New Cohort of Schusterman Rabbinical Fellows Announced - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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New Cohort of Schusterman Rabbinical Fellows Announced

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New York, NY, April 28, 2009—Eight outstanding rabbinical students have been named as Schusterman Rabbinical Fellows, a program that brings future leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements together for three years of formal study.


This second cohort of the program—which was inaugurated last summer—will be composed of four students each from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). The program is designed to create a cadre of Reform and Conservative rabbis who share a broad and dynamic vision of communal leadership for American Jewry.


The Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship Program is funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and is managed by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal).


Beginning this fall, SR Fellows will study leadership, collaboration techniques, and key issues in American and Israeli Jewry. Through semi-annual retreats, monthly conference calls or webinars, and informal exchanges, the SR Fellows will examine management methods, define personal visions for their rabbinate, and cultivate strategies for drawing Jews who often feel marginal—including those in interfaith relationships and those not affiliated with any Jewish congregation—closer to the heart of the Jewish community. The SR Fellowship provides funds for tuition and a living stipend during the third and fourth years of the fellows’ rabbinical studies, in order to give the participants more opportunity to focus on becoming rabbinical leaders of contemporary American Jewry.


“I am proud to be part of this ongoing effort to train outstanding future rabbinic leaders," said Lynn Schusterman, chair and co-founder of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which is funding the project. "This second cohort of fellows, like the first group, will be well positioned to work with Jews of all backgrounds, including those who are members of interfaith households."


“The Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship Program now has sixteen future rabbis who are being trained in an environment that will promote the interdenominational dialogue and collaboration so vital to the future of American Judaism. On behalf of JTS, I once again thank the Schusterman Foundation for its visionary leadership and support of this most worthwhile project,” stated Professor Arnold Eisen, chancellor of JTS.


Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR, said, "The Schusterman Fellowship Program is one of the most exciting developments on the Jewish scene today. This program allows HUC-JIR to educate leaders who can speak to the needs of Judaism in the twenty-first century in more nuanced and joyous terms. This program also reinforces the ongoing cooperation between JTS and HUC-JIR and, in so doing, serves to strengthen the Jewish community in America as it confronts the challenges of the present and moves toward the future."


The program is taught by HUC-JIR and JTS faculty and outside experts. It is shaped by two leading institutions in North America that are training Jewish organizational leaders to have greater impact on the Jewish community, STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) and the Center for Leadership Initiatives, Inc. (CLI). STAR's expertise lies in areas including: innovation, interfaith outreach, leadership development, strategic planning, non-profit management with a focus on synagogues, and thought-leadership on the existing state of the American Jewish community and future trends. CLI's expertise is in the design and convening of gatherings that feature skills training and networking opportunities to develop collaborations and mutually supporting frameworks for leaders.


SR Fellows include*:


Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion:

Leora Frankel, East Brunswick, New Jersey

Brian Immerman, Cleveland, Ohio

Marc Katz, Barrington, Rhode Island

Ilana Schachter, New York, New York


The Jewish Theological Seminary:

Aaron (Ari) Lucas, Roslyn, New York

Jennifer Schlosberg, Green Lane, Pennsylvania

Zachary Silver, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aaron Weininger, White Plains, New York


* Full biographical statements can be found below.


Further information about the fellowship is available by contacting Rabbi Hayim Herring, Executive Director, STAR at (952) 746-8180 or or Rabbi Ellen Flax, project consultant, Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship, at (212) 665-7262 or


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise renowned library and museum collections, the American Jewish Archives, biblical archaeology excavations, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs which illuminate Jewish history, identity, and contemporary creativity and which foster interfaith and multiethnic understanding.


The Jewish Theological Seminary is a premier academic center, consisting of five schools and a world-renowned library. Students flourish in an intellectual environment of warmth and creativity located in the heart of New York City’s vibrant Jewish community. Academic departments of unparalleled range and depth offer a rich selection of courses in nearly every field of Judaic studies.

Visit the JTS website at


STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) helps synagogues deepen their connection with the American Jewish community. As a national thought leader, STAR bridges the chasm between the American Jewish community and the synagogue through congregational innovation and leadership development.

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is dedicated to helping the Jewish people flourish by supporting programs throughout the world that spread the joy of Jewish living, giving and learning. The Foundation also provides assistance to non-sectarian charitable organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Oklahoma, especially in the areas of education, child advocacy and community service.

The Center for Leadership Initiatives, Inc. (CLI) catalyzes the power and potential of individuals to lead organizations and communities to higher vision, meaning, and effectiveness.  As a new private operating foundation, CLI offers programs that serve current and future leaders of the Jewish community.  Through a weave of skills trainings, coaching, conferences and retreats, as well as online networks, CLI seeks to cultivate excellence, leadership and vision in the Jewish non-profit world



Leora Frankel
, 27, originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a student at HUC-JIR in New York. Leora completed the Double Degree Program of Barnard College and The Jewish Theological Seminary, majoring in Psychology and Bible studies, respectively. She also has a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was a Davidson Fellow. Before entering rabbinical school, Frankel served as the director of Youth Leadership for national Young Judaea (YJ) as well the education director of YJ’s senior leadership camp, Tel Yehudah, where she has worked for the past ten summers. Leora is currently the rabbinic intern in the Youth and Family Education Department at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, New York City.




Brian Immerman
,27,is a student at HUC-JIR, Los Angeles. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he was a member of Temple Tifereth Israel. Immerman received a BS in Computer Science from the University of Rochester. As a youth, he attended Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, Indiana, where he was also a staff member for several summers. Before entering rabbinical school, he worked for two years as the program associate in the Union of Reform Judaism’s Youth Division. Last summer, he was the education director for the URJ’s Camp Kalsman in Washington.





Marc Katz
, 24, is a student at HUC-JIR, New York. Originally from Barrington, Rhode Island, Marc received a BA from Tufts University, where he studied comparative religion while serving as the captain of his college swim team. Before entering rabbinical school, Marc worked as a legislative assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Since moving to New York, he has taught twice a week at Temple Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, New York. He is also an intern in HUC’s admissions department.







Aaron (Ari) Lucas
, 26, is a student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Born in Ventnor, New Jersey, he graduated magna cum laudefrom Brown University, receiving a BA in International Relations. While at Brown, Ari served with distinction as Bruno the Bear, the university mascot. Ari is an alumnus of Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where he was a camper for eight summers and a staff member for three. He also spent an additional four summers on the staff of Ramah Israel Seminar. Prior to beginning rabbinical school, he worked in Congressional politics for Congressman Steve Israel in New York and for Senator Charles Schumer in Washington DC.



Ilana Schachter
, 25, is a student at HUC-JIR, Los Angeles. Born and raised in New York City, Ilana graduated with honors from Brown University with a dual degree in Comparative Literature and Judaic Studies; where her thesis focused on the influence of the Bible on the poetry of Yehuda Amichai and T. S. Eliot. As an undergraduate, Ilana founded the Hillel Gallery Project, a student art gallery, in an effort to promote the Hillel as a community cultural center. Before entering rabbinical school, Ilana worked in the wine industry for two years, while also working at UJA-Federation in New York. She is currently student rabbi at Temple Beth El in Santa Maria, California, and teaches ninth grade and confirmation students at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills.




A student at The Jewish Theological Seminary,
Jennifer Schlosberg,29, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hartford, where she majored in Psychology, held the position of student body president, and was an active member of the Hillel board. Upon graduation from Hartford, Jen became a Hillel-Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps (HSJCSC) fellow, focusing on engaging uninvolved students in Jewish life on campus at Miami University in Ohio and the University of California-Santa Barbara. She subsequently helped run the program on the national level out of Hillel’s Schusterman International Center in Washington DC. Originally from Green Lane, Pennsylvania, Jen currently leads Shabbat services at an assisted-living facility in New York City and volunteers with seniors each week.


native Zachary Silver,26,is a student at The Jewish Theological Seminary. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he majored in history and Jewish studies and wrote an award-winning thesis on the excommunication of Mordecai Kaplan, a work that combined his passions for modern philosophy, tensions in modern Jewish history, journalistic exploration, and Jewish texts. A longtime staff member at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, he is deeply committed to exploring Diaspora Jewish identity, both from academic and educational perspectives. 







Aaron Weininger
,23, of Westchester, New York, is a student at JTS. Aaron graduated with honors from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, with a double major in Jewish and Near Eastern studies and anthropology. As an undergraduate, Aaron was director of programming for the Jewish Student Union, sang in the Jewish a cappella group, and founded a student group advocating conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians. Since starting rabbinical school, Aaron has helped create a spiritual direction group for students committed to LGBT inclusion, and is a member of the national advisory board of Evaded Issues in Jewish Education, a project of The Davidson School at JTS. For the past two years, Aaron has co-led High Holy Day services at Colgate University and served as rabbinic intern at Temple Beth El in Portland, Maine. Aaron will be completing an interdenominational rabbinic internship this summer at Temple Israel Center (Conservative) and Bet Am Shalom Synagogue (Reconstructionist) in White Plains, New York.



Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.