NEXT Faculty

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A

ELLEN ALLARD, award-winning recording artist, composer, performer, and educator is one of the most popular and influential Jewish musicians on today’s vibrant contemporary Jewish music scene. With over 40 years of performing and teaching experience, as well as 14 CDs and seven songbooks in her catalog (plus a library of over 300 songs that she has composed), Ellen continues to charm fans with her interactive, infectious, and entertaining music. Widely recognized for her appeal to people of all ages, Ellen’s songs have become the gold standard when it comes to engaging Jewish audiences....

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B

Daniel Bahner brings experience in program development, community building and social-justice education to Keshet. Originally from southwest Ohio, Daniel quickly formed a connection between his Jewish identity and the importance of inclusion and working toward a more socially just society. He dived further into social justice and Jewish thought while an undergraduate at Lehigh University. Studying classics and religion studies, Daniel learned the importance of reflecting upon the past, but at the same time finding meaning for the present. At the same time, he began to become involved in...

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Terri Bernsohn spent the past 15 years as the Religious School Director at Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois. Terri earned a masters degree in Nonprofit Administration from DePaul University and a Master of Arts in Religious Education from HUC-JIR. Prior to leading JRC’s school, Terri worked as a grantwriter for multiple not-for-profit organizations. Over the past few years, the Terri’s work has focused oncommunity-building, and she has used her grantwriting skills to underwrite multiple family engagement initiatives, including a Shabbat chavurah that used social...

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Beckee Birger currently works as the Program Director of Teen Leadership and Philanthropy at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Her passion for social justice has led her through a variety of jobs, such as special education attorney, AmeriCorp program manager, and college career advisor at an education non-profit. She holds a BA from Suffolk University and a JD from DePaul University. She believes engaging people of all ages in political education and activism is critical to our future, and she's proud to celebrate her Judaism through a deep commitment to social justice. In...

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PHONE: 413-374-7210

Howard Blas currently serves as director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network of the National Ramah Commission and of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in Northern California. Howard previously served as the director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England for 15 years. Howard has led five Tikvah Ramah Israel trips and served as group leader for three Shorashim Birthright Asperger trips to Israel. Howard, a social worker and special education teacher by training, teaches Jewish Studies and bar/bat mitzvah to students with a range of disabilities and “special circumstances”....

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Anita Block has extensive experience in the field of early childhood education and elementary Jewish education. Anita served as Principal of the Perelman Jewish Day School, Forman Center, and directed a school improvement initiative for the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education (now Jewish Learning Venture). She founded and directed the early childhood center at Main Line Reform Temple for 21 years and served as the Director of Education there for 7 years. Anita has directed numerous Jewish early childhood programs throughout Greater Philadelphia. She is currently an educational...

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D

Dalia Davis is one of the co-founders of Uprooted: A Jewish Response to Fertility Journeys, and serves as its Arts and Education Director. She is passionate about helping people struggling to grow their families find support within the Jewish community.  Dalia is a Jewish Educator, dancer, and choreographer, who uses Jewish text as the inspiration for her choreographic works. Dalia holds a BA in Dance and Jewish History from Barnard College, a certificate in Talmud and Halacha from YU, and a MA in Jewish Education. Her Jewish educational background include serving as Rosh Beit Midrash...
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Emilia Diamant, LCSW, is the first Executive Director of Jeremiah Program-Boston. Jeremiah partners with low income single mothers and their children to help transition families from poverty to prosperity, two generations at a time. Emilia approaches her work at JPB with an eye toward how systems of racial inequity impact families Jeremiah supports. Emilia came to Jeremiah with a passion for partnering with women; she spent time volunteering at Planned Parenthood in North Carolina, and helped Latina mothers navigate bilingual book reading with their children. She is a co-founder of Rising...

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F

Jed Filler, MAJCS, RJE has more than 20 years of extensive experience in a variety of formal and informal Jewish Education settings, specializing in supplemental school milieus in both Reform and Conservative congregations.  He holds a MA in Jewish Communal Service and Jewish Education from Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program; certifications as a Reform Jewish Educator from the URJ (through the Joint Commission of ARJE, URJ, and CCAR), a supplementary school Holocaust educator from Facing History as Ourselves, and a family educator from the Whizin Institute.  He is the founding...

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Laurie Fisher is currently a doctoral student in Jewish education at Gratz where she received her MAJS and MAJEd.  She also earned a B.A. in English and Art History from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Her academic interests include the Philosophy of Education, Reflective Practice, and Teacher Education.  From designing and leading Tot Shabbat to studying Jewish philosophy with adults, Laurie loves educating across the spectrum of Jewish experience.  As a teacher educator, Laurie’s goal is to facilitate adult learning which helps to prepare Jewish educators for the evolving...

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Rabbi Robyn Frisch has been the Director of InterfaithFamily/Philadelphia since June 2013.  She is also the spiritual leader of Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai, the oldest synagogue in Northeast Philadelphia.  Robyn is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and The New York University School of Law. After practicing as a corporate lawyer in a large Philadelphia law firm for several years, Robyn decided to follow her passion and become a rabbi. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2000. Robyn loves teaching and helping to make...

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G

Mindy Gold is the founder and lead consultant at EdtechMMG, an educational technology consulting firm focused on relationship-based professional learning, the creation of communities of learners around reflective practice, and the design and implementation of innovative models for congregational school...

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Jodi Gross is the Director of Adult Learning and Youth Engagement at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan.   Jodi attended James Madison College at Michigan State University where she obtained a bachelors degree in Public Affairs with a minor in Jewish Studies. Upon graduation, she worked as a Staff Associate at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to pursue post-graduate studies at Gratz College.  While working at a variety of supplementary schools and Jewish agencies, Jodi earned simultaneous masters degrees in Jewish...

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K

Steve is the principal of Steven Kerbel Educational Consulting in Rockville, Maryland. Among Steve’s current clients, he is a project director for the Center for Israel Education at Emory University in Atlanta and has also coordinated educational programming for the last two International Conventions of United Synagogue Youth (2015 and 2016). Before this, he served as Director of Education for Congregation B’nai Tzedek and Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland for a combined 14 years.  Prior to this Steve was the inaugural Retreat Director of Capital Camps & Retreat Center...

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Sandra Lilienthal received her Masters degree in Jewish Studies and her Doctorate in Jewish Education from Gratz College. She is part of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning faculty, writes curricula for adult education, including Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Global Day of Jewish Learning. Sandra also has weekly classes for independent groups of adult learners in the South Florida area. Sandra is a frequent speaker at Jewish education conferences, synagogues and other Jewish organizations. Sandra sits on the Board of Gratz College, as well as on the Board of Limmud North America....

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Director of the Jack and Harriet Rosenfeld Foundation Program in Jewish Education

Dr. Anita Meinbach joined the University of Miami faculty in 2003 and is an Associate Professor teaching in the School of Education and Human Development. 

Formerly with the Miami-Dade Public School System, Meinbach was a teacher, curriculum writer and teacher trainer, proving seminars and guidance in curriculum development.   She was named to the U.S.A. Today “All Teacher Team” in 2002 and received the Mary Collins Award for Outstanding Teacher Educator from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators.   In 2003, she was honored to have been named the Miami-Dade County Francisco R...

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Rabbi Ruti Regan is a feminist rabbi, disabled disability advocate, and Jewish inclusive education researcher. She writes the popular neurodiversity-focused blog realsocialskills.org, leads the weekly #ParshaChat twitter Torah study group, and serves as rabbinic disability scholar in residence at Matan. She was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2017 with an MA in liturgy and spiritual arts, and has also studied at the Drisha Institute and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

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Rabbi P.J. Schwartz is the Rabbi Educator at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, CA. He was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-HIR) in Cincinnati, OH in June 2013 and was the recipient of the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize awarded to the senior rabbinical student who best contributes to the development of community relations. While at HUC-JIR, P.J. served student congregations in Marion, Indiana, Ishpeming, Michigan, and Marion, Ohio. He also served in numerous capacities as a teacher, Schusterman Rabbinic Fellow, and Rabbinic Intern for Isaac M. Wise...

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Mollie Sharfman has been living and working in Jerusalem working with the Shalom Hartman Institute's Rabbinic and Christian Leadership Programs and the iEngage - Pluralistic Israel Education Curriculum. Alongside this work she also serves as the Director of Jewish and Religious Affairs for the Global Muslim-Jewish Conference. In addition, Mollie works as a consultant empowering and training Jewish educators who serve overlooked Global Jewish Communities. Mollie has led and created relevant Jewish experiences for all types of Jews and loves teaching and studying experiential education,...

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Rabbi Sarah Tasman is the founder of the Tasman Center for Jewish Creativity which offers in-person and online opportunities for those seeking meaningful, accessible, and personalized Jewish learning, community classes & gatherings, spiritual coaching and rabbinic support. Programs and events incorporate various modalities of expression and engagement with Jewish practice and creative expression. Rabbi Sarah is a dynamic and creative educator, spiritual leader and life cycle officiant based in Washington, DC and is a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow. Previously, Rabbi Sarah was the...

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Interim Director of NEXT, Director of Educational Technology

Emily Aronoff Teck, Ed.D. is a progressive educator who seeks to increase and improve the ways that the Jewish community invites young children children and families to explore, discover, and celebrate joyful Judaism. Offering a unique combination of experience, knowledge, and creativity, her work includes the creation and facilitation of programs for young children and families as well as the provision of support to clergy and teacher education for leaders working with young children. She is the founding director of the world’s largest searchable database of Jewish educational resources...

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V

Samantha: Samantha Vinokor-Meinrath is a native New Yorker turned Washingtonian (by way of Jerusalem). Samantha currently serves as the Manager of Teen Engagement and Philanthropy at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She is an alumna of The University of Pittsburgh (BA), The Jewish Theological Seminary (MA), and the Pardes Experiential Educators Program. She has also completed the iCenter's MA Concentration in Israel Education, and is currently pursuing an EdD in Educational Leadership at Gratz College.

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