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.
Atara Cohen is a native of Riverdale NY. She graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Religion and a certificate in Judaic Studies. Atara has studied Torah in a variety of settings, including, Midreshet Nishmat, Hadar, and Drisha. During her time at Maharat, she has been a fellow at T’ruah, UJA, JOIN for Justice, and State of Formation Voices of Renewal and has taught Torah to diverse communities. Atara served as a clergy intern for two years at Columbia-Barnard Hillel and is currently the first Cooperberg-Rittmaster Pastoral & Educational Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. She lives in Manhattan where she spends her time knitting and trying new recipes on friends.
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.
Jennifer Kotzker Geretz grew up in the small Jewish community of Pensacola, Florida. Jennifer graduated cum-laude from Brandeis University with a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Jennifer's undergraduate thesis, "Perspectives on the Agunah Problem," was awarded high honors as well as Brandeis' Lester Martin award for Legal Studies. Jennifer's love of teaching and experiential education has served her well in Jewish pre-schools, community schools, and summer camps. Jennifer's interest in alternative education methodologies for Orthodox day schools led her to co-found and co-direct Yeshivat Netivot Montessori, an infant through 8th grade Orthodox Day School located in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Jennifer enjoys writing about the intersection of Jewish religious thought and women's role in Judaism. Jennifer currently lives in West Orange, New Jersey with her children and husband Rabbi Daniel Geretz.
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.
Born and raised in Israel, Michal Kohane is currently the Rosh Kehila of the Prospect Heights Shul in Brooklyn and a student at Maharat. She has been a leader and educator in the Jewish Community of Northern California for over twenty five years, serving as acting rabbi to a 120 family congregation, a day-school educator, federation executive director and more. She is passionate about Jewish leadership and brings great experience in meaningful learning and building community. She holds a BA in Studies of Israel and Education, an M.S. in Jewish Studies, an MA in Clinical Psychology, and is pursuing a PsyD in organizational psychology. She is an avid writer: her first novel, Hachug ("Extracurricular") was published in Israel by Steimatzky in 2016, and her weekly blog can be found at www.miko284.com
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.
Gloria Nusbacher earned a B.A. from Barnard College (with a double major in psychology and political science) and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She comes to Maharat after a career of over 30 years in corporate law, including almost 20 years as a partner at one of the 100 largest U.S. law firms. Her professional accomplishments include being named to New York Super Lawyers and being designated as a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel. Gloria has lectured and written on various topics in the fields of executive compensation, corporate governance, and securities law and has co-authored numerous submissions to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of the American Bar Association.
Gloria has studied at Drisha. She co-founded and ran her community’s women’s tefillah group and has served as a board member and officer of her shul. Gloria has given shiurim in her local community, has served as an intern at Congregation Ohev Sholom, The National Synagogue in Washington, DC, and is currently serving an internship at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. She hopes to use her legal and writing skills to increase the voice of women in the halachic process.
Gloria lives in West Hempstead, NY with her husband. She is the proud mother of a daughter and a proud grandmother of two boys.
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.
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.
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.