Reform Voices of Torah: Author Biographies
Learn About the Thought Leaders Who Have Written the Weekly Torah Commentaries
Thought Leaders – 5777
Genesis: Dr. Ellen M. Umansky is the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT; Professor of Religious Studies; and director of the university’s Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. She is a long-time member of Reform Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY.
Exodus: Rabbi Ana Bonnheim recently moved to Charlotte, NC with her husband and two young children. She served as the associate director and director of year round programs at URJ Greene Family Camp in Texas for the past 8 years.
Leviticus: Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., is the senior rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. He has written numerous books and articles in the field of American Jewish history and has taught at Princeton University, Binghamton University (SUNY), and Hunter College (CUNY). Rabbi Sussman is currently working on a book on Jews, Judaism, and Law in America.
Numbers: Rabbi Vered L. Harris, RJE is the spiritual leader of Temple B'nai Israel in Oklahoma City, OK. She appreciates how our ancient texts continue to speak to our modern experiences.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein, after having taught Jewish Studies at American universities for 29 years (Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis, George Washington University in D.C.), relocated in 2006 to England for a five-year term as Principal of Leo Baeck College. His recently completed book, Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, will be published by Hebrew Union College Press.
Thought Leaders – 5776
Genesis: Rabbi Dr. Edwin Cole Goldberg is the senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago. He is the coordinating editor of the new High Holiday prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh (CCAR). He has a doctorate in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and has published five books, most recently Love Tales from the Talmud (URJ Press) and Saying No and Letting Go: Jewish Wisdom on Making Room for What Matters Most (Jewish Lights).
Exodus: Rabbi Beth Kalisch lives in Philadelphia and serves as the spiritual leader of Beth David Reform Congregation in Gladwyne, PA. She blogs at bethkalisch.wordpress.com.
Leviticus: Rabbi Elyse Goldstein is the founding Rabbi of City Shul, downtown Toronto’s new Reform congregation. Before that, for twenty years, she was the director of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning. She is the author/editor of four books on women and Judaism (published by Jewish Lights Publishing).
Numbers: Rabbi Joseph A. Skloot is assistant rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington D.C. and a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History at Columbia University.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Dr. Reuven Firestone is the Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and Co-Director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His most recent book is Holy War in Judaism.
Thought Leaders – 5775
Genesis: Rabbi David Segal is the spiritual leader of the Aspen Jewish Congregation in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.
Exodus: Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus is rabbi emerita of B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in Homewood, IL She is past-president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Leviticus: Rabbi Richard N. Levy recently retired as Rabbi of the Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he continues to teach in the fields of liturgy, spiritual growth and social justice. He is a past Director of the School of Rabbinic Studies at the campus and a past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Numbers: Rabbi Steven Kushner is concluding his 35th year as the rabbi of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, Altoona, PA, and a Ph.D. candidate in rabbinics at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, from which she was ordained in 1999.
Thought Leaders – 5774
Genesis: Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and of ARZA, is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, NJ. He is vice president for special projects at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and author of When Elijah Knocks, A Religious Response to Homelessness (Behrman House) and Reform Judaism, A Jewish Way of Life (Ktav).
Exodus: Rabbi Peter S. Knobel serves as interim rabbi at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, FL. He is rabbi emeritus at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL, and past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Leviticus: Robert Tornberg, RJE, is a Jewish educator with nearly forty years of experience in synagogue schools, day schools, and as the Education Director of DeLeT at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Currently completing the dissertation for his Ph.D. in educational administration and program evaluation, he plans to develop an independent consulting practice focusing on program evaluation and professional development for Jewish schools, synagogues, and other organizations.
Numbers: Rabbis Laurie and Philip “Flip” Rice share the pulpit at Congregation Micah in Brentwood, TN. They share a passion for God, Torah, Israel, and each other.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Shira Milgrom is a rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami and is part of a unique rabbinic partnership of two co-senior rabbis in White Plains, NY. She is the author of articles about Jewish spirituality, education, healing, and women in Judaism and is the editor of a unique siddur used now for two decades in settings across the continent. She is blessed to learn continually about loving from her husband, children, and grandchildren.
Thought Leaders – 5773
Genesis: Rabbi Bruce Kadden and Barbara Binder Kadden, RJE: Rabbi Bruce Kadden is the rabbi at Temple Beth El, Tacoma, WA. Rabbi Kadden and his wife, Barbara Binder Kadden, RJE, have written extensively in the area of Jewish education, including co-authoring three books: Teaching Mitzvot: Concepts, Values and Activities; Teaching Tefilah: Insights and Activities on Prayer; and Teaching Jewish Life Cycle: Traditions and Activities.
Exodus: Rabbi Marci N. Bellows is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, CT. She formerly served as the rabbi at Temple B'nai Torah in Wantagh, NY. She also writes the “Reform, Really” column featured bimonthly on the New York Jewish Week Web site.
Leviticus: Rabbi Dalia Marx is an associate professor of liturgy and Midrash at the Jerusalem campus of HUC-JIR. Her new book is Tractates Tamid, Middot and Qinnim: A Feminist Commentary, published by Mohr Siebeck.
Numbers: Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Ph.D. is the leader of Beth Chayim Chadashim, the world's first gay and lesbian synagogue. She is a thoughtful and reasoned advocate for same-sex marriage, environmental protection, and social and economic justice. Her writing appears in books including Kulanu: All of Us (a URJ handbook for congregational inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews) and The Women's Torah Commentary.
Deuteronomy: Writers including Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Rabbi Stephen Karol, Dr. Roberta Louis Goodman, RJE; Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Rabbi Nancy Wiener, Rabbi Oren Hayon (reprinted)
Thought Leaders – 5772
Genesis: Rabbi Elizabeth Dunsker joyfully serves as the rabbi for Congregation Kol Ami in Vancouver, WA.
Exodus: Rabbi Lucy H. F. Dinner is the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC. Rabbi Dinner is studying the Book of Exodus with her congregation’s lay-led, Hebrew Bible Study Group, which has been studying together for over twenty years.
Leviticus: Rabbi Billy Dreskin is a rabbi at Woodlands Community Temple near White Plains, NY. You can contact him at RabbiBillyDreskin@gmail.com.
Numbers: Kristine Garroway received her Ph.D. from HUC–Cincinnati in 2009 and recently joined the faculty of HUC-JIR Los Angeles as visiting assistant professor of Hebrew Bible. Her research concentrates on children in the ancient Near East and the Deuteronomistic Histories.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Yael Splansky is the senior rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. She is the editor of Siddur Pirchei Kodesh,a former chair of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto, and a fourth-generation Reform rabbi.
Thought Leaders – 5771
Genesis: Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D. is president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. When he wrote for Reform Voices of Torah in 5771, he taught Rabbinic and Second Temple literature at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, NY.
Exodus: Rabbi Dan Levin is the senior rabbi at Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, FL.
Leviticus: Rabbi Naamah Kelman is the dean of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. Born and raised in New York, she has been living in Israel since 1976, helping to build a pluralistic, progressive, and egalitarian Jewish Israel.
Numbers: Rabbi Richard A. Block is senior rabbi of The Temple – Tifereth Israel in Cleveland, OH. He is a vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the vice chair of the Reform Pension Board.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Melanie Aron is the senior rabbi at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, CA. She has served on the URJ Board of Trustees and as chair of the URJ Committee on Adult Jewish Learning, and is involved in interfaith activities in her community.
Thought Leaders – 5770
Genesis: Rabbi Evan Moffic is senior rabbi of Congregation Solel in Highland Park, IL.
Exodus: Rabbi Laura Geller is Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, CA.
Leviticus: Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport is co-senior rabbi with his wife Rabbi Gaylia R. Rooks at The Temple, Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom, in Louisville, KY. He received his Ph.D. from Washington University in 1988 and has taught Bible and Jewish thought for two decades at Bellarmine University in Lousiville.
Numbers: Rabbi Yoel Kahn is rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, CA. He grew up in the Reform Movement and was ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985. He later received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. His book, The Three Blessings (Oxford University Press, 2010) explores how censorship, identity, and boundaries have shaped Jewish liturgy. Rabbi Kahn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Amy R. Perlin is the senior rabbi of Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, VA, and is a former president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University.
Thought Leaders – 5769
Genesis: Rabbi David H. Aaron received his doctorate from Brandeis University and ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati. He is Professor of Hebrew Bible and History of Interpretation at HUC-JIR, Cincinnati, Ohio. His most recent book is Etched in Stone: The Emergence of the Decalogue (T & T Clark, 2006).
Exodus: Rabbi Irwin A. Zeplowitz is the senior rabbi at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY. He has taught at Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, JLearn on Long Island, and the URJ Adult Study Retreat. He is immediate past president of the Alumni Association of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was chair of the Joint Commission on Sustaining Rabbinic Education. Rabbi Zeplowitz can be reached at email@example.com.
Leviticus: Dr. Rachel Adler is Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender at Hebrew Union College - Los Angeles. She was one of the first theologians to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics. She is the author of Engendering Judaism, which won the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought, and many articles.
Numbers: Rabbi Elyse Frishman is the spiritual leader of The Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, NJ. She is the editor of Mishkan T'filah, A Reform Siddur.
Deuteronomy: Rabbi Oren J. Hayon is the senior rabbi at Congregation Emanuel in Houston, TX and was formerly associate rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX. He received his undergraduate education at Rice University, and received rabbinical ordination from the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004.
Thought Leaders – 5768
Dr. Carol Ochs retired as Director of Graduate Studies and Adjunct Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR in New York in 2009. She is the author of eight books, including four—Women and Spirituality, Jewish Spiritual Guidance, Our Lives as Torah, and Reaching Godward—that are currently in print.
Rabbi Jonathan E. Blake is senior rabbi of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. He is a graduate of Amherst College (1995), an ordainee of HUC-JIR (2000), and was a regular contributor to 10 Minutes of Torah in 2005–2006.
Rabbi Lewis M. Barth is Professor Emeritus, Midrash and Related Literature Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles.
Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, Ph.D., served as the director of the URJ Pennsylvania Council and the Federation of Reform Synagogues of Greater Philadelphia and as co-president of the Women’s Rabbinic Network.
Thought Leaders – 5767
Rabbi Zoë Klein is the senior rabbi at Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of multiple novels including, Drawing in the Dust. A book of her poetry, House Plant Meadow, will be published by David R. Godine, and she is the author of a chapter in The Women’s Haftarah Commentary (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004).
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is the Emanu-El Scholar at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. He is the author of several books on Jewish spirituality published by Jewish Lights Publishing in Woodstock, VT and a new novel, Kabbalah: A Love Story (New York: Morgan Road Books, 2006).
Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D., is Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA, and is a faculty member of the theology department at Boston College. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., is Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling and Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at HUC-JIR, NY. She is also the rabbi of the Pound Ridge Jewish Community, a Reform chavurah, in Pound Ridge, NY.