Please extend a warm welcome and mazel tov to the newest Kesher Fellows!
We received nearly 40 applications from all across the world. Thanks to all who applied.
We appreciate the time and efforts of our selection committee, who had a very difficult task to complete. We are blessed to have so many incredible young leaders in Jewish Renewal.
You can find information on previous Kesher Fellows here!
Anna Bailes (Pittsburgh, PA) Anna Bailescurrently lives in Pittsburgh where she spends most of time as a graduate student studying bioengineering and physical therapy, with an interest in human movement and rehabilitation. She also enjoys nature walks, reading, cooking, running, gardening, climbing, and anything that involves being outside! Anna is always looking for opportunities for personal and spiritual growth and ways to incorporate Jewish tradition and ritual into my life, with a specific interest in Earth-based Judaism. She is excited to continue learning and growing as part of the Kesher Fellowship!
Kelly-Chava Banker (Providence, RI) Kelly-Chava is forever in love with the wonder, mystery and sensuality of the body. She has engaged this love affair in a multitude of ways, including as a comprehensive sex educator, Jewish community organizer, and as a full-spectrum doula. In 2016, she earned a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has since pursued work in the academic world as well as in the world of embodied healing. These days, she plays with the texts of body, soul and earth through her work as a scholar, bodyworker and community herbalist in Providence, RI. As a doctoral student in Religion and Critical Thought at Brown University, Kelly-Chava now seeks to bridge the gap between mind and body through writing constructive Jewish mystical theologies that position sexual and reproductive experiences as productive sites at which to develop new ways of relating to one another and to the divine. In her work as a licensed massage therapist in the Providence area, she makes material these theological commitments by approaching the body with reverence, fluidity and nurturance. Kelly-Chava weaves massage modalities to create a trauma-informed approach to bodywork that invites survivors of embodied trauma to return in safety and joy to their bodies. As a trained community herbalist, Kelly-Chava focuses on plant medicine for reproductive and sexual wellbeing, as well as plants that support and/or induce ceremonial practices. When she is not studying or massaging, Kelly-Chava can be found exploring the forest, dancing, cuddling with her beloved dog Blue, or practicing new jiu jitsu techniques.
Jonathan Bickoff (New Paltz, NY) Jonathan was born and raised in the modern orthodox community of Passaic, NJ. Post college, studying Audio Engineering, Jonathan found his way to Romemu where he became very active in the 20’s/30’s group, the sound department, and eventually served on the board. Since moving out of NYC in 2014 to the Mid-Hudson Valley, Jonathan has been working as an Acoustic Engineer in an architecture firm, playing cello, partaking in as many outdoor activities as possible, and exploring the many ways Jewish practice can take place outside of a major metropolis. Owning a home in New Paltz has afforded Jonathan the opportunity to continually build a space for art, music, rest, and relaxation for friends, family, and the greater community.
Joshua Blaine (Austin, TX) Josh Blaine is a community songleader based out of Austin, TX where he founded and leads the grassroots song community, "Finding Our Voice." He regularly leads community sings in the glorious resonant dome of the Texas State Capitol rotunda and elsewhere around Austin, including in the streets, and at conferences and trainings. He draws upon his work as an activist and organizer with various national and grassroots projects to build community around the experience of singing "songs of courage and connection." Josh is also co-founder of a collaborative project called, “Getting the Support You Need: Tools for Effective and Compassionate Collaboration” and founder of "Compassionate Masculinity," an effort to connect other men to the tools of compassionate communication in order to "listen, unlearn & love." As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, he carries in his bones a deep commitment to undoing systems of domination. Raised in the Reform movement, it was connecting to the Jewish Renewal movement more recently that helped him understand more deeply the rich Jewish practices of resisting, celebrating, and grieving through ritual and song. Nearly all of his work as songleader, facilitator, and organizer stem from the reverence and awe for Earth, Spirit, and Ancestors gifted him by his Jewish lineage.
Molly Block (Tuscon, AZ) Swirling through the world on two feet, two hands, or some extension of her body, Molly has timidly dove into Judaism this past year. With the support of the tri-fecta of Jewish land-based fellowships (Adamah, Urban Adamah, and Teva), she am stepping into her sense of self as a facilitator of connection to Judaism through spirituality, land, movement, and sound. Molly is currently living in Tucson, AZ, with a desire to settle after years of transience, building community programming for a 2-year-old Jewish urban farm. She loves to move her body, learn about plants of all forms and their medicinal benefits, and connect with nearly everyone and everything around me on an emotionally vulnerable level.
David Bronstein (Santa Fe, NM) David is a grassroots educator, and seeker, who helped start Alt*Div, a grassroots alternative to divinity school for artists, activists, and community builders. Last year he was in residence at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA living in intergenerational community with Nun’s and Millenials experimenting with new forms of prophetic community, deepening in relationship, spiritual practice, and justice work through Nuns & Nones. He presently helps steward an intergenerational Jewish learning community that delves into Jewish wisdom/teachings/stories/culture as a source of meaning and relevance for the crises of our times called Taproot. Judaism, His Jewish and Norwegian ancestors, the holy in the land, and many organizing communities are some of the things that got him here, and that he in turn serves.
Amber Caulkins (Chandler, AZ) Amber Caulkins is the director of the Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network at Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh, Paula Brody & Family Education Center in Newton, MA and lives in Chandler, AZ with her family. Prior to joining Mayyim Hayyim, she spent seven years working in higher education where she most recently directed a public policy research network. She holds a BA in Journalism and an MA in Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island and serves on the board of Congregation NefeshSoul in her community. She is passionate about creating inclusive Jewish spaces where all people feel fully welcomed and is excited to be part of this fellowship to explore spirituality through the lens of Jewish Renewal.
Aviva Grossberg (San Rafael, CA) Aviva Grossberg is a group facilitator and transformational coach. With the framework of Hakomi and Open Floor movement practice, Aviva guides people back to their inherent wholeness. She is passionate about finding the holy in the ordinary. Aviva is dedicated to her continued learning, practice, and service in the healing world. As an emerging Kohenet, Aviva is passionate about breathing new life into ancient Jewish wisdom, through a marriage of dance, nature and sacred ritual.
Katy Ibur (Chicago, IL) Katy Ibur is a tarot reader, astrologist, currently living in Chicago. She is a student at the University of Chicago, studying Clinical Social Work. Her studies focus on the therapeutic spiritual and emotional healing potential in couples, groups, and communities, Katy studied and taught applied metaphysics classes through the School of Metaphysics for a few years, which originally ignited her passion to pursue spiritual transformation work professionally. Katy has been exploring her Jewish background more purposefully the last few years, including leading spiritual healing workshops and retreats through Moishe House. She also regularly hosts and attends Rosh Chodesh circles, and works part-time as a Shabbat Coordinator at Mishkan Chicago.
Moira Leibowitz (Duwamish Territory) Moira Leibowitz is a writer, scholar, and activist currently living in Unceded Dxʷdəwʔabš (Duwamish) Territory. When they aren’t organizing around a collective anarchist bookstore, they explore written and auditory art as a means of building proletarian dignity and minoritarian historical memory to help survive these challenging times. In addition to their work leading workshops and readings throughout the so-called Pacific Northwest, their writing has appeared in the Doykeit zine, the Resilience Anthology of trans writers, and the forthcoming anthology of queer Jewish anarchist writing, There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart.
Molly Mardit (Huntington Wood, MI) Molly/Malkah/Malkeh hails from Huntington Woods, Michigan. She is active in the newly-formed Millennials havurah within Renewal/Reform-affiliated Congregation Shir Tikvah, and as a lay-leader at pluralistic Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, but prefers to identify as "just Jewish." M^3 is learning about the revival of piyutim as part of her undergraduate thesis work, and loves singing her heart out, dancing up a storm, and whipping up vegan delights in the kitchen. She is thrilled to be part of this year's Kesher Fellowship cohort!
Caroline Mazel-Carlton (Holyoke, MA) Caroline Mazel-Carlton is passionate about exploring the intersection between disability justice, harm reduction practices and cultural identity and currently serves as the Director of Training for the Wildflower Alliance, home of the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community. Her journey of Jewish renewal from a feminist lens began with her roller derby career, where she skated for the Blue Ridge Rollergirls as #18 Mazel Tov Cocktail, but has now expanded to ritual design and facilitation in synagogue, havurah and retreat settings. She is equally happy facilitating group aliyot intentions for Torah services, spirituality groups in psychiatric hospitals or workshops on de-colonizing the mental health system as far away as Australia and Brazil. She is MOST happy when spending time with her husband, Yitzhak, and their cats, Schprintzi and Halvah.
Lindsay Propper (Grand Rapids, MI) Lindsay Propper is a corporate sustainability consultant who moonlights as a goofball Hebrew school teacher. With degrees in Sustainable Business and Organizational Leadership, she supports global organizations in developing social and environmental responsibility strategies. When she’s not facilitating workshops or knee-deep in data analysis, you can find her teaching at her local Hebrew school, helping students develop personal connections to Judaism. She’s observed a growing overlap between the two worlds as corporations grapple with questions around ethics and dignity, and her students ask what Jewish values say about climate change and inclusive representation. Through the Kesher Fellowship, she’s looking forward to learning more about Jewish insights can support these different – yet connected – communities.
Dayne Samuels (Boston, MA) Dayne Samuels (they/them) is a young Jewish professional, prayer and ritual leader, cancer survivor, and enthusiastic cat dad with their eye on the rabbinate. They’re an alum of both the Hazon Adamah Fellowship and the Union for Reform Judaism JewV’Nation Fellowship, focusing their deep love of Judaism on weaving Justice (of all kinds!) into meaningful Jewish life and engagement. Dayne is making a new start in Boston after driving cross-country on a whim and they’re a little bit lost at the moment. They’re honored and excited to be a part of this cohort, deepen their Jewish practice and wisdom, and expand their relationship with G!d and the Renewal community. In their spare time, you can find Dayne cooking vegan goodies for their friends, knitting a blanket they’ve been working on for a year, or being as queer as they possibly can.
Rebecca Schisler (Jerusalem, Israel) Rebecca Schisler is a meditation teacher, artist and ritualist working at the intersections of creativity, healing and spirituality. A devoted student of contemplative practice, Rebecca teaches on meditation retreats with Or Ha Lev and Awakened Heart Project and taught mindfulness to children and teachers in under-served California schools. She has also led dozens of outdoor trips for youth, guided adolescents through nature-based rites of passage with Wilderness Torah and has trained in womens' ceremonial initiatory arts. As a teaching artist, Rebecca has facilitated large-scaled community mural projects in Peru, India, California and currently Jerusalem, where she is on an arts fellowship at Pardes Institute before pursuing rabbinical ordination.
Gella Solomon-Puertas (Brookyln, NY) Gella Solomon-Puertas, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, holds a BA in Hebrew Language and Culture from SUNY Purchase, and spent five years engaged in full-time Jewish study From 2007 through 2012 at The Conservative Yeshiva in Jeruslem, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and The Drisha Institute. Gella is a theologian, a writer, a singer, a teacher, a student, a mama, a dabbler in various sorts of arts and crafts, a Yiddish language enthusiast, a queer feminist, and a self-described Windmill Assault Technician. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter, and works as a development intern at Sefaria.
Chaya Malka Spilman (Falls Village, CT) Chaya Malka strives to create space for the Divine within her being on a daily basis.Qquietly praying/meditating/stretching in front of her alter is where you will find her in the early mornings. Watercolor art is chaya malka’s primary medium of self-expression; she sells her art in various forms. She feels fulfilled while strumming a ukulele on mountaintops in her spare time, and experiences the most peace while singing in community.
Sarah Weisfeld (Houston, TX) Sarah Weisfeld is a 4th generation Texan and through environmental Judaism has rekindled her relationship to being Jewish. Sarah has a deep love and passion for nature, connection and wellness. Relationship to others and the planet are at the core of her being and she was a Teva educator and completed the Urban Adamah fellowship. Sarah studied Psychology, Spanish and Studio Art at University of Arizona. Since graduating college, Sarah has backpacked through South America and pursued experiences to the max. For enjoyment you can find Sarah dancing, drinking tea, making chocolate, running and playing in nature. One of her many mottos is, “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”