Meet the Mahloket Matters Fellows

Judaism teaches that constructive disagreement for the sake of heaven (Mahloket L’shem Shamayim) is the holy work needed to repair seemingly irreconcilable differences. But it doesn’t happen on its own. 

Together, the Mahloket Matters fellows explore a methodology of text study that delves into complex and contradictory narratives. Then they apply this methodology in their own work by creating programs that increase the desire and ability to understand and engage more constructively with conflicting political opinions, thereby improving civil discourse. For more information, visit the MM Fellowship home page, which contains further details about the program.

Meet Our Summer Fellows!

Rabbinical Assembly Mahloket Matters Cohort

Pardes North America, in partnership with the Rabbinical Assembly, is honored to present its second RA Mahloket Matters Fellowship cohort, consisting of outstanding rabbinical educators.

Penina Alexander

Penina is a rabbi and educator and has been part of the leadership team in the education department at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, MD for the last 5 years. She will assume the role of Talmud Torah Director this summer. A recent graduate of the MTEI fellowship for educational leaders, Penina enjoys creating meaningful Jewish experiences for learners of all ages. She started a newsletter about life and Jewish teachings at

Charles Arian

Rabbi Charles L. Arian is the rabbi of Kehilat Shalom synagogue in Montgomery Village, Maryland. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and his Master’s degree and Rabbinic Ordination at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati , OH. He earned a Certificate in Jewish Educational Technology from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2017. Rabbi Arian was a Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow at CLAL. Previously, Rabbi Arian was the Jewish Staff Scholar at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore, MD. He has also served as rabbi of Ohev Sholom Synagogue in York, PA, and as a Hillel Rabbi at American University and at the University of Virginia. During the 1996-97 academic year, he was the Scholar-in-Residence at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, a Trappist monastery in northern California

Josh Cahan

Rabbi Joshua Cahan works with schools to strengthen their Tefilah culture and leadership. He served for 11 years as Tefilah Chair and Rabbinics Faculty at the Leffell School in Westchester, NY, and 8 summers as the Director of the Northwoods Kollel at Ramah Wisconsin. He holds Rabbinic Ordination and a Ph.D. in Talmud from JTS, and is the author of the Yedid Nefesh bencher and a forthcoming Haggadah.

Ben Herman

Rabbi Ben Herman grew up in a traditional Jewish family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated with a BA and Comprehensive Honors in History, Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is married to Karina and they have 2 children: Ariela (6) and Leora (3).
Rabbi Herman has an enthusiasm which is contagious, a passion for Jewish living and a joy of meeting new people. His personal mission statement is Every Person Counts.
In his spare time Rabbi Herman enjoys running, biking and hiking; reading (especially historical fiction and the latest John Grisham novel) and going to farmers markets, performances and sporting events.

Abby Jacobson

Abby Jacobson was born on a cattle ranch in central Florida, outside the small town of Davenport – at the last census, there were 1,200 people and 8,000 head of cattle in Davenport. She received a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the George Washington University in 2002.
Then, never having left the East Coast of the United States, she got a passport and moved to Jerusalem, Israel, to attend the Conservative Yeshiva for two years, where she also happend to meet and marry her husband.
She received her rabbinic ordaination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2009, and has been the Rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City, OK, ever since.
She is also a former president and long-time board member of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma.

Mordecai Miller

Mordecai Miller was born to Rabbi Meyer and Shulamith Miller in Greenwich, Connecticut. He grew up in Durban, South Africa and received his BA from the University of Natal, majoring in Philosophy and Hebrew. He attended HUC-JIR Cincinnati, Ohio and received ordination (MAHL) in 1974. He has served conservative pulpits since ordination (Temple of Aaron, St. Paul, MN; Shaaray Torah, Canton OH; Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel, St. Louis, MO and Beth Ami, Santa Rosa, CA). He is married to Susan (née Bayliss); daughter Sarah Miller, (Kol Emeth, Palo Alto CA) and (Rabbi) Micah Miller (April ée Honig), Etz Chayim, (Marietta GA).

Louis Polisson

Louis Polisson was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2018, where he also earned an MA in Jewish Thought focusing on Kabbalah and Hasidut. He currently serves as the rabbi of Congregation Or Atid of Wayland, Massachusetts. He is also a student and teacher of Jewish contemplative spirituality and meditation, as well as a musician and composer. Supported by a Hadar Alumni Micro-Grant, he and his wife Gabriella Feingold released an album of original Jewish and nature-based folk music in November 2018 – listen here.

Miriam Green Potok

Rabbi Miriam Green Potok will be beginning her first year teaching Jewish Studies at de Toledo High School in Los Angeles this fall. She is entering the world of day school education after serving as Spiritual Counselor and Spiritual Program Manager at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish addiction rehab in Los Angeles. Miriam is excited to merge her passions for rabbinics, mentoring, and teaching in her new role as a Jewish educator. Her hobbies include learning Daf Yomi and propagating houseplants.

Marcia Tilchin

Rabbi Hazzan Marcia Tilchin is the founder and spiritual leader of the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (, an organization that builds and strengthens community through innovative program collaboration with local and national non-profits, community leaders, houses of faith, artists, schools and outreach programs. A graduate of both the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Marcia has served congregations in Upper Nyack, NY and Tustin, CA. Deeply committed to interfaith collaboration and dialogue, Rabbi Tilchin is the current president of the Orange County Interfaith Network and a rabbinic presence championing local actions on environmental justice, permanent supportive housing, worker justice and refugee relief. Her husband, Scott Spitzer, is a professor of Political Science at California State University Fullerton and they have three young-adult children.

Cara Weinstein Rosenthal

Rabbi Cara Weinstein Rosenthal currently serves as the Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights. At TBS, Rabbi Rosenthal is deeply engaged in social action and social justice education as well as family education and community-building. Previously, Rabbi Rosenthal served as the Family Engagement Specialist at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, where she guided congregations across North America in creating inclusive, relationship-focused synagogue communities. Before moving to Roslyn, Rabbi Rosenthal served as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Freeport, NY.
Rabbi Rosenthal was ordained by the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She resides in Roslyn Heights with her husband, David, and their children, Sara and Eli.

Neil Zuckerman

Rabbi Neil Zuckerman came to Park Avenue Synagogue in 2010 as Director of Congregational Education and joined the clergy team as Rabbi in 2014. He previously served as Rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains from 1999-2009 and as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Maryland, in 2010. In addition, Rabbi Zuckerman has served as president of the Westchester County Board of Rabbis and has chaired the Israel Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly. A lifelong learner himself, Rabbi Zuckerman has been a rabbinic fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem in the Center for Rabbinic Enrichment (CRE), and looks forward to this opportunity to learn with rabbinic colleagues and the faculty at Pardes.

Immersive Summer Fellowship for Hillel Professionals

In partnership with Hillel International, Pardes North America is combining a Mahloket Matters Fellowship for Hillel professionals with the Pardes Summer Program.

Joey Abeles

Joey Abeles is the solo-pro director of Maryville University Hillel in St. Louis, Missouri. Joey was born and raised in Los Angeles, and attended UCLA, where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in Study of Religion and Psychology. Since moving to St. Louis, Joey has jumpstarted the Jewish community on campus at Maryville Hillel. New programs introduced under his tenure include a weekly Jewish Learning Fellowship and creative holiday programming, including the award-winning Program of the Year: Shabbatukkah – a celebration of Shabbat and Hanukkah. Joey is working to bring productive and empathy-driven conversations across conflict to campus, especially between Jewish and Palestinian students. Additionally, Joey is the point- of-contact on campus to combat antisemitism, working with the office of diversity and inclusion and the president’s office to develop curricula educating students and staff at Maryville about hateful speech and actions, while emphasizing the joy of Judaism at Hillel events.

Sarah Balis

Sarah Balis (she/her) grew up in Plano, Texas before attending Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University (ASU). She majored in Human Communication with minors in Religious Studies and Nonprofit Management. She now works at the University of Michigan Hillel as the Springboard Innovation Fellow and loved her first year! Her Spotify wrapped usually consists of Hamilton, the Jonas Brothers, and Ben Platt.

Sarah Birch

Sarah Birch creates meaningful Jewish spaces for students at San Francisco Hillel as a Springboard Ezra Jewish Education Fellow. She hails from Sacramento, CA and spent her college years up in Eugene at University of Oregon studying sociology and Spanish and working at UO’s Duck Nest Wellness Center. Sarah is excited to learn at Pardes and connect with her Jewish identity through Jewish texts and exploring Jerusalem.

Jacob Brickman

Jacob Brickman is a Springboard Innovation Fellow at Hillel Ontario and is passionate about Jewish education, creating community, and empowering Jewish students at Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier Universities. He grew up in Toronto, Canada and was involved in Jewish life through his family’s synagogue, religious school teaching, Jewish music, NFTY-NEL, and Western Hillel. He loves creative writing, all things food and cooking, and road trips.

Avi Dave

Avi Dave has been passionate about the Jewish community for as long as he can remember. He attended Jewish day school, spent 12 summers at Jewish summer camp, and served multiple leadership roles in Jewish youth groups. Avi was also deeply involved with Jewish Life on campus, serving as a student leader in Hillel as well as other pro-Israel organizations. Additionally, Avi has had the privilege of traveling to Israel on four separate occasions, and truly cannot wait to return with Pardes. Currently, Avi works as the Springboard Innovation Fellow for Hillel at Miami University (OH). In his free time, Avi likes to cook, play table tennis, and travel.

Rebecca Ezersky

Originally from the San Francisco area, Rebecca Ezersky now works in North Carolina at Jewish Life at Duke as Springboard Innovation Fellow. Rebecca graduated from the University of Southern California, where she received a Master of Public Administration and B.S. in Public Policy. In her free time, you can find Rebecca baking with friends, watching movies, or listening to Taylor Swift on repeat.

Lily Gross

Lily Gross is the Director of Jewish Student Life at the University of Denver. She has been in this role for over a year now to ensure that her community has the opportunity to be empowered to find THEIR Judaism. Born and raised in Houston, Texas she uprooted to Colorado for university where she fell in love with Denver and DU. She and her dog Mushu are proud to run the Hillel at the DU campus.

Doria Killian

Doria Killian is an assistant professor of German and the director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Her research background is in contemporary German-Jewish literature, autobiographical writing, and memory studies. When not teaching, writing, or organizing Jewish events on campus, Doria enjoys woodworking, inexpertly playing a variety of musical instruments, and camping/hiking in the mountains surrounding Asheville.

Suzy Stone

Rabbi Suzy Stone is from Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from Brandeis University in 2002 and studied at Pardes in 2005, which in part inspired her journey to HUC-JIR, where she was ordained in 2012. She has served in congregations in Santa Barbara and Washington DC, as well as, working as a community organizer for the Reform Movement during the 2018 election. She currently works at Hillel as the Senior Jewish Educator at Arizona State University.

Beth Vander Stoep

Beth Vander Stoep is 28 years old and is the Assistant Director at Goucher Hillel in Baltimore, MD. She is a graduate of Central Washington University (BS), Northern Arizona University (MA), and Kibbutz Lotan’s Green Apprenticeship (Permaculture Design). Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Beth loves kayaking, composting, gardening, and making jam with her husband Justin.

Winter 2022 Cohorts (Ongoing)

  • Dr. Yehuda Silberman
  • Rabbi Samuel Kaye
  • Rebecca Krasner
  • Rabbi Kyle Savitch
  • Karolyn Benger
  • Michaela Slutsky
  • Emily Goldberg Winer
  • Dr. David Orenstein
  • Rabbi Daniel K. Alter
  • Cantor Marc Stober
  • Dr. Sharon Pollin
  • Tadea Klein
  • Rabbi Tobie Weisman
  • Renato Huarte Cuéllar
  • Cantor Jana Schachter
  • Johanna Press
  • Elisheva Gray
  • Lilyfish Gomberg
  • Erica Riddick
  • Mira Shore
  • Binyamin Cohen
  • Ben Soloway
  • Andrew Spector
  • Dr. Laurie Fisher
  • Emily Simon

Spring 2021 Cohorts

  • Maxine Berman
  • Maiya Edelson
  • Jonathan Emanuel
  • Maxine Segal Handelman
  • Natan Kuchar
  • Isabel Mares
  • Russel Neiss
  • Liz Soloway Snider
  • Stephanie Stavsky
  • Rachel Dingman
  • Rabbi Sam Englender
  • Rachel Hillman
  • Lisa Langer
  • Rabbi Daniel Levine
  • Rabba Claudia Marbach
  • Rabbi Lori Shapiro
  • Malka Z. Simkovich
  • Rabbi Ron Symons
  • Judith Talesnick
  • Rabbi Rachel Ain
  • Rabbi Natan Freller
  • Rabbi David Gedzelman
  • Rabbi Ari Kaiman
  • Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz
  • Rabbi Jill Levy
  • Rabbi Micah Liben
  • Rabbi Avi Olitzky
  • Rabbi Carnie Rose
  • Rabbi Sydni Rubinstein
  • Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky
  • David Benger
  • Valerie Habif
  • Jason Caplan
  • Merle Eisman Carrus
  • Rick Gordon
  • Leslie Kirby
  • Judge Bruce Manning
  • Zachary Schaffer
  • Suzanne Schreiber
  • Sarah Snider