Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Co-Founder and President of Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy, also serves on the Rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
Rabba Hurwitz completed Drisha’s three-year Scholars Circle Program, an advanced intensive program of study for Jewish women training to become scholars, educators and community leaders. After another five years of study under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Weiss, she was ordained by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber in 2009.
In 2013 Rabba Hurwitz was awarded the Hadassah Foundation Bernice S. Tannenbaum prize, and the Myrtle Wreath Award from the Southern New Jersey Region of Hadassah in 2014. In 2016 she was the Trailblazer Award Recipient at UJA Federation of New York. She was named as one of Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36, the Forward50 most influential Jewish leaders, and Newsweek’s 50 most influential rabbis. In 2017 Rabba Hurwitz was chosen to be a member of the inaugural class of Wexner Foundation Field Fellows.
She and husband, Josh Abraham, are parents to Yonah, Zacharya, Davidi and Natan.
To contact Rabba Sara Hurwitz: email@example.com
Rabbi Avi Weiss, Co-Founder, is founding rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale – the Bayit, Bronx, New York, and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. He is also co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), an international organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis, and PORAT: People for Orthodox Renaissance And Torah. Rabbi Weiss served as National Chairman of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) from 1982 to 1991 and subsequently as National President of AMCHA – the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, raising a voice of moral conscience on behalf of the Jewish people and humankind throughout the world. Rabbi Weiss has authored numerous books, articles and editorials published in journals and newspapers around the world. His new book, Journey to Open Orthodoxy, will be published later this year.
To contact Rabbi Weiss: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox, Rosh HaYeshiva and Dean of Faculty, 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 a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County, and Hadar.
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Rabbanit Devorah Zlochower is Rosh HaYeshiva and Academic Dean of Maharat. She has taught gemara and halakhah for over two decades at Hadar, SAR High School, YCT Rabbinical School and Drisha Institute where she served as Rosh Beit Midrash and Director of Full time Programs for over a decade. Devorah was a member of the first cohort of Drisha's Scholars Circle. She lives in Riverdale with her husband, Rabbi Dov Linzer and their two sons.
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Amanda F. Shechter, Executive Director, is a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University School of Law. She was a member of the inaugural class of Nishmat in Jerusalem and served on the board of American Friends of Nishmat for sixteen years. Amanda practiced law for over twenty years, primarily in commercial litigation and real estate. She was the Director of Admissions and Outreach at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley and served as President of the Campus for Jewish Life (formerly the YM-YWHA of Raritan Valley) for many years. Amanda was chosen to be in the first cohort of Tanzman Fellows of the Jewish Federation of Middlesex County, a year-long leadership development program for outstanding community leaders. She and her husband Judah have three children, Chana, Jeremy and Michal.
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Dr. Esther Altmann, Director of Pastoral Education at 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 Yeshivat Chovevei Torah 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.
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Dr. Miriam Benhaim, is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who is a therapeutic Process Group leader at Maharat for current students and alumnae. Dr. Benhaim maintains a full-time psychotherapy practice in NYC and is Clinical Director of The Center For Loss and Renewal, a group practice dedicated to dealing with life transition issues. Dr. Benhaim has led crisis debriefing at organizations coping with traumatic incidents and has published on the topic of families coping with loss. Dr. Benhaim has had postgraduate training in EMDR, hypnotherapy, family therapy, and Internal Family Systems. She received her B.S. and graduated phi beta kappa from Brooklyn College and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Long Island University.
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Rabbi Herzl Hefter is the founder and Rosh Beit Midrash Har’el in memory of Belda Kaufman Lindenbaum, in Jerusalem. It is a beit midrash for advanced rabbinic studies for men and women. He is a graduate of Yeshiva University where he learned under the tutelage of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveichik זצ”ל, and received smikha from Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein זצ”ל at Yeshivat Har Etzion where he studied for ten years. Rabbi Hefter taught Yoreh De’ah to the Kollel fellows at the Gruss Kollel of Yeshiva University and served as the head of the Bruria Scholars Program at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He also taught at Yeshivat Mekor Chaim in Moscow and served as Rosh Kollel of the first Torah MiZion Kollel in Cleveland, Ohio. He has written numerous articles related to modernity and Hasidic thought. His Torah essays and online shiurim can be accessed at www.har-el.org.
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Atarah Mark graduated cum laude from University of Maryland, College Park where she studied Communications and Philosophy (B.A. 2016). She received a certificate in Paralegal Studies in 2014 from Montgomery College. Previously, Atarah worked with religious and educational non-profits at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering Alumni Network and the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism in Washington, DC. At both of these organizations she focused on alumni engagement, donor relations, and social media management. Atarah is excited to help Maharat's growth and development.
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Rabbi Adam Mintz is the founder and rabbi of Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim, a Modern Orthodox community on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is the Director of 929 English, a project that promotes the daily study of a chapter of the Tanakh through an updated webpage and social media. Rabbi Mintz is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Jewish History at City College, New York.
Rabbi Mintz is married to Sharon Liberman Mintz, the Curator of Jewish Art at The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Senior Consultant for Judaica at Sothebys. They have three children; Noam (and Lily), Ariel and Shoshana.
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Molly Pollack, developed and teaches the pedagogy course at Yeshivat Maharat. Molly taught English at The Dalton School, Ma’ayanot and SAR High School, and did teacher training and mentoring at Dalton, Ma’ayanot, YCT, Drisha and Drisha’s Ha-Sha’ar program. In addition she has given workshops on differentiated learning, cooperative learning as well as use of technology in the classroom. She taught a seminar on teaching methods for the Beit Midrash fellows at SAR, and has co-presented workshops on “Alternative Methods of Teaching Tanach”. Molly received an AB in English from Barnard College an MA in English from Columbia University, and is ABD in English at New York University.
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Rabbi Dr. Erin Leib Smokler is the Dean of Students and Mashgicha Ruchanit at Maharat, where she teaches Chassidut and Pastoral Torah. She is also a faculty fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. She received semikha from Yeshivat Maharat, earned her PhD and MA from the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought and her AB from Harvard University. Rabbi Dr. Leib Smokler previously served as Assistant Literary Editor of 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.
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Jen Vegh, Director of Community Engagement, is a graduate of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), where she received a master’s degree in Jewish Education, focusing on Synagogue Education. Jen attended the undergraduate joint program between JTS and Columbia University where she received two bachelor’s degrees -- in Jewish music from JTS's List College and in sociology from Columbia. She most recently served for many years as the Director of Youth & Family Engagement at Beth El Synagogue Center. Jen was selected in 2016 for the Jewish Education Project's Young Pioneers Award, and in 2017-2018 for the UJA Ruskay Fellowship for Jewish Professionals. She lives in New Rochelle with her husband, Jeff, and their three children, where they are active members of the Young Israel of New Rochelle.
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Rabba Dina Brawer was born and raised in Milan, Italy and studied in Jerusalem, New York and London. She holds a BA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the University of London and an MA in Education and Psychology from the Institute of Education, London, and Semikha from Yeshivat Maharat. She is the founder of JOFA UK , and the producer of #YourTorah podcast, a journey to discovering Mishnah. Her work has been featured in ‘10 Women, 10 Decades’ a short film produced by Chocolate Films. She has recently been appointed Director of Recruitment and Admissions for Yeshivat Maharat.
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Maya Bernstein designs and teaches the leadership curriculum at Maharat. Maya is a co-founder of and Associate at UpStart Lab, is on faculty of the Wexner Foundation and the Masa Leadership Center, and co-directs Georgetown University's Executive Certificate in Facilitation. Maya's writings on leadership and innovation have been published in a wide variety of publications, including the Harvard Business Review, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and ejewish philanthropy. A 2012 recipient of the Covenant Foundation's Pomegranate Prize, she holds a B.A in Russian Language and Literature from Columbia University, and an Ed.M from Harvard. She and her husband Noam Silverman live in Yonkers with their five children.
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Rabba Wendy Amsellem, teaches Talmud and Halakha at Maharat and is the Editor of Yehivat Maharat’s Keren Journal. She is also a faculty member at Drisha Institute and Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and she is an editor at The Lehrhaus. Rabba Wendy is the former Director of the Dr. Beth Samuels Drisha High School Program and she was the Rosh Kollel of the Drisha July Kollel. She has been a Wexner Graduate Fellow and a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow. Wendy is an alumna of the Drisha Scholars Circle and she has a AB in History and Literature from Harvard University.
To contact Rabba Wendy Amsellem: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eliana Worenklein is a senior at Barnard college double-majoring in Yiddish Studies and Psychology. Originally from White Plains, NY, she currently lives in Morningside Heights where she loves engaging with the community and hosting pluralistic Shabbat lunches. On campus she has served as president of Lalekhet, the partnership minyan at Hillel, and co-chair of Hillel’s Jewish Woman on Campus club. She has spent time learning Torah at Drisha, Hadar, and Pardes. Eliana began her Maharat work through the summer CLIP program run by the Bronfman Center at NYU and is thrilled to continue her work at Maharat through the academic year.
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Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber, serves as the Posek HaYeshiva for Maharat, and facilitates all semikha exams for its musmakhot. He is the Milan Roven Professor of Talmudic Studies (emeritus) and former Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University. Rabbi Sperber is currently President of the Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute of Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is widely known as an expert in classical philology, history of Jewish customs, Jewish art history, Jewish education, and Talmudic studies. In 1992, Professor Sperber was awarded the distinguished Israel Prize in Jewish Studies. He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem.