Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder

Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder, is the Senior Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a Modern and Open Orthodox congregation of 850 families and is the founder and President of Yeshivah Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School.  In 2007, Rabbi Weiss was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America, describing him as “Orthodox’s leading activist and leader of the Modern Orthodox community.”  Rabbi Weiss has authored numerous books, articles and editorials published in journals and newspapers around the world.

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Dean


Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, is part of the rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Following graduation from Barnard College, Columbia University, she entered and subsequently graduated from Drisha’s three-year Scholars Circle Program. After another five years of study under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Weiss, she was ordained by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber.  Rabba Hurwitz helped create JOFA’s Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project and has lectured at many venues including JOFA, Drisha, the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, JCCs, Lights in Action, CAJE, CLAL, and various synagogues. She was named as one of the Jewish Weeks “36 Under 36,” a “top pick” in the Forward50 most influential Jewish leaders, and Newsweek’s 50 most influential rabbis, and is a Bikkurim fellow.

Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh Yeshiva

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 also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.  He has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County as well as Yeshivat Hadar.

Dr. Esther Altmann, Director of Pastoral Education

Dr. Esther Altmann, Director of Pastoral Counseling at Yeshivat Maharat, is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in psychotherapy with adolescents, young adults and couples. Formerly on the teaching faculty of new York University, Adelphi University and YCT Rabbinical School, she has also been a supervising psychologist at several New York City hospitals. She has served as an eating disorders consultant at several Jewish Institutions and helped develop the treatment program at the Renfrew Center for Orthodox patients. Dr. Altmann writes and lectures in schools and communities on mental health topics.

Dr. Altmann can be contacted at esther(at)yeshivatmaharat.org

Dr. Erin Leib Smokler, Director of Spiritual Development and Internship Coordinator

Dr. Erin Leib Smokler is the Director of Spiritual Development and Internship Coordinator at Yeshivat Maharat, where she teaches Chassidut and Pastoral Torah. She earned her PhD and MA from the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought and her BA from Harvard University. She previously served as Assistant Literary Editor of the The New Republic magazine, and her writing has appeared there as well as in The New York Times Book Review, The Jerusalem Report, and The Jewish Week. 

Yael Keller, Director of Operations

Yael Keller, Director of Operations, earned a Masters in Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and a Masters in Jewish Professional Leadership at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University.  Upon graduation, she was the Director of Programming at Uri L’Tzedek, the Orthodox Social Justice movement.  In graduate school she was an intern at the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel, where she worked on the grant writing team, advocating for Jews at risk throughout the world and a site educator at Impact Boston, where she facilitated a teen experience focused on social action, community service and advocacy. Before graduate school, Yael spent three years in Washington, DC, working at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and Hillel’s Schusterman International Center.  She also spent a semester in Israel studying at the Pardes Institute of Judaic Studies before attending the Hornstein Program. Yael earned her B.A. in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.  She was active in her campus Hillel, serving as a student leader and board member.

Yael can be reached at yaelkeller(at)yeshivatmaharat.org

Yaffa Epstein, Talmud

Yaffa Epstein teaches Talmud at Yeshivat Maharat and serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.  She holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University and has been a member of the Israeli Bar since 2003. Yaffa is a former student of the Kollel at Pardes and was a member of the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan. She has studied at the Talmud Department at Hebrew University, and is currently pursuing Rabbinical studies in the Advanced Kollel at Yeshivat Maharat.

Yaffa has taught Talmud, Jewish law, and Liturgy at Pardes, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel, as well as the Drisha Institute June Kollel, Kayam Farm Kollel, the Lookstein Center, Ta Shma and Young Judaea Year Course. She has taught at Limmud Events around the globe, and has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning, and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. As well, Yaffa was an inaugural member of the "Reshut Harabim" Beit Midrash, a think tank on Modern Orthodoxy in Israel, at the Yaakov Herzog Center.


Rabbi Adam Mintz, Talmud

Rabbi Adam Mintz, a Modern Orthodox rabbi in New York City, believes that the greatest challenge facing twenty-first century Jewry is the creation of educated Jews who understand that the key to the Jewish future is the appreciation of the Jewish past.

Toward this goal, Rabbi Mintz teaches Jewish history and thought in a variety of venues. He has taught at Rutgers University, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Queens College and is presently Adjunct Associate Professor at City College, New York. In addition, Rabbi Mintz has presented a weekly lecture in Jewish History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the past five years. These classes are available as mp3 files and have attracted a virtual community of enthusiastic students from around the world.

Rabbi Mintz completed his rabbinical ordination at Yeshiva University and received his doctorate at New York University. The topic of his dissertation is “Halakhah in America: The History of City Eruvin, 1894-1962.” He served as a rabbi in a number of Modern Orthodox synagogues in the New York area, including Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Lincoln Square Synagogue. Rabbi Mintz is a founder of Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan.

Rabbi Mintz is married to Sharon Liberman Mintz, Curator of Jewish Art at The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Senior Consultant for Judaica at Sothebys. They have three children; Noam, Ariel and Shoshana.

Aliza Mazor, Leadership Track

Aliza Mazor is the Executive Director of Bikkurim: Advancing New Jewish Ideas, a joint project of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Kaminer Family. Bikkurim has helped to launch 31 innovative start-ups that contribute significantly to the diversification and re-invigoration of Jewish life. Aliza has also worked as an independent consultant to non-profits and philanthropies. She has developed curricula in non-profit management and consulted on strategy, fundraising, board development, executive transitions and management. Previously, Aliza served as associate director of an international public foundation, director of development for a regional management assistance organization, and director of training for a national social justice organization. A Chicago native, Aliza spent fifteen years living and working in Israel and holds an MSW from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently lives in New York City with her nine year old son.