Dr. Isa Aron – Co-Director
Isa Aron is Professor of Jewish Education, HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in philosophy from Swarthmore College, a Ph.D. in philosophy of education from the University of Chicago, and did post-doctoral work at the Center for the Study of Social Intervention at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She teaches courses in teaching, philosophy of education and organizational change, and is the founding director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education’s Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE). Dr. Aron’s publications include Becoming a Congregation of Learners, The Self-Renewing Congregation, and Sacred Strategies: Transforming Congregations from Functional to Visionary, with Steven M. Cohen, Larry Hoffman and Ari Y. Kelman.
Rabbi Bradley Solmsen – Co-Director
Bradley Solmsen serves as the North American Director of Youth Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). For eleven years Bradley served as Director of Brandeis University’s Office of High School Programs which includes BIMA, Genesis, and Impact: Boston. Rabbi Solmsen was ordained at The Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and received a masters degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Bradley is currently pursuing a doctorate in Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson School. He has extensive experience as a Jewish educator in Israel and North America working with teenagers and college students and training Jewish educators. Bradley is married to Aliza Kline and is the proud abba of Ela, Gila and Nomi.
Lisa Langer - Associate Director
Lisa Langer, RJE has served as an educational leader at the URJ, the Bureau of Jewish Education in San Francisco, and Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California. She has been a visiting lecturer and Alumna-in-Residence at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and is currently a Clinical Faculty Mentor for the Executive M.A. program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIR.
Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and a Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service from the Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Lisa lives in Menlo Park, California with her husband, Dan K. Siegel and their sons, Jacob and Ben.
Diane Tickton Schuster - Congregational Inquiry Coordinator
Diane Tickton Schuster is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. Previously she served as director of HUC’s Institute for Teaching Jewish Adults and taught at the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the American Jewish University, and Brandeis University’s Institute for Informal Jewish Education. Her book, Jewish Lives, Jewish Learning, was a finalist for the 2004 National Jewish Book Award in education. Her other publications include A Journey of Heart and Mind (with Lisa Grant, Meredith Woocher, and Steven M. Cohen), A Covenant of Dreams, and Women’s Lives Through Time, as well as numerous articles about Jewish education. Recently Diane conducted a national study of Jewish choral singers and began inquiry about the spiritual practices of Jewish “doubters.” A lifelong singer, she is the co-founder of Kol HaEmek: The Jewish Community Chorale of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. She received her BA from the University of Michigan, MSW from U. C. Berkeley, and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. She and her husband, Professor Emeritus Jack H. Schuster, reside in Claremont, California, and are the proud parents of Rabbi Jordana Schuster Battis and Ariana Schuster, CPA.
Anna Marx - Project Manager
Anna Marx has been working with The Jewish Education Project (formerly the Board of Jewish Education of New York) for the past three years as project manager and now an evaluation and special projects consultant. There she is part of a collaborative strategy that helps New York synagogues develop innovative models of part-time Jewish education and experiment with learning design and assessment. Anna’s research experience began at JESNA, first as an evaluation intern for the Berman Center and then as a research assistant for the Lippman Kanfer Institute. Prior to working and studying in New York, Anna was the program associate for Project Welcome, an outreach program of the Union for Reform Judaism in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anna holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management and an MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from NYU as well as a BA in Political Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She lives in New Orleans, LA with her husband, Cantor Jamie Marx, and daughter Eliana.
Elena Dufner – URJ Staff
Elena Dufner is Project Manager for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Campaign for Youth Engagement. Previously she served as the Youth Director at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, TX, where she helped to transform the youth culture of San Antonio’s only Reform congregation. Elena grew up in the Reform movement, where she spent many years at URJ Greene Family Camp. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives and works in New York City.
Josh Mason-Barkin - Webmaster
Josh Mason-Barkin is Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. He holds MAs in Jewish education and Jewish communal service from HUC-JIR and a BA in politics and religion from Ripon College. Formerly, he consulted with schools and trained teachers in his role as director of school services at Torah Aura Productions.
Josh has worked on a number of Jewish websites, including the mobile-optimized sites for the 2011 NATE conference in Seattle and 2012 Kallah in San Antonio, musician Noam Katz’s site, and the Temple Isaiah Religious School Blog. His infrequently-updated personal blog can be found at www.joshmb.com.
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz - Senior Consultant
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz (BA, George Washington University; MAHE, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion) is the Senior Director, as well as the Director of Curriculum Resources at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. She has been a day school principal, congregational school director, and camp educator. Nachama is the author of numerous student materials and teacher resources, including The Ultimate Jewish Teacher’s Handbook (ARE, 2003). She is nationally known and respected for her curricular work, especially in the use of Understanding by Design. Her recent work has taken her into issues of Hebrew education in our part-time educational settings.
Sharon Feiman-Nemser is the Mandel Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University with a joint appointment in Education and Jewish Studies. Before coming to Brandeis in 2001, she served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and Michigan State University where she directed innovative teacher education programs and did research on teacher education and learning to teach. She is the founding director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, a research center focused on the pedagogy of Jewish studies and the education of Jewish educators. Her latest book, Teachers as Learners, was published in 2012 by Harvard Education Press.
Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs - Action Research Facilitator
Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs is an independent consultant and researcher, focusing on Jewish education, congregations, organizational change, and leadership. She applies lessons learned from scholarship and practice to help congregations imagine, execute, and promote powerful Jewish learning. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.
Michelle’s professional experience bridges the worlds of academia and Jewish communal life. She was a member of the faculty at the Jewish Theological Seminary and at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York; in both institutions, Michelle’s teaching and research focused on leadership for Jewish education in the congregational setting. Prior to these academic positions, Michelle was a researcher and consultant for the Experiment in Congregational Education; the Director of Education at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario; and a mentor and supervisor for education students at both JTS and HUC-JIR. She also served on the advisory boards of the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators and the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education.
Michelle holds a bachelor of arts degree in Literature and Society from Brown University (1993); master’s degree in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC (1996); and a doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies from New York University (2007). She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow while at HUC and a Beam Family Fellow at New York University.
Dr. Rob Weinberg - Change Consultant
Rob Weinberg serves as National Director of the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE) and as Project Manager of the Jim Joseph Foundation Educational Initiative (JJF-EI) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He holds a BA in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and MS and Ph.D in organizational behavior from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Since 2001 Rob has directed the ECE in working with congregations and local agencies to re-imagine and transform congregational education and to strengthen synagogues as critical centers of Jewish life in North America. The ECE has partnered with agencies and engaged congregations in New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kansas City. His recent publications include “Finding New Models: Alternatives to Religious School” in What We Know Now about Jewish Education.
Rob also oversees the Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative at HUC-JIR.Through a generous grant from the Foundation, the Initiative seeks to attract and train the next generations of talented, high achieving Jewish educators prepared to provide compelling experiences of Jewish learning and living to youth, teens, and young adults. Rob has taught at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy and its Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Having grown up in NFTY and on staff of OSRUI, Rob lives in Evanston, IL and belongs to Temple Beth Israel. In his “spare time” Rob builds furniture and performs as part of the musical group “Kol Sasson.”
Joshua Knobel currently serves as a congregational liaison for the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution in Los Angeles. Currently a rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the United States Military Academy, and Master of Arts degrees in Hebrew Letters and in Jewish Education from HUC-JIR. His professional responsibilities include serving as an advisor for Occidental College Hillel, an Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate for the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion.
Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, RJE, has a rabbinate that focuses on Jewish education, teaching and helping youth develop deep and meaningful connections to Judaism. She recently completed a twelve-year tenure as a specialist in adolescents and experiential education at the Union for Reform Judaism. Laura has led education and change efforts at Jewish schools, synagogues and camps throughout the United States. Laura is the editor of several curricula, including Sacred Choices: Adolescent Relationships and Sexual Ethics (2005 and 2007) and has been published in a variety of academic and online journals.
Laura earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and rabbinic ordination at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Laura is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson School of Graduate Education. Laura is currently serving as the First Vice-President of the Board of the National Association of Temple Educators. Laura lives in Fresno, CA with her husband, Rabbi Rick Winer and their sons, Saul and Max.
Lisa Berney is a fifth year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and will be ordained as a rabbi in May 2014. Lisa grew up in Miami, Florida and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Jewish and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from HUC, a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and a certificate in Jewish Nonprofit Management at HUC in Los Angeles. Lisa currently serves as the community organizing intern at Leo Baeck Temple.