Golden Hanassi
Fellows Program

Golden Hanassi Fellowship

Strengthening Jewish ties across continents for a brighter future.

Established under the leadership of Former Dean Rabbi Naamah Kelman by Suzanne and John Golden and the Golden Family Foundation, the Golden Hanassi Fellowship program, places HUC-JIR Israel Rabbinical Program students in North American Reform congregations for a residency mentored by leading Reform rabbis.

Andrew Rehfeld Headshot“The Golden Hanassi Fellowship strengthens ties between HUC-JIR’s American and Israeli students and alumni, provides a unique opportunity for cross-cultural learning and understanding, and ultimately strengthens the Jewish People and Reform Jewish life in both North America and in Israel.”
— HUC-JIR President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.

Program Details and Benefits

Fellows lead services, teach in congregational education programs across all generations, participate in pastoral care, and serve as ambassadors of Israeli life, culture, and politics. They are exposed to vibrant expressions of Reform Judaism. They develop a profound understanding of the ongoing process of Jewish identity formation and affiliation within the North American Reform Movement, empowering them to strengthen Reform Judaism in Israel and engage those seeking spiritual meaning in a polarized society. By providing opportunities to develop lifelong connections, the program strengthens and sustains the bonds that link Israeli, North American, and world Jewry.

Upon their return to Israel, the Fellows are better able to engage Israelis who are seeking spiritual meaning in a society often polarized between ultra-orthodox and secular approaches to religious life. Following their residencies, the Hanassi Fellows continue to be mentored by their North American clergy hosts through on-line meetings.

By the Numbers

  • 2012: Program Established
  • 28: Fellows to date
  • 110: weeks of fellowship training
  • 28: U.S. Reform congregations
  • 81: American mentor guides

About Suzanne and John Golden

Formerly a partner at Goldman Sachs, John maintains his own private direct investment organization. He is a former Chair of the Board of Trustees of Colgate University. For over 16 years, John has served on the HUC-JIR Board of Governors, including as Vice Chair, Chair of the Nominating and Israel Committees, and a member of the Executive, Investment, and Presidential and other leadership search Committees.


“In these unprecedented and challenging times, when some question the importance of Israel to American Jewry, we need to strengthen our bond between Israelis and American Jews and ensure strong Jewish leadership for the future. After ten years, Suzanne and I are proud of the Hanassi Fellows’ impact in Israel and North America and remain committed to the continued efforts and success of this important program.” — John Golden

Suzanne is a Board member and former Vice Chair of the Board of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, which funds grants for basic research in mental health issues. She was a founder of Suzanne Golden Associates, a pioneer in law firm outplacement, and of Suzanne Golden Antiques. The Goldens are blessed with two daughters, two sons-in-law, and six wonderful grandchildren.


“I am thrilled to recognize all that HUC-JIR does to make the study and practice of Judaism a joyful and powerful experience. Its rabbis, cantors, and educators have exponentially added meaning to our lives and have provided our family with a Jewish tradition that embraces the past and carries us into the future.”
— Suzanne Golden

John and Suzanne established and have provided ongoing support for an endowment fund to support recruitment of North American rabbinical and cantorial students (which has now reached $1 million). They also endowed and have provided ongoing support (which has now reached $1 million) for the Golden Hanassi Fellows Program, bringing Israeli rabbinical students to intern in North American Reform congregations.

Spotlight on the Hanassi Fellows

Rabbi Cantor Shani Ben-Or headshotRabbi/Cantor Shani Ben Or

Rabbi Shani Ben-Or served as a Hanassi Fellow at Central Synagogue in New York City, hosted and mentored by Rabbi/Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl and Cantor Julia Cadrain. Ben Or was the first person ordained simultaneously as a cantor and a rabbi in the progressive community of modern Israel, and the first HUC cantor ordained in Jerusalem. She currently serves at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the division of social involvement and diversity and as an independent Rabbi Cantor in a variety of organizations.

During her fellowship, Rabbi Ben Or was inspired by the versatility of Central Synagogue’s clergy, comprising rabbis that sing and play guitar and cantors that teach. She appreciated the spirit of flexibility and experimentation that makes worship alive and exciting. Rabbi Ben Or noted of her time as a Fellow, “When Israelis like me come to where Reform Judaism is thriving, we can learn and bring back to our Israeli communities the North American innovations in music, prayer, learning, and other strategies.”

During her fellowship, she worked with b’nai mitzvah kids, lead Shabbat services, taught parashat hashavua classes, and rotated among the clergy as needed. She learned to incorporate music as a means of transformation, breaking barriers, and molding relationships. Her training in North America prepared her to be the first ordained Israeli woman cantor in Israel, a leadership role in which she will have great opportunities to transform worship and influence Israeli society.

Rabbi David Benjamin headshotRabbi David Benjamin

Rabbi David Benjamin ’18, is a former career officer in the IDF legal division who immigrated to Israel from South Africa over 30 years ago. He served as a Hanassi Fellow at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, CA. He currently serves at Kehilat Brit Olam, Kiryat Ono, Israel.

“What is a Hanassi fellow? During one’s studies at the Hebrew Union College to become a rabbi in Israel on the Jerusalem campus, we get to spend two two-week stints with a congregation in the States. I was very fortunate to be sent to a congregation in California, Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. It was an incredible experience, really, a formative experience for me. I was seconded to the amazing Rabbi Zoe Klein. She was my mentor. The idea was that I would shadow her and she would coach me. But she also gave me the chance to do rabbi stuff in her congregation. I think we’re still in the historical, pioneering stage of reform Judaism in Israel. But to have this vision of what things can be like further down the road, is important for us. This program has a huge impact. For anyone who does the Israeli rabbinical program, this is one of the highlights. It really exposes us to a vision of what things can be like in Israel.”

Mini Fellows Spotlights

Rabbi Rinat Safania Scwartz headshotRabbi Rinat Safania Shwartz

Rabbi Rinat Safania Shwartz, ordained in 2017, was a Hanassi Fellow at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ. She currently serves at the Reform community in Shoham, Israel, V’ahavta  – HaKehila Hashivionit, where she is the founding rabbi.

Rabbi Binyamin Daniel Minich headshotRabbi Binyamin Daniel Minich

Rabbi Binyamin Daniel Minich, ordained in 2019, was a Hanassi Fellow at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua, NY, hosted by Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe. He currently leads Kehillat Daniel in Jaffa and works at the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv.

David Azoulay headshotRabbi David Azoulay

Rabbi David Azoulay, ordained in 2022, was a Hanassi Fellow at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, FL, hosted by Rabbi Dan Levin. He currently serves at Kehillah YOZMA Modiin in Modiin.

Rabbi Tamar Gur Krause headshotRabbi Tamar Gur Krause

Rabbi Tamar Gur Krause, ordained in 2018, was a Hanassi Fellow at Temple Judea in Palm Beach, FL, hosted by Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik. She currently serves as a self-employed rabbi, conducting life-cycle ceremonies, lecturing on religion and the State, facilitating workshops, working with couples, and teaching.

Voices of Impact


“The Hanassi Fellows program is one of the programs that influenced me the most in my rabbinate. I learned about American Jewry; the difference between living a Jewish lifestyle in Israel and outside of Israel, the commitment of people in the United States to their Jewish identity and to Israel and Zionism. I recognized the commitment to Jewish education, spiritual guidance, and targeted outreach; the importance of empowering community members and strengthening relationships with them.” — Rabbi Rinat Shwartz, Fellow

Participating Communities

Among the communities that have welcomed HUC-JIR’s Israeli Reform rabbinical students are Central Synagogue in New York, NY; Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY; Congregation Kol Ami and Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, NY; Temple Sinai of Roslyn, NY; Larchmont Temple, Larchmont, NY; Temple Israel of New Rochelle, NY; Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, Chappaqua, NY; Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ; Temple Sholom of West Essex, Cedar Grove, NJ; Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, FL and Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CA.

Please contact if your congregation would like to host a Fellow.

Read Article: Learning from their Rabbinic Peers: Mentoring and Residency Program with North American Congregations for Israeli Rabbis

You can invest in HUC-JIR’s programs on the Taube Family Campus, to help strengthen Reform Judaism in Israel.