Ralph Mannhimer has been a member of the Board since its founding. In addition to his years of service on the Board, Ralph agreed to serve as our Chief Financial Officer from 2008 until his retirement in 2014, overseeing several improvements to our financial systems as the Academy grew, went through the process of accreditation and was certified to obtain Federal loans for our students. Here is how he describes his first encounter with AJRCA-to-be:
“About thirteen years ago, my friend, Rabbi, and teacher Stan Levy asked me to join him for lunch. Stan asked me to serve on the Board of the Academy and I agreed. Thirteen years later I look back with a great feeling of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. The Academy’s growth has been phenomenal – over 100 graduates from an accredited school! It has been a labor of love to be associated with and to support the Academy financially.”
Batya Malick has been a member of the AJRCA Board of Directors from the outset. While she is a devoted member of other Jewish organizations, she especially found nourishment in spiritual teachings and deeper self-investigation. A member of Sarah’s Tent in Malibu, a center for creative spirituality led by the brilliant feminist biblical scholar Savina Teubal, Batya was attracted to the soulfulness of the Academy.
“My connection with AJRCA began with Ralph receiving a call from our charismatic founder, Stan Levy, inviting us to attend a short meeting to discuss the possibility of a new venture. I invited my friends Shoshi and Izydor Wilchfort to join us. When we arrived I was enchanted by what I was hearing from the Rabbis whom we now know as ‘the founders’ – Rabbis Stan Levy, Steve Robbins and Mordecai Finley. A Torah-based seminary founded on the premise of a focus on the spiritual and mystical side of Judaism! It was to be egalitarian and open to all.
“As a woman, and as a person deeply invested in spiritual exploration, it was an idea to which I could finally commit wholeheartedly! Since then I have been on this Board of Directors continuously and have had the great pleasure of watching and participating in its growth and success.”
Batya was also instrumental in supporting the establishment, by members of Sarah’s Tent, of the Savina Teubal Chair in Women’s Studies at the Academy. The funds support an average of one class per year by a woman scholar, offering a feminine perspective on important issues in Jewish studies.