Welcome to the Jewish Emergent Network
The Jewish Emergent Network comprises the leaders of seven path‐breaking Jewish communities from across the United States who have come together in the spirit of collaboration. These include: IKAR in Los Angeles, Kavana in Seattle, The Kitchen in San Francisco, Mishkan in Chicago, Sixth & I in Washington, D.C., and Lab/Shul and Romemu in New York.
The seven communities in the Network do not represent any one denomination or set of religious practices. What they share is a devotion to revitalizing the field of Jewish engagement, a commitment to approaches both traditionally rooted and creative, and a demonstrated success in attracting unaffiliated and disengaged Jews to a rich and meaningful Jewish practice. While each community is different in form and organizational structure, all have taken an entrepreneurial approach to this shared vision, operating outside of conventional institutional models, rethinking basic assumptions about ritual and spiritual practice, membership models, staff structures, the religious/cultural divide and physical space.
The Network launched an innovative Rabbinic Fellowship in 2016, its first major collaborative project. This Fellowship places select early career rabbis into each of the participating Network communities for a two-year period, in order to train the next generation of enterprising rabbis to take on the challenges and realities of 21st century Jewish life in America in a variety of settings.
The Network in the News
Ideas In Jewish Education & Engagement
What does the word “innovation” even mean? The Jewish Federations of North America asked Melissa Balaban of IKAR and Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum of Kavana to share the nature of their work. They highlight the work in the seven communities of the Jewish Emergent Network and define innovation in the start-up landscape.
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The term “Jewish emergent” was coined in 2005 by Synagogue 3000/S3K’s Shawn Landres, after a parallel Christian movement with a similar organizing philosophy, and analyzed in his 2006, 2008, and 2012 Sh’ma articles and elsewhere as a new movement of new rabbi-led congregational startups, lay-led independent minyanim, and other “para-shuls” and non-liturgical communities (see also Cohen, Landres, Kaunfer, and Shain, 2007). Landres and Joshua Avedon were the architects of S3K’s Meyerhoff Funds - and Nathan Cummings Foundation-funded Jewish Emergent Initiative (2006-2008). After 2008, Jewish Jumpstart/Jumpstart Labs, under Avedon and Landres, succeeded S3K in stewarding its work in the Jewish emergent field.
Meet The First Cohort of Rabbinic Fellows
Fellow Bios - Second Cohort
Rabbi Emily Cohen
Emily Cohen (Lab/Shul) graduated in June 2018 from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Her internship sites during school included the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, Bryn Mawr College and Temple University Hillel, HIAS Pennsylvania, and Stanford University Hospital, where she completed chaplaincy training. Her teaching experience ranges from corralling four-year-olds into baking challah to herding teenagers on Jewish wilderness treks to discussing Jewish environmental activism with senior citizens. Creative expression drives Rabbi Cohen's spare time, resulting in side projects such as “The Hamilton Haggadah,” the podcast “Jew Too? Tales of the Mixed Multitude,” and the composition of new Jewish music. Before rabbinical school, Rabbi Cohen worked with an educational NGO in rural Yunnan, China, and with AmeriCorps in Minneapolis Public Schools. At Macalester College, where she completed her B.A. in History, she was a founding member of the Multifaith Council and highly active in interfaith work on and off campus. Rabbi Cohen calls the San Francisco Bay Area home but has spent enough of her life in diaspora to feel quite comfy on the east coast.
Rabbi Keilah Lebell
Keilah Lebell (IKAR) grew up hiking and biking the idyllic hills of West Marin County where she developed her spiritual life and deep love of nature. She has a classical liberal arts education, having studied the “Great Books” at St. John's College in Santa Fe, NM. Long after her bat mitzvah, while in college, she reclaimed her Jewish identity, discovering Judaism and the Jewish community as a portable home that held her, pushed her to grow, and inspired her to pursue justice. She studied modern Hebrew at the Middlebury College Language School and traditional Jewish texts at Pardes in Jerusalem where she met her beloved husband, Rabbi Sam Rotenberg. During rabbinical school, Sam and Keilah were blessed with two children, Meir and Della. They have been devoted members of IKAR for six years. Rabbi Lebell has served as a spiritual counselor at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish center for recovery, and as a teacher and rabbinic guide at the Brandeis Collegiate Institute and in the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program. She received ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, with a concentration in rabbinic literature, in May 2018. She is thrilled and honored to be part of the Jewish Emergent Network’s second cohort and the phenomenal IKAR team.
Rabbi Jesse Paikin
Jesse Paikin (Sixth & I) is thrilled to be serving as a rabbi at Washington D.C’s Sixth & I. Originally from Thornhill, Ontario, he received his Bachelor of Arts from Toronto’s York University, and has also been privileged to learn at the National Theatre School of Canada, the University of Toronto, New York University, and Yeshivat Hadar. Prior to receiving his semikhah in May 2018, he studied theatre in Montreal, Quebec, then spent five years working with an education nonprofit running youth travel programs around the world. Concurrently, he received a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Education. During his rabbinic studies, Rabbi Paikin served as Rabbinic Intern at the New Israel Fund, the 14th Street Y, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, NY. He was also a Spiritual Care Practitioner Intern at Toronto General Hospital. A grateful citizen of Canada, Rabbi Paikin is passionate about international Jewry and Jewish peoplehood, and has worked with Jewish communities in Toronto, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Germany, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, and across the United States. Rabbi Paikin is a voracious music listener, a lover of the hidden FedEx arrow, and a big fan of plaid shirts. Outside of his rabbinic work, you can probably find him listening to Canadian public radio and living up to some of your favourite Canadian stereotypes.
Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh
Tarlan Rahel Rabizadeh (The Kitchen) was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, in the Persian Jewish community affectionately known as “Tehrangeles.” In 2008, she graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Education, with a minor in Hebrew. After college, Rabbi Rabizadeh worked as an interior designer in Los Angeles. In 2010, she began her career as a Jewish professional by attending the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education in Los Angeles, graduating with a master’s degree in Jewish Education in 2013. For the next two years she served as Interim Director of the Religious School at Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, CA. During her years in rabbinical school, Rabbi Rabizadeh fulfilled internships for Temple Beth Am in Monessen, PA, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, B'nai Israel Synagogue in High Point, NC, and the HUC-JIR National Office of Recruitment and Admissions. She is thrilled to contribute her artistic sensibility towards creating meaningful Jewish experiences at The Kitchen.
Rabbi Mira Rivera
Mira Rivera (Romemu) was born in Detroit and raised in the Philippines. She studied in India and taught meditation to women all over the world before coming to New York City to dance. Under artistic director Yuriko, she was privileged to perform with the Martha Graham Dance Company under Martha Graham herself. During her performing career, she earned a BFA with honors from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. With her husband Jerome Korman, she raised two children, Arielle and Benjamin. Mira brought the imagination of music, arts and theater to youth programs in synagogues in Manhattan, as well as to hundreds of New York City public school children through National Dance Institute. During her seminary studies, she served at Kehillat Eshel Avraham in Beersheva, JCC Manhattan, and at Brotherhood Synagogue as the Resnick Rabbinic Intern. Rabbi Rivera received ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2015 with an MA in Jewish Studies. Since ordination, she served as Chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dorot, and at the Client Choice Pantry Program in St. Mary’s Episcopal, the “We are not Afraid” church of West Harlem. With Dr. Renee Hill, she co-founded Harlem Havruta, “a brave space for Jews of Color, allies and co-conspirators” focused on Torah-learning that is consciously anti-oppression and anti-racism. She has partnered in actions with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, IfNotNow, T’ruah, DRUM, and with JFREJ as co-chair of the rabbinic council. She is proud to be part of Bend the Arc’s Selah Cohort 15 for Jews of Color, and the first Cohort of the Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle with Yavilah McCoy and Auburn Seminary. Rabbi Rivera is joyful to be singing again with the Romemu clergy and serving this sacred community.
Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh
Jeff Stombaugh (Mishkan) hails from Seattle and was ordained at Hebrew Union College spring 2018, with a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education with a focus in Israel Education with the iCenter, as well as a certificate in Jewish Nonprofit Management. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Cultural Judaic Studies from the Jackson School of International Studies and then taught second-grade Judaic studies at the Seattle Jewish Community School. Rabbi Stombaugh most recently worked at USC Hillel as the rabbinic intern and has a passion for music, teaching, and bridging gaps between different communities, demographics and ideologies. As a student of innovation, Rabbi Stombaugh seeks to invigorate progressive Jewish life. He is excited to begin his rabbinate at Mishkan Chicago, and to learn, pray, and grow with such an intentional and inspired Jewish community.
Rabbi Josh Weisman
Josh Weisman’s (Kavana) Jewish path has been eclectic and DIY, in other words, the norm these days. Ever since his non-compulsory Bar Mitzvah he’s opted into more Jewish learning, community, and leadership because he kept being met with great options, diverse teachers, and communities of peers doing Judaism on their own terms. Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Weisman worked for 12 years in non-profits, mostly as a grass-roots organizer. During that time, he worked for several years as a congregation-based community organizer—where he experienced the power of religious communities to transform the world and transform themselves in the process—and later helped launch a Jewish start-up. Rabbi Weisman's other interests include musical participatory prayer and reengaging with traditionally radical interpretation of Jewish sacred text as post-moderns. His wife, Pella Schafer Weisman, is a Marriage Family Therapist and a dating coach. He’s thrilled to be a Jewish Emergent Network fellow and working with Kavana, because the organizations reflect his journey and his approach to Jewish community. Meanwhile, Josh and Pella’s three-year-old and one-year-old children are thrilled to be outdoors more often in their new Seattle home.
Alumni Fellow Bios
Rabbi Jonathan Bubis
Before his fellowship at The Kitchen, Rabbi Jonathan Bubis was the assistant rabbi of Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, California. A graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University, Rabbi Bubis is a Jewish educator and performing artist with a passion for music, theater, and Jewish text. He also has a penchant for Jewish prayer and leading communities in participatory, spiritually uplifting prayer services. He spent three summers heading up the drama department at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin—and seven summers total on drama staff—where he directed Broadway musicals in Hebrew and created original pieces of Jewish theater. Rabbi Bubis also works as a Storahtelling Maven, a revived form of the ancient translator/interpreter of Jewish biblical text, making ancient stories and traditions accessible for new generations in the synagogue and in the classroom, advancing Judaic literacy and raising social consciousness. He, along with his wife Becca, are thrilled to be part of the Jewish Emergent Network.
Rabbi Joshua Buchin
Rabbi Joshua Buchin (Romemu) is a recent graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, and was ordained in May 2016. Before joining the Jewish Emergent Network, he worked as a Rabbinic Intern and Spiritual Counselor at Beit T'Shuvah, a Jewish residential treatment center in Los Angeles. For three years before joining the Network, he also served as the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA. As an educator, he has worked with a wide range of children and adults in diverse settings, helping people find meaning in the Jewish tradition and connection with one another. He has been involved with the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Yeshivat Hadar in New York, Wilderness Torah, Bend The Arc, Rabbis Without Borders, and AJWS. He is also the author of a children's book, Tefilat HaDerech: The Traveler's Prayer (EKS Publishing, 2012).
Rabbi Kerry Chaplin
Ordained in 2015 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, Rabbi Kerry Chaplin (Lab/Shul) served college students and other university constituents for three years—as the Rabbinic Intern at Hillel at UCLA and as the Director of Jewish Life and Assistant Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Vassar College—before joining the Jewish Emergent Network. Relationship is at the core of her rabbinate and her inspiration to work towards justice and peace. Her own relationship with Judaism is anchored in tradition and evolving towards positional spirituality, in which our greatest socio-political challenges inform our religious identities and practices, and help us to become more of who we are in the world. Through projects like Two Faiths One Prayer and Talmud + Yoga, Rabbi Chaplin encourages others to bring all of who they are to Torah, and Torah to all the pieces of who they are. She received a B.A. in Religious Studies and an M.A. in Non-Profit Management from Washington University, and she lives with her wife, Julia, their daughter, their cats, and their dog.
Rabbi Sydney Danziger
Raised in Albuquerque, Rabbi Sydney Danziger (Kavana) attended New York University and the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in Political Science and Journalism. After graduating, she studied at an ulpan in Israel and, after returning to the U.S., she became a labor union organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In 2006, she became the Director of National Initiatives for Birthright Israel NEXT, where she worked with unaffiliated young adults. This experience eventually inspired her to apply to rabbinical school. During her time at Hebrew Union College, she interned at a variety of synagogues and Jewish organizations, from Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York, to Congregation Albert in New Mexico and Hillel at UCLA . As a student, Rabbi Danziger was the recipient of the coveted Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship. Ordained in May of 2013, she joined Isaac M. Wise, where she served as the Assistant Rabbi for three years until joining the Jewish Emergent Network. She and her husband, Benjamin, were married in 2016 and have a son.
Rabbi Nate DeGroot
Rabbi Nate DeGroot (IKAR), ordained in 2016 at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Boston, brings a love of community, a curiosity of form and structure, a devotion to justice-healing work, a propensity for celebration, and a passion for connecting with the sacred to all that he does. With a B.A. in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University, he has extensive experience in experiential education, community building, and organizational consulting to bolster his formal rabbinic learning. He was the founder of Mikdash, a grassroots cooperative Jewish community in Portland, Oregon that empowered folks to share their gifts and creatively integrate meaningful Judaism into the fabric of their lives. Rabbi DeGroot also holds a Master’s in Jewish Education from Hebrew College, and has filled leadership roles at a range of innovative Jewish organizations over the years, including AJWS, Encounter, T'ruah, Amir, and AJSS. He met his wife Becca at a staff meeting at IKAR.
Rabbi Lauren Henderson
Rabbi Lauren Henderson (Mishkan) finished rabbinical school and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2016, with a Master’s in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care. She grew up in a small but mighty Jewish community in South Carolina as part of an interfaith family, and attended Rice University in Houston, where she graduated cum laude in Religious Studies and History and was involved with Houston Hillel. After a year at Pardes in Jerusalem, Rabbi Henderson began her rabbinic studies at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University and then moved to New York to continue studying at JTS. She's taught Torah and led prayer in a wide variety of settings such as IKAR, the Pelham Jewish Center, and Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Cleveland, and also served as a chaplain with DOROT and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. During summer 2015, she worked with fifth and sixth graders at Camp Ramah in the Rockies. Rabbi Henderson loves rocking out to all the davening tunes at Mishkan.
Rabbi Suzy Stone
Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Rabbi Suzy Stone (Sixth & I) graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in History in 2002. After graduating, she worked as a community organizer, teacher and coach in Boston and Phoenix. Inspired by her experience in the Boston Jewish community, she decided to pursue rabbinical school as a way to combine her passion for Tikkun Olam (healing the world) and Tikkun HaNefesh (healing oneself). She received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in May 2012 and is a proud alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. As a newly ordained rabbi, Rabbi Stone began her career at Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara, CA, where she served as Associate Rabbi. During her four years at Congregation B’nai B’rith, she focused on establishing strong adult education classes, new social justice initiatives, and teen engagement. In her free time she loves playing softball, cycling, and exploring new music and restaurants.