Rabbi Rank, an award-winning Jewish songwriter, earned an MA in Jewish Thought and was ordained in 2015 at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi Rank has been involved in Jewish education for many years and served as the Maskil (“Teacher-of-Tradition”) at the Shaar Shalom Synagogue in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where his spouse, Rabbi Dr. Raysh Weiss, served as Senior Rabbi. While living in Canada, Rabbi Rank initiated the annual Halifax Communal Beit Midrash, and collaborated with the community’s Education Committee in rebooting the Halifax Joint Hebrew School. Following his family’s return to the U.S, he became the Director of the Shul School at Kehilat HaNahar in New Hope, Pennsylvania. While managing the supplementary school, Rabbi Rank co-led a Virtual Youth Arts Beit Midrash serving youth across five states, designed a virtual reality Purim carnival, and created curricular materials for young Jews to engage with Jewish notions of responsibility towards marginalized communities and to the planet. Rabbi Rank has authored several academic articles, served as the Managing Editor of Zeramim: An Online Journal of Applied Jewish Studies, and is currently editing Siddur Kanfey HaShekhinah, a forthcoming traditional Ashkenazi Hebrew prayer book, where the language referring to God is with feminine grammar. An advocate for civic causes, Rabbi Rank was appointed in 2021 to the Environmental Advisory Council in the Township of Lower Makefield, Pennsylvania. Rabbi Rank’s family recently moved to Natick, MA.
Rabbi Shari ChenDean of Students and Professor of Hebrew Language
Rabbi Chen has served as Executive Director of Hebrew Seminary since 2020. Prior to that, she served as the Director of the Congregation Bene Shalom Religious School for over 15 years. She was ordained at the Hebrew Seminary in 2005 and since then until his passing worked closely with Rabbi Goldhamer as Associate Rabbi of Congregation Bene Shalom. She continues to perform life cycle events, participate in healing prayer and serve as a Hebrew Seminary Faculty member. She served as a hospice chaplain and participated in interfaith worship services at Sedgebrook Communities. Rabbi Chen has lectured at the Bernard Horwich JCC and led workshops at the Chicago Association for Young Children’s Education. Rabbi Chen taught B’nai Mitzvah students and adult Hebrew classes at Bene Shalom, alongside a variety of other classes and webinars. She has been on the faculty at Hebrew Seminary since 2013. In 2023, Rabbi Chen will become Dean of Students at Hebrew Seminary, where she will continue teaching and working closely with students, alumni, and faculty.
Rabbi Dr. Laurence EdwardsProfessor Emeritus of Bible, Jewish Thought, Jewish History
Rabbi Edwards received his A.B. degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago in 1970, and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1975. He received a Ph.D. in Bible, Culture and Hermeneutics from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2005, with his dissertation entitled “Resurrecting the Pharisees: Ideology and Identity between Christians and Jews,” on constructions of the Pharisees in New Testament, rabbinic literature, and modern scholarship. Rabbi Edwards has served as a campus and congregational rabbi for 45 years. He teaches at DePaul University, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago Theological Seminary, as well as Hebrew Seminary. He has served as Book Review Editor of the CCAR Journal / Journal of Reform Judaism, and has published articles and reviews in various collections and journals. Rabbi Edwards’ recent publications include a translation of Nobel Prize Laureate Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s story, “The Great Synagogue”, in the collection ‘Forevermore & Other Stories’ (Toby Press), and “Matthew’s Pharisees: Seven Woes and Seven Warnings”, presented at the 2015 Lutheran World Conference (https://www.lutheranworld.org/sites/default/files/dtpw-studies-201502-to_all_nations-full.pdf).
Rabbi Dr. Michael GoldProfessor of Jewish Thought
Rabbi Dr. Michael Gold is a native of Los Angeles, CA. He assumed the pulpit of Temple Beth Shalom in Boca Raton, FL in July, 2022. He is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah Sha’aray Tzedek in Tamarac, FL, having served the congregation 32 years. Previously he served congregations in Nyack, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.
Rabbi Gold received his PhD from Florida Atlantic University with a dissertation on process philosophy and Jewish mysticism. He is an adjunct professor of philosophy, religion, and Jewish studies at three colleges, teaching at Broward College, Miami-Dade College, and Charter Oak State College. He is also the author of seven books, most recently a novel The Rabbi’s Sex Class published by ShelteringTree.Earth LLC. Rabbi Michael and Evelyn Gold are the parents of three children and grandparents of one grandson.
Rabbi Tirtzah IsraelAssistant Professor of Spirituality
After retiring from her professional life as a non-profit executive and educator, Rabbi Tirtzah Israel decided to pursue her dream of becoming a rabbi. One of her biggest concerns was the need for accommodation for her hearing loss in the classroom. However, Rabbi Carla Cenker, a dear friend who was studying at Hebrew Seminary at the time, encouraged Rabbi Israel to apply. Rabbi Cenker shared with Rabbi Israel her training in Tanach, Talmud and Hebrew but it was that Hebrew Seminary also taught American Sign Language (ASL) as a mandatory course that convinced Rabbi Israel to submit her application. Rabbi Israel was granted entry into the Seminary to begin her work as a rabbinic student which led to earning her Smicha in 2017. Currently, Rabbi Israel is working to expand the Kindness Project, teaches Meditation (online in the U.S. and Canada), and studies the Zohar and the Kabbalah.
Rabbi Dr. Allan KenskyProfessor of Rabbinic Literature
Born and raised in New York City, Rabbi Dr. Kensky is a graduate of Queens College and received an MA in Politics from New York University. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he specialized in the study of rabbinic texts at JTS’ Herbert Lehman Institute of Talmudic Ethics. He received a Ph.D. from JTS in Aggadic Literature in 1990.
Rabbi Kensky was rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan for seventeen years, prior to his joining the faculty of JTS, where he served as faculty member and Associate Dean and Dean of the Rabbinical School for 13 years. He then moved to Chicago, where he was rabbi of Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah in Wilmette for 11 years. He is now Rabbi Emeritus of the congregation. Since his retirement from the pulpit, he has taught Jewish Studies at the Rochelle Zell Jewish High School and in other settings in the Chicago area.
Dr. Stephanie L. Kutzen Professor of Psychology
Dr. Kutzen is a cum laude graduate of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration with a concentration in Human Service Management. She received her Ph.D. in Social Work at the Jane Addams School, University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dissertation focused explicitly on establishing models for evaluation of corporate responsilibity.
Dr. Kutzen is a licensed, certified social worker in Illinois, a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the Employee Assistance Professional Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, where she serves on the Occupational Social Work Committee. During her over 40 years of professional experience as a counselor, trainer and consultant, Dr. Kutzen has been on the faculty at Loyola University-Chicago, and is currently on the faculty of the Jane Addams College of Social Work, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Rabbah Dr. Rona MatlowProfessor of Jewish Diversity Studies
Rabbah Rona Matlow is an elder, disabled, non-binary transgender woman Rabbi. Ze was ordained at the Academy of Jewish Religion. Ze holds Doctor of Ministry, Master of Engineering Management, and MA Jewish Studies and MA Jewish Education degrees. Ze recently completed her Doctor of Ministry degree at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Ca. Hir dissertation was titled “Saving Trans Lives, a Holy Obligation.” Ze served for 22 years in the US Navy as a nuclear engineering officer, and, due to hir service, is disabled and suffered hearing loss. Ze considers hirself an “Activist Scholar,” rather than an academic, although hir curriculum vitae is extensive. Ze is an advocate and activist for the LGBTQ, Jewish, veteran, disabled and BIPOC communities.
Ze and hir wife Susan have been together for 40 years, and they have three fur babies.
Father Joe MulcroneProfessor Emeritus of Christian Scriptures
Reverend Father Joseph A. Mulcrone was born November 24, 1945. He grew up on the west side of Chicago, the oldest of eight children. His father and paternal grandfather were Chicago police officers. His maternal grandparents, Laurence and Josephine Fay, were Deaf. Mary Mulcrone, their daughter, became a professional sign-language interpreter and teacher of ASL (American Sign-Language). Reverend Father Joe attended the seminaries of the Archdiocese of Chicago and was ordained a Catholic priest on May 12, 1971. His first assignment was to St. Nicholas parish in Evanston, 1971-1976. He then taught at the high-school seminary for one year. In 1977, Reverend Father Joe was appointed the Director of the Catholic Office of the Deaf for the Archdiocese. He held this position for forty years. During that time, he held many organizational positions in the Catholic Deaf Community in the United States. He has served on numerous boards of directors for not-for-profit agencies. He has also served on many commissions for government agencies, including the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago. He retired from directing the Catholic Office of the Deaf June 30, 2017. He continues to remain active in several organizations serving deaf people and their families both in the United States and in Mexico and Central America.
Rabbi Robin PodolskyProfessor of Jewish Thought
Rabbi Robin Podolsky serves on the faculty of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California and Hebrew Seminary and on the Board of Governors for the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din. Some of her writing can be found at Shondaland.com, TribeHerald.com and JewishJournal.com. She is a writing facilitator and script editor for Queerwise, a spoken word and writing group. Rabbi Podolsky conducts workshops, rituals, and study sessions for Jewish holidays and other occasions, of combined modalities: text study, personal work and small group sharing, writing (except on Shabbat and Yom Tov), prayer and meditation.
Dr. Hannah RousselProfessor of Ancient Jewish History
Dr. Hannah Roussel recently graduated (2023) from the University of Michigan’s History Department, where she studied cultural constructions of disability and madness in the Babylonian Talmud. She has a certificate of Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies (2022), a MA in Talmud and Rabbinic Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary (2015), and a BA in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan (2012). In her free time, Hannah enjoys reading or watching fantasy and sci-fi stories while curled up on the couch with her two cats.
Rabbi Lauren TuchmanProfessor of Rabbinic Literature
Rabbi Lauren Tuchman is a sought after speaker, spiritual leader and educator. Ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018, she is the first blind woman in the world to enter the rabbinate. She provides consulting to individuals and organizations across the Jewish community on a variety of matters pertinent to disability access and inclusion. She has taught in numerous synagogues and other organizations across North America. She was named to the New York Jewish Week’s 36 To Watch for her innovative leadership concerning inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life. In 2017, she delivered an ELI Talk entitled, entitled “We All Were at Sinai: The Transformative Power of Inclusive Torah.” In addition to her work in the disability inclusion space, Rabbi Tuchman passionately believes in the power of spiritual and contemplative practice as a path of transformational personal and collective change for the Jewish world and beyond. She has trained and continues to teach Mussar with Rabbi David Jaffe and the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project. She has contributed to the Mussar Institute’s weekly Torah commentary and Elul programming. She is an alum of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program. In 2022, she completed Flourish: an immersive in mindfulness practices under the direction of expert mindfulness teacher, Yael Shy. She is a SVARA fellow, completing the SVARA Kolel in 2019. She continues to be a regular teacher with SVARA.
Rabbi Daniel VaisrubProfessor of Talmud
Rabbi Vaisrub holds a BA from the University of Michigan, MA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and MBA from McGill University. He was ordained by Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau in 2012. Daniel helps run a technology strategy consultancy.
Becky Adelberg (she/her)Director of Marketing and Development
Becky is responsible for programming, partnerships, marketing, fundraising and alumni relations. Her experience involves conceptualizing and executing large community events, overseeing educational and social programming, leadership development, travel abroad and entrepreneurship programs. She is also the Founder of Community Connect Consulting, the Associate Director of Engagement for Reboot, and a voice-over artist.
Greyson “Grey” Von is a new Chicago transplant from Texas, where he recently completed his Master of Arts in Dance with a Post-Master’s Certificate in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies. He brings several years of administrative experience from his time as a supervisor and graduate assistant at his alma mater, Texas Woman’s University. At the seminary, Grey designs systems for organizing and optimizing workplace operations in a way that is practicable, accessible, and easily maintainable; as well as attending to various clerical, secretarial, and general administrative needs.