Raised in the social, linguistic and culturally diverse Jewish communities of Gothenburg, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Briah Cahana is honoured to begin a new chapter in New York at Yeshivat Maharat. Over the years, she has immersed herself in many formal, traditional and experiential Jewish learning environments such as Hadar, Kivunim, Pardes, and Urban Adamah all of which inform her understanding of the expansiveness of Jewish life and tradition and depth of its values. Briah is a passionate student of Torah and has experience teaching Tanakh informally at summer camp and coaching elementary and high school students for the Chidon Hatanach competition. She received her BA at McGill University in Philosophy, Jewish Studies and Arabic, which she put to use by participating in interfaith dialogue groups and co-creating a space for religious women to gather to discuss their faiths and build personal connections through art, poetry, music and volunteering. Later, she completed her MA at Mcgill University in the History of Bible Interpretation and wrote a thesis that focused on the story of the Hebrew Midwives, inspired by her work as a doula. In between waiting for babies to be delivered and writing her thesis, she had the opportunity to study sofrut, which is as much an outlet for her spirituality as for her creativity.
Tanya Farber, with many years of teaching experience, continues to evolve as an educator and to refine her skills in crafting meaningful student-directed lessons. For her first seven years in the classroom, Tanya taught Tanach in yeshiva high schools in NY and NJ. For the past five years Tanya discovered the joy of teaching elementary grades and taught 4th graders in a daily afternoon program. She developed her own experiential curricula of Torah texts, prayer, and jewish calendar. She integrated beit midrash study, with improv and other creative modalities, and Tefillah and liturgy with mindfulness meditation. Tanya emphasizes the dynamic spiritual practices of middot, respect, listening, generosity, curiosity, leadership and other values as part of classroom culture and routines. On weekends, Tanya works as a supervisor in a shomer Shabbat group home for Jewish women with developmental disabilities.
Originally from Arizona, Tanya has studied Torah in a variety of Jewish settings: at teachers' seminaries for Bais Yaakov graduates in both Israel and the US, batei midrash in New York City (Drisha, Yeshivat Hadar), non-denominational programs (Institute of Jewish Spirituality, Elat Chayyim), and with beloved havrutot every step of the way.
Leah Fine comes to Maharat with a deep commitment to Jewish life and learning. She is an accomplished Jewish educator, committed to reaching each student, על פי דרכו as a “whole world” and a unique person. Leah holds an MA in Modern Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University and teaching credentials in elementary and special education from California State University. She studied at Pardes, Drisha and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Leah was director of Jewish Family Programming at Beth El-Baltimore, a pioneering integrated Jewish studies experience. As a result, she was awarded the prestigious Melton Senior Educators Fellowship at the Hebrew University. Leah has taught and innovated curriculum within a wide range of formal and informal settings, with a particular passion for including people with special needs into all aspects of Jewish communal life. She is co-author of Where God Dwells: A Child’s History of the Synagogue and is currently completing a collection of Samaritan folktales. Leah lives in Riverdale, New York, with her husband and co-author, Steven, younger son, Koby and their dog Sandy.
Naima Hirsch is a writer, educator, and life-long student. She graduated from Hunter College with a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Naima’s poetry and prose have been published in a number of magazines and journals, both in print and online. She has previously studied at Nishmat and Drisha, where she was able to develop a taste for difficult texts and tough questions that she works to cultivate in her students at JCP Downtown, Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation, and Brandeis Precollege Programs (BIMA). Naima is an editor of Monologues from the Makom, a collection of women-written monologues, poems, and creative pieces related to sexuality, body image, gender, and Jewish identity. She is a member of the leadership team of the Beis Community in Washington Heights, where she creates an inclusive and welcoming home for Jews of varying backgrounds through strategic programming and outreach.
Nomi Kaltmann is from Melbourne, Australia. Nomi comes to Maharat after earning her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Politics and Jewish Civilizations from Monash University. She also holds a Masters degree in Legal Practice from the Australian National University.
Previously Nomi has worked for the Shadow Attorney General of Australia and as an advisor to the former Minister for Small Business in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Nomi also coordinated and accompanied a Parliamentary delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Specialising in charities and not-for-profit law, Nomi has worked for the Australian Charities Commission.
Nomi was one of the founding members of the Women’s Orthodox Tefillah Group in Victoria. She has previously studied at Midreshet HaRova and completed a Masters research unit that looked at the current state of Australian family law and issues relating to Agunot and Gett.
Nomi is married to Daniel Guttmann and they have two beautiful children.
Yael Keller is the former Director of Operations at Maharat. She 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.
Atara Lindenbaum, comes to Yeshivat Maharat after completing a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from Hunter College. Throughout Atara's time at Hunter, she researched and wrote about religious issues in urban areas, such as eruv and issues of school funding. Atara worked as a planning consultant to various towns throughout the Hudson Valley.
Atara spent two years in Jerusalem where she completed the Matan Program for Advanced Bible Studies and studied Jewish Education at the Melton School in Hebrew University. Atara then was fortunate to teach the Matan Bat Mitzvah Program, and to teach Tanach and Jewish History to high school students in both the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA and Beren Academy in Houston, TX.
Atara graduated from Stern College with a BA in History, after learning at both Migdal Oz and Midreshet Lindenbaum. Atara currently lives in Riverdale with her husband and three daughters.
Miriam Lorie is from Borehamwood UK, where she lives today with her husband and two small boys. Her life has led her to rabbinical school, even though it took time to realise this was the direction everything was pointing.
Miriam’s teenage fascination with religion led her to read Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge and work in inter-faith dialogue for seven years. Her love of Judaism has taken her to study at Midreshet Harova and the Pardes Centre for Jewish Educators.
Miriam co-founded a local Partnership Minyan in 2013 - the first such minyan to regularly meet in the UK. She regularly leins, teaches and leads davening at this warm and open minyan, “Kehillat Nashira”.
Miriam has worked at Lead, developing Jewish leaders for the UK Jewish community, where she collaborated with the London School of Jewish Studies to develop an online Jewish literacy course for community leaders, which she continues to run.
Miriam trained with the Eden Centre as a kallah teacher. She has worked with couples pre marriage for several years and is part of a team creating a new, spiritually-oriented mikveh for London. Miriam has taught Jewish texts in a variety of adult education settings and has been a bat mitzvah teacher for over 10 years. Her teaching philosophy is to instill a Judaism which is affirmative, joyful, text based, and which inspires the bettering of our world.
Miriam was named one of the Jewish Chronicle’s “Sixteen under 30’s to watch in 2016” and in the Jewish News’ “40 under 40” in 2020.
Realising that Jewish teaching was a life calling, Miriam began the Yeshivat Maharat Beit Midrash Programme in 2019 and became a freelance Jewish educator in 2020.
Born in Israel and raised in the United States, Tamar Marvin holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Jewish Studies and a B.A. in Literature and Journalism. Her writing has been published in academic journals as well as in the broader media. Since receiving her doctorate, she has taught in Jewish Studies programs at universities in New York and Los Angeles, and has served as a faculty member in the Wexner Foundation’s Heritage Program. Seeking to take an active part in shaping Jewish tradition, Tamar is honored to join the Core Semikha Program at Yeshivat Maharat. She brings with her a deep fascination with Jewish intellectual culture, especially the ways in which premodern Jews faced challenges of integrating new cultural developments with Masorah. She believes that the Rishonim with whom she loves spending so much of her time, from the philosophers to the Kabbalists, have a great deal to tell us about navigating the Jewish future. As an educator, Tamar is passionate about creating access to classical texts for all who wish to approach them, bringing them to life for her students.
Tamar is also an inveterate maker, mostly of handcrafted textile Judaica and home baked challah. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California.
Rebecca Millner is a Program Manager at Sacred Spaces, providing support for the research, development, and implementation of programming, training and resources. Prior to joining Sacred Spaces, Rebecca worked at the Institute for Health and Recovery (IHR) as a trainer and community-based interventionist, focused on addressing the needs of women and families, specifically addressing substance-use recovery, perinatal women’s health and the integration of trauma-informed models of care. Rebecca has also served as a Behavioral Health Clinician at Lahey Health Behavioral Services, addressing trauma in children and families in both a residential and community-based capacity. Through this work, Rebecca has trained numerous behavioral health agencies on engaging in systemic trauma-informed care. Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Hadassah-Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem.
Phoebe Ana Rabinowitsch holds a B.A. in Religion and Anthropology from American University. Phoebe Ana has completed various internships including at Hillel International and a national voter registration campaign. Phoebe Ana studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Middlebury College Language Schools. She has studied Torah at Drisha, Hadar and Pardes, where she was involved in organizing a weekly partnership minyan. She has experience teaching English as a Second Language to adult learners and Hebrew and Judaic studies at various religious schools in New York City. Phoebe Ana is an active participant in a monthly women's rosh chodesh group that brings together text to discuss health and wellness and the relationship to being a Jewish woman today. Phoebe Ana is committed to exploring how beliefs and practices can help create supportive and nourishing environment and is interested in further exploring the field of chaplaincy and pastoral education. She lives in Washington Heights, New York.
Adina Roth is a Jewish educator and Clinical Psychologist in Johannesburg, South Africa. After spending a year in Jerusalem studying at Pardes and coordinating the Kol Isha women’s leadership programme, Adina returned to South African and completed a Masters in Contemporary Literature comparing Hassidic and Post-Modern readings of Bereshit. She then went on to do a second Masters at New York University on a Fulbright scholarship where she did her thesis on post-colonial and psychoanalytic readings of Shemot. While in New York, Adina studied at Drisha and simultaneously discovered yoga and free-style dance classes. Since then she has remained interested in integrating intellectual experiences with the body. After her time in New York, Adina returned to South Africa and founded B’tocham Education, an after-school programme for B’nei Mitzvah. She has developed a full curriculum for her students and integrates art and poetry into her pedagogy. She also teaches girls as well as boys to lein for their coming of age rituals. In addition to taking b’nei mitzvah through traditional rites of passage such as Torah chanting and d’var Torah, Adina’s bat mitzvah students spend a day in the mountains, creating innovative Jewish ritual to mark and welcome the changes taking place in their bodies.
Adina has taught courses for Melton and also runs her own courses in Tanach for adults, integrating traditional commentaries, Midrash, Hassidut and literature and psychoanalysis. Fourteen years later, B’tocham education has expanded into a programme that welcomes kids from Year K through to bar and bat mitzvah for a programme of Hebrew literacy and Jewish studies. A co-founder of the Jozi Partnership minyan, Adina also works as a Clinical Psychologist and lives in Johannesburg with her husband Farryl who is a physical therapist and musician and her two children Maya and Adam. She loves to jog, spend time in nature and listen to podcasts and is so excited to be joining Yeshivat Maharat this year.
Dr. Liz Shayne comes to Maharat after getting her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and is currently interning at the Hebrew Institute of White Plains. Liz received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania and did her doctoral research on how digital editions are changing the way we feel and experience books. She has taught lectures and classes on topics ranging from the history of the Gemara to technology in science fiction. At Maharat, Liz is taking her research on the relationship between learning and technology out of academia and into the world of Jewish education. She loves discovering new online editions of the Gemara almost as much as she enjoys learning from a sefer. Though she misses Santa Barbara, Liz is glad to be back in New York, where she grew up. She and her family now live in Riverdale, where she can be found most Shabbatot, except when she in White Plains, slowly teaching her daughter to sit through all of Torah reading.
Born in Haifa and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania in a Hebrew speaking home, Yael Smooha grew up enchanted by the stories of the Torah she learned as an Jewish Day School student, eventually taking on an observant lifestyle at the time of her Bat Mitzvah. Yael’s passion for Torah learning grew as an NCSYer, and after graduating Bruriah High School, Yael spent her post-high school years in the Breuers community of Washington Heights, studying as a seminary student and devoting her creative talents to teaching Judaic Studies to her fourth graders.
Heeding an inner call to expand her sphere, Yael earned a degree in Elementary education at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a public school teacher she worked alongside with artists to engage inner city students in yoga, cooking, and art to improve their academic performance. Ultimately, the longing to teach what was closest to her heart drew her to serve as a Jewish educator first in the elementary grades at the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan and subsequently at the middle school level at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester.
Throughout her teaching career, Yael has reveled in the power of the arts to spark imagination and deepen her students’ thinking around their textual learning, engaging her learners in activities involving improvisation, songwriting, movement, and journal-writing. Experiencing the palpable effect of the arts on all of her students has moved Yael to consider ways in which to bring more art and spirituality into Jewish practice. As a Maharat student, Yael is excited about expanding her own understanding of spirituality and bringing these gifts to her future students and congregants. Yael currently heads the Jspace Hebrew School at Hebrew Institute of Riverdale - the Bayit.
Yael currently lives with her family in Teaneck, NJ.
Myriam Ackermann-Sommer, BA, MA, was born and raised in Southern France and has been living in Paris for four years with her husband Emile. She earned a B.A. in English in 2016, majoring in English and minoring in Hebrew at the Sorbonne while completing an undergraduate degree in Humanities at the École Normale Supérieure, a selective French college. In the course of her master’s degree in English literature, Myriam focused mainly on Jewish American authors and Jewish philosophy, writing essays on Nobelist I.B. Singer (main thesis: “Broken Shards: Vulnerability in the Works of Isaac Bashevis Singer”) and Bernard Malamud (“Am I My Brother’s Keeper? The Ethical Imperative in the Short Stories of Bernard Malamud. A Dialogue With Emmanuel Levinas”, an essay at the intersection with contemporary French Jewish philosophy). She has also been inquiring into the representation of the sacred in Judaism in articles like “The Holy of Holies; or, the Architecture of Absence”. Myriam has had an extensive training in teaching and translation, and regularly gives talks in Jewish as well as academic contexts, starting a co-ed study group (“Ayeka”) with her husband in 2017 for Parisian students and young professionals. Her favourite subjects are gender representations and notably the challenge of egalitarianism in Orthodox Judaism, the exchange of ideas and insights between Judaism and contemporary critical theory, and Jewish ethics. A dedicated musician, Myriam has also earned a diploma in transverse flute in 2015 and loves to enhance the spiritual dimension of Judaism by singing her heart out in prayer groups.
Talia Weisberg is originally from New York, NY. She previously served as the Director of Academic Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England, where she designed and executed strategic initiatives to promote understanding and knowledge of Israel among university students, faculty, and administrations. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University in the Comparative Study of Religion with a secondary field in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Her senior honors thesis explored the Bais Yaakov girls’ school movement, of which she is an alumna, and its role in the evolution of Orthodox women’s formal religious education. As an undergraduate, Talia held several leadership roles within Harvard Hillel and campus feminist groups. She currently serves as the Ritual Chair on the board of the Orthodox Minyan at Harvard Hillel, a minyan that caters to students, young professionals, and young families in Cambridge, MA. In 2013, she was named as one of the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” young visionaries reshaping and broadening the Jewish community.
Rivka Wietchner is a member of the Israeli Rabbinate Beit Midrash at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She is a fellow of the Herzog College Women’s Beit Midrash and holds an MA in Theory and Policy of Art from Bezalel Academy of Art.
Originally from Har Bracha in Samaria, Israel, and nowadays lives in Jerusalem. Previously, she was part of various Beit Midrash programs and served as an OU-JLIC Co-Director and Educator at University of Chicago Hillel. Rivka has a BA from the Open University of Israel and a Kallah Teacher Certification from Nishmat. Rivka is married to David, a rabbi and doctoral student in philosophy at Bar Illan University. She is a mother of four and in her free time, she loves to read and paint.
Rivka Believes in connection between different leaders and communities and is hoping to make Torah more relevant to our postmodern culture, by bringing together cultural theories and deep Torah studying. She cares about making lifecycle events meaningful for the people around her by preparing and putting together ceremonies and experiences.
Emily Goldberg Winer was born and raised in South Florida, but moved to New York City in high school. She is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and currently works as a rabbinic intern at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel. She most recently completed the Jewish Innovation Fellowship at the 92nd Street Y and directed a teen fellowship at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College where she studied Religion and Jewish Studies. There, she was a research and program intern at the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding. Committed to interfaith dialogue and pluralism, Emily is constantly exploring the traditions and stories of others. She has engaged in programs rooted in religious diversity, first among fellow Jews at the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and Drisha, and later across faiths at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Tanenbaum, and Auburn Seminary. Her most humbling experiences, however, came from her years of working at the Phoebe nursing home with residents living with dementia as well as the Lehigh County Jail where she facilitated text studies for men and women. Emily lives in Riverdale with her husband Jonah, a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevai Torah. When not learning Torah or brainstorming ways to make Jewish communities more inclusive, she enjoys volunteering at soup kitchens, people (and dog) watching, and adding puns into regular conversations.