Rabbi Richard Camras is currently in his 13th year as Rabbi of Shomrei Torah Synagogue.  He serves as Executive Vice President of the Pacific  Southwest Regional Rabbinical Assembly and sat on the Executive Council of the National Rabbinical Assembly.  He served for 3 years as the Chair of the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force at the Valley Alliance Federation.  He is founder of the Conejo/West Valley Florence Melton School and is a Lecturer of Practical Rabbinic’s at the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies and oversees the West Valley/Conejo Introduction to Judaism class sponsored by the American Jewish University.   He previously served as Associate Rabbi of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Md. for seven years and was ordained from JTS in 1992.  He and his wife Carolyn have two children, Talya and Noah. 

 

 

 Rabbi Lisa Bock enjoys teaching and learning about Judaism. After 25 years working in business and learning about Judaism, she closed her business and earned her Master’s in Rabbinic Studies and ordination at the Academy of Jewish Religion, California. While a real estate appraiser and business leader, she also volunteered and worked in various capacities in the Jewish community prior to becoming a rabbi, including being a URJ Certified Outreach Schindler Fellow for Conversion Mentoring and Interfaith Mentoring. She taught and mentored those new to Judaism and those returning to Judaism, as well as welcoming and integrating interfaith families into Jewish life, and was a frequently sought after teacher for the Peoplehood session of the URJ Introduction to Judaism program in Southern California. Rabbi Bock is also a Mussar leader and facilitator with the Mussar Institute, leads life cycle ceremonies, and in addition to chaplaincy work, teaches in various settings. Rabbi Lisa loves to walk with husband Ken and their dog Lilly. Rabbi Lisa and Ken have two grown children.    

 

Rabbi John Carrier is the spiritual leader of Burbank Temple Emanu El. Rabbi Carrier founded BJX: The Burbank Jewish Experience, an outreach and education program designed to build community among Jewish families. He teaches students of all ages in multiple settings, including the Miller Introduction to Judaism program and the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism's Sulam program.  Rabbi Carrier is deeply involved in the greater Burbank community, as a member of Rotary and the Burbank Ministerial Association, as a graduate and board member of Leadership Burbank, and as a participant in the Principal Partners program in which he mentors the principal of the local elementary school. Rabbi Carrier is passionate about introducing others to lives of greater meaning through engagement with Jewish wisdom and Jewish community. Rabbi Carrier is a graduate of the Ziegler School of rabbinic Studies and holds a B.S. in Economics from Towson University.

 

Miriyam Glazer, Rabbi, Ph.D. is the author of Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to their Beauty, Power, and Meaning.  She is a Professor of Literature at American Jewish University, has served as an AJWS Global Justice Fellow and a Greenfaith Fellow,  and on the Editorial Board of Conservative Judaism.  Her other books include Dreaming the Actual: Contemporary Fiction and Poetry by Israeli Women Writers and Dancing on the Edge of the World: Jewish Stories of Faith, Inspiration and Love.

 

 

 

  Rabbi Nina Bieber Feinstein was the second woman to be ordained a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.  She received her B.A. with distinction in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and a Masters Degree in Talmud and Rabbinic Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has taught on the faculty of the Miller Introduction to Judaism program at the American Jewish University and has served as Faculty Coordinator at the Hillel Foundation at Cal State Northridge responsible for facilitating programming for Jewish faculty, and as Coordinator of the Rabbinical School Mini-mester program for the Rabbinical School at the American Jewish University. Rabbi Bieber Feinstein is the leader of the Valley Beth Shalom N'shama Minyan which regularly brings together hundreds of women for a uniquely spiritual worship experience.  Concurrently, she is an Instructor in the Rabbinical School at the American Jewish University, training new rabbis in the arts of leading worship and serving communities. Rabbi Bieber Feinstein has been a teacher in the Melton International School for the last three years. She is married to Rabbi Edward Feinstein.  Ed and Nina have three adult children.  Rabbi Bieber Feinstein enjoys singing and is an avid Israeli folk-dancer.  

 

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman is the spiritual leader of The Shul on Duxbury, an independent Orthodox minyan. He is a teacher at the Academy for Jewish Religion and a lecturer at the American Jewish University's Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies. Rabbi Hausman writes about the weekly Torah portion on his blog rabbihausman.com.                                                                                                                                            

 

 

 

 Rabbi Becky Hoffman did her undergraduate work at the University of California at San Diego, majoring in Judaic Studies. She earned a Master’s Degree from the Fingerhut School of Jewish Education at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) and rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College. Becky has worked as a consultant for the Union for Reform Judaism to create informal education programs for synagogues. She taught middle school Judaic Studies at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, composed curriculum for various religious schools and taught in numerous settings, from second grade to high school. This is the third year she will be teaching Ethics in the Melton program. Rabbi Hoffman is married to Rabbi Joshua Hoffman. They have 3 children, Ethan, Arianna, and Elizabeth. 

 

Rabbi Joshua Hoffman joined the Valley Beth Shalom rabbinic staff after being ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2003. He also received his M.A. in Education from the American Jewish University in 1999 and his B.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University in 1996. Joshua teaches in the greater Los Angeles Jewish community, including as a lecturer in courses on Liturgy and Essential Jewish Texts at the American Jewish University, as a teacher in the Florence Melton Graduate Studies Program, and as a guest lecturer at Los Angeles Hebrew High School.  He was instrumental in forming The Brotherhood, a young men’s group attracting men ages 18-50 to actively participate in Jewish life and in creating Our Jewish Home – a membership orientation initiative designed to introduce new families to the joys of Jewish community.  Rabbi Hoffman serves on the Executive Committee for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force, and PEER Alumni Network, a select national program training young rabbis to lead the Jewish community toward a vibrant future. Joshua is married to Rabbi Becky, a Reform rabbi from HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. Together they have three children, Ethan, Arianna, and Elizabeth.  As an amateur yogi, one of his favorite quotes is from David ben Gurion, who often posed on his head, “I stand on my head so I can see the world right side up.”

 

   Ben Zion (Benzy) Kogen is a Consultant for Leadership and Education. He has devoted his career to senior leadership positions within the Jewish community,  in Jewish Education and Nonprofits. He serves as Religious VP of Shomrei Torah Synagogue, on the Executive Committee of the Pacific Southwest Region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and serves as Spiritual Leader of Congregation Bnai Jacob in Bakersfield. Benzy holds undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as well as dual Masters degrees in Educational Administration from Teachers College of Columbia University. A master educator who has devoted himself to the building of communities and the enhancement of Jewish life, Benzy has led seminars for educators and taught in congregations across the U.S. and Canada, bringing the joy of classical Jewish text and tradition to learners of all ages.

 

 Rabbi Shana Chandler Leon was ordained from the trans-denominational Academy for Jewish Religion in 2015. She has served as a cantor and cantorial soloist in Los Angeles since 1995. Shana has her Masters of Education degree from American Jewish University and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English Literature (Summa Cum Laude 1992). She loves her adopted home, but is first and foremost a San Franciscan. Shana enjoys books, music, playing the guitar, chanting Torah, all things Jewish, and her two children Adena and Jared.

 

 

Rabbi Tsafi Lev is the Director of the West Coast Rabbis Without Borders Student Fellowship, the Director of Jewish Studies at New Community Jewish High School, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Bible and Jewish Philosophy at the American Jewish University. He is an accomplished speaker and educator.  Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Tsafi gained over a decade of pulpit experience before moving full-time into the true love of his rabbinate, teaching.  Part of the founding faculty of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, CA, Tsafi has proudly helped shape the Jewish curriculum of this innovative pluralistic school.  He brings his passion for Judaism and teaching to the upcoming generation of Jewish educators as a long time Adjunct Lecturer in Bible and Jewish Philosophy for the Fingerhut School of Education Master of Arts in Education program at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Lev is also a writer and open-water swimmer.  In 2011 he completed the Write a Novel in a Month Challenge.  That summer he also swam the San Francisco Bay, from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf, earning 14th place in a competition of "the world's fastest open water swimmers".  To commemorate that experience he now gets automatic monthly pulls of Aquaman at his local comic book store.

 

Lana Kideckel Marcus, a native of Toronto, Canada, has been a leader in the Los Angeles education community for the last four decades. Winner of the prestigious Milken Family Distinguished Jewish Educator Award for her work as Head of School at Adat Ari El Day School for 29 years, Lana has also served as Educational Director of Temple Etz Chaim Torah School, taught at LA Hebrew High and at Emanuel Community Day School. Lana has her Masters Degree in Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary and is an alumna of University of Toronto. She is married to David and together they have twin daughters, Jodi and Rachel. 

 

 

Rabbi Sabine Meyer, Ph.D. is a dedicated teacher with over 20 years of experience in academic and congregational settings. She has taught in the German Studies and Judaic Studies departments at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation at USC, "Lives Remembered:Memoirs of German-Jewish Women Who Left Germany in the 1930s" examines issues relating to history, memory, gender and identity. As director of the URJ Introduction to Judaism program in Southern California and Arizona, Rabbi Meyer enjoys working with adult learners and guiding them on their Jewish journeys. She frequently officiates at life-cycle events and participates in interfaith events. When not teaching, Rabbi Meyer can be found hiking with her mixed-breed rescue dogs, Pepper and Finn.

 

Rabbi Belle Michael is the Campus Rabbi at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. She is involved in strengthening interfaith relations, leading service projects, Hillel Leadership Training, and teaching on Judaism and establishing a vibrant Jewish Community on campus. She has taught in the American Jewish University's Adult Continuing Education program as well as in several of our consortuim synagogues adult ed programs. Rabbi Michael holds a Masters Degree in Jewish Thought from Haifa University, Israel and a Masters in Rabbinic Studies from the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. She lives in Oak Park with her husband, three boys and their family dog. 

 

Since 2001, Rabbi Cheryl Peretz has served as one of the deans of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, teaching, counseling, advising and programming.  She is also a regular contributor to Today’s Torah, the School’s virtual Torah learning program.  In addition to her work at AJU, Rabbi Peretz has served as a pulpit rabbi in Los Angeles area synagogues such as Sinai Temple, and most recently as interim rabbi at Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles. Rabbi Peretz teaches classes in practical rabbinics, creating meaningful and individually expressive lifecycle rituals, and personal and professional development, integrating corporate principles with spiritual dialogue. Since moving to Los Angeles to attend the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Peretz has been an integral part of the Los Angeles Jewish community.  She has taught in a variety of synagogues, Havurah groups, schools and other frameworks. She also served as scholar-in-residence for synagogues and organizations throughout North America.

 

Michael Raileanu was born and raised in El Paso, TX and grew up in a family of teachers and dedicated Zionists. Michael got his first classroom assignment at the age of 15 and has been teaching non-stop ever since. He has held leadership positions in many Jewish educational settings, both formal and informal. He has spoken before groups ranging from preschoolers and their parents to governmental symposia. Michael has taught all four of the basic Melton courses and directed the Melton program in Ft. Worth, TX. Michael got his B.A. in English from the University of Texas, Austin and his M.A.Ed. from the University of Judaism. Michael was the 2007 winner of the JProStl Peer Excellence Award for adult education. Additionally, he received both 2010 Stuart I. Raskas Outstanding Day School Teacher Award & Grinspoon/Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Michael is a third year rabbinical student at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Michael is married to Lorie (Beaudry) and together they have four children. They have known each other since the age of 15 and have shared their odyssey of two countries, four states, 17 houses and myriad friends and acquaintances.

 

Dr. J.B. Sacks serves on the Faculty of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA) and teaches in the Department of Jewish Thought. He was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Rabbi Sacks has advocated for greater inclusion and diversity in Jewish life and for greater liturgical creativity within the Conservative Movement. He has served as full-time Spiritual Leader of congregations in Jersey City, New Jersey, and in Arcadia, California. Rabbi J.B. Sacks recently received his Doctor of Ministry from the Claremont School of Theology. Rabbi Sacks descends from 17 generations of Rabbis. He currently lives in Woodland Hills with his partner, Steven Karash, and their son Evan.

 

Rabbi Dalia Samansky has been teaching with Melton for four years. In that time she has taught Purposes, Dramas, and multiple graduate courses.  In addition to her work with Melton, Rabbi Samansky focuses on pastoral work, working both with hospice patients and recovering addicts at Beit T’Shuvah.  She also welcomes many new babies into the Jewish community with personalized baby naming ceremonies.  Prior to her pastoral work, Rabbi Samansky was an Assistant Rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, CA for three years.  Before entering rabbinic school Rabbi Samansky spent several years working in the Boston Jewish community, including serving as Director of Education and Family Educator.  In 2003, she served on the Mazkirut board for the Conference for Alternatives in Jewish Education. Rabbi Samansky’s life is enriched by her wonderful husband Jason and their beautiful daughters Naomi and Tova

 

Rabbi Adam Schaffer is the Religious School Director at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California, a school of 350+ students.  Prior to that he served as the School Rabbi at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge for seven years where he taught Judaic Studies, Cantillation, Tefillah, and Jewish Ethics.  He prides himself on being an eclectic rabbi who defies denominational labels and serves in a variety of capacities including as a congregational rabbi in Bremerton, Washington, an assistant education director in Santa Ana, and a chaplain at UCLA Hospital.  He holds rabbinic ordination and a Master's degree in Jewish Education from the Hebrew Union College here in Los Angeles, and a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.  His proudest role, however is being the abba to his two children, Ezra and Eliana, and his greatest honor is to be married to the wonderful Melissa Sandler. 

 

Gary Shapiro received a BA degree in Hebrew Literature and Jewish Studies from the University of Minnesota/Minneapolis. At the University of Chicago's Divinity School he received an MA in Religious Studies, and completed his course work there toward a Ph.D. in History of Judaism. Gary also spent four years studying biblical and rabbinic texts in Israeli yeshivot.  He currently teaches Jewish Studies full-time at Milken Community High School. Before coming to Los Angeles in 2011, Gary taught at a variety of Jewish schools, including 11 years at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Akiva High School in Minneapolis, and several of the Florence Melton Adult Schools. He has designed and written curriculum for both the Melton adult and teen programs. Gary was also the chief contributing editor of "Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel," winner of the National Jewish Book Award (2007) in the category of Young Adult and Children's Literature. 

 

Lior Sibony is currently serving as Director of Curriculum and Teacher Training at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, consulting for 41 Jewish schools that participate in the School Twinning Program. Lior has recently served as Director of Jewish Life at the Adelson educational Campus in Las Vegas, where he also taught at the Melton School. Lior taught and coordinated the Jewish Philosophy Department at the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv from 2008-2013. Lior is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and the prestigious Ofakim Program, where he specialized in Jewish History and Philosophy, and received his Teaching Certificate in Jewish studies. Lior has a tremendous passion for Jewish Education and finds great satisfaction in teaching Melton.

 

Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman, M.Ed. is the founder of the Jewish Mindfulness Network and has been teaching for over 35 years.  Most recently, she has focused her teaching on Judaism through the lens of mindfulness practice. Rabbi Zimmerman was ordained in 2009 from Hebrew Union College and selected by the faculty as the recipient of The Myrtle Lorch Pfaelzer-Monroe Award given to an outstanding female student in the School of Rabbinic Studies.  She served as Assistant Rabbi/Director of Building Community at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and has worked at congregations in the greater Los Angeles area, Carlsbad, Riverside, Mammoth Lakes and Seattle WA.  Jill is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality's Mindfulness rabbinic program and is certified as a Jewish Mindfulness Teacher. Her masters degree in education is from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Rabbi Jill is known for her warm and accessible teaching style, and for making Jewish teachings relevant and meaningful for people in their everyday lives.  Jill has been married to Ely for 34 years and they have two grown sons.