We are so proud of the members of our community and are excited to share their achievements on a regular basis.

Share your news here or send it to aschulman@ajrca.edu.

Summer-Fall 2018

On the Tuesday prior to the 2018 Midterm Elections, Tuesday night, Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman ('05) organized an interfaith rally in Phoenix with over 1,300 in attendance including both US Senators from Arizona and over 70 clergy, including rabbis and leaders from the Catholic Diocese, Bosnian Muslim, Muslim, AME and Lutheran communities.

Rabbi Sharfman serves on the Executive Committees of the Board of Rabbis and Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix and on the Board of the Arizona Faith Network. It was these strategic alliances that she was able to call upon to mobilize the community and bring these groups together.

Rabbi Rebeccah Yussman ('17) was honored on November 11th by the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC) for her interfaith work in the South Bay. Rabbi Yussman founded a Women's Interfaith Group, has coordinated and led a Women's Interfaith Freedom Seder for the last two years, and is now working with interfaith partners on a Jewish-Muslim Youth Alliance.
President Rabbi Mel Gottlieb spoke at 3 events in the Greater Phoenix area sponsored by Valley Beit Midrash: "Kabbala and Consciousness", " Making Enemies Into Friends" and "How Mussar Fights Injustice!"
AJRCA's President, Rabbi Mel Gottlieb tackles "Ethical Eating and the Impact on our Environment" in a forthcoming book entitled "Kashrut and Jewish Food Ethics"
Chaplain Muriel Dance, Ph.D. ('11), Executive Director of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din of Southern California led a Lunch & Learn event at AJRCA titled "Differences in Standards for Conversion"
Rabbi Rochelle Robins, AJRCA Vice President and Dean of the Chaplaincy School, led a workshop at "Unveiling: Women, Faith, and Sexual Abuse - bringing healing to women of faith", an interfaith event in Riverside on October 26 & 27.
Rabbi Lisa Bock ('12) was appointed Rabbi at the Jewish Community of Ojai.
Alum, Faculty member and member of the Administration Cantor Jonathan L. Friedmann ('10) had his latest book published over the summer: Musical Aesthetics: An Introduction to Concepts, Theories, and Functions (Cambridge Scholars, 2019).

Musical Aesthetics contains six chapters covering key areas of musical aesthetics, including aesthetics of emotions; aesthetics of listening; aesthetics of performance; aesthetics of composition; aesthetics of nature; and aesthetics of commerce. The explorations draw from the social sciences, hard sciences, philosophy, literature, theology, musicology, humanities, and other fields that directly or indirectly contribute to an understanding of our attraction to music. Presenting user-friendly distillations of numerous theories, concepts, and functions, this book will be of interest to both lay readers and expert practitioners.

Rabbi Elisheva Beyer ('06) had a brief piece entitled, "How to Die" published by the Jewish Journal.
Rabbi Robin Foonberg ('13) now serves as the Vice President for the Jewish Educators Assembly, the national professional organization for educators in the Conservative Movement. Her responsibilities will include chairing the annual conference, January 27-30, in College Park, Maryland.
Chaplain Steven Macht ('13) conducted the Memorial Service for his Jewish Dartmouth College Classmates during our 55th Reunion in June in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Hazzan Sandy Bernstein ('13) was recently appointed Chair of the Cantors Assembly Connecticut Region.

Winter-Spring 2018

In March 2018, Rabbi Diane Elliot ('06) was the invited guest teacher at Temple Beth El of Aptos California's first woman's retreat, organized by the Temple Beth El Sisterhood and led by its clergy, Senior Rabbi Paula Marcus (AJRCA '04) and Associate Rabbi Shifra Weiss-Penzias. The retreat, held at Mt. Madonna Center, was attended by over 70 women, who explored moving prayer, embodied Torah study, and counting the omer through poetry with Rabbi Diane, along with many other beautiful offerings by members of the community.

Rabbi Elliot also recently had a short piece, "Elohai Neshama: Breathing the Soul Alive," published by MyJewishLearning as part of its new "Musings" blog.

Rabbi Mel Gottlieb recently he spoke on a panel at the Jewish Emergent Network's Jewish Revision 2018 entitled "Seminaries and Rabbinic Creativity." For the second consecutive year, he spoke at the IMAN's Annual Interfaith Festival of Unity among other top interfaith community leaders (see him speaking at least year's event). He was interviewed by a New York radio station about interfaith efforts on both coasts to promote peace and justice around the world. And in mid-June, he participated in the World Refugee Day celebration and awareness event at St. Alban's Episcopal Church.
Rabbi Randy Brown ('10) recently became the congregational Rabbi at the Fort Belvoir Military Base and Community Hospital. In addition, he is officiating Jewish funerals/memorials at Arlington National Cemetery.
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb presented a sermon to the congregation of IKAR entitled "The Holiness Code."
Cantorial Student Jacqueline Rafii was named a Wexner Graduate Fellow by The Wexner Foundation.
Cantor Rebecca Mirsky ('10) released an album of original Jewish music, "The In Between." Listen on Spotify or iTunes.
Board and Faculty Member Jacob Zighelboim, M.D. discussed his latest book "Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained" at the prestigious C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.
More than 10 members of the AJRCA community participated in The 2018 Jewish Wisdom & Wellness: A Festival of Learning by leading sessions, speaking on panels and performing in concerts. Congratulations to Rabbi Anne Brener, Chaplain Muriel Dance, Rabbi Avivah Erlick, Rabbi Susan Goldberg, Rabbi Miriam Hamrell, Rabbi Janet Madden, Rabbi/Cantor Eva Robbins, Chaplain Deborah Schmidt, Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Cantor Lizzie Weiss, Judy Weintraub, Josh Goldberg, Rabbi Mordecai Finley and Rabbi Stephen Robbins.
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila (Faculty) published an article entitled "Passover and Zionism: Three Sephardic Views" in the Jewish Journal.
Rabbis Mel Gottlieb and Daniel Bouskila (Faculty) shared their views on Parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei in the Jewish Journal's Table for Five.
An article by Chaplain Deborah Schmidt ('14) on her work in Los Angeles jails was featured in the Neshama Association of Jewish Chaplains' Quarterly Newsletter.
Rabbi/Cantor Eva Robbins ('04/'15) published "Spiritual Surgery: A journey of healing mind, body and spirit".
Rabbi Avi Navah's ('06) work as a chaplain at Providence Tarzana Medical Center was featured in the Jewish Journal.
Rabbi Avivah Erlick ('09) joined cleargy from other faiths as they conducted the annual memorial and burial service for nearly 1,500 'unclaimed dead' in Los Angeles County.
Marvin A. Sweeney, PhD (Faculty) was honored and presented with his Festschrift at the 2017 Claremont Reception, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting

Summer-Fall 2017

Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah ('14), along with her synagogue's Rabbi Emeritus Fred Wenger, were interviewed for the "In Good Faith" show on BYU Radio. During the discussion, Wendy discusses the role of music and the job of the cantor and you can listen to her rehearse with the volunteer choir.
Tamar Frankiel, Ph.D., published a new book entitled Loving Prayer: A Study Guide to Everyday Jewish Prayer. The book embeds the daily prayers in a Jewish mystical foundation and shows how our regular practice can become a spiritual journey. Tamar also blogs at tamartoday.com.
Rabbi Diane Elliot ('06) authored This Is the Day, Poems inspired by the practice of counting the Omer, which was published in August by Hadassa Word Press. Currently available from More Books, it will soon be available on Amazon and select bookstores.
Chaplain Bonnie Leopold ('07), participated in the Musar EU Summer Academy in Amsterdam with Alan Morinis. While there, she was part of a group that met with Mussar students in Europe, toured important historical sites, including the oldest Jewish library in Europe and, viewed important artifacts including the first edition of "The Path of the Just" by Moshe Chayim Luzzatto from 1740.
Rabbi Bruce Skolnick, MD, PhD ('16) recently finished recording a CD of songs for children entitled "Dor l'Dor" (Generation to Generation) for his granddaughter Sarah.  One of the songs, "Eli, Eli," was made into a video and now has over 103,000 views on You Tube.
Earlier this year, Rabbi Diane Elliot (’06) was one of the featured spiritual teachers in the Winter Feast for the Soul, an on-line meditation community that each year supports participants from all over the world to engage in a 40-day daily meditative practice. This year’s Feast was dedicated to the creation of “World Peace through Inner Peace.” This year’s practice period ran from January 15 through February 23 and included guided meditations from teachers representing a variety of traditions, from Tibetan Buddhism to Christian mysticism to non-sectarian spirituality. Rabbi Elliot’s series of ten kabbalistic meditations, entitled “Nurturing the Inner Tree of Life,” are available here for listening.
For the second year in a row during holyday time, Rabbi Miriam Hamrell ('03) the Senior Rabbi at Ahavat Torah Congregation organized her congregation to distribute clothing, shoes, toys, and household goods to over 1,200 struggling and homeless veterans and their families.
Chaplain Martia Anderson ('16) gave a presentation in front of a live audience at the ELI talks in Chicago.  The talk was based on her AJRCA thesis:  "Trauma Recovery: What We Learn from the Prophets About Spiritual Resilience." Separately, she published an article about her memories of Jewish humor in Odessa.
Rabbi Anne Brener (Faculty) spoke on behalf of AJRCA at the 2017 Interreligious Symposium on the Ethics of Death, Dying and Grief, presented by the Claremont School of Theology. Her panel covered the topic of "End-of-Life Options: Reconciling Patient Preferences with Clinicians' Values."

Also, Anne's book, "Mouring and Mitzvah" is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special edition issued by the publisher. The book has many new exercises and about 70 more pages that the previous editions, representing the gleanings of the last 25 years of work with those who grieve, as well as the growth in Anne's own personal understanding of the processes of change.

Rabbi Allison Lawton ('17), was named lead Rabbi at Beth Ami Temple of Paradise Valley.
Cantor Jonathan L. Friedmann, Ph.D. (’10), AJRCA Professor of Jewish Music History, has published a new book: A City Haphazard: Jewish Musicians in Los Angeles, 1887-1927 (Academica Press). The book begins in 1887 with the arrival of Leopold M. Loeb, the city’s first permanent synagogue organist, and ends in 1927 with the untimely death of Walter Henry Rothwell, the first conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Jewish institutions were just finding their footing in the city, and the music scene, both Jewish and non-Jewish, was but a faint glimmer of what its future would hold. Throughout this forty-year period, synagogues struggled to secure capable music leaders, and popular and concert music mostly flew under the national radar. The chapters look at what happened before the birth of the “Hollywood sound” and other twentieth-century developments.
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila (Faculty) published an article in The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideal's journal Conversations (Fall 2017 issue, whose theme is "Sephardic and Pan-Sephardic Perspectives"). The title of the article is Jewish Unity vs. Sephardic Particularism: Rav Uziel's Sephardic Vision for the Jewish People.
Professor Jeremy Kagan (Board of Directors) has a new feature film opening in 10 cities on September 22nd. Kagen directed the film, entitled "Shot."
Dr. Tamar Frankiel's (Faculty, former Provost and President) newest book, Loving Prayer: A Study Guide to Everyday Jewish Prayer, was published in April by Gaon Books. She presents weekday morning services in their mystical and poetic context. Tamar also has been writing a blog, "Inner Dimensions," at tamartoday.com since January, and for the month of Elul is offering a series of podcasts on the prayers for Rosh Hashanah, with a corresponding blog for the written version. The podcasts are on SoundCloud under the name of Tamar Frankiel. The blog for Elul is at roshhashanah5778.wordpress.com.
Cantor Daniel Friedman's ('17) online, lay-lead Torah reading, and scheduling application Torahreaders.net (developed with Gideon Paull) is being recognized by the United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism with the 2017 Schechter Award for outstanding achievement and innovation in the area of Torah and Tefillah. Daniel will be presenting the program at the International Convention in Atlanta this December.

In addition, his Torah trope curriculum incubated at AJRCA will enter into beta testing for portability and scalability with multiple synagogues across denominations throughout the United States in preparation for publishing.

Winter 2016-Spring 2017

The AJRCA Center for Spiritual Resilience hosted its first events, planned by Rabbi Rochelle Robins and Rabbi Joshua Ginsberg-Margo.
The Center for Spiritual Resilience, along with the AJRCA Clergy and Alumni Association, hosted Rabbi Dayle Friedman speaking at the Village Church of Westwood. Rabbi Friedman spoke on "Finding Our Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife: Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older." The video can be found here, on the AJRCA YouTube page.
The Center for Spiritual Resilience also hosted a day-long conference at AJRCA on the topic of "Spiritual Care in Cases of Domestic Abuse and Sex Trafficking." The event was attended by almost 100 spiritual care providers and clinicians from across multiple faiths. Videos of several sessions are available on YouTube (please click here) including a stunning performance by Naomi Ackerman.
Rabbi Randall (Randy) Brown ('10) was accepted into the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly.  The attached picture was taken at Quantico Marine Corps University where he appeared on a panel discussion entitled "From none to done: What every leader needs to know about the spirituality (or lack thereof) of today's workforce."
Congregation Emeth, Morgan Hill-Gilroy, CA surprised Rabbi Debbie Israel ('09) with a 10th anniversary celebration on Friday, October 14, as part of Shabbat services.  To honor Rabbi Israel, the Congregation dedicated its new Tranquility Garden (Gan HaShalva) in her honor.
Cantor Marcus Feldman ('11), Cantor at Temple Sinai, completed a series of professional recordings of Shabbat and High Holy Days repertoire. The songs recorded include L'dor Vador, Shehecheyanu, Sim Shalom, and many more. The videos can be found on his YouTube channel at this link.
Cantor Marsha Attie ('14) wrote a composition "Sha'alu Shalom" - Pray for Peace.  This composition was chosen to be included in the latest Shabbat Anthology produced by the American Conference of Cantors Transcontinental. The anthology can be purchased at this link.
Stephen Macht ('13) published his manuscript just before Yom Kippur on Amazon.com.  His comparison of Aristotle's theory of moral redefinition and Maimonides' theory of repentance shows us that the sources of ethical development are varied and complex.  Whether vicariously through drama and the arts, directly through personal experience, or intellectually through religious and philosophical reflection, people can learn to embody social values in order to better themselves and their community.  Macht shows us that while the paths of moral growth may have different starting points, they converge towards the same goal of self-fulfillment. (Dr. Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, Emory Law School and Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Law and Religion) 
Rabbi Beth Lieberman ('15) accepted a position as Executive Editor of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Press. The CCAR Press is the primary publisher of the Reform Movement, and providesliturgy, sacred texts, educational materials, apps, and other content for Reform rabbis, cantors, and educators.
Rabbi Michael Barclay ('07) was featured in the Jewish Journal for his congregation Ner Simcha's change to a "no dues" model. You can read the article here.
Chaplain Deborah Schmidt ('14) became a Board Certified Chaplain under the Association of Professional Chaplains.
Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah ('14) attended the Governor's yearly Interfaith Luncheon at the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake City in September. She also delivered the benediction that concluded the event.
Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz ('12) was invited to offer a blessing on September 21 as part of the dedication of Carpinteria Bluffs, a property that the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County is seeking to protect. Rabbi Gevirtz quoted Torah, Psalms, and blasted the shofar as part of the interfaith ceremony.
Mel Young, fifth-year rabbinical student, was invited to participate in the 9/11 Memorial Service at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia, California. Mel, representing the Jewish faith, was one of many faith traditions who delivered a prayer for peace. The service also included the planting of a Peace Pole on the church grounds.
Cheri Weiss, third year cantorial student, was featured in an article that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune. The article discussed her recently released album entitled "HINENI: Music for the High Holy Days"  The article can be viewed here.
Tamar Frankiel, PhD, Professor of Comparative Religion, wrote an article which appeared on Huffington Post. To access the article please click here.
Cantor Nathan and Donna Lam were honored by Stephen Wise Temple on November 13 in a spectacular musical celebration at the Orpheum Theatre.  The proceeds from this event will benefit the Donna and Cantor Nathan Lam Music and Media Center: The Lam Music and Media Center will inspire a love of music and the digital arts for generations to come.
Rabbi Rochelle Robins,Vice President and Dean of the Chaplaincy School, attended and presented at the Society for Intercultural Pastoral Care and Counseling Conference in Belgium this past September. The theme of the conference was Interreligious Cooperation in Urban Contexts. Rabbi Robins' workshop was entitled: Migration, Hospitality, and Spiritual Care.

Rabbi Robins piece "Hope: A Talmudic Quandary and Remedy" was published in the Journal of Pastoral Theology (26-2). Her writing is an outgrowth of her panel presentation at the Society for Pastoral Theology conference this past June (2016). The panelists responded to the papers of Professors Loretta L. Marshall and John Caputo. Both Marshall and Caputo explored hope from both theological and philosophical perspectives. Rabbi Robins' response approaches the topic through both talmudic and spiritual care lenses.

Four of AJRCA's faculty members attended the Wabash Colloquium on "Teaching Contemplative Traditions" hosted by University of the West, one of AJRCA's Interreligious Studies partners.  Our attendees were Rabbis Anne Brener, Rochelle Robins, and Ronnie Serr, and Tamar FrankielPhD, who gave the closing address.
Rabbi Anne Brener, Professor of Ritual and Human Development, represented AJRCA and the Jewish Community as part of the Skid Row Clergy Circle and delivered the invocation at the First Annual Clergy Breakfast. Both of these programs are ledby the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health.
Marvin A. Sweeney, PhD, Professor of Tanakh, published Isaiah 40-66 (Forms of the Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016).  The volume complements his earlier Isaiah 1-39, with an Introduction to Prophetic Literature (FOTL 16; Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1996).
Rabbi Mark Diamond, Professor of Practical Rabbinics and Board member, was the first rabbi to deliver the sermon at Carleton College's annual Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Celebration, held during the college's reunion weekend in June 2016.
Cantor Jonathan Friedmann, PhD ('10), Professor of Jewish Music History, published an article, "Alfred Arndt: Jewish Religious Functionary of Early Los Angeles," in Western States Jewish History (vol. 49, no. 1). The article traces the tumultuous career of Alfred Arndt (1856-1920), a self-styled nineteenth-century Jewish clergyman who cobbled together work as a chanter, preacher, teacher, and mohel. 

Dr. Friedmann also wrote the program notes for "Sultana: Music of the Sephardic Diaspora," a concert of East of the River presented by the Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The program, held on October 7 and 8, featured music tracing the Sephardic voyages through North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. More details about the concert can be seen here.