CJS - People

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CJS Faculty

Deena Aranoff
Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies and Senior Lecturer in Medieval Jewish Studies

Sam S.B. Shonkoff
Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies

CJS Staff

Affiliated Faculty

Aaron Brody
Director of the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology and the Robert & Kathryn Riddell Professor of Bible & Archaeology, Pacific School of Religion

Jeremiah Coogan
Assistant Professor of New Testament, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

FA23: Paul in Context (NT-2513)
SP24: Apocalypse, Empire, and Hope (NT-4651)

Mahjabeen Dhala
Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Madrasa-Midrasha Program

Rebecca K. Esterson
Assistant Professor in Sacred Texts & Traditions and Dorothea Harvey Professor of Swedenborgian Studies, Center for Swedenborgian Studies

SP24: God of the Old Testament: The History of an Idea

James Nati
Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible & Old Testament Studies, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

SP24: The Dead Sea Scrolls (OTBS-5000)

Visiting Scholars

David Biale
Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of History, UC Davis

Angela Botelho
Independent Researcher and Community Scholar

Daniel C. Matt
Distinguished Scholar of Kabbalah and the Zohar

Naomi Seidman
Chancellor Jackman Professor in the Arts, University of Toronto

Adjunct Faculty

Noa Bar-Gabai
Spring 2022
Part-time Faculty, Swig Program for Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco

Charlotte Fonrobert
Fall 2021
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Classics, and German Studies, Stanford University

Jhos Singer
Spring 2022
Maggid, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

Current MA Students

Degree Program: MA, Jewish Studies

Research Interests: Hadar is deeply interested in a loving, respectful, and deep conversation and synergies between ancient Jewish sources, texts and traditions and secular, liberal sensibilities. At the GTU, she hopes to find fresh and relevant applications of spiritual and cultural heritages to the personal growth of individuals ("the tree of life") and to building a fair, just society through developing a robust moral compass for the community (the "tree of knowledge of good and evil.") She is particularly interested in pursuing spiritual paths toward uplifting disenfranchised and underserved living beings, such as incarcerated people, women, outsiders (foreigners and immigrants) and farmed animals. She is the author of four books, the latest of which, FESTER (UC Press, 2024) examines the COVID-19 disaster in California prisons inspired by the story of Exodus.

Degree Program: MA, Jewish Studies

Research Interests: Amy is on a path toward the rabbinate and is specifically interested in the needs of modern Jews seeking holiness and connection outside of traditional services, and in song/ liturgies for lifecycle and everyday rituals. Amy is a community organizer and leader who has worked in the arts and nonprofits for over 25 years, and past roles include CEO at the JCC East Bay, founding executive director at the David Brower Center, and performing artist and musician (The Esther Show, Lilith, A Little Friction). In addition to studying at the GTU, Amy works independently as a coach and advisor to spiritual and communal leaders.

Degree Program: MA, Jewish Studies and Interreligious Chaplaincy

Research Interests: Through the lens of Judaism, Mia seeks to understand the ways in which narratives, particularly around God, shape our lives and the fabric of our built reality. She focuses on calling to attention the forgotten feminine force within Judaism, and thus questioning the basis of monotheism in its exclusion of women. She graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in art and writing. Through her own personal practice of storytelling through writing, making art, as well as through the practice of listening to the stories of others, Mia seeks to promote a form of therapeutic healing to communities.

Current PhD Students

Degree Program: PhD, Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation with a concentration in Hebrew Bible

Research Interests: Jennifer's main focus is on constructions of masculinity in the Hebrew Bible, and the way that gender and sexuality function in the narrative. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern University in Religious Studies and Philosophy and a Master of Arts from the GTU with a thesis titled "Second Sons and Mama's Boys: Masculinity in the Jacob Story." She will be teaching a Newhall course in Spring 2021 on Masculinity in the Bible, and will be the instructor for Biblical Hebrew in 2021-2022.

Degree Program: PhD, Historical and Cultural Studies with a concentration in Jewish Studies

Research Interests: Morey studies queer expressions of Jewish culture and religion through the lens of Critical Theory and Queer Theory, focusing on Queer Jewish Theology, Ritual and Liturgical Innovation in queer contexts, and the works and thought of Walter Benjamin and Judith Butler.

Degree Program: PhD, Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation with a concentration in New Testament and Rabbinics

Research Interests: Leah's research focuses on the rhetoric of Jewish halakhic debates and the diversity of ways of being Jewish in the Second Temple period. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and Critical Theory from McGill University, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Ancient Judaism from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Her MA Thesis with honors was titled The Sociological Implications of Halakhic Debates in the Second Temple Period: Qumran, The New Testament, and the Mishnah. In Fall 2018 Leah taught a Newhall course on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Leah is the instructor for Biblical Hebrew 2019-2021.

Degree Program: PhD, Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion with a concentration in Modern Jewish History

Research Interests: Rabbi Daniel Z. Stein is the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Shalom in Walnut Creek and a doctoral student based in the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, where he studies modern Jewish history. His research interests focus on questions of memory, trauma, and resilience in tbe Yizkor Bikher--the memorial volumes created by survivor communities after the Shoah.

Interreligious Chaplaincy Program (ICP) Jewish Studies Fellows

Made possible through the generous donation of The Taube Foundation, the ICP Jewish Studies Fellowship offers a scholarship that provides tuition support for courses in the Certificate in Interreligious Chaplaincy for students affiliated with the Center for Jewish Studies. Please click here for more information and to apply.

Sean Raman

Sean Raman is part of the Jewish Reform Congregation in Fremont. He was brought up in a religious Hindu family in India and moved to the US in 1981. He converted to Judaism in 2015 and intends to become a practicing chaplain.

Dorian Seamster

Dorian Seamster is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland CA (BA) and University of Chicago at Illinois (Master of Public Health.)  As a healthcare administrator Dorian has worked for both local community health centers and at the state level ensuring access to health care for all residents of Santa Cruz County.  Currently she is a coach and mentor, and a community activist through her work on nonprofit boards and political organizing.

Tracy Segal

Tracy Segal is an attorney, part-time teacher, and mom of two amazing college students.  She lives in Jupiter, Florida, having grown up in southern Illinois and attended Washington University in St. Louis for her B.A., M.A. in English and American Literature, M.A.Ed. and J.D.  Tracy is active in youth education in her local conservative synagogue, participates in meditation and spirituality programs through the Jewish renewal movement and a local Buddhist sangha, and sometimes attends mass with her Catholic fiancée.  

Doria Charlson (Fall 2020)

Doria E. Charlson, PhD, is a research fellow at Mills College in Oakland. Her academic work centers on crises of labor and how theatre and performance intersect with labor history, and her activism and spirituality is greatly informed by her artistic practices in dance and performance and her commitment to creating just and sustainable futures.

Hashaw Elkins (Spring 2021)

Hashaw Elkins is a project manager in international development and a Jewish community lay leader.

Yudit Greenberg (Fall 2020)

Yudit Kornberg Greenberg, PhD, is the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Endowed Chair of Religion and Founding Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Her teaching and publications cover topics in modern Jewish thought, women in religion, cross-cultural perspectives on love and the body, and the comparative study of Hindu-Jewish Philosophy and Religion.

Brandt Miller (Spring 2021)

Brandt Miller is a writer and filmmaker pursuing his MA at the GTU. His creative background is diverse: from a Fulbright Fellowship in Mongolia documenting the underground queer movement – to reporting for an English-language newspaper in Cambodia – to obtaining his MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University.  Most recently, he has been working as a creative producer in the documentary film world. Transformation, sacred narratives and storytelling are interweaving threads that will continue to guide his path. Brandt’s passion for interreligious exploration and service to societal transformation led him to the Interreligious Chaplaincy Program. In his life, spirituality, service and creativity are synergistic ingredients that chaplaincy will allow him to embody more deeply.

Linda Oberstein (Fall 2020)

Linda Oberstein, MD received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in Genetics, her MD from Albert Einstein University in NY, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. After 22 years practicing in Internal Medicine in San Mateo and then Burlingame, she retired from her practice. She is looking forward to practicing a new form of caring for the community in providing spiritual guidance at people's time of greatest need.

Allan Shore (Spring 2021)

Allan Shore is a native New Yorker, who now makes his home in Washington State with his beloved spouse, Kirsten. In 2016, Allan completed a PhD in Modern Jewish History and Culture at the GTU.

Eliza Slavet (Fall 2020)

Eliza Slavet, PhD received undergraduate and master's degrees from Yale University and a PhD in Literature from UC San Diego. She is the author of Racial Fever: Freud and the Jewish Question (Fordham UP: 2009) as well as many scholarly articles, creative liturgies, and beyond. Eliza feels called to serve in multi-faith and interfaith contexts including UC San Diego’s CPE program in Palliative Care (2020-2021).

Mia Trachtenberg (Spring 2021)

Through the lens of Judaism, Mia seeks to understand the ways in which narratives, particularly around God, shape our lives and the fabric of our built reality. She focuses on calling to attention the forgotten feminine force within Judaism, and thus questioning the basis of monotheism in its exclusion of women. Mia is a Berkeley Native and graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in art and writing. Through her own personal practice of storytelling through writing, making art, as well as through the practice of listening to the stories of others, Mia seeks to promote a form of therapeutic healing to communities.

Jewish Community Fellows

The Center for Jewish Studies offers a fellowship for Bay Area Jewish educators and community professionals for a single course in Jewish Studies at the GTU, which is generously supported by the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation. Please click here for more information and to apply.

Natalie Boskin

Natalie Boskin is the Assistant Director of (and teacher in) the B'mitzvah Program at Kehilla Synagogue where she has been working since 2015 after graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a BA in Comparative Religion. She is currently being trained as a SVARA teacher and is really excited to start her graduate education at the CJS. Natalie is passionate about cultivating tools that allow us to remain present and invested when our sacred texts don't reflect our values, and transform them into texts of radical empowerment.

Carey Averbook

Carey Averbook grew up in North Carolina, lived in Washington, DC and Bolivia, and moved to the Bay Area in 2019. They have background in anthropology and international development, photography and video production, storytelling, human-centered design, emotional hygiene and spiritual resiliency coaching. All their work has come back to questions about “what’s a good life?” and “what it is to be well as human beings given climate collapse and systems of violence and domination?” Carey works at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco doing community building and spiritual care work and is on the Ner Shalom Synagogue Nitzanim B. Mitzvah Academy Faculty. They teach Jewish spiritual practice as a community member with congregation Sha'ar Zahav and at Moishe House Rockridge.

Amy Tobin

Amy is a community organizer and leader who has worked in the arts and nonprofits for over 25 years, and past roles include CEO at the JCC East Bay, founding executive director at the David Brower Center, and performing artist and musician (The Esther Show, Lilith, A Little Friction). In addition to studying at the GTU, Amy works independently as a coach and advisor to spiritual and communal leaders.

Amanda Nube

Amanda Nube is a mother, a ceremonialist, a storyteller, and healthworker. She is the author of Healing Mama, a mythical story which highlights the importance of connection to Mother Earth, motherhood, and all the elements. Her writing, workshops, new moon, and mother-daughter circles bring earth based customs and spirituality to life. As a Kohenet of life cycle events, she serves during times of transition such as birthing, adolescence, seasonal phases, marriages, mourning and grief rituals.

Frieda Vizel

Frieda Vizel was raised in a Satmar Hasidic family in NY. Since leaving the community, she has been writing, researching and creating art on the Hasidic experience. She is a licensed NYC tour guide specializing in the Brooklyn Hasidic neighborhoods. Her website is friedavizel.com.

Becca Heisler

Becca is a Jewish educator in the Bay Area who is passionate about justice, nature connection, singing, and building joyous diasporic Jewish community. She worked for Wilderness Torah for over two years supporting their youth programs, and just spent the summer at Eden Village West leading ritual and adventures outdoor education. She is currently working as an educator at Kehilla Community Synagogue, Urban Adamah, Wilderness Torah, and Moishe House. 

Course: Intro to Rabbinic Lit, Fall 2019

Miriam Kanani

Miriam Kanani, M.A. has a true passion for Jewish Education, Leading Ceremonies and Song, and working with you. She is a Bar and Bat Mitzvah teacher and Jewish educator with over 15 years experience as well as a Lead Teacher in the Tawonga B'nai Mitzvah Program. Miriam has prepared over two dozen students for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and has officiated ceremonies around the Bay Area for families who work within the synagogue setting and also for families doing an independent Bat/Bar Mitzvah. Miriam attained her Master's Degree from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and also holds a Multi-Subject California Teaching Credential, as well as a certificate in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. She has taught children of all ages around the Bay Area and has been a Hebrew teacher at Congregation Beth El for the past 6 years. She is a singer, educator, and Jewish ritual leader.

Course: Geneology of Jewish Culture, Spring 2020

Morey Lipsett

Morey Lipsett recently graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in Political Theory and Religious Studies. At UPS Morey was a founder and treasurer of the University’s Jewish Student Union and a leader in its student government. His research interests include the works and thought of Walter Benjamin and Emanuel Levinas, as well as the intersections of Jewish Philosophy and Critical Theory.

Courses: Hasidic Mysticism, Fall 2019; Modern Judaisms: Religion, Culture, or Nationality, Fall 2019

Jen Roitman

After years working in Social Justice and politics, Jen Roitman became the Executive Director of Chochmat HaLev – Jewish Spiritual Center and Congregation in 2011, where she worked until this year.  

She leads Jewish Meditation and Chanting including a weekly morning service at Chochmat HaLev and Meditation programs for Jewish Holidays.  She is a graduate of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Kol Zimra Chant Leader Training Program and has been meditating for over 18 years.

At Chochmat HaLev she saw how much support people need when a loved one dies, and she is now part of “Melaveh” which seeks to provide emotional and spiritual support for Jewish people and their families at the end of life.  She is a hospice volunteer and trained as an End of Life Doula.

She is excited to be studying at the GTU where she hopes to develop a stronger foundation in Jewish thought and history to enhance her meditation teaching and End of Life care. 

Course: Intro to Rabbinic Lit, Fall 2019

Daniel Stein

Rabbi Daniel Stein is a creative spiritual leader who is committed to building dynamic, spiritually engaged communities. Since 2016, he has been privileged to serve as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, CA. Rabbi Stein a proud member of the Rabbinical Assembly, the Northern California Board of Rabbis as well as the Contra Costa County Interfaith Council. His commitment to social justice work was recognized in 2016, when he was selected as an American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellow. He has also been a Balfour Brickner Fellow of the Religious Action Center and a fellow of the Chautauqua Institution’s New Clergy Program. Prior to his arrival in California Rabbi Stein served for six years as the rabbi of Bnai Abraham Synagogue in Easton, Pennsylvania, and on the faculty of Lafayette College. He was also an executive board member of ProJeCt of Easton, an interfaith organization focused on literacy development and poverty alleviation. 

Rabbi Stein was ordained at a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he also completed a master’s degree in Jewish literature with a concentration in Yiddish. As a student, Daniel served as the Legacy Heritage Foundation Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Tallahassee, FL, and was an assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in Middletown, NY. An accomplished musician, Daniel holds a degree in music history from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and has performed professionally in wide variety of settings. Daniel is married to Dena Wachtel Stein, a senior philanthropy associate at The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. They are the proud parents of Miri and Judah.

Course: Hasidic Mysticism, Fall 2019

Cole Krawitz

Cole Krawitz is a doykait believer, teenage cancer survivor, gratitude practitioner, trans, queer, white Ashkenazi Jewish ritual lover and leader, caring uncle, award-winning writer and poet, and leadership coach who for over twenty years has been working across liberation and social justice movements for freedom and dignity for everyone. He believes that coaching is sacred--that to build a relationship where people tap into their most creative, alive, and truest understanding of who they are is a spiritual practice, an embodied practice, a liberation practice that brings long lasting change. He has been a student in SVARA’s batei midrash since the mid/late 2000’s and is endlessly grateful for Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Benay Lappe and the beautiful network and learning community that is SVARA. He is also a member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Bend the Arc, Jewish Voice for Peace and is collaborating on a Trans Day of Torah project to be officially launched in 5781.

In addition to running his own coaching and consulting practice, he’s an award-winning writer who has been a Lecturer in Creative Writing in the Master of Arts in English Program at Holy Names University and in June Jordan's Poetry for the People Program at University of California, Berkeley. He’s been awarded residencies and fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Lambda Literary Foundation, and Makor/92nd Street Y. Founding editor of jvoices.com, Cole was a contributor to Beyond the Pale: Jewish Radio Hour on WBAI in NY, and received the Be’chol Lashon Media Award in New Media. His work has been published in Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics Anthology, Tidal Basin Review, The Forward, The Advocate, and more and he has performed his work throughout the Bay Area at Lit Crawl, Museum of Performance & Design, San Francisco Public Library, Bay Area Poetry Marathon, SOMArts Cultural Center, and the National Queer Arts Festival. Cole earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Smith College and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Poetry, from Lesley University’s low-residency program.

You'll often find him singing, leyning Torah, studying Talmud with SVARA, walking in parks with beloveds, and embracing the joy of Shabbat.

Noa Albaum

Noa Albaum received her BA in English Literature from Brandeis University and is an alumna of the yearlong fellowship at Yeshivat Hadar. Noa is the West Coast program manager at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Formerly, she served as the program coordinator for the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco. Noa and her spouse, Ben Kramarz, moved to Berkeley from the East Coast two years ago. They host the Berkeley Kollel in their living room.

"Through the lens of primary sources, ancient religious texts, and Jewish historiography, our seminar grappled with some of the most difficult questions surrounding the history of views on gender within the Jewish tradition. I am grateful to the Jewish Community Fellowship for the opportunity to engage in deep, dynamic learning with my fellow students under Naomi's tutelage."

Course: Gender & Judaism, Spring 2019

Jennie Chabon

Rabbi Cantor Jennie Chabon, a Berkeley native, has been the cantor of Congregation B’nai Tikvah since 2004.  She found her path to the cantorate and her passion for Yiddishkeit when she was living in Israel for two years after college graduation.  While in cantorial school, Cantor Chabon discovered a deep love of liturgy and the desire to make prayer accessible to all. Since coming to B’nai Tikvah, she has recorded three albums of Shabbat music with her band, Shir Joy.  Cantor Chabon ompleted her rabbinical studies at The Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, where she deepened her love of Judaism and her commitment to the Jewish community through her studies. She lives in Oakland with her husband Steve and their three sons: Ezra, Levi and Judah.  

Course: Ancient & Medieval Jewish Civilization, Fall 2018

Jamie Hyams

Jamie Hackel Hyams is a 5th year rabbinical student at the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, the student rabbi at Congregation P'nai Tikvah in Las Vegas, and the Director of Development at Hebrew Free Loan in San Francisco. When she is not in her car or on an airplane, Jamie is an avid cyclist. Prior to beginning her studies, Jamie served as the Associate Director, West Coast for the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, and the Executive Director of the Contra Costa JCC. Jamie holds a BA in History from Lewis and Clark College, a BFA from California College of the Arts and is a Wexner Heritage Fellow. She and her husband, Michael, have two grown sons.

Course: Ancient & Medieval Jewish Civilization, Fall 2018

Caroline Kessler

Caroline Kessler is a poet, editor, and author of Ritual in Blue (Sutra Press, 2018). She is currently the Editorial Manager at UpStart, a Jewish nonprofit. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, is the co-founder of Ashreinu (a spiritual community in St. Louis) and was a 2017-18 Dorot Fellow in Israel.

"The Jewish Community Fellowship enabled me to think critically about how and why we teach particular histories, who benefits from this kind of teaching, and who doesn't. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have explored these issues in community, alongside writing and reading about them as well."

Course: Teaching and Learning the Difficult Past, Fall 2018

Judy Massarano

BA Literature and Judaic Studies, Stern College
MA Special Education, California State University
Teaching Certificate, Jerusalem College for Women
Child Development Associate Teacher, Cerro Coso College

Judy Massarano has taught Judaic Studies in the Bay Area since 1993. Currently working as a private tutor, religious school teacher, preschool specialist, and elder companion, Judy recently served for 3 years as an early childhood educator at Congregation Netivot Shalom. She also taught 2nd-8th graders at Oakland Hebrew Day School for 21 years. Judy teaches private students of all ages about Judaism and Hebrew, and trains young people and adults in synagogue skills. Residing in Berkeley with her partner Glenn, she enjoys gardening, hiking, cooking, and singing piyutim.

Course: Ancient & Medieval Jewish Civilization, Fall 2018

Zoe Baker

Jill Cozen-Harel

Rabbi Jill Cozen-Harel has been teaching and providing pastoral care in the Jewish community for over 15 years. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and also holds a BA in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley.  In addition, she has learned at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative Yeshiva, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. Jill has taught middle school students at Brandeis Hillel Day School, and adults of various ages through Kevah and the Mission Minyan.  She has also served congregations in a variety of capacities. Jill spent several years as a chaplain at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is a volunteer chaplain for the San Francisco Sheriff's Department and has facilitated groups for domestic violence survivors. She led trips to Israel, Ghana, New Orleans for Birthright Israel, American Jewish World Service, and the organization formerly known as Jewish Funds for Justice, respectively. She is particularly proud that she ran 26.2 miles in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon on behalf of American Jewish World Service.  Jill is also a business analyst at UCSF, where she manages several cloud applications. 

Course: Levinas, Fall 2017

Alina Fox

“I believe the work of critical feminist anti-racist anti-colonial genealogies of Jewish knowledge (re)production is critical to our collective efforts towards transformative, healing and just futures for all people across time and place.”

Alina Fox was a 2015 Gilda-Slifka Research Intern at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and graduated from UC-Santa Cruz in 2016 with a focus in Critical Jewish Studies. They are currently pursuing their MSW at Smith School for Social Work.

Course: Levinas, Fall 2017

Leo Fuchs

“I am passionate about ensuring a strong Jewish future, about engaging deeply with Torah, and about making Torah meaningful and relevant in the modern world as we pursue a just, creative and connected society.”

Leo Fuchs is the founding principal of Learning Without Limits Elementary school which he has led for nearly eleven years.  He has worked in Oakland public schools for nearly 17 years.  He holds Masters degrees in Education and non-profit management. Leo is currently enrolled as a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

Course: Readings in the Zohar, Spring 2018

Agnieszka Ilwicka

An historian, educator, and Yiddish language lecturer, she is a fellow at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. She has studied at Bar-Ilan University, Hebrew University, University College of London, Southampton University James Parkes Institute in England, and Vilnius University. Agnieszka works for the Taube Philanthropies for Jewish Life & Culture. In her free time she is teaching Yiddish at the Workmen's Circle in San Francisco. 

Course: The Politics of the Bible in Translation, Spring 2018

Margie Jacobs

“Throughout my rabbinate, I have worked to create the conditions for heart-opening, presence, and awareness of the One within the many through text study, contemplative practice and ritual.”

Margie Jacobs is a Reconstructionist Rabbi.  She has served as Rabbi of Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond, CA, Regional Director of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and East Bay Vice President of the Northern California Board of Rabbis. She teaches Torah, facilitates mindfulness meditation, and lives in Berkeley with her spouse and two children. 

Course: Intro to Zohar, Spring 2018

Simcha Schwartz

“I am dedicated to Jewish regenerative communities based in culture building, ritual and study.”   

Simcha Schwartz is the Development Director for Wilderness Torah and Co-founder and former Director of the Jewish Farm School.  Simcha’s Jewish professional career has also included working for Hazon Inc, Eden Village Camp, the Teva Learning and American Jewish World Service.  In 2013, Simcha became a Chaplain and is currently on staff with Vitas Healthcare.  He was ordained as a Chaplain in September, 2018 at The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA.

Course: Readings in the Zohar, Spring 2018

Sarah Lefton

Sarah Lefton is the founding Director of BimBam. Before creating the organization as a response to her own mediocre Jewish education, Sarah produced early online experiments for The New York Times, the Village Voice, Princess Cruises, and several robotics companies. She graduated from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where her Masters work looked at the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Augmented and Virtual Reality for film and TV applications.

Sarah is a recipient of the Pomegranate Prize for exceptional educators, a recipient of the Joshua Venture Group fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs, and was named one of the “Forward 50” most influential Jews by the Forward newspaper. She lives in Oakland with her family, and dabbles in ceramics and urban sketching.

Course: Intro to Rabbinic Literature, Fall 2017

Luna Schechtor

CJS Alumni

Susan L. Aguilar
Kol Isha: Poetry and Polemic in Judeo-Iberian Biblical Ballads

Staci Rachel Akselrod
MA 2016
Shifting Identities: How American Jews Learned to Perform Gender

Elizabeth (Aya) Baron
Black Fire on White Fire: The Amplification of Women’s Roles in Rabbinic Accounts of Redemption

Marina Zilbergerts Bitzan
Visions of Paradox: Redefining the Human in Modern Hebrew literature on the Living Dead

Angela Botelho
Modern Marranism and the German-Jewish Experience: The Persistence of Jewish Identity in Conversion

Robin Braverman
MA 2012
The Halakah of Hassagot Gevul: Authentic Jewish Boundaries for Mothers and Stepmothers in Divorced Families

Elise Bridgen
MA 2009
Anti-Judaism in Christian Biblical Exegesis: “Authenticity,” “Originality,” and “Emerging-Missional” Theology in the Primitive Christian Narrative

Shmaryahu Brownstein
MA 2014
From Want to Wealth: Continuity, Contiguity, and Innovation in Habad Hasidism

Hilary Dotters
MA 2012
"Religion is for God, the Fatherland is for Everyone": The use of Spare in Iraqi Jewish Literature

Jonah Gelfand
MA 2022
Hasid of Whom?: Conceptualizing Leadership in Neo-Hasidism

Merissa Nathan Gerson
MA 2013
Individual and Collective Inheritance of Trauma in Joshua Leviticus Divinations Bloom

Patricia Hellman Gibbs
MA 2014
God’s Indwelling as Radiant Intellect: An Intertextual Reading of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed

Joseph A. Glick
Interreligious Textual Parallels and the Construction of Religious Difference

Sasha T. Goldberg
MA 2009
The Kosher Cut: Jewish Masculinity in the Works of Philip Roth

Zelig Golden
MA 2017
Earth Based Judaism: Early Origins, Polemics, and a New Vision

Genevieve Greinetz
MA 2017
In Letters: Tracing Imagination in Gershom Scholem’s Mystical Letter Language

Lea Heitfeld
MA 2017
How We Keep the Engagement Alive: Holocaust Education in Germany

Lorelai Kude
MA 2018
"Yesh Mazal b'Yisrael": Astrology and Identity in Jewish Culture

Glennis Mical Pryor Lamm
MA 2018
Unity By Way Of the Synagogue: Understanding the Unification of the Private and Public Spheres In First Century Jewish Communities

Cara Nicole Levin
MA 2016
A Sign Upon Your Hand

Morey Lipsett
MA 2022
Come Out, Oh Bride: The Haggadic Element in the Rituals of Queer Synagogue

Alexander Marcus
MA 2013
Redemption in Exile: Oral Torah in Nahmanides’ Vikvah

Christopher V. Ramsey
MA 2014
Winston Churchill: A Founder of the Jewish State?

Martin Danner Rawlings-Fein
MA 2016
Beyond David and Jonathan: Bisexual Representation in the Tanakh

Jennifer Read
MA 2013
Rewriting Sarah

Rachel Lopez Rosenberg
A Lighthouse in the Fog: Jewish Mourning and Poetic Inventions

Carrie Ann Sealine
MA 2017
Making Maccabees into Jews, Making Jews into Maccabees: Reading Jewish Identity through Extra-Canonical Text

Jhos Singer
MA 2012
Judaism in a Bottle: The Life and Times of Manischewitz Wine

Adam T. Strater
MA 2011
Post Temple Apocalyptic: The Book of Revelation and its Messianism

David Sylvester
MA 2013
Unfinished Teshuvah: A Spiritual Journey into the Sacred Margins of Identity to Heal Christian Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism

Orna Teitelbaum
MA 2012
The Niddah’s Bloody Trail from the Bible to the Baraita De Niddah

Sophie Vener
Speaking the Unspeakable: The Exposure and Concealing of Rabbinic Self-Awareness of the Dissonance between the Oral and Written Torahs from the Bavli to the Middle Ages

Todd Whelan
MA 2014
Jewish Cowboys and the Myth of the Frontier: Scripting Jewishness in American Mass Culture

Randi Wren
MA 2014
Forming America: In the Name of God, The Hebrew Bible and Liberty

Susan L. Aguilar
PhD 2020, History
To See and Be Seen: Jews, Civitas, and Urban Processions in the Late Medieval Crown of Aragon

Robert Galoob
PhD 2017, Cultural & Historical Studies of Religion
Post Hoc Propter Hoc: Revisiting Martyrdom’s Impact on the Development of Hasidut Ashkenaz

Shaina Hammerman
PhD 2013, History
The Fantastic Hasid: Fashioning Jewishness on Screen

David Rosenberg-Wohl
PhD 2014, Jewish Studies
Reconstructing Jewish Identity on the Foundations of Hellenistic History: Azariah de’ Rossi’s Me’or ‘Enayim in Late 16th Century Northern Italy

Eleanor Shapiro
PhD 2018, Interdisciplinary Studies
The Sound of Change? Performing "Jewishness" in Polish Small Towns

Alan Mark Shore
PhD 2016, History
Arena of Protest: The Staging of Jewish-Christian Discourse at Madison Square Garden in the Nazi Era

Harley Jay Siskin
PhD 2021, History
Jews Talking Funny: The Re-presentation of Jewish Speech in Old French

Todd Whelan
PhD 2022
Beneath the Dome of St. Paul: Jews and Indians in the Protestant Imagination of the British Atlantic World, 1649-1738

In Memoriam

Carrie Sealine received her MA in Jewish Studies from the GTU's Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies in 2016 with a thesis titled Making Maccabees into Jews, Making Jews into Maccabees: Reading Jewish Identity Through Extra-Canonical Texts. Carrie was a significant presence throughout the GTU, ever-present at talks and colloquia, and always keen to engage in dialogue. Carrie brought conversations at the GTU towards their aspect of compassion and consequence. Carrie’s interests in magic, Jewish magic, text, and critical theory, as well as the emergence of post-religious spiritual praxes came together in her stunning doctoral work at the GTU. We keep Carrie and her surviving family in our best thoughts and prayers. Carrie was a generous spirit and friend to so many at the GTU.

Please click here to view the full In Memoriam page for Carrie.