Please extend a warm welcome and mazel tov to the newest first
Cohort of the Earth-Based Judaism Track!
Cohort of the Earth-Based Judaism Track!
Jodi Balis (Silver Spring, MD) Jodia Balis is a food ritualist, personal chef, dietitian, culinary educator, food intuitive and Mikvah Guide. She worked on hunger issues in the nonprofit sector for 15 years, cooking and gardening with underserved communities and supporting efforts to achieve healthy food access in the Washington DC Metro Area. Currently, Jodi co-creates food ritual through the making of “Life Plates” with individuals and groups to mark milestone moments, and she offers health and wellness programs that align food and cooking with Jewish cycles and spirituality. Jodi is also a clinical instructor at the George Washington University Medical School’s Culinary Medicine Program, where she teaches medical students about the connections between healthy cooking and wellness. Jodi hosts the Podcast Purple Honey, exploring the intersection of Jewish Wisdom and Feminine Spirituality. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and loves to roast chickpeas, assemble colorful meal boards and cook tortillas with her 5 and 8 year old daughters.
Karen Flotte (St. Louis, MO) Karen Flotte describes herself as an applied theologian focusing on the intersection of environmental, racial and economic justice. She is volunteer Co-Chair for Central Reform Congregation’s Mitzvah Farm which grows for families facing food insecurity and engages their community and region in learning and activism. Karen hold an M.A. in Theology from the Aquinas Institute emphasizing human suffering, spirituality, social justice and liturgy. Applying her theological training, especially women-based perspectives, Karen has worked with those most vulnerable in our world. She has served as Executive Director of Mary’s Pence, a grassroots Feminist Catholic gran tmaker, worked with court involved families and children, as well as men and women in prison. After a long journey of study and exploration, Karen came home to Judaism, converting in 2016. Karen, her husband John and their 14 year old son, John Wesley live rooted in the heart of the City of St. Louis, Missouri.
Joshua Jeffreys (Richmond, VA) Joshua Jeffreys lives with his partner, Amy, and newborn son, Marc, in Richmond, Virginia, where he serves at the University of Richmond as the Jewish Chaplain and Director of Religious Life. As a Jewish educator, administrator, and interfaith leader, Josh has worked in various Jewish community organizations, and now works to provide opportunities for individuals of all faith backgrounds to engage across lines of difference through worship, community engagement, cultural and religious education, and more. A native of New Jersey, Josh received his undergraduate degree in Jewish Studies from Rutgers University in 2013, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Richmond in 2019, and is currently studying to be a rabbi through ALEPH’s Rabbinic Ordination Program.
Susala Kay (Richmond, CA) Susala is a ritualist, facilitator of sacred space, and instigator of eco-feminist beloved communities. She has been involved in blending Pagan spirituality and eco-feminist Judaism since the mid-1990s. She co-founded JeWitch Camp and JeWitch Collective. She is a Euro-American, White, Ashkenazi, Queer, aging cisgender Jew born and raised in Atlanta who resides on Ohlone land known by most as Richmond, California. She lives with disabilities and cares deeply about radical access, power differentials, and liberation. She loves creating subversive feminist liturgy & rituals that celebrate all genders and types of relationships as well as sensuality. Some ways she pursues tikkun olam include participating in creative non-violent direct political actions to hold those in power accountable, speaking out against the Israeli occupation, as well as protesting and singing in the streets to address intersecting oppressions and other social justice issues. She is also a retired clinical psychologist who worked in college counseling specializing in feminist therapy as well as addressing disability and LGBTQIA concerns.
Paige Licenberg (Santa Fe, NM) Paige feels deeply grateful to be among the first cohort of this well-needed Earth-Based Judaism Track and cannot wait to dive deeper into this spiritual study. As a rabbinical student, beginning her studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and now continuing at ALEPH, she understands Judaism through nature and understands nature through Judaism. Paige received her BA in Jewish Studies and Creative Writing from the College of Charleston. She currently serves as the Student Rabbi, sole clergy, of Temple B'nai Israel in Amarillo, Texas, though she lives in redwoods of northern California. Paige also works as a Mentor for Wilderness Torah’s outdoor Hebrew school Bhootz, the Retreat Manager for Or HaLev Silent Jewish Meditation Retreats, and teaches as a certified yoga instructor. To best capture Paige’s essence, she often shares the Hasidic tale of the rabbi’s child who would leave shul to pray in the woods- When the rabbi questioned it and expressed that “the Divine is the same everywhere,” the wise child smilingly replied “but I’m not.”
Rivi Marcus (Boulder, CO)
Lenny Molina (Tuscon, AZ) Lenny Molina (he/him) is a Quechua & Jewish writer, activist, and educator who focuses on decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, and defending Mother Earth. His recent educational work aims to help prevent the appropriation of Indigenous religions by helping people understand it within the framework of ongoing colonialism. Lenny is a former editor of the Earth First! Journal and writes nonfiction, independent journalism, and speculative fiction under the pen name Daniel Delgado. He also works as a freelance copyeditor and sensitivity reader. Lenny lives on O’odham land in “Southern Arizona” with his wife and two daughters. He has been involved with informal, radical Renewal Judaism for 15 years, and is a former participant in ALEPH’s Kesher fellowship. When he’s not at a desk, you might find him growing Native crops in his family’s garden or out exploring the desert.
Isaak Oliansky (Ashland, OR) Isaak Gabriel Oliansky is a natural builder and social worker from Oregon. He majored in Philosophy and English at the University of Oregon, with an additional focus on depth and eco-psychology. Isaak is committed to a radical re-imagination of Jewish lifeways, and to that effect is learning the use of traditional aboriginal technologies, ways of relating to wild plants and animals, and permaculture. Isaak is re-wilding into a future of Jewish vision quests, animistic davening, and hunter-gatherer kibbutzim. He is committed to his vision of stewarding an old growth culture that reveres the holiness and sovereignty of every being. His name means 'laughter', and you're bound to at least chuckle in his presence. Isaak enjoys a diversity of Jewish cultural landmarks like Yiddish folktales, the Ramones, salmon, and having an opinion about almost everything. He lives with his partner Julia wherever the wild huckleberries grow and you can still drink straight from the streams, sometimes on stolen Chinookian, Clatskanie, Kalapuya, or Shasta territory.
Mikey Pauker (San Rafael, CA)
Zak Kadmon (Vancouver, BC) Zak is a fundamentally gentle soul, seeking to unite his humanistic ethics, his love of the more-than-human world, and his radical egalitarianism with a dedication to traditional Jewish legal, ethical, and aesthetic thought. A passionate student of mussar and ethics in both Western and Eastern traditions, it was his experience studying medical ethics as a medical student which ultimately taught him that his heart was in the humanities. He dropped out of medical school, wrapped up a science degree in psychology, and subsequently moved on to the study of Jewish thought, philosophy, and theology. Zak is highly influenced by the works of the Chofetz Chaim, Zeitlin, Rav Kook, Buber, Ashlag, the Piaseczno, the Pilzno Rav, and the Chassidus of both Breslov and Chabad. With his interest in Seidenberg's ecotheology, the Earth-Based Judaism certificate is a logical stepping stone in his journey to becoming a non-denominational rabbi for a new generation.
Candace Wase (Huntington Wood, MI) Candace is a Dance/Movement Therapist for children who lives in rural northern California. She is a dancer, musician, and lover of nature. Candace has spent many years living in off-the-grid intentional communities, and is excited to merge her passion for nature and for Judaism through the Earth Based Judaism program. Candace learned about Aleph while living in Boulder for grad school, and has been playing bass for Jewish services ever since. Her intention with this program is to develop skills to energize and grow the small but vibrant Jewish community where she lives now in Humboldt County, California.
Ira Wiesner (Holyoke, MA) Ira Stewart Wiesner is second year student in the AOP Rabbinic tract. He began Aleph in Hashap’ah Cohort IV and was in the Rabbinic Pastor Program before entering rabbinics. Currently Ira serves on the AOP Student Board and holds the position of Treasurer. He lives in Sarasota Florida with Donna, his beloved partner of 46 years. Ira still maintains a full-time law practice Advocates in Aging, the first elder law firm in Sarasota, Florida. Ira is Board Certified as a Specialist in Elder Law. He also holds a Master of Laws in Taxation (L.LM) degree from the University of Florida, a Masters Degree (M.A.) in Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University and Graduate Certificates from the University of South Florida in Advanced Gerontology and from Naropa University in Authentic Leadership. Ira’s passion lies in the spiritual issues of aging and has been a certified Sage-ing Leader since 2004.