A Year of Celebration

GUEST SPEAKERS, DISCUSSION LEADERS, AND FACILITATORS
(in alphabetical order)

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STUDENT RABBI JAKE BEST ADLER

Shabbat Friday, February 9, 2018

Jake Adler is a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, from which he expects to graduate in June 2018. He is currently serving Congregation Am Haskalah in Allentown, PA, as their student rabbi. Jake previously worked as the Jewish Student Advisor at Haverford College. He also had rabbinic internships at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life - Philadelphia Senior Care, the Tikkun Olam Commission of the Reconstructionist Movement, Bristol Jewish Center in Bristol, PA, and Congregation Beth El of Bennington, VT.

Prior to entering rabbinical school, Jake worked as a case manager at a Jewish social services agency in Chicago, ran ropes courses at Jewish summer camps, and worked at the Union for Reform Judaism’s headquarters in New York City. He is passionate about experiential education, service learning, and incorporating Jewish values into everyday life and experiences.

Jake received his Bachelor’s Degree from Earlham College. He grew up at Temple Ner Tamid, where he learned a love of Judaism and engagement with tradition and text. He attended Ner Tamid’s Religious School and was active in the youth group. Jake is the proud partner of Jillian and father of Daniel.

JOHN BLOCK, DOCUMENTARIAN

Film Festival Friday, October 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm

A Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, John Block worked as a television documentary and news magazine producer/writer for 30 years, 26 of them at NBC News. Among other honors, he has received two National Emmys, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. John left NBC seven years ago to pursue independent documentary projects – 2 of which appeared on public television. He has also produced and directed documentaries for CNN and Bloomberg Television. In 2015, among other projects, he produced and directed Sounding the Alarm, a film about the accelerating growth of autism in America.

From 1980 until 1983 John worked for WCBS and then came to NBC in 1983. Initially he was a "Special Segment" producer for the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. In 1990, he became a producer/writer for Real Life with Jane Pauley and in 1991 a producer/writer for the Brokaw Reports. From 1992 until 2009 John was a producer/writer for Dateline NBC.

John is a native of Chicago. He is a 1972 graduate from Northwestern University. In 1977, he obtained a Master of Fine Arts in filmmaking from New York University.

John's subjects cover a wide spectrum of social issues and problems including poverty, homelessness, medical issues, broken families, drugs, crime, and education. He has also made videos for educational and medical support programs.

John is a former member of TNT and friend of Rabbi Kushner.

RABBI NORMAN COHEN

Shabbat Celebration weekend, April 27-28, 2018

Rabbi Norman Cohen and Rabbi Steven Kushner have been close friends since being classmates at rabbinical school.

Rabbi Cohen is the founding rabbi of Bet Shalom in Minnetonka, Minnesota. During his tenure, the congregation, which was created by 32 families in 1981, grew to encompass 700+ families. In 2015, he became its Rabbi Emeritus.

In 1972, Rabbi Cohen received his bachelor's degree cum laude from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. During this period, he also studied for six months in Jerusalem at the Hiatt Institute of Brandeis University. He did his graduate work at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati (HUC), where he earned his master’s degree in 1975 and his rabbinic ordination in 1977. In 2001, Rabbi Cohen was also awarded his Doctorate of Divinity from HUC.

Prior to his arrival in the Twin Cities, Rabbi Cohen served at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati, the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Alleghenies. in addition to teaching at HUC and other colleges in Cincinnati, he has continued to serve on college faculties in the Twin Cities area including the College of St. Catherine, Macalester College, the United Theological Seminary, and St. Olaf College in Northfield. He is the Rabbinic scholar each year at Mary Mother of the Church.

Rabbi Cohen has also been active in local civic and Jewish community affairs and plays an active role in Jewish-Christian relations. He served as chaplain for the Minnetonka Police Department, and in various roles for the Hopkins Crime Prevention Fund Board, the International Center for Victims of Torture, and the State Board of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police.

Rabbi Cohen has been on the Religious Advisory Council of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and has served as a board member and honorary advisor to the Minneapolis Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS). He has been active with the Minneapolis Jewish Federation throughout his tenure in the Twin Cities and was twice appointed to its Executive Board. He helped to create the Jewish Free Loan Program of Minneapolis and served on its initial steering committee.

Rabbi Cohen is past president of the Midwest Association of Reform Rabbis and the Minnesota Rabbinical Association.  He has been active in numerous local and national organizations, serving most significantly on four Joint Commissions of the Reform Movement: The Placement Commission, the Rabbinic Mentoring Institute, the National Committee on Rabbinic Congregational Relations, and as the Synagogue Management Commission (vice chair).

Rabbi Cohen returns to Holy Cross College every year to serve as chaplain and advisor to the Jewish students and faculty.  He also visits HUC as a teacher in practical Rabbinics. Rabbi Cohen has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles and the book “Jewish Bible Personages in the New Testament.” He has appeared as scholar-in-residence in over two-dozen cities, sharing his research on “The Book of Ruth, a Jewish Understanding of Christianity and the New Testament,” and “Stereotypes and Misconceptions that Christians and Jews Hold About Each Other.”

Rabbi Cohen is married to the former Andrea Winnick of St. Paul and is the parent of stepson and daughter-in-law, TJ and Stacy Rubin, and grandparent of Wyatt Rubin.

Rabbi David Ellenson

Scholar-In-Residence October 13-15, 2017

In 1972, David Ellenson and Rabbi Steven Kushner spent their first year of rabbinical school together in Jerusalem at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).

Rabbi Ellenson served as president of HUC-JIR from 2001-2013 and is now its Chancellor-Emeritus. Currently, he is the director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and visiting professor in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, where he teaches courses on "Who is a Jew? Jewish Status and Identity in Israel and America."

For two decades, Rabbi Ellenson served as head of the Louchheim School of Judaic Studies, the undergraduate program in Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California conducted under the aegis of HUC-JIR. He has also served as a visiting professor at both UCLA and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has been a Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem, a Fellow, and Lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies, and a Lady Davis Visiting Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the spring of 2015, he taught in the Skirball Department of Judaic Studies at New York University, where he was appointed as Distinguished Visiting Professor.

A scholar of modern Jewish thought and history, Rabbi Ellenson is recognized for his writings and publications in these fields. He has written extensively on the origins and development of Orthodox Judaism in Germany during the nineteenth century; Orthodox legal writings on conversion in Israel, North America, and Europe during the modern era; the relationship between religion and state in Israel; the history of modern Jewish religious movements; and American Jewish life.

Rabbi Ellenson has authored or edited seven books and over 300 articles and reviews in a wide variety of academic and popular journals and newspapers. His book, “After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity”, won the National Jewish Book Council’s award as outstanding book in Jewish Thought in 2005. Two of his earlier books — “Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy” (University of Alabama Press,1990) and “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa”(co-authored with Daniel Gordis and published by Stanford University Press in 2012) were nominated for the same awards. His newest book, “Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice”, appeared in September of 2014 in the University of Nebraska/Jewish Publication Society’s Scholar of Distinction Series. In 2014, his academic colleagues honored him with the publication of “Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity: Rethinking an Old Opposition – Essays in Honor of David Ellenson”, edited by Michael A. Meyer of HUC-JIR and David N. Myers of UCLA.

Rabbi Ellenson received his PhD from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained as a rabbi by HUC-JIR in 1977. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 1969, and the University of Virginia granted him a master’s degree in Religious Studies in 1972.

Rabbi Steven Fox

Shabbat Friday, June 8

Rabbi Steven Fox has been part of the TNT community since relocating to Montclair in 2006 to become the Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).

The CCAR is the rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism in North America and worldwide. Since joining its staff, Rabbi Fox has led the transformation of the CCAR into a 21st century organization, working to sustain and enrich the Jewish community to ensure a vibrant Jewish future. Under his leadership, the CCAR has renewed its focus on strengthening the Jewish community by investing in the rabbis who lead it. Since Rabbi Fox took the CCAR helm, the organization has dramatically increased its support services for rabbis, including educational and spiritual offerings to meet the personal and professional needs of the rabbinate and their communities. In addition, the historic CCAR Press has become the leading publisher of an expanded library of liturgy and resources for the Reform Movement, including cutting-edge e-publications.

Rabbi Fox brings a varied and rich background to his CCAR leadership. He was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1980 and his early rabbinic career included service at Temple Emanuel in Worcester, Massachusetts and Temple Isaiah in Lexington, Massachusetts. He later served as an adjunct rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, where he focused his work on spiritual growth through Jewish meditation, contemplative practices, and study of sacred text.

Supplementing his rabbinic training, Rabbi Fox received his Juris Doctor degree to gain additional tangible business and legal skills. As a practicing attorney and managing partner in a Los Angeles-based law firm, he advised religious and secular nonprofits, rabbis and cantors, congregations and other Jewish organizations on a variety of issues, such as contract matters, employment disputes, board relations, charitable gifts and grants, rabbinic wellness and other organizational concerns. Rabbi Fox is also a trained mediator, helping to resolve many diverse and challenging disputes between rabbis, cantors, educators, and congregations.

Rabbi Fox has also helped raise the CCAR’s profile to its membership and the Jewish community. He has represented the CCAR at the White House on several occasions, and most recently attended both the 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama and the National Prayer Service. He is a sought-out thought-leader in the Jewish community and in the Jewish press. Rabbi Fox is a regular contributor to RavBlog, the blog of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi Fox and his wife Vicki Reikes Fox have been married for 34 years, and they have two grown children. Vicki is a museum consultant and artist, the founding project director of the Museum of Southern Jewish Life in Mississippi, and a museum curator who created the current Zimmer Children’s Museum in Los Angeles. She is also the author of “Shalom Y’all, Images of Jewish Life in the American South”, and the illustrator of “Seasons for Celebration”.

Eric Goldman, Ph.D. Jewish Film Educator, Historian and Critic

Film Festival Thursday, October 26 and Saturday, October 28, 2017

Eric A. Goldman is founder and president of Ergo Media, a New Jersey-based video publishing company specializing in Jewish and Israeli video. He is alsofilm reviewer for New Jersey's "The Jewish Standard."

Dr. Goldman is a scholar and lecturer on Yiddish, Israeli and Jewish film and a noted film educator. He is former director of the Jewish Media Service, which was a national clearinghouse on film and television for the North American Jewish community. He was curator of film for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and for many years curated and moderated the film program at the Center for Jewish History and Yeshiva University in New York. Dr. Goldman was also a member of the Educational Advisory Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Dr. Goldman received a Ph.D. in Cinema Studies from New York University and was a fellow of the Max Weinreich Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at Columbia University. He holds graduate degrees in Contemporary Jewish Studies and Theater Arts from Brandeis University. For over a decade, he planned and moderated the Israeli film series, "Lens on Israel," at New York's 92nd Street Y and the Yiddish film series at Hebrew Union College. In 1999, Dr. Goldman became artistic director of the Jack Wolgin Jewish Film Festival, held in suburban Philadelphia. In 2006, he created the "digital filmmaking" specialty camp at the NJ Y Camps in Northeastern Pennsylvania, which he continues to supervise. He also served as film consultant to PJ Library and the Avichai Foundation. He is currently curating the film program for KulturFestNYC, set to take place June 14-21. 

Dr. Goldman is presently adjunct professor of cinema at Yeshiva University. In 2000-2001, he was adjunct fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In the spring of 2004, he conceived and co-chaired a national symposium on "The American Jewish Experience as Reflected in Film," held at Queens College. This past summer, he was a Schusterman fellow in Israel Studies at Brandeis University.

Dr. Goldman has written extensively on the Jewish experience in film. His most recent book, “The American Jewish Story Through Cinema” was published in 2013 by University of Texas Press. His previous book, “Visions, Images and Dreams: Yiddish Film Past and Present” (revised and expanded in 2011) was published by Holmes & Meier Publishers. Prior to that, he authored a monograph on the American Jewish experience through the lens of cinema for American Jewish Committee. In the summer of 2000, he served as a juror at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. This past June, he was film curator at the International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal. Dr. Goldman has also produced and directed for radio, television, film and video and has authored and produced over a dozen DVDs, including “Yidl mitn Fidl”, “Hill 24 Doesn't Answer”, and “Lies My Father Told Me”. He won a Special Jury Award at the 1996 International Jewish Video Competition.

Rabbi Stephen Goodman

Shabbat Friday, March 9, 2018

One year behind Rabbi Steven Kushner at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Stephen Goodman is the rabbi at the Garden City Jewish Center in Garden City, NY on Long Island.

Rabbi Goodman’s father was a rabbi as is his wife, Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, who serves at Union Temple in Brooklyn, NY. Rabbi Goodman has also served as rabbi at Temple Shalom in Floral Park, NY, and Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University.

In 1985, Rabbi Goodman decided to become a lawyer to further pursue his interest in social justice.  He enrolled at the NYU Law School and received a scholarship for students pursuing a career in the public interest, becoming the “part-time” rabbi at the Garden City Jewish Center at the same time.  Since 1988, and law school graduation, Rabbi Goodman has worked for the New York City Housing Authority specializing in civil rights issues. He is a member of the Board of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Rabbi Goodman is a cherished friend, colleague and classmate of Rabbi Kushner’s since their year together in Israel in 1972.

Rabbi Rachel Hertzman

Shabbat Friday, September 8, 2017

Since 2008, Temple Ner Tamid has been fortunate to have Rabbi Rachel Hertzman and her husband Rabbi Rex Perlmeter among its congregants. Rabbis HertzmanandPerlmeter are longtime colleagues and friends of Rabbi Kushner.

Rabbi Hertzman was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985. Her rabbinic career began in South Florida and has taken her to Baltimore and now Montclair. She has served in congregational and organizational capacities as spiritual leader, teacher, and program coordinator. Rabbi Hertzman’s most notable contributions have been in the areas of outreach to Jews by Choice and intermarried families, and in the area of domestic violence prevention. For several years, she has been a teacher in the High School program at TNT.

Noah William Isenberg, Professor and Author

Film Festival Saturday, October 28, 2017

Noah Isenberg is Professor of Culture and Media at the New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, in New York City, where he also directs the Screen Studies program. He is the author, most recently, of We’ll Always Have ‘Casablanca’: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie, published by W.W. Norton in February 2017 (and in November 2017 by Faber & Faber in the UK and by Európa, in Hungarian translation, in Budapest), which earned a spot on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, was named an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and was picked as a Summer Book of 2017 by the Financial Times. His other books include: Edgar G. Ulmer: A Filmmaker at the Margins (University of California Press, 2014), which the New York Times hailed as “a page turner of a biography” and Huffington Post selected among its Best Film Books of 2014; Detour (British Film Institute, 2008), a book-length study of Ulmer’s acclaimed low-budget film noir; and, as editor, Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era  (Columbia University Press, 2009), which was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. His introduction to the reissue of Vicki Baum’s bestselling novel of 1929 Grand Hotel is now out from New York Review of Books Classics.

Professor Isenberg has been awarded grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Austrian Fulbright Commission, the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) in Vienna, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, among others. He is a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities and in 2015-2016 he received an NEH Public Scholar award. His writing has appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, Bookforum, The Paris Review Daily, New York Review of Books Daily, The Daily Beast, Times Literary Supplement, Wall Street Journal, Film Quarterly, Los Angeles Review of Books, Brooklyn Rail, Film Comment, The Criterion Collection, Cinema Journal, Moving Image Source, Vertigo, New German Critique, Raritan, Lingua Franca, Dissent, Partisan Review, Salmagundi, The Threepenny Review and the New York Times. He is the book review editor at Film Quarterly.

Prior to his arrival at The New School, Professor Isenberg taught German and film studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut from 1995-2004. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and at Dartmouth College, where he spent summer 2015 as a visiting scholar at the Leslie Center for the Humanities. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. in European history, 1989), Professor Isenberg holds advanced degrees from the University of Washington (M.A. in German literature, 1991) and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D. in German studies, 1995). He has spent extended stints—studying, teaching and writing—in Berlin, Vienna, Munich and Stockholm. Professor Isenberg lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Melanie Rehak, and their two sons.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Shabbat Friday, January 12

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the most powerful force in North American Jewish life. The URJ leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America, with almost 900 congregations reaching nearly 1.5 million people. For nearly 150 years, the URJ has been at the forefront in promoting an open, progressive Judaism.

The URJ’s programs and communities inspire more and more people — from children to seniors — to explore what it means to be Jewish, pursue justice around the world, and forge stronger ties to Israel. Under the dedicated and creative leadership of Rabbi Jacobs, the URJ is engaged in the ongoing implementation of the URJ’s strategic 2020 Vision, a bold and ambitious action plan for the future of Reform Judaism structured around three core priorities: Strengthening Congregations, Audacious Hospitality, and Tikkun Olam (social justice).

A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a dynamic, visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. During his tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of lifelong learners, and strengthened the synagogue's commitment to vibrancy and inclusion. Under Rabbi Jacobs' leadership, WRT completed a new "green" sanctuary, one of only a handful of Jewish houses of worship in the nation to carry this designation.

Prior to his tenure at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served as rabbi at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded and co-directed the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City. He was ordained in 1982 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, where he received numerous excellence awards. Deeply committed to the State of Israel, Rabbi Jacobs has studied for two decades at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, where he is now a senior rabbinic fellow.

Rabbi Jacobs is a product of the Reform Movement, and has held numerous leadership posts within the URJ, the CCAR, ARZA and WUPJ. He also has served on the boards of Jewish organizations in the community-at-large, including American Jewish World Service, UJA-Federation of New York, and, since its inception in 1996, Synagogue 2000 and its successor, Synagogue 3000.

Dedicated to global social justice issues, Rabbi Jacobs was part of a delegation that assessed disaster response following Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010.  He also observed the plight of Darfur refugees as part of an international humanitarian mission to the Chad-Darfur border area in 2005, and in 2009, participated in an annual conference of Muslim and Christian leaders, held in Qatar, designed to build understanding between the West and the Muslim world.

Rabbi Jacobs and his wife Susan K. Freedman have three children: Aaron, David and Sarah.

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff

Shabbat Friday, April 13, 2018

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff has been a colleague, mentor and friend to Rabbi Kushner for many years. Rabbi Kroloff and his wife Terry can often be found at Shabbat evening Worship at TNT, along with their daughter Sarah Segal and her family.

Rabbi Kroloff served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, NJ for 36 years, from 1966 until his retirement in 2002. He and Terry still reside in Westfield. Upon his retirement, the new educational wing of Temple Emanu-El was named The Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff Center for Jewish Learning. He is a past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the largest rabbinic organization in the world.

Rabbi Kroloff is currently Vice President for Special Projects of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. He remains active in the Westfield area through leadership in Temple Emanu-El's I Have A Dream program in Plainfield, and the Westfield Foundation as past president, speaking at area synagogues and providing rabbinic life cycle services.

Rabbi Kroloff earned his Bachelor’s Degree magna cum laude at Yale University and his rabbinic ordination at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati. Before coming to Westfield, he was Assistant Rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston, and Rabbi at the Community Reform Temple in Westbury, NY. A past president of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, he was a member of the governing boards of the Jewish Agency, Hebrew Union College, and the Union for Reform Judaism. He was a founder of the Interfaith Council for the Homeless of Union County and, following retirement, Interim Rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, New York City.

Rabbi Kroloff is the author of three books, “When Elijah Knocks, A Religious Response to Homelessness,” “54 Ways You Can Help the Homeless”, and “Reform Judaism: A Jewish Way of Life”.

Rabbi Kroloff and Terry are the parents of Micah, Noah, and Sarah, and the grandparents of Adam, Arielle, Jonathan, Aaron, Max, Ella, and Ben.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Shabbat Celebration Weekend, April 27-28, 2018

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is brother, mentor, and friend of our own Rabbi Kushner.

Rabbi Kushner served for twenty-eight years as the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. There, he originated the concept of synagogue chavurot (small fellowship groups) and helped his congregants write V’tahaer Libenu (Purify our Hearts), the first gender-neutral liturgy ever published. For many years, he served as Rabbi-in-Residence at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City.

Since 2002, when Rabbi Kushner moved to San Francisco, he has served as Scholar at Temple Emanuel. He is the author of eighteen books including the just published “I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego”, a novel, “Kabbalah: A Love Story”, a screenplay, “Your Good Friend” (with Matthew Jacobs), “Honey from the Rock”, “God Was in This Place and I, I Did Not Know”, “Invisible Lines of Connection”, and “Five Cities of Refuge” (with David Mamet). He has been a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Rabbi Kushner was the first chairman of Reform Judaism’s Commission on Religious Living and has served on the board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism). He continues his association as an adjunct member of the faculty of the Hebrew Union College at the Los Angeles campus where he teaches an annual seminar for rabbinic students.

Rabbi Kushner is also a serious impressionist artist specializing in urban landscapes. His paintings are in several local San Francisco galleries and he’s had a one-man show at the Isaacs Gallery of the Osher-Marin JCC.

Rabbi Leana Moritt

Shabbat November 10, 2017

As Steven Kushner’s life partner, Rabbi Leana Moritt has been a welcome part of the Temple Ner Tamid community for several years.

Rabbi Moritt is the founder and Rabbinic Director of Thresholds.  She established Thresholds after working at the forefront of Jewish outreach and engagement as the Director of Jewish Outreach at the venerable 92nd Street Y in New York, where she had worked from 2001 to 2009.   Through her work there with the renowned introduction to Judaism program, Derekh Torah (“Way of Torah”), she guided interfaith couples, Jews, families and Jews by Choice toward more meaningful Jewish lives and a deeper understanding of Judaism. Serving hundreds of people yearly, the program has served thousands of students over the past (almost) 25 years.  Rabbi Moritt has the ability to transmit a Judaism which is accessible, joyful and traditional yet relevant and modern. Her deep sensitivity to people’s Jewish connections and personal and spiritual needs has earned her the reputation as an expert in the field. She remains on the 92nd Street Y’s teaching faculty.

While at the 92Y, she directed Workshops for Interfaith Couples, “After the Huppah: Making Marriage Work”, Spirituality Series and adult seminars. She was the rabbinic supervisor for the Jewish Coaching, Counseling and Consultation program and led their Passover Seders and many holiday celebrations. There she also initiated several new educational programs, including education for parents and grandparents of interfaith couples; a series of workshops for parents of young children, "Bringing It Home: Habaita," geared to empower parents to create meaningful Jewish home experiences for their families; Spiritual Journeys for Women and "Rabbi, I Was Wondering."

In addition to her current work with Thresholds, Rabbi Moritt is the Rabbi of the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation, a pluralistic and egalitarian congregation she has led since 2007.   In 2010, she was named a Rabbi Without Borders Fellow with CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

Rabbi Moritt was ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion, the nation's first Jewish pluralistic seminary (est. 1956) in Riverdale, NY.  She was later additionally ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi’s ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal program, where she is on the rabbinic faculty teaching entering clergy. She is a member of ARC, the Association of Rabbis and Cantors, OHALAH, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and the Northern New Jersey Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Moritt holds a B.A. from New York University's Gallatin Division and an A.A.S. in Business Administration.

Prior to her career as a rabbi, Rabbi Moritt had a successful 10-year career as Director of Production at Arista Records where she oversaw production of albums by Whitney Houston, Kenny G, and The Grateful Dead, among others.

Reverand Charles Ortman

Shabbat Friday, May 11, 2018

Falling in with the wrong crowd at a very early age opened up all kinds of wonderful possibilities for his life. Alternative service as a Conscientious Objector during the Viet Nam War led Reverend Ortman into a career in Social Work for many years. Being a child of the 1950s and 1960s opened him uptocommunication through music and a career in that field, which has literally taken him all around the world. A highlight of his adult life was being an at home father during the early years of his three children's lives only to be outdone by being the grandparent of two beautiful toddlers.

Reverend Ortman’s ministry and life have been a constant journey through, and an exploration of, experiences of awe, gratitude and service. After graduating from Meadville/Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, Reverend Ortman was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1992 and have served congregations in Burlington, IA, Fitchburg, MA, and Montclair, NJ, where he served for 20 years and "retired" as Minister Emeritus in 2015. It was during this tenure that he met his friend and colleague, Rabbi Kushner. Since then he served as Interim Minister at First Unitarian Church, Providence RI.

Rabbi Norman Patz

Shabbat Friday, December 1, 2017

Rabbi Norman Patz is a long-time colleague, mentor, and friend to Rabbi Kushner.

Rabbi Patz became the became spiritual leader at neighboring Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove in 1969, where he was named Rabbi Emeritus in June 2006. Under his guidance, the congregation achieved many significant accomplishments including growing from 147 members to over 400 families living throughout the West Essex area; building a gem-like sanctuary and extending its school wing; and becoming custodians of a Czech Holocaust Torah from Dvúr Králové where, in 2008, Rabbi Patz and the synagogue leadership dedicated a monument to that destroyed Jewish community. Since becoming Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Patz has been part of a rotation of retired Reform rabbis who serve Temple Beth Shalom of Puerto Rico, officiating there for the High Holy Days and for several months during the winter.

Rabbi Patz’s rabbinate has always stressed Jewish “peoplehood” and strong engagement with Israel and Diaspora communities. He and his wife Naomi have led many congregational trips to Israel and Jewish sites throughout Europe and to Cuba. For many years, Rabbis Patz and Kushner collaborated in the planning of their joint Confirmation trip to Amsterdam. 

Rabbi Patz was an early and passionate activist for Soviet Jewry. With his help, Temple Sholom welcomed refusenik families to the congregation, and also helped a Laotian family, refugees from the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, find a secure home in the United States.

Rabbi Patz’s past community involvement includes serving as National Chairman of the UJA Rabbinic Cabinet, Vice-Chair of the NJ State Commission on Holocaust Education, President (now President Emeritus) of the Society for the History of the Jews of Czechoslovakia, chair of the Metropolitan NJ Conference on Soviet Jewry and of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest, Trustee of the Newark Museum, and a member of the board of the Cedar Grove Free Public Library.

Rabbi Patz attended Harvard College where he received a bachelor’s degree. cum laude. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Jewish Education from the Hebrew Teachers College, and a master’s degree in Hebrew Literature and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, which awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1990.

Rabbi Patz and his wife Naomi have been married for 52 years and have two daughters and four granddaughters.

Rabbi Rex Perlmeter

Shabbat Friday, September 8, 2017

Since 2008, Temple Ner Tamid has been fortunate to have Rabbi Rex Perlmeter and his wife Rabbi Rachel Hertzman among its congregants. Rabbis Perlmeter and Hertzman are longtime colleagues and friends of Rabbi Steven Kushner.

Rabbi Perlmeter was ordained at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985. He graduated from Princeton in 1980. His rabbinic career began at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, where from 1985 to 1996 he rose to become Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Perlmeter went on to serve as spiritual leader of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation from 1996 to 2008. This flagship Reform congregation was going through a significant institutional transition, and Rabbi Perlmeter was able to impart a sense of cohesion and new enthusiasm. The vision driving his pulpit rabbinate was to create multiple options for people to effectively connect with their Jewish identity, and to encourage their fulfillment of that identity through conscientiously-chosen acts of mitzvot.

In 2008, upon becoming Rabbi Emeritus at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Rabbi Perlmeter joined the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism, (URJ) where he served in a number of managerial and consulting capacities. Rabbi Perlmeter’s time at the URJ coincided with his work as a Specialist for Worship and Spirituality. In 2012, Rabbi Perlmeter created the Jewish Wellness Center of North Jersey, a holistic program designed to help synagogues and individuals strive for wholeness in body, heart, mind, and soul. He continues to serve as a consultant and scholar-in-residence to congregations throughout North America. In 2016, he received a Masters Degree in Social Work from the NYU Silver School of Social Work. Rabbi Perlmeter is a special advisor for Member Care and Wellness to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the professional association of Reform Rabbis in North America.

Dan Perri, Title Designer

Film Festival Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dan Perri has been a film and television title sequence designer for over 30 years and has created main titles for more than 400 film and television projects, including Star Wars, Taxi Driver, The Warriors, Raging Bull and Airplane!

Where most of today’s title companies offer assembly-line group design solutions, Dan offers his personal attention of conceiving, designing and producing all of his own ideas, providing the very highest quality to his filmmaking clients. Though production methods have changed and Dan has changed with them, his approach to creating the best solutions has not.

Dan is a former member of TNT and a close personal friend of Rabbi Kushner.