in the Lives of Muslim and Christian Women”. Pessy currently works for the College Counseling and Student Support Services departments at SAR High School, prior to which she has taught 7th and 8th grade students at a Hasidic school and 3rd – 5th graders at a Hebrew School. Pessy served as program coordinator for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance’s most recent Kallah Teacher Workshop Conference and created and ran the teen division for Sister to Sister, an organization serving divorced and widowed women and their families. She has also served as a counselor at Camp Szarvas in Hungary. Pessy has interned for the NY JCRC, for then Senator Hillary Clinton and for Congressman Jerrold Nadler. In addition to her studies at Yeshivat Maharat, Pessy will pursue a dual degree at NYU where she has been awarded the Lisa Goldberg Fellowship.
Claudia Marbach has been a middle school teacher at JCDS Boston, a pluralistic Jewish Day School, for the last fifteen years, where she developed a Toshba curriculum and also taught tefillah, chagim, and moral reasoning. She has a particular interest in the teaching of pluralism and in differentiated instruction. She founded and ran a partnership minyan in Newton, has been gabbait of a local women’s tefillah group, has tutored bnei mitzvah, and participates in interfaith dialogue through the Daughters’ of Abraham network. Claudia received her BA in English from Barnard College, her JD from Boston University, and has studied at Michlalah and Pardes. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband and son, two daughters (occasionally), and two chickens.
Leah Sarna was writing her senior thesis at the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA about the prospect of women becoming Orthodox clergy when Rabba Sara was ordained in 2009. Ever since then, she had been waiting to matriculate at Yeshivat Maharat. She spent the time in between studying at the Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion, Israel and Yale University in New Haven, CT. She graduated cum laude from Yale in May 2014 with a BA in Philosophy & Psychology, submitting a thesis entitled “Confession and the Problems of Soul Sharing.” In addition to her academic studies, she served as president of the Orthodox community and co-director of Dwight Hall: the Center for Public Service and Social Justice at Yale. She also participated in rigorous interfaith dialogue with Muslim and Evangelical students. Leah spent her summers learning Torah at the Drisha June Kollel and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership's Summer Beit Midrash, among other things. Leah has had the privilege of teaching Torah to adults in communities around the United States, and she spent this past summer teaching high school students at the Dr. Beth Samuels Drisha High School Program. Leah is currently a Wexner Graduate Fellow and a Clergy Intern at Harvard Hillel.
Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez is a social worker, writer, educator, and advocate. She graduated with undergraduate degrees in Psychology & Social Behavior and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and received a Masters in Social Work with a health care concentration from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Melissa worked in oncology, hospice, and prenatal health eduction before transitioning into development and donor relations for Jewish non-profits, all the while exploring her passion for writing and social media. She spent two years living and learning in Jerusalem, one year each at Midreshet Nishmat and Machon Pardes, where she focused on gemara and halacha. While at Pardes she had the opportunity to facilitate a weekly chabura on women and halacha, co-found a monthly women’s shacharit, and to learn with a Yoetzet Halacha for independent Kallah teacher training.
It is Melissa’s dream to combine her personal and professional experiences to help women understand the fascinating and complex intersection of health and halacha, and to work with individuals facing the difficulties of grief and loss.