Rabbi Erica Asch is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in Augusta, Maine. She currently advises Colby College Hillel and is on the board for the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The daughter of a mixed marriage, she grew up as one of a handful of Jewish kids in the Navy town of Coronado, California. Being part such a small minority intensified her sense of Jewish identity, which she cultivated further as a student at Oberlin College. After graduation, she joined Teach For America and taught high-school math in the Mississippi Delta, where she discovered her life’s vocation — she realized she wanted to spend her life teaching Judaism rather than algebra. She received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2008 and then took a position as a community organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, the first rabbi to do so directly out of rabbinical school. After three years with IAF, she served as an assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., before moving to Augusta in June 2013.
Dr. Matthew Boxer is a Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Steinhardt Social Research Institute as well as a lecturer in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, all at Brandeis University. He earned an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis and an MS and PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his doctoral dissertation focused on the effects of Jewish community size on Jewish identity. Matt’s research varies widely and includes socio-demographic research on the Jewish community in the United States, social psychological processes of Jewish identity development, Jewish young adults’ volunteer habits and preferences, Israel studies on college campuses in the United States and Canada, and the impact of formal and informal Jewish educational experiences on Jewish identity.
Rabbi Sruli Dresdner is the spiritual leader of Temple Shalom Synagogue-Center in Auburn, Maine. He brings a true Hasidic and scholarly background—he spent the first part of his life studying Torah and Talmud seven days a week—along with a modern, open-minded sensibility, and a passionate Jewish spirit. Sruli, together with his wife Lisa, are in-demand Jewish musicians and performers and have appeared on PBS-TV, performed on National Public Radio, and headlined at Jewish Festivals from Cracow to Jerusalem, Toronto to Texas. Sruli is extensively quoted as a primary source of Hasidic Music and philosophy in the Journal of the Society of Ethnomusicology (Spring/Summer 2007) and he is profiled as a contemporary Jewish educator for the Wexner Oral History Project at the National Yiddish Book Center.
Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson is acting director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the seminary of the Reform Movement. He served as the president of HUC-JIR from 2001-2013. Rabbi Ellenson is internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history. His works include Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish History (1989), and After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity, which won the National Jewish Book Council’s Award as the outstanding book in Jewish Thought in 2005.
Rabbi David Fine is a Director of Consulting and Transition Management, which is part of the URJ Strengthening Congregations team. Since joining the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism in 1996 he has worked extensively with smaller congregations, their rabbis, lay leaders and boards. He has also advised congregations on mergers and alternatives to mergers, using design thinking and appreciative ways of creating a stronger, collaborative future. Rabbi Fine was also part of the core team that brought URJ Camp Kalsman to fruition and has been an active member of the Camp Commission and faculty since its inception. He was ordained in 1989 at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rep. Eric Fingerhut is the President and CEO of Hillel International. He has devoted his entire professional life to public service and higher education. He came to Hillel after a distinguished and varied career. As Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents from early 2007 to 2011, Fingerhut led Ohio’s system of public universities and colleges. Most recently, he was Corporate Vice President of Education and STEM Learning business at Battelle, the world’s largest independent research and development organization. From 1997 to 2006, Fingerhut served as an Ohio state senator, where he worked on initiatives ranging from higher education to human services and economic development. From 1993 to 1994, he represented Ohio’s 19th congressional district in the U.S. Congress and in 2004, he was the Democratic Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate. Fingerhut received a J.D. from Stanford University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
Edward Finkel is the Regional Director for the Jewish Federations of North America Network of Independent Communities, one of the nation’s preeminent Jewish philanthropic organizations. He is a visionary fund raising professional who has designed and managed campaigns in Jewish philanthropy for more than 30 years, serving in senior fundraising management roles at Jewish Federations and as a fund raising consultant to many Jewish organizations. The founder of EJF Associates, a campaign management and philanthropic consulting firm, he raised over $50 million for synagogues, Jewish community institutions and organizations with key expertise in development and non-profit organization operations, strategic planning, major gifts cultivation and special events. A trained broadcast journalist, Ed is a graduate of Boston University College of Communications and Boston’s Hebrew College Prozdor. He currently serves in leadership capacities in several educational, arts and Jewish organizations on the local, national and international level.
Rabbi Bill Lebeau serves as Senior Consultant for Rabbinic and Institutional Leadership at the Rabbinical Assembly. Following his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1964, Rabbi Lebeau served as a chaplain in the United States Navy and Marine Corps in San Diego, California, for two years. He was senior rabbi at the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., for thirteen years and at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois, for ten years. He joined the administration of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1988 and during 21 years at JTS he served as Vice-chancellor and Dean of the Rabbinical School.
Ellie Miller ’70 is the Interim Executive Director of Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, which combines JCC and Federation services. During her 28 years as Assistant Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Ms. Miller secured funding for Maine’s first legal aid project for victims of domestic violence and worked on funding initiatives for underserved populations including migrant farm workers and Native Americans. More recently, she served as the Director of Levey Day School in Portland. Her volunteer activities have been focused in Portland’s Jewish community, where she is a past president of Temple Beth El.
David Pulver ’63, a long-time trustee of Colby College, is President of Cornerstone Capital, Inc., a private investment company. Prior to starting Cornerstone Capital, Mr. Pulver was Chairman and Co-CEO of The Children’s Place, a chain of over 1000 children’s apparel stores, which he co-founded in 1968. His non-profit service includes the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) and the Investment Committee of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest, New Jersey. David and his wife, Carol, endowed the Pulver Family Chair in Jewish Studies at Colby.
Jim Shane ’67 is a Director of Hillel International, serving on its executive committee as co-chair of the Global Task Force. He sits on two international advisory committees to the Jewish Agency for Israel while also serving on the boards of Brandeis Hillel, Boston University Hillel, and Hillels of Israel. Jim and his wife, Rosalie, are both Fellows of Brandeis University. In addition to his Jewish service, Mr. Shane is also active in several non-profits serving Boston and its surrounding communities.
Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu is the Director of Rabbis Without Borders at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbis Without Borders stimulates and supports innovation in the rabbinate. In 2013, Rabbi Sirbu was named as one of the most inspirational rabbis in America by The Forward. She speaks and writes about Jewish life, health, healing and spirituality. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College, she holds a master’s degree and ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Idit Klein is the Executive Director of Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. Since 2001, she has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to a 22-person, national organization with an annual budget of more than $2 million. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBTQ inclusion and has trained educators in hundreds of Jewish communities around the country. Klein helped mobilize Massachusetts rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Prior to leading Keshet, Klein was an activist in the LGBTQ community in Israel and played a role in early organizing efforts to create Jerusalem Open House. She has worked for social justice organizations in Jerusalem and in Boston, including SHATIL, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information, and Community Work Services. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, Klein received her Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. A board member of JOIN for Justice and a past fellow, Klein was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award, and named to the Forward 50.