Rabbi Peter Berg is the senior rabbi of The Temple in Atlanta, Georgia. A native of Ocean Township, New Jersey, Rabbi Berg holds a degree in Education and Human Development, with a focus in human services, counseling and Judaic Studies from The George Washington University.
He earned his M.A. in Hebrew Literature and his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and Jerusalem, where he was a Steinhardt Fellow.
In July 2008, Peter Berg became the fifth person to hold the title of senior rabbi of The Temple since 1895. Prior to coming to The Temple, he served as rabbi of Temple Beth Or in Washington Township, New Jersey and as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas. Additionally, he served Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, New York as a rabbinic intern and at Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, as its Youth Director.
Over the years, Rabbi Berg has spent a great deal of time working with advocacy groups on issues such as separation of church and state, the death penalty, civil rights, religious freedom, welfare reform, hate crimes, and the environment. In addition to CIE, Rabbi Berg currently serves on the Board of American Jewish Committee, The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, URJ Camp Coleman Clergy Advisory Board, The Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Rabbi Berg is on the editorial committee for the new machzor (High Holy Day Prayer Book) for the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He is a member of the Greater Atlanta Reform Clergy Association and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.
Michael S. Berger is an associate professor of Jewish law and ethics in Emory University’s Department of Religion and in the Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. His research and teaching focus on issues of religious authority and ethics in Judaism and modern Jewish religion and thought. He received his BA from Princeton and his MA and PhD in religion from Columbia University in 1992. Dr. Berger is the author of Rabbinic Authority: The Authority of Talmudic Sages (1998) and he edited The Emergence of Ethical Man (2005), which is based on the writings of the late Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Since 2000, he has been a program officer for The AVI CHAI Foundation. He is currently exploring issues in contemporary Jewish identity and education, for which he serves as a consultant. Dr. Berger took a 2-year leave of absence from Emory to serve as Headmaster of Yeshiva Atlanta High School. He has given presentations at our summer workshops since 2003.
Aaron Bregman is Chair of the Jewish History Department and a teacher at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD. A graduate of American University in Washington D.C., Bregman received his B.A. in History with a concentration in American Foreign Policy & Jewish Studies, and an M.A. in Secondary Education. From 2009-2012, Bregman was the High School Curriculum/Program Manager at The David Project, a non-profit organization that helps shape campus opinions on Israel. Aaron was responsible for developing and maintaining strong working relationships with Jewish Day School teachers all over North America. During his tenure, he edited, researched, and re-constructed their high school curriculum on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
Kelly Cohen is the Director for JumpSpark, the Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative. Kelly has spent her career building meaningful, dynamic Jewish experiences for children, teens and adults. Previous to her work for JumpSpark, Kelly was the Lower School Judaic Studies Coordinator at The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta. Kelly is a graduate of the Pardes Educators Program and holds a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. She has also earned a Masters degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College. She was recently accepted to be a member of the M² Senior Educators Cohort through the The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. Kelly is a mikvah guide and on the board of MACoM (Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah) and is as certified teacher of Yoga & Jewish Spirituality. She is married to Drew Cohen, director of the music program at The Weber School, and has two children; Joss (5) and Emmet (2).
Keith Dvorchik is the CEO of The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando and the Executive Director of The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. A native of Gainesville, Florida, Keith grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and graduated High School outside Philadelphia. A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Accounting, Mr. Dvorchik earned his M.Ed. from The Pennsylvania State University in Counselor Education/Rehabilitation Counseling and pursued a PhD. in Marriage and Family counseling from the University of Florida. Keith served as the CEO of Hillel at the University of Florida for 15 years during which time he oversaw the capital campaign and construction of the new Norman H. Lipoff Hall, home to UF Hillel. In 2013 he assumed the title of President and CEO at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle where he served for 3 years. Keith and his wife Alison have been married since 1998 and have two children, Evan and Matthew
Dr. Rachel Fish
Rachel Fish is Senior Advisor and Resident Scholar of Jewish/Israel Philanthropy at the Paul E. Singer Foundation in New York City. Most recently she was the Executive Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. She completed her doctoral degree in 2013 in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University, where she researched the history of the idea of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel. She has taught at Brandeis University, Harvard University, UMASS Amherst and Tzion and Me’ah, Adult Jewish Education programs. In 2015 she held the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, where she lectured on modern Israel and received the Derek Bok Certificate of Teaching Excellence. She is co-editor, with Ilan Troen, of the book Essential Israel: Essays for the Twenty-First Century.
Michele Freesman joined ISMI in June of 2019 as an Academic Research Coordinator. In 2015 Michele graduated with honors from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania where she received a BA in Economics and International Studies with concentrations in the Middle East and Conflict and Peace Studies. She completed her degree with an independent study project to understand the potential impact the sale of Israeli natural gas would have for Israel’s diplomatic and economic cooperation with its neighbors. Michele started her career at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in December of 2014 in the middle of her fourth year of college. While at AIPAC, she served as the Senior National Engagement Field Organizer engaging, teaching, and mobilizing hundreds of college students each year.
Dr. Jonathan Golden is the Israel Curriculum Coordinator and a history teacher at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham, MA where he has taught since 1999. During his career at Gann, he has taught AP American History, chaired the History Department, served as Assistant Head of School and Director of Academic Operations, and mentored numerous teachers and department chair. He teaches adult education courses on contemporary Israel at synagogues and homes in the Greater Boston area.
As a member of a Conservative synagogue in his childhood, a Reform community in college, modern Orthodox synagogues in his 20s and the independent Temple Beth Zion today, Dr. Golden is interested in historical and contemporary questions of Jewish pluralism. His professional career in the world of Jewish pluralism is a natural extension of his educational path.
A graduate of Princeton University, he received his M.J.Ed. from Hebrew College and Ph.D. from Brandeis University. At Brandeis, he studied American Jewish history under the tutelage of Professor Jonathan Sarna and wrote a dissertation entitled From Cooperation to Confrontation: The Rise and Fall of the Synagogue Council of America.
In 2007, Dr. Golden was the recipient of Hebrew College’s Sydney Hillson Memorial Award for Distinguished Leadership in and Commitment to Jewish Education. In 2014, he received the AJC Boston Young Leadership Award. In 2018, he was given CJP’s Chai in the Hub award honoring the contributions of young professionals and lay leaders in the greater Boston Jewish community. He is a member of the AJC New England Regional Board and he serves on the Steering Committee of AJC’s Contemporary Jewish Life Commission and the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (JREC) whose mission is “to strengthen religious freedom and equality in Israel, allowing for full exercise of freedom of conscience, in matters of personal status, as befits a democratic and Jewish state, and as would enhance Israel’s ties to world Jewry.”
He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Camp Yavneh which he attended for 13 summers as a camper and counselor. Jonathan lives in Brookline, MA with his wife Kim and son Sidney.
Steven Green is the Director of Grants Management/Program Officer for the Jim Joseph Foundation and has been working for the Foundation since June 2011. Steven leads the administration of day-to-day grant-related operations including management of the Grants Management and Administration Team, incorporation of best practices in grantmaking, and adherence to the Foundation’s governance policies. He initiates and manages the implementation of a significant portfolio of grants rooted in Jewish education and focused in educator training, Israel education, young adult engagement, emergency relief and support, and leadership. Additionally, Steven provides strategic analysis and review of all budgets for the $200M+ in active grants of the Foundation and projected new and renewed investments. Steven previously served as the Southeast Regional Director for the Jewish National Fund based in Atlanta, GA. Prior to that, he worked as Director of Media and Public Affairs for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast. Steven currently serves on the leadership council of 3GSF, a Bay Area engagement program for grandchildren of Holocaust survivors based out of the San Francisco Holocaust Center. He has volunteered on several political campaigns and as a lay leader on the Board of Directors for Hillels of Georgia as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Israel Professionals Council through the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Steven received his MBA with a focus in Nonprofit Management from Emory University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and holds additional degrees in Political Science and Jewish Studies. Steven and his wife, Alana, reside in San Francisco, CA with their son, Zev.
Tal Grinfas-David has spent her life living in Israel and the United States. She has been educated in both school systems and is knowledgeable about Jewish history and culture in both countries. Dr. Grinfas-David holds a BA from Boston University, a BEd specializing in second language acquisition from Beit Berl College, an MA in educational administration from the University of Portland, and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from Capella University. She worked as a teacher in Shaviv’s program for at-risk high school students and as both an educator and a staff director in Israeli high schools, where, with the support of the Ministry of Education, she published units of study integrating multiple intelligences with language acquisition. During this time, she trained new teachers at Beit Berl College, where they observed her teaching in classrooms of mixed ability groups using cooperative learning applications. In 2000, Dr. Grinfas- David moved with her family to Portland, Oregon where she taught all age levels at several congregational schools, focusing on the integration of Israel in Jewish studies. Based on her experience in public and private school settings, she trained teachers on best practices and curriculum mapping in both educational sectors. In Portland, she co-founded a new high school at the Portland Jewish Academy, where she taught Hebrew and Israel studies from 2003-2006. Dr. Grinfas-David worked with the ISMI staff as a senior educational research associate from 2007-2010. She was the Elementary School Principal of The Epstein School in Atlanta, GA and has given presentations at our summer workshops since 2004.
A ninth generation Israeli, Professor Reuven Hazan is a political scientist, diplomat, political affairs commentator, and Chair of the Political Science Department at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Educated at The Hebrew University (BA, MA) and Columbia University (PhD), Hazan has held academic appointments at Hebrew University since 1995. He was visiting professor in the Government Department of Harvard University (2009-2010), and visiting associate professor in Political Science at Emory University (2003-2004). Professor Hazan was the advisor to the Speaker of the Israeli parliament on reforming its internal structure. He has served as a leading consultant for several political parties in Israel and works with the nation’s foremost think tanks. He has served on the Presidential Commission on the Structure of Government in Israel and as a member of the Sub-Committee on Reforming the Parliamentary Regime and the Proportional Electoral System in Israel (2006-2007). Professor Hazan was in charge of the Israeli parliament’s Committees Reform Project (1999-2000), and has been extensively involved with the Israel Democracy Institute both as project director and chief researcher. He is the author of several books and dozens of articles on democratic political institutions in general and Israeli politics in particular. He has given presentations at our summer workshops since 2003.
Steven Kerbel is the Principal of Steven Kerbel Educational Consulting in Rockville, Maryland. Before this, he served as Director of Education for Congregation B’nai Tzedek and Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, Maryland for a combined 14 years. Steve was the inaugural Retreat Director of Capital Camps & Retreat Center. Steve has also been a full-time faculty member at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville and an educational consultant to the Seaboard Region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Steve is currently national president of the Jewish Educators Assembly, the organization of Conservative Movement Jewish educators.
In what seems like a different lifetime, Steve earned a law degree and was in the private practice of law for eight years. He is an alum of University of Maryland, College Park, where he met his wife, Judy. They have two daughters. Among Steve’s consulting activities, he facilitates wine tastings featuring Israeli wines and teaches about the geography of diversity of Israel through its wines and wine makers.
Deborah Lauter is the Executive Director of the New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. She has decades of experience working against hate acts and bigotry. Formerly a senior vice-president for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Deborah’s past work helped build training and education programs to provide schools, law enforcement officials, and communities with the resources to target the roots of hatred. During her tenure as ADL’s National Civil Rights Director, the organization led the national coalition that secured passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Federal Hate Crimes Act. Deborah is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and received her J.D. from Cardozo School of Law.
Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser
Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser was ordained in 1993 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She has served in congregations, at URJ camps, and worked as Center for Israel Education as the Rabbinic Fellow from 2015 – 2017. At CIE, Ellen developed on-line resources, created curricular materials for rabbis in the field and students returning from semester in Israel. Along with Rich Walter, Ellen co-led in-person workshops in several communities in the USA and Canada and has served on faculty of the past five annual CIE/ISMI Educator Enrichment Workshop on Modern Israel. In 2019 Ellen received a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. She is the current president of Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and is an executive member of the Atlanta Jewish Community Relations Council. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys hiking, traveling, and trying out new recipes on unsuspecting Shabbat dinner guests.
Dr. Nachman Shai is an Israeli Institute Visiting Professor at Emory University, he has been Member of Knesset for the past 10 years. Prior to his election to the Knesset, Nachman has held diverse positions in the military, the media, the diplomatic and public arenas. These include: Senior V.P. and Director General, Israel, UJC (United Jewish Communities of North America, known today as JFNA); Director General of the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport; Israel Defense Force Spokesperson, with the rank of Brigadier General, Commander and Editor in Chief, Galei Zahal; Communications Advisor to the Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin and Moshe Arens; Director General of the Second Television and Radio Authority; Chairman of the Board of Directors of Channel 2 News Company and Chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). He has served as press secretary of the Israel Mission to the UN in New York, press advisor to the Israeli Embassy in Washington and has worked as a reporter in the print and electronic media. Nachman holds a Ph.D. in political science and communications from Bar Ilan University and his thesis, on “Public Diplomacy and Low Intensity Conflict”, was awarded the 2012 “Tshetshik” award for national security research by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. He received his MA degree, cum laude, from the Communications Institute of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also completed advanced studies at the World Press Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Nachman has been a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Chairman of the Subcommittee for National planning and a member of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. He chaired the following Caucuses: the Caucus for US-Israel Relations, the Caucus for Strengthening the Jewish People, the Caucus for the Promotion of Israel’s Public Diplomacy, the Caucus for the Elderly, the Caucus for Jerusalem, the Caucus for the Struggle Against the De-legitimization of the State of Israel, the Caucus for Strengthening Israel`s Foreign Affairs System. The book won the 2013 “Yitzhak Sadeh” Prize for military literature. In 2016 he published his second book “Caught in the Net”, and in 2018 his third book “Hearts and Minds” Israel and the Battle for Public Opinion, the meeting point between the worlds of wars and diplomacy. And one of the first to discuss Israel’s struggle with The BDS movement.
Adam Shapiro is the Head of School of Golda Och Academy in West Orange, NJ.Adam graduated with an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Prior to that, Adam earned his BA in Education and Jewish Studies at Emory University while studying with Dr. Stein. While at Emory, Adam was enamored with Israel Education and it was this passion that led him to write a high school Israel curriculum for his Masters’ thesis at JTS. What started as simply an idea in college, led Adam to creating a course at Golda Och Academy that he was able to teach and refine over the course of the past decade. Working with students both inside and outside of the classroom and helping them to grapple with some of life’s most difficult questions and challenges is what keeps teaching so exciting and relevant each and every day.
Eli Sperling began working at ISMI in 2012. After receiving his BA in Middle East studies and political economy in 2006 at Evergreen in Olympia, Wa, he pursued an MA in contemporary Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University (2010). During his four and a half years in Tel Aviv, Eli worked as a research assistant to prominent scholar, Yosi Kostiner, worked with numerous political and humanitarian organizations, led groups of students and other international delegations around Israel and spent two years researching the social, political and economic conditions of the Sinai Bedouin living in Dahab, Egypt. He is a fluent Hebrew speaker who likewise reads Arabic and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, spending significant periods of time in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula. Eli received his Ph.D. (history) from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in September 2019 and is working as the Senior Academic Research Coordinator at Emory University’s Institute for the Study of Modern Israel. He teaches an undergraduate course at Emory about Israeli cultural history and regularly lectures on the Arab-Israeli conflict and other issues relating to modern Israel as a public intellectual.
Kenneth W. Stein is Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Israeli Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, where he has taught since 1977. His extensive curriculum vitae and scholarly publications can be found here. At Emory University, his honors include the highest awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching (1995), recognition for internationalizing the curriculum (2001), and lifelong exceptional mentor to students (2009).The Anti-Defamation League and the Israel on Campus Coalition awarded him the Ross Award in 2007 for his intellectual integrity in speaking out against the falsehoods in former President Jimmy Carter’s 2006 book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. In 1998, he established the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel.
A Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University currently living in Jerusalem, Gil Troy is an award-winning American presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. In the Foreword to Troy’s latest book, The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland – Then, Now, Tomorrow, Natan Sharansky writes: “This magnificent work is the perfect follow-up to Arthur Hertzberg’s classic The Zionist Idea. Combining, like Hertzberg, a scholar’s eye and an activist’s ear, Gil Troy demonstrates that we now live in a world of Zionist Ideas, with many different ways to help Israel flourish as a democratic Jewish state.” Recently designated an Algemeiner J-100, one of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life,” Troy wrote The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, and ten other books on the American presidency. One leading historian called Age of Clinton “the best book on the man and his times.” Troy edited and updated another classic, the multi-volume History of American Presidential Campaigns, originally edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Fred Israel. He is now writing new essays on the 2012 and 2016 elections. Troy’s book Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism, describes the fall of the UN, the rise of Reagan and the spread of Anti-Zionism. Jewish Ideas Daily designated it one of 2012’s “best books.” He appeared as a featured commentator on CNN’s popular multipart documentaries, The Eighties, The Nineties, and The 2000s. He has been interviewed on most major North American TV and Radio networks. Troy has published essays in the American, Canadian, and Israeli media, including writing essays for the New York Times’ “Campaign Stops” in 2012 and 2016. He wrote a weekly column for the Daily Beast, “Secret Lives,” putting current events in historical perspective, and writes a weekly column for the Jerusalem Post.
Richard Walter has extensive experience increasing community involvement in Jewish formal and informal learning for a wide variety of age groups. Prior to joining ISMI and CIE as Associate Director for Israel Education in August 2012, he served as Director for Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven and as Director of Education and Community Development at the Bureau of Jewish Education in Rhode Island.
From 1997 to 2001, Rich taught in the Solomon Schechter School in Providence, Rhode Island. He was educated at Brandeis University where he received his BA and MA degrees focusing on Jewish history, Middle Eastern history, and Judaic Studies. He was first a presenter at our summer workshops in 2005, and then from 2013 to present.
Dr. Jack Wertheimer is professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He writes about the transformation of American Jewish religious, educational and communal life since World War II. His most recent book is The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today, which has just appeared in paperback. His forthcoming book, Inside Jewish Day Schools, was written with Dr. Alex Pomson. The two also published a report Hearts and Minds: Israel in North American Jewish Day Schools (2014).
Dov Wilker has been Regional Director of AJC Atlanta since 2011. He previously served as AJC Atlanta’s assistant director, and in that position, was selected to participate in the first United States professional exchange in South Asia, visiting Sri Lanka in the summer of 2009. Active in the community, Dov sits on the board of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA), the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Georgia Advisory Committee, the Advisory Council for the Atlanta Ballet, and the Legacy Committee at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. After earning his International M.B.A. from Tel Aviv University, Dov worked for an Israeli software start-up. Dov began his career with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Southeastern United States. Dov has been recognized as a “40 under 40” by both the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Jewish Times, and was honored with the Asian American Heritage Foundation’s Distinguished Community Service Award. Dov received his BBA from the University of Miami (FL) and is married to Julie Jacobson and together they have two daughters.