Please extend a warm welcome and mazel tov to the newest Kesher Fellows!
We received over 60 applications from all across the world. Many 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 learn more about the Kesher Fellowship program here.
The Kesher Fellowship is generously supported by The Lasko Family Foundation.
Alec Chaya Reitz (they/them) (Northampton, MA/Kwinitekw Valley) is a genderfluid writer, fiber artist, amateur food-grower, and burgeoning Jewish mystic/Kabbalist. Their artistic work is centered around finding the macro in the micro and the excavation of language as knowledge. They are an aspiring rabbi and doula, and concern themself with creativity as a vehicle for soul-healing, connecting with the Divine presence in everyday actions, and making spirituality accessible to all.
Alexandria/Alexander Grace Vickery (she/her and he/him) is an educator working to transform institutional trauma in Unceded Dxʷsqʷaliʔabš (Nisqually) Territory. With a commitment to embodied presence, radically sustaining care, and the body as a bridge between the earth and sky, he is implementing a Community Schools model in the public school system. His work with high schoolers is grounded in interdependence and autonomy, joy-filled and curious relationship, and strength-based and healing-centered engagement. Generally, Alexander balances doing with dreaming, engaging in some very Jewish grappling and תיקון עולם while pushing at the edges of this reality and calling in the Divine. Additional modes of understanding she incorporates are those of flower essences, animism, and clown.
Ari L. Monts (they/them) is an independent scholar, artist, and queer liturgist based in Austin, TX. Their work looks at the role of participatory performance rituals in the lives of queer women and non-binary people of color and includes research centered around performance and play in queer nightlife and various religious liturgies (and their intersections?). From 2015-2020 they were a staff writer for autostraddle.com where they wrote about religion, sex, and joy. After taking time to heal after an undergraduate degree in music, they are currently rediscovering their voice and the joy of Jewish music to be a place of communal joy.
Ariya Sharif (she/her) is a child of Kurdish refugees who fled to America following the Al-Anfal campaign. She has worked within her community to engage with issues of environmental racism, LGBTQI+ youth homelessness, and solidarity between Mizrahi and Palestinian communities. She centers her art, organizing, and Jewish involvement around a core of Kurdish and Jewish values. Ariya works to synthesize her two worlds and build off the rich histories of Jewish resistance and the theologies developed around Jewish suffering to create Jewish spaces that center authenticity, history, and Torah.
Asher Edes (he/him and she/her) works in the arts to create a more just world. An artistic associate for Don’t You Feel It Too?, Asher coordinates a program for mindful movement as activism and healing. Merging interests in nature and art, Asher collaborates on outdoor theater projects that deepen people’s relationships with their environments. Asher is an Adamah at Home alum and holds a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Hampshire College. Disability justice and trans liberation movements shape Asher’s worldview. Asher enjoys the embodied practices of dancing and weaving.
Ben Ger (he/him and they/them) is a progressive Jewish community organizer based out of Vancouver, Canada. He is a member at Or Shalom synagogue, the Limmud Vancouver Steering Committee, and sees his activism as being deeply tied to his Judaism; a way of honouring his ancestors & a spiritual practice in-and-of itself. Ben's activism is mainly focussed on housing & labour justice, and during the Fellowship he hopes to learn how to further integrate spirituality into that work. He is particularly interested in delving deeper into understanding how the Jewish labour organizers of our past blended faith into their fights for a more cooperative and communal world. Ben is also interested in exploring themes of intergenerational trauma, connecting with ancestors, and transformative justice through a Jewish lense.
Carey Averbook (she/her and they/them) comes from a long line of Ashkenazi Jews who came to this land while escaping pogroms in Eastern Europe. Carey wears many hats, including multimedia visual storyteller and artist, communications strategist, Life and Well-being Coach, training and education development at Westfeldt Institute for Emotional Hygiene, and culture and community building in their LGBTQ+ Jewish community. Her efforts go toward personal, collective, and cultural healing and remembering or creating stories for other ways of being human and Jewish. Carey received her MA in New Media Photojournalism from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University, and their BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Duncan/Reuven McCullough (they/them or ze/zir) is your friendly neighborhood Jewish non-binary raccoon. They are a deep south expat currently residing in Seattle, working the night shift in sleep medicine. Their current jams are non-binary kabbalah, gardening in the Puget Sound area, RaMBaN, Victoria Hanna on repeat, emotional openness, and trying to cook vegetarian southern food. They're a cat dad, a proud leftist, and committed to queer culture as a cure for heteropatriarchy and white supremacy. While they have presented at a handful of conferences along the way, the majority of their Jewish experiences have been in small synagogues and chevruta. They're excited to open new horizons with the Kesher Fellowship and learn with a wider group of people.
Elan Loeb (they/them) is a Jewish musician and educator based in the Bay Area on Ramytush land. They are the Music Specialist and Songleader for the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. They recieved their BA in Near Eastern Studies from Cornell University in 2017. In 2020, they founded Tzedakah Songs: Jewish Songs for Justice, an organization that hosts monthly musical fundraising events for social justice causes. Elan believes that art is for everyone and loves to share the joy they find in Jewish music. As a teacher, they bring silliness, mindfulness, and love into their work. In their spare time, they enjoy audiobooks, gardening, and trying to meditate.
Gilad Meron (he/him) is an independent designer, researcher, and creative director focused on community development, civic dialogue, and information design. He is currently the Director of Research for the Association for Community Design, where his work is focused on examining racial justice practices in design. Previously Gilad was the co-founder and director of an interdisciplinary collective for civic dialogue in New Orleans called The Blue House, and has served as an editor and writer for various professional and academic publications. Gilad earned his BS in Design and Environmental Analysis from Cornell University with a focus on Environmental Psychology. He is particularly interested in the intersection of visual communication, civic engagement, and political activism… and pizza.
When they aren't sheltering in place, Jasmine Edison (they/them or she/her) can be found in one of Southwest Virginia’s cave systems, feeding wild birds, or tending to their compost heap. Having recently graduated from Virginia Tech with an MFA Creative Technologies, they've been exploring their identity in the context of displacement and generational trauma. Through this creative act, they are remaking a broken ancestral line, reaching back into the past for the sake of the future. As a Kesher Fellow, they hope to continue the important work of remembering lost ancestors, reclaiming their birthright, and bringing it with them into the future.
Jenna Pollock (she/her) feels held by the deep winter magic of song and prayer and practice. A queer Jew and Massachusetts native, Jenna is currently based in Chicago, where she is an immigration lawyer seeking protection for LGBTQ folks detained nationwide. In her former / future / present lives, Jenna worked in refugee resettlement, outdoor education, and as AVODAH's Chicago program director. She is excited to deepen her spiritual practice alongside this vibrant cohort of fellows.
Micha Chetrit (he/him) is a Mizrahi/Sephardi/Ashkenazi farmer with roots deeply planted in Tucson, Arizona. He is the close descendant of three centuries of Moroccan Jewish Desert farmers and after a 70-year-desert-diaspora, is not only the first of his family to return to living in the desert, but also the first to return to farming in this special environment. Micha is a co-founder of the Tucson-based Jewish farm and outdoor education initiative, The Midbar Project, and is on the board of the Jewish Farmer Network. When his hands are not in soil, they are kneading dough for his local, dietary-needs-accessible Challah business.
Molly Schulman (she/her) is a community organizer, resource mobilizer, and ritual holder based in Brooklyn, New York/Lenape land. She currently spends her time serving on the board of JOIN for Justice, learning biblical Hebrew, continuing her anti-racist education with the Whiteness Havruta program, facilitating with her beloved Rosh Chodesh circle, and organizing with Resource Generation and JFREJ. Molly is an alumna of the JOIN for Justice Jewish Organizing fellowship, the Chordata Capital fellowship, and the Urban Adamah fellowship. As she prepares to apply for rabbinical school, she is excited to delve into Jewish renewal practices and community. In a time of so much change and grief, she is excited to find new and old ways of rooting in Judaism as a source of resilience.
Natalie Boskin (she/her) grew up and continues to live on Chochenyo Ohlone land colonially called the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. She moves through this world as a Jewish and consent educator, a Talmud learner, niggun chanter, radical empath, justice seeker, and creator. Her Judaism has been shaped by Kehilla, SVARA, Jewish Studio Project, and the incredible young people who she guides into becoming b’nei mitzvah. And she is honored to be a part the Kesher Fellowship.
Rocky Cohen (they/them or she/her) (Portland, OR and Liège, BE) was a hidden Jew for most of their life but found spiritual connection in the natural world and creative practices, with the encouragement of their mystic mother and then a degree in the fine arts. Soul-resonating songs of one Shabbat awoke their Jewish self-love, and since then they have been actively reconnecting with Jewish community, tradition, ritual, prayer, song, and became B’nai Mitzvah in February of 2020. They lead “Queer Aleph Beit Study Snax,” a place for Queer Jewish adults to reclaim the mystical knowledge of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. They also work doing live-transcription, volunteer as a co-coordinator of an anti-racism work group, and are growing into their strengths as a musician and song and ritual leader.
Samson Hart (he/him) is a food grower, land-tender, writer and earth-based Jewish diasporist. He is co-curator of Miknaf Haaretz (edge/end/wing of the earth), a collaborative associate at Gentle/Radical, and organises with Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation and The Landworkers' Alliance. Find him on instagram @samsonhart and subscribe to his writing/poetry here: tinyletter.com/thecomingspring
Shai Schnall (they/them) tends goats and sheep, grows food, and prays and plays in the woods by their home on Pomo land in rural Mendocino County, CA. They are an educator and learner committed to fostering growth and aliveness through Judaism, sex education, and food justice. Shai is a rising Kohenet Priestexx in awe of the depth and transformation that has come to them by breaking open, shattering, and becoming whole again and again. They bind trans identity as a seal upon their heart and have found Jewish time and ritual to be a powerful containers in their process of becoming. Through their Kohenet training, participation in the Kesher Fellowship, and experience as an educator they hope to create spaces for other vessels to shatter and become whole, particularly other trans folks.
Shlomoh Divekar (he/him) is a freelance writer and media consultant. He has previous experience in advertising as an account executive. He enjoys long walks and a strong cup of chai (tea).
Sophie Spencer-Zavos (they/them or she/her) began their life with a hyphen and continues living multi-hyphenated. Educator, youth-worker, artist, aspiring-ritualist, rising-Kohenet, oral-historian, farmer, doula-in-training, her interests especially lie at the intersection of storytelling-keeping and individual/collective healing. She strongly believes that there is no one "right way" to do Judaism and is interested in building sustainable structures to support creative Jewish practices that meld tradition, play, and world-building. They are excited to explore with the Kesher Fellowship!
Taj Newman (she/her or they/them) is a bodyworker and caregiver based out of Olympia, Washington. Taj has spent the pandemic learning about patience and trust. She is interested in the confluence of physical/emotional pain, the dying process and helping one another through grief. After growing up in Oregon, Taj moved to Israel to study the Jewish diaspora for a year, and surprised herself by staying for four years. There, she completed a degree in Literature at Tel Aviv U, learned Hebrew, forged friendships, and never reconciled her Judaism with Israel's apartheid government. After returning to the U.S., Taj lived in New Orleans for 4 years, where she met the divine dancing in the street, and learned to massage. Now, she is back in the PNW, finding contentment beside a river or underneath her cat, Vashti.
Yael Engel (she/her or they/them) is a queer Ashkenazi Jewish preschool teacher living in Western Pennsylvania. Constantly curious, they are often in rabbit holes of exploration and deeply appreciate the wisdom and giggles shared by the children in their early childhood class. During Yael’s time in the Yahel Social Change Program and Eden Village Camp Farm Apprenticeship, seeds were planted that expanded her sense of what it means to engage in Judaism, specifically in relation to social justice and Earth-based Judaism. Yael is excited to continue to explore Judaism with the Kesher Fellowship community. When not in rabbit holes, they find art making to be a space of nourishment, connection, learning and unlearning; and love making cards to send to dear ones.
Zohar Lev Cunningham (they/them and he/him) (Duwamish Territory) is a water baby, Kohenet, and friend who chooses a Jewish life with great love and devotion. Zoh Lev is a licensed social worker with over a decade of experience in community-based harm reduction, is an anti-racist lifelong learner, and travels the wheel of the year with the Jewish Voice for Peace Seattle chapter. Zoh’s maternal grandparents came to the US as refugees of the Jewish holocaust and thanks to Zoh’s mom and dad, Zoh was raised in bagel-eating, joke-telling, Jewish communities of Cleveland, OH. Zoh Lev’s ancestors lived in Ireland, Austria, France, Germany, Turkey, and the Iberian Peninsula.