Dr. Isa Aron is Professor of Jewish Education, HUC/JIR, Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from Swarthmore College, a Ph.D. in philosophy of education from the University of Chicago, and did post-doctoral work at the Center for the Study of Social Intervention at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She teaches courses in teaching, philosophy of education and organizational change, and is the founding director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education’s Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE). Dr. Aron’s publications include Becoming a Congregation of Learners (Jewish Lights),The Self-Renewing Congregation (Jewish Lights), and Sacred Strategies: Transforming Congregations from Functional to Visionary, with Steven M. Cohen, Larry Hoffman and Ari Y. Kelman (Alban Press), winner of the 2010 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Jewish Identity and Jewish Education.
Tobin Belzer, Ph.D., is an applied sociologist whose research and program evaluations have focused on young adults and teens, experiential education, leadership training, organizational culture, congregational studies, Jewish identity, character development, gender, inclusion, media and technology, arts and culture, and education.
She has worked with and for numerous organizations and foundations including: Jim Joseph Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, California Community Foundation, Koret Foundation, the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, the Lily Endowment, and the Covenant Foundation. Belzer served as the Senior Project Director at Rosov Consulting, LLC, a strategic consultancy that helps foundations, philanthropists and non-profit organizations meet their goals, assess progress, and enhance impact.
Rabbi Peter Berg is the senior rabbi of Atlanta’s oldest and largest synagogue. He started the Open Jewish Project, focused on connecting unaffiliated young adult Jews in Atlanta. Berg was the youngest original member of the Rabbinic Vision Initiative, a group dedicated to holding Reform organizations accountable to synagogues and their members, and the only pulpit rabbi in the country to serve on the search committee for the new URJ president. In the past year Berg organized city, state, and Jewish leadership to join forces in combating the trafficking of minors.
Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of Ikar. She was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001 and received a Master’s Degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree. After ordination, she served as a Rabbinic Fellow at Congregatiion B’nai Jeshurun in New York City.
In 2013, Brous was recognized as the most influential Rabbi in the United States by Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and as one of the Forward’s 50 most influential American Jews. In 2013 Brous blessed the President and Vice President at the Inaugural National Prayer Service. She sits on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, Wexner Heritage and REBOOT. She serves on the board of Teruah-The Rabbinic Call to Human Rights, is a rabbinic advisor to American Jewish World Service and Bend the Arc. She received the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary, was a JWI Woman to Watch and was the inaugural recipient of the Inspired Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
Rabbi Ken Chasen has been the Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple since 2003. Upon commencing rabbinical school in 1993, Rabbi Chasen was awarded the highly selective Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Rabbi Chasen holds a master’s degree in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), where he received rabbinic ordination in 1998. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards throughout his rabbinical studies, culminating with the Simon Lazarus Memorial Prize for attaining the highest overall academic standing in his ordination class.
Rabbi Chasen serves on numerous boards, including the Board of Trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the President’s Council of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and the National Board of Directors of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA)
Rabbi William Cutter, PhD is Steinberg Emeritus Professor of Human Relations at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he held the Paul and Trudy Steinberg Chair in Human Relations, and was Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature and Education. He has taught at HUC-JIR since 1965, and has served in several administrative capacities throughout his academic career. In earlier stages of his career he founded three of the ongoing programs of the College-Institute, the training center for Reform Jewish leaders and nonprofit managers. These programs are the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, the MUSE program of the Skirball Museum, and the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health. He also was the founding director of the Louchheim School of Jewish Studies.
Dr. Cutter has written nearly 200 articles on literary theory, Modern Hebrew Literature, Educational Theory, and health and healing as part of Jewish experience. He has published over 50 scholarly articles and essays, and over 200 popular articles on literature, health and healing, and Jewish education. He has edited or served on the editorial committee for more than 40 books for the prominent publisher Berhman House Books. His most recent publication is Midrash and Medicine, published by Jewish Lights (2010). He is also the editor of Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health (2/07, Jewish Lights Publishing); the Festschrift: History and Literature, essays in honor of Arnold Band (Scholars Press); and The Mourner’s Handbook (Behrman House Books). He is academic chairman for the Association of Reform Zionists (ARZA).
He has served on numerous community advisory boards and committees, and has been on the Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Dr. Cutter is one of the founders of the Academic Coalition for Jewish Bioethics, where he recently served as president. Bill Cutter remains active in several projects in Israel, where he assists in the development of chaplaincy programs, and works on his Hebrew literary publishing projects. He also continues to teach at the College-Institute.
Peter Geffen is the founder and Executive Director of KIVUNIM, an Israel based Gap Year program and is also the founder of The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in NYC. He is the former Director of the Israel Experience Program, N.A. for the CRB (Charles Bronfman) Foundation, and one of the most respected Israel education specialists in the world. Peter also served as the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish History from 2003-05. He has designed and conducted international travel programs for teenagers and adults since 1969, including the KIVUNIM summer teachers’ programs which have served over 1500 participants since 1999.
Rabbi James Ponet , as of July 1, 2015, becomes the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain Emeritus at Yale, a position he has filled since 1981, the first Yale alumnus to serve his alma mater in this way. Currently he teaches occasional courses in Yale College and is a Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School. He also teaches in the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics, a program that brings seminary students and medical school students to Berlin, Krakow and Auschwitz.
After receiving his BA from Yale in Religious studies, Ponet studied at Hebrew Union College where he was ordained and earned a Masters in Hebrew Literature in 1973. From 1973-1981 he and his wife Elana lived in Israel where three of their children were born. There he studied Medieval Jewish Philosophy at Hebrew University with the late Rabbi (Professor) David Hartman, and went on to work with him on founding the Shalom Hartman Institute.
During his years in Jerusalem Ponet taught in educational programs run by the Reform and Conservative movements, Young Judaea, and the Israel Ministry of Education. He also served in the IDF as a private in the artillery.
Dr. Bruce Powell is founder and current Head of School of the New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) in West Hills, California. In addition to NCJSH, he has helped to found, develop, and lead two other Jewish high schools in the Los Angeles area over the past 30 years including the Milken Community High School, and Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School. He has also consulted on the development of 23 Jewish high schools in cities throughout the United States. Dr. Powell holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California, and has won both the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award (2005) and the Covenant Award (2008) for his contributions to Jewish education. Most importantly, Dr. Powell has four adult children with his wife, Deborah, and they have personally invested 52 “child” years in Jewish day school education!
Ron Wolfson is a Fingerhut Professor of Education for the Graduate Center for Education. He joined the AJU faculty in 1975 as an Acting Professor. During his 35-plus year career at AJU, he has served as Director of the Education Department, founding Director of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future, Director of the Ramah Academy, Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education, Special Assistant to the President, and Vice President of the University.