Board of Advisors
Robert Bank is a lawyer, activist, and Executive Vice PresidentĂ‚Â forĂ‚Â American Jewish World Service.Ă‚Â Prior to joining AJWS, Robert served as Chief Operating Officer at Gay MenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Health Crisis (GMHC), a national AIDS advocacy, service, and education organization.
Gabriel Blau is Director of Development and Communications at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. Ă‚Â Co-owner of VisibleU, an Internet Marketing firm, Gabriel has extensive experience in marketing and communications. A longtime activist and teacher in the LGBT Jewish community, Gabriel has spoken and taught around the country and in Israel, including at Machon Schechter in Jerusalem, Yale University, Columbia Univsersity, the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX, and others. The founder of the God & Sexuality Conference and founding member of JQYouth, Gabriel has served on numerous committees and groups to organize for the needs of LGBTQ Jews.
Gregg Drinkwater is the Deputy Director for Research and Special Projects at Keshet, a national Jewish LGBT organization. Prior to this role, Drinkwater was the founding Executive Director of Jewish Mosaic and also worked in nonprofit communications, as a journalist in Russia, and for the web sitesĂ‚Â Gay.com and PlanetOut.com. He is the co-editor, with Dr. David Shneer and Rabbi Joshua Lesser, of the book Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible (NYU Press, 2009).
Noach Dzmura is the editor of the 2011 Lambda Literary Award winning anthology, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, North Atlantic Books, 2010. He serves as adjunct faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry of the Graduate Theological Union, and as Executive Assistant to the Provost and Director of Educational Technology at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA. He also directs Jewish Transitions, a consultancy that develops inclusive chevra kadisha and conversion practices, and provides guidance to transgender people regarding the conversion process and traditional burial.
Born and bred in the modern Orthodox Jewish community in London, Alex Greenbaum is vice chair of Washington DC JCC’s LGBT program, GLOE. In the last couple of years, he has become increasingly involved in Jewish community organizing. He also volunteers with adults with disabilities and with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. A macroeconomist in his professional life, Alex works with developing-country governments and private sector groups to establish effective economic policy.
Rabbi David Ingber is the founder and rabbi of Romemu, the renewal congregation in New York City. Ă‚Â Recently named to Newsweek’s list of the Top 50 rabbis in America,Ă‚Â David is also a sought after national and international leader and educator. His unique, open-hearted and embodied approach to Jewish teaching has taken him from lecturing all along the East Coast, to communities in London, Jerusalem, Aspen, and Montreal. David has taught at such institutions as the Jewish Theological Seminary, Academy for Jewish Religion, Pardes and The Skirball Center. David also sits on theĂ‚Â Synagogue 3000 Working Group of Sacred Emergent Communities.
Shoshana Jedwab is a prize winning Jewish educator and the Jewish Studies Coordinator at the A.J. Heschel Middle School in NYC. She is the founding facilitator of the Makom Drum Circle at the JCC in Manhattan and is a percussionist and performance artist who has trained in bibliodrama and psychodrama. Shoshana has provided empowering drum circles to singles, student, training, and bereavement groups. Shoshana has performed with: Storahtelling, Chana Rothman, Debbie Friedman, Akiva Wharton, A Song of Solomon, Hebrew Mystical Chant with the Kirtan Rabbi, Andrew Hahn, and Tel Shemesh seasonal events.
Miryam Kabakov, CSW, is Director of the Minneapolis Jewish Film Festival and editor of Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires, an anthology of essays by and about LBTQ women and Orthodoxy. Previously, she was National Program Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and Coordinator of LGBT programming at the Manhattan JCC. She lives in Minnesota with her partner and two daughters.
Idit has served as KeshetĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Executive Director since 2001. In this capacity, she produced the documentary, Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School. While living in Jerusalem, Idit was a GLBT rights activist and worked in early organizing around the creation of the Jerusalem Open House. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale and received a MasterĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s in Education from UMASS Amherst. Idit was among eight recipients of the 2003-2005 Joshua Venture Fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs. She is a past fellow and board member of the Jewish Organizing Initiative and was honored by the Jewish WomenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Archive with a Women Who Dared award.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Rabbi Sharon KleinbaumĂ‚Â is the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and is regarded as one of the most important rabbis in America. The national Jewish weekly,Ă‚Â The ForwardĂ‚Â , named her as one of the countryĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s 50 top Jewish leaders andĂ‚Â The New York Jewish WeekĂ‚Â identified her as one of the 45 leading young American Jewish leaders in New York. Ă‚Â NewsweekĂ‚Â magazine named her #17 on its list of “Top 50 American Rabbis”; she is also the highest ranked woman on the list.Ă‚Â The subject of a profile inĂ‚Â TheĂ‚Â New York Times,Ă‚Â among many other titles, Rabbi Kleinbaum has lectured and published widely. She is a graduate of the Frisch Yeshiva High School and Barnard College and was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Debra Kolodny, Associate Director
Rabbi Debra Kolodny is the Associate Director of Nehirim, and will become its Executive Director in October, 2013. Debra is the rabbi of P’nai Or of Portland, and brings to Nehirim thirty years of local and national leadership in LGBT and Jewish organizations, including serving as National Coordinator for BiNet USA, facilitator of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s National Religious Leadership Roundtable, and nine years as the Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
Rabbi Joshua Lesser
Rabbi Joshua Lesser leads AtlantaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s growing Congregation Bet Haverim as a place dedicated to celebrating all aspects of Jewish life and creating a spiritual home that is accessible to those who have not connected in other settings. At Bet Haverim, he has worked with a wide variety of groups and coalitions to build a better community for Atlanta, including the Jewish Federation of Greater AtlantaĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Task Force on Healing and Spirituality. In partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and Jewish Family & Career Services, he founded The Rainbow Center, a place of support and information for GLBTQ people, as well as their families.
Arthur Slepian is the founder and Executive Director of A Wider Bridge, an organization that seeks to create greater connection between the North American Jewish and Israeli LGBTQ communities, and provide an LGBTQ pathway for greater engagement with Israel. Ă‚Â Arthur serves on the Board of Trustees of the JewishĂ‚Â Community Federation of the SanĂ‚Â FranciscoĂ‚Â Bay Area, and is the Chair of the Ă‚Â LGBT Alliance of the Federation.
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser is assistant professor of Jewish Studies at Missouri State University, where she teaches rabbinic literature, Jewish feminism, and Jewish environmentalĂ‚Â ethics. She’s a bi-queer activist, writer, and ritualist who isĂ‚Â passionate about the intersections between spirit and social justice.